Saturday, December 1, 2012

Soul-less or not?

Anticipating a series of Christmas gifts, here comes a bitter shock that serves as a counter-point of the previous post on Neo-Platonic psychology, and it may help us avoid taking for granted "sublime ideas" when the inner house is still a zoo, a battlefield of World War I, or somehting worse...

You think that a "soul," and even a "spirit," is necessary to do what you do and live as you live. But perhaps it is enough to have a key for winding up the spring of your mechanism. Your daily portions of food help to wind you up and renew the purposeless antics of associations again and again. From this background separate thoughts are selected and you attempt to connect them into a whole and pass them off as valuable and as your own. We also pick out feelings and sensations, moods and experiences and out of all this we create the mirage of an inner life, call ourselves conscious and reasoning beings, talk about God, about eternity, about eternal life and other higher matters; we speak about everything imaginable, judge and discuss, define and evaluate, but we omit to speak about ourselves and about our own real objective value, for we are all convinced that if there is anything lacking in us, we can acquire it. 
If in what I have said I have succeeded even to a small extent in making clear in what chaos is the being we call man, you will be able to answer for yourselves the question of what he lacks and what he can obtain if he remains as he is, what of value he can add to the value he himself represents. 
I have already said that there are people who hunger and thirst for truth. If they examine the problems of life and are sincere with themselves, they soon become convinced that it is not possible to live as they have lived and to be what they have been until now; that a way out of this situation is essen- tial and that a man can develop his hidden capacities and powers only by cleaning his machine of the dirt that has clogged it in the course of his life. But in order to undertake this cleaning in a rational way, he has to see what needs to be cleaned, where and how; but to see this for himself is almost impossible. In order to see anything of this one has to look from the outside; and for this mutual help is necessary. (Views from the Real World, “G.I.Gurdjieff”, Speaking about different subjects, Section II)

 There seems to be some afinity between these ideas and what we heard from Plotinus in the last post. If we recall, the "ordinary man" he referred to moves away from an essential centre of gravity, and thus he is absorbed by blind impulses, becoming, as Gurdjieff described, an "animated automaton", a marionette moved by the caprices of a puppeteer rather than a man guided by Intelligence.
 Yet, Plotinus basically focused on metaphysics and the level of theoría, which in Greek means “divine contemplation”, from the verb theorein, to contemplate divinely –an activity that is probably too far from us. 
In contrast, Socrates and other teachers, including Gurdjieff, preferred to help seekers to unmask inner contradictions mercilessly, because that is the essential step, very little can be done. 
 Trasparency is usually indigestible when we take for granted things that are not given to us fully.  Even if we assume the presence of a “buried divine spark” that may explain the origin of consciousness, will and higher feelings like compassion, what kind of connection can we have with the Spirit or the Psyche if the gifts remain unattended or misused? 
One does not need a “divine intellect” to manifest negativity and self-indulge with fear like a savage. Animals can be very wild, but only because its natural for them. However, the "animated automatons" can be even wilder, as shown by the progressist butchery known as "advanced modern society", where even art, food and human relations have lost the soul. 
 In earlier times there existed the idea of “soul making”, which implies cleaning the inner world and consolidating the connection with the Higher. In this regard the Egyptian priests taught about joining the individual will-consciousness or Ka, with the volatile body of personal features and experiences, the Ba, in order to forge a strong vehicle that may travel safe across life and afterlife without being devoured by Nature, and thus let the spirit return to its home in the stars, and never be pulled back again into lower realms of suffering. 
Greeks and Christians inherited that doctrine as well, until it was forgotten and changed, as all things important. 
In any case, the point is that without a strong “bond”, the spark humans carry as a precious treasure, may just fly away and perhaps continue its journey in someone who has more respect for what really matters, or it will simply return to its Source. Does that makes sense?
 A crude and honest look to ourselves is necessary then. 

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