Question 1. What is the function of a group? What should be the function of O group?
I had always thought it was to help each of its members progress towards Self-realisation. But you said it needed to have an aim of its own and you weren't sure what this was. Would either of the following be a possible aim?:
- To preserve the System. (You have said there is a shortage of teachers and obviously as an oral tradition, having enough teachers is essential. Although it would be a long-term project, perhaps eventually we could all understand enough to be able to teach it? It would be even better with a larger group.)
Gerald: Not so much 'preserve', but recreate through practice. These ideas can only find new life through practice, otherwise they get stale, become fixed dogma and lose their bite and effectiveness. We can only teach what we know, and knowing means practice as well as comprehension.
- To understand how the scientific knowledge of the two hemispheres relates to Mr Ouspensky's and H.H.'s teaching. Perhaps PF could give us some specific ideas to explore and experiment with?
Gerald: A School needs a speciality to focus its work upon. Music, medicine, etc. — usually according to the qualifications of the leader. Part of our purpose as a school is to integrate ancient esoteric knowledge into a modern scientific framework.
Once again, practice must be a factor. A group too, after initial elementary knowledge has been given, needs some kind of focus for work which ideally arises from the practical experience of its members.
Gerald - Question for the Group: How does the well-established bilateral asymmetry of the brain relate to the Antahkaran?
Question 2: How does 'asking questions that are useful to others' tie in with Mr Ouspensky's definition of the 'second line of work'?
Mr O - Psychological Lectures wrote: In the second line one works in connection with certain organised work and one must do exactly what one is told. No initiative is required or admitted ...
I can see how work parties at Colet would have been second line of work. Although it would be nice, I still don't see how a larger group and more questions fits in with the idea of doing "exactly what one is told"? But if we were able to meet every week rather than every month this would certainly help to meet the need for good company. Are there any other ways of developing the second line of work that we should be looking at?
Gerald: Two quotes from 1934:
Mr O: With the first line only, one can progress but very slowly, and one cannot be sure of this progress. The first is work for oneself—selfstudy, study of system and so on. The second is work with other people, for instance here: you ask questions, hear other people—this refers partly to second line, not all second line. Third line of work is work for the organization, not for yourselves at all. In the first line the work is for yourself and in the second line for yourself and for other people. In the third line, it is work for the school, not for yourself at all. One line helps another. This is one of the secrets of school-work. Only in that way work can go straight. Otherwise it will deviate.
and at another meeting:
MR. M. I concluded from what you said the other day about three lines of work that there is a certain tie between us, a certain obligation towards each other.
MR. O. In school, yes. Those who are really in school. Those for whom school becomes more important than anything else—that is what being in school means. Otherwise they are just listeners and school has no demands on them. The more school demands from people, the more they can get from it.
There are different sets of rules for different levels.
3. Food, air, impressions octaves - several questions
What does the following mean:
You have previously explained a couple of ways of using breath in connection with negative emotions. Are there other useful practices? And what about food and water?E group paper 10/18: "Air too is capable of much further refinement. Even solid food and water can help us much more than we usually allow it to".
It sounded as though the three octaves are linked in a similar way to the three types of work. How does this operate?
Gerald: Humans need three fuels, three distinct levels of energy to be human. Food, Air. Impressions. Body, heart and mind. Only food is fully developed by the organism, for survival and procreation. The development of air and impressions is incomplete, they don't produce nearly as much energy as they could. Heart and mind tend only to develop enough energy to sustain the body in the kind of life it likes. That is why we are mechanical.
This is the progressive view — we can progressively 'give-up' some coarse energy so as to allow some higher energy to flow through us. Allow mind to be still, let heart remember Atman — body will be quiet and different energy flows through us. Nevertheless, progressive view only holds good while duality is still felt as reality. Never forget, the unity of love and knowledge is beyond time and completely available in every moment 'now'. Quite often we hold ourselves back by thinking 'step-by-step'.
Three lines of work, same principle but quite different application. Don't confuse.
Question 4: Personality, essence and the two hemispheres - is there any work that we need to do in connection with essence?
You talked about focusing more on essence - observing gestures etc. I understand about the two hemispheres from Iain McGilchrist's book, but I'm finding it difficult to relate to essence, which I thought was mostly what we are born with - deeply embedded characteristics, memories etc. In H.H.'s teaching there seems to be more emphasis on work on personality - getting rid of identification, getting 'me' out of the way. What should we be doing about essence? Is it mainly self-observation, or is there something more?
Gerald: Essence is usually undeveloped, childish, unsophisticated. Body is the basis of essence. One reason why first intimations of Atman are often quite child-like, (not childish)— a child-like happiness. Development of emotions depends also on development of air and impressions.
Question 5: Should we be making more effort to learn about the System by reading papers from the archive, books etc.?
I realise that it is quite possible to be entirely open to a different interpretation of something we have heard or read before and that this is a capability we need to cultivate anyway in order to allow our understanding of System ideas to deepen and develop. But is it a good idea to take the initiative and then ask questions based on what we have read? Or is it better to just read what you tell us to read? One of the issues is that interpretation of some parts of the System has changed since Dr Roles' time (e.g. rules).
Gerald: All Ouspensky's books are helpful including In Search of the Miraculous which although it gives extraordinary information needs to be read with the firm understanding that Atman is in everybody. FCR spent years trying to drag us away from the idea that the Atman was immensely far off, that we didn't even have a soul and that we had to somehow make one before we could get anywhere near the Atman. The miracle of the Tradition changed all that —the extra ordinary being of the Shankaracharya showed that human beings can become perfectly aware of God in themselves and act accordingly. We don't need to be Shankaracharyas. 60 watt bulb and 1000 watt bulb — the light itself is equally pure. We get enough for whatever role the Atman is playing through us in this life.
Tertium Organum should be required reading — it leads directly to the essence of non-dualism, in English.
Read whatever comes your way. Part of first line of work.
Group generated readings are different. Even if we have heard or read the ideas before and they have become absorbed and saccharine coated by the habitual attitudes of personality, if we hear or read them in a group context we are told to take them as NEW IDEAS. Hold them up in the mind without association, be still for a minute. This is a different kind of reading — directed at essence. When work ideas reach essence something new begins.
6. Why do you feel that O group is too small?
I agree it would be lovely to have more of the right sort of people in O group. However I remember you said that small groups could be very powerful. So, although we will probably be able to solve the problem by having more people, I would also like to understand what it is that we have been getting wrong.
Gerald: Nothing wrong with O Group. One or two more people would be good, with the same level of determination. Difficulty is level of knowledge. We keep bumping into ideas that have to explained from the beginning, like 'three foods'. This takes time. One priority of a group is to learn a shared language. To understand each others' experience we have to express it in the same language. Everybody means different things but uses same word, like 'think' or 'conscience'. We also need a larger group to practice on.
Is it that we have not been working together in the right way as a group? Perhaps a group is like a macrocosm of an individual? Many different I's, nothing properly coordinated and working together, lacking a common (or group) aim?
Gerald: State of a school is a metaphor of the inner work of individuals. Current attempt to re-connect with the Tradition is a metaphor of our individual desire to connect with Atman. A lot can be learnt if we think in this way.
Question for other group members: Are these questions helpful? Have you got any questions to add to these? I can't see any excuse for being short of questions.
Gerald: Mr O would say: No questions = no work being attempted.