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Kathleen Speeth spreekt over het Werk dat George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff ons bracht …

Kathleen Speeth vertelt in een interview alles wat ze weet over de filosofie van George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff.
door Tsenne Kikke - woensdag 16 december 2020 4:09

De nu 83-jarige Kathleen Riordan Speeth, psychologe en auteur van enkele boeken over George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, ontmoette Gurdjieff persoonlijk, ... toen ze nog een klein meisje was. Niet dat het veel betekende, maar Gurdjieff zou toen tegen haar moeder hebben gezegd dat ze 'mogelijkheden' had...

En, heeft ze haar potentiële mogelijkheden van indertijd uitgekristalliseerd? Ikzelf heb haar nog nooit ontmoet en kan dus enkel en alleen op de inhoud van onderstaand filmpje voortgaan. Wel heb ik haar twee boeken over Gurdjieff gelezen, maar daar hebt jij niets aan.

Moest Gurdjieff vandaag de dag nog leven..., wat zou hij over haar zeggen? Ook dat weet ik natuurlijk niet, maar in elk geval zou hij ze in de groep van de zogenaamde 'zachte idioten' hebben ondergebracht.

Op mensen, die ooit iets over Gurdjieff - of over Ouspensky, één van zijn meest belangrijke leerlingen, gelezen hebben, kan de onderstaande video verhelderend inwerken, en kan men aanhoren hoe een vrouw, die - zonder enige degelijke begeleiding - met de leerstellingen van Gurdjieff omspringt. Godzijdank heeft ze het beroep van transpersoonlijke psychologe gekozen en kan ze er prat op blijven gaan dat ze Gurdjieff ooit heeft ontmoet.

Elk menselijk lichaam kan gerust vergeleken worden met een instrument. Indien, bijvoorbeeld, dat instrument niet goed is afgestemd, kunnen er wanklanken uit ontspringen. Mocht dit gebeuren... naar wie ga je het verwijt sturen? Naar het instrument? Of, naar de bespeler?

Kathleen Speeth is een weetjesmens, geen 'zijnsmens'. Ze denkt dat ze weet hoe ze haar instrument zou moeten bespelen. Maar, het is niet omdat een mens alles leest over hoe een piano kan worden bespeeld - en daarbij denkt er alles over af te weten - dat hij het effectief kan bespelen.

Zelfs in dit voorbeeld zijn er gradaties - want, het is niet omdat je een Bach, Beethoven of een Chopin kunt naspelen, dat je zélf iets vanuit jezelf kunt componeren.

Maar toegegeven: zelfs kopiëren, is niet gemakkelijk en vereist zeer veel oefening. Laten we dus tevreden zijn met een Bach, Beethoven of een Chopin te imiteren... Of, een Gurdjieff, misschien?

Een Gurdjieff imiteren?... Dat kan nooit! Napraten misschien. Het is een feit: daarbuiten lopen er zeer vele steengoede, 'geloofwaardige' papegaaien rond: vooral in dat Rijk der Blinden en Slapende Mensen.

Wie benadrukte alweer: 'Word Wakker!' - 'Ontwaak!' - 'Ontslaap!' ? En, wat bedoelde die man ermee - wetende, dat zelfs zijn eigen leerlingen op die avond vóór zijn dood meermaals 'in slaap vielen'...?

Geen mens op Aarde die daarop een antwoord kan geven, tenzij hij 'wakker' is - of, ernaar streeft. Al de anderen dromen, of verbeelden zich, dat ze die woorden be-grijp-en.

Nog een feit is, dat geen één van al de leerlingen, die Gurdjieff persoonlijk heeft gekend, in staat was het 'doel' te bereiken dat hij/zij vanuit het aangeleerde voor zichzelf had vooropgesteld - geen één. Toch vind men vandaag de dag overal Gurdjieff-scholen, Ouspensky-scholen; Bennett- scholen, Orage-scholen, en zo meer. Anders gezegd: kopijen van kopijen van kopijen...

En, wat Kathleen Speeth betreft...: ik waardeer haar als psychotherapeut (zie: volgende blog over haar).

Hieronder vind je de tekst van bovenstaande filmpje en de dvd van het gehele interview kan je eventueel via het internet aankopen.

Kathleen Speeth: The Gurdjieff Work

JEFFREY MISHLOVE, Ph.D.: Hello and welcome. Today we're going to be examining the life and work of Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. Gurdjieff was a mystical teacher who died in Paris in 1949. At the time of his death he had thousands of students, virtually in every country of the world. He has left behind him a spiritual legacy which could be considered an important precursor of the new age movement. With me today is Dr. Kathleen Speeth, author of 'The Gurdjieff Work', and 'Gurdjieff, Seeker of the Truth'. Dr. Speeth is a member of the faculty of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, and is also a clinical psychologist. Welcome, Kathy.

KATHLEEN SPEETH, Ph.D.: I'm glad to be here.

MISHLOVE: It's a pleasure to have you here. You are in something of a unique position as a teacher and writer about the Gurdjieff work, in that you actually met Gurdjieff and knew him while you were a child.

SPEETH: Yes, I did.

MISHLOVE: Could you describe some of your early memories of the man?

SPEETH: Well, I remember the first time I saw him. I was quite young, I don't know exactly how young, and it was in New York, and my parents disappeared somewhere, and there I was in a room full of people milling about, and there was somebody who had a strong magnetic attraction to me. I moved toward that man, and I reached down and I kissed him, and it was Gurdjieff.

MISHLOVE: What a beautiful first memory.

SPEETH: Yes. My mother says, although I don't remember this, that he turned toward Madame de Salzman, who was sitting next to him, and he said, and I hope this is true, "Elle a des possibilités" - he spoke a little French, a little Armenian - "She has possibilities." So I'm hoping that that really did happen. So I remember being drawn to him. He was like a big grandfather. And I don't know if it was that day or another day, when - it was during the Second World War, so everything was very scarce, like chocolates and things that kids like - he gave a party for children, and in that party we were given a whole box of those chocolates that have maraschino cherries inside. I hadn't even seen a chocolate in so long, and to have a whole box, it was a wonderful thing for a child. So I experienced him as very kind, although many grownups who wrote memoirs found him extremely tough and confrontative.

MISHLOVE: I suppose he used what was appropriate for the occasion.

SPEETH: I suppose he did. He seemed to me one of those people who was free enough to do that.

MISHLOVE: Well, Gurdjieff is noted for really having combined the Eastern and Western traditions in a unique way - to try and take the mystical thinking and meditative practices of the East and combine them with the disciplines, the technologies in the West, our way of making things really work.

SPEETH: Yes, he did. He grew up about halfway between the East and the West. You know, he grew up between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.

MISHLOVE: In central Asia.

SPEETH: In central Asia. He was a person who left the Armenian Church and the family that he had, and went to seek truth with a bunch of friends, a lot like a dharma bum, or somebody who is a dropout in the new age period.

MISHLOVE: Many of our viewers may have seen the movie based on his autobiography, 'Meetings with Remarkable Men', in which he sort of describes that search - Peter Brooks's film, I believe.

SPEETH: Exactly. Of course it's very unlikely that those "memoirs", supposed memoirs, with quotes around them, actually had to do with his experience. A lot of it was analog and metaphor and teaching material.

MISHLOVE: Oh really?

SPEETH: I think so.

MISHLOVE: Interesting.

SPEETH: But he certainly did go somewhere, and it's very clear that he was involved with Buddhism and Sufism, and probably Taoism also.

MISHLOVE: Well, he has a reputation also for having been something of a scoundrel - you know, there are the stories that he was a Russian secret agent in Tibet, for example.

SPEETH: Right, exactly, right. And it's unclear whether that's true or not. In fact one of the things about a man like Gurdjieff is you can't tell whether he is using his life to teach, and making up stories therefore, or whether he's actually recounting the truth.

MISHLOVE: He's sort of in that "crazy wisdom" tradition, where it almost seems you cannot judge this man by the standards by which we ordinarily judge people.

SPEETH: And of course that's very dangerous, as you know. It seems that way, and at the same time we know we're on very shaky ground if we don't somehow have a common-sense response to somebody.

MISHLOVE: One would think so, but let's look for a moment at some of the finer things that we have in the legacy of Gurdjieff. I've been very struck by his notion - it's one of the most powerful ones that I've heard from the Gurdjieff tradition - that we are all really asleep, we're not awake. We think we are awake, but we are not.

SPEETH: That's certainly the fundamental idea, not only in the Gurdjieff work, but in Sufism and Buddhism. In fact every esoteric part of every religious tradition says there's something wrong, something clouded, something blurred, and something clotted about the attention of human beings, and such as we are, something is the matter with us.

MISHLOVE: It seems to come across most clearly in the Gurdjieff work; that point gets made over and over again.

SPEETH: Over and over again, right. And also, one is given some help in getting out of the mess we're in.

MISHLOVE: As with all other traditions, I suppose, there is some help.

SPEETH: In each religious tradition there is an esoteric form in which real help is given. The exoteric form will tell you what you have to do, and then there'll be some people who will try to help, giving you specifications and guidance on how to do what has to be done. And the Gurdjieff work was that without the dogmatic-work exoteric form on top of it. But you know, he did call his work esoteric Christianity.

MISHLOVE: Oh, he did?

SPEETH: Oh yes.

MISHLOVE: Now, that I was not aware of. That's very interesting.

SPEETH: But it didn't have anything to do with the kind of Christianity that exists in churches and cathedrals here.

MISHLOVE: Well, he writes in 'Meetings with Remarkable Men' that he wandered all over central Asia, and perhaps even into the Far East, in search of some kind of genuine teaching about the higher powers that were available to human beings.

SPEETH: He found that the people - and this is true of so many teenagers - the people who were around him, teaching him, the clergy and the professors, they only had opinions. Nobody actually had knowledge, real knowledge, so he had to go and search it.

MISHLOVE: And one senses, at least in this parable of his life, that he went to great lengths - across the oceans, and walked across deserts, and did everything he could to get to that. And it's ironic for a person who seems to have influenced so many literary people - today there are hundreds of books about the Gurdjieff work - that he himself doesn't come across as a scholar in the least.

SPEETH: Oh no, he wasn't a scholar, but he was a seeker, and he was a serious man and not a frivolous man.

MISHLOVE: He spoke twenty languages, I understand.

SPEETH: I don't know how many.

MISHLOVE: I do want to get into the methods that he used, but one of the other concepts that he wrote about which struck me a lot - and I think modern psychology is more and more coming to this point of view - is that we are all composed of many different selves. I think Gurdjieff described them as being like puppets inside of us, and they each take control of us at different times. We're not really just one self, as we often think of ourselves to be.

SPEETH: That's very important. The fragmentation of the human psyche is a very important part of the Gurdjieff work, and it's the initial condition that people find themselves in as they begin inner work. The idea would be, of course, to be trustworthy, for oneself and others. That would mean to master those fragments, put them all into one coherent, integrated whole. That is what human integrity is; and as we are, without work, we don't have integrity.

MISHLOVE: So the state of the average individual is a person who is both asleep and fragmented.

SPEETH: Yes, and there are terrible consequences to both of those things. Not only is this sleepwalker unable to see and hear - he's in a dream - but also the person says that they can promise things, and in fact there's somebody else. One person makes the promise, and somebody else is there to live up to the promise, and often promises aren't kept.

MISHLOVE: Especially, I suppose, this is serious when we make promises to ourselves.

SPEETH: Exactly.

MISHLOVE: I suppose it's one of the reasons why, as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

SPEETH: Right. If you can't keep your promises to yourself, are you a human being? That is to say, Gurdjieff used to say: "Are you a 'man' with quotation marks, or a man without quotation marks?"

- Tot hier loopt het interview in bovenstaand YouTube-filmpje. De rest vind je in de rubriek 'Eclecticus'.

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