Conscience – a dialogue with Ocke de Boer
Having reached the top of the mountain from the easiest route they sat down to survey the land beneath. F. was exhausted by the exercise and rather annoyed with himself that he had been dragged all the way up here on O.’s suggestion while they could have had their once-a-year meeting and conversation quite comfortably in the village below. O. was delighted by the fresh air at the summit and felt inspired…
F: So yesterday when you arrived you spoke about dogmatism and higher ways of thinking, I heard you, but there was so much going on at that moment. Can you say something more about it?
Ocke: To become dogmatic is always a sign of hiding ignorance. This is not only true in our work, it also happened to other Havatvernoni, as Gurdjieff calls religions in the Tales.
F: Are you saying we are becoming dogmatic in The Work? I always thought there was a danger of The Work becoming yet another “Religion” …
Ocke: Religions and other Work-systems are brought to Earth to help us to get rid of the consequences of the organ Kundabuffer. This organ was, according to the Tales, implanted in us so that we should perceive the world upside down. These systems were also brought by higher forces to help us coat our higher–being-bodies.
F: But everywhere we look now “religions” and Work-systems seem to be more a problem than a solution!
Ocke: These religions almost always fall into the hands of people with a lower level of being, often possessed of intolerance and a need for convention. These religions soon become dogmatic, and therefore increase subjective, or acquired, conscience. Acquired conscience has been well described by Nicoll in his Commentaries. It is a subjective conscience based on collusions (collective illusions). It is also well described at the end of the chapter Bogachevsky in Meetings With Remarkable Men. Bogachevsky often urged me not to adopt any conventions, either those of my immediate circle or those of any other people. He said; From the conventions with which one is stuffed subjective morality is formed, but for real life objective morality is needed, which comes only from Conscience. And in general I repeat, acts of this kind occur simply because people stuff their children, while the future men is still being formed in them, with all sorts of conventions, and so prevent Nature herself from developing in them that conscience which has taken form over thousands of years of struggle by our ancestors against just such conventions.
F: Could or Has The Work also become dogmatic and increase acquired conscience? How can such a “faith worse than death” be avoided?
Ocke: One of the aims of our Work is to bring us in contact with Conscience, which is in our subconsciousness. Conscience is the inner memory for those actions necessary to bring any given situation back in tune with Unity. Although this definition of Conscience is correct, it stays incomplete, because Conscience cannot be reasoned but must come into Being.
F: Oh but I do not even understand what you mean by getting in tune with Unity? You need to go a little slower for me!
Ocke: All these systems or Religions say that all life is one. That everything is one big Unity. In many of these systems and Religions you find the idea of One divided by three. Also in our Work you find this. We call it the Law of Three. This is also to be found, for instance, in the writings of the German Philosopher Hegel. He said that a thing or phenomenon can only exist through its opposite. The thing and its opposite must arise together as a simultaneous conception. Hegel was not the only one who came to this conclusion. Pythagoras had a table of opposites. These opposites are all inversely proportional. Let’s look at them. The ten Pythagorean opposites are as follows: Limited and Unlimited Odd and Even One and Many Right and Left Masculine and Feminine Rest and Motion Straight and Crooked Light and Darkness Good and Evil Square and Oblong According to this theory of Pythagoras, the primary constituents of things are of a dissimilar and opposite nature. To be productive, a bond is necessary to unite them. This bond is harmony. Or to be in tune with the basic ground law of the Universe: the Law of Unity or the Law of Three.
F: Interesting, but difficult. Can you make this more practical?
Ocke: Well, this bond is called the third force. According to Gurdjieff we are third force blind. We look at things with a dualistic view. Dualistic thinking puts various concepts against each other, or give these concepts independent value or life. Yes or No, instead of Yes and No. Black or white, instead of black and white. It keeps the opposites apart, when they belong together. They depend on one another. They are One. Formatory thinking is only dualistic; this is to think with the most mechanical part of the intellectual center. To understand something beyond the formatory is to understand with the higher parts of both the intellectual and emotional centers. Reason of understanding is the Reason of your Being. It is the intelligence of your heart. It is literally a working together of Anahatha, the heart-chakra and Vishuda, Ajgna and Ahasrara. The three higher chakras, namely the throat, forehead and crown. The chakras are the sense organs of the Kesdjan-body. They are the same as what we call in our Work the centers. Mr. Adie knew this. This is why his sittings are so important. Doing these will lead to a higher vibration-level of the sense-organs of the Kesdjan body. This will enable you to contact and to receive the higher hydrogens of Work-ideas – these have their residence in the Kesdjan-body of the Earth. The mind is just an over-valued computer and it is not much help in the growing of the Reason of understanding. In the Tao Te Ching it says: Verse two, The thirty spokes unite in the one nave; but it is on the empty space that the use of the wheel depends. Clay is fashioned into vessels; but it is on their empty hollowness, that their use depends. The door and windows are cut out from the walls to form a house; but it is on the empty space within, that its use depends. Therefore, what has actual existence serves for profitable adaptation, and what has not that for actual usefulness.
F: So you can say that third force gives usefulness.
Ocke: Yes, or as they say in the Tao Te Ching: Tao reveals One. One reveals Two Two reveals Three And Three reveals the ten thousand things. The ten thousand things stand for everything that can be created. To make it practical, look at a carpenter. His tools are the third force for making a house. He cannot drive a nail in wood with his hands. He needs a hammer. Or to make bread you need water heat and flour.
F: I understand. You also talked about inner memory in relation to Conscience. You said that Conscience was the inner memory for those actions necessary to bring any situation back in tune with Unity. Can you say more about that?
Ocke: To achieve Conscience we have to practice what are called the being-obligolnian-strivings. ...”and it proceeded in the following way ` `All the beings of this planet then began to work in order to have in their consciousness this Divine function of genuine conscience, and for this purpose, as everywhere in the universe, they transubstantiated in themselves what are called the `being-obligolnian-strivings `which consists of the following five, namely: `the first striving: to have in their ordinary being existence everything satisfying and really necessary for their planetary body. `the second striving: to have a constant and unflagging instinctive need for self-perfection in the sense of being. `the third striving: the conscious striving to know ever more and more concerning the laws of World-creation and World-maintenance. `the fourth: the striving from the beginning of their existence to pay for their arising and their individuality as quickly as possible, in order to be free to lighten as much as possible the Sorrow of our common Father. `and the fifth: the striving always to assist the most rapid perfecting of other beings, both those similar to oneself and those of other forms, up to the degree of the sacred `martfotai`that is up to the degree of self-individuality”.
F: Well this is a very tall order! And I am not convinced that this will lead to conscience.
Ocke: The second striving: to have a constant and unflagging instinctive need for self-perfection in the sense of being, is a very important one because the road to more being is remorse of Conscience. “Think all you have done in your life, all the moments when you haven���t been as you should have been. You remember and at the same time you have a feeling of remorse”. Gurdjieff.
F: Now I am all confused! Strivings, Conscience, Being and now Remorse? How does this all work together?? Ocke: Remorse will bring conscious suffering. This is to see and feel your own mechanical behaviour or negativity and seeing you can’t do anything about it. Conscious suffering will bring the Work deeper in you and therefore will increase your being so that conscience can speak. It will give a constant and unflagging need to work and enable you to pass the first threshold. Conscious suffering is the medicine to make the Automaton surrender to the Permanent Witness. The Automaton is an instrument. The Permanent Witness has to learn how to use it. This process comes into being with man number four.
F: Wow – wait a minute! What is the “Permanent Witness”? And where does Remorse come from? We cannot just snap a finger and feel remorse?
Ocke: My young friend. You know what you lack is a proper grounding in esoteric education. You just have a read a few books in the fourth way canon and think you know it all … Isha Schwaller de Lubicz divides men into the Automaton, the Permanent Witness and the Spiritual Witness. This division is to the point. We can say that man number one, two and three consist of the Automaton only. With man number four and five, the Permanent Witness is in contact with their Automaton. With man number six, the Spiritual Witness is in contact with the Permanent Witness and the Automaton. Man number seven has absorbed both the Permanent Witness and the Automaton. He is in full charge. Automaton means planetary body. Permanent Witness means being in the process of coating a Kesdjan body. Spiritual Witness means the growth of a Mental and Causal body in the Kesdjan-body. The Mental and Causal body correspond to the highest being bodies in Beelzebub’s Tales. Isha Schwaller de Lubicz says in her book The Opening of the Way: A Practical Guide to the Wisdom of Ancient Egypt “what reincarnates is that which cannot be destroyed by death: that is the two aspects of consciousness. The Spiritual Witness and the Permanent Witness. The divine Ka and the intermediate Ka.”
F: This “Egyptian” teaching – what can it tell us about making it up the scale of being? How can we get out of being an “Automaton” as you call it.
Ocke: The first threshold is to be taken between men number one, two and three, and man number four. This is a major jump in being and it means a change of centre of gravity . Men number one, two and three have their centre of gravity in the planetary body. By centre of gravity, I mean the centre of their common presence. Men number four and five have their centre of gravity in the Kesdjan body, which means that they are in the process of coating this. When they are born they already have a certain amount of individuality-data on their hard-disc. They are born to finish the coating of the Kesdjan-body. There are two forms of coating: a Lunar one and a Solar one. In Lunar coating, Life is the third force. The coating is done through life-experiences (see Purgatory pg. 783). By Solar coating, I mean you coat through your own efforts, for instance by Self-remembering. The coating process is done by applying Work ideas to oneself. Here Work has to play the role of the third factor. It means a full committed choice to Work. It is very difficult for most people to pass this threshold because their Automaton is their Boss. The Permanent Witness cannot come into being because of this. We need to allow the Permanent Witness to use the Automaton as an instrument. The arguments of the Automaton to sabotage this can be very intelligent, and they often take the form of disbelief. The Automaton will tell you that the Work is not true. This disbelief will prevent real pondering. The cleverness of the Automaton can take many forms. Men number one, two and three can be amazingly intelligent people. They can be scientists, scholars and professors, but their main characteristic is that they have their centre of gravity in the Automaton.
F: Go on …
Ocke: The Permanent Witness contains Osirian consciousness. You can find drawings from ancient Egypt about what happens after death. These drawings contain the weighing of the heart. This weighing determines to what worlds in the after-life you can get access. The Christian idea of heaven and hell is a degenerated representation of Osiris weighing. The higher bodies are called in Egyptian mythology Ka. The Spiritual Witness is called the divine Ka and the Permanent Witness is called the intermediate Ka. Ka is the common name for the higher bodies.
F: But you are digressing here. How can we make it to higher level of being? Is there something physical that should proceed within us to prepare the way?
Ocke: Ba in Egyptian mythology is the animating spirit of Ka. This animating spirit can be used by the Permanent Witness by filling what is called in the Hindu tradition the pathways on each side of the spine, Ida and Pingala. It is by vivifying these pathways that the contact between the Permanent Witness and the Automaton is established. Ba carries the vital breath. This has to be done by ourselves; no one can do this for us. The Permanent Witness is an intermediate stage, for it is attached to the automaton but can also be used by the Spiritual Witness whose seat is the area of the Heart. Gurdjieff speaks of filling the pathways in meeting 33 Monday, 9 December 1946. F: But how we to do it?
Ocke: We arouse the intelligence of the Spiritual Witness through the practice of ‘I AM’. Through ‘I AM’ we can get access to the universal ‘I AM’. This will bring us a more stable presence and therefore an intuitive intelligence, which is called the intelligence of the Heart. This intelligence will teach us to live from Conscience – that is, to do the Will of the cosmos. Our cognitive intelligence is way to slow for this process.
F: And then what?
Ocke: Through the intelligence of the Heart and the established contact with the Spiritual Witness we will feel that we are a part of the cosmos or nature. Dualistic thinking is one of the major consequences of Kundabuffer. It gives the illusion that we have an existence outside Nature. A so-called ‘I’ here and the rest of the cosmos there. Even our so-called scientists and theologians do this. There is nothing more dangerous than dualistic ideas in empty heads.
F: So what would the alternative feel like – that we are connected to the whole - at one with all that exists – even with each other? …
Ocke: We limit our being by dualistic thinking and therefore we limit our thinking by dualistic thinking. We have lost our feeling for oneness so to speak and we have because of this also lost our sense for sacredness. To make ourselves whole again we have to make the potential actual. This true wish incarnates in us from the level of being of a man number four. It is at this station that the dead man in us shall leap from his grave. It is at this level that the Permanent Witness comes into being.
F: But it seems this state of oneness is so far away for us to leap to from where we are! I would say it is virtually impossible!
Ocke: To make the potential actual has to be done through the Automaton. We must be very happy and grateful that we have an Automaton. The realization that we have one comes from the Permanent Witness. If this Permanent Witness has not come into being yet we simply are the Automaton. It is from the realization that we have one, that the potential in us can become actual. There is a huge difference in the being of people here.
F: So how can this “witness” open its eyes – if not permanently at least now and again?
Ocke: Real being comes from work, from Solar efforts, and it starts at man number four. It is your being that attracts your life. This means that your affinities, or the physical traces that are built up in your brain from habits, seek corresponding experiences in the three-dimensional world.
F: This all still sounds very theoretical to me. I need somewhere to begin.
Ocke: To work we need bodies. A lot of information is to be found about these bodies in Esoteric systems and in mythology. In Egyptian Mythology, the two currents or pathways on each side of the spine are called the Djed. The left one is called the soul of Osiris and the right one is called the soul of Ra. The Soul of Osiris is the animal Soul and is attached to blood. When the blood stops flowing, at death, it is this animal Soul that leaves us. In his original chapter of Purgatory, Gurdjieff also spoke of two souls. Osirian consciousness is from the Permanent Witness. The right hand pathway is the Soul of Ra. It represents the Sun-God. Both pathways have to be vivified by our own efforts so that they can be transformed and added to our being at the region of the Heart. Both souls have to come into union in the spiritual Heart (I AM). This happens at the being-level of man number six. According to Idiots in Paris, Gurdjieff said that his work is for man number six. This means that we have to go for the Sun Absolute, for the Soul of Ra. To go for the Sun absolute is an expression of Gurdjieff . It means not to be satisfied with your effort but to make more effort. To go higher and higher. If we want to go higher we have to go through where we are now. There is a huge difference between philosophy and esotericism. The first one is about describing things, the latter about applying ideas to one’s being. You will never understand Self-remembering if you do not apply it to your Being. You have to apply Work ideas in order to get initiated into them. So how to do this practically, that is the important question, because when this Work is not practical it diminishes to useless wiseacring.
Ocke: Whatever I say about this will never be enough, but I will tell you what I think about this from my own experience and you will have to make your own disparity with that. To make your own disparity with something is to reconcile something from Reason-of-knowing to Reason-of-understanding. You need the Reason of knowing to receive an idea. You need your own individuality-data to reconcile it into your own understanding. Your understanding and real I are one, according to Orage. The expression of your own individuality needs to be third force of your life. The result of work is that knowledge becomes understanding. To learn to get our two-natured system (planetary and astral bodies) accustomed to higher states, we have to learn to become collected. To get to a collected state is described in the Transcripts of Meetings by Gurdjieff from 1941-1946. This collected state is the basis for learning to remember ourselves. Gurdjieff: You must do an exercise to be more collected. Learn to collect yourself. Choose a good moment that seems propitious. Sit down let nobody disturb you. Relax yourself. All your attention - all your will is concentrated on your relaxation. You quieten your associations. After - only after, you begin to think.. Mme D: Yes. I try like that and I do not succeed. Gurdjieff: Wait. Do not disturb me - do not interrupt me. You have never done like this. Your explanations prove it to me. After, when you have quieted your associations, only then, begin the exercise - consciously, with all your attention, all your faculties. You represent to yourself that you are surrounded by an atmosphere. Like the earth, man also has an atmosphere, which surrounds him on all sides, for a metre, more or less - to a limit. In the atmosphere the associations, in ordinary life the thoughts-produce waves. It concentrates at certain places - it recedes; it has movements according to the direction which you impart it. This depends on the movement of your thought. Your atmosphere is displaced in the direction in which your thought goes. If you think of you mother, who is far away your atmosphere moves towards the place where your mother is. When you do this exercise, you represent to yourself that this atmosphere has limits. For example one metre and a half, shall we say. Then you concentrate all your attention on preventing your atmosphere from escaping beyond the limit. You do not allow it to go further than one metre or one metre and a half. When you feel your atmosphere quieted, without waves, without movement, then with all your will you suck it into yourself - you conserve yourself in this atmosphere. You draw it consciously into yourself. The more you can, the better it is. To start with, is very tiring. That is how one must do the exercise. Afterward you rest yourself - you send the exercise to the devil. Repeat it afresh in the evening. This exercise is done especially to allow one to have a collected state. It is the first exercise. It is difficult to penetrate into yourself at the first effort. One must compel the atmosphere to remain within its limits - not allow it to go further than it should. It is the first exercise in order to have a collected state. This exercise I have given to everybody. No one has understood what is collectedness, nor given it any attention”... This exercise was given by Gurdjieff for everybody, and it is the basis for learning to remember yourself and it is also the basis for learning how to sense and fill the body, which is extremely important if we want our atmosphere to be detached from other surrounding atmospheres. This detachment will make it possible to become free inside from other people. If we want to coat the higher in us we have to become free from other people.
F: Are you sure this exercise is meant for everybody – and not just that Mme D in her state at that time? Is it also suitable for me? How often should I do it?
Ocke: Yes, I am sure this exercise is meant for everyone. This question shows you have not tried it enough yet. We have to put some definite time during the day for our exercises. I myself, for instance, tried for a long time to do the exercise to be free from other people in my head for half an hour each day. I really fought to refuse the commentator in my head any attention. This is a very good exercise, and it is more about trying than for the results. It will change your attitude towards people, and it will help you to take your cheap animal less seriously, that is, ‘the automaton’ We first need to work for a long time on this collected state before learning to fill the pathways . Learning to fill these pathways will help both the Permanent Witness and the Spiritual Witness to be in contact with the automaton and to learn to control and use the latter for their development.
F: So you are not going to tell me how to do the next step – to “fill” these “pathways.” But why do we need an automaton as well as two witnesses?
Ocke: Every Solar effort will make the ties between the two witnesses and the Automaton stronger. Also sittings given by Gurdjieff will help very much as a basis for this. A couple of years ago I received the sittings that Mr. Adie gave to his students in Australia. They are of great value and they will provide, if you apply them, enough information to learn to fill these pathways, and to vivify the higher chakras. The automaton will defend itself though, using all sorts of excuses and anxieties. The automaton is a very clever piece of equipment. Thousands of years of evolution have been spent on it. It is therefore advisable to realize that you cannot help who you are. You need therefore to learn to separate from all the manifestations of the automaton. The automaton will try to suppress the efforts of the Permanent Witness and the Spiritual Witness to fulfil their goal which is spiritual evolution. We need to train the automaton like we train a dog. We restrict it but also love it when it is doing what it is told to do. It is to be used as an instrument. This is what the first being-obligolnian-striving is about.
F: Did you say something about the second one of those being important?
Ocke: The second: “the unflagging instinctive need for self-perfection” will help us to become steadfast in our efforts. The Automaton is ruled by affinities and they want their way. These affinities are true material pathways in your three-dimensional brain. They should not be changed by volitional action. You have to be smart as you are smart with a dog. This is why we cannot work all day, nor should we. We have to work every day for a definite time.
F: Can this really work? Drip by drip. The Spiritual Witness will give flashes of higher consciousness to the Automaton. It will give as much as the Automaton can bear. These flashes will leave real material traces in the brains of the Automaton so that it gets used to higher states, and this will finally change the affinities of the Automaton. This will take time and patience as the training of a dog does.
F: How long is that? Is it really like training a dog?
Ocke: This training of the dog is a metaphor. The Permanent Witness plays the role of the mediator; it can bring forth all sorts of images and signs that the Automaton is used to, through the subconscious. When you go into higher states of consciousness you will have hallucinations, see faces, make contacts. The danger is that this diverts you from going for the Sun Absolute. The Permanent Witness is capable of using the collective memory of all times. These images, signs and voices are real but they are not yours. They will not help you to go for Sun Absolute. Don’t suppress them, but become impartial.
F: I must say I do not understand what you are talking about. What is “to be impartial?” Why is it important?
Ocke: Impartiality, even towards our own efforts, is of great value. Real impartiality belongs to the Spiritual Witness who is in need of the fruits of our incarnation. It has sent something down to earth for its own evolution.
F: Can we really be impartial about our own efforts?
Ocke: We have to try.
F: And what about all the other strivings - do we need them all?
Ocke: The third: “the conscious striving to know ever more and more concerning the law of World-creation and the law of World-maintenance.” These are the Law of Three and the Law of Seven. I said earlier that Conscience is the inner memory for those actions necessary to bring any given situation back in tune with Unity. If we want to practice this memory, we have to know when to be active, when to be passive, and when to be mediating in any given situation, according to our aim. In this way we can learn practically about the working of the law of three.
F: And is an understanding of the Law of Seven also helpful here?
Ocke: About the Law of Seven, in relation to my aim, I want to share that I think. Irmis Popoff is right when she mentions at the end of her book that the enneagram starts to move for us, once we are really doing this work. This is, once we have passed the first threshold. Before that stage our work is preparatory.
F: You must explain these thresholds of yours to me properly one day.
Ocke: After the first threshold our incarnations are limited. We have to walk our own Law of Seven here - each life being a displacement on the enneagram. It is for this reason that we should aim for at least the level of being of man number six. Man number five has to reinvent his own wheel every time he or she is born. Man number six is capable of expressing his individuality from the moment he is born. To become men of higher being, at least the level of number five, our inner memory has to grow beyond the borders of life and death. To die and to be born are major shocks for us. Only true data in our higher bodies survive death, and it is only this true data that can be born again. This true data is nourished by Self-remembering. Every time we seal ourselves from the three-dimensional world in which we live, to remember, we provide food for the Spiritual Witness.
F: And what about the fourth striving?
Ocke: The fourth: “the striving from the beginning of their existence to pay for their arising and their individuality as quickly as possible, in order afterwards to be free to lighten as much as possible the Sorrow of our COMMON FATHER.” This is a very beautiful striving. The first part is about the question of how you touch life. We secretly think or feel that life is in debt towards us, but we have to pay by conscious suffering for our arising and our being here. In short we have to “learn the Blues” in order to be free to lighten as much as possible the Sorrow of our COMMON FATHER. This is the difference between us and angels. According to C.S. Nott in his book Teachings of Gurdjieff, “Gurdjieff said that a perfected man is superior to the angels, the idea being that men, perfected to a certain degree of reason, are cells in the mind of God. Angels are his emotions.” p.130. Humans have way more possibilities. “There is more joy in heaven over one man perfected by his own efforts than in ninety-nine naturally evolved angels.” This striving shows that when we have paid for our existences, it will be possible for us to lighten the Sorrow of our COMMON FATHER. We have to gain life-experience for this. Our COMMON FATHER needs man with higher coated being-bodies for World-creation and the World-maintenance. This is in fact a very Gnostic Idea. This means God needs three-brained-beings, who are in the process of coating the higher in themselves.
F: And there is the fifth one.
Ocke: The fifth: ‘the striving always to assist the most rapid perfecting of other beings, both those similar to oneself and those of other forms, up to the degree of the sacred “Martfotai” that is up to the degree of self-individuality’. When we have tried to practice the first four strivings, this one will become very important. After a certain point in this Work, we can only grow in being by assisting other creatures whether human or animals in their evolution. To do this we need to forget ourselves and pray for assistance. To pass this work on is not an easy thing. For this striving we need to learn to feel other people and animals. To really feel others is a huge achievement. Our feeling-centre needs to be speeded up for this. It needs to become healthy and independent. In most people the feeling-centre is a wounded animal in need for much attention. Because of these wounds they cannot even feel themselves, so to feel other creatures is very difficult for them. About this striving there is also a saying in esotericism: ‘If those above do not move up, then those below cannot move’. To understand this we need a healthy feeling-centre, a compassionate one. A healthy, independent and compassionate feeling centre is achieved by practicing the being-obligolnian-strivings, and it can therefore act from Conscience.
The last thing I wish to share about Conscience is from a Egyptian Sufi named Dzoû’l Noûn, who lived in the 12th century: “All men are dead, except those who know. All those who know are dead, except those who practice. All those who practice are dead, except those who act. All those who act are lost, except those who act with righteous intent. And those who act with righteous intent, are all in grave danger.”