“Gurdjieff spoke about levels of experience in relation to hypnotism. He began by defining various substances or energies, the existence of which, he said, could be demonstrated, but which natural science had not yet discovered. There were yet other substances so fine as to be beyond detection by any physical means. Every possible action depended upon these substances. For example, if we are to think, we must use the substance of thought. If we are to have any kind of supra-normal experience, this will be possible only in so far as the appropriate substance is available.
“There are ways of separating and controlling the finer substances One of these ways is what we call hypnotism. There are many varieties of hypnotism, differing according to the substances that are brought into action. Gurdjieff explained the regression of memory as the property of a particular substance present in all living beings and capable of being, as he put it, ‘crystallized in the form of a kind of finer body within the physical body’.”
~ JG Bennett “Witness”
THE FIRST DEATH
"Ultimately I want the freedom to die. To die the first death, the ability to let go of all of my attachments. Actually to let them go, literally. How is it possible? It isn't at the moment. But little by little. If I can let one argument go, I have freedom from that. The argument's over. By moments, I wish to realize the possibility of death. How to realize that? I have to be able to somehow sense the loss of everything I value, except myself. Everything that my ordinary life gropes for, argues for, persists in. I have to see that all gone. All my constructions, all my plots and plans, my manipulations. I have to see myself disappearing from the scene. This is the way of our work, to get freedom."
~ George Adie (as quoted by Joseph Azize in "George Adie - A Gurdjieff Pupil in Australia")
ANCIENT ART WAS NOT FOR LIKING
Question: Docs this mean that all Western art has no significance?
Gurdjieff: I studied Western art after studying the ancient art of the East. To tell you the truth, I found nothing in the West to compare with Eastern art. Western art has much that is external, sometimes a great deal of philosophy; but Eastern art is precise, mathematical, without manipulations. It is a form of script.
Question: Haven’t you Found something similar in the ancient art of the West?
Gurdjieff: In studying history we see how everything gradually changes. It is the same with religious ceremonies. At first they had meaning and those who performed them understood this meaning. But little by little the meaning was forgotten and ceremonies continued to be performed mechanically. It is the same with art.
For example, to understand a book written in English, it is necessary to know English. I am not speaking of fantasy, but of mathematical, non-subjective art. A modern painter may believe in and feel his art, but you see it subjectively: one person likes it, another dislikes it. It is a case of feeling, of like and dislike.
But ancient art was not for liking. Everyone who read understood. Now, this purpose of art is entirely forgotten.
For instance, take architecture. I saw some examples or architecture in Persia and Turkey—for instance, one building of two rooms. Everyone who entered these rooms, whether old or young, whether English or Persian, wept. This happened with people of different backgrounds and education. We continued this experiment for two or three weeks and observed everyone's reactions. The result was always the same. We specially chose cheerful people. With these architectural combinations, the mathematically calculated vibrations contained in the building could not produce any other effect. We are under certain laws and cannot withstand external influences. Because the architect of this building had a different understanding and built mathematically, the result was always the same.
We made another experiment. We tuned our musical instruments in a special way and so combined the sounds that even by bringing in casual passersby from the street we obtained the result we wanted. The only difference was that one felt more, another less.
You come to a monastery’. You are not a religious man, but what is played and sung there evokes in you a desire to pray. Later you will be surprised by this. And so it is with everyone. This objective art is based on laws, whereas modem music is entirely subjective. It is possible to prove where everything in this subjective art comes from.
~ "Gurdjieff's Early Talks 1914-1931"