Chapter One – Switching Paradigms

“What we observe is not nature in itself,
but nature exposed to our method of questioning.”
- Werner Heisenberg

“We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
- the Talmud

“If we all did what is possible for us, we would astound ourselves!”
- Thomas Edison

“Only those who see the invisible can do the impossible.”      – Thomas Jefferson

 

 

W

hether you recognize it or not, you are reading this page through colored fun-glasses – that is, your whole world-view of opinions and indoctrinations with which you grew up and then solidified, based on your life experiences.  You, my dear reader, most likely already have a mass of predispositions about the subjects of this book, as well as about who you are, what people are like and, basically, how things work in your world.

And for most purposes, having these constructs in place works very well for most people, at least up to a point.  What I mean by this is that, generally, people have become accustomed to living out their lives amidst layers of stress, fear, discomfort, distrust, isolation, despair and a host of health problems, and call all of that “normal,” along with all the subliminal layers of what’s-right, what’s-just-wrong, what’s-disgusting, what-makes-up-family, how-sweet-revenge-is, how-you-can’t-(or must)-fight-the-establishment, and so on.  Furthermore, each of us has ‘shells’ of personal space requirements, depending on person and circumstances, within which entry is regarded as invasion.  This has been found to be among the reasons some people end up in jail: defending their personal space to an antisocial degree.[1]

Because of this type of underlying (and almost entirely unconscious[*]) assumption, we miss the fact that a lot of ‘unfortunate’ people are living closer to nature than we are, freer of disease, anxiety, crime, fear and alienation, even though they may seem, by our standards, poor, underprivileged, superstitious and ignorant.  Our societal ‘group-mind’ will often decide that the best thing for those backwards unfortunates is to convert them to “our civilized way” or, at the extreme, to perform “ethnic cleansing” on them.

Besides, every specific cultural group believes that their standard views constitute ‘reality’ (or, at least, ‘common sense’) and that the beliefs of every other society are superstitious or even evil.  Many tribes call themselves “the human beings” and refer to every other tribe in more or less disparaging terms (“the heathens,” “the nations,” “the infidels,” etc).  We, as individual members of the group, take comfort in such false superiority, even flying the flag of the local sports team (as if we would go to war over the ‘honor’ of ‘our’team[†]) when lacking the appropriate national emergency to stir our ‘patriotism.’

Does that make us the most advanced civilization in the history of mankind or, conversely, an evolutionary dead end, like the dinosaurs?  Contemplation of this question reveals the first principle that I wish to unveil to you: as Tonto would put it, “What you mean we?!”  We go around thinking that I am a member of some “group of normal people” called the (fill in the blanks: “my community,” “my political party,” “my sports team,” etc.), but which really comes down to “people who look and talk like I do.”[‡]

 

On a more personal level, haven’t we all experienced the frustration of going to a social gathering or into a place of business and being treated by strangers the same old ways we’ve always hated our families’ and associates’ doing: pushing our hot-buttons as if we had signs on our backs telling others where to kick us.  They are ‘rude’ to us, they mock us about something we’re sure we got over in therapy so many years ago; they ignore us or inappropriately take offense.  How could someone I have just met know what upsets me?

 

Now we are getting closer to why it is important and useful to understand our biases and our world-views, and then to change them.  As I mentioned earlier, we have layers of prejudicial baggage that prevent us from seeing anything in a new way.  Now we are going to see how to construct and identify alternative ways of viewing our experience, and what it takes to let go of an old way long enough to apprehend the new.  Perhaps then we will discover that we each have strengths and insights far beyond what we thought.  Later on I plan to take you nearer to “seeing it as it is,” which occurs only when all predispositions have been removed, which is an extraordinary but achievable state.

            We’d better run down all the reasons we’ll have for not adopting a new perspective before we can change our basic assumptions.  First of all, no matter how miserable our present world view makes us, we are somehow comfortable with it, and any new attitude may feel threatening.[§]  For example, some people find evidence of the supernatural to explain things for them; others find the subject unacceptable or repugnant, while many people find tales of the supernatural to be entertaining but not to be taken seriously.

            Secondly, we have all adopted convenient systems of symbols and categories that stamp all our possibilities like cookie cutters, eliminating any gradients in between.  For example, as soon as one know what political party a speaker belongs to, we ‘know’ what he is going to say; or we say, “All of <those type of people> want the same thing.”

            The point is that even very intelligent and educated people unwittingly accept the propaganda of their community as long as it is couched in an ‘acceptable’ format; that is, acceptable within a given cultural context.  This is why it has been so difficult to eradicate racial prejudice and why we have clashes between points of view: the other person is experiencing and communicating from a different model.

An example of this clash is the “Venus and Mars”[2],[3] disparity between the genders; another is the “representational system” distinctions used by Neuro-Linguistic Programming: people are ‘homed’ on a primary visual, auditory or kinæsthetic experience.[4]  If people of differing favored representations attempt to reach an agreement, they may fail only because of not recognizing each others symbols, models, categories, physiologies and rates of metabolism, rather than any disagreement on substantive issues.

            The final resistance to paradigm shift that I should address is our internal noise; that is, the constant background conversation that we have with ourselves so that we are always running off of “this-will-never-work,” “they-don’t-like-me,” “what-will-I-get-out-of-this?” “I-can’t-do-it,” “will-I-get-laid?” “what-will-so-and-so-think-of-me?”  It goes on and on, it interferes with everything we endeavor, and it prevents us from breaking free of our self-imprisonment in habitual thoughts and feelings.

            In later chapters I will lay out precise methods for overcoming each of these types of limitations, but now I want to explain what we may attain from such clarity and focus, and from the new perspectives themselves. 

  • First of all we will find composure in the place of our previous confusion.  This is both the result of inner silence and unity as well as a steady platform for what follows.
  • The second benefit is creativity’s replacing our former impotence – we find that we more and more consistently think in terms of possibilities instead of doubts and despair.
  • This leads to increased energy and stamina, which give us the ability to follow through and take leadership: being at-cause instead of at-effect, as they put it in some disciplines.
  • We reach a transcendental clarity and perspective “on the other side of ourself.”[5]
  • We attain sensibilities, skills and powers[**] that were previously out of reach for us, if not downright inconceivable.

 

The consistent cultivation of these attributes leads to important qualities we’ll call Will and Power.  Some teachers regard these two as the same, but they have different nuances, so we’ll address them separately for the moment.  Not surprisingly, Will includes, first, a willingness to proceed in the face of adversity or discouragement, and willingness is dependent upon energy, loyalty and discipline.

One’s intent is driven from the Self, from heart, which I emphasize to point out that this is quite more than merely a romantic gesture; it is the manifestation of the whole of oneself.  An act or wish from this position is said to be Law itself.[††][6]  I know I’ve introduced a vocabulary here, and we will discuss these all at the appropriate time, but for now I ask you, dear reader, to intuit the sense of the ideas as best you can.

Power, on the other hand, is the degree, rate and duration to which unity of intent can be held; another way of saying this is: “Power is the assemblage of a sufficiently large grouping of attentional vectors at a single position, attitude, energy and cohesiveness.”  In simple terms, it’s like an industrial laser of the Attention compared to the key-chain flashlight of ordinary doing.[‡‡]

I’m sure you noticed that both of the above definitions include the ideas of unity, intent, energy and attention.  All of these depend, among other things, on self-knowledge, on whose premises we will base an entire chapter of this book.

As I mentioned, the unity begins with the silencing of extraneous thoughts; it is supported by clear and firm covenants, charitable service (that is, work whose only reward is the well-being of another), obedience to a discipline (such as monks and swamis undertake – this has nothing to do with being brainwashed by belief systems) and life-changing encounters with Death.

Intent is the cultivation of a single wish of Heart, Mind and Soul, and burnished to a brilliant edge.[§§]  The devastating yearning that this creates forces one to go virtually mad with mood swings ranging from suicidal despair to the most exalted religious experience.  We can truly say that if it is not maddening, it is not really intent.  Some religious orders call this force the touch of God.  Occasionally a person who has not undergone the requisite disciplines and transformations will accidentally receive the touch (as in “Jerusalem syndrome[***]” and psychopathic messiahs[†††]) – this is the basis for many horror tales.

Loyalty (or faith, as we use it here)[‡‡‡] is the strength of our wish to be whole and awake; this is what decides whether we live or die in a crisis, and allows us to be at-cause instead of at-effect when challenged.  Please notice that it has nothing to do with believing anything or anyone, and that it is entirely personal to the individual, notwithstanding the common usages of the words.

Pretty much everyone thinks that they know what attention is, and how to pay it but, for our purposes here, it deserves special consideration.  I am going to assert that our attention is the one and only relationship that we can have with our world,[§§§] and that it is the one and only thing that we have choice about.  It is this attention which is lost in the morass of all our conditioning and inurement, and it is what in us that can transform, expand and evolve.

If we compare the attention of an ordinary person to that of a race-car driver, a master magician, a neurosurgeon, a musical virtuoso, a juggler, or even a pinball or skateboard champion, it becomes clear that such performers have honed their attention to a fine and durable point, single-minded and acutely focused.  Actually, it is an interesting and useful exercise to study each of those types of attention – really allow yourself to move into each one.

Another curious, but no less important, exercise would be to spend time with a small child or a family pet, and really come to appreciate how they see the world, how they see you.  Really try to adopt their point of view.  Of course, doing such a thing requires that you learn how to adopt a non-verbal, non-symbolic perspective, free of the ‘meaning’ of anything beyond what is immediately in the present moment, on its own terms; that is, simply what effect the event has on us.

 

That, actually, brings us to the point of this chapter: what it takes to adopt new paradigms.  Usually we tend to think that all we have to do is to conceive of some notion, or nominally agree with some ‘crackpot’s idea in order to appear open-minded, but that is always through the filters of our built-in prejudices – the new idea couched in terms of what we already think we know.

So the new paradigms that I am presenting here begin with the foundational idea that, before we can adopt a truly new point of view, we must drop our previous one[****].  This is what the great philosopher and mathematician Descartes set out to do in his own studies[7] – he determined that, in order to arrive at The Truth, he needed to set aside his established conceptions.

He decided that his first new thought, in that experiment, had to be a decision about the place of God in his prospective world-view; his approach went something like this: “God is greater than man; therefore, the fact that I am thinking about God proves that the idea must have been put into my awareness by a Power greater than myself – that must be God.  Therefore, God exists and is the Creator of Man.  Q.E.D.”

I hope you see the fallacy in this Cartesian line of ‘reasoning’ – it is a wonder that he was able to give the world the calculus with which rocket trajectories (among many other complex problems) can be determined.  His fallacy was two-fold: first of all, his premise (“God is greater than man”) was completely based on assumed doctrine.  More importantly, if Descartes had actually dropped his preconceptions, he wouldn’t have worried about God at all, since everything that any of us know about ‘God’ is what we were taught, mostly when very young[††††].  Try that exercise I mentioned – from the eye of a baby or a kitten, ‘God’ is its caretaker at whose breast it suckles (although it does not entertain this as a thought) and also, perhaps, its oneness with everything.

That latter, of course, will not be expressed as a concept, but only felt – a tiny primitive being will act from its intimate relationship with its fellows and with its environment, rather than talk about it.  And that is yet another foundation-piece for the new paradigm – it reveals itself not by talking, but by setting up our ordinary experiences, and also dreams, visions, revelations and transcendental experiences.  That is the job of the paradigm, but then, what does it take for us to go and meet it?

It occurs to me that I need to clear up one more point that is often misunderstood: a shift in paradigms (at least as we are regarding them in this book) is not merely an intellectual exercise – it constitutes a real shift in consciousness and even a physiological shift; that is (referring back to the examples we considered on the previous page), some of these shifts require a different metabolic rate, an increase in adrenalin or endorphans, and sleep deprivation or fasting in some cases.[‡‡‡‡]  We will even examine the skills of autistic savants and the sensibilities of people with certain kinds of brain damage, and learn how to simulate those skills and senses without undergoing damage.[§§§§]

 

I like to say that we have learned to deal with our life through a ‘mask,’ and a fractured one at that.  We’ll be devoting an entire chapter to the formation, features and transformations of these masks but, for now, we’ll just discuss how this idea relates to shifting paradigms.  We can say that this mask is the crystallization of all our responses to our programming – our attitudes and our defenses – and it becomes the lens through which we perceive the world and communicate with others.  Would it disturb you to contemplate the idea that virtually all your thoughts and feelings are really automatic reflections of the mask?  That is, I ‘feel’ that so-and-so “is-a-good-person” or that such-and-such “can’t be trusted.” [*****]

Or, “I have this ‘original idea’ which, upon closer inspection, turns out to be a variation of something I read or watched recently.”  In fact, I intend to demonstrate, later on, that virtually all our ‘thoughts’ are “associative reflexes” of the mask.  That is precisely why our symbols can be manipulated so easily by politics and advertising, and why some of my friends keep thinking that they have something new to ‘share’ with me at the ‘graduation’ of their weekend workshops: they have been effectively brainwashed, in the name of clarity and self-authority, to bring in more participants to the next round of workshops.[†††††]

One of my favorite depictions[8] of our situation is as if there were several company owners who do not talk to each other, instead relying on a bored and underpaid receptionist to relay information to them.  The receptionist,[‡‡‡‡‡] instead of trying to understand and accurately interpret the desired information, simply reaches behind her desk and pulls a card out of the nearest cubbyhole that resembles the communication that was requested.  Whatever is on that card is what she transmits to her boss.  And what is on that card is simply, in most cases, a stock response to some experience from early childhood.

Our feelings, on the other hand, are an even worse muddle.  We have largely adopted the convention of referring to all of our subconscious ‘baggage’ – our stories of self-pity, fantasy, judgment and doom – as “my feelings.” But they are not genuinely emotional feelings; I contend that they are almost entirely stories and labels to which we attach energy and fixate attention.  Even the ‘emotions’ we consider to be the most basic – love, hatred, grief, anger and fear – are, in this new paradigm, merely labels for our self-defeating and limiting stories that we run internally, as “background noise,” without examination, for the most part.[§§§§§]

While we are being run around by these stories (and they infect every aspect of our lives) we are certain that these are our own thoughts and feelings, and we go to amazing lengths to find ‘reasons’ with which to justify the ‘decisions’ we make based upon them.  By mutual agreement (again, mostly unconsciously) we have come to see the ‘reasonableness’ of these decisions, at least until they reach a dysfunctional level, as in schizophrenia and addiction.  In those cases, the subjects are justifying their actions and thoughts beyond the established conventions, and so the mismatch stands out in relief.

But my claim is that we are all doing the same thing, essentially; ‘explaining’ our hallucinations to each other instead of experiencing the actual world.  I am calling the habit of doing so, the mask.  Everything either fits within our categories of preconception or we deny its very existence.  Those who insist that the world consists only of material objects and accidental relationships, and those who are sure that everything in their world comes about from miraculous events or from some High Intelligence, are equally delusional, according to the perspective I am offering here.

This mask blinds us to the possibilities of worlds of wonderment, to a universe of unexpected beauty, to levels of relationship and connectedness that would rival any tale in mythology or scripture.  Therefore the (at first temporary) removal of the mask is the first key to adopting a transcendental paradigm.

 

The second key is to design or discern[******] a desired alternative perspective.  We are always being given pop-psychology representations for affirmations, ‘mind-treatments,’ ‘prayer-therapy’ and positive thinking[††††††] but, despite claims of reliable achievement, many of their practitioners are disappointed, and many of their associates are often unconvinced of genuine progress.

            As I mentioned, one of the reasons for such frustration is our lack of self-knowledge, and so we are always clumsily trying to circumvent the issues and injuries that we have stored up and forgotten, thus leading to rampant self-sabotage.  That is, we are really trying to change ourselves (more accurately, trying to be perceived by other people) to conform with what we think they want: we want to be liked, so we try to please them but fail, and the reason is that we didn’t get agreement within ourselves.[‡‡‡‡‡‡]  So our ‘subconscious’[§§§§§§] sabotages our decisions while other people can see that our purpose is not coherent, even if they don’t admit to what they see (because they have a stake in keeping up the mask).

Another reason for our being frustrated with conventional methods of ‘self-improvement’ is that such affirmations do not generally rise to the level of intent (in the sense that don Juan uses the term[9]) and are based on what I call “flat-logic” derived from the standard assumptions (as I described earlier) of our cultural indoctrination.  Flat-logic is how I am referring to the linear, associative categorizations of the ‘formatory-receptionist’ that I mentioned – it selects whatever evidence will ‘prove’ that one’s original assumptions were correct, and it is made up not of real thought, but of ‘pre-printed’ labels.

Fortunately, we are not limited to such a two-dimensional perspective.  The mask limits us, but it also structures and organizes our perceptions; without it we experience chaos.  Then how can we contemplate removing the mask to allow a larger understanding and range of impressions?  My teachers[*******] explain that this conundrum is precisely the raison d’être for virtually all of the ancient religions and lineages: to set up an external context that would support the solidification of one’s undeveloped inner core until it can act independently and subsume all the functions of the ordinary self.  Basically, it’s like learning to walk, talk and take responsibility all over again from a higher level.  We’ll explore these methods in a later chapter.

 

The third key is setting up the internal and external conditions that will bring you from the habitual context to the new one.  By internal conditions, I mean inner disciplines like meditation, contemplation, sacrifice, charitable service, work against negativity, cultivation of positive attitudes, and so on.  Outer conditions involve putting out reminders,[†††††††] committing to religious and community organizations, entering into obedience to a teacher or a lineage, undergoing challenges (religious retreats, vision quests, survival courses, etc.) and traveling to sacred sites and power places.[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡]  We will later on, of course, go into more detail about setting up these conditions.

 

The fourth key is to move from our original perspective[§§§§§§§] toward either the goal position or toward an intermediate state.  In the chapter on visualizing and manifesting alternative perspectives, we will become clear on exactly how to hold a gestalt (picture or model) of the desired perspective[********] steady enough and long enough to be able to attain it.  Meanwhile, let us now discuss how to create the movement toward our goal.

            We have already spoken of some of the qualities of the mask and our associated cultural biases – these give us our starting position, bearing in mind that this ‘foundation’ could easily move out from under us before we have made a separation from it; that is, our self-image and our territoriality, for example, can shift to such a degree that we would have no recollection (nor even interest) in observations and decisions we made even a few minutes earlier.  Let us say that you have just taken a scolding from your boss, but now you are in the tavern and an attractive stranger is complimenting you.

So our basis turns out to be a flux of transient feelings and attitudes.  Now, how do we move off of that, and to where?  Earlier, I was outlining some of the techniques and setups for reducing the influence of the mask; now I’d like to talk about how we can create the movement toward new paradigms, bearing in mind that, traditionally, each step of this process is expected to take on the order of ten years.  However, my plan is that the procedures and ideas you’ll find in this book will greatly shorten the learning curve for you.

           

Why do I say that we must change so drastically in order to adopt an alternative paradigm (even assuming that we can break free of the programmed mask)?   I started mentioning about the needed shifts even requiring changes in metabolism and neurological structure.  Look at what we have to do with children in order to give them our own perspective:

  • Teach them our language(s) – spoken, written and gestures;
  • Give them objects to play with and games to play which represent the objects and relationships pertinent to the cultural perspective;
  • Teach them the history of our culture (often, especially in America, our culture-within-a-culture);
  • Immerse them in interactions with other children and with adults;
  • Educate them in the ideas and skills valued by the culture;
  • Submit them to pertinent propaganda – either the constant advertising, ‘news’ and patriotic babble of the status quo side or that of whatever counterculture to which cult the adult subscribes.

 

Then I am saying that the transformation we must undergo is no less arduous than the raising of a child into conformity with one’s given culture, because now we are going to adopt some new cultural map, and that can be done only by growing into it, not by theorizing about it.  So our efforts must be quite serious, but not necessarily protracted.  The key is to create a balanced transformation, on all sides of the Self[††††††††] and, for that, intensity and thoroughness are more important than endurance (although that also is necessary), but the main thing is to make the work real and present, and not just go through the motions or accept doctrine over self-realization.

            At this point I should outline the issues that we must overcome in order to make the balanced, evolutionary shifts that we are seeking in this work (and don’t worry if a point doesn’t seem clear right now – we’ll have ample explanations and examples in the corresponding chapters):

  • We do not truly know ourselves, and so we cannot know what to change;
  • Our consciousness is so fragmented that, at each moment, everything else that we know or have experienced is so unrelated that we consider it all to be “the subconscious” when, in fact, every position in the ‘subconscious’ considers the same thing about where we are now.[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡]
  • Our desires are so scattered that we cannot martial enough will to sustain a real shift;[§§§§§§§§]
  • We are enslaved to addictions, temptations and even symbols, all the way around;
  • We are slaves to whatever ‘thoughts’ and ‘feelings’ rule us at a given moment.

 

Then the remedies for these deficits are just their opposites:

Each one of us must earnestly study ourselves;

  • We must form clear agreements within ourselves, and then make firm convictions to act in a unified manner until we achieve a sufficient degree of unity;[*********]
  • We need to simplify our requirements, become innerly silent and patient, and develop discipline,  courage and willingness to be of service; that is, putting our attention on what other people need instead of on our own selfish requirements;[†††††††††]
  • We have to get our inner and outer environments under control, and make firm decisions in advance about what we will do at a given crossroads, and then have someone in place who will check up on us about it.  A ruthless usage of the Twelve-Step program would work just fine for this, or entry into a charitable monastic order, or even just pick a committed coaching partner.[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡]  Nobody ever succeeds by being their own coach for this work – trust me.[§§§§§§§§§][10]

 

Some people get the impression that the easiest way is the easiest way (sounds like a tautology); that is, if they just make sure that everything goes their way without disturbance, and they make sure that no distractions or temptations are brought to them, then they will more quickly achieve the results they desire.  This is akin to the old saw from psychology: “Once people have all their basic needs met, then they will have time and leisure for spirituality.”[**********][11]

            I hope you’ll find that only cursory inspection puts the lie to either of those assertions.  In all my studies and experience, I have never seen anyone develop the requisite power to do without devastating and repeated challenge.  Admittedly, I have of course known people who, for example, have undergone a near-death experience and have come out of it with psychic or healing abilities; there are plenty of people who simply have such a natural gift and get by with it, even occasionally producing works of genius.  But the brilliance that I am watching for is the shine which comes from overcoming, from prolonged determination.[††††††††††]

            The point that I wish to make here is that the power to achieve elegant paradigm shifts is far better accrued by overcoming adversity and developing character qualities (even if still somewhat crude) than by merely having impressive skills and attributes that were not earned by prolonged efforts.  Please know that I make this point not out of any moral dogma, but only from the real necessity of creating the conditions necessary for the transformations that I am offering you.[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡]

 

To sum up this foundational chapter, I would like you to remember and consider:

  • The reasons you’d want to be able to shift perspectives;
  • That it takes definite and serious work on ourselves in order to do that;
  • The procedures for making the necessary changes are arduous and usually very long, but can be accelerated;
  • The results for making this effort turn out to be rather surprisingly more rewarding than could be anticipated.

 

If you stick with me through the following chapters (and apply the suggestions to your life and your awareness), I really believe you will come away with insights and abilities that will enrich not only your own life, but that of everyone you deal with.

 

 


Exercises for Chapter One

                                                                               

  1. Flip through the books listed in the references for this chapter, and read something out of them every day – I don’t care where you start, just start familiarizing yourself with the material.
  2. Wake up a few minutes early and write down a couple of details from your dreams.
  3. As long as you’re up, sit quietly for ten minutes; you can just feel your breath or listen to your heartbeat.  You’ll likely be distracted by thoughts – don’t struggle too hard trying to silence them.
  4. As you go through your day, try to notice how you respond to people, pressures and other concerns – just make little notes in the back of your mind.

 

 

 

 

References for Chapter One

 



[*] Later on we will discuss the conscious origins of our assumptive layers.

[†] Now that I think of it, people have attacked each other over, for example, unfavorable referee’s calls.

[‡] Kurt Vonnegut refers to these artificial associations as “granfaloons” in Cat’s Cradle.

[§] Castaneda’s (op. cit.) don Juan refers to this as “the habitual position of the assemblage point.”

[**] What distinction am I making between ‘powers’ and ‘abilities’?

[††] Don Juan says, basically, “When the warrior’s intent becomes totally singular, his wish becomes the intent of Spirit.”  Another way he puts it is, “The emanations within the luminous body of the warrior aligns with the Eagle’s emanations at large.”

[‡‡] This is why Gurdjieff says, “Man cannot do” or, more specifically (paraphrasing), “Man #1, 2 or 3 cannot do, but Man #5, 6 or 7 has the power to do” (the first three represent the physically-, emotionally- and mentally-oriented aspects of ordinary (masked) man, whereas the latter three categories signify three levels of permanent transformation.  (G. left “Man #4” as a special case: the product of the kind of work we are studying in this book.)

[§§] ‘Edge’ is used here not only metaphorically; for our purposes, it refers to a sort of abstract ‘organ’ whose function is to transform strong emotional energies into boosts for elevating levels of consciousness.

[***] This refers to people who visit some holy place and become ‘infected’ with the “divine touch” and then believe that they are the next prophet or similar.

[†††] Well known examples would be Jim Jones, Charles Manson, David Koresh, and Applewhite of Heaven’s Gate.

[‡‡‡] Gurdjieff refers to this as magnetic center.  Don Juan calls it power.

[§§§] This is given as an axiom or basic definition of the series of paradigms that I am introducing.  Therefore, it is not a matter of opinion (as in a point of fact), and you are welcome to come up with your own terms, once you have fully understood the concepts involved.

[****] We should realize that we actually pop from one perspective to another without realizing it, driven by changes of context and mood.

[††††] I don’t want any angry letters decrying me as an ‘atheist’ or a heretic (although I probably would be considered heretical by most religionists; what I am talking about is our notions about God, irrespective of what I believe personally.

[‡‡‡‡] There have been (especially with the saints and martyrs) instances when illumination was achieved through torture.

[§§§§] Although one should not be shocked, in doing the work we are describing, to find yourself manifesting permanent changes, but ones that we expect you will treasure (and you may very well be shocked, in a certain sense).

[*****] Do you notice that, in the “I feel that …” construction, the ‘feeling’ alluded to cannot be located in oneself?  It is not properly a thought, because we cannot find how we arrived at it, nor is it an emotion in itself, although we quickly attach all sorts of emotional reactions to it, mostly over-vehement, angry, frustrated, indignant, despite the fact that, in almost every instance, we cannot say why we ‘feel’ that way.  Let me know if you concur with this after studying yourself.

[†††††] Some of these people even have credentials in psychology.  I always tell them, upon hearing their invitation, “I’d love to hear about it – please be sure to call me next week, when you don’t have a ‘facilitator’ standing over you.”

[‡‡‡‡‡] Gurdjieff called this the “formatory apparatus”

[§§§§§] Please notice that I am not referencing any statistical studies for these assertions; I am hoping that you, dear reader, will attempt the exercises I propose, and then confirm or deny these observations for yourself.

[******] The issue of whether we are creating or discovering new worlds turns out to be rather moot in the perspective of the new paradigms.

[††††††] Mostly from the New Thought religions and authors of the past eighty or so years.

[‡‡‡‡‡‡] Some disciplines refer to our internal disagreements as secondaries; that is, we are able to express some primary goal (wealth, health, love, etc.) but, behind those, we have, for example, fears of changing, distrust for the people who would love us, or resistance to being self-reliant and thus losing the care-giving that our helplessness incurs.

[§§§§§§] Later on I’ll be supplying a more complete model for what we are attempting to describe with this term.

[*******] Aside from many of the authors in the bibliography, my teachers include the padrinhos of a syncretic Amazonian mystery school religion, and other beings.

[†††††††] Virtually all religious icons, totems, amulets, fetishes and other symbols serve this precise purpose: the Jewish mezuzah contains a scroll which specifically states, in effect, “Remember at all times to love God completely; put this reminder everywhere that you pass by.”  The crucifix reminds Christians to worry less about their own suffering and appreciate the love that God has for them and all beings.  Every religion specifically sets up an environment for religious experience.

[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡] Depending on your predilections, these might include Sedona, Machu Picchu, Mecca, Jerusalem, the Grand Canyon, the Amazon, the Himalyas, India, Lourdes, and so on.

[§§§§§§§] Bear in mind that, by the time you are ready to shift perspective states, you may no longer be in the same internal position in which you set the intention to shift.

[********] In many cases, we may only know some of the features of whatever we would attain to, whereas the complete state may hold worlds of unexpected qualities and demands.  This fact has prompted many science fiction stories.

[††††††††] Such work is called “the fourth way” by Gurdjieff, and refers to the three traditional paths of antiquity: the way of the faqir (discipline of the body), that of the monk (the emotions) and yoga (‘yoke’ of duality), the way of the mind.  Admittedly, much of monasticism has degenerated into doctrinism, and yoga has distributed itself across the range of disciplines, mostly known today as a bland version of hatha (male-female) yoga, now mostly limited to asanas, or positions and movements which were once ways of directly achieving new states of consciousness.  A similar story prevails for the martial arts.

[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡] That is, now is “the subconscious” for some other moment in the false mask. That is why we feel crazy when we are faced with two positions at the same time, such as during trauma, terror, ecstatic pleasure or an act of power. Later on, we will examine ways of cultivating these strong inner forces in order to obtain the energies necessary for meaningful shifts of attention.

[§§§§§§§§] This is the original purpose for the promulgation of faith and belief.  These words did not mean the mere adoption of warmed-over dogma; instead, at least for our purposes here, they refer to single-minded purpose, unbending intent and selfless abandon.  Later we will understand how these are combined – the real alchemy.

[*********] We always congratulate ourselves on this ‘achievement’ far too prematurely.

[†††††††††] Gurdjieff (in Ouspensky, op.cit.) calls this distinction external vs. internal considering.

[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡] ‘Sponsor’ in 12-step parlance.

[§§§§§§§§§] The ordeal of John Nash (the Nobel-prize-winning subject of A Beautiful Mind) is a wonderful example for this discussion: with the help of his wife (and, to a lesser degree, his friends), he brought himself back from madness on the strength of his resolve.  He made it clear that he could not have done it alone, but it was also clear that his achievement was a great example of extraordinary single-mindedness.  The pianist David Helfgott (Shine) is another interesting example of this kind of determination.

[**********] This is Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy.

[††††††††††] Gurdjieff calls this super-efforts and “conscious labors and intentional suffering.” We’ll be discussing this more in the chapter on transformation.

[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡] This is a fundamental principle in esoteric lineages, and can be found in the scriptures of all mystically based religions (like Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, etc.) as well as in mythology.



[1] An article in Scientific American, Newsweek or Discover Magazine.

[2] Tannen, Deborah, You Just Don’t Understand, … also           

[3] Gray, John, Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars, …

[4] Andreas, Stephen and Connirae, Frogs into Princes, …

[5] Castaneda, Carlos, Tales of Power, …

[6] Castaneda, Carlos, The Eagle’s Gift, …

[7] Descartes, René, Novum Organum, …

[8] Ouspensky, P. D., In Search of the Miraculous, 1947, or The Fourth Way, … (quoting G. I. Gurdjieff)

[9] Castaneda, Carlos, The Fire from Within, … (cfwill’ as expressed in Ouspensky)

[10] A Beautiful Mind

[11] Maslow, Abraham, …