Monday, July 19, 2010

Disconnection of Thoughts about Connection

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 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?



  1. Wow JSS.
    I'm not even going to begin to try to answer because I just don't know and it's too profound and I'm not sure where I stand on anything anymore.
    What I will say though, is that I do believe in God (although I'm making a total hash of being anything like a Christian) and I do believe that he has created us WITH a hole which can only ultimately (whenever that 'ultimately' is) onlyeally be filled by connectedness to him... Then of cours youhave the line of thinking which says, but God is in us so we are connecte to him when we connect with others... and perhaps this is true too... I'm not sure. What i AM sure of, is that that 'hole' you speak of (otherwise mentioned as a 'n**d') is large and painful and hard to live with.

    I did write a long reply to your previous post but lost it when my comp crashed so I'm going to save this now in case it decides to do a repeat performance.


  2. Hi WS - you know I'm not sure it's all as profound as we think it is. Problem is that we tend NOT to think about it because we think it's all too profound.

    Yes, I do understand that n**d thing but I'd like to say go on, I dare ya, put those two 'e's in there just once and see if you don't disintegrate. I bet you won't.

    And believing in God doesn't necessarily make one a Christian yes? There's a whole lot of self-proclaimed 'Christians' who profess to follow Jesus and whose actions would suggest they do nothing of the sort. I have serious doubts, in fact I dismiss the notion that God's idea of being 'Christian' and the evangelical and/or fundamentalist idea of being a 'Christian' are one in the same.

  3. I think I suffer from spiritual ADD. I'd rather learn about the spiritual experiences of others than take the time to have one myself. If I have a half hour of free time I usually read about God instead of spending time with Him myself. What is up with that? Why is it so hard to turn off the TV, shut down the computer, put away the books and journal and just sit quietly? I am addicted to distractions of all sorts. Chemicals were just one way of running away from (or perhaps trying to take a short cut to) God. Spiritual teachings are a sneaky distraction because they convince me I'm actually getting closer to Him through my studies. But really I need to cut the crap and go straight to the source.

  4. I like to read about it too although I seem to have a different perspective than you. I look at my reading as part of the experience. I like to hear what others have to say about their lives. Reading about others also helps me to know that this is in fact real and not something I'm imagining.

    Is it not possible that you do spend more time 'with God' than you think? You spend a lot of time thinking about it do you not? I'll be honest I'm not sure I know what spending time 'with God' means. It has always sounded like somebody else's idea of what it 'should' be. I'm comfortable with what I do in my little quest here. I enjoy it, I feel I've learned much and it keeps me moving forward and ever-seeking. So much of the way I think and operate has changed in the past few years.

    Chemicals were a way for you to drown out your experience and numb yourself. What makes you think it was a way to run from God? It was a way for you to cope and you had a hell of a lot more than the average person to cope with. We have to get through it somehow and I cannot believe for one minute that anyone could adopt what might be considered a healthy way to deal with what you had to deal with. There is just no way.

    If that's what you like to do then keep studying. We get closer to God when we get closer to ourselves, when we think for ourselves, feel for ourselves and do what is right for us. It is a dynamic process that never stops. You may find in a year or two that you're on to other things who can say? If right now that's what you like to do than I say keep right on doing it and don't let anyone tell you that you should be doing this or you should be doing that. What you SHOULD be doing is deciding for yourself and doing what feels right for you.