George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

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George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Zhaxi Cairang » Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:34 am

from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Way
"Division of Attention - (Preliminary exercise to Self-Remembering)

Gurdjieff encouraged his students to cultivate the ability to divide their attention, that is, the ability to remain fully focused on an external object or internal thought while being aware of oneself. One might, for instance, let part of one's attention dwell in one's little finger, while the other half is aware of our own presence. In the division of attention, in the initial stages one may need to go back and forth between one thing and another. However, experiencing them both fully and simultaneously is the aim.

Self-Remembering

Beyond the division of attention lies "remembering oneself" - a state, which is permanent in a "conscious" person, while fleeting and temporary in the average person. In this state a person sees what is seen without ever losing sight of himself seeing. Ordinarily, when concentrating on something, people lose their sense of "I," although they may, as it were, passively react to the stimulus they are concentrating on. In self-remembering the "I" is not lost."

from
http://www.endlesssearch.co.uk/philo_selfremember.htm
"In Gurdjieff's own words, Self Remembering could be described thus - "There are moments when you become aware not only of what you are doing but also of yourself doing it. You see both ‘I’ and the ‘here’ of ‘I am here’- both the anger and the ‘I’ that is angry. Call this self-remembering if you like." (Views From the Real World)"

and here http://www.satrakshita.com/self-remembering.htm a long piece of Osho comparing Gurdjieff's Self-Remembering to a technique of the Vigyana Bhairava Tantra.



I point out that I never received any Dzogchen teaching. So, pardon my ignorance, I was wondering whether Gurdjieff's technique of "Self-Remembering" has any similarity with Dzogchen teachings. Any opinion?




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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Jikan » Sat Jul 17, 2010 1:46 pm

Self-remembering is probably better understood simply as a kind of mindfulness practice.

Ever read Gurdjieff's novel? It's hilarious, very much worth the read.
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby muni » Sat Jul 17, 2010 4:50 pm

"the "I" is not lost." Dzogchen?

In dynamic processes not made of separate entities, in the complex network of cause and effect is an I not lost?

Intrinsic awareness? No subject - object like in contamined mind.

Maybe intrinsic value, "Mind" as suchness; stainless, unborn. no any grasping as free as the sky.

"A mirror can reflect the whole world."
And so no object for painful aversion, attachment fishhook.

Careful with comparing, and careful not to build phantasy castles. As no such creator available.
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:21 am

No,. I'm afraid this is nothing like Dzogchen. Dzogchen is completely free of concepts, totally beyond subject perceiving an object.
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Zhaxi Cairang » Thu Jul 22, 2010 5:22 pm

Jikan wrote:Self-remembering is probably better understood simply as a kind of mindfulness practice.

Ever read Gurdjieff's novel? It's hilarious, very much worth the read.


This article seems interesting:http://www.chronicleproject.com/stories_15.html
Gurdjieff spent three and a half years in Tibet. He wrote in Meetings With Remarkable Men, his autobiographical work, that he was taken to a central Asian monastery in Kashmir or Tibet called a monastery of the Sarmoung brotherhood. Now, Surmang, the seat of Trungpa's lineage, is just a transposition of vowels, which I think, may conceal where Gurdjieff received much of his teaching. His essential teaching, his oral teaching (as distinct from what he wrote in his books) was all about what you would call dzogchen and I would call awareness or presence in this moment.



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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Aemilius » Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:47 am

Zhaxi Cairang wrote:from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Way
"Division of Attention - (Preliminary exercise to Self-Remembering)

Gurdjieff encouraged his students to cultivate the ability to divide their attention, that is, the ability to remain fully focused on an external object or internal thought while being aware of oneself. One might, for instance, let part of one's attention dwell in one's little finger, while the other half is aware of our own presence. In the division of attention, in the initial stages one may need to go back and forth between one thing and another. However, experiencing them both fully and simultaneously is the aim.

Self-Remembering

Beyond the division of attention lies "remembering oneself" - a state, which is permanent in a "conscious" person, while fleeting and temporary in the average person. In this state a person sees what is seen without ever losing sight of himself seeing. Ordinarily, when concentrating on something, people lose their sense of "I," although they may, as it were, passively react to the stimulus they are concentrating on. In self-remembering the "I" is not lost."

from
http://www.endlesssearch.co.uk/philo_selfremember.htm
"In Gurdjieff's own words, Self Remembering could be described thus - "There are moments when you become aware not only of what you are doing but also of yourself doing it. You see both ‘I’ and the ‘here’ of ‘I am here’- both the anger and the ‘I’ that is angry. Call this self-remembering if you like." (Views From the Real World)"

and here http://www.satrakshita.com/self-remembering.htm a long piece of Osho comparing Gurdjieff's Self-Remembering to a technique of the Vigyana Bhairava Tantra.



I point out that I never received any Dzogchen teaching. So, pardon my ignorance, I was wondering whether Gurdjieff's technique of "Self-Remembering" has any similarity with Dzogchen teachings. Any opinion?




ZC



It seems that this question has been discussed in the Yogachara and Mahamudra teachings, there seem to be refutations of it, namely:
Every moment of consciousness is necessarily self-aware.
What you are doing is like having a lamp ( your mind) and then you bring in another lamp in order to se the lamp !! Which is ridiculous and unnecessary, because the first lamp is already luminous, or self-luminous, as it is also said.
Or then again, you try to get the sunrays to reflect back, because you claim you can't see the sun !!

There is a different discussion in the teachings of the Four Minfulnesses, where you have the mindfulness of mind. You may end up in futile efforts, when your momentary consciousness tries to have as its object a previous moment of consciousness. Maybe this is exactly what happens, moments of consciousness are so fast, it is difficult to understand.
Take for example the ( old fashioned tubemodel ) TV-screen, where only one tiny spot is lit at any one moment, but your mind is so slow that you see there a whole picture !!!
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Aemilius » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:30 pm

Arindam Chakrabarti explains:
These three theses always go together in Yogachara philosophy, and hence in Yogachara logic they must be at the root the same thesis:

(1) Sakaravada: Every instance of awareness is essentially and intrinsically engraved with content. ( Negatively, no cognitive state is unformed or contentless.)

(2) Vahyarthabhanga: The object of apprehension and the apprehension itself are the same. ( Negatively, there is no object outside or other than the moment of consciousness in which the object figures as the content.)

(3)Svasamvittivada: Every instance of awareness is necessarily self-aware. (Negatively, there is no other apperceptive second instance of knowledge to grasp an instance of knowledge, and apart from itself, the instance of knowledge has nothing else to grasp. In short, a cognition has no grasper or grasped outside itself.)


quotation from On the Purported Inseparability of Blue and the Awareness of Blue: An Examination of Saholambaniyama by Arindam Chakrabarti, in the book Mind only school and buddhist logic, Tibet House and Aditya Prakashan New Delhi 1990
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Jikan » Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:41 pm

I'm bumping this old thread because it's interesting to me (might as well be honest right?) and because:

It turns out that I'm not alone in thinking self-remembering as described in the Fourth Way literature is effectively indistinguishable from basic mindfulness practice. Joseph Goldstein equates the two in his book The Experience of Insight. I suppose one might compare self-remembering to "presence" (not "instant presence" but just "presence") in Namkhai Norbu's use of English to explain Dzogchen concepts.

I mention ChNN because, according to the volume The Cycle of Day and Night, the group and property that would become Tsegyalgar had theretofore been a Gurdjieff group led by one Paul Anderson. I don't know if there's anyone still around up there who might be able to answer this question on whether or not Mr G was indeed familiar with the Dzogchen teachings.

The inquiring mind also notes a relation of resemblance (from the point of view of the spectator) between the Gurdjieff movements and the Dance of the Vajra. I have practiced neither, so please remember this last bit is coming from a know-nothing bozo.
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Silent Bob » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:14 pm

I remember doing Gurdjieff's "Stop" exercise when I was attending one of his groups many years ago. Though it wasn't Dzogchen, it did allow a gap in the customary stream of discursiveness.

"The Stop Exercise is very famous in the Gurdjieff Work.

The Stop Exercise is said to be impossible to do on your own. The aim is to immediately stop whatever you're doing and freeze in that position, mentally, emotionally and physically, so that you can observe your current inner state. The command to Stop should come from an external impartial source such as a group instructor or designated assistant or even a randomly activated computer program. When you Stop, you should remain immobile and observe the state of your physical, emotional and intellectual centers and evaluate whether you were Self Remembering or were Identified. You should attempt to note your physical position and Sensations, your level of emotional arousal, and the thoughts occurring in your intellectual center. Observe your physically state - were you in a position of stable balance or an awkward, off-balance position? Were you aware of the sensations of your body? Observe your emotional state - were you worried, angry, depressed, happy, etc.? Were you aware of your emotional sensations? Observe your intellectual state - were you thinking about the past or future or what other people thought about you, or how you would get revenge, etc? Observe if you were you aware of your surrounding environment or lost in an inner world of subjective concerns?"


http://endlesssearch.co.uk/exercises_stop.htm
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Adamantine » Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:29 pm

Having studied sincerely in a Gurdjieff group for 5 years early in my Dharma studies (which I engaged in simultaneously), I would venture to propose that there are a great deal of parallels. . . There is certainly a lot of lojong present in the way G presented his "work". At the same time, I think it is clear by how radically he would shift the emphasis of his work, both the ideas and the 'exercises', that he felt it important to continually avoid habituating the mind to these things lest they become a further fuel for "sleep". And so he kept shifting the methods..this is something that is still done in any purported Gurdjieff group worth it's salt.. (though there are many that are not worth much). I think Trungpa was quite interesting because he also changed things up like this, and created new methods to meet the minds of his students. And Gurdjieff claimed the heart of his knowledge came from the "Sarmoung brotherhood" which some people notice sounds a lot like the Surmang monastery Trungpa came from. Anyway I would say at the least, he was quite admirable in this way of working with students, he exhibited something akin to what Vajrayanists label "skillful means".

I propose that there is different language used, different paradigms expressed, but the content and intent shares a good deal with dharma. One of the main differences is a complete disdain for the idea of meditation "retreat", which of course is quite centrally emphasized in our tradition. In the G work it is all about integrating constantly with one's life as-it-is from the first time one begins the work. Eventually, the work itself will change ones habitual tendencies, but one does not do anything forceful to change their outer conduct. Now, this may share a lot of usefulness to the contemporary western approach to Dzogchen, when retreats are not very accessible to most for time or money reasons.
As for the movements: they are an incredible way of approaching an integration of intellectual awareness, emotional awareness, and physical or instinctual awareness.The movements can be quite mathematically complex, so they do challenge the intellect to remain sharp-- the music is often emotionally evocative and a certain type of holistic listening is encouraged.. and the entire time the meditative mindfulness-awareness of presence within each inch of the physical body is emphasized. It is quite profound. The dancing I have learned in Tibetan lineage has it's own flavor, and some similarity... but I believe there is probably more in common with some of the complex Sufi dancing than the Tibetan style. Although, to be sure some of the dancing I have seen young students of Thinley Norbu perform may have equal complexity and probably takes the cake for me in terms of evoking presence. . . of course, they were trained from the earliest youth so dancers as skilled in meditation-movement integration are hard to find equaled. Here is a brief clip, though this is just a little crumb of what was a delicious feast. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8JYiME_NRY
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Jikan » Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:27 pm

This is all good stuff. Thank you for it.

It seems to me that Gurdjieff's teaching departs from sutric Buddhism & Dzogchen in a number of respects too: the most obvious having to do with his insistence that everything is matter, including thought. As near as I can tell, he was a rigorous materialist in the nineteenth-century tradition. Even if the Law of Three may or may not approximate dependent origination, I suspect from the reading I've done that Gurdjieff would not accept emptiness, and that he had a curious understanding of the noble truth of suffering (see the chapter on Beelzebub in Tibet, which touches on Adamantine's point on practicing actively in the world).

Gurdjieff's a fascinating figure historically (you have to love a rakehell with a sense of rhythm), and I'm glad people are benefiting from his teachings and legacy today.
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Simon E. » Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:52 pm

The Sufi teacher Idris Shah was interesting on the subject.
He said that Gurdjieff had leaned enough from the Sufis to be able to stimulate certain energy centers in the body..but that he no no context for this process and no idea how to progress it.
The result said Shah was that many former Gurdjieff followers made their way to authentic Sufi teachers who had to in effect break them free from various skewed practices in order to start again.
Shah said that this was often a long and difficult process.
He saw Gurdjieff as a source of great harm.
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Lhug-Pa » Wed Jun 13, 2012 4:12 pm

Jikan wrote:...the most obvious having to do with his insistence that everything is matter, including thought. As near as I can tell, he was a rigorous materialist in the nineteenth-century tradition.


I'm no Gurdjieff expert, however from what little I've learned I think that Gurdjieff meant that even thought is materialistic, that is in contrast to the Spiritual.

In this sense Gurdjieff's view is perhaps somewhat similar to distinguishing the mind ("matter") from the Nature of Mind (the "Spiritual" or Buddha Nature).

From what I understand, Gurdjieff taught that part of our Spiritual Essence is fragmented and bottled up in many different "I's" or egos and that those "I's" are condensed-energy/matter; and that when we comprehend each of those "I's" the matter/mindstuff that those "I's" are made out of (karmic traces) is dissolved, and therefore that part of our Spiritual Essence—which those "I's" have trapped in that mind-matter/negatively-crystalized-energy—becomes free.

I've no idea how overall compatible this view and method is with Dzogchen though.

And again, I haven't studied much of Gurdjieff's and Ouspensky's writings.
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Jikan » Wed Jun 13, 2012 4:43 pm

Simon E. wrote:The Sufi teacher Idris Shah was interesting on the subject.
He said that Gurdjieff had leaned enough from the Sufis to be able to stimulate certain energy centers in the body..but that he no no context for this process and no idea how to progress it.
The result said Shah was that many former Gurdjieff followers made their way to authentic Sufi teachers who had to in effect break them free from various skewed practices in order to start again.
Shah said that this was often a long and difficult process.
He saw Gurdjieff as a source of great harm.


This is how I've heard this rebutted: Shah was attempting to recruit former & potential Gurdjieffians into his community (his center at the UK had been home to Bennett's fourth way school). So his criticisms may be criticisms, or they may be motivated by a desire to increase his flock. (cf James Moore's response to "Rafael Lafort" and the book The Teachers of Gurdjieff).
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Simon E. » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:00 pm

There are always wheels within wheels.
One of the factors that may support Shahs claim is a piece from another Sufi teacher whose name escapes me ..I would have to find the reference , but it was a traditional Sufi not over enamored of either Shah or Gurdjieff detailing the precise nature of Gurdjieff's misunderstanding.
He said it was to do with the latifah..which are in Sufism analogous to the chakras ..and which he said Gurdjieff knew enough about to be dangerous, but not enough to teach their proper functioning.
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Adamantine » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:01 pm

Jikan wrote:
Simon E. wrote:The Sufi teacher Idris Shah was interesting on the subject.
He said that Gurdjieff had leaned enough from the Sufis to be able to stimulate certain energy centers in the body..but that he no no context for this process and no idea how to progress it.
The result said Shah was that many former Gurdjieff followers made their way to authentic Sufi teachers who had to in effect break them free from various skewed practices in order to start again.
Shah said that this was often a long and difficult process.
He saw Gurdjieff as a source of great harm.


This is how I've heard this rebutted: Shah was attempting to recruit former & potential Gurdjieffians into his community (his center at the UK had been home to Bennett's fourth way school). So his criticisms may be criticisms, or they may be motivated by a desire to increase his flock. (cf James Moore's response to "Rafael Lafort" and the book The Teachers of Gurdjieff).


Purely based on what I've read about both.. I would run fast from Shaw but try to spend some quality time with Mr. G.
For some remarkable accounts of skillfulness, read the de Hartmann's "Our Life with Mr. Gurdjieff"
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Pero » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:47 pm

Anything available on the sufi practices with chakras?
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Lhug-Pa » Wed Jun 13, 2012 6:04 pm

Simon E. wrote:He said it was to do with the latifah..which are in Sufism analogous to the chakras ..


And it seems that Latifah means "subtle", so Latifah could also refer to the Subtle Bodies.

*Edit*

Just saw Simon E.'s post below.

Thanks for the suggestion:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lataif-e-sitta
.
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Simon E. » Wed Jun 13, 2012 6:08 pm

Pero wrote:Anything available on the sufi practices with chakras?

As I said they are analogous to the chakras. see www.owaisiah.com/spritualsystem.htm
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Re: George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's "Self-Remembering" and Dzogchen

Postby Simon E. » Wed Jun 13, 2012 6:15 pm

Apologies..that link seems to be broken. Try... Lataif-e-Sitta on Wiki. It covers the basics.
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