Bennett on the two ways
Link to Sufism, Gnosticism and Religion.
There is a lot to say here about this essay, cited from: Ibrahim Gamard, but I am treading on somewhat difficult terrain, so I will make some tentative commentary.
The author is giving some significant advice, which Westerners simply won’t take: make your ‘sufism’ sit under the umbrella of Islam. That’s unrealistic advice, at this point, but raises an issue that lurks behind the Ouspensky/Bennett reactions to Gurdjieff.
First, let me say it: how do we know if this prejudice against gnosticism isn’t just the usual ‘outsider’ bias? I won’t denigrate this author on those grounds since I don’t really understand him or, for that matter, the culture of Islamic Sufism.
But this issue is transposed in Bennett’s writings, but recast in a form that can make sense to a secularist, or secular religionist, e.g. a Protestant Christian. (I don’t buy the usage of ‘secularism’ as being anti-religion necessarily, I am not a Protestant)
Bennett quietly distinguishes the ‘path of accelerated transformation’ and the ‘path of Objective Morality’. The author here is trying to do that also, but he is up against the wall and substitues ‘Islam’ for Bennett’s ‘objective morality’.
The point is that the whole question of transformation has been hijacked by what seem to be a bunch of hooligans, can this be right? So Bennett points to another way, slower, but steady, within the context of, note he doesn’t say religion, although he means that, but ‘objective morality’. Bennett is very devious and makes things up, but his point is clear: being a gnostic Faust like the Gurdjieff’s raises the question, is this spiritual at all? How could nature destroy all those in pious honesty that endure the tide of history only to be destroyed while a bunch of gnostic gangsters form a criminal monopoly on soul. That can’t be right, although many in despairing panic have thought as much.
Thus he points to the possibility of those in the general stream of life who try to abide by a basic ethic, and survive without the spiritual fineries of Mephistophelean gnostics (or sufis?).
The point is vital, save only that there are no specifics. You need to keep your eyes peeled on life, and find your way through its confusions with some kind of basic integrity. Sadly, the religions themselves are degenerated vehicles many times for that. In some ways secular culture offers an equivalent vehicle.
Issues of soul are confusing because the language is decayed and useless. I will post something from Schopenhauer that might help. The term ‘soul’ is being used in different senses in these discussions, and the essay cited rightly protests that the ‘gnostic’ claim on soul is wrong, but what does it all mean?
The basic point, and the term ‘soul’ is useless now, is that everyone has a soul, in a sense compatible with science in the sense of Kantian/Schopenhaurian transcendental idealism: this is the case by definition of terms, almost, in that our ‘totality’ is not fully a space-time entity.
All these ‘gnostics’ like Gurdjieff are talking about something else.
The basic issue here is that you don’t need to find some fourth way school, to pursue ‘soul’ or the rest of it: it’s all embedded in ordinary life. But your position is not secure in that regard, you have many chances and opportunities, but they are no unlimited.
Behind the degenerated stupidity of fire and brimstone preachers lies a simple issue: as just said, ‘soul’ is your birthright, but you don’t have forever to play around with that.
Enough just for the moment.
These issues are important for those entangled in the ‘fourth way’ stream: your chances of finding these hidden schools are almost zero. Be about your business in ordinary life, as the vehicle by default, and beware of entanglement with these ‘gnostic’ desperadoes, you will not only not get the booby prize, you will end up worse off.
Be alert to life to figure this all out on your own, wary of all parties, secular, religious, or (Mephistophelean gnostic/sufi)