There was an old man in a village, very poor, but even kings were jealous of him because he had a beautiful white horse. Such a horse had never been seen before — the beauty, the very grandeur, the strength.
Kings asked for the horse and they offered fabulous prices, but the old man would say, ‘This horse is not a horse to me, he is a person, and how can you sell a person? He is a friend, he is not a possession. How can you sell a friend? No, it is not possible.’ The man was poor, there was every temptation, but he never sold the horse.
The public news stream is nothing short of a Reactional Self tsunami. These days every news organization, blogger, even the weather channel outdoes itself to sensationalize the news and attract the attention of the Reactional Self. Once in a while the bizarre nature of this phenomenon is actually noticed, as in this post from The Daily Beast:
I was speaking to a good friend of mine today, along with his rather precocious ten year old daughter. During the conversation there arose the typical question of “How’s school going for you?” and the not unexpected answer, “I don’t like any of my classes.” If I recall correctly, “hate” was actually the descriptive word used… said with all the unreserved conviction and certainty of a 10 year old who has no doubt about how she feels.
Ken’s comment to ‘yesterday’s’ post includes a quote from Sri Aurobindo. This quote points directly to what is probably the most significant aspect that we need to see and understand about the Reactional Self. Here again is the quote in full…
As I was once again pondering the question, “What is Reason and Reasoning?” I found myself mentally constructing a monad. A monad, for those who haven’t studied Systematics is one of several methods for examining objects, processes, relationships, or any other type of complex system. The “methods” of monad, dyad, triad, tetrad, pentad, and so on, refer to the number of independent terms that are used (allowed) for that particular system. So in constructing a monad only one type of “term” or element is allowed.
One of the references to Reason that I pulled out of Beelzebub’s Tales yesterday caught my attention because it spoke about Reason in a very peculiar way. It came out of the chapter, “Religion” where Beelzebub is relating the tragic circumstances of a small group of Tibetans whose chief was killed before an important initiation ceremony could be performed. Gurdjieff is quoted as saying that this referred to an actual historical event when a very high Lama was killed by a stray bullet from the British Younghusband expedition to Tibet around the year 1902. Some references suggest that this was the last individual who understood the full ancient knowledge, and that he helped maintain certain energetic balances on the planet … with the resulting imbalance precipitating WWI. The veracity of these claims is well beyond my pay grade, so I’ll move on to the quote and what caught my attention.
There are 312 instances of (capital “R”) Reason in Beelzebub’s Tales. There are a number of other “small-r” references. This contrasts with only 39 references to being-Partkdolg-duty, Gurdjieff’s term for conscious labor and intentional suffering, the central method for transformation. Conscience receives more attention with 92 references. Emotion only gets 8 references.
I was out cutting up tree limbs today when a sudden shower sent me running for cover. As I sat there enjoying the cold wind and rain I took the opportunity to once again contemplate the octave of Reason. Suddenly a very different octave of the Reasoning process emerged and almost immediately morphed into an enneagram of reasoning.
Yesterday’s post on the octave is a work-in-progress. Another work-in-progress is the application of the different levels of selfhood to reasoning. The idea of different levels of selfhood, for those not familiar with this approach, comes from J.G. Bennett and suggests that different levels of energies (automatic, sensitive, conscious, creative) can organize our experience and consequently our possibilities in very distinct ways. He called these the Material Self, the Reactional Self, the Divided Self and the True Self.
Our study group has spent several weeks trying to penetrate the nuances of Reason and Reasoning as these terms are used by Gurdjieff and others in a spiritual context. Like many other lines of enquiry, what initially looked to be a simple exploration has turned into a fascinating but challenging journey. Our latest attempt to wrestle some understanding out of the chaos was through using the octave. Our "first approximation" is given below... however it looks like we're several iterations away from anything resembling a coherent picture.