September 11th, 2012

The Psychopathology of Ordinary Waking State

What keeps us out of the upper floors [the higher intellectual and emotional centers] of our mansion? Obstacles to higher levels of consciousness are abundant in daily life: they are our legacy from generations past. Perhaps the most central is identification, the basic flavor of ordinary waking state.

“In this state,” Gurdjieff noted, “man has no separate awareness. He is lost in whatever he happens to be doing, feeling, thinking. Because he is lost, immersed, not present to himself, this condition is known…as a state of waking sleep.”

Identification is the opposite of self-consciousness. In a state of identification one does not remember oneself. One is lost to oneself. Attention is directed outward, and no awareness is left over for inner states. And ordinary life is almost totally spent in states of identification.

The thinking of ordinary people occurs when something “occurs to one.” It is mechanical chatter, colored by lying, which is not under any control. Formatory apparatus, the moving part of intellectual center, is incapable of comprehending orders of truth higher than the dualistic: thus the ordinary individual is third-force blind. He sees things in terms of opposites — cause and effect, good and evil, truth and falsity, seeing duality not not trinity.

— Kathleen Riordan Speeth

from The Gurdjieff Work © 1989. Tarcher/Putnam
Photograph: Man Ray, Noire et Blanche, 1926

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