Monday, June 27, 2005

Gurdjieff and Children

Life on earth: we are born. We die. Life on Earth: we go through our days forgetting how precious are these moments, forgetting that those we are busy disliking, being annoyed with or otherwise rejecting from our love—these, too, shall die.

A case could be made for the stimulus to have children coming at least in part from our fear of mortality, but here, as everywhere, there is no guarantee; our children might die before we do. Ugh, ugh, we don’t want to think about that. Think happy children, tumbling in a pile on a lawn, laughing children in stitches over a playing puppy, clapping and excited children thrilled by a clown or a silly action.

Children at their best, remind us: we are alive, life is wonder-ful, full of wonder, wonder-ful. Children, when not clamped down by social circumstances (starving or under war conditions could put a damper on spontaneous joy) or rigid “education,” that is really mis-education, when they are just who they really are, are spontaneous, creative and joyful.

This is how we once were. This is how we still are. Underneath. Gurdjieff calls this our Essence. Essence can catch the whiff of a rose, the hint of a smile, the tinkle of a bell in the wind, the soft breeze across the skin, the humming of a stranger down the street, the humid hint of rain in the air, the misty chill of a new morning and find them all exactly what is wonderful about being alive.

Remember those days as a child, lying on your back, fascinated by the shifting delights of clouds in the sky above, or lying next to a creek for hours, charmed by the water and the bugs and the birds and the swishing of friendly leaves all around? In that world Time wasn’t our master, and the delights of the moment, especially the moment in natural settings, was all we needed for happiness that went on and on. And we didn’t even know we were happy. We just Were.

The part over our Essence, swallowing it up and hiding it in most adults, Gurdjieff calls, simply enough: Personality. Personality is too important, too busy, too scheduled and full of thoughts and plans to waste a whole afternoon at a creek or lying on the back looking at the clouds. Unless we fall in love, most adults are too driven by personality to “waste” time just Being, but that’s the purpose of vacations, and the purpose of meditation retreats where you spend several days not talking. When you are quiet for a couple of days and come to a creek and don’t have to rush off to tell anyone of your important experiences or insights at the creek, you can just chill, sink into the moment, enjoy the creek.

This is Essence, able to enjoy, to just Be, to exist as a Being on this planet without a plan and without an agenda. This is at our core, who we are: natural. Super-natural, in the sense of being natural to the hilt. Especially outdoors, essence is feed deeply not from the body foods but from foods of smell and taste and touch, the near senses, as well as our grown up sense of sight and sound. Touch is deep and clear to Essence. Those museums or parents with their Do Not Touch admonitions are saying: don’t be essential, cut yourself off from the curiosity that is closest to your core. My, my. The cold world of conditioning and personality.

This then is our job: to see and feed the Essence in our children. To see and not believe the robot training of our own Personalities and not pass this along. A tall order, and all that will come is happiness for you and healthy robust children.