I have a search. I also have responsibilities in life such as making a living, supporting family and those closest to me. Do I have space in my life for both? A few experience an urgent need to remove themselves from the distractions of life in order to pursue a spiritual path. Others choose to take Life itself as their teacher.
The former enters a carefully constructed domain where basic physical needs are taken care of collectively, life is communal in nature and structured to enable them to follow a rigorous regime of self-contemplation and enquiry. Very often the main effort is focussed on one centre, such as the emotional or intellectual centre. A monastery or ashrams are examples of this.
The latter are followers of the Fourth Way – the way in life. Daily life itself presents the opportunities for work on oneself. I observe myself as I interact with others, as I perform my routine duties, as I come up against challenging, stressful situations. I have limitless material with which to engage. I can focus my efforts in all 3 centres – the body, the emotions and the intellect.
I am part of a Group who are working in the same way. The Group members, the Group activities and my Teacher (s) act as reminders – to remember myself – always and everywhere – to the best of my ability. In theory I can work anywhere and at any time – if only I can remember to do so.
I am a creature of habits. My life is typically a routine of tasks and activities at work and at home. Each one of these task and activities is an opportunity to help me ‘come back to myself’ or self-remember. Since I know they are going to happen with regularity, I can prepare myself and pledge to ‘wake up’ at certain predetermined moments in the day. I struggle and fail. However, the opportunity to begin again is ever present. I use my intelligence to create these moments.
For example, I know I will meet a particular person during the day. I decide that when this event happens I will watch carefully how I typically respond and behave towards this person – my feelings, sensations and reactions in this person’s presence – and I will make a conscious effort to ‘be different’ and then observe what happens. Likewise, I know that I will pass through a particular door. Again I pledge to remember myself at that precise moment in an effort to wake up – if only momentarily.
My day alternates between long periods of sleep and occasional moments like this which are felt more vividly. I need to constantly adapt and refresh my efforts – so that I do not live totally in sleep. I try to view my daily life from the standpoint of an impartial and objective observer in an attempt to gain self-knowledge. Rather than withdrawing from life, I embrace it for a higher purpose.
The next Café Gurdjieff event on “Working on Oneself in Life” will take place at 11am on Saturday 1 October in Central London.For details email firstname.lastname@example.org or join our Meetup Group at www.meetup.com/Cafe-Gurdjieff-London