the idiotplayers podcast 06: George Bennett p02

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The idiotplayers podcast is a caravanserai of conversations with important thinkers, be-ers and doers. The idiotplayers podcast aims to explore art, creativity and expression.  If there is an elephant standing in the dark, as the Sufi story goes, we want to do more than grope and theorize. We invite conversations with people who aim from the heart to make practical, the far-reaching.

In episode 6 of the idiotplayers podcast we present part 2 of a conversation with George Bennett originally recorded on Sunday, October 16, 2011. Here the conversation turns to a discussion of some of the remarkable people George has met and the influence each has had upon him. He speaks personally and engagingly about these experiences while at the same time keeping a keen practical edge.

Biography
George Bennett was born in 1951, and was raised at Coombe Springs, the experimental spiritual community led by his father, JG Bennett. The ideas and practices of GI Gurdjieff, Subud, the Shivapuri Baba and Idris Shah formed some of the background of his childhood. After gaining a bachelors degree in history, George attended the third basic course run by JG Bennett at Sherborne in Gloucestershire, England. These ten-month courses were designed to give people an experience of the reality of the spiritual life, establish practices and spiritual ‘tools’ that could be developed over a lifetime, and to impart a sense of the spiritual task that confronts every individual, and humanity as a whole.

After Sherborne, George completed a masters degree in US history and then spent seven years as an international truck driver, an occupation that took him to countries across Eastern and Western Europe, and the Middle East. In 1982, having given up his driving career, George spent some months in the USA, where a visit to George and Mary Cornelius, long-time students of JG Bennett, reconnected him to ‘the Work’ as expounded by Bennett and Gurdjieff. Subsequently, George attended several seminars at the Cornelius’s institute in southern Oregon.

Working as a journalist in magazines specializing in trucks and transport, he learned the business of magazine publishing. He became editor of two magazines and, for a while, was responsible for the production of the market-leading ‘Car’ magazine in Britain. In 1990 George, with a business partner, bought the trucking titles he’d worked on from the Murdoch organization, and set up a small publishing company, which he co-owned for seven years before selling it in 1997. In 2001 George qualified as a school teacher and currently works as a 4th-6th grade teacher at The Village School, a small private elementary school set up twenty-two years ago by a group of Gurdjieff-Bennett students in Massachusetts, operating under the name Millers River Educational Cooperative (MREC).

Since the early 1990s, George has been involved in an international group running annual ‘Work’ seminars in the UK, and in 1994 he convened a conference at Claymont in West Virginia, on the twentieth anniversary of the death of JG Bennett. Some one hundred and fifty people attended the conference, mostly former students of Bennett who had taken his training as a point of departure, and had tried to develop their own understanding and methods of transmitting the ideas and practices of Bennett and Gurdjieff.

George currently helps to run a group in Boston, Massachusetts, but he remains convinced of the value of longer courses, to give people sustained experience of practical and spiritual work together. To that end he, with a small group including Elan Sicroff, the foremost specialist in the music of Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann, initiated an experimental fourteen-week course in the fall of 2006 at Camp Caravan, a facility owned by MREC. This course was followed by a six-week ‘Intensive’ in the summer of 2010.

While it became clear that longer courses continue to have a real value, it is also apparent that people find it much harder than they did forty years ago to take a long period away from work or studies. As a result George, with a small group of collaborators, is currently experimenting with a series of shorter, ‘modular’ courses on specific aspects of the Work. The first of these two-week courses will be held at Camp Caravan in July of 2012. For further information, contact George on geoanab@gis.net.

Show Notes

jgbennett.net, Pak Subud, JG Bennett, Mrs. Annie Lou Staveley, George and Mary Cornelius, the reality of conscience, Ashiata Shiemash, Shivapuri Baba, Coombe Springs, Elizabeth Bennett, Idiots in Paris, Summer Intensive at Camp Caravan July 2012.

Notes

Music by the idiotplayers urgent carnival and advice to the drunk at heart.

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the idiotplayers podcast 05: George Bennett p01

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

download (right-click and Save as…)

The idiotplayers podcast is a caravanserai of conversations with important thinkers, be-ers and doers. The idiotplayers podcast aims to explore art, creativity and expression.  If there is an elephant standing in the dark, as the Sufi story goes, we want to do more than grope and theorize. We invite conversations with people who aim from the heart to make practical, the far-reaching.

The idiotplayers welcome George Bennett to the conversation caravanserai. In our conversation George speaks about his years growing up at Coombe Springs. Coombe Springs was an experimental community started by his father John G. Bennett in Surrey, England. It was experimental in the sense that JG Bennett took a widely experimental approach to what a spiritual life might be in the post-nuclear age. He invited from all over the world people who had learned something of value about themselves, consciousness and love and could teach something of this to others.

He speaks practically about his experience as a teacher of the Movements, his work with children and adults and his professional life as a school teacher. It’s an excellent visit together presented for the listener of the idiotplayers podcast. This is part 01 of the conversation recorded on Sunday, October 16, 2011.

Biography
George Bennett was born in 1951, and was raised at Coombe Springs, the experimental spiritual community led by his father, JG Bennett. The ideas and practices of GI Gurdjieff, Subud, the Shivapuri Baba and Idris Shah formed some of the background of his childhood. After gaining a bachelors degree in history, George attended the third basic course run by JG Bennett at Sherborne in Gloucestershire, England. These ten-month courses were designed to give people an experience of the reality of the spiritual life, establish practices and spiritual ‘tools’ that could be developed over a lifetime, and to impart a sense of the spiritual task that confronts every individual, and humanity as a whole.

After Sherborne, George completed a masters degree in US history and then spent seven years as an international truck driver, an occupation that took him to countries across Eastern and Western Europe, and the Middle East. In 1982, having given up his driving career, George spent some months in the USA, where a visit to George and Mary Cornelius, long-time students of JG Bennett, reconnected him to ‘the Work’ as expounded by Bennett and Gurdjieff. Subsequently, George attended several seminars at the Cornelius’s institute in southern Oregon.

Working as a journalist in magazines specializing in trucks and transport, he learned the business of magazine publishing. He became editor of two magazines and, for a while, was responsible for the production of the market-leading ‘Car’ magazine in Britain. In 1990 George, with a business partner, bought the trucking titles he’d worked on from the Murdoch organization, and set up a small publishing company, which he co-owned for seven years before selling it in 1997. In 2001 George qualified as a school teacher and currently works as a 4th-6th grade teacher at The Village School, a small private elementary school set up twenty-two years ago by a group of Gurdjieff-Bennett students in Massachusetts, operating under the name Millers River Educational Cooperative (MREC).

Since the early 1990s, George has been involved in an international group running annual ‘Work’ seminars in the UK, and in 1994 he convened a conference at Claymont in West Virginia, on the twentieth anniversary of the death of JG Bennett. Some one hundred and fifty people attended the conference, mostly former students of Bennett who had taken his training as a point of departure, and had tried to develop their own understanding and methods of transmitting the ideas and practices of Bennett and Gurdjieff.

George currently helps to run a group in Boston, Massachusetts, but he remains convinced of the value of longer courses, to give people sustained experience of practical and spiritual work together. To that end he, with a small group including Elan Sicroff, the foremost specialist in the music of Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann, initiated an experimental fourteen-week course in the fall of 2006 at Camp Caravan, a facility owned by MREC. This course was followed by a six-week ‘Intensive’ in the summer of 2010.

While it became clear that longer courses continue to have a real value, it is also apparent that people find it much harder than they did forty years ago to take a long period away from work or studies. As a result George, with a small group of collaborators, is currently experimenting with a series of shorter, ‘modular’ courses on specific aspects of the Work. The first of these two-week courses will be held at Camp Caravan in July of 2012. For further information, contact George on geoanab@gis.net.

Show Notes

jgbennett.net, Coombe Springs, Shivapuri Baba, Pak Subud, Sherborne House, the medium of hope, Millers River Educational Cooperative MREC http://www.campcaravan.org/, Claymont Court, the Gurdjieff Movements, Gurdjieff’s ideas of objective art, Number 17 (Gurdjieff Movement), The Village School, experience with children learning the Gurdjieff Movements, jgbennett.net, Diane Cilento, Robert Fripp.

Notes

Music by the idiotplayers urgent carnival and advice to the drunk at heart.

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cleo’s secret

story and images by idio

Cleo agreed to go. At any rate, she heard herself say “Yes” to her mother. Then the second thoughts came. After all, what would a fifteen year-old girl do in the quiet of cottage country with two old folks for three weeks? At the bottom of it, she really wanted to go, mostly to get out of the city. T-dot, T-drop. She needed to escape its ways. Chat-chat-chat. ru goin to g’s house on fryday? lol. yadayadayada. She wasn’t against the chat-chat-chat overall and she did a certain amount of yadayadayada, but she had noticed something very strange. All these really bright kids who only two years before talked deeply about rain forest depletion, consumerism and what happened after death, now seemed so eager to get on the bus of shoes and cell phones, nasty things written about so-and-so on j’s blog and hotly curious discussions about whether p’s breasts were real or not. It wasn’t that Cleo was cynical or angry. Yes, she was a little heavier than t and a little more clever than w and decidedly shorter than c, but this was just being confused and fifteen and it likely had some kind of purpose she figured. It was something more than that.

The idea of going to summer camp made her lips curl too: slim girls in tankinis poised like Venus Flytraps waiting to see how many boys they could lure. She realized that she was being a bit dramatic. Yet she wondered in her journal how it was that everyone seemed to be winging their way into adulthood and consenting to take part in the strangest social rituals, so strange, in fact, that they were merely stolen from somewhere else.

Maybe she was a hippy child, but her parents were never really hippies as per a standard sociological test or anything like that. They did spend some time living in an alternative community when they were young. They apparently learned serious things about life. She was probably brainwashed by some of that. Nevertheless, she could see for herself that somebody had apparently injected her friends with a big syringe of some kind of drug that had turned them into people who needed to convince everyone else, and themselves, that they were really smart, sophisticated people of the world when they were really just kids who needed something interesting to do. Cleo knew that she wouldn’t end up like a black-white-movie spinster, but something in her had turned on too, something that secretly wished for the same kinds of things as everyone else. Was this a problem? Is “problem” the wrong word?

When her mother mentioned that she could go to spend some time with Aunt Isabelle and Uncle Roger, it clicked – even if it was the click of another of her brother’s popsicle sticks as he tried to finish his grade 8 science project.

***

Cleo inwardly forgave her mother for not having the air conditioner on in the car when they turned off the 400 and onto a road that snaked along a river where the water sparkled and ran fast. As if on cue Cleo pulled the i-pod buds from her ears. The cicadas buzzed and her mother was singing something smoky in French.

“Hello daughter. This is called earth,” her mother said in the same smoky tone turning to look at Cleo for a moment overtop of her sunglasses. “Welcome.” Cleo smiled a cheeky smile in return.

“So, will I have to do stuff for Uncle Roger?” Cleo asked. She knew “Roger” was pronounced in the French way, Rowjay, but she got a kick out of pronouncing it with a “g” as in “girl,” Raw-ger.

“Stuff?” her mother replied.

“You know, like washing him and changing his under things … stuff.”

Although Uncle Roger was her mother’s brother, both he and Isabelle were considerably older than Cleo’s mom. Cleo knew that Uncle Roger was well into his 80s and that Aunt Isabelle was 79. Roger had become wheelchair bound some years ago when it was clear that he could no longer walk on his own. For much longer than that, it had appeared to everyone else that he had retreated into himself. He did not talk, other than strangeness, and Cleo had no memories, other than photographs, of him as a vigorous man. Isabelle, on the other hand, was mobile and altogether full of sauce and stories.

“Are you worried about ‘stuff’?” her mother asked.

“Mom, please don’t answer my question with a question, somehow inviting me to reflect on the nature of the question. I just need to know.”

“Well that’s up to you if you want to help out. There’s no expectation, I’m sure. Isabelle does well on her own and the nurse from North Bay comes a couple of times a week.”

Cleo was prepared to admit to herself, at least, that she was a little apprehensive at the prospect of “stuff.” She looked out the window at the river. It had turned into a lake. The dark forms of the pine trees sped by in a cool blur and the sunlight upon the water beckoned to her from beyond.

“So tell me again something about this place that Uncle Roger used to run,” Cleo asked after a time looking out at her shifting image of the lake.

Cleo’s mom paused for a bit, “Your Uncle travelled for many years when he was younger, North America, South America, Asia pretty much all over. He met some incredible people and, I suppose, was somewhat incredible himself. He started a kind of school to work alongside others. It was a place where people came to live … to live like genuine people,” she said without a drop of sarcasm.

“They came there to learn how to live?” Cleo asked somewhat dubious.

“It’s amazing what can happen, Cleo, once people simply let go of the violence and stupidity that everyday life feeds into them and be …” She trailed off. “Yes, I that’s right, just be.”

“Just be?” echoed Cleo.

“Yes,” her mother said like Cleo would know exactly what she meant.

Finally Cleo simply said, “Mom, you’re going a bit fast aren’t you?”

***

The roads got smaller and smaller as they approached the cottage, branching like blood vessels reaching out ever finer. Cleo’s mom turned down a lane marked by a tatty sign, “The Petries”. There was a beautiful collection of lake rocks around it that contrasted with the sign.

The cottage was old-school. It was hunkered down beneath a grove of white pine and spruce trees and painted cottage green. A stone chimney climbed up from the gabled roof and the old glass in the windows warbled in the light. Despite its nostalgic look, the cottage that had been fitted with electricity and the modern things some years ago by Cleo’s father and several friends of Uncle Roger’s from the days when he was director of the school. Cleo had been to the cottage many times, but never with the prospect of hearing her mother’s car back out of the lane leaving her behind.

As Cleo’s mom inched up the steep lane, the sunlight came quickly and densely as they rolled out of the coolness of the trees. Isabelle came out of the cottage and raised her hand to shield her eyes from the sun, and when she saw that it was Cleo and her mother, she danced a little dance that made her look like a puppet. Cleo laughed. The car stopped, and she tumbled out to run and say “Hello.” Isabelle took her into her arms and kissed her forehead and whispered something sweet to her that only Auntie Isabelle could whisper. Cleo and Isabelle stood arm in arm as Cleo’s mom approached.

“Ah Diane, how nice to see you, ” said Isabelle in her rich tone, leaning to kiss.

Diane came up and Cleo slipped away from Isabelle’s side with a soft word in her Aunt’s ear. She turned to go down the long rambling stairs to the dock. She heard her mother and Aunt Isabelle speaking in French as she went to check-out whether all was as it should be, as she remembered it.

The hammock was tied securely between two aspens on a rock ledge leaning out over the water below. The lake washed gently onto what little beach there was. The scarlet red canoe was lying mouth down on the dock with its beautiful ribs of sugared cedar just visible. There was a good breeze and not many bugs. The cicadas buzzed mysteriously overhead with a sound that pulsed from everywhere all at once. She turned to look up at the cottage and saw Uncle Roger in his chair looking out over the lake and waved to him. Although he did not wave back, she felt that he saw her and that said hello in his own silent way.

Cleo scrambled up the rambling steps, creaked open the screen door of the cottage and walked through into the lake room. The smell of fire smoke and pinesap welcomed her. He held her Uncle’s hand and kissed him gently on the wrinkles of his forehead.

“Hello Uncle Roger,” she said in the French way. “I’m so happy to be able to come. Thank-you for having me,” Cleo said with definiteness.

They had lunch together. Isabelle was a good cook and gave everything a unique touch. They ate lake fish and salad with fresh fiddleheads. Mostly Cleo listened as her mother and Aunt Isabelle chatted about family and the news of the world. When time came for Diane to leave, Cleo hugged her mother and said goodbye tenderly but without ceremony. She watched her back out of the lane with the tires softly crunching the gravel. Before she realized it, there was only the sound of the cicadas and the dopplerized propeller of a passing plane. The summer had begun.

***

Time passed strangely in the first week, running in flows and eddys. Some things stood out while the rest of it flew quickly by. Cleo canoed and played Gin with Aunt Isabelle. Then her Aunt started to teach her Bridge, this she remembers very clearly. “All card games lead to Bridge,” Isabelle intoned with raised eyebrows. Actually she called it “Honeymoon Bridge.” Cleo liked that. She had a clear image of a young couple tossing stones into the water.

She remembers helping her Uncle Roger. She remembers his scent. Beneath the crusty smell of old age, he had a turnip kind of smell, a little spicy and a little buttery. She liked that. He needed help to dress, to eat, to wash and to go to the bathroom. She gave considerable attention to most of these tasks, but she left the bathroom chores to her Aunt.

Mostly he sat in his comfy chair by the big bay window looking out over the lake. He slept, and he murmured and he cried, and even cried out sometimes. He smiled a very fine smile. And, sometimes, the look in his eye cast out on a hundred thousand miles. She sat with him one evening and watched a storm move in from the southwest. Sitting with Uncle Roger she felt the system move and move in her feelings too. The grays and blacks and magenta purples expressed hard-to-explain things in her, growing up maybe, a certain awareness of time. She felt her Uncle really present beside her like he was on this journey with her too. When the storm passed she looked to find that he had nodded off.

***

Early in the second week Aunt Isabelle announced after doing the dishes while taking the rubber gloves from her hands, “We need supplies, Cleo. I’m going to drive into town tomorrow morning.” She looked right at Cleo. “I’m going to need you to stay here with Roger.”

It felt like an important mission had been laid upon her.

The next morning Isabelle explained everything to Cleo that she needed to know. Isabelle showed her where the emergency numbers were and what she should do if anything “needed to happen.” Cleo couldn’t quite figure that out, the way that Isabelle said “needed to happen.” She wondered at the phrase, as if the universe had a schedule for these things. It stuck with her.

“Darling, I won’t be gone long. Roger will be fine. Just look in on him every now and again.”

Cleo was a bit insulted with that. Of course she would look in on him. She was intending to do more than that. She bit down on the urge to say it to Aunt Isabelle, but she thought that if she said something that she might not do as she said. Strange. She had never noticed this before, this push and pull between different parts of herself. Somehow it brought her back.

She remembered playing on a swing set in Ypres Park one afternoon with the sun falling between dark gossamer trees and the sound shunting of trains in the distance. She must have been 3 years old. She remembered watching her feet vaulting into the sky with each thrust and feeling the point of utter stillness just before falling back. There was something special in that point of hovering between two worlds. She realized now that it was probably her first real memory, the moment where she woke-up to herself.

Isabelle loved cars. Cleo saw that she enjoyed pulling down the long drive with speed and skill. After she left, everything was quite silent, as if nature de-tuned out of hearing for a short time.

She washed the breakfast dishes and got her uncle settled in his chair by the window. She flipped through his collection of vinyl records and found a recording of Beethoven’s piano sonata opus 110. She settled the needle deftly into the groove.

The music started so beautifully, a dream becoming aware of itself. Feathers and sky and light. There was the smell of flowers. A running up a hill. Then a looking out. A cool freshness. Thoughts without words. Somewhere totally different now. Not a particular place.

She walked over to look at the jacket. The pianist was Artur Schnabel. She could feel something really wonderful in the music and in his playing of it. She enjoyed music and studied the piano. She was going to audition for the Conservatory this year. She looked at her Uncle. He was beaming with energy. He knew the piece well. She took a seat at an angle to him where they could both look out over the lake.

The music was just shifting to a section of minor chords, very strident, moving in their knowing. The feeling of being in a room with Roger so close and not talking was strange for her. After a short while Cleo found that it was actually quite relaxing.

The music moved back into something hopeful, though complex. Rolling chords of ascending and descending arpeggios all at once. Then a lilting motif that recalled the opening of the piece, but with a minor feel. Someone was saying goodbye. Powerfully and without sentiment, though potent in its inner resonance. A tolling of a bell, growing louder. The echo of it. Someone whispering something in the corner. Then a wild conversation, purposeful and moving all around itself.

When the music ended there was the click of the needle in the final grove, sliding and popping, going round and round. The room rang.

Being with Uncle Roger was interesting to her. There was relaxation in it and fresh thoughts, fresh feelings. Wow. She listened closely to the end-of-record skip. She deepened her breathing and felt at home in her body next to her Uncle. She felt his joy, his attentiveness. Yet, his features betrayed nothing. His over-sized glasses, his plaid shirt, his roving whiskers, his painfully frail body and the faint smell of urine all spoke to his age and condition. She knew, though, that if she moved close she would get a wiff of the spicy turnip smell.

She wondered whether it was possible to bring him down closer to the lake. The long rambling stairs gave a challenge and brought in a pang to her moment. They sat for quite a while looking and seeing too. Finally she got up to lift the record. There was a new silence.

“You’re quite right,” Uncle Roger suddenly said in a high whistling tone that cut through the air between them. Cleo turned with a start. He did not turn to look at her, but continued and said, “Life can be a shambles.” He raised his hands up, cupped in a poor-boy gesture.

At first she thought that maybe he was replaying a conversation from years past. He seemed so disconnected from his appearance, but she felt sure that he was speaking directly to her. What he said turned her thoughts to thinking about why she chose to come here in the first place: to escape the camp, the city, the chat-chat-chat, the frustration, the headlong run over the cliff into shoes and cell phones.

“Small choices, peut-être, lead into big rooms,” he said like the sound of the winter wind in the empty trees. There was a chill in it, as if they were beneath a great vaulted ceiling and the coolness of the space had fallen to the bottom where they sat.

His face brightened as a child’s does when talking to angels. He gave out a small cry. Cleo didn’t know what to do. She waited in exile. Finally turning to her with that long look of a hundred thousand miles, he said, “Anyway, love is beyond knowing, and only the heart can see.”

He spoke to Cleo in perfect clarity. The coolness she sensed was, in fact, perseverance. What he said, she found that place in herself. She was not confused and fifteen. She wondered, just then, in an astonishing way, whether she had been here before.

Yes, with her Uncle. She did not have to know what that meant. She was amazed at the hard-to-describeness of it. She was chewing on a knot of leather falling through the emptiness.

They sat in silence. Cleo wanted to quiet herself. Even though she might not have, she said,  “Uncle, I’m having this strong feeling of déjà vu.”

Silence.

Then he sprouted his lips, and he said, “Yes, I see that.”

Cleo laughed like she was watching Ms. Turner’s wardrobe malfunction at the senior dance. Roger enjoyed to hear her laugh. From herself.

When she looked again at him, he appeared to her like he must have been as a younger man. His jaw sloping out and his forehead arching up. His cheeks falling like heavy drapes over his bones. She had seen pictures. But this was something different.

She watched him closely. Then suddenly it was if he was falling back into the world out of which he’d come. After a moment or two, he closed his eyes and went to sleep.

***

Cleo felt a strong desire to swim. She changed into her suit, turned on the baby monitors, placed one beside her uncle and took the other one with her down to the dock. Her feeling of déjà vu clung to her, but she could not see it directly. It evaporated whenever she turned to get a good look at it. Down at the dock she looked out over the lake as it began to stir in the late morning breeze coming up out of the west. The lake opened up just beyond the headland of their little bay, and she saw the prow of what they called Ponderer’s Rock just rising out of the water. Diving from the end of the dock into the tea-coloured water she swam toward it.

Ponderer’s Rock. She loved to sit on it sunning herself like a mermaid, that is as long as the breeze was blowing enough to keep the flies away. It was no more than a couple of body lengths across, depending on the lake level, but it plunged beneath the surface of the lake to where its real substance lay. It was a truly massive chunk of pink granite, an erratic, dropped here after riding, once upon a time, like a surfer on the crest of a gigantic ice wave. It was a local legend. A nearby cottager, a geologist from Trent University, estimated it at over 5,000 tons. It was perched on a cleft of the descending lake basin like the submerged head of a colossus. Sitting atop it, one sat atop the most ancient of goddesses. The Canadian Shield, as it is called, is the most ancient exposed rock on the planet, and Ponderer’s Rock was the perfect place to gaze out over the surface of time.

After pondering the poetry of the expanding moment, Cleo slipped in again to the water and, taking a deep breath, dove down into the gradient light that opened into the darkness below. She swam down against the buoyancy of air in her lungs until the pressure started to squeeze her tight. Letting go of all of her air, she hung beside the great substance of Ponderer’s Rock suspended in the water of time. Her heart pumping wildly in her ears, she felt her consciousness winnowing down into a tiny seed within the pure instinctive force to get air.

***

Aunt Isabelle returned, hands full of groceries. She had all kinds of gossip from town and Cleo relished having tea with her in the afternoon down by the water. She laughed to hear her Aunt bring the town to life in her stories. Jane Rintjema was pregnant. Cleo used to swim with her in the summers she spent at the cottage as a kid. Jane was eighteen now. Isabelle suggested that she could ride into town tomorrow with the Moody’s down the lane and visit with her. On another front, the town now knew that the disappeared funding for the new library went into buying Tony Walker a flash condo in Toronto.

She thought about telling her Aunt about Roger. In the end she figured that it was as it was, or rather that it is as it is. She did want to hear that he had such episodes every now and again. She did not want the specialness of what he’d said to be drained away. And so it remained Cleo’s secret.

In the evening, she played Honeymoon Bridge with Isabelle and later in bed with the crickets sounding, she repeated to herself what her Uncle had said, “Love is beyond knowing, and only the heart can see.” She took it apart like a delicate, intricate thing and was amazed to find what lay hidden inside.

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six rooms revisited (2 of 2)

In this post we publish material from Divah (P. McCabe). Divah was attracted initially, I think, to idiotplayers.org by posts I made beginning back in Aug 2010 entitled “six rooms.” These pieces were prose explorations based on a short and dense passage from JG Bennett’s Dramatic Universe, Vol. 4. She has written her own exploration along this theme, and we are happy to publish it here. The final rooms, rooms 4-6, are published in this post.

Room 4

I wander down the long corridor. They can’t keep me here locked up. I’m here by choice. I can leave whenever I like! So many doors… hey, this one’s open! Wow…this room is beautiful! Blue and yellow, my favourite colours and so many interesting curios in that cabinet… a tiny china-glass bell, what a lovely sound it make’s. It sound’s like the one on my bicycle when I was little. Round and round the garden I’d go ringing the bell each time I’d pass my mother who was sitting on the porch reading so she’d look at how good I was cycling on my new bike. But now… Now I feel her sadness, she’s crying, but I don’t remember her crying then… how can I see it “Now”? Am I still “Remembering”?

This is different to how I remembered this day before…I feel more… I’m no longer concentrating on keeping my bike steady. I’m feeling the breeze on my face, the sun on my back. I can smell the grass and my mother’s perfume in the air. I can hear the radio coming from inside the house playing an old song that my father used to sing to my mother. She had it played at his funeral… That’s why she’s crying !

How come I didn’t see this before? Before what? I’m back there “Now” !

Oh, mother, why didn’t I hug You then and wipe away your tears?

You’re gone Now. Is it too late? Can You feel my embrace “Now”?

I Can !

Room 5

This room is not so much a room as it is a Meeting-Place. It has beds at one end and at this end there are a few tables and chairs. Flowers on each table, cheerful atmosphere. Everyone here seem’s calm. But it is not the “sedated” calm of the first place, more a contented type of calm. I like it here.

I sit at the table with my morning coffee wondering how long it’s been since I first decided to come here to this place. It seem’s like a lifetime ago. Breakfast arrives. “Must eat well to Be Well” they say. I smile. Life Is Wonderful!

A young woman joins me. She seems happy. “How long have You been Here”? she asks.

“Oh, long enough,” I say.

“It’s a lovely day. Would You like to take a walk around the grounds with me after breakfast”? she asks. Why not.

We walk.

“You know,” she say’s, ” I can’t remember coming Here, in fact, I can’t remember ever ‘Not’ being here! Strange, because You’re the first person I’ve spoken to since I’ve been here. But if I’ve always been here, I should have met more people, don’t You think”?

“Depends,” I say, “On Why You’re here!”

“I told You, I’ve Always been Here. I Live Here. Why are You Here”? she asks.

“I was Lost for a long Time. I came Here to find My Way Home. You say this is your home? I like it here, maybe I’ll stay.”

“I hope You do, I like visitors.”

Room 6

Strolling through the grounds, I stop at the pond and throw some bread to the ducks. What a beautiful day. The Sun is shining, the birds are singing, the ducks are eating, aaahh… wonderful. Looking back at the big house I see it has a type of conservatory. There are a couple of people sitting inside chatting. I think I’ll join them.

I greet them. They smile and nod as if they know me. One is the young woman I walked with earlier who she said that she lives here. The other is an older woman. I’m sure I don’t know her.

“Why are You here”? I ask the older woman.

“I work here”, she says.

“What is your job here”?

“I’m the Librarian. I’m in charge of All the Knowledge within these walls. Why don’t You come and have a look sometime, see if there are any books here that interest You!”

“Ok, I Will, where is it?”

“Right here, in the back of this room. Come. I’ll show You now.”

I follow her into a dark room. She switches on a light. It’s Huge! Stacks and stacks of books on every subject. I’ve never seen so many books!

“Come,” she says, “I think I have just the book for You.”

Oh, yes… this Is my type of book. Great story. “Real” characters. Good twist. Wait… the house in this story… It’s This House, and The Owner is ME”!… “This is My House!”

“Yes,” she says, “We’ve been waiting a long time for You to come Here. You’ve been away for So Long!”

“Where was I?” I ask.

“You went out to “Play” with the others in The Playground as a child and You liked The Game so much that You wanted to keep on Playing. You forgot about us and This Place. Here, WE are In Charge of All Games but we never get Lost in any of them, we just Watch and take notes! This Is a place of Learning, of Enjoyment, of Living, of Freedom! But You Must BE Yourself Here! There is no room for strangers.”

“But You’re a stranger to me! I don’t know You,” I say.

“But I know You,” she says. “All the books I take care of are kept in place for You. You wrote them all and put them in my charge so that One Day You would come Here and find Yourself in them Today Is That Day. Welcome Home!”

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six rooms revisted (1 of 2)

In this post we publish material from Divah (P. McCabe). Divah was attracted initially, I think, to idiotplayers.org by posts I made beginning back in Aug 2010 entitled “six rooms.” These pieces were prose explorations based on a short and dense passage from JG Bennett’s Dramatic Universe, Vol. 4. She has written her own exploration along this theme, and we are happy to publish it here. Rooms 1-3 are published in this post. Rooms 4-6 will follow.

The Asylum

Room 1 

Entry Level for new patients / Initiates

This room is over-sized and is relatively “free” in it’s capacity to allow it’s inhabitants to wander the halls and smoking/congregation room, where the inmates can socialize and share their stories of how they came to Be Here. There is a calm atmosphere, brought about by the constant Sedation by the staff to keep everyone “In Check”!

Not much help is given, other than an opportunity to develop a new In-Sight by sharing stories with other patients and maybe learning something about our own condition by comparison.

New faces appear daily and some familiar ones disappear.

The Conveyor~belt move’s continously while behind the multiple cctv~cameras in every corner, a pair of eyes watches…

Somewhere, Someone Is, taking notes…

Room 2

This room is quiet… too quiet.

I Am alone. Plucked from the other place where at least I had people to share my feelings with.

This is strange, why did they take me away and put me here?

I’m sitting at a table, the only piece of furniture in the room, apart from the chair that I’m sitting on.

There’s a note-pad and pen on the table. They said I should write how I feel…

How I feel about What? Dear God they’re crazier than I am, and they’re the doctors, this is ridiculous, they’re not doing ANYTHING!!!

Am I supposed to cure Myself? How dare they call themselves doctors? They’re supposed to help Me!

I don’t know what’s wrong with Me!

I hear coughing coming from behind the mirror, is this a joke?

I must be getting well, at least they took me out of the main room full of people with all-sorts of dis-eases, that must be a good sign. I’m not as sick as they are. Yes, this must be a place for preparing to Go Home. Those pictures on the wall… those are my clothes but that’s not Me… the mirror… that’s not My reflection … I pick up The Pen.

Room 3

I open my eyes, sunsine through the window give’s the room a golden glow. This room is different, strangely surreal with it’s red curtains and black marble floor. Cold, yet comforting, seem’s familiar somehow. Soft music playing somewhere, voices whispering… are they talking about Me?

Where Am I? I remember Now. I was writing about an Existence where I was being questioned as to My Identity. Hah… they think I’m stupid. I see their game. I know who I Am, they won’t use me as a Lab-Rat!

Yes, They’ve moved me again, they must have given up, I’m too smart for them.
I’ll go look for the smoking area, see who else Is Here.

That lady seem’s nice, I light up a cigarette, “Where is this place?” I ask her, she look’s at me, bemused.

“You don’t know?, this is the “Changing” room” she say’s.

“‘Changing’ room?”, I ask… “what the hell is That supposed to mean?”

“Well, If You can’t recognize this place very soon, they’ll send You back to the first room and You’ll have to start all over again”.

…crazy woman… I put out my cigarette, I look up, she’s gone! I didn’t see her go past me… she looked familiar though, a lot like me a while back, when I was carefree and happy. There’s a nice painting on the wall of a House, look’s a lot like the house I grew up in.

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the idiotplayers podcast 04: Elan Sicroff (part 2)

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The idiotplayers podcast is a caravanserai of conversations with important thinkers, be-ers and doers. The idiotplayers podcast aims to explore art, creativity and expression.  If there is an elephant standing in the dark, as the Sufi story goes, we want to do more than grope and theorize. We invite conversations with people who aim from the heart to make practical, the far-reaching.

We welcome pianist Elan Sicroff to the idiotplayers podcast episode 04 to continue our discussion of the work of composer Thomas de Hartmann. De Hartmann was the man who worked intensively with George Gurdjieff to bring the music of the transformational dance form known as the Gurdjieff Movements into existence. In addition, he orchestrated and wrote piano music for many hundreds of pieces of sacred music that Gurdjieff had collected as mental impressions during his years of seeking and travel. Less well known is that de Hartmann was highly regarded by several key artists of the 20th century including Pablo Casals and Wassily Kandinsky as an important composer in his own right. It is this aspect of de Hartmann’s work that Sicroff has come to focus on. Like de Hartmann, Sicroff is a seeker and a gifted musician. Through his recordings and concerts around the world, Elan welcomes the listener into de Hartmann’s repertoire with feeling and great insight. This is part one of the conversation recorded on Saturday, July 23, 2011 and being published on Wednesday, July 27, 2011.

Biography
Elan Sicroff is internationally known for his interpretation of the Gurdjieff / de Hartmann music. He was trained at the Juilliard School by Jeaneane Dowis, protégé of the great Rosina Lhevinne. He attended the International Academy for Continuous Education of Sherborne, Gloucestershire, England, a ‘Fourth Way’ School directed by John Godolphin Bennett, a leading exponent of Gurdjieff ’s teaching. Initially Elan was a student, and later became its Director of Music. From 1975-79, he received personal instruction in the interpretation of this music from Mme de Hartmann, widow of the composer, to whom he had been introduced by Mr. Bennett. Since then he has given numerous recitals of this music in the USA and Europe. In January 2009 he toured Italy, England and Malta. Elan has produced 3 cds, Journey to Inaccessible Places (1985, produced by Robert Fripp) and Sicroff Plays Gurdjieff (2002). His new cd, Laudamus…was released in June 2010. In 2010 he returned to Europe for recitals in Italy and England, including a performance at the prestigious St.John’s, Smith Square in London.  Laudamus… features the Gurdjieff/de Hartmann music alongside of the early Romantic pieces de Hartmann composed at the age of 16. Presently he is preparing to tour Ireland, Prague, and Madrid in April, 2011 and to record the classical output of de Hartmann in Amsterdam. This will include a recording of the Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 51, a major Romantic work with elements of modernism and Eastern influence.

Show Pointers
Gerald Wilde, Sherborne House: The International Academy for Continuous Education, Sicroff Plays Gurdjieff (cover art), Robert Fripp, Camp Caravan (seminars, intensives and practica), Stefan Maier, Laudamus… Gert-Jan Blom, Wim van Dulleman, excerpt from the orchestral version of movements music by the Metropole Orchestra, collection of the orchestral Gurdjieff Movements music under the title Oriental Suite, Katharina Paul, Thomas C. Daly, Thomas A. G. Daly, Schott editions of the Gurdjieff / de Hartmann music for the piano, excerpt from Mazurka No. 2 from “Trois Morceaux” Opus 4 by Thomas de Hartmann, Theresa Dybvig, Joseph Fuchs, The Yellow Sound, The Blau Reiter Grupe, Shivapuri Baba, Madame Olga de Hartmann.

Visit sicroff.com for information about Elan’s concert schedule and to purchase his recorded music.

 

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arlo & jessica 04

Jessica senses someone coming up behind her. “Arlo?…”

“I suppose that you will be looking for two points on that quick exit, huh?” a game voice says from the dark.

“You have to admit that it was an interesting approach,” Jessica responds.

Arlo sits down beside her. “You know after you left, eventually I caught up with myself in the bathroom. I didn’t really need to go as it turns out, but I found myself just standing there at the urinal. Strange reaction.”

“Hm.”

“When I came out, I paid the bill and suddenly had this inkling: parkette. The failed tinkling was really an inkling.” They laugh together.

“That might be worth two,” Jessica offers with a smirk.

“You know when I got a look at this inkling, I found that it was actually a smell. There was this instinctive smell. I could smell you.”

“Arlo, you were standing in the john, and you smelled me? Charmed, I’m sure.”

“I wasn’t in the john and besides it was an inner smell. You know what I mean.”

“Thanks Arlo. You’re sweet.”

A woman laughs out on the street. A man makes a whooshing zoom sound like a special effect from a sci-fi film as he passes. Evidently it is very funny.

Jessica shifts the conversation back to the question of the night. “I remember having this deep feeling of the need for change, it must have been over ten years ago. It was just after Eric and I split. I was standing in the kitchen of my apartment, that place I had in Parkdale. I was staring out the window. My suffering was intense. Fragments of conversations and lost moments were rioting in my head like a Parkdale Saturday night. I stood at the window looking out on a clear summer day, but I was in touch with nothing of it. I had put security bars on the window not long before, and I saw that I had put the bars on my own prison.”

Jessica speaks to the sky, a murky soup of halogen glow and something resembling the night, mixed together into the colour of day-old coffee. Arlo looks at her in profile. She continues with a gentle purse of her lips.

“Then all of a sudden there was a separation between the riot in my head and the actual feeling of myself in my chest. The feeling was a burning ache, but it was not in riot. It was deep and resounding, standing on its own. Strange, but in that feeling there was incredible strength and resolve. It was the real core of my suffering, but it had nothing to do with the voices, the pictures, with the apparent circumstances of my suffering — you know, the story of my suffering. It was something deeper, essential, from a different time or place altogether.” She pauses to let it collect in her. “I spoke from that feeling, ‘I see you, and I do not accept this.’ By which I meant the rioting voices and the whole craziness of it.” She turns to look at Arlo. “Something changed or rather I made contact with something in me that has the power to change. I draw on that moment like a talisman.”

Arlo nods, lets the silence linger and then gets up to walk. Jessica follows. “Listening to your observation I heard something about the importance of working with so-called negative emotions. You know I’ve seen a lot of nonsense in the so-called Gurdjieff work around this topic — verging on the maniacal.” Arlo pauses to sidestep a teenager on a skateboard. “Anyway I don’t want to get into all that.” He gestures with his hands. “Perhaps I was connecting to the idea that everything is connected to everything else. At any rate, what I heard goes something like this: When we’re swimming in our negative emotions, we’re swimming in shit.  So, okay, we learn to see this or not. But let’s say we do. The seeing of it is already a new understanding, and let’s say from this other things come. Perhaps it opens onto getting some real method for transforming this. We learn to actually take a psychological shit, as it were, and let go of the toxins. We eat and digest impressions, sometimes very poorly, very haphazardly. But we can learn to become better eaters and digesters, mostly because we’re tired of living in shit. So then maybe we think it’s all about feeling good, feeling light, moving on. But everything is connected to everything else. The point is that this process has a cosmic connection. It impacts us, our relationships, it affects the planet, history, the balance of energies. It’s really this last part that I heard.”

Jessica nods. “You know Arlo, before you came out, I was sitting on the bench working with the hucha exercise. You know transforming heavy energy into the earth and taking in fresh impressions from above. Maybe I picked up something in the café maybe it was something deep in me. Anyway, I needed to work on it.” Arlo nods. They turn a corner off Bloor street and walk up one of the quiet, treed avenues heading north. “Just in finishing the exercise, I had this image of people in the future learning these kinds of techniques en masse, learning to manage their psychic energies. A mother walked by with her baby in a stroller, maybe that was the trigger, but it was more than association. It had substance. Gurdjieff and Bennett must have seen this kind of image too, people learning to take the quality of their inner state seriously, I mean not just for themselves but for the cosmic harmony too, but in a practical, grounded way.”

“It’s a powerful image,” Arlo says. “Yes, perhaps more people are starting to see that the outer chaos we see around us, the incredible density of violence, is the reflection of the collective inner violence that we have been programmed to accept as reality. Phil Dick’s experience was that ‘The empire never ended.’ By which he meant, I think, that the matrix of violence covers over the living essence. It’s amazing how much talk there is nowadays about waking up, about getting out from under. Some of it is crazy probably, some of it may well be the wolf speaking as the sheep, but there is a real energy shift taking place. We are living at a time when the reality of being more intelligent about inner energies is possible, even necessary.”

photo by puck

“Sitting there Arlo on the bench, working with this probably very ancient technique, I felt like the future was searching for me.”

the end (for now)

Notes:
– for a relevant audio track, see the future is searching for you elsewhere in this blog.

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the idiotplayers podcast 03: Elan Sicroff (part 1)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

download (right-click and Save as…)

The idiotplayers podcast is a caravanserai of conversations with important thinkers, be-ers and doers. The idiotplayers podcast aims to explore art, creativity and expression.  If there is an elephant standing in the dark, as the Sufi story goes, we want to do more than grope and theorize. We invite conversations with people who aim from the heart to make practical, the far-reaching.

We welcome pianist Elan Sicroff to the idiotplayers podcast episode 03 to discuss the work of composer Thomas de Hartmann. De Hartmann was the man who worked intensively with George Gurdjieff to bring the music of the transformational dance form known as the Gurdjieff Movements into existence. In addition, he orchestrated and wrote piano music for many hundreds of pieces of sacred music that Gurdjieff had collected as mental impressions during his years of seeking and travel. Less well known is that de Hartmann was highly regarded by several key artists of the 20th century including Pablo Casals and Wassily Kandinsky as an important composer in his own right. It is this aspect of de Hartmann’s work that Sicroff has come to focus on. Like de Hartmann, Sicroff is a seeker and a gifted musician. Through his recordings and concerts around the world, Elan welcomes the listener into de Hartmann’s repertoire with feeling and great insight. This is part one of the conversation recorded on Saturday, July 23, 2011 and being published on Wednesday, July 27, 2011.

Biography
Elan Sicroff is internationally known for his interpretation of the Gurdjieff / de Hartmann music. He was trained at the Juilliard School by Jeaneane Dowis, protégé of the great Rosina Lhevinne. He attended the International Academy for Continuous Education of Sherborne, Gloucestershire, England, a ‘Fourth Way’ School directed by John Godolphin Bennett, a leading exponent of Gurdjieff ’s teaching. Initially Elan was a student, and later became its Director of Music. From 1975-79, he received personal instruction in the interpretation of this music from Mme de Hartmann, widow of the composer, to whom he had been introduced by Mr. Bennett. Since then he has given numerous recitals of this music in the USA and Europe. In January 2009 he toured Italy, England and Malta. Elan has produced 3 cds, Journey to Inaccessible Places (1985, produced by Robert Fripp) and Sicroff Plays Gurdjieff (2002). His new cd, Laudamus… was released in June 2010. In 2010 he returned to Europe for recitals in Italy and England, including a performance at the prestigious St.John’s, Smith Square in London.  Laudamus… features the Gurdjieff/de Hartmann music alongside of the early Romantic pieces de Hartmann composed at the age of 16. Presently he is preparing to tour Ireland, Prague, and Madrid in April, 2011 and to record the classical output of de Hartmann in Amsterdam. This will include a recording of the Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 51, a major Romantic work with elements of modernism and Eastern influence.

Show Pointers
The Thomas de Hartmann Papers at the Yale University Library, Thomas de Hartmann:  A Composer’s Life by John Mangan, Pablo Casals, Blau Reiter Groupe (The Blue Rider Group), Wassily Kandinsky, The Yellow Sound, Romantic music, Dane Rudhyar, see reference to “stepping on their corns“, JG Bennett, Madame Olga de Hartmann,  Violin Sonata Opus 51 by Thomas de Hartmann (excerpt), see references to Claymont School for Continuous Education, The Gurdjieff Foundation, Seeing light: Bb octave with an A at the top, for an excellent presentation of Gurdjieff’s teaching on humans as three-brained beings see Chapter 3 of JG Bennett’s book Deeper Man, Robert Fripp, Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 31, Opus 110 

Visit sicroff.com for information about Elan’s concert schedule and to purchase his recorded music.

 

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arlo & jessica 03

Jessica needs air. She feels something heavy. She sees in a way that has no picture to it a heaviness drawing on her, her muscles. She scans her body. Yes.

She briefly recalls Arlo looking up to the corner of the café with a look of pondering. If he had had his hand on his chin it would have been perfect. No doubt he was soon to consult his beard, Van Dyke style, long and pointy, cut to stroke during such moments she imagined. She didn’t wait for it. She slipped out in one thrust and cut to the left for the stairway up from the café to the street. He will understand. Besides, it’s part of the game, two points for slipping out unnoticed, a rare tactic.

She is walking up the block now. There is a parkette. Parkette. A 50s kind of word. Ronette and Georgette head down to the parkette to talk about the new launderette. There’s the I Love Lucy theme playing along too. She makes Ricky come out in his underwear with his congo slung over his shoulder commando-style and laughs to herself.

The parkette is thankfully empty. She sits on a bench where people can still see her as they pass. Who knows what lurks in the bushes beyond the scrim of streetlight. The space is a patch of grass with some planting, double the width of a city lot and as long as the city-block is wide. There is a kids-zone down at the other end, resting in the evening shadows. A breeze blows through carrying the scent of the lake mixed with the musky smell of falafel. The sound of a Brazilian samba swirls out of a club down the street. Cars make their Doppler-sucking sound as they pass the opening of the parkette. Cicadas buzz in alertness in the evening trees.

Eating time, she recalls from the conversation, inwardly holding the sound of the words and giving them space to stand on their own. This contemplation brings the word, hucha. Hucha. Heavy energy. It is a word from the tradition of the Q’ero shamans of Peru. She learned it from Joan Parisi Wilcox’s excellent book Keepers of the Ancient Knowledge. Jessica began working with the exercises in this book and was especially thankful that her study coincided with her divorce some years back, just at the time when she so needed to let go of the accumulated negativity of her relationship. She learned to sense the heavy emotional energy that glommed onto to her sensation body, her poq’po as it is called in the mystical language of the Q’ero. In addition to the practical nature of the teaching, she was drawn to their understanding of how to let go of the hucha that builds up on the envelope of sensitivity permeating and extending out from the physical body. The practitioner directs the energy down and out the root chakra in the region of the base of the spine. Furthermore, in directing the hucha in this way one feeds Pacha Mama, Mother Earth, in a way that is beneficial. The negative emotional energy, causing dis-ease to humans, is food for Pacha Mama. Nothing is isolated. Everything has repercussions in the web of existence. Everything is connected to everything else. To eat time is to become conscious.

Essential to the practice of releasing hucha is the drawing in of fresh light energy, sami, down through the crown chakra. This energy is coming from above. The energy is drawn down and into the heart center. Managing the process, of course, takes practice, just as any skill does. Once she is relaxed on the bench and has connected with sensing the surface of her body, Jessica gives one complete breath to locating and releasing hucha from the surface of her poq’po. During the inhalation she draws the heavy energy into her navel and during the exhalation she moves the energy down and out her tailbone. With the next breath, she directs attention to drawing in and blending sami into herself. With the inhalation she invites the fine energy down through the crown of her head into her chest and with the exhalation she blends this energy into her being.

She smiles at a passing mother with her baby in a stroller, the baby’s head lolling in sleep. The mother rolls her eyes at Jessica in relief. She long ago let go of the idea that doing this kind of inner work required some kind of special room or place. Of course, she has such a place, but inner work can be done anywhere it is needed, so long as there is no harm to others. She is sure that the heavy energy she became aware of in the café is not hers. She is also sure, or at least pretty sure, that it is not Arlo’s. Whose then? She does not take up the question seriously although she is aware that such energy abounds in the city. Big, gooey, gray marshmallows of rage and fear roll like tumbleweeds in the streets. She re-focuses on the releasing and intake.

As she works, she no doubt appears simply as a woman waiting for friend in the long shadows of a July evening. She’s finding the heavy-energy drain mostly in her legs, her thighs in particular. She works in a relaxed way, and as she does, she notices new colours appearing in her feeling, like a beautiful fish approaching the surface of the water where one can begin to discern the multi-coloured play of light on its scales and the agile way that it adjusts lithely in the flow of the current to keep itself steady. The best inner work is itself a poem written upon the page of being, a deft transformation of the unseen into the utterable.  After some time, she finishes as she started with a prayerful intention.

To be continued.

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arlo & jessica 02

Arlo is thinking of his time in Afghanistan working as a lawyer for the Canadian Forces. He enjoyed working with the Afghanis he met and found them a strange and ancient breed where very little was at face value. There was always another layer. A close associate whom he met in Kabul and whose vast knowledge of world history was the cause of many late evenings, was convinced that his country had been hijacked for it’s poppies and minerals, yes, but also for its ancient knowledge. Akmal painted a picture not unlike a Raiders of the Lost Ark episode where ancient talismans and the locations of geomantic reservoirs of energy were traded and stolen by carte noir members of the global elite. Arlo did not say much about what Akmal shared. He figured Akmal must either be simply paranoid, or a genius or a paranoid genius. However, Arlo did see first-hand the situation of the Canadian command turning over detainees into the hands of people widely known for their torture of prisoners. He reported up his chain repeatedly and vociferously. As a civilian, his chain was different than the military one, but the strands met somewhere out of his view, that he knew.

What he got back was not much more than silence. He asked for a transfer to Ottawa. He tried to raise the flag there. He got a similar response. He gave up his contract, losing out on his completion bonus, and returned to private practice. He gave information to friends in the media about what he knew. He chose not to openly publish and preferred to remain an “unnamed source.” He saw that even then, what was reported in the news was modified from the information he provided, often heavily. He woke up to the politics of it.

He researched. He became aware of the dark-lantern networks that operated in the shadows of the dense lattice of protocol that kept most others in line. He saw enough to know that he had been party to it, a workman out on the girders riveting legalities into a machine that worked for some hidden master, perhaps not even a Canadian, and if you believed Akmal, not even human. When he started to ask the right questions, he saw a blueprint different than the one he had previously, mostly unconsciously, traced in his mind. It was easy for him to imagine and even to verify that power and fear were the alternating pistons of the engine that drove the gears of the hidden machine, this interest against that interest. Perhaps there was a top-level interest, someone or something with a hand on the master switch, observing the gauges. Perhaps Akmal was right. Or perhaps it was merely the emergent pattern of self-interest spinning out the widening gyres of a shadow-world in negation of the creative energy that he found so vibrant in many people he met. For sure, Arlo saw that the viscous substance keeping the friction and heat in check was the popular media, an electron scrim populated by potent memes swimming like so many sperm to fertilize the egg of public opinion.

His contacts and associates were all being turned round and round in one way or another. It was fascinating and unwieldy, but mostly unwieldy, because in the end the knowledge had no inside to it, only a deeply crenelated outside with guards on the ramparts eating menus for food. Some shadow sucked his fascination like a vampire lodged pleasantly on crushed velvet inside the castle. The way of the world: it was for him a modus for maintaining illusion and, moreover, for actively promoting delusion. The overall effect was to split the mind and substitute an image of wholeness. It was merely an image of the self. The more he read and travelled, the more one thing became clear to Arlo, and this was that the bifurcation of the mind bore the marks of engineering and even, he sussed, of the legal craft. There was a backdoor into consciousness, and it was not a happenstance thing. There was evidence of possible skullduggery.

Arlo worked on himself a lot during this time. He was introduced to Gurdjieff’s Movements, and this had a strange effect on him, even to the point where he felt that his body was somehow re-wired. The Movements re-wired him. He was sure of it. New kinds of perceptions and ideas opened up, new modes that did not leave the strange taste of belief, but rather of experience. Along the way, he had a crisis of the Heart one long July where all of the harpies of his conditioning flapped their wings and took to the air in a dark cloud. When they flapped all they could flap, a small particle of Grace lodged in him, a bullet of love, and it was as if the air became clear and fine for the first time in his life. These were the steps and stages that the dark-lantern crowd scrupulously noted over the years. Whereas Arlo saw the process of initiation as an act of cosmic inspiration unique in itself, the dark-lantern engineers had taken the process and back-engineered it. In doing so, they removed the safety catches and amped it up, offering a shot of gnosis that left the harpies still flying in the skies. Arlo had sat through enough doublespeak and inspirational talks from the gurus of law, business and science to suspect that more than a few of the legionnaires of the future had been highly processed.

Notwithstanding, he had boiled his conundrum down to two aims. First, he was his own false guru. He studied this phenomenon in himself. He did not know himself. He studied his own complicated workings and tried to discern the particle trails of the forces that animated his many faces. If there was a man behind the curtain pulling his levers and turning the taps, he may very well recognize him as some cybernetic implant, or as some important symbol from his future. Second, he needed to stay creative. He needed to invite uncertainty. He needed to move and play and meet others. He needed to bang the shaman’s drum and to sit quietly and listen.

In life, he went free-lance. He gave seminars prepping lawyers for entry into zones of international dispute. He often found himself face-to-face after seminars with colleagues and students in the padded and sometimes cartoonish recesses of bars and pubs with a pint of Harp in his hand asking certain questions and painting clues on the cave wall.

When he looks down from his musing and re-connects with the sensation of his body, he finds Jessica has quietly, it seems, left.

To be continued.

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