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This is perhaps one of the most powerful and extraordinary books I've ever read in the field of transformation or the Fourth Way.
I was introduced to the Gudjieff Work as a teenager forty some years ago and have read all of the most important published books. My favorites have always been "In Search of the Miraculous" by P.D. Ouspensky and "Beelzebub's Tales" and "Meetings with Remarkable Men" by Gurdjieff. A few months ago I read "Heart without Measure" by Ravi Ravindra about his several-years work with Madame de Salzmann. I found it especially profound and moving.
So when I heard about the publication of "The Reality of Being" I ordered it immediately. I am almost finished reading it (the first time). I notice that I am reading rather quickly so I can get a gist of the content but plan to start re-reading it again much more slowly to let in sink in deeper. I expect this is will be a book I'll be re-reading for the rest of my life.
The essence of the book is actually very similar to Ekhart Tolle's "The Power of Now." It is about presence, being in the now, seeing one's "ordinary I" from a higher perspective and tapping into higher energies. Tolle's book is excellent. However, "The Reality of Being" goes ten times deeper. Every sentence, every paragraph, every chapter is permeated with profound substance. The Power of Now is a good primer. This is the the advanced course.
Of course, no book can, by itself, give you the depth of experience and understanding that working directly with "a teacher who knows" can. But in every single part of the book Madame de Salzmann calls on us to do the inner work necessary to awaken. And her instructions are in no way vague or ambiguous. However they are so deep that it may take a good degree of attention and focus to grasp their meaning.
This book is quite like any other I've read in my life. It has more transformative power packed into a single page than the average library of self-help or spiritual books.
If you are a follower of the Fourth Way or seriously interested in personal transformation, this book is a must.
56 von 65 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
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The Reality of Being is an unanticipated, and unusual, addition to the growing number of books that attempt to speak of the Gurdjieff Work. It is unanticipated because the author, Jeanne de Salzmann, passed on some 21 years ago and during her entire life published very little. The book is of interest for many reasons, not the least of which is Mme de Salzmann's long and close relationship with Mr. Gurdjieff that began in Tiflis in 1919. Of their first meeting, she said, "The impression of Gurdjieff was very strong, unforgettable. He had an expression I had never seen, and an intelligence, a force, that was different...a vision that could see everything." When asked his impression of her, Gurdjieff said, "She--is intelligent." As he would later explain, "Intelligent means he who directs his body. If the body directs, you are a nullity, a peasant--if you direct your body you are intelligent." Having studied and taught forms of music and dancing, including that of Jacques Dalcroze, it was natural for her to become one of the leading dancers in Gurdjieff's Movements.
For the next 30 years, from their first meeting in Tiflis, through Constantinople and Europe, to the establishment of the Prieuré, to his last years in Paris where she assisted at his meetings, she was a devoted student. According to the editors, "Before Gurdjieff died, he charged de Salzmann to live to be `over 100' in order to establish his teaching. He left her all his rights with respect to his writings and the Movements, as well as the music..." In the years after Gurdjieff's death, de Salzmann was an indefatigable and instrumental force in creating the framework of institutions that made available the ancient, esoteric teaching of The Fourth Way.
From the beginning, the unusual nature of The Reality of Being becomes apparent. It primarily consists of extracts from de Salzmann's journals. These give a flavor quite unlike any other Work book. The material is organized primarily by "themes," and not chronologically ordered--though it is stated that the beginning chapters are generally from the 1950's. (Some hint of the chronology would have given important insight into what she was facing after Gurdjieff's death, and reasons for her visits to Guénon, Graf Druckheim, and Krishnamurti.) The exact origin of the material presented is not entirely clear, but her writings apparently have come out of her personal experiences and ponderings of the Work. There is not the sense that these are Gurdjieff's teachings in her words, but rather her inner experience of the teaching.
The extracts have been edited by "a small group of [her] friends and followers." As the original journals--with the exception of one snippet--are unpublished, the extent of editing cannot be known. The sense is that the editing may have added at times an awkwardness to what will be for many an already difficult text.
The writing is often quite detailed and perhaps of considerable density for those with no experience of the Work. A typical example: 15 Hypnotized by my Mind:
An inattentive mind is filled with thoughts. In a passive state it is constantly creating images and applying them to what I observe. The images provoke pleasure or pain, which is recorded in my memory, and illusions form around desires for satisfaction. In observing from a fixed vantage point, this mind creates a kind of separation, an opposition, a judge that reacts to everything with a preconception based on what has been learned.
The level of detail can become difficult to follow. There may be a mental glazing-over if much of this material is read at one sitting. Though the book in places may seem a bit "wordy" and repetitive of subject matter, some of the monographs are rich and beautiful in their subtlety and depth of understanding. They penetrate subjects, such as sensation, that have been presented only in limited ways outside of oral transmission.
One wonders if there could well be a more serious issue with giving such detailed descriptions. The Work is a work of self-exploration and self-transformation. Clearly Mme de Salzmann did a tremendous amount of work on herself and gained a great deal of knowledge--self-knowledge. Is it advantageous to make such material available to all levels of students in the Work, much less the general public? Gurdjieff gave us the basic ideas, such as the function of the formatory mind--"can't count beyond two" and "sees everything in black-and-white." It is a student's work to verify this. In this way, the teaching comes alive, and understanding in its true sense, that is, the resultant of being and self-knowledge, come to be. Personal journals, and particularly Work journals, typically represent what is experienced and understood at a particular point in time. It would seem far better that students not be given such detailed descriptions based upon another's personal experience. Self-exploration should be just that--one's individual work experienced and reported in conjunction with a teacher and group.
The editors write, "Like every experiential account, the inner journey Mme. de Salzmann describes can really be understood only to the extent the reader himself can live the experience..." But one doesn't live the experience through another's words. All of this brings up what is really the essential question: was this material intended by de Salzmann to be published? The editors' answer is that they believe so. They quote her at age 91, "I am writing a book on how to be in life, on a path to take in order to live on two levels." The editors go on to say "When she died 10 years later, she left her note books intact, carefully preserved. To those closest to her, this was a clear sign of the legacy she intended for this material: to help complete Gurdjieff's writings on a clear vision of reality..." Thus, on the basis of a remark that could well be taken either metaphorically or was referring to completely different material, the material is published "to complete Gurdjieff's writings." The word complete is questionable. Yes, some believe that because Life is Real, Only Then When `I Am' ends with a colon and not a period, Gurdjieff did not complete the teaching. But he finished the book in 1935 and had 14 years left to complete it. Rather than incompletion, isn't it more reasonable to interpret the colon as a charge to the reader to now--having been given the teaching and its practices--to complete the teaching in himself by understanding what follows the colon?
While one may argue that some of the decisions taken by de Salzmann in the course of 40 years following Gurdjieff's death are open to question (the edited version of the First Series published in 1992 comes to mind), there is no question that she worked diligently on all three lines of the Work, mandated that all the Movements be filmed so as not to be lost, was highly respected by Gurdjieff's direct senior students, particularly Lord John Pentland, and came to a very high level of understanding. That said, the material in the book does not appear to be written in a way that was intended to be presented to the general public or to present the Work as a teacher's record of personal experience for future students. The editors' claim that Mme de Salzmann intended that this material be published and used as an extension and completion of Gurdjieff's writings is questionable. Can it be accepted that the person responsible for the publication of Gurdjieff's writings couldn't publish her own writings or, at the least, give instructions in this regard? Shall there now be a "skipping over" of Gurdjieff's legominism, All and Everything, and Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous to begin the study of a new book containing complex writings and material that may never have been intended for publication or teaching? As to the value of this material as part of the teaching and to further complete the written record, does this material simplify or complexify the Work?
C. S. Nott asked Gurdjieff, "What about people who have never met you... How will they be able to understand Beelzebub's Tales?" Gurdjieff's reply must have shocked Nott, "Perhaps will understand better than many always around me... I not wish people to be identified with me, I wish them identified with my ideas. Many who never meet me, simple people, will understand my book."
--Dick Myers, The Gurdjieff Journal, #54
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W. W. Overwijk
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This book, published in 2011, contains decades of personal writings of Jeanne de Salzmann (1889-1990), Gurdjieff's principal student and the guardian and proponent of his work after his death. Students of the Gurdjieff work completed the task of compilation and shaped the book in such a way that it reads like a progression of de Salzmann's personal development. The book starts off with a challenging aspect of the Gurdjieff work, which is the need to see how I am asleep, how I am lacking the strength and will to truly do, how I fall short of living like a true, complete human being.
It is easy to skip over this Work foundation and move on to exercises and esoteric ideas of energies and transformation, but throughout the book it becomes clear how often de Salzmann herself went back to this notion of her lack, and staying on front of that lack without looking away. The book is permeated with a palpable force that seems to radiate off the pages.
Jeanne de Salzmann was a tireless, uncompromising seeker after Truth, and her writings transmit some of this intense dedication to living a conscious Life. A true example of the Gurdjieff Work as it is practiced today, she not only preserved it as a Path towards embodying such a Life more and more fully, she also personally demonstrated its efficacy through her living and in this book.
An excellent accompanying book to this one is Ravi Ravindra's Heart without Measure, in which the author describes in a most touching way his personal interactions with Jeanne de Salzmann in her role as teacher of the Gurdjief Work during the last years of her life.
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Madame de Salzmann was an extraordinary influence, never failing to inspire others by her unceasing work and the quality of her presence. She could transmit more in a few moments of relationship with a student than an ordinary man or woman experienced in the Gurdjieff work could share in a lifetime. That is the reality of Being.
The new book, The Reality of Being: The Fourth Way of Gurdjieff, Shambhala was produced from a compilation of notes Madame de Salzmann had written from time to time expressing her own questions and her own vision in the life and movement of the Gurdjieff work.
In connection with the book's preparation, various group activities were conducted within the Gurdjieff community, including weekly meetings of reading groups where people listened to the material and worked with it together. Also as a help to the editing team, larger groups of people having some measure of experience with Madame de Salzmann gathered periodically for extended sessions to work under the guidance of this written material as a support for inner work, regrouping at various intervals each day to re-read selected passages and exchange impressions. In concentrated efforts of self study such as these, with the use of the written material and with the added influence at times of a shared energy produced by work together, one could sometimes approach a deeper understanding - something that becomes more likely when a sufficient number of those who gather for this purpose have understood that the real substance of this kind of knowledge cannot be printed on paper. Books and writings can give hints and sometimes serve as a starting point for a real search. Gurdjieff's own writings are an exceptional category.
Unedited, Madame de Salzmann was one of a very small circle of leaders in the Gurdjieff work who could actually, by her being, transmit substantially on the process which brings one in contact with another reality and illumines the darkness of the lower nature that must be confronted on the path to liberation. Whereas in life she was able to bring a special light to her oral transmissions by her capacity to conduct energy from a world above us, the reading of this book produced by others from her notes is quite different. As secondary beneficiaries of the energy Madame de Salzmann was able to bring to an assembly of people we could sometimes experience something truly out of the ordinary. Under her influence one could often feel, prematurely, a new understanding opening up in the body and in the feeling but longer experience taught that one could not understand the nature of this energy simply by being in the sphere of another who conducts it, much less by reading about it. One begins to have one's own real impressions of the nature of this energy only at moments when one begins to open to direct contact with a higher level within oneself and begins to face the question of how to serve and allow something of this to be shared with others, as she did. Even if one did not understand anything, under her influence people specially benefited in a way that no book could ever simulate. The book's title may be slightly overstated in that regard. More modestly, what the book gives are faint echoes of the reality of Being.
That the original notes were her questions and her vision rather than an intellectual rehash of ideas produced by others is an important lesson. Union with higher consciousness within oneself inevitably produces original vision influenced by the real tradition in which one grows and develops. Because of the rarity of such content, the material in this book is an important contribution.
As Gurdjieff mentioned, "every stick has two ends." Because of the advanced nature of the material, if one is satisfied to accumulate intellectual knowledge alone and is not called within to suffer the reality of our lack of being and pay the higher price of real understanding, there is the risk that one may only increase misunderstanding, thinking that one comprehends. A deeper understanding of this material begins in the realm of living experience, beyond the conceptual mind. Hopefully the benefit this book will bring to the Gurdjieff work will be seen in a response given by some of its readers, those who can hear the echo of real being and feel called to join the search for what is most precious and most missing in our lives.