For the Week of September 17 - 23:
The Choice of Influences and Impressions
Odilon Redon, Mystery
Jesus responded, "If you recognized God's gift and who is saying to you,
'Give me some water to drink,' you would be asking God and God would give you living water. … Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
but whoever drinks from the water that I will give
will never be thirsty again.
The water that I give will become in those who drink it
a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life."
- John 4:10, 13-14
One of the reasons to study cosmology is to become aware of the levels of creation – levels of being, levels of energies, levels of humanity, levels of possibility. In last week's session, it was said that with a sense of scale, we each have a point in the Work, a means of making conscious choices, ordering our lives, and selecting the influences we wish to be under. This week's session explores the scale of these influences and invites us to awaken and make conscious choices. The Work ideas of levels of influences, the food of impressions, first conscious shock and attention are all closely related.
Levels of Influences
"The Work teaches that there are three different kinds of influences that affect humanity and these are A, B and C influences. A influences are created in life by life; by its interests, commerce, conflicts, ambitions, laws, careers, mass events, politics and all the personal business of being alive in the world. They have no relationship at all to B and C influences. You must be able to free yourself to some extent from A influences so that you can gradually surrender yourself to the influences of the Work.
"B influences are outside of life influences. They have their origin in C influences but are translated or altered by life influences so as to be understood by untransformed humanity, because humanity's inner destiny [and] evolution do not lie in life which creates only A influences.
"Doing the Work puts you under C influences. C influences don't originate in life but from outside of life, above life on earth from the Conscious Circle of Humanity, or the Kingdom of Heaven. These influences are constantly speaking to us to convey ideas about awakening and development, but to a person asleep their language is incomprehensible. Because it is impossible for the finer energies of C influences to be received directly into the course of the noisy life of sleeping humanity, life influences alter them into B influences. So, C influences are altered by A influences as they pass into life to produce B influences. They are changed into a language sleeping humanity can receive. The Gospels are a good example of B influences. They originate in C influences, but they have been inevitably altered by A influences as they enter into the life of Man. …
"This is the reason why we work to organize and purify our lower centers for the reception of our Higher Centers. They conduct C influences from the Kingdom of Heaven within us and guide us toward our full development – individual evolution. The communication coming from the level of Conscious Circle of Humanity reaches us not in a language of words that we can learn to decipher but in inspiration, understanding, guidance and direction."
- Rebecca Nottingham, The Work: Esotericism and Christian Psychology, pp. 100-03
Said another way, A influences are generated on the horizontal plane of life and B and C influences are vertical, coming to us from a higher level than life itself. Other examples of B and C influences include the silence of contemplative prayer, Great Nature, the Eucharist, certain art and music, and the transmission from great spiritual teachers in person or in their writings and talks. Empty of meaning and import, A influences cancel each other out; the polarities of opinions, politics, newsfeeds, memes, attitudes, consumerism, group identification – all these horizontal influences create nothing new and in fact, keep humanity hypnotized in a sleeping state. Because of this, Boris Mouravieff says, "A influences are illusory in their nature, although the effect of each one of them is real, so that exterior [sleeping] man takes them for reality … Since A influences neutralize each other, B influences actually constitute the only reality. … If man spends his life without distinguishing between A and B influences, he will end it as he started, one could say mechanically … he will come to the end of his days without having either learned or understood anything of Reality. And earth returns to Earth." (Gnosis I, p. 51, 52).
The Work invites us to wake up and uncritically observe what influences we consume (or are consuming us) and begin to make conscious choices about the food of impressions we regularly engage. We don't negate or denigrate A influences; we simply choose the stream of Living Water found in B and C influences.
"What are impressions? They are material, as everything in the cosmos is material. They are vibrations that touch our centers and combine with their own vibrations, to enhance, refine and increase their frequency, until they become suitable food for … Real I. You see a beautiful sunset, a starry night, smell the pungent aroma of pine trees, the delicate fragrance of a flower, the salty breeze coming from the seashore. You enjoy the taste of a good meal, the touch of lovely skin. All these are impressions, food for the third being-body.
"I receive this food when I consciously read a book that expands my knowledge and touches my being. … When I walk on a snowy trail and stop to see the countless crystals in the sunlight, reflecting blue, orange, green, always changing depending on the angle from which I look. I marvel, 'Is this not food?' … 'something' enters into me, giving me a lift, up to a different level. Food is when I am touched in a way that helps me to enter a higher state.
"These are impressions, which are the substance of this food. Conscious labor and intentional suffering help us to digest this food and build and crystallize our higher being-bodies."
- John Fuchs, Forty Years After Gurdjieff, pp. 53, 54
"Now I want to bring in here in this connection what the Work calls the supreme food of impressions. … We have heard about inner taste which can discriminate between good psychological food and bad psychological food just as our physical taste can in regard to literal food. The supreme physical impression that we can give our whole machine is that of Self-remembering, the finest taste of all tastes possible, the taste of something akin to I. The Work says that a moment of Self-remembering supplies every cell in the body with food of a kind that it does not ordinarily get … that when you remember yourself you give a shock to the whole of you. Every cell receives force and new energy – i.e., a new food. … If you can do this, you will notice that you feel quite different, as if you had turned on the light. …
"The highest impression is the feeling of Real I. This does not come from outside but is an impression from inside."
– Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, "Commentary on The Food of Impressions," Vol. 2, pp. 652-657
"Each person has an ideal, an aspiration for something higher. It takes one form or another, but what matters is the call to this ideal, the call of his being. Listening to the call is the state of prayer. While in this state, a man produces an energy, a special emanation, which religious feeling alone can bring. These emanations concentrate in the atmosphere just above the place where they are produced. The air everywhere contains them. The question is how to enter into contact with these emanations. By our call we can create a connection, like a telegraph wire, which links us, and take in this material in order to let it accumulate and crystallize in us. We then have the possibility to manifest its quality and help others understand – that is, to give it back. True prayer is establishing this contact and being nourished by it, nourished by this special material, which is called Grace. As an exercise for this, we breath in air, thinking of Christ or Buddha or Mohammed, and keep the active elements that have been accumulated.
"We need to understand the idea of cosmic scale, that there is a link connecting humanity with a higher influence. Our lives, the purpose of being alive, can only be understood in relation to forces whose scale and grandeur go beyond ourselves. I am here to obey, to obey an authority that I recognize as greater because I am a particle of it. It calls to be recognized, to be served and to shine through me. There is a need to put myself under this higher influence and a need to relate to it in submitting to its service. I do not realize at the outset that my wish to be is a cosmic wish and that my being needs to situate itself and find its place in a world of forces [influences]. … My search is organized on the scale of this subjectivity in which everything is measured from a subjective point of view – me and God. Yet at a certain point I must realize that the origin of the need I feel is not in me alone. There is a cosmic need for the new being that I could become. Humanity – a certain portion of humanity – needs it. And I also have a need, with their help, to capture the influence that is just above me."
- Madame de Salzmann, The Reality of Being: The Fourth Way of Gurdjieff, pp. 198-99
"All work on oneself consists in choosing the influence to which you want to subject yourself and actually falling under this influence. And here, by long observation, you must know what you want in this respect." (Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, "The Law of Seven: The Sun Octave," Vol. 1, p. 128). Take an honest, uncritical inventory of the relative amount of A-B-C influences and impressions you choose to receive in a given week, perhaps even noting the amount of time involved with each and the effect on your being. What do you learn? What feeds your being and what depletes it? What do you wish?
"A moment of Self-remembering supplies every cell in the body with food of a kind that it does not ordinarily get…. Every cell receives force and new energy – a new food." Practice Self-remembering at least once every day.
Open forum Invitation: As we draw close to the time of completing the segment of our curriculum on cosmology, you are invited to attend an “open forum” with The Journey School faculty in an unstructured time to bring any questions for a time of sharing and conversation. This is especially oriented for those who are new to this Work and haven’t quite found the forum in which to explore the Work ideas on cosmology that you are wondering about. Two opportunities: Tuesday, September 29, 11:00-Noon CDT or Saturday, October 3, 10:00-11:00 AM CDT. To join the conversation, click on the link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9961019778?pwd=aVFLZVQwNGZSNkQ4TDRTUW9yU1Ywdz09. Or enter Zoom and use 996-101-9778, passcode CCH.
Attend tonight's class: 7pm Central Time via Zoom only.