Highly original, charismatic and mystical, These dances are designed, to balance the different sources of energy within us… creating a harmony between the body, the mind and the emotions, that results in a unique inner centering, a new sense of inner rhythm, a relaxed alertness, a natural silence and grace… Leading to a higher level of consciousness & presence. Each movement has its own music & the beautiful, haunting melodies & rhythms enhance the process. The movements are placed within the context of a larger philosophical ideology …The Fourth Way… which is the way of the Sufi…
THE FOURTH WAY - THE WORK
The term was coined by George Gurdjieff to describe his path and to differentiate it from traditional ways.
The first way…of the Fakir, involving effort in the body… (Hata Yoga)
The second way…of the Monk, involving devotion and concentration of feeling. (Bhakti - worship)
The third way… of the Yogi, involving largely mental attention…(Gyana - knowledge)
In the fourth way, effort is made in all three: body, feeling, and mind. This is harmonious development. Also, in contrast with the traditional ways, the fourth does not require separation from conditions of ordinary life. In fact, these conditions are ideal, especially in times of turmoil, for the 'awakening' process which is integral to the effectiveness of this way.
According to Gurdjieff, most of us are sleepwalking our way through life, automatically reacting to what happens around us, in habitual, conditioned ways.
Waking up involves "remembering ourselves." As we remember ourselves, & become more aware of our "automaticity", we learn to free ourselves from the prison of our conditioning, to live an authentic life. At the same time, to escape from prison, work with others of like mind is essential…which is why we work together, in groups.
Gurdjieff's concept of the fourth way, & techniques for transformation developed by him, were heavily influenced by his learnings in ancient Sufi monasteries in Asia. The Work… (as it is called) offers an opportunity for deep personal exploration, growth, and healing, using the methods suggested by Gurdjieff, and other Masters of the Fourth Way.
WHAT THEN IS THE WORK?
The Work is not mystical
It does not direct your attention to that which is incapable of being understood
The Work is not a cult
We do not perform rituals and ceremonies for the sake of astounding ourselves, or to impress others.
The Work is not religious
We do not worship any mortally named enigma.
The Work is not a sect
We do not blindly or mechanically revere any human being.
The Work is not a club
It is not a collection of ordinary people held together by similar weaknesses & maladies.
The Work is not a contemporary fad
Its secret paths have been trod by a few since the dawn of the intellect.
The Work is not a popular pastime
Few feel its need, & even fewer can pay the price.
The Work is not a necessity
Life has yet to require that human beings realize their full potential.
ABOUT THE DANCES
For those who are entering this space for the first time, some background…
George Gurdjieff was an Armenian. A spiritual master and mystic, who lived on earth from 1872-1949. He set out at the age of 20, searching for the answer to the basic question, why am I here, on Earth? His search took him to ancient monasteries & temples of learning, from Egypt, across Central Asia, to Tibet & India. He discovered secret sufi brotherhoods, guarding knowledge of the truth he was seeking. He emerged, 25 years later, in Russia, & began to share the rich learnings from his travels. He escaped, during the Russian revolution, with a small caravanserai of pupils, to France, where he set up the institute for the harmonious development of man.
Among the teachings that were transmitted at this institute, were the sacred dances, movements and gymnastics. Based on The Science of Movements, these are vehicles for inner transformation. A source of living existential teaching.
One has to experience them in one's own body, to understand their impact on body-mind-emotions. They demand an extraordinary kind of attention, divided simultaneously between several different activities of the body and mind.
Each Movement's external form is 'mathematically' predetermined from beginning to end. Every posture, gesture, rhythm has its own place, duration and weight. There is minimal reliance on habit, reflex functioning and symmetry. The dancer's arms, legs and head must often conform to independent, contradictory rhythms. Interior exercises in sensation and counting in canon may be added, and silent or spoken prayer.
You can do all this only if you are completely centered, and present. Emotions come up strongly, and are acknowledged, and dealt with, in the present moment. The process is designed to cut through masks, & many layers of personality, to reach the essence, hidden deep within each of us.
Each dance has its own music, designed by Gurdjieff, and Russian composer, Thomas de Haartman. The strange and beautiful rhythms and melodies evoke feelings and sensations that enhance the process…
Gurdjieff designed many movements and dances around the Enneagram: This 9 pointed star is an ancient Sufi symbol that was re-discovered by Gurdjieff during his search for the Sarmoung Monastery [somewhere in Asia.] This symbol represents the union of two great universal cosmic laws & is central to Gurdjieff's teachings.
The Law of Three…states that every manifestation is the resultant of three forces… Affirming, Denying, Reconciling. Affirming & Denying forces can stand in useless opposition & nothing new can emerge, but when the third force is present, an act of creation occurs.
The Law of Seven…states that when a manifestation evolves, it does so non linearly.
This law explains why, when something begins, it does not continue, ad infinitum, Why a rainstorm abates, and why a grudge finally loses its venom… and why there are no straight lines in nature.
This law is very visible in the western musical scale, which is composed of unequal steps.
Doh, re, mi are equi-distant, but between mi & fa, there is a half step instead of a full step. As we proceed up the scale, sol, la, si, are equi-distant, and there is a half step between si and doh. These half steps become stoppers, where the movement of energy slows down, & we need additional energy, or SHOCK, for the process to go past the block, on to its conclusion.
According to Gurdjieff, both these laws are present in all processes, from the creation of the universe, to cooking a meal, to building a house, to writing a book… It is a symbol of unity in motion.
About the Founder - Akash Dharmaraj
"We are not dancers. We are all searching for our truth, through the dances and movements."
Akash writes about Gurdjieff, about her self and about her personal journey with the dances - read more...
© Photo credits: Gili Chen & LiveLoveRaw