Everything passes

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If we do not make an effort, how can we change? The most important thing is not to identify ourselves with external circumstances. Life is like a movie that in fact has a beginning and an end. Different scenes are constantly passing through the screen of the mind. The most serious error within us is to identify ourselves with these scenes. Why? Simply because they pass. They are just scenes of a great movie and in the end they always pass. ~ Samael Aun Weor

Not long ago I have read a transcript of a talk of Samael Aun Weor in which he, among other things, writes about the passing of things in this world. Even though I already have a certain undertanding of how we shouldn’t react to things when we find ourselves in situations that seems endless, I was still touched by his childhood story:

“Our father forbade us from visiting our earthly mother. Nevertheless we were not so ungrateful as to forget her. I used to always escape from my house with a younger brother who would always follow me. We would go for a short visit, then return back home, but my little brother suffered a lot because when we returned he would be very tired and I would have to carry him on my back. While crying he said, ‘when we get home Dad is going to whip us.’ I would say back, ‘Why do you cry? Remember that everything passes.’ Continue reading

Gurdjieff On Art

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There is an interesting passage about art that I wish to share here, from the book In Search of the Miraculous. The book is written by Ouspensky but it mostly consists of transcripts from Gurdjieff talks. Gurdjieff was a mystic seeker who found esoteric teachings in the late 19th century. What follows is his take on art from psychological point of view. I do not completely agree with him on some things he say. I believe that sometimes an artist, accidentally or otherwise, can tap to a higher source which can help them create an objective piece of art, even if the artist himself is of the lower level of the being. Nevertheless, there are many interesting things in the following excerpt worth sharing, so here it goes:

“At the moment it is not clear to you that people living on the earth can belong to very different levels, although in appearance they look exactly the same. Just as there are very different levels of men, so there are different levels of art. Only you do not realize at present that the difference between these levels is far greater than you might suppose. You take different things on one level, far too near one another, and you think these different levels are accesible to you.

“I do not call art all that you call art, which is simply mechanical reproduction, imitation of nature or other people, or simply fantasy, or an attempt to be original. Real art is something quite different. Among works of art, especially works of ancient art, you meet with many things you cannot explain and which contain a certain something you do not feel in modern works of art. But as you do not realize what this difference is you very soon forget it and continue to take everything as one kind of art. And yet there is an enormous difference between your art and the art of which I speak. In your art everything is subjective – the artist’s perception of this or that sensation; the forms in which he tries to express his sensations and the perception of these forms by other people. In one and the same phenomenon one artist may feel one thing and another artist quite a different thing. One and the same sunset may evoke a feeling of joy in one artist and sadness in another. Two artists may strive to express exactly the same perceptions by entirely different methods, in different forms; or entirely different perceptions in the same form – according to how they were taught, or contrary to it. And the spectators, listeners, or readers will perceive, not what the artist wished to convey or what he felt, but what the forms in which he expresses his sensations will make them feel by association. Everything is subjective and everything is accidental, that is to say, based on accidental associations – the impression of the artist and his creation, the perceptions of the spectators, listeners, or readers.

“In real art there is nothing accidental. It is mathematics. Everything in it can be calculated, everything can be known beforehand. The artist knows and understands what he wants to convey and his work cannot produce one impression on one man and another impression on another, presuming, of course, people on one level. It will always, and with mathematical certainty, produce one and the same impression.

“At the same time the same work of art will produce different impressions on people of different levels. And people of lower levels will never receive from it what people of higher levels receive. This is real, objective art. Imagine some scientific work – a book on astronomy or chemistry. It is impossible that one person should understand it one way and another in another way. Everyone who is sufficiently prepared and who is able to read this book will understand what the author means, and precisely as the author means it. An objective work of art is just such a book, except that it affects the emotional and not only the intelectual side of man.

“Do such work of objective art exist at the present day?“ I asked.

“Of course they exist,“ answered G. “The great Sphinx in Egypt is such a work of art, as well as some historically known works of architecture, certain statues of gods, and many other things. There are figures of gods and of various mythological beings that can be read like books, only not with the mind but with the emotions, provided they are sufficiently developed. In the course of our travels in Central Asia we found, in the desert at the foot of the Hindu Kush, a strange figure which we thought at first was some ancient god or devil. At first it produced upon us simply the impression of being a curiosity. But after a while we began to feel that this figure contained many things, a big, complete, and complex system of cosmology. And slowly, step by step, we began to decipher this system. It was in the body of the figure, in its legs, in its arms, in its head, in its eyes, in its ears, everywhere. In the whole statue there was nothing accidental, nothing without meaning. And gradually we understood the aim of the people who built this statue. We began to feel their thoughts, their feelings. Some of us thought that we saw their faces, heard their voices. At all events, we grasped the meaning of what they wanted to convey to us across thousands of years, and not only the meaning, but all the feelings and the emotions connected with it as well. That indeed was art.“

Maya – The Source of Illusion

Maya is a well known concept in Eastern religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, etc, and it is more and more known in New Age circles as well as in Esoteric traditions worldwide. The concept entails that the entire third dimension in which we live is a material dimension created for beings to learn through suffering and paying karma, and to eventually start removing animalistic and negative impulses which consequently leads to knowledge of oneself and the reality of existence. The substance used to create this third (material) dimension is illusionary in comparison to higher planes of existence. Some traditions go even deeper and say that all created dimensions are illusion and that only that which is uncreated (Absolute/Source/God consciousness), which always was, is and will be, is real.

However, Maya doesn’t relate only to external illusions, but also to internal ones. Internal illusions are thoughts, emotions, drives, impulses and sensations which we feel within ourselves. All those inner states are like colored glasses through which we see the world around us. Sometimes they make us see things in a positive and sometimes in a negative way, but nevertheless none of what they present in front of us is real.

Many people get scared and angry when hear that thoughts and emotions are part of Maya and not really us. Those who are able to go beyond this initial reaction of fear and anger, and are willing to apply spiritual techniques that enable them to remove those inner subjective elements, will eventually verify through direct experience that we are something far different from our thoughts and emotions. Those people will also learn about the nature of those subjective energies and the illusionary way they make us see.

Our inner illusion is very powerful. It keeps us in an almost constant state of daydream, controlling our life through mental and emotional images with which we identify and think that they are reality. I remember a situation where I was waiting for a tram on a square in a city where I used to live. There were many other people also waiting for the same. At one point I noticed a woman sitting a meter or so from me. She was staring at one point and it was clear that she is day dreaming, unaware of what is going on. She had unusually big insect on her face, from under an eye all across the cheek. I stretched my hand and waved in order to chase it off. The woman noticed me waving and confusedly leaned back, still not aware of what’s on her face and why I was waving. This experience showed me more clearly the state in which we are all in.

The more a person is practicing the spiritual teachings, the more one is able to see the nature of both inner and outer Maya, as well as the reality beyond it. Techniques such as being aware of the present moment, self-observation, elimination of animalistic drives and subjective elements, and some other techniques, transform our sleeping psyche and make us see the world around us as it really is. We awaken to the fact that the world is asleep and driven by negativity, yet capable of becoming better due to the Divine spark that each human being has within. This Divine spark (soul/consciousness) which is the real us beyond the veil of Maya, grows and increases our capacity for love and compassion if we do the spiritual work. We then gradually see the Maya more and more clearly, both within us and in the substance structure of this dimension. Getting free of it requires a lot of effort, dedication, persistence and truly knowing what we want out of life.