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These Very Strange Times. March 31, 2022.

May be art

Painting by Joan Baez

It just seems to never stop, the heartbreak that is. Six weeks ago Putin’s armies invaded the Ukraine and proceeded to slaughter innocent men, women, children–relentlessly. I’ve watched daily the unfolding of this horror, daily feeling slugged in the stomach or knifed in the heart. Such an abomination. It is hard to remain hopeful or positive, especially being a Type Four, so my work is always in front of me. A small ray of understanding enters when I reference Gurdjieff’s words about certain broken, sociopathic individuals called Hasnamusses, that have inhabited our planet throughout history. He describes their orientation as follows:

Feeling self-satisfied from leading others astray. Possessing the irresistible inclination to destroy the existence of other breathing creatures. Driven by the urge to become free from the necessity of actualizing the being-efforts demanded by Nature. Attempting by every kind of artificiality to conceal from others what in their opinion are one’s physical defects. Exhibiting a calm self-contentment in the use of what is not personally deserved. The striving to be not what one is.

Robin Bloor, a Gurdjieff scholar and teacher, says: “We can view the Hasnamuss as someone in whom “conscience” does not operate—an unbridled intellect, and individual who is completely out of balance. History demonstrates that when such individuals acquire positions of power they tend to run murderous regimes. However, despots like Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse Tung and Pol Pot are identifiable by more than the body count. It is interesting to note that each pursued an ideology and their murderous behavior was a direct consequence of their attempt to pursue that ideology. Hitler, with his dreams of racial purity, Stalin with his agrarian policy that starved millions of Kulaks to death, Mao Tse Tung with his great leap forward, Pol Pot with his killing fields, are just extreme examples, but also good illustrations. The Hasnamuss is no rarity. For every tyrant there are petty tyrants galore. Some are, of course, entirely automatic, but it is a curious phenomenon that some Hasnamusses are conscious – have actually crystallized a higher body. Such individuals have a sorry fate, although given the damage they do, it is difficult to feel sorry for them.”

In other words, they enjoy destroying what is good and beautiful.

And today, Mr. Putin, Trump, Bolsanaro of Brazil, Bassar Al-Assad of Syria, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, Abdel Fattah of Egypt, all running murderous regimes.

Add to this, the ever-expanding destruction of our ecology and the mostly unheeded attention by those most influencing it, the increasing amassing of great wealth in the hands of a very few greedy individuals, the rising proliferation of violence via shootings, school killings, war, and who would have ever imagined, on our airplanes.

And this unexpected twist. Several days ago, actor Will Smith marched on stage to assault Chris Rock because of a joke Rock had told regarding Smith’s wife. At the Oscars, no less. And minutes later, Will Smith received the Academy award for best actor, and a standing ovation by attendees. Followed several days later by Kareem Abdul Jabbar, a black scholar and activist, along with being the best NBA basketball player that has ever existed, commented on Smith’s actions: “Worse than the slap was Smith’s tearful, self-serving acceptance speech in which he rambled on about all the women in the movie King Richard that he’s protected. Those who protect don’t brag about it in front of 15 million people. They just do it and shut up. You don’t do it as a movie promotion claiming how you’re like the character you just won an award portraying. By using these women to virtue signal, he was in fact exploiting them to benefit himself. But, of course, the speech was about justifying his violence. Apparently, so many people need Smith’s protection that occasionally it gets too much and someone needs to be smacked.” Never mind, Kareem said, Smith’s actions supporting the idiocy of America’s racists who now had handed to them the perfect action that supported their claims that blacks are inherently violent.

And yet, all I could keep thinking was, “That could have been me! In fact, in my own version, it is me. Thank God we don’t have streaming live television into our home so that my unconscious and unbecoming behavior can live eternally on the Internet.” Will’s response was such a poignant example of what happens when we are triggered. We, I, lose all sense of objectivity, all sense of presence, forget where we are, and kaboom!–the inner machine takes over quickly. As in, Presto, Chango, I am gone. Will gave us a live demonstration of this mechanism. I felt immediate gratitude that it wasn’t me being propelled into the vacuum of my blindness.

What a cluster fuck on so many levels with healing apparently nowhere in sight. Never mind the attempted Coup by Trump and his band of White Supremists, and his non-stop deceit regarding the election results of 2020. Or the deceit and fraud, and cold-heartedness of Trump regarding Covid and the hundreds of thousands who died of the disease due to much of his negligence and lies. Never mind the continued murder and systemic rascism of blacks, much of it finally being captured on cell phone video. Or Trump’s continued efforts to thwart climate change science, to enhance racism at every turn, and to disrupt at every turn, anything that represents kind, humane, supportive, loving actions between human beings. America’s Hasnamuss.

A Gurdjieff mentor, in response to my outrage, said: “Your work is with whoever is standing in front of you. Harmonizing your family relationships is first and the most important work. It’s much easier to go on the road and be an acclaimed teacher than take care of business with loved ones. This is where the rubber hits the road. Practice hard to become more conscious and present with loved ones and those that inhabit your daily life. Your healthy expansion and growth creates a ripple that affects the whole. You are a cell in the body of humanity. Your job is to purify yourself. This has significance.

And consider how hard is for you to change with all of the knowledge and teaching available to you, and then consider that the mass of humanity does not have these tools. Nada. Develop and practice compassion, or at the very least, non-judgment towards those committing horrific crimes. They do not have eyes to see what they are doing, nor a heart to feel what they are perpetrating. Gurdjieff called them unconscious machines, men and woman without conscience. Programmed innocently by their life experience. Possessing no real freedom of choice.

In all of this Gurdjieff’s warning rings loudly: unless the wisdom of East blends with the wisdom of the West, all the gains of human civilization will be lost. Truly we edge closer to this every day. As in no shit Sherlock. And this reminder: Gurdjieff brought the Enneagram to the West in hopes of assisting people in their conscious arising so that they could become vehicles in helping humanity thru this extremely difficult, necessary and challenging time. His protégé, John G. Bennett, echoed his words often.

Bennett offered this very difficult practice: to replace all negative attitudes towards the existing world by a feeling of confidence and love towards the new world that is being born, towards the still unborn child that is the future of mankind, to arouse in oneself constantly this love of future humanity. Every time one observes some kind of negative attitude (despairing, catastrophizing, judging thought patterns), to take this as the reminder that we human beings live on this Earth in order to serve and particularly to serve the future, and to serve with love, with hope, with confidence that it is possible for humankind to be born again.

So our assignment if we accept it: become a force of healing, compassion, and inspiration. Nurture joy, kindness and authenticity. Attempt to not lay down in a pool of horror, despair, fear, hatred, or judgment of the unconscious criminals. As my mentor said: you are responsible for making efforts, but the results of your efforts are not in your hands. Let go. Trust there is also higher, unseen wisdom at work. Do your part where you are. Remember at this moment there are millions of men and women working to help the earth. Be of good cheer.

What an order!!! You might declare: I can’t go through with it. But little by little, one moment at a time, with the support of others, we can bring light to others and to ourselves. I find that when I am facilitating Enneagram workshops, that the beautiful souls I am participating with remind me of our deep potential and why we practice presence. I sense a fundamental and basic goodness circulating thru and around us. It is a joy to be in this presence. So much love, kindness, and compassion appears. Such a blessing.

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