Gurdjieff Legacy Bookstore Remarkable new book from William Patrick Patterson regarding The Fourth Way, technology as ideology, new challenges to self-identity, and the seminal teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff.
Special Announcement: New Seminar with William Patrick Patterson! To be held at the charming Santa Sabina Center in San Rafael, California. Friday, May 26 through Monday, noon, May 29, 2017. Join us for an exploration of our topsy-turvy world view. The theme: Silence is not Silent,Space is Not Empty, Time is not Time, Love is Not Love. Click here for details.
The Emblem of Azerbaijan (Resembles the depiction of the Christian image of the Sacred Heart of Christ?)
Mystical Arizona Uber Drivers—In Four Part Harmony
Part I: ART
I recently discovered that Tucson Uber drivers truly consider their vehicles to be an extension of their living rooms and you, the passenger, are not seated in their Jeep or Toyota or Lincoln Towncar; rather on their sofa (or pew). As a guest you are bound, by both the seatbelt and the manners learned along the way, of how one behaves when a guest in someone’s home: You listen, you nod, you murmur small bleats of agreement. And in one instant, offer absolution.
Earlier this month, the husband and I went to our annual Tucson retreat at the spectacular Redemptorists’ Renewal Center (RRC) in the mountains above Tucson. The always patient husband agreed to meet new retreat attendees arriving at the airport and shepherd them to the RRC so I could enjoy a leisurely morning and then call Uber for a lift to the RRC later that afternoon.
Waiting in the hotel lobby, I was quieting my chattering mind, panicked about the week ahead—no coffee, certainly no wine, very little animal protein and hours of meditation…when driver number one, Art, appeared in the lobby. Very, very tall, wearing a geometrically patterned black and baggy sweater with trousers to match. I’d guess he was 55 or a bit older, with an accent as thick as Zorba the Greek’s molasses.
As soon as he understands where we are going and why I am going…for the quietude of the desert where one may hear the silence of the infinite rather than the psychobabble of these modern times…Art is off and running. And I am not seated in the rear of his black Lincoln Towncar…no, pas de tout…I am in his Armenian Cathedral. He is in the leather bucket seat of the pulpit delivering his homily.
For the next hour as we traverse Tucson, he speaks his special brand of cathechism as he is ethnically ARMENIAN! And ARMENIANS are ancient Christians. The oldest brand of Christianity on EARTH! His monologue is seamless. Punctuated with wild gesticulation, the mea culpa of Motorola as he beats his chest with his flip phone—I think in the vicinity of his heart (hard tell with his big sweater). Whatever, his sincerity is palpable.
Bravely edging into his flow, as the current is swift, I ask where he was born. “AZERBAIJAN!” He replies. I ask if perhaps he has heard of another ancient Christian, G. I. Gurdjieff?
“YES! An Armenian Greek, an ANCIENT CHRISTIAN.”
Yes, I respond as we turn into the drive off Picture Rocks Road and the RRC. Art departs after giving me his blessing which I bow my head to receive. One never knows. So many angels in disguise.
Joseph Campbell, pictured here with his wife, the noted dancer and choreographer Jean Erdman, guided me years ago when I was pondering the meaning of marriage. In his book, AnOpen Life, in Conversations with Michael Toms, he replied to Toms' questions on the meaning of marriage.
The passage which touched me to the core was this: "One of the things I have realized--and people who have been married a long time realize--is that marriage is not a love affair. A love affair has to do with immediate personal satisfaction. But marriage is an ordeal; it means yielding time and time again. That's why it is a sacrament: you give up your personal simplicity to participate in a relationship. And when your giving, you're not giving to the other person: you are giving to the relationship. And if you realize that you are in the relationship just as the other person is, then it becomes life building, a life fostering and enriching experience, not an impoverishment because you are giving to somebody else. Do you see what I mean?"
In this current turbulent political hodge-podge, I feel a tug to hold family close, feed them well, keep them warm. This book was published in 1990, a year before the husband and I married.
(Yes, Prof. Campbell I do see, after 25-years of marriage, I see what you mean. Thank you.)
William Patrick Patterson set out on a spiritual pilgrimage to Gyumri, Armenia, to visit, as Mr. Gurdjieff asked, the grave of his father, Ashokh Adash. Finding the grave in disrepair, Patterson had it beautified. However, within weeks the gravesite was desecrated, its prayer plaques removed, and so it remains today.
How to account for this violation? Culturally, did the pilgrims somehow overstep? Whatever the vandals were thinking, that is to presume they were thinking at all, to defile and despoil a grave is to blaspheme the dead. For a short video showing images of the grave, before and after the profane despoiling, click the link below.
Steamy August Sunset over my Hometown, Saint Louis
Who woke up that sticky summer morning I was nine? I was still as a church mouse in bed, listening to the old shingle house exhaling the growing heat. Surrounded as it was by leafy trees nearing 100-years-old, the house was usually shaded by the Sweet Gum, the Catalpas, and the towering Maples. I could sense their exhalations as well.
Yet, that July morning there was a new resonating silence in the empty house. I was alone, again. My mother and father were at work, my teenage brother…God knew where. My silver German Shepherd lifted her head from the foot of the bed, the query plain. “Are we up, now? Now?”
She was my nursery Nana, like the English Sheep Dog in Peter Pan, Silver was my patient companion. She had thwarted two break-ins that I knew of and I was certain there would be other attempts.
The question persists for me today: Who woke up that humid morning with a new resolve? Was it a new “I”? Had essence required another buffer, another “I” willing to soldier on through another long day on my own?
I was old at nine, perhaps older than I am today. I had a sense of the quietude, the acceptance of this is how it was, I was on my own again save for Silver by my side. And perhaps, a guardian angel.
Was I a willful child? Yes, but it was required for my protection, my survival. What instinct told me at five to run from the man naked save for the puppy on his lap cruising my neighborhood in his convertible?
It’s been said many times we repair the past in the awared present, otherwise it is all do-re-mi, do-re-mi, a pointless repetition.
So the question remains for me, who or what “I” awoke on that steamy July morning? The borning of self-will or a taste of real will?
William Patrick Patterson will lead a Labor Day Seminar on an exploration of that very theme: Exploring Self-Will and Real Will. The seminar will be held at a retreat center about an hour south of San Jose, CA. For more information, click here.
Dorothy Parker (pictured) and Joyce Carol Oates: Write Short Stories to Die for!
I subscribe to One Story. Heard of it? It’s a treat—offered by an affiliation of writers and editors publishing in Brooklyn’s Old American Can Factory twelve times a year. And they publish some of the most provoking, entertaining, astounding short stories (or selected chapters) from upcoming collections or novels. The One Story June 2016 offering is from none other than Joyce Carol Oates. The short story is The Woman in the Window and is the title story from her upcoming collection.
I read it the evening it arrived in my mailbox. I felt at once it was a tribute to the great Dorothy Parker’s best-known short story, "Big Blonde", published in The Bookman magazine, and was awarded the O. Henry Award as the best short story of 1929. Parker’s short stories, though often witty, were also spare and incisive, and more bittersweet than comic.
Likewise witty and bittersweet, a tad darker, Oates' story set in 1926 Manhattan, is not at all derivative. Rather Oates elevates Parker’s indomitable style while honoring her original tone. Oates’ narrative rings the Parker-esque typewriter’s bell in triplicate.
The internal dialogue of two characters drives Oates’ story. The woman in the window, behind the “gauzy curtains” is waiting for her married lover to arrive at 11 a.m., to her Manhattan apartment, hardly affordable on her secretary’s salary. “Always 11 a.m.” She sits in the blue plush chair by the window in her high-heels and plots… knowing her posh Macguire apartment building neighbors disapprove of her tenancy. Her interior harangue takes us into her past, her present; the self-talk rattling her nerves and mine! Meanwhile the paramour makes his way to the assignation, his own internal dialogue raging.
I invite you to investigate One Story at one-story.com. I have quite a bit more to say on the topic of internal dialogues…mostly my own infernal chattering mind…to be continued…
Meditation, contemplation, prayer culminating in an answer, I don’t want; in fact, I want to reject it, tear it in two, light it on fire. So what is this truth, this answer that has me spitting? It is this: The need for self-knowledge is a moral force, societal perspective—it is an ethical force. Not the person’s statistics—demographics—as we say today—no, no, it’s a thirst for direct experience of myself in the present moment of living.
But what self? And do I have the will to pursue? Over the Labor Day weekend, William Patrick Patterson will lead a themed exploration: Exploring Self-Will and Real Will. For more information, click the link below. http://www.gurdjiefflegacy.org/20announce/events.php