The words we use to define the Way are only images

HOME

ARTICLES

TALES

DOWNLOAD

VERSIONE ITALIANA 

FUNDAMENTALS

 

          

 

       

  

 

This Site is dedicated to the Work and to all Seekers 

continue....

 

.

 

 

  Article 6            

 

Monsieur Gurdjieff,

the Psychology of Common Sense

and Neurosciences

 

Part two

It is not difficult, with hindsight, to understand the momentous errors of judgement in which Common Sense has kept western civilisation trapped for hundreds of years: the Earth where we live at first appears flat, endless and immobile, placed here by God – together with Man, made in his own image and likeness – at the centre of Creation. We see the sun and the great vault of the heavens rising and setting on the backdrop of a static universe; we note that the moving bodies tend to stop still of their own accord when they are not subject to any force and we instinctively feel that heavier bodies must fall to the ground faster than lighter ones. So it is not at all strange that only in relatively recent times western man has grasped the true structure of the universe around him, through the tormented advent of science and with enormous academic efforts.

Niccolò Copernicus, Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton revealed to us that the Earth is but a tiny ball of material rotating around the Sun, which in turn, together with all its planets, rotates around the centre of gravity of our galaxy, just one of many in the vast cosmic space within which we live, and whose outer limits are unknown. Charles Darwin removed man from his throne and placed him with all the other life forms in the Biosphere, on the same ‘Noah’s Ark’ travelling across the sea of time, buffeted by the waves of Chance and Need, within a Universe that from unchangeable was now in constant evolution. Finally, Sigmund Freud took away man’s last great conviction, that he knew himself completely, lifting the lid on the Pandora’s box of the subconscious and facing us with the hidden origins of our deepest fears and weaknesses.

Nowadays people no longer deny these new discoveries, brought to us by scientific enterprise in the past 300 years and gradually assimilated into our culture to become part of our Common Sense: the CS Region of our mental landscape has broadened to encompass these new ‘attraction basins’ and our perceptive structures have adapted and settled down in order to transform into ‘normality’ what appears to be a contradiction between what our senses tell us (the Earth is still, species are permanent, the conscious mind is transparent) and what has been revealed to our intellectual understanding. But this process has not been perfectly consolidated.

In spite of Galileo’s ‘Principle of Inertia’,

which our Physics teachers tortured us with at high school, since we know that without drive from the motor a car will stop, we still believe that all bodies tend naturally towards stillness, and in the same way we believe that, since a feather falls to the ground more slowly than a cannonball, heavy bodies fall faster than light ones. And it is a disquieting experience, for those who have tried it at some science fair, to observe a light feather and a heavy sphere of lead reach the ground together inside a glass tube with all the air sucked out, thus eliminating the friction with the Earth’s atmosphere which actually causes different falling speeds for bodies of different shapes.

Furthermore, we might as well admit that despite Darwin we are still convinced, as human beings, that we have a special relationship with God. And despite Freud too, we still believe that we know ourselves perfectly well, that we are always conscious and aware, at least when we are awake, that we have free will, a reasonable amount of will-power and full control over ourselves. Hence the sensation of surprise and embarrassment on the (numerous) occasions in which we end up losing this control!

What I want to emphasise is that, despite all this, it is very, very difficult to reorganise our cognitive categories to make room for new acquisitions, especially when they contrast with our own experience or with what has been instilled in us by our culture, education, family or religion. In other words, it is very difficult, sometimes almost impossible, to get out of the big psychic attraction basins of the CS Region, which are the basis for all that constitutes our ‘normality’, our personal identity, our faith, our affections, and our psychological stability. Most of the time only great physical trauma or emotional shock can bounce us out of these basins, hurling us into remote and unexplored areas of our psyche from which it is not always easy to return unscathed. Those who fortunately do succeed usually no longer see the world with the same eyes as before: an opening has been made in the barrier surrounding their CS region, new attraction basins have been formed, and their conception of ‘normality’ has been irremediably altered.

At this stage it is useful to pause and take a closer look at this notorious CS Region of our mental space, within which society and culture keep us prisoners.

 

Picturebook

What did 

Gurdjieff look like?

Link page

 Banner exchange

Point out your site

Conferences

 Conferences about the

Fourth Way teaching

 

 

 

Write to us

 Write to our

Editorial staff