Pondering

from "A. R. Orage's Commentaries on G. I. Gurdjieff's All and Everything," ed. C. S. Nott, pp. 56-58, 62-63.

 

Orage:

"As has been said, a man should spend half, or at least a third, of his life in pondering. Helkdonis stands in relation to the assimilation of foods as pondering stands in relation to impressions."

One of us said: "A man must make an effort to resolve the struggle between affirmation and denial, or else the impression goes not to essence but just to his store of information?"

Orage: "Yes. In other words, pondering is the neutralizing force of thought. Without this, the organism is left with only positive and negative deposits. Pondering is the weighing of ideas. Pondering should include clarity."

Question: "How is pondering different from meditation and contemplation?"

Orage: "There are notes in the thinking scale, of which Sol is concentration, La is meditation, Si is contemplation. But each is still a process of thought, in which the emotional may enter; and it must be present in pondering, which is motivated by the emotional center, by the personal relation to the subject pondered. Pondering is essential thinking. If emotion were lacking pondering would be only weighing. Pondering is establishing values by weighing; otherwise there is only clarity and logic."

Question: "How do you differentiate impulsive action from action due to pondering?"

Orage: "What is weighed in pondering is inclination and disinclination as opposed to thinking, in which ideas and concepts are weighed. The contents of the emotional center--likes and dislikes--are the units weighed in relation to the criterion of more or less being.

"Pondering is the assimilation of the third food. With the Psalmist we can say: 'When I consider the heavens, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained,' I ask, 'What is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him?' This is asking, after contemplation, 'What am I?'--the transfer of the note Si of the thinking octave to Do of the pondering octave. Pondering is thinking with the emotional center (its thinking sub-center) which is the seat of essence. This sub-center is said to be the most highly developed of the sub-centers.

"Suppose that our state of being depends on our serviceability to the Creator, that our future being, our life, depends upon our creation of values contributing to the Creator's purpose. Not knowing the purpose--the meaning and aim of existence--these objective values are matter for pondering. On the supposition that we exist by the will of a Being, the individual's question is whether he is producing the desired values. This question is not intellectual because my being depends on this understanding.

"In the book, distinction is constantly made between existence and being. Values according to likes and dislikes are infantile; calculation according to the welfare of the planetary body is existence; the welfare or ill fare of my being is contemporary with existence and at the same time is continuous. Pondering is an activity proper to being, that strain in the being which is related to continuous being. 'It' can think, but 'I' alone can ponder. A fine machine, or body, at the end of an existence, may find 'being' shrunk to almost nothing.

"When you consider that the Creator's being depends on the growth and development of his creatures, you will see that he cannot be hostile to any effort that we make towards an expansion of being. A state of being is dynamic, moving towards fulfilment of itself. The subjective attitude towards this question is determined by pondering. It asks: 'What is my status, not just as a Trogoautoegocratic machine, but in relation to the cosmos?' It may be that when we come to the end of our planetary existence we shall be asked 'What is your state of being now compared to what it was when you entered this spell of existence?' We might be compelled to endure another kind of planetary existence deserved by our degree of merit--perhaps one in the animal kingdom.

" 'Purposive thought' is thinking with a purpose, with attention. This implies control; not thinking just by association; control of the lower thinking center by the higher thinking center; of the formatory apparatus by 'I.' "

...

"The two forms of mentation spoken about in the prologue of the book become the two dynamic rivers of the epilogue.

"Hassein says 'Things are a-thinking in me.' The mind is always 'a-thinking,' and if we take a hand in it and direct the thinking it is active being-mentation; it is the result of an experience digested and made part and parcel of our being. In 'being-mentation' we are mentating with materials, which, since they are part of experience, have an emotional element. Instead of dealing with words and their associations, which makes possible verbal logic, we have to use experiences and their associations, which make possible a being-logic.

"Pondering, I associate more with the weighing of associations. Active being-mentation is used in such mantrams as 'I wish to remember myself,' when with each word you call up the most vivid experience connected with that word; and then you are in a state of wishing to remember yourself.

"Formal understanding--understanding by forms--is brought about by being-mentation.

"Gurdjieff frequently suggests that the value of being-mentation is in the activity of gathering up all experiences, whatever subject you touch on.

"In verbal reasoning we substitute association for real experience. We cannot yet explore the character of objective truth and the character of the technique for attaining this.

"We have reached the conclusion that we have two forms of reasoning, formal and associative, and the distinction is made without reference to objective reason. It is not possible to develop objective reason so long as our center of gravity remains in associative reasoning; we have to go from formal to objective. The material of the language of gesture, posture, tone of voice, facial expression, and movement, is the material of formal reasoning, and the 'Gurdjieff method is designed to shift the center of gravity to formal and then to objective reasoning by making use of this material."

I said, "A constant reading of Beelzebub would, in time, bring one to this state?"

Orage said: "Yes, but if you work in the method at the same time you should attain it very much quicker. No one can impart or explain to you the experience of objective reasoning; they can show the way, but you must work for it."