I’ve just started a new book entitled In Search of the Miraculous by P.D. Ouspensky. Ouspensky was a student of a gentleman by the name of G.I. Gurdjieff. Gurdieff was an Armenian born teacher and mystic. The following from the site www.gurdieff.org presents a brief synopsis of the basic tenets of his teachings:
Mr. Gurdjieff was an extraordinary man, a master in the truest sense. His teachings speak to our most essential questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What is the purpose of life, and of human life in particular? As a young man, Gurdjieff relentlessly pursued these questions and became convinced that practical answers lay within ancient traditions. Through many years of searching and practice he discovered answers and then set about putting what he had learned into a form understandable to the Western world. Gurdjieff maintained that, owing to the abnormal conditions of modern life, we no longer function in a harmonious way. He taught that in order to become harmonious, we must develop new faculties—or actualize latent potentialities—through “work on oneself.” He presented his teachings and ideas in three forms: writings, music, and movements which correspond to our intellect, emotions, and physical body.
P.D. Ouspensky was an author and student of Gurdjieff. The book is a reflection of Ouspensky’s spent with Gurdjieff as well as a discussion of his teachings.
I agree with much, if not all of that brief synopsis although I have yet to get far enough into the book to know the details of his teachings. I just finished chapter one.
Anyway… as I’m reading this morning I got to thinking about a few things. I got to thinking about all of the books on spirituality, theology, psychology and philosophy that I’ve read over the past few years, which include both some eastern and western philosophies about spirituality, psychodynamic and Jungian psychology, Christian theology, admittedly for much of this time I’ve read mostly what could be classified as Christian spirituality, theology and philosophy however for the past year I’ve started to open my sphere of investigation. I am starting to dabble in more mystical writings, Buddhist and the like.
And I had a thought and it goes like this…
It is interesting to me that in all of these spiritual, mystical, philosophical (call them what you will) books we are presented with what appear to present deep, dark and profound thoughts about the nature of human beings, the nature of the universe, the different levels of being right down to the concept of ‘being’ itself. I have to say that these ideas are exciting to me, always something new to consider, always something new to confound and investigate and drive me forward for new levels of insight, understanding, wisdom and so on. These ideas, they spark a flame in us, a flame that points to a place within us that allows us to think that there just might be something else ‘out’ there or ‘in’ here or around it all SOMEWHERE that can fill the gigantic hole that exists in us. A void that so many of us cannot seem to touch no matter what we do, no matter what we buy, no matter how many churches we go to, books we read, trees we hug or yoga positions we assume.
We read, we listen, we practice yoga, we meditate, we worship in church, we volunteer at soup kitchens, we fight for our causes and we write checks to charities but still that hole remains. We are always listening to somebody else’s ideas, practicing somebody else’s instructions of movement or non-movement, hanging on somebody else’s words for the ANSWER. Somebody to tell us THE meaning, THE way, somebody to point us the way to that thing which we cannot even define. We are asking somebody to show us the way to a place that remains a mystery to us. It’s like going up to police officer on the street to ask for directions and saying “I’m going to a place, I don’t know what country it’s in, I don’t know the name of it and I don’t know anything about what it looks like but I need you to tell me how to get there.”.
I have noticed a similarity however among all of the teachings; they all talk about ‘connectedness’. They all infer knowledge of creation, a way to a ‘better’ place, a ‘higher’ plane, an elusive way of existence or a feeling or a state of mind that only a fortunate few might ever attain to.
But where is God in all of this? Where is God in all of these deep and profound explanations of the universe, of the talk of suffering and the connectedness of everything. Where is God in the talk of ‘higher’ states of being?
I cannot shake the feeling that all of these concepts exclude the personal. That is our deep connectedness to each other, the NEED of a person for other persons. I could be wrong but in my brief forays into Buddhist thought I’m pretty sure I’m detecting the suggestion that God is superfluous to the whole thing. I get a sense that this Buddhist idea of enlightenment does not require God. It’s all presented so… impersonally.
I am a human being and I must be connected to other human beings if I am to survive. This is a fact, pretty much everyone knows it. And so this necessity of connectedness to other people, this requirement of being human must dictate somehow that the ‘thing’ that I am searching for, the ‘higher’ plane of being is a different level of connectedness, in fact the ultimate level of personal connectedness and interaction which would be our connectedness to God.
How is it possible that a method (a path, a teaching, call it what you will) of being and living that purports to attain enlightenment or espouses a different (higher) level of existence could possibly exclude that THING from which everyone comes, runs through, exists in moment to moment? Given our connectedness to one another and everything then how can any “answer” to life exclude God?
You might say because God does not exist and we must find ourselves within ourselves. Hmm…
Then explain the connectedness. How is it possible that everything that IS is connected to everything else that IS? Random chance?