Further to the post of four days ago about Storr’s misunderstanding of Gurdjieff, and his mocking of Gurdjieff’s cosmology, consider this passage. This previously unpublished piece, reporting something said by Gurdjieff, is found at pp.110-111 of Christian Wertenbaker’s The Enneagram of G.I. Gurdjieff, Codhill, New Paltz.
“On another occasion, G. explained the idea of Moon from a wholly new direction. “Up to now we have talked about the Moon as the growing branch of the cosmos, as the end, or destination, of the Ray of Creation, which originates in the Absolute.
There is another level at which you must understand this idea: Given that man is the microcosm that replicates all that exists in the cosmos, this line from the Absolute to the Moon also exists in man. The representative of the Absolute in man is full consciousness, about which our knowledge is incomplete. We do know, however, that the effort to free oneself from identification creates a corresponding amount of free attention. The presence of free attention in man is a second order representative of the Absolute: it is a foretaste of what he might eventually come to know as full consciousness.
“The Moon-in-man is sensation. It is that broken part of the original consciousness of man, and it is that part towards which a man who wishes to work has a primary responsibility; for sensation in man is the growing part of his inner cosmos. The Ray of Creation inside man extends from free attention to sensation.”
In response to a question about the relationship between the growth of being and the growth of sensation, G. explained: “Just as the Moon in the sky requires vibrations from Earth for the growth of its atmosphere, sensation is the atmosphere of being. No growth of being will take place without a corresponding growth in sensation.
“Of course, when we apply the term growth to sensation, we must understand that it refers to growth of the roots not the leaves, that is, sensation is not only of a man’s skin, which we might think of as leaves, but of the entire inner structure, which includes the skeleton, muscles, and organs as well. In lifting his arm, everything on the other side of intention is sensation. A man must be able to radiate particles of free attention from the moment an intention enters his bloodstream and neurological system.
“The work on sensation is the infrastructure of being.”
The piece is not just powerful, it is stunningly deep. And yet, it was always implicit in what we have read in In Search of the Miraculous. This is the reason why I think it is probably an accurate report of a conversation with Gurdjieff. Who else could be so simple and so profound? I understand that people in the New York Foundation and Paris Institut accept is as authentic, but do not know who wrote it. I respect their view, but I don’t rely on it. I am basing myself on my own assessment. I wonder if they made enquiries when they received it.
I am fairly certain that it was written by Ouspensky. It might just possibly have been Orage, but I would put my money on Ouspensky. The flow, how it is set out, (e.g. the way he says: “On another occasion G. explained …”) reminds me of no one so much as Ouspensky, together with the use of “G” rather than the fuller “Gurdjieff”. The simplicity and precision of the prose together with the fact that Gurdjieff had been speaking about the Ray of Creation and the Moon, makes me think, with some small reservations, that it must be one of those two. To whom else could Gurdjieff have been speaking about the Moon from any perspective at all, and could then have gone on of his own volition to teach them about the Absolute and the Moon? Orage and Ouspensky did discuss these difficult questions with Gurdjieff. They were around when Gurdjieff was either speaking about them (in Russia) or in writing (see Orage’s commentaries on Beelzebub for some very deep remarks on the Moon to which I shall be returning to in future posts, God willing).
A friend of mine objects that the word “infrastructure” entered the English language relatively recently. My Shorter Oxford Dictionary has no instance of it before 1927; further, it was an abstruse word for quite some time after that. It had apparently entered French beforehand, and from there migrated to English. But that was soon enough for the translator of the text. It seems that Ouspensky wrote the text in Russian, and it was translated into English, over a period of years. Few details of when and by whom the translation as made are publicly known: it may be that the the editing of this passage, or its translation, or both were late, by which I mean up to any time before Ouspensky’s death in 1947. It does sound like Ouspensky, and even more, it sounds as if it was in a draft of In Search. Its style fits In Search better than anything else.
I have checked so far as they are available to me, the unpublished drafts of ISM and this passage does not appear there. But are the available drafts complete? If anyone has better information, please share it with me. I am by no means certain about my hypothesis: it sounds to me like a section from a draft of In Search of the Miraculous, authentically representing Gurdjieff’s words. Perhaps Ouspensky did not place it in the book because Gurdjieff did not explain more about that particular line of work, consciousness of sensation, and without such information, he felt it was an incomplete idea. That is a mere guess: but the ower and significance of this text is evident.
Joseph Azize, 10 March 2019, Part Two revised 16 October 2020