GURDJIEFF UNVEILED: AN OVERVIEW AND INTRODUCTION TO THE TEACHING
Any introduction to Gurdjieff’s teaching would be incomplete if it does not mention hismusic and his Movements. Gurdjieff brought his teaching in various ways to appeal to various “types” of people. He took the science of “types” as a major part of his ownwork. To reach various “types” of people he used what he called “objective music” and sacred temple dances (known now as the Gurdjieff Movements), along with anintellectual exposition of his teaching, readings from Beelzebub’s Tales to HisGrandson and practical work on self by way of the Fourth Way exercises. Certain types of people will never open a book, others cannot sense rhythms, still others are tone-deaf. Gurdjieff attempted to reach them all.
Our consciousness is not made up of mental concepts and ideas only; it alsoencompasses our feelings and our spiritual impulses. Our real feelings and emotions are mostly strongly hindered in ordinary life, much more so than we can imagine. But we can come closer to them through objective music which affects all people similarly. This must not be confused with subjective music, which affects some people one way, other people another way, and still other people not at all. It is not possible to speak as easily about real objective music as it is about ideas and thoughts. Of course, musical theory can be learned and spoken about, if one knows the appropriate vocabulary. But to speak about it, however learnedly, is not the same thing as to listen to it or rather to truly hear it. There is a great difference between simply listening, perhaps while thinking about something else, and hearing, that is, making an intentional voluntary effort to be consciously attentive to what one listens to, while at the same time inducing the experience of ourselves in our attention.
Gurdjieff often used music, especially in relation to the music accompanying special movements and the sacred dances he apparently had witnessed during his travels. Early on, he attempted to transmit his teaching through these methods to pupils for whom they were suited. He was able, with the help of an early pupil, the musician Thomas de Hartmann, to reproduce the sacred objective music.
Gurdjieff’s music, conscious, objective music, touches our deepest impulses andliberates them from their chains, not all at once, but gradually and surely. Some of our inner knots, our complexes, our tensions, and bad habits, even the most deeply rooted ones, are also touched and freed by this special music. It is an objective, conscious music because it has a conscious aim. Whether Gurdjieff observed and remembered the music from his travels on this earth or whether it came from a deeper and more distant place in himself remains an open question. In either case, the purpose of such music is to help us to become more conscious of ourselves. This expansion of consciousness, if we obtain it, whether through music or in any other way, is not limited to the development of our mental capacities. Objective music improves the perception of our normal bodily sensations, and of our true feelings as well as our capability to think consciously. And consciousness of feeling is connected to “conscience”, which also is rarely free to manifest itself. The aim is a global expansion of consciousness.