The Whole Dog

In the descriptions of how G. I. Gurdjieff prepared his main work – “Beelzebub’s Tales To His Grandson” – it is said that he watched how his students received the material as it was read to them. If they took it too lightly, he would rewrite the material to make it more complex. When asked why he did that, he is reported as saying “I want people to find the whole dog, not just the bones.” Even the title of that work contains a reference to his system. He wanted people to discover it for themselves, not just to be told. He understood very well how that which is received as an ordinary thought just gets added to the reader’s “story”. He wanted people to work to understand, because in that work they would experience the concepts he wanted to convey and not merely read about them.

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Another (Tri-)Angle

I have written elsewhere in this blog about how we all create a “story” to navigate our way through the real world. And how that story becomes somehow fused with reality. I have also written about the “system” that was taught by G. I. Gurdjieff – about how it is based on the interaction of three forces in the progress of any process. In this post, I’ll bring those two themes together. In doing so, I am not trying to command belief; in fact I would prefer that readers remain “critical”. Mere belief stifles consciousness. It marks a topic as “not needing attention”.

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Performance Rights

It seems to me that when it comes to recorded entertainment media, we have a bit of a problem: namely, who actually owns what rights? The common model at the moment is that as a consumer you buy a limited license to reproduce the original performance. That could be by playing a DVD or it could be by streaming. The license only permits you to do so in a private place, where other people are strictly invited and do not pay a fee. If you want to go beyond those limits, you buy another limited license, for public performance. But there’s no “term” in the usual license and you could lose your ability to exercise it at any time, with no recourse or recompense, except to buy another license – even though you still, technically, hold one.

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What If?

What if every piece of “smart” tech were required to report its energy consumption? Totally anonymously – just by type. What if every domestic appliance was required to do the same, even if it had no other “smart” function? What if it was explicitly made illegal [under the GDPR, for example] not to link the data to any individual, even if the manufacturer wanted to offer that data to the purchaser as part of a special service? What if the anonymous data were deliberately and by act of law made “public domain” under, for example, the “open government” charter? Wouldn’t that give us a lot more insight into how smart tech and domestic tech are linked to ecological impact?

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Inspirational Reads

Over the years, I have read a great many books. And whilst no book is going to do anything more than add to your own story, we do live in our story and some books can – I think – offer us a glimpse of ourselves by the reflections they trigger. The books below aren’t meant to be “great literature”. Nor do I assert that their content is even “right”. But these books triggered reflections for me and they might do the same for you.

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The Great Deceiver

In my post on depression, I wrote about the internal stories that we all create about the world. But there’s a very important aspect to those stories that I only mentioned in passing, and that’s the fact that we – ourselves – are the chief character in our stories. And we deliberately (though usually unconsciously) “bend” the story about ourselves to be more how we want it to be, rather than how actual events would reflect it. Moreover, we don’t just act out one story about ourselves; we act out several. We’ll have different characters for friends, family, workmates, lovers, bus drivers, shop attendants and so on. Hundreds of them. And we’ll slip between characters with hardly a notice. Each of us is “The Great Deceiver”, not just towards the world but even towards ourselves.

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Pretty much everyone has the odd day when it seems that one’s own life is standing still – not really going anywhere and yet demanding a lot of energy. Pretty much everyone has felt, at times, that there doesn’t seem to be any way to make the pointless striving stop. Pretty much everyone has had days when they think it might be better just to let the relentless, grey tide against them just wash them away. After all, nobody else cares. For some, though, that feeling doesn’t just affect the odd day but can last for weeks, getting blacker and blacker. And they don’t want chemical or psychological “treatment”; they want vibrancy – joy – back in their lives.

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The Good Householder

For some – particularly the young – these times of lockdown are a serious test of moral stamina. Before the lockdown, they were perhaps used to having money in their pockets and the freedom to spend it on a variety of hedonistic pursuits, ranging from night-clubs to “sun, sea and A&E” overseas holidays. “Later,” they used to think, “I might have to settle down and accept adult responsibility, but for now I will play.” It is a cultural thing: in some cultures familial duty overrides such self-indulgence. But even there, the slow rise of hedonism seems unstoppable. Older generations look at it and shake their heads sadly because there is actually a very serious harm that these youngsters are doing to themselves – and to future generations.

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Country Life

I live on the edge of a small village in North Hampshire. I chose this location because I have always found the life of towns to be filled with people who are in a hurry. Maybe the constant tension of living alongside many other people leads town-dwellers to focus on doing what they need to do as quickly as possible. And of course, country towns are quieter than big cities. But there’s a price to be paid for lack of “bustle” … With a lower density of population, there’s less money to be made and so commercial services are poor. As we become ever more focused on technology-supported lives, is the countryside doomed to become just an area to visit for natural beauty (and robot farms)?

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What Is “Soul”?

Is there such a thing? If so, what is it? What role does it play in the totality of our possible being? Does everybody have it? Is it eternal? Is it unchanging? Does any part of “me” survive with it? Is there some form of judgement? Should I be doing something in life, to be judged worthy?

These are all questions that every major religion seeks to answer. And even some traditions that claim not to be religions. They are questions that every person is likely to have at some point, founded on the question “What happens when I die?”

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