Saturday, May 20, 2006

Saturday, May 20: Chapter 20: Three Brains, or the Carriage and the Drunk Driver

In the work of G. I. Gurdjieff is the ancient Sufi teacher allegory of the cart and the driver. The cart, designed for rough and variable pathways, has been spoiled by being kept to easily traveled byways, and hardly any attention has been given to keeping it up and running smoothly. The horse, not particularly lead by the driver, lurches this way and that, whatever momentary urgings being its guide. The driver, more or less drunk, sometimes has a great vision of going this way, sometimes that, and wonders where all the time went when he never ends up anywhere particularly useful or pleasant. And the Master, the one who should be awake, directing the driver, is asleep, waking only occasionally to wonder how the hell they ended up where they were.

Let’s say the horse is our emotions.

And the carriage our body.

The driver our consciousness, in the way Feldenkrais uses consciousness, to distinguish between the state of being non-asleep “awake,” as when we just wake in the morning or from a nap, and the state of “consciousness,” where we know where we are, in what bed, or place, in what town, and so on. Beyond consciousness, in Feldenkrais’ map, is our awareness, that lovely state we’ve talked about and sniffed at and tried even to come into, the ability to know right now what we are doing and seeing and hearing and touching and moving, right now.

And this is the Master, our awareness.

The driver and the Master could also be called sleeping or small self and waking or Large self. They probably have something to do with the higher centers of the brain, but they might include the heart and the nervous system as well, and who knows, the Master might be not really in any location specifically.

Nowadays, though, people love to think something is “explained” if they can point to an area of the brain, though the Sufis did fine for centuries understanding and enlightening themselves and others with the more functional approach of horse, carriage, driver and Master. The locations people do a reptile, mammal, human wrap, with the reptile movement flight and fight brain being at the core.

Then comes the mammal, feeling s and connections and general taking care of the herd/tribe stuff in the middle.

And then, above and surrounding all the neo-cortex, with the forebrain at the front. These are our regions of thinking and music and speech and mathematics and connecting the dots and have inspirations and so on.

This is all probably really, really important, but some other book can tell you about it and for now at least, this is enough of the three brains.

I personally either like the cart and driver and carriage and am I going to be awake to have a say in that?

And I like Feldenkrais’ four aspects: movement, sensation, feeling and thinking, that are aspects of any action we take.

Is there someone home while we are living our life? This is the crucial question, askable at any and all moments.

Even now.


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