Why Are We Here?

Why Are We Here?

Life is so full, the wonder of creation is all about us. We have our relationships, our hobbies and interests, our jobs, wonderful art, culture, music, warm support of our friends and families, material objects, beautiful in their own way, and all the many things that fill our days and nights, a seemingly endless procession of objects, energies, and ideas.

Yet some of us, while not discounting this, nevertheless feel a sense of something missing.  It is not the lack of needing more of the same, more objects, more friends, more experiences, but rather feeling a lack of connection with something larger, much larger than what one usually experiences. And, sometimes, we stop and ask ourselves is there something beyond this world that we sense with our sight, our touch, our hearing, our smell, and our taste?  Is there something I need in order to become more fully human? And, very rarely, we experience some quality of experience which leads us to suspect something larger is there, if we could only find some way to pierce the veils of our enchantment, if we could only awaken from our sleep.

 These questions have sometimes led to a quest to know the true meaning of life, and the role that humanity has to play. Throughout history, one finds groups of individuals who have devoted a very large effort to seeking answers to these questions. In each case, they have all shared a common first principle.

 That principle is that we are not whole, and, as we are, cannot be truly related to this larger power. If this relationship is to occur we must first become truly human. And, in order to effect such a transformation, we must first “know thyself”; we must understand fully our own situation as it is now, not as we would wish it to be, and, from there, sustained efforts may create a true change or transformation, only after which can a human being serve his or her full purpose.

 For this a systematic approach is needed. Sometimes called a Way, or a Path; what could be thought of as “A Science of Being”. Often we read about a Way, and think that if we read the books, study it, perhaps go to a few meetings to hear a teacher, we will know it. But nothing in us has changed, we are still the same, the problems of our lives remain. Nothing has come of it.  For what must occur is one must actually undertake this journey. It is an internal journey, not a journey of going off to some distant place in the mountains or in the jungle. The purpose of the journey is to actually allow change to occur within oneself. One traverses a path, over a long period of time, and one is changed by doing so.

 The Gurdjieff Work is such a path.  It is not a study course, or a self-improvement course. It is not a scheme to attract people to extract money from them, as are some so-called teachings.  While the Work is many things, it is in the beginning about one’s own psychology. The practice is a study of one’s own self, using techniques which have been proven to be workable and practical for many people in many counties. It is also a practice that can be undertaken while the seeker remains in the midst of her or his life. In the Gurdjieff tradition it is neither necessary nor desirable to retreat to a monastery to practice and learn. Rather it is one’s own situation in life that provides the material for internal development. We begin with where we are and who we are. That is our situation, and that is where we must set out from.  No fantasy of some personal guru in Tibet, nor hope for some change from what is. Just begin where we are, and as we are.

 One of the strengths of the Gurdjieff teaching is that techniques are employed to pursue three lines of work simultaneously. We work on our minds, understanding how our internal streams of random thoughts take up most of our daily life, and keep us from being present to ourselves and the world around us.  We work on our bodies, understanding how small tensions and habitual, non-productive physical patterns and mannerisms drain energy and support counterproductive tendencies. And we work on our emotional center, finding out how much energy is wasted in the expression on negative emotions, causing us to “leak” energy like a sieve. Through this three pronged approach one opens more quickly to understanding one’s real condition.

 It is also a cornerstone of the teaching that it is impossible to change by oneself. The obstacles are too great.  That is why a group of people, working together, is needed. A group can accomplish what one person cannot. That is why the Gurdjieff Work always revolves around a group, and why there is a Gurdjieff group in Sandpoint. The aim of this teaching is the transformation and the evolution of human consciousness through self knowledge.  The practice of the Gurdjieff Work, which is intended to bring about a harmonious development of body, mind and feeling, includes impartial self observation, a study of the ideas, meditation, sacred dances and music.

 The Gurdjieff Work in Idaho is related to the original teachings through individuals who have been prepared to carry on this tradition.  We are assisted by people who learned firsthand from the most senior pupils of Gurdjieff himself. The oral transmission of these ideas have come down to us directly from Gurdjieff to his principal students to our teachers. It is an unbroken lineage.


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