Mind and Energy, Beryl Pogson, compiled Bob Hunter, Eureka Editions, Utrecht, 2000/2001, 114 pp.
This is a very good book, probably the best collection of material from Beryl Pogson, who was Maurice Nicoll’s secretary and confidante. It is arranged in five chapters, with some overlap, but that is unavoidable and only makes for a deeper perspective on the repeated ideas. It was not written by Pogson. It comprises collected transcripts. If the book has one theme, it is thinking for being, and finding the necessary energy for such thinking.
On mind, and thinking, perhaps the critical idea is this, attributed to Ouspensky: “It is through your mind that you understand about self-remembering, but it is not the mind you use when self-remembering” (p.8). That is the truth, and the key to the paradox that trips up a lot of people who are identified with the mentation of formatory apparatus. The mind that has access to a flash of reality, that finds the truth, also experiences joy, for real thought and feeling are not so far apart. Pogson says: “One of the greatest joys in life, on this journey of ours, is to have a sudden flash of new meaning. This is a positive emotion … It is both emotional and intellectual. … If it is cherished you can ponder on it so that it goes into your being. It must not be talked about too soon; you must not explain it to someone else, because what you say won’t be true; it has to be treated very tenderly” (11) Mr Adie said something very similar. It is very true.
Just as the mind which work in self-remembering is a higher mind, so too: “It is necessary for everyone in the Work to purify the mind by attention, and to expand their mind in order to receive ideas from greater mind” (14). This relates to the after-death state. Pogson is asked what a person retains when he dies, and she replies:
He sheds his physical body and is left with his mind. If that contains only a few scattered thoughts, they are blown here and there. He has all his desires, but they can also blow here and there. Whereas if his bodies are trained, the power of though in the invisible world is like a magic wand; it can mould any substances to his will (16).
I must say, I wonder how she knows. Was she told this by Dr Nicoll?
The great importance of this book, for me, is how it ties in with the ideas presented in “The Four Ideals Exercise,” and with the “Christ” exercise referred to in Frank Sinclair’s first two books. On page 50, there is this question and answer:
Question: “The paradox is that the Work says that we can’t do anything about it.” (The learned editor does not say what “it” is, although I think it must be conscious evolution.)
Pogson: “Who says? We can do through the power of Christ in us. Everything becomes possible through this force.”
Question: “Did Gurdjieff and Ouspensky say ‘through the power of Christ’?”
Pogson: “Mr Gurdjieff said ‘through the power of Christ’. He was very religious. In Mr Ouspensky’s formulation it was ‘through the power of the Work’. We can’t do but it can do through us.” Full self-remembering … gives nourishment. It is like a food. Consciousness is a food. Joseph of Arimathea lived forty years in prison only with the food of the grail. … But you have to want to receive it, you have to faith in the source, then ask for it, and then you have to have something to contain it. This is what delays people in the Work. I know this myself from the past.” (50)
I have never heard either the formulation attributed to Gurdjieff or that to Ouspensky. But they fit in quite well with the FIE. Once, more, I cannot see how she can have known this unless she had been told it by Nicoll. The role of faith is surprising, but not startling: it fits in with the teaching found in Beelzebub’s Tales.
Pogson has a pregnant idea that the power is always in the centre (p.7). She may be right, I am not sure, but her exposition merits consideration.
The central concept of “aim” is respected here. I have often remarked how foolish it is to speak of “interest” rather than aim. Listening to the audiobook Women of the Rope, I heard Gurdjieff saying: “Interested! That is small word …” (p.87). Returning to Pogson, at p.84 she is asked what it means to “offer up our failure in prayer?” She answers:
One sees that one hasn’t been able to keep one’s aim perhaps, or where one has not made the right choice in the day, then what one can do is to offer one’s failure in order to have it returned in a new form. What is returned? – A new way of taking your failure, a new way of acting the next day.
This is related to meaning in our lives. When someone said that she had trouble getting up in the morning, she replied:
Meaning will get you up. Dr Nicoll might go over things in his mind in the morning and find that nothing had meaning. There was nothing to write, breakfast had no meaning for him, and perhaps it was raining. Then he would remember the Work and that there was so much to do for the Work, and he would leap out of bed. You get out of bed to meaning. As you go on in the Work, there are more and more sources of meaning. You get up by combining with meaning.
Some important topics have been saved for the next instalment.