The Awareness School is constantly studying the foundation for transformation, and we often draw from Fourth Way writers. One of my teacher’s teacher was John Bennett, who surrounded himself with many types of teachers, including Sufi mystics, Hindu mystics, and of course, Gurdjieff. My teacher also sought spiritual wisdom other than the Gurdjieff Work, namely Hasan Shushud in Konya Turkey and Christian mystics.
I myself had already been steeped in Zen Buddhism for 6 years before I met John MacPherson with whom I stayed 12 years, and thereafter studied the 20 count medicine wheel and shamanism.
All of these influences are a result of deep study as opposed to dabbling here and there.
The traditions and practices have formed a certain flavor for the school. Anyone who enters here knows the seriousness with which we take transformation and the practices toward that end.
The four sources of transformation laid out by John Bennett in his book Transformation ring true amongst all of these teachings. These are the elements to which we must adhere in any path. They are learning, struggle, sacrifice, and help.
The first necessary step is our curiosity and willingness to learn.
The search for truth about ourselves and the world must be first and foremost alive in us, but we often close our minds to what we don’t like.
There can be no evolution within ourselves if we are not willing to discover more. Bennett quotes a Sufi story that points out that we may have the desire to learn, but we must also be willing to be taught.
No matter where we are in the scheme of things, in order to be able to learn, we must assume we always have something to learn, no matter how “woke” we think we are. This new term “woke” carries with it a great deal of danger.
Learning from someone does not require that they know everything and are a perfected and illuminated human being. They simply need to know more than we do. We must have the humility to receive that teaching.
Another way we aspire to spiritual ideas is through expanding our knowledge about something that cannot be done by books alone.
If we feed ourselves only on spiritual concepts, the danger is that we think we now understand them because our intellect can grasp the idea. This is when our cleverness becomes a block. It blocks us from taking a spiritual concept into action in which we learn through experience.
Our understanding stems from an idea being brought to life within us.
Concepts and theories can help guide us to what we might be looking for in our own self-observation. They themselves will never be a true observation. This is why a lot of what we do here in the Awareness School is to help delineate what is an actual observation and what is a concept of oneself.
Expansion through knowledge is important to inspire us and to help confirm what we may have already experienced.
Our understanding brings us forward. Mere knowledge of something does not. I have read many things in the past that I did not truly understand, and in rereading them twenty years later, feel as if it is a completely different writing. I see it in a new light and understand it only because I have experienced it.
There are many forms of learning and we need them all to become complete.
We can choose devotional paths or paths devoid of any religious faith, but we must be willing to submit ourselves to the practices for a while, or to the teacher in the case of devotion. Each of us must find what is right for us.
Learning to suspend judgement in order to be open to a teaching, and then refining our ability to discriminate whether to delve more deeply into that method is of the utmost importance. We close ourselves off to so much because we think we already know. We also must develop the skill to leave when it is not serving us.
Learning includes making mistakes, maintaining a disciplined practice for a certain period of time, understanding right effort, and striving to being open to higher influences.
This first source of transformation is an important one, and without which, we may not be able to learn how to make efforts toward a spiritual aim.
What are the ways you are learning these days?
Wishing you all the best this week.