G.I. Gurdjieff maintained as a central tenent of his teaching that we are asleep. The exact term he applied was sleep + waking. This signifies that we are pretty much asleep about what we do and how we do it. Similarly, the Buddha maintained the same idea that we are not awake. In fact the term “Buddha” means “fully awakened one”. Now, in a very similar vein we have the emerging field of neuroscience to give a little more clarity and definition to some of these ideas regarding our behavior and how we don’t always act in ours (or anyone else’s) best interests.
While there are many who claim that neuroscience is the sunsetting of Cartesian Dualism, perhaps the jury is out. While great strides have been made in understanding the ways in which we fool ourselves we are left with an understanding of only the part which we observe and not the underlying causes.
So the question arises of how we can relate this to any theosophy. Getting to basics, a theosophy is any system that posits some direct intercourse or communications with gods or other divinities. The short version is “god knowledge”. Let us start off by saying that everything is interrelated, so that any path of knowledge, pursued to its ultimate end will land you in some kind divinity. So the relation here is one of how the mind perceives existence and how it interprets the world. In essence it is an examination of the mind trying to understand itself.
In many ways our mind is a “value-maker’. it has a hierarchy of value. We can sum this up by asking about what is truly important to us. Ask yourself this: ‘What is the most important thing for me, right now’? If it is a thing, whether idea or object, then ask why’?
This is a really good question...why? Most people say that they want to be happy. Even the Dalai Lama acknowledges that point. The next question we ask is one of how important it is to be happy. Is it more important than life, health, truth, etc.? You get the gist.
Why is this? What is the driver behind the pursuit of happiness...or shall we call it unconscious obsession? What is so strong that we have think ourselves better than average, more worthy, or as someone outside the norm?
From two different points of view, one Buddhist and the other from the world of neuroscience the common answer seems to be the sense of “I”. It is the desire for this “I” to be permanent, stable, enduring and above all, certain. From a Buddhist point of view this is a major illusion and one of the largest obstacles to becoming enlightened. From a neuroscience view the maintenance of stability and happiness is a prime directive. Happiness and well-being are equated with survival. It’s kind of a funny disconnect and one with major consequences.
There are many things that make us feel good, money, possessions, lots of food and the feeling of being right most of the time. All of these feed into the same sense of security we feel when life is good. When life is good we can be creative and open. When we are threatened with uncertainty, creativity can be cut off and our bodies become very stressed. The stressors can be many. It can be something as mundane as the customer service person saying “I don’t know when your car will be done” to something as serious as “I don’t know how long you have to live.” Both of these statements have the potential to extract the same level of response from someone. Many people who work with the public have seen the absolute outrage exhibited by someone who is presented with uncertainty demanding answers that simply aren’t forthcoming.
So, what can we do? Well, to start off we must learn to ask questions and be prepared to face the answers, even if we don’t like what we hear or see. We have to be prepared to do a gut check when the answer is jarring and be willing to attempt as far as possible to find the actual truth to the question being addressed. If enlightenment is seeing things as they are, the, as always the advice of the Delphic Oracle stands true: “Man, know thyself.”
Yes, it's a fact that most people are asleep, in the sense that they are not aware of the causes and consequences of their behaviour, but respond to stimuli that they don't understand.
This is the only explanation I can accept of the insane situation we humans have to suffer: milions are stressed because of obesity while milions are starving, etc, etc.
Once again, systems, why is theosophy to be a system? if everything is interrelated, how can an ultimate end be? is really useful to think on terms of ultimate ends? if it's the mind trying to understand itself, why do we need any divinity to land on, if divine is just an adjective to the noun "mind" ? and if it's the mind trying to understand itself, what has it to do with you and me? are "who am I" and "what is the mind" the same question?
The question that I have made myself is: what do I need? Need, raw need, not "important", not "desirable", but what I do need.
Need is a source of creativity, too. The creative effort often stresses the body. Some artists have succeeded in creating under really stressful circumstances.
We humans are right now creating a new way of life under stressful circumstances, the disaster brought by the old greedy agressive ways. We will survive!!!
Of course, to ‘…know thyself’ is ‘true’ or perhaps at least an ongoing process. The stages of the path no matter what the School of wisdom and/or knowledge are many and seldom discussed let alone achieved and therefore known.
G had a method although in my view a rather limited and bumpy one.
To ask ‘Why?’ as a habit is merely that… a habit and a sign of a psyche attached to and/or cathected in one area.
To focus on ‘need’ too is of value yet merely one of a handful of similar meditations. As to the survival of humanity, I have grave doubts. This in no way stops me from doing the work nor from being happy to be alive.
Back to the topic… yes, Gnosticism in the sense of knowing the Divine is a result of clarification of what ‘self’ actually is. In this way one wakes up and can transcend the myriad of thoughts and experiences one has attached to during this lifetime.
The question of what is important, for me, centers on enlightenment. There can be and are other areas of focus; however, none as profound nor pure as this.
Well, sorry if I am rude, but need is not at all "merely one of a handful of similar meditations", need is need. We all humans share need, the same basic needs.
We all need air, water, food, shelter, medical services, education and friends if we are to live as true human people. Those are not optional, but needed.
It seems that comfort and habit are against aknowledging real needs... :-(