Esoteric meanderings

I’ve been away for a while and a few things have happened:

I have had 3 different jobs.  That’s right folks, I re-entered the world of jobs and it was not a success.  Well, it is now a success, but it looked pretty ugly there for a while.  I learned a lot along the way, and out of respect for my previous employers, I will leave out the dirty details.  But, I have landed in the right place for now.

I published a blog post by accident.  One that made absolutely no sense because I wrote it using google voice and published it without editing it. If you saw it, it was a pretty funny thing. I almost regret not leaving it up.  It was just too embarrassing, though.

Most notably, I have been through various states of feeling on  faith or the lack thereof in my life.  This is an ongoing pattern in my life.  I embrace the unknown, dive head first into reading Tarot or exploring Buddhism and I have amazing experiences, strange coincidences, dreams that come true, and then I stop.  I stop completely, plant my feet on the ground, and say “enough with all that, let me go balance my checkbook!”

If I could be a true atheist, I think I would be happier, but I have never been able to say no to the possibility of something bigger than me.  So, I have decided to attempt to explore this theme in my life, with a bit more consciousness.

I am a voracious consumer of esoteric, spiritualist, self-improvement media.  Lectures, books, podcasts, movies.  A lot of intake goes on here.  And very little sharing.

I don’t know that it’s necessary to explain why I don’t share.  It’s pretty clear.  I don’t want my friends to write me off as a scarf-wearing, patchouli soaked, incense burning schizo who has gone off the deep end.  And I don’t want to go to hell, because I was raised Catholic and that is where people who explore the occult go.  Of course I don’t actually believe either of these fates.  My  mother was an avid explorer of different religions and mythologies.  Scholarship was always encouraged in my family. Still, I am likely to return frequently to Christianity, in general, and Catholicism, in particular, because it was in that space that I first learned to explore the mystical and the practical and to accept the apparent contradiction between the two–much due to the prevalence of mystery in the Catholic teachings.

During previous quests, I thought about going back to school, applying to Harvard Divinity School. Maybe I could  get my theology on, follow in the footsteps of my hero JC–that is, Joseph Campbell. But, each time I explored this option, I felt the pull of my life now, and I haven’t wanted to uproot myself, or go back to school.  I have merely wanted to learn.  And to learn in the context of my own life,  not in isolation from it.

So, yesterday, I sought out some of the esoteric texts that I had bought during one of my quests years ago.

Meandering through the bookshelves, I came across two short pieces of fiction, recommended to me by a boyfriend long ago.  I generally didn’t like much that this man had recommended to me–too much art theory parading as philosophy or psychology–but these two little novellas Mount Analogue and A Night of Serious Drinking, were still in my collection.  Mount Analogue remained because it told the tale of a team of explorers seeking unreachable destination.  And that is life for me.  Always seeking the unreachable.

Anyway, I never read it all (we’ll see if my esoteric studies require it), but I did read it in part, and I did read the introduction, which lead me to an interest in George Gurdjieff, a spiritual teacher in Moscow from the early 20th century.  That’s about all I can tell you about him, but stay tuned, because this is where our journey begins.  On the bookshelf next to Mount Analogue and A Night of Serious Drinking, sits not Gurdjieff (we’ll get to him), but his disciple P.D. Ouspensky.

Currently, I am reading Conscience by Ouspensky, which is a collection of five papers, compiled from his meetings in London, during which some 70 students would listen and ask precise questions about his theories.   Some of the essays incorporate Gurdjieff’s teachings, and some of which are Ouspensky’s own painstakingly questioned and explored ideas about the nature of man and consciousness.

I think I will eventually find Ouspensky annoying.  He is strict in his ideals, and rigid when it comes to how a person is to become self-aware.  He will inevitably remind me of a therapist I once worked with who was relentless and somewhat sadistic in her pursuit of the “lower self”–don’t worry, we’ll get to that.

For now, I will close with a quote from Ouspensky, which I think encapsulates his dedication to conscious living, as well as his borderline obsessive, slightly masochistic treatment of himself. He is recalling a time during which he attempts to remain self-aware for the entirety of a day.  He calls this practice “self-remembering.”

I left the tabacconist, called in at my flat in Liteiny, telephoned to the printers. I wrote two letters. Then again, I went out of the house. I walked on the left side of the Nevsky up to the Gostinoy Dvor intending to go to the Offitzerskaya.  Then I changed my mind as it was getting late. I had taken an izvotchik and was driving to the Kavalergardskaya to my printers. And on the way while driving along the Tavricheskaya I began to feel a strange uneasiness, as though I had forgotten something.  And suddenly I remembered that I had forgotten to remember myself.

Postscript:  If there was ever any doubt, let me put it to rest here, there will be some Alan Watts up in this joint, too.  And often.
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