Chapter 5 – The Shields: Layers of Ego-Binding

 

 “In the moment of not having anything, which is the moment of death,
there is a revelation of who you are. And who you are needs nothing.”
– Gangaji

“What you must dare is to be yourself.” – Dag Hammarskjøld

 

M

ANY NATIVE American teachings use the idea of shields to describe how we meet, receive and respond to the world, and I have found some equivalencies in Eastern teachings, as well.  I’ll tell you about a few that I’ve learned, and then we’ll expand those ideas to embrace the core ideas of this book.  Any questions so far?  (I have a few.)

            The first model we’ll tackle is Swift Deer’s;[1] like most such teachings, it is laid out on a wheel, or circle.  Divide the circle vertically; the left side is the substance half, and the right is the spirit side.  Now divide the wheel horizontally, so that the top half is the adult part and the bottom is the child position.  So altogether, around the wheel, we have the child-substance, the adult substance, the child-spirit and the adult spirit.  There is one more shield in the center: Sacred Dream.

            The child-substance shield, then, is concerned primarily with the past, with regrets, shame, sadness and fears.  In contrast, the adult-substance shield worries about the future, mostly: dread of what might happen, stress over promises about one’s future actions, and other matters not entirely within the person’s control.

            On the other hand, both of the spirit shields are devoted to the moment of the Present – the adult-spirit (known as the warrior) shield meets everything as it comes, while the child-spirit (sometimes called the joy guide) shield provokes us to take risks, causes issues to surface, pushes the substance to act.  So we have, on the substance side, the several ways of being at-effect; the spirit side is at-cause – it provokes situations and then meets them with spontaneity, immediacy and intrepidity.

            The center shield – the Sacred Dream – either is one’s life path, or it is what chooses it.   In these kinds of paradigms, as I’ve argued elsewhere in this book, there isn’t all that much difference between the two (whether it is the cause or the result), nor is there any significant difference between whether Sacred Dream chose our path “at the beginning” (assuming you subscribe to beginnings) or is choosing it right now, this moment (in this book, there is no special difference there, either).

            Another important take on layers and shields can be found in Gurdjieff’s teachings.[*][2]  In them, we have not one mind, on one level, but three stories of mind, each containing one or more centers. In the top story we find the intellectual center, operating at a certain rate – we’ll use this as the base for comparing the rates of the other centers.  The emotional center occupies the second story at a relative rate of approximately 30,000.[†]  The third story contains three centers: the moving, the instinctive and the sexual, operating on the order of one billion as compared to the intellect.  That explains why we may be awkward and slow when first learning to do something, and then quick and skillful once we no longer need the intellect to “manually” go through whatever steps are involved.

            Gurdjieff attributes to the moving center a lot of what we traditionally refer to as “instincts,” including any learned activity.  He asserts that the “instinctive behaviors” of animals, and even of insects, are learned as soon as the young creature observes its role models.[‡]  Then the instinctive center is responsible only for truly automatic movements such as heartbeat, breathing and metabolism and, of course, the reflexes.[§]

            Gurdjieff makes a big point about the sexual center, that it does not contain, in itself, any fantasy, cruelty, pain, possessiveness or dependency – that all comes from “wrong work of centers.”  Instead, he asserts that pure sexual energy is the indispensable key to awakening, that it alone has the qualities necessary to complete “the third octave.[**]  Similarly for the emotional center, it does not contain any stories of self-pity, self-importance, indignity, thoughts disguised as “feelings,[††]” or foul moods, but only value-less movements of emotional energies.  This distinction will become clearer as we approach Silent Knowledge.

            In advanced adepts who have restored right work of their centers and balanced them,[‡‡] and then crystallized that balance permanently into higher bodies,[§§] they are said to have two more stories with two more centers: the Higher Emotional and the Higher Mental centers.  These do not compare with anything we’ve ever regarded as either “emotional” or “mental” – they[***] are the agents of the higher bodies: the astral and the causal and, as such, they comprise whole new orders of senses, stimuli, mentation and experience.  All I should say about them here, for now, is that they have powers[†††] and qualities[‡‡‡] beyond the mortal.

            For this section, an important point, that I need to make about the centers or, more properly, the wrong work of the centers, is that there is a “mechanism” that prevents us from noticing the defects and imbalances – Gurdjieff calls this mechanism buffers,  like the rubber buffers in the links between railroad cars that prevent them from shocking each other when the train changes speed.  These “buffers” allow us to sleep through catastrophes – those of war, violence, poverty, hunger and cruelty, and also, on a personal level, the lies we tell ourselves and each other.  That is to say, the buffers allow us to live our lives in sleep – a range of states in which we are sure we are brilliant and responsive human beings, loving, making decisions, inventing, creating, being important; but now we are being told that all of that is illusion and, in fact, we are tragically deceiving ourselves, and that the only destiny that a person living behind the shields should expect is the grave.

 

In my own work, I have used the idea of shields to represent the layers of decisions we have been making, starting from even before birth, in response to everything that has occurred to us, either externally or internally (because of defining it this way, the idea of shields becomes almost interchangeable with that of the mask).  As I mentioned in Chapter One, at the time we made these decisions, they were conscious, even if non-verbal or subliminal but, by the time the next layer is added, the reasons for the previous decisions are now buried and, for the most part, completely denied.

            For example, I have exhumed, from my own memories, a decision that I made at about twelve years old: I didn’t want any attention brought to me[§§§] (although, of course, I was starved for proper attention, which would include non-psychopathic affection), and I was so inattentive at school that I had trouble distinguishing being called upon by name, from similar-sounding words like “very”; so I remember making the decision to simply ignore all such sounds!  Not surprisingly, my parents were soon advised to take me in to test my hearing, which of course was fine.  But this decision that I had made was based on previous layers of decision, like why it was bad to get attention[****] and why I did not want to participate in the classroom, and also helped to shape future layers of decision, such as what types of situations I would allow myself to fall into (which always seemed to have been unconscious at the time, and which very often got me “inexplicably” into trouble) and how I would interact with people (dysfunctionally, to a great extent).

 

All this brings us to the difference between psychotherapeutic methods for uncovering subconscious motives, and actually peeling back these layers or shields.[††††]  These two approaches share the observation that, since we had shut down those memories in the first place, it is necessary to introduce new resources and support structures in order to make it safe enough for the person to bring the experiences back up to awareness; the paths diverge both on what kinds of resources those should be, and on what to do with what experiences come up. Of course there are several approaches in between the two extremes, so we will discuss those, as well.

            In general, the psychotherapeutic model is oriented towards being “well-adjusted” for one’s society, not even taking into account that the society might, in itself, be pathological – that is, for example, what would it mean to be ‘adjusted’ in a fragmented culture in which people cannot trust each other and the strong victimize the weak?  In such a model, practitioners have justified using such horrors as prefrontal lobotomies, electro-shock treatments and toxic drugs to interrupt what they regard as disruptive behaviors in their patients, regardless of the loss or destruction of their sense of self.[‡‡‡‡]

            The path to awakening, on the other hand, endeavors to augment one’s sense of self, often regardless of disruption to societal adjustment; that makes it much the opposite of the psychotherapeutic approach (although sometimes the apprentice is tasked specifically to achieve an attainment in life, such as an apprentice who never had much scholastic success being tasked to earn a college degree, or one who was never good with money to run a business).  Those who have been deeply conditioned toward awakening quite often appear quirky if not downright nuts.  Some become beggars, some go into seclusion and some just wander, while others establish churches or institutions or become healers or teachers.  Some become oracles or priests, some humble monks, while others continue to work in life as if they were ordinary people.[§§§§]

 

In the psychological model, the therapeutic setting might be a hospital ward, a padded cell, a group home or a sanatorium, under the supervision of nurses, psychiatrists, facilitators or house parents.  These conditions are geared toward safety and the return to normality.  They may use verbal methods like analysis or group therapy, they may use psychoactive or mood-leveling drugs, physical shocks,[*****] surgery,[†††††] immobilization or behavioral-change interventions.[‡‡‡‡‡]  These kinds of processes may occasionally (and often only temporarily) lift up some layers of ego-shielding, but very often they even add to the mask – the patient may often develop a patter of pseudo-psychobabble or a façade of “normality.”

The transformational model, on the other hand, uses retreat spaces for short-term, intensive work, and intentional communities for lifestyle immersion, governed or inspired by leaders who often have very eclectic backgrounds taken from Eastern religions, native traditions or even self-inspiration.[§§§§§]  Often they have written popular books and recorded lectures.  Typical processes include encounters, “trainings,” workshops, “truth circles,” retreats, “vision quests,” aura balancings, healings, psychic readings, divinations and so on.  The firewalks and ropes courses may shift the mask (out of sheer survival terror) for the duration of the activity, but those new resources are generally incorporated right back into the masked shields.  A few of the processes (such as the encounters and vision quests) will displace a few layers of shielding for a somewhat longer time, but usually only temporarily unless the work is done consistently as a lifestyle; the remainder may even add to the mask by feeding self-importance or by encouraging “premature self-congratulation.”

A third type of environment would be the religious model.  The housing for this approach might be a temple or monastery, a church or cathedral, or one’s home.  The facilitator would be a pastor or priest,[******] an abbot, a monk or nun, or even oneself.  In a religious format, the essential practices are fasting, abstinence, prayer,[††††††] chanting, obeisances, prostrations, ablutions, rosaries, silence, seclusion, castigation and humiliation[‡‡‡‡‡‡].[§§§§§§]  All of these are intended for limited periods of time, although very advanced adepts may choose to continue some of them for the remainder of their lives.[*******]

Many of these religious practices displace the shields, and the monastic and retreat environments do provide a safe space for the concomitant vulnerability.  But the religious model does not overtly recognize masks and shields, and the support they provide is not specific to these displacements, although transformation does often occur in some way.

 

The next model we’ll discuss is that of shamanic lineages.  The environments for these are always in nature, or at least will have an altar filled with objects from nature: stones, crystals, herbs, bones, antlers, fur, feathers, corn, vines, twigs, etc.  Shamans share many of their practices with the religious model, although references to God and the saints are generally replaced with nature spirits or jungle pantheons, such as the Orishás and mostly they are not interested in humiliation or symbols of piety.  Whereas the intent of the religious view is salvation and redemption, and to make room for God, the main intents of the shamanic path are to create healings and attain (or receive) power, to communicate with the spirits, and to influence the course of nature (such as causing rain to fall).

            Practitioners of these methods are (obviously) shamans,[†††††††] or they can also be Xiao-Lin priests, Tibetan Buddhist lamas, Voudou or Santeria priests,[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡] or someone who has passed through death and received both a miraculous healing and the vocation of healing or teaching others in this way.  Shamans have lineages of form: for some, it is through dancing or singing; others may be masters of using psychoactive plants or story-telling.

Mediumship is a very common mode among shamans, whereby they may act according to instructions that they receive from the spirits in various ways – through signs in nature (a lightning strike or some fortuitous collocation, for example), through a voice in their head, or even by incorporating the spirit directly (deliberately allowing themselves to be possessed).  A shaman may be a story-teller, a bard, a sorcerer, a healer, a carpenter or a fisher; it may not even be possible to distinguish some shamans from the ordinary natives around them.

Many of these shamanic paths do not remove layers of the ego-mask, being focused only on, for example, healings, acquiring power or communicating with the spirits, although they do have to shift their awareness in order to do these things.  Some of the sorcery, story-telling or priestly lines do remove shielding, and the subject may then gyrate and babble for a time, as if drunk or insane.[§§§§§§§]

 

Finally we come to the Esoteric-Mystical approach.  The settings usually resemble those of either the shamanic or the religious forms, which makes sense in view of the fact that most such lineages and religions originated with mystical experiences on the part of the founding prophets, saints or kings.[********]  Many religions have (or had) some form of “Holy of Holies” accessible only to the high priests,[††††††††] but in temples or shrines which are actively of esoteric orders, the rituals take on purposeful characteristics for all present.  Instead of just reciting orations about the wonders of the deity (or deities), the participants actually undergo the supernatural events that are invoked.[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡]  These include communication with and observation of the different levels of spirit realms; the manifestation, into the ‘physical’ of objects and beings from other dimensions; merging with other beings, including with the other participants; and the invoking or inducing of magical events.[§§§§§§§§]

            As with the shamanic forms, the esoteric and mystical adepts may be priests, sorcerers, witches, hierophants, gurus, monastics or even householders; what they have in common is that they have the knowledge of some ancient lineage, the power to conduct supernatural forces, the discipline to withstand mortal terror and keep to their purpose, and the over-riding yearning to have to keep progressing.

            In order to move forward in these esoteric-mystical forms, it is essential to first displace the mask and, eventually, to completely remove it, except for intentionally wearing an artificially formed mask for the purpose of stalking[*********] or other tasks in the world.  One big difference from our previous examples is that these traditions know in advance that this is going to occur, and they set up conditions for unmasking to occur safely and completely, and then to replace the ordinary shields with the right work of centers and the higher bodies (the astral, the causal, etc.)

 

Gurdjieff said[†††††††††] that the different approaches can be divided into the philosophical, the theoretical and the practical.[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡]  Then we can say that the religious approach, as I have described it here, is the philosophical, the shamanic might be the theoretical approach, and the practical approach corresponds to the esoteric.[§§§§§§§§§]  The difference of such gradations lies in the proportions of knowledge,[**********] power[††††††††††] and discipline[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡] among the practitioners.

That is the kind of terminology that don Juan uses; Gurdjieff terms it according to level of being, saying that the philosophical approach corresponds to Man #5, the theorietical to Man #6, and the practical approach to Man #7.  Man #5, Man #6 and Man #7 are all, according to Gurdjieff’s paradigms, crystallized[§§§§§§§§§§] (and therefore immortal to at least some degree), but distinguishable by their degree and permanence of power knowledge and awareness.

 

In Western culture, we have mostly all been taught that there is, basically, only one level of awareness, and that everyone makes their choices out of that.  Everything that cannot be explained by that simplistic idea is relegated to a mysterious subconscious which can be accessed (to some degree) through dreams or hypnosis, but which will still mostly hide in the dark corners of our minds, scheming up trouble to get us into.

We call people “well adjusted” if they can somehow run their lives without too much interference from their subconscious, but all too many “successful” people are brought down from the heights of prestige and celebrity by their “demons.”  The scandals befalling so many actors and politicians are so numerous that I don’t see the point of singling any of them out here, but is there some relationship between fame and the “monsters from the id”[3]?

Let us first draw some similarities between two very different kinds of celebrity.  The martyrs and saints suffered terribly in their lives and were often cruelly executed; Gandhi[4] and King were assassinated after devoting their lives to the good of their countrymen.  Some ego shields may have operated in them, or else why would they have been driven to accomplish their purpose?  But in studying their lives, we find that their principles over-rode any personal agendae they may have had.

On the other hand, many of the charismatic “stars,” whose exploits are rife with scandal and intrigue,  either have achieved their exalted stature because of subconscious drives (for recognition or payback, for example), or have been despoiled by the temptations of their celebrity status, causing them to fall into addiction, perversion, excess and self-absorption.  Another way of saying this is, in the terms of this book, is that their shielding has become so thick (or the layers of masking so many) that they are separated from conscience.[***********]  Usually we say “their conscience,” but I am specifically saying it this way to distinguish something more objective and over-riding than the personal (and all-too-convenient) ideas of “right and wrong” (most usually, what you think you can get away with).

The objective conscience to which I am referring is what takes control and precedence when all one’s masks are removed, when the layers of shielding have been sufficiently illuminated.  Someone in conscience can be entrusted with anything – for example, your most intimate secrets, your children’s lives, your community’s welfare.  They will suffer torture and death before betraying trust.

Is that something you admire?  Is it a quality to which you aspire?  Who would want such responsibility?  In truth, no one can answer that question properly unless they have themselves experienced unmasking and seen what the Truth is – the Truth that can never be told in words, but which stands out in high relief when you are unblocked by shielding.  As we continue to explore the revelation of awareness, we will come to appreciate the world view and lifestyles of the witnesses and martyrs.[†††††††††††]

When that kind of zeal is given to unmasked people, miracles happen, populations are saved from doom, humanity is given another chance, and generations are inspired to reach beyond themselves.  But in the hands of the masked and shielded, only horror and destruction result: Adolph Hitler, Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh and Heaven’s Gate are such examples from recent history.[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡]

 

We love our heroes – those who gave up their lives or their freedom for others or for high principles – yet we pay our money to those who have risen to the level of their ‘fatal’ weaknesses.  What does that say about us?  We often feel ashamed about it, yet we do it anyway – encouraging violence, exploitation, greed and dependencies instead of the best that humanity can aspire to.  But the purpose of this book, and its ideas, is not to sermonize, but to show, by anecdotal examples, how we got to where we are, and how we can get somewhere very different.

Let us look, once again, at the quotation at the beginning of this chapter: “In the moment of not having anything, which is the moment of death, there is a revelation of who you are. And who you are needs nothing.”[5]  As I have been proposing, the who-you-are-that-needs-nothing is what we are endeavoring to get to by dropping the masks and penetrating the shields.

Does this mean that we will lose our identity by succeeding in this penetration?  I could answer, “One must meditate upon the question in order to see in what direction the answer may lie.”  But, aside from annoying you with the circumlocution, it also unfairly tilts the playing field in the direction I am proposing to you, before you have had a chance to study it from where you are starting from.

But, alas!  If where you are starting from is securely behind your mask or, worse yet, within the mask, that in itself will bias you against any such exploration, and you probably would have thrown this book down long ago (unless you have randomly flipped through to this section[§§§§§§§§§§§]).  So let us safely assume that, if you have reached this far in the book, you have thoroughly enjoyed (and somewhat understood) what you have read thus far, and that you are willing to explore a bit – take a step or two outside of the “safety zone.”

Then it is to you, my intrepid reader, that I say: you will “lose” something, but that something is only a false persona that has been patched together out of accidental associations and decisions based upon erroneous assumptions.  Up until this point, that has been the face with which we have met “the world” (a world made up of false faces). But what you may (re)gain should far exceed anything the mask could have provided (at least if you have been bitten by the transformation bug).  As is my wont, let us make a list of its features (all that systems training):

  • The absolute honesty and innocence of the unmasked being is what causes us to bond with animals and small children;
  • Regain the innocence and hope of your childhood (the child finally gets to grow up instead of remaining a disruptive subconscious influence);
  • Become completely sincere (and thereby, possibly lose most of your current friends and business associates, although part of the task is to learn discretion, as well);
  • Become a really good listener and observer (what I like to call “the Witness”) – hear what people are trying to tell you (often without their even knowing it), see what they are trying to hide, notice contentions due merely to difference in communication styles or cultural backgrounds, hear the song of everything; taste and feel the living essence of everything;
  • Be able to receive the messages and lessons that are addressed to you from Nature, from Life and from the Infinite;
  •  By finally knowing who you are and what your purpose is, you take your rightful place as the at-cause Source of your whole life-path.[************]

 

In one of the groups that I work with, we recently conducted a workshop on another aspect of this same idea: “What can a group accomplish when no one has to take credit (or blame)?”

Some people argued that human nature prevents such a phenomenon, while others asserted that no group could accomplish anything unless they had some kind of a leader.  Obviously, both of these viewpoints have some merit, but they are too literal and rigidly framed – too absolutist and narrow.  For example, while it is true that most masked people are too isolated and too removed from their conscience, we still have the stupendously exemplary actions of the 9-11 rescue workers in New York City and of all the war heroes and parents who have risked their own lives for the sake of their comrades or children.

            Now, given that a group can form (for some suitable emergency), does it truly need a leader and, if so, can the leader succeed in not taking all the credit?  I remember hearing this quotation from two different native chieftains: “If I had to tell a man what to do, I would no longer be chief!”  Does such an elevated notion of leadership be found in Western culture that has become so notorious for slash-and-burn management?  Apparently so, according to several issues of Entrepeneur, The Wall Street Journal,, Success, Fortune and Money that I have read. Enlightened managers have been finding that giving the credit to their staff has produced remarkable results in productivity, team spirit and loyalty.

            But that still begs the question of what would the incentive and mechanism be for a group in which no person was taking the credit for accomplishment.  As I noted when I posed this question, in such a group no one has to take the blame for failure; but that, by itself, does not give sufficient incentive or purpose.

            This is where the magic of unmasking comes in – it turns out that a group of unmasked people who share a common aim will give total dedication to their project.  They generally will have a leader or leaders in the sense that one will be the advisor on, say, finances, while another knows the particulars of construction methods; a third may be an expert on computer usage, and a fourth may be wiser than the others spiritually.

But such people are pitching in as advisors with their knowledge and skills, not as bosses.   As long as everyone in such a group remains unmasked, they will all work for their mutual benefit and for the achievement of their common aim; but the moment the mask returns, we will once again find political gamesmanship, betrayal, cross-purposes, the bearing of false witness, and one may even completely forget what the others have sacrificed for him.[6]

 

Finally, we come to the second quotation that we began with (from former Secretary General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjøld): “What you must dare is to be yourself!”  Nobody wearing a mask can ever know what that means, and to anyone whose mask has been removed, it is utterly obvious (but only until the mask returns, if it does).  We will see this for ourselves, once we have understood the whole process and tackled enough of the transformational disciplines.

 

                   

 

 

 

Exercises for Chapter Five

                                                                               

  1. Continue the exercises from Chapter Four.
  2. As you recall your dreams, start noticing where in them you were more central to the story, where you had more power, and when you felt helpless.
  3. Notice your interactions with people – how much of them are you really deciding now, and how much seems to have been predetermined somehow.
  4. Notice how mechanically people interact with each other.

 

 

 

 

 

References for Chapter Five

 



[*] As reported in Ouspensky, Orage, Nicoll, et al.

[†] It really wants to be 3,162, in my opinion, so that, when squared, it equals the order of one billion times.

[‡] I myself have not succeeded in verifying his assertion, but please remember that it is a paradigm.

[§] Notwithstanding the assertions of yogis that they can control all of those automatic movements.

[**] The third octave of transformation, according to Gurdjieff (via his students’ books) is that of impressions, with a vibratory density of 48, compared with the 2nd octave (initiating from the air we breathe) at a density of 192, and the food octave’s density is 768.  G says that we can go without food for weeks, water for days, but our impressions for not one single moment.  Apparently impressions can be generated entirely internally, given the usage of isolation tanks and meditation chambers.

[††] Usually very easily identified by such markers as, “I feel that so-and-so is  <some judgment>”

[‡‡] Properties of G’s “man #4”.

[§§] A property of G’s “man #5, 6 or 7” (all basically immortal, but distinguished by degrees of awareness and volition).

[***] This is actually your Self at those levels.

[†††] In Eastern teachings, these powers are called siddhes, and they are known to result from attaining certain levels of meditation, for example.  At a certain point, according to tradition, siddhes may be “traded” for awareness or for a higher level of being; we will examine how that would work, later on.

[‡‡‡] For example, the higher centers are said to be immortal in comparison with the physical and, being under a higher order of law (that of destiny or causation rather than the level of accident).

[§§§] That, of course, being based upon previous layers of at-one-time conscious layers of decision.

[****] For example, I was likely to be humiliated if I responded, because I never could keep track of what was being discussed, or even why it was being discussed.

[††††] Castaneda calls this process recapitulation when done in the ways described by don Juan, although equivalent ways (that is, having similar results) can be found in Gurdjieff, various Buddhist and shamanic traditions and some martial arts forms.

[‡‡‡‡] Some good examples of this conundrum is presented in the movies Frances and Girl, Interrupted.

[§§§§] These traits are common to most of the Eastern disciplines, many monastic orders and shamanic lineages.

[*****] Electro-shock or insulin shock, for example.

[†††††] Lobotomy or hemispheric separation, for example.

[‡‡‡‡‡] Examples might be aversion training, close supervision or affection (there is a tribe in Africa whose treatment for antisocial behavior is for everyone in the tribe to tell the offender what they love and appreciate about him or her).

[§§§§§] This could be from channeling or other form of direct revelation (if you subscribe to that possibility), it could be from having gone to a lot of workshops and trainings, or it could be simply from reading a lot of books.  See if you can guess which it might be for the author of this book. J

[******] Here,  in the ordinary sense of a church officiator.

[††††††] This is scientific prayer, which has nothing to do with wishing for things.  We will discuss this in detail in Chapters 6, 12, 14, 15 and 17.

[‡‡‡‡‡‡] Humiliation not in the at-effect sense of victimhood, but the process of wearing away at the foundations of the ego’s control.

[§§§§§§] Many of these practices would (understandably) horrify a psychotherapist but, in religious states of consciousness, these practices really can break the ego-mask, or at least move it out of the way.  What replaces the mask depends on what preparation has been done and on what kind of guidance is available when the mask is removed.

[*******] These cannot be continued indefinitely merely by taking a vow, as has become all too obvious with the problems coming from the attempted sexual abstinence of Catholic priests.

[†††††††] The only practical definition of a shaman is someone who practices any of these methods.

[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡] The priests of this section and the next are adepts of magical practices or supernatural forces.

[§§§§§§§] In the religious model, they might be referred to as “filled with holy spirit.”

[********] Aside from the famous kings David and Solomon of the Bible, several early Chinese emperors and Egyptian pharaohs were priests or shamans who either founded or strongly influenced religions.

[††††††††] In today’s mainstream religions, these generally have taken on a purely symbolic form, such those in Catholic cathedrals, Jewish synagogues and Moslem mosques.

[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡] This is the original meaning of martyrhood – “the undergoing of direct supernatural experience.”

[§§§§§§§§] Outsiders, especially those of a scientific background, try to conduct experiments to determine whether these phenomena occur “physically” or “objectively,” but such experiments can never be conclusive.  We’ll explore the reasons for this in the chapters on manifestation.

[*********] Castaneda’s don Juan uses this word to mean taking on a state of consciousness in which one has different capacities from that of normal personality.  Most of the disciplines have some form of this.

[†††††††††] As quoted by Ouspensky in In Search of the Miraculous.

[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡] G said that the philosophical approach was generally found in India, the theoretical in Tibet, and the practical approach in the Afghanistan area; his time in those places was the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the world has changed a great deal since then.

[§§§§§§§§§] It is really not that clearly delineated, but it gives us a good jumping-off place.

[**********] As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, this type of knowledge is not about information, data, ‘facts’ or even words; don Juan calls it seeing (prophets have often been called seers) or silent knowledge, whereas other traditions may call it illumination or enlightenment.

[††††††††††] Again, this type of power is not one’s own personal strength, but a tapping into some higher resource.  South American shamans call this one’s caboclos, whereas Gurdjieff refers to it as tapping into the large accumulator, upon which one is able to perform super-efforts.

[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡] Some of the ayahuasca religions call this firmness, or a religious perspective might call it faith.

[§§§§§§§§§§] Crystallization, according to G, comes about mainly from the surviving of ordeals over a long period of time.  These may be physical in nature, like those which the faqir overcomes; they may be trials of faith, as in the path of the monk; or they may be challenges of the mind such as may be found in the classical way of the yogi.

[***********] In Gurdjieff’s terms, conscience is the state of feeling everything that you may feel about something, all at once.  It is interesting to observe that, in Portuguese, conscience and consciousness are the same word.

[†††††††††††] This is a bit of a redundancy on my part, since (as I’ve already mentioned) the original meaning of martyr is “witness” but, in modern usage, there is a useful distinction, as long as we exclude the parochial meaning of witness as “to proselytize.”

[‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡] One of the terms for this is Jerusalem syndrome, because some people, in visiting the holy city, suddenly start believing that they are the messiah and go berserk.

[§§§§§§§§§§§] Gurdjieff proposed (jokingly, I assume), in the forward to his book All and Everything, that his book be published with the main body of the work sealed, and only the introduction left loose for the casual bookstore browser.  Then, if they realized, upon completing their reading of the introduction, that they had made a horrible mistake in purchasing the book, they could return it still sealed, and thereby obtain a full refund.

[************] I apologize if this sounds like Scientology, LifeSpring, Avatar, The Forum or any other commercial workshop program.  This esoteric program far predates any of such organizations.  I believe the confusion lies in the fact that these trainings have become so pervasive that it is now impossible to talk about transformation without slipping into their jargon. L



[1] Reagan, Harley Swift Deer, The Metis-Medicine Teaching Wheels, Deer Tribe, 1980.

[2] Ouspensky, P. D., In Search of the Miraculous, The Fourth Way, …

   Nicoll, Maurice, Commentaries, …

[3] Forbidden Planet (1956)

[4] Fisher, Louis, Gandhi, …

[5] Gangaji, in gangaji.org

[6] Hesse, Hermann, Journey to the East, …

  …,  Mount Analogue, …