Savoring the Flavors of Time
Sunday, Sept.19, 2021
- Phenomenology of Play - Steven Rhodes
- The Abstraction - Ruben Yessayan
- Marking Time - Leslie Schwing
- Time and Time Again - Travis Jarrell
- Time Travel - Anthony Blake
Savoring the Flavors of Time
Sunday, Sept.19, 2021
The Six Days of Creation
This seminar will have six sessions, three each day, each session lasting 90 minutes, plus a final
two-hour session a fortnight later. All sessions will be on Zoom. Anthony Blake will use 30
minutes of each session to explain the theme and one hour will be devoted to an experiential
presentation by different contributors specializing in the various arts
At the beginning of Volume Two of the Dramatic Universe, John Bennett makes an abstract distinction:
“Our experience contains two elements that seem to be irreconcilable – Fact and Value – and, indeed, their incompatibility is the hall-mark of their reality. All causes lie in the Domain of Fact and all purposes in that of Value. Between cause and purpose, there is a gap which cannot be bridged from either side… Those who aspire to fulfil the purposes of existence must seek for a deeper understanding in which Fact and Value are harmonized, and through which their own activity can be directed.” DU Vol. II, pg. 15
What does this distinction look like in our ordinary, concrete lives? Why – from experience - is it significant? How does it reveal itself?
In this last DuVersity Online session for 2021 we seek neither to prove or disprove Bennett's propositions but to find ways to use them in service of our own unfolding understanding. Anthony Blake, Jason Joslyn and Steven Rhodes will lead us in experimentation and conversation continuing the tradition of utilizing our ordinary powers listening, questioning, noticing, sensing, etc. - in unordinary ways. Who knows what we will find.
To prepare, we invite you to read Chapter Twenty-five in the second volume of the Dramatic Universe entitled, "The Two Domains".
A DuVersity Online session centered on conversation
with Russell Schreiber, Ronald Jones & Anthony Blake
With contributions from Travis Jarrell and Ruben Yessayan
The term burning question is emotive, and rightly so. Emotions are our power. In the metaphor of the three centres, the horse and carriage, the horse is the emotions, while the driver is the mind. We can have all kinds of ideas but if we don't care they 'don’t matter'. It's like the governments passing high sounding declarations but committing to and doing nothing.
There was a marvelous book by scientist Michael Polanyi called Personal Knowledge'. Such knowledge makes us able to undergo privation and suffering for the sake of the Good.
Gurdjieff's higher emotional centre sums it up. It concentrates the whole of us.
Mr. Bennett explained the phrase in the Gospels 'go up into the mountain' as depicting entering the higher emotional centre. It is impossible to understand significant realities without this.
I think the adjective 'burning' to be literal. It is a sign that we are waking up. Creative people have this. It does not let them rest. They might hate it or love it. It might be an engine of joy. Maybe, it is like being in love.
Consciencely Descend to Ordinary Idiot
Sunday August 29, 2021
We’ll be jumping into the deep end with “The Question(s) of the Dramatic Universe” as our theme. It will begin with a dialogue between three DuVersity regulars and Tony Blake, opening up to a conversation between all participants. Authority, teaching and the “real” answers will (we hope) be left at the door.
Exercise in the Inner Worlds
Invitation to Conversation June 20th
Most of us have some sense and some picture of ourselves as having an outer and an inner aspect. In the outer world we do things: travel, do a job, talk, make things and so on. We do not appear to do such things in the inner world. Indeed, doing does not at first seem to apply. The inner world seems to be concerned with how we are. It has to do with what we might call ‘the stuff of experience’.
But, when we suspend the outer doing, a kind of inner doing becomes possible. In Indian teaching, for example, behind the outer senses we have the subtle ones. So there seems to be an inner equivalent or counterpart to our outer activity and it is something that can be cultivated in its own right. Another way of talking about this is to say that we can connect with not only what we are doing but also the energies we draw on in such doing. When we think about something there is not only the words or symbols or processes which are in play but also the very energy of thought. In this respect, the inner work we can do in the exercises is far more practical than what is called phenomenology.
It is unusual to ‘work inside’. We are used to seeing objects not to seeing seeing. But it is quite possible to learn how to channel one’s attention so that we can become cognisant of what is going on in the inner world and to be able to some degree to change what happens inside us. This is easiest when external demands on us are at a minimum. In the midst of life it can be very difficult.
Sitting quietly and engaging with elements of the inner world can be considered conducive to a kind of learning or education. Can we get to know what we are from inside? Perhaps. Such education can lead to further possibilities, such as understanding how we might be able to operate in the inner worlds, which involves our will. This leads us into the greatest mystery: how do we ‘do’ anything at all? It raises questions of God, creation and freedom.
The exercises originating from Gurdjieff and developed by Bennett and others can be seen as forays into the inner worlds. There are various depths to be plumbed. Instructions can be followed without question but there are important things to understand if we are to make the most of such exercises. Nor should we exclude the possibility that we can go beyond them.
In the conversation I will be joined by Joseph Azize and Andrew Moyer. Joseph is presently a Maronite priest in Australia and was a leading pupil of George Adie who studied with Gurdjieff about whom he wrote the book George Adie: A Gurdjieff Pupil in Australia. In 2020 he brought out a book on the exercises recorded of Mr Gurdjieff (Gurdjieff: Mysticism, Contemplation, and Exercises) and argued that they showed this awareness of the contemplative tradition of Orthodox Christianity. Andrew has been a scholar of Sufism as well as a management consultant and is well versed in the methods of various schools and also the cultures of many traditions. He has a special
knowledge of the system of Itlak Yolu of Hasan Shushud as well as familiarity with Bennett’s canon of exercises. Anthony has written on the inner exercises, see: Possible Foundations of Inner Exercises (http://www.duversity.org/foundationexercises.htm)
Joseph, Andrew and myself are committed to creating a book depicting the life and work of John Bennett.
The Session will be open-ended. The subject has immense scope, and we can only hope to touch upon a few points. But we hope there will be space for the audience to join in and we will do what we can to share some experiences.
DuVersity Online, Sunday May 30th 2021
The next session in our series ‘invitation to conversation’ tackles a wide-ranging subject. Numbers are one of the most ancient and universal classes of symbol. They help us deal with material and economic things but also enable us to express an understanding of the creation and cosmos. They embrace counting and separate objects but also togetherness and wholeness. John Bennett, like David Bohm, thought that there could be an infinite range of kinds of wholeness. Wholeness was more than oneness.
Gurdjieff spoke of fundamental laws that enable the universe to exist. History of the subject is vast and includes astronomy, music, gods, creation and harmony. In our session we can include only a few fragments of this immense legacy. All cultures of the world have in them elements of ancient wisdom which have survived and adapted into modern times. Part of the work that Bennett pioneered under the heading of what he called systematics, led him to trawl through both ancient and modern manifestations of a way of understanding based on the metaphysics of number.
Beside myself, the conversation will include Jason Joslyn, who has been largely responsible for the technical implementation of our DuVersity online programs. A programmer of wide interests, he has been connected with Anthony for decades. We are also to be joined by Daniel Proudfoot who specific contribution will be concerned what is called LogoVisualTechnology, or LVT for short, a method that arose from Bennett’s invention of structural communication, itself derived from systematics. He has been developing software for LVT and you will be invited to engage with this process during our session.
There will also be a contribution on music by Ruben Yassevan, who has appeared on our programs online and in person many times. He is a classical pianist and composer. Music is an essential part of the history of metaphysical number and, of course has its historical roots in the ideas of Pythagoras, though they stretch back for thousands of years before him.
Though we title our session as a metaphysics, it concerns all dimensions of creation including our practical problem solving. In its simplest expression we can say that systematics is a way of thinking.
We cannot begin to give you the whole story or even a part of it in the limited time we have. It is possible, if enough interest is shown, that we can mount a more focused series of sessions unfolding the depths of the subject. We shall see. For the moment, we can share glimpses of fragments, perhaps reminiscent of Ouspensky’s title for his book on Gurdjieff’s teaching: ‘fragments of an unknown teaching’. Our hope is that you can get a taste of the ‘honey’ that has been captured in number and be inspired to follow the trail to make discoveries for yourself, as we have.
Our conversation will be a microcosm of the plenum of conversation over the ages.
Further Biographical Information on the Conversationalists.
With an early interest in understanding just how it is that the world works, he started taking apart his Mother’s favorite alarm clock. When this did not satisfy his curiosity he attended a Claymont Society Basic Course, studied Systematics with Saul Kuchinsky, Sophiagenics with Edward Matchett and various programs with the DuVersity organization.
He experienced the ability of LogoVisual Technology (LVT) to enhance deep communication between people after being exposed to a demonstration of LVT at a DuVersity seminar.
He was convinced that LVT is a transformative technology but is limited by the necessity of various physical implements that are not always available when dialogue is engaged.
He addressed this need by developing a computer-based application for LVT. Various events have happen in the world that now allow for this application to be used by people around the world simultaneously.
The adoption of this technology is now at the earliest of stages.
He will be modifying the application as we learn more about the appropriate form this communication needs to take for future needs.
At an early age discovered a series of books and ideas that still serve as a dynamo and launching point. A fascination was kicked off relating to "big questions" of the nature of reality, patterns of experience, natural philosophy, and the technology of artificial worlds.
Some of these catalyst source ideas come from Ouspensky, Gurdjieff, and Bennett. David Bohm on physics and new holistic paradigms. Howard Rheingold on "Tools for Thought" and "Virtual Reality". And Joseph Campbell on comparative mythology and archetypal narratives and symbols.
These early influences have proved to be an inexhaustible inspiration source for continual research and study into diverse new subject areas.
Jason works in software engineering and specializes in creating new Virtual Reality applications, having received a crash course in the field while working at a pioneering VR company in the 1990s.
Studying how to synthesize sensory experiences and develop compelling narrative content for them has proved to be a fruitful parallel to the ongoing study of "the big ideas".
Born 1939, he has six children and three grandchildren and lives in Scotland. His academic background was in physics and the philosophy of science. Early influences were John Bennett in the 4th way, David Bohm in quantum theory, Edward Matchett in creative design, and Patrick de Mare in dialogue, amongst others. He has a great love of cinema, music, painting and comics. He was a student of Bennett over 14 years and participated in the educational research he initiated, including the latter’s ‘Sherborne Experiment’ when he undertook collating and editing his last talks into several books. His own writings have included the themes of Time, Intelligence, the Enneagram and Dialogue.
He is currently working with Joseph Azize on writing a book on the life and work of Bennett. Director of Research for the non-profit DuVersity, he has been developing online programmes aimed at continuing innovation including the media of the arts, especially theatre. Part of his output has been a series of recordings of Gurdjieff’s writings, which has recently extended into writing ‘new’ Beelzebub texts for a small group called ‘The Beelzebub Players’.
An Invitation to Conversation May 9th 2021
Our trio for this event will be spread across the globe from Costa Rico to the UK and India. They are members of what started as the Beelzebub Quartet engaged in rendering the text of Beelzebub’s Tales into theatrical form. Our key person will be Jesai Jayhmes, actor, director and consultant who has recently triumphed in creating a performance of King Lear in his new theatre with leading actors from Costa Rico. He will be joined by Tabasheer Zutshi an artist living in Bangalore, India who took on the role of Beelzebub’s granddaughter in our production of The New Design under the name of Zeinab, the heroine of Gurdjieff’s never performed ‘ballet’ ‘The Struggle of the Magicians’. The New Design will be presented at the All and Everything Conference this year, when its origin and genesis will be explained.
There has always been a deep connection between theatre and the fourth way. In Beelzebub’s Tales Gurdjieff has his hero enjoying the Saturday improvisations in ancient Babylon devoted to theatre, a word he explained as meaning ‘reflector of reality’. Gurdjieff’s pupil John Bennett took the ideas into cosmology as The Dramatic Universe. Theatre and the dramatic arts afford insights into the nature of what is called ‘the Divided Self’ that features in Bennett’s psychology and for him was evident in the works of Shakespeare.
Our conversation will begin bearing in mind the Bard’s declaration that All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances. Who knows where it will go? In the second half, when we invite participants into the conversation, some of you will be invited into taking part in a spontaneous production for several people. The key to this will be the ‘method’ Gurdjieff wrote about in Beelzebub where the exacting requirement is instant response without any so-called ‘thinking’ or ‘preparation’.
As preparation for the session we recommend you try the experiment of ‘playing a role’ you are NOT accustomed to in some transaction you enter into, such as buying something in a shop, where you encounter other people.
The fourth in our current session of the ‘Invitation to Conversation’ series will be a glimpse into the immense subject of poetry and music and their overlap. In the time we have available it cannot be more than a tiny sampling, but we hope to give you something substantial to chew on. Our guides will be pianist and composer Ruben Yessavan and poet and travel writer Michael White, who have worked together to create a rich programme of poetry, reading, music, and song.
The first part of the session will mostly consist of how a poem can be ‘translated’ into music while the second will offer a survey of poetry and readings. There will be opportunities for you to make comments and ask questions. The team will include Jason Joslyn on technical support and myself making a few interventions.
"Are We Born Conscious?"