Did gurdjieff wreck the samkhya legacy?….

First, samkhya was probably already wrecked by the indic tradition…but some version entered into xtianity, and then was taken up by either sufis or some group of self-styled esoteric thinkers/groups…and gurdjieff seems to have picked this up…and this was transmitted in part by ouspensky…then gurdjieff produced his all and everything and this was so obscure that it is hard to make any sense of it…then bennett, ambiguously a student of ouspensky, then gurdjieff, but with some independent source (in the prewar period and after), began to develop his cosmic system in the Dramatic Universe. This book tried to make clear a larger system of thought that, without saying so, was basically a descendant of samkhya, but its complexity, quality, and modernity, with no reference of samkhya at all, broke from the moorings of antiquity and created a new and modern subject. Unfortunately it was not free from the trappings and possible occult influence of gurdjieff whose authoritarianism (and that of bennett) made scientific evaluation subject to occult black magic and other confusions, an outrageous outcome; the reason for this is that the authority of the guru is aboslute and can’t be questioned, etc…..It is true that it is dangerous to question of fiat of figures in the classic traditions of sheiks and gurus (a point open to some debate)…Further gurdjieff, the critic of wisearcring, introduced a host of bizarre concepts and interpretations, such as the enneagram, and much else…This is has grossly complicated the whole range of questions to the point of super muddle: and the world of amazon shows just how many bad books on gurdfieff and his system are starting to flood. And the moment the writer bows down to gurdjieff and/or cites his ‘sacred concepts’ philosophic license is granted for what is becoming a vast set of superstitions…to make the situation worse these ‘gurus’ like gurdjieff are content to simply lie on some issues, and to conceal others: we can never be sure which of his claims are ‘exoteric’ lies, and which can find a real explanation of some kind: the issue is almost absurd: a huge and growing public is subject to disinformation and is denied the real keys to anything in an explosion of gibberish.
Bennett almost succeeded in his task but his Dramatic Universe has so many liabilities and extra baggage that it is probably going to be derelict in the end.
Bennett notes the issue but not the danger at the start of DU where he quotes gurdjieff, cites his indifference to bennett’s contribution but says the book might be good propaganda for gurdjieff’s work…We are thus in a quandary: we have a potential map of both a new version of ancient samkhya and some attempt at upgrade by some hidden group but gurdjieff has inserted himself as a middleman, secret arbiter not required to speak the truth or reveal the facts not given to the public….

The situation is probably hopeless but there is a strategy that can at least offer partial benefit: declare samkhya broken but study it anyway historically. Study the absurd and preposterous, but in retrospect transparent, christian theological ‘trashed’ version/versions…adopt an agnostic stance on the sufic/esoteric ‘school’ referenced by gurdjieff that produced his ‘system’ bypassing it to study the bennett version: study bennett in terms of modernity, science, and philosophy, mindful of its limits, it added confusions (like the nonsense about four root cultures, astrology, the enneagram and much else)…
As study proceeds bennett system breaks as it were and you simply leave it behind, but it is a useful reminder of an unknown legacy that has turned into a very trashy outcome.
The core of bennett’s system is flawed, as is samkhya, because noone can resolve the two keys ideas:
the law of three
the law of seven

In these two laws are probably nonsense that no amount of reading of all and everything is going to resolve. We are to consider that where everyone is confused and being deliberately confused because occult honchos want to bury the dog deeper…

If you can survive the confused add ons in bennett and if you proceed with skeptical caution you can get a rough glimpse of what the whole question was/is about but in a fascinating way upgraded to a modern version that speaks directly to atomic physics, and the idea of evolution (bennett is a critic of darwin): we see a progression of categories/energies in a dodecad, in which the ternary/septenary take a prominent place (replacing garbage about the law of three and seven with ideas of ternary etc systems is a useful liberation of the subject, as yet not fully successful).
The demarcation of being, function, will is useful as is that of the hyponomic, autonomic, and hypernomic, but something strange happens as bennett discusses the hypernomic categories, 9 to 12: ehsy on earth is he talking about? Clearly he can’t resolve the progression beyond the eighth level of individuality…Not surprising…Although bennett’s whole attempt (influenced by whitehead) to create a post-kantian set of categories is open to severe challenge, the overall scheme, if we blink at a ‘new agey/scientisistic dishup of samkhya pizza’ actually makes an eerie partial sense even if we are left with a question in the end, is any of this really believable…? Perhaps the vision fades…
But bennett is on to something because his progression of systems, if not categories, actually matches physical entities: zeroth level ‘hyle’, one-term subatomic entities, two term particles , three term objects, four term ‘things’ molecules, five term systems with ‘potential’ (??), six term living systems cells, seven term ‘organisms’ and eight term ‘individuals’. Maybe someday sense can be made of this obvious resemblance of physical emergent entities and the ‘n-term’ systems of bennett (in terms of a dodecad in which the ninth through twelve categories are not really known and are given stand ins???)
After all of this it is still not clear how bennett takes ‘consciousness’ which he perhaps confusedly distinguishes from ‘sensitivity’ in a distinction of living and cosmic energies, with consciousness a cosmic energy, a provocative and possibly fertile way of dividing the pie…

This model actually generates a remarkable insight: man is on the boundary of the hypernomic reflected in the ambiguity of sensitivity (life) and ‘conscisousness’ (the usual distinction would take sensitivity as consciousness, and ‘consciousness’ as self-consciousness, like ‘self-remembering consciousness)…
In this immense scheme we confront a muted version of a theory of involution, as if bennett hadn’t quite figured out how to do it: but this issue is of interest in the way cosmic entities become involutionary mechanisms, and here biospheres suddenly enter as generators of life/evolution, a kind of gaian schematic. All this is unacceptable mystical physics, yet it is suspiciously apt on the issue of planetary evolution…But physicists stumble into this terrain with ideas of fine-tuning…

Perhaps at some point this subject can be liberated to scientific/secular spheres and it points to a world where human self-knowledge takes a quantum leap. But at this point a set of good ideas blew up on the launch pad and we left with a lot of junk that is trapped inside the gurdjieff authority system. As things stand people are going to write more and more bad books on the enneagram and denounce those who question the pronouncements of the masters, a sorry mess given the poor quality of gurdjieff’s thought.

Bennett’s framework points to an obvious solution the question of ‘paths’: the path of the true self, at samkhya level 24 and the path of individuality/will at level 12…But such schemes can also confuse people.
As noted the core concepts of ternary and septanary systems are the two pillars of the whole scheme but their status remains that of muddle. I know of noone what has truly clarified the two ideas.

Also at noted, you can get some benefit without those two concepts: study bennett’s system (in Dramatic Universe and only there, none of his other books) until it breaks and then stand back in some wonder and puzzlement that most probably same ancient and unknown form of knowledge entered world history and kept getting idiot renditions.

Note: I remain skeptical of ternary systems or triads, but as above there is a clue in physics: if triads make any sense then a clarification must be present in the transition from subatomic to atomic systems…Perhaps it is right under our noses in some way…But we can’t just insert a ‘third force’ the way the gurdjieffians do without finding the consistency with a larger subject, not likely…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s