Because the scientific world view has gotten us as a race pretty far (I’m fond of space travel, the Internet, and vaccines) at some point we decided to apply it to everything. But maybe, that’s not always aa great idea. Fundamentalists are derided as superstitiously embracing a medieval world view, but taking the Bible “literally” and using it as a history book/instruction manual/geology text book is a modernist approach—it’s trying to apply our rational and scientific worldview to a text that comes out of a mythical world.
And it’s not just the holy texts, we try to remake religion into an easy-to-understand and systemic method for getting what we want, be that enlightenment, inner peace, or an awesome after-life. We attempt to make every spiritual path a clear science.
It seems to me that the spiritual teacher G.I. Gurdjieff fought against that societal impulse to transform spirituality into a step-by-step pseudo-science. He’s rather famous, or should I say infamous, for his obtuse writing and difficult concepts. Sometimes you even get the impression he was taking delight in frustrating those who hope to understand him.
But be it his concept of the kundabuffer or his idea that we’re all just “food for the moon” Gurdjieff never makes it easy for his students. And this seems foreign to our standard methodical approaches to life: why would he make it tougher for his followers, aren’t spiritual teachers supposed to make life easier for their students? I have a few guesses I’d like to share with you on the topic, maybe you can check them out and let me know if you think they have legs.
A few times on Episode 3, our guest Richard Hodges compares some of these teachings to Zen koans, paradoxical statements that are meant to throw off the logical thought processes of the mind to make someone think differently. Perhaps this was Gurdjieff’s goal, or one of them, to throw out little verbal bombs of wisdom that blew up the conventional modes of thinking.
Another intention behind the difficult material could be that it makes the student work harder. With no easy answers being doled out it’s up to the seeker to grapple with the idea and find the solution and the meaning for themselves. “Beware those with easy answers to hard questions,” has been the best advice
And lastly I suspect there’s a third function, we often point out that Talk Gnosis is a talk show about things that can’t be talked about. Ultimate reality can’t be put into words so maybe discussing it in an outlandish and dramatic fashion is the best way to try to translate the ineffable into human speech.
Those are some of my theories at least. Fill me in on your Gnosis in the comments section below!