Foundation – Rowena

Rowena Taylor, California
Gurdjieff - Foundation
Vishnu as a Tortoise Supports Mount Mandara - Angkor Wat, 12th c. AD

On what basis do we make an effort?

Triads are one way to see this question.  Three forces combine to complete any activity, in the cosmic Law of Three, as Gurdjieff described it.  The results of any effort will differ according tothe forces which arrange them.  In my effort to awaken, what is the impetus, the catalyst and the denying force?

In an effort motivated or catalyzed by a subjective external force (someone sees me taking a huge bite of cake), my behavior will change, but “I” will not.  Even deep inner catalysts can be subjective, such as those coming from cultural programming (“elegance requires taking smaller bites,” my mother said).  Efforts made on this basis do not penetrate my sleep.  Even if my spiritual teacher instructs me to make an effort that I have not understood, my profit will be small.  Synthetic catalysts do not elicit “Real I.”  They remain on their own level, and leave me sleeping on mine.

Many efforts which seem spiritual may be operating at the level of refinement.  Vanity, strong in each of us, likes to pay attention to how we appear to others and how we engage in the world, such as seeking excellence in our job, finding a more beautiful view, or even polishing our conversation.

Real work comes from above, outside the world of sleep with all its suggestions. Only the shock of the real can crack our sleep.  Who are we, really?  Instead of one of our lower centers (instinctive, moving, emotional or intellectual) commenting upon the work of another of our lower centers (“that didn’t feel quite right”) when the shock of presence strikes us directly, we surrender. It is stunning.

A higher state awakens us not through a triad of refinement, but brings transfiguration, regeneration.  When this electric state comes, we are at home in the real world, no longer concerned with ourselves.  Indeed, we reimage ourselves, a mirror for reality.  The subjective inner world loses its allure.  Here the  craftsman and tools of awakening can be dropped.  And we begin to be of service to what the moment requires.

We can make efforts to prepare the ground for the higher state which we remember, and seek to rejoin.  Ready to receive it, we keep sacred an open space; not to entice it, but to hold it once it comes.