… For the earth and its fullness are the Lord's.
- 1 Corinthians 10:26
"Relativity and quantum theory both imply the need to look on the world as an undivided whole, in which all parts of the universe, including the observer and his instruments, merge and unite in one totality. Both observer and observed are merging and interpenetrating aspects of one whole reality, which is indivisible and unanalyzable."
- David Bohm, Wholeness and The Implicate Order
"Civilized people depend too much on manmade printed pages, I turn to the Great Spirit's book which is the whole of his creation."
- Walking Buffalo (born Tatanga Mani, a Stoney-Nakoda leader, statesman, philosopher, born March 20, 1870), cited in Touch The Earth, p. 106
G. I. Gurdjieff made important contributions to our understanding of the universe and our place in it, presenting what he said was ancient knowledge in a modern form "in agreement with the form of mentation now established among contemporary people" (Life is Real, Only Then, When, I Am, p. 144). An aspect of this was Mr. Gurdjieff's view that everything is material, but that materiality has many different energetic degrees of vibration. It turns out modern science is now just confirming what Mr. Gurdjieff knew one hundred years ago.
Regarding this gradation of energy in materiality, physician, musician and student of Gurdjieff, Christian Wertenbaker, explains: "This is obvious even on an ordinary level: metal is denser than wood. When we go to even more dramatic differences in materiality, comparing, for instance, solids, liquids, and gases, we are not just speaking of differences in density but of changes in behavior, even dimensionality, as well. … The most interesting and important part of Gurdjieff's teaching is related to vibrations [energies], and it seems to me that since his time his views have been increasingly validated by science. … It is now quite clear that everything vibrates, from electrons and photons, to atoms, molecules, cells, bodies, planets, and stars. … To interact, things must be tuned to each other in some way. There are patterns, harmonic relationships, of all kinds. And ultimately, when science probes the smallest constituents of matter, nothing is left except equations describing vibrations" (Man in the Cosmos: G.I. Gurdjieff and Modern Science, p. 45).
We shall return to the subject of energetic vibrations at a later time, but for now, we mention this in relation to our subject at-hand: three-centered relationship to material objects, the last of our explorations in the "Relating Body" series.
Conscious, Three-Centered Relationship to Material Objects: What World are We in?
If the entire universe is purposeful, meaningful, and a unity, as humanity with consciousness, with certain powers, with responsibility of stewardship of this earth and all its aspects, then we are called to a higher standard of relating than perhaps we have been accustomed and, by necessity, no part would be left out of this relationship – including our relationship with material objects.
In a materialistic, consumer-oriented, throwaway culture, this is easily overlooked. Yet conscious intentional transformation is what we come here to work for. We take the materials of this earth and we turn them into objects for our use or our pleasure. We can make and unmake. We can preserve and we can destroy. We have higher energies. We have power. How are we related to these various things that we use? Are we "attuned to them" as Christian Wertenbaker suggests? Do we see them in their beauty and aliveness, as part of the one undivided Whole of existence? Or, are they simply inert "things" to satisfy our whims and wishes, only to be discarded when no longer deemed useful?
J. G. Bennett offers a useful challenge to cultivate respect and relationship with material objects: "There is the notion of contact … [with our] ability to bring ourselves in contact with what we perceive, with what we think, what we say, in what we do. Let's take a single example of looking at some object. I look at it, I see it and yet I am not really being in contact with it. If I know how, I will open myself to it in a certain way and then when I look at the object I realize that it is there, that I am significant to it and it is significant to me. Now let's take the case of reading a book, the words following sentences and paragraphs, and one may look through the whole book and see what it is all about, but in order to be in contact with the author of the book, in order to share in his experience, in order to grasp and understand the message which is contained in the book or the experience that led the author to write it, it is something more. It is not just the idea that we are in contact. It is with a being, a person …
"Supposing if I am handling some object mechanically, my body, my hands, may know perfectly well what to do with it and be able to go on doing it, but, if anything unexpected happens, my attention is distracted, I make a mistake, I drop the object, I smash something, or I'm not able to adapt myself to it. If I’m in contact with it, these things won't happen, because I will see what is going on, what that particular object needs, how it should be taken care of, how it can fulfill its own function. Let's say I'm washing a cup, or a dish, I can do that and yet not be in contact with it … if I'm working on this, I bring about a change in myself, I awaken in myself a sensitivity toward the object, and I realize that I am in contact with it, my own state has changed and it is a decisive change, because I recognize that I am now in contact also with my own self.
"… [I]t's all important that we start out by understanding that if we are not in contact with things, … it means really that we're in the world of dream and fantasy. The difference between being in contact, even with material objects, and being out of contact, is no less than the difference between being in one world and being in quite a different world. When we are in contact, we are aware of existence, aware of presence. When without contact, we're only aware of what's going on inside ourselves, a state of sleep and dreams. … From the start we shall have to work to increase our contact with ourselves and with life" (Theme Presentation – October 21, 1971: Contact/Respect for Material Objects, pp. 2-3).
Using This Word "My"
In a related article, Bennett observes that everyone who has had training in some art or craft or profession knows that the tools of the trade are a sacred responsibility. A musician will regard his instrument as something sacred for which he will almost give his life; the same with a carpenter, or perhaps a car mechanic. Such a person will assure that their tools and instruments are always in a state of preparedness for the task they are to perform.
Bennett notes: "It is a relationship of love between man and material objects. But mixed up with that kind of love is the notion of possession. It is my tool, my violin, part of me, part of my own importance that this should be useful. It is strangely noticeable how much more difficult it is to take care of common possessions, common instruments, than to take care of those which are one's own, to take care of material objects when they are not somehow an extension of oneself – that is, to take care of them for what they themselves are. How does this relation arise? In what sense can I say that something is mine? Is it just a habit that we get into behaving as though somehow or other we are able to possess, or is there some reality in it? Is there some objective meaning in the word 'mine?' That question is worth asking oneself. It is also worth asking oneself about the relation between mine, thine and freedom. Is possession an element in our freedom or is it an element in our slavery" (The Sherborne Theme Talks Series#3 – Material Objects, pp. 7-8)?
Indeed, we can stop and observe just how many times a day we preface something with the word "my" even going so far as designating "my chair" – at dinner, watching television, being seated in church – and how habitual is the expectation around it. What happens when these patterns of possession are disrupted? Can we see and appreciate the universal is-ness of something without possessiveness?
Accepting Responsibility, Order and Place
Then there is this other aspect of our power and that is to create order with material objects – or not. When you clean, when you go around your home or office and note some disorder, do you set yourself to tidy it? Or, do you just walk past it and expect someone else to take care of it – or, perhaps, not notice it at all? After breakfast, you place dirty dishes in the sink. Who will clean them? Who will put this in order? Related to this is the energy from a completed octave -- open octaves leak energy, completed octaves create energy. Disorder distracts and drains; order contains and makes room for energy.
Again, Bennett issued an invitation; we extend it here: "In our relationship with material objects, there is an opportunity of seeing. You can set yourself handling a tool, making something, sweeping, scrubbing a floor, putting things in order, or conversely being the cause of disorder; damaging, reducing the potential of things by breaking or spoiling them. Here in this theme of our relationship with material objects, this is the primary observation: to see how we deal with material objects, to become aware of what the relationship is. The great part of our relationship with material objects is quite unconscious and insensitive. We must set ourselves to make it more conscious, more sensitive, to remember that we have that relationship, that we are the creators of things we use. We have this power over the material world. How do we use it? Look at this in as many situations as possible. … There are all kinds of unnecessary things that we allow to enter: possessiveness, wastefulness and destructiveness in relation to material objects, lack of respect for them. … All these things have … consequences that have to come back to us. We should not forget this. … Everything that is wasted makes something or other impossible. We do not see this at the time. … We must learn to look at the world in this way, where you see that everything that is disturbed in the harmony of the world has got to be paid for somewhere" (Ibid, pp. 9, 12-13).
Take a much-used object, say your cell phone, attempt to "make contact" with it daily this week. Can you distinguish between thinking about the phone, using the phone and being in contact with it, sensitive to it, sharing existence with it? Consider the whole chain that led to its existence – from idea to being in your hand. What did you learn about yourself from the practice of "making contact?"
If interested, you may read J.G. Bennett's The Sherborne Theme Talks Series #3-Material Objects. It is an insightful and articulate expression in service of awakening and three-centered embodiment. Enjoy.
May Practice: Writing Letters
Our invitation this month has been to write a letter or a personal note to someone, engaging the three centers: crafting the thoughts with directed attention, choosing paper or a card of beauty, symbol of our feelings, touching the paper to express our sentiments. A happy surprise, perhaps, to receive. A conscious act to manifest. Did you do so? There is still time. What did you experience?
Attend The Journey School Thursday night class tonight:
7:00 pm Central Daylight Time via Zoom only.
Click on this link and Zoom should open automatically on your laptop or tablet: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9961019778?pwd=aVFLZVQwNGZSNkQ4TDRTUW9yU1Ywdz09, or
Open Zoom, click on Join Meeting and enter this meeting ID: 996-101-9778, passcode: CCH