• November 6, 2015

    Group invocation last night was such an extraordinary experience. I feel that we were taken to another place. Why is this not the main practice of our work together?

    It is. In fourth way terms, what we are doing Thursday night is Objective Prayer, prayer that serves creation, which Sufis call zikr. This is the purpose and pinnacle of our work together. It also has personal benefit but that is the backwash from our invocation, not the purpose.

    This is an experienced group. We have worked together for a long time. We did not start with Objective Prayer. We started with, and we continue with, work on self—attention,  presence and observation of self. This is the work that makes it possible to invoke without aborting into personal spaces.

    Do you know your state? Can you shift it to the state required for invocation? Can you attend to the unfolding of the invocation without interruption? This is what it means to be housebroken. You do not make a mess on the carpet. If you bring a personal state into zikr, the entire effect is lost. At the very least, you must attain a kind of receptive neutrality.

    All of us need the preliminaries, always. Know where your attention is now. Be able to call it to the needs of the present moment.

    Without the preliminaries, zikr easily turns subjective, even emotional and self-indulgent. This is not a practice for getting high or ecstatic, as some groups like to do. There is ecstasy at times but sobriety is always present, reflecting its purpose.

    What about groups that do not have this prayer form?

    For years I did not have it. The possibility emerged from my researches and work on self. We are not a particularly talented group. Our capacities are not unique. The laws governing Objective Prayer can be discovered, or perhaps I should say remembered. The form itself can vary in accordance with the different traditions which have recognized the importance of it.

    There is always help for those who truly need it.

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  • September 11, 2015

    In this work, you talk about the importance of relying on your own experience but you also have a lot to say and your ideas obviously set us up for some experiences and not others. Is this not a contradiction?

    Yes, it is a contradiction. The issue is authority. Does what I say about the work and my experience of it have validity? Can you rely on it to guide your own experience?

    First, let’s be clear that work on self must be experienced. Collecting ideas about it and thinking about these ideas has no value. The ideas can easily become a substitute for real work. As a philosophy, the fourth way leaves a lot to be desired. You can do much better. The fourth way is not exciting, not emotionally evocative or satisfying; it is somewhat dull and depressing. The world is asleep, so is each of us, and there is no certainty any of us will wake up and make a difference to ourselves or anyone else. So if you do not find any practical value in these ideas, you should leave now, while the getting is good.

    If you do have experiences in this work, they may not be the same as mine. You may describe them differently or your perception may be so different that we can never know if we have gone down the same road. I can question what you say but I cannot question your state or the quality of your insights and realizations. Only you can do that.

    What I say about the work is to the best of my knowledge. It reflects what I feel I know and what I am able to say about my experience. It may be wrong, it is certainly incomplete and it may not be right for you.

    Would it be better not to have a school, these meetings and these discussions? Perhaps. Talking about these ideas shapes subsequent experience at least to some extent. Unconscious expectations are bound to arise. My words will certainly be interpreted differently from my intentions.

    All I can say is that I have worked with these ideas and I have found them to be useful. Many of my insights have initially come from others. Because of this, I have assumed that there is benefit to you in hearing them from me. There is benefit to me in working in this way because I am forced to make the effort to be clear and honest in my communication. I feel that I am accountable for the integrity of my efforts and this benefits me.

    I have been in a number of schools and followed other paths. I wanted to find an authority who could tell me what I needed to know. I found none. I found many useful insights and even inspiration but no earthly authority that was valid for me. I do not think there is one. Most of the paths are corrupted and they require far too much loss of autonomy. On the other hand, I do not know anyone who has advanced on a spiritual path without the ongoing help of others. Group work, to me, is essential. It holds you to work and it confronts you with yourself.

    Every day, you should question why you are here. Question what I say. Understand that I cannot be responsible for you and your evolution. I can point. I can invoke and give you a taste of other realms. But ultimately, it’s entirely up to you and your relationship to God, if you are fortunate enough to know that you have one.

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  • August 28, 2015

    Last night, immediately, there was a sensation of immense energy from a high source, a kind of radiation that sought to enter. I agreed. I found the name of it and participated in it, breathing it in as fikr and emptying myself on the out breath. The heart awakened. The out breath became a return gift of the heart to the source of the energy. The actions of receiving and giving merged into a simultaneous, highly charged reciprocal maintenance.

    Many fourth way schools try to make use of the ‘food diagrams’ taken by Ouspensky from early talks by Gurdjieff. They describe three forms of food which can, under certain circumstances, be assimilated by human beings in order to produce higher substances for our possible evolution. These diagrams are complex, incomplete and internally inconsistent. The actual transformative processes can be known directly, sensed and felt. But there is more.

    Human beings can access energies beyond those they can make. And the energies we can access, the foods we can assimilate, are only part of a larger picture. Our greatest value to the Work is the food we produce for higher beings. We are indispensable links in a process of receiving, transforming and giving. When we are able and willing to serve our purpose, much is given to us at that time, enabling us to succeed in our task.

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