What had been briefly revealed in this series of posts is what we can define as our “inner alchemy”, mainly, what had been symbolically described as the transmutation of raw metals into precious metal. But this process of alchemy is inside of us, not outside.
Now, making some observation, first of all, we must understand that the three octaves described in the previous posts have different potentials.
For example, the force of the octave-food will give some results or effects that can be measured; it’s a mechanical process. If the organism of the ordinary human being doesn’t work on itself and doesn’t try to change its state of consciousness, it will function according to this mechanical pattern.
The octave-air represents a small amount of hydrogens (although the matter taken from this nourishment plays an important role); the octave-impressions is huge and powerful, and can play a key role in relation with what we call “remembering ourselves”, to the states of consciousness, emotions, etc…
The hero of myth is not a hero because he is born as so, or because he decides to become a hero, but simply because the incidental situation in which he finds himself pushes him to perform a heroic action (just remember the example of the mother who saves her child).
Above all theories and mere philosophies, the key factor lies in how we perceive the impressions. If we perceive them in negative terms, the result will be a loss of energy (and possibilities); perceived in positive terms (for example, but just as example, “if I can’t do it for myself, I’ll do it for someone else”), it will become a source of strength, an additional shock which will allow us to refine our energy and to overcome obstacles that seem apparently insuperable.
When a seeker finds himself in the face of a problem, instead of falling into self-pity or desistence, he asks himself: “if I found a new obstacle, this means that I am facing something I never knew before; now, through facing it, I have an opportunity to strengthen myself.”
A seeker transforms anger, rage, frustration, depression, and self-pity into “food to grow”, refined energy which will lead him beyond what he considered his limits.
As Sri Aurobindo had said, “when I am in trouble, I am happy, because the divine gives me a possibility to grow.”
So, to recap: the relation between the three octaves is not the same: they have more or fewer substances, so it’s important to learn to use and increase those which are useful for the work on self. An example is the octave-air that can be enhanced through the science of breath (the techniques of pranayama); the octave-impressions can be enhanced through the exercise of observation.
The conscious shocks related to the diagram-food must be our action, and as “our action”, I mean intentional and aimed action. It’s necessary to know the exact moment when to provoke those shocks and, of course, to remember to provoke them. Such shocks must be provoked with accuracy, because only the right quality of shock will help in those particular octaves.
The first conscious shock is to remember ourselves, observe what is happening (self- observation), non- identification, etc. All those actions require an intentional effort.
The second conscious shock is exactly what we cannot do alone, or it’s very difficult to perform by ourselves (at least in the beginning), mainly, the transformation of negative emotions into positive. This second shock is possible only after a long work on remembering ourselves, when we’ll be able to remain lucid and present for longer times, and when the higher emotional center will begin to be active.
In Gurdjieff’s terms, the MI 12, combined with a special effort, will produce a positive emotion (and we’ve already spoken about this).
However, what can be said is that the student can produce a long-lasting positive emotion, a sort of “virus”, able to “contaminate” the negative emotions through the support of a mentor, a guide.
This is what had been mentioned several times on this blog, and what in Zen is called Ishin-Den-Shin (from heart to heart), namely, the openness of the pupil towards the guide who can allow him to overcome in a short time, every difficulty related to the negative emotions.
It’s a glimpse, a magnetization which can suddenly transform the negative emotions of the student into positive emotions, and allows him to travel the path in an unexpected velocity (with the assumption the guide is genuine and not a self-proclaimed guru). If such a glimpse doesn’t happen, the student will experience more difficulties, everything will cost a huge effort; indeed, a guide is an accelerator of transformation, a mean able to refine and push the energies through continuous shocks.
But beware; I am not speaking here about abnegation, a passive surrendering to a guru or another; it’s a process of linking a heart (of the guide) with a mind (of the pupil), able to understand and put into practice what is understood and felt: in other words – a passion.
Now, a few more words about impressions. First of all, we have to remember that we can’t enhance the food, because it’s only what we have at our disposal; we can’t change the air, because it’s the only type of air that we can breathe, but we can enhance the impressions, and this is the only possibility we have at our disposal on a work on self.
How can we perform such an enhancement? Simply through trying to wake up, namely, remembering our purpose (such as in the example of Istanbul).
An impression is the minor unity of thought, emotion, and feeling. To acquire an impression means that a certain energy is absorbed into ourselves with this impression.
All the energy we receive can be defined as “food”. The food we eat is “raw matter”, the air is more subtle, and the impressions are the subtlest food we have at disposal – the most powerful active principle.
A human being can’t live a moment without impressions; impressions are acquired even when he is totally unconscious.
However, although many impressions reach us in states of unawareness or sleep of consciousness, such impressions are subjective; namely, billions of impressions reach our senses, but we select what attracts us more or, to see it in an honest way, what scares us least, and we reject all which doesn’t attract us. Some impressions attract us more, others less, and all this is material for our work of observation.
Some impressions go to the intellectual center, others to the emotional, the instinctive and the motor centers.
Every center has its own apparatus to receive impressions, but what usually happens is a mess: for example, it’s not a rarity that the intellectual center tries to acquire impressions intended for another center, and the same thing happens with the other centers. But, every center is designed to acquire separate impressions. For example, a smell can’t be acquired by the intellectual center because it’s something that belongs to the instinctive field.
Impressions are relatively easy to examine and evaluate through the processes of observation, comparison, and even through conversations with other persons. We can understand what kind of impressions belong to higher and which to the lower levels.
If we become able to make a distinction between impressions, we become able to decide what to accept and what to reject. This can happen if we remain awake; if we “sleep”, we can’t do it. But when we are present, we can isolate ourselves from unnecessary impressions; maybe not from the beginning, because even this requires a training.
“One who contemplates simultaneously on the void of the back and the void of the root becomes completely free of all thought constructs by that energy which is independent of the body.
By steady contemplation on the void of the back, the void of the root and the void of the heart simultaneously, there arises the state of nirvikalpa, which is free from thought constructs.
O gazelle-eyed one, concentrate upon all the constituents of the body pervaded by space, so that the thought becomes steady.
One should contemplate on the skin of the body as a mere wall or partition with nothing inside it. By meditating thus, he becomes like the void, which cannot be meditated upon.
When the mind is dissolved in dwadashanta by steady awareness and steady practice, the true nature or essence of the goal manifests everywhere in one’s body.”
Vigyan Bhairav Tantra (44-49)
We can’t completely stop impressions, but we can keep away impressions that are not useful for us, and attract impressions that are harmonious and balanced. It must be clear that if we wish to develop, we must stop nourishing ourselves with deleterious emotions. This is of paramount importance.
There are many destructive impressions that can literally destroy the life of an individual if he accepts them for a long enough time, or if he has developed the habit of seeking such impressions.
The most common example is the morosity provoked from the crime news, or simply continuing to have a dull, harmful lifestyle after one has realized that it is so. Or spend time and again in sick environments (sick in terms of mood, “vibration”), attend the football match to unleash suppressed aggression, etc…
Those subject to such kinds of dynamics constantly increase harmful impressions: scandals, passion for gossip, judgment, seeing something wrong in everything – all which are poisoning impressions for our system. This must be understood and realized.
We don’t have to think so much to choose “right impressions” as to make a distance from the harmful impressions. Only through such a distancing can we achieve a certain control. If we would try to choose “right” impressions, the only thing we would do would be to cheat ourselves. We can learn to recognise the deleterious impressions, then control them by simply “isolating” ourselves from them. Such an isolation doesn’t mean so much to take a physical distance, to isolate ourselves physically, but to perform an “inner detachment”, namely to not accept the influences produced from such impressions.
In order to control such a process, we must wake up and practice, and train ourselves to do it so, because if we are already accustomed to “eat” impressions that are harmful for us (and this situation in such a society is not a rarity), the whole process of recognising them and making the necessary distances, will take a bit of practice. An “I” will know that it’s necessary to take the distances, but maybe another 20 “I’s” will madly love such impressions.
At the cost of becoming boring through constantly repeating the same thing, I’ll say once more that impressions enter constantly, every second of our life, into our system. Some of those impressions change mechanically, but the major part of them remain unchanged; it can be changed by our attempt to become more aware, more present.
While approaching the end of this post, a thought comes to my mind: perhaps, this could be an interesting topic on which to begin an online conversation – an interactive conversation to elucidate some concepts which may seem unclear in written format.