The Ledge of Know-ledge
Q. Since you suggested reading up on Gurdjieff, I've been working on it now for the better part of 2 days. But I think something has been missing in Gurdjieff's world view. There is no love!! No sense of play!!! i.e. ( joy in something that is done for the sake of itself), a gesture. For me this is the essence of the creative impulse. Can math and ratios describe your "Love" for the ones that are dear to you?
A. Well I'm impressed! Working away at something you find baffling or don't particularly like because something in you trusts something, builds a particular kind of muscle. No, skeleton is better--it makes you stand taller in the psyche, because psyche is mysterious and way beyond what the mind finds comforting and comfortable.
In my view, too much modern spirituality becomes little more than a personal search for comfort, for security-- normal, understandable, and has always been thus,---but if you want Knowledge, you have to go out on a ledge. And you have to choose it.
Walking that ledge is an effort of a different kind. (I know how much you like effort...!) However, it seems there are not many guides about for that kind of effort, and ledges are overgrown and neglected.
As to Gurdjieff, like him or not, he was a pioneer ledge-builder in the west, over-throwing dogma, free from the accumulations of religion, from even the stickiness of theosophy, magical and other esoteric traditions. He laid out Principle with a sledge-hammer. He threw out time-worn terminology, thick with the encrustations of human meddling and dream, and developed a stark symbology with resonances of the Age (Fauvism, Cubism, Industrialism, Structuralism), a structure of Principle against the backdrop of madness and destruction of world wars. He reminded us all that the Laws underlying all manifestation are universal, objective and ultimately secular--religion comes later.
Knowledge is foundational, and with all his faults, and the idiosyncrasies of his formulation, G knew what he knew. How he knew is a mystery, but there is no fantasy in the formulations; he was a colossus in that sense.
However, I fully agree. The grinding quality of Gurdjieff work is not appealing, and probably past its time, with still-surviving groups become rigid and lacking in inspiration. The shock it provided is still valid though, and the value of self-observation, objectivity and a sense of the laws unfolding the cosmoses. In our relativistic, confused age, anyone who seeks Knowledge needs to get a handle on these things, and I couldn't think how to convey it to you other than suggesting you immerse yourself in that handy, flawed compendium provided by Ouspensky!
If you want to Know before you die, and you have plainly intimated that it is your intent, you are going to have to stretch yourself.
'Seeing into the Nature' or however you want to express the ultimate aim, is not about emotion--not even love. That is, unless you understand that love is on the ledge 'after another manner', and that seeing is about clarity of mind as well as heart.
There is 'higher emotion' and 'higher thought'--(I think G talks in these terms), which work together but have to be developed, as they are not natural to everyday functioning.
Abstract thought is a gateway.‘Original nature', human and cosmic, conforms to certain Laws, and understanding this kind of Law means engaging with number, the ultimate abstract symbol, but not as a mathematician--as a metaphysician.
Look at the starry sky on a moonless night. That is number. And that, if you can hold silent, is a touch of higher emotion. Number, in the Pythagorean sense, is Reality pared down to its structural principles, but imbued with meaning, because the cosmos is meaningful to the meaning-maker: ie. Humanity, we who are able to ‘see into the Nature’.
Perhaps look into Pythagoras and the Pythagorean School?
Have I made a case?
If the logic shivers your heart a little, you've hit the Abstract, and I've made the case!