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Live in the Head, Die in the Streets

Live in the Head, Die in the Streets

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William Patrick Patterson is interviewed about his new book, "Spiritual Survival in a Radically Changing World-Time," on Dr. Michael Kell's weekly radio show, "Mind, Body & Senses."

First printed in "The Gurdjieff Journal," and is available at http://www.Gurdjieff-Legacy.Org.
William Patrick Patterson is interviewed about his new book, "Spiritual Survival in a Radically Changing World-Time," on Dr. Michael Kell's weekly radio show, "Mind, Body & Senses."

First printed in "The Gurdjieff Journal," and is available at http://www.Gurdjieff-Legacy.Org.

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Published by: The Gurdjieff Journal on Dec 04, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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Live in the HeadDie in the Streets
 Michael Kell, M.D., Ph. D.,interviewed William PatrickPatterson on his weekly radio show
Mind, Body, Senses
overVoiceAmerica: Health, WellnessNetwork. Here are extracts. Michael John Kell:
Today we’re going to be talking to William Patterson, alongtime student of Lord Pentland, who was a student of Gurdjieff andOuspensky. And we’ll be talking about his new book,
Spiritual Survival in aRadically Changing World-Time,
The Fourth Way and Gurdjieff. Gurdjieff didn’twrite that much, but his students really did.
William Patrick Patterson:
Well, he wrote
 All and Everything
, three series of  books. The first book is 1,248 pages, so that’s fairly long. But what we need tounderstand with Mr. Gurdjieff, I think, is that at a very early age he came to whathe called “a complete sensation of myself.” In other words,
And he lookedaround and he saw all the suffering, all the misery, and violence. And thequestion dawned on him—“What is the sense and significance of life on Earthand human life in particular?” He felt that the ancient wisdom societiesunderstood this question and had the answer. And that was the reason he wentto Egypt. He said he was initiated four times into the Egyptian mysteries. And herecognized that there was, as he said, “a Christianity before Christ.” And it is thisthat Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way teaching is based upon—the ancient prehistoricEgyptian religion, which was the religion of Being.Now over time elements of that teaching spread northward, so Gurdjieff made a second journey into the Hindu Kush and Tibet and gathered variouselements and reformulated them into the teaching he called The Fourth Way.
I am curious about the references to esoteric Christianity, “aChristianity before Christ.” Did people ever press him harder about this, forcehim to be more explanatory?
No, no one did. But the basis of the Work is that we’re not here,consciously, though we think we are. We’re mechanical and we don’t realize this.
Gurdjieff was really saying you have to get yourself into the physicalworld, so you know you’re in your body, know what you are doing right now.
That’s right.
Now it may be automatic or it may not but it’s really like entered-into physicality.
But the question is how to we get there? We get there throughattention. So where is our attention normally located? It’s located in the head brain. We’re always talking to ourselves about ourselves, future-izing ordwelling on the past. If we can redirect the attention down into the body andthen breathe into that and sustain it, then the body will start to come alive. We’ll be embodied. We’ll have an anchor in physical reality.Otherwise we’re just a thought, a feeling, an impulse and those are allchanging. So once we’re anchored in physical reality then we can observe what isactually going on. This is called self-observation in the Work. I divide myattention between the inside and the outside (usually the attention is either alloutside or I’m all inside). So this takes an act of will, and it opens us to a newlevel of consciousness. And then I begin to observe my reactions. Usually theyare not in accord with my self-image.
I know I don’t need to tell you about Buddhism, but I’m fond of some of the Buddha’s sayings. He had the habit of not answering questionsunless forced. People claimed he didn’t answer, but he actually did answer; they just didn’t understand the answer. Like the statement that the world neitherexists nor does not exist, it’s both at the same time. People thought he wastalking nonsense.
The Buddha also said that emptiness is form and form is emptiness.Now what perceives that? That’s the third thing, which is what is usuallymissing. You know, I feel empty or there’s all form, and so the idea of emptinessas form and form as emptiness I understand on a psychological level. But thenext level is the consciousness of emptiness is form, consciousness of form isemptiness. And that takes a relatively silent mind that is disabused with mypersonal story.
Gurdjieff used to make the distinction between physical sufferingand unnecessary psychological suffering. It can actually become a place of objective reasoning if one is aware. In a sense I guess we could say at least onemeaning is to finally see the world as clearly as it can be seen by a human being,which means it is not going to be exactly the same for everyone, but it’s the
clearest we can do.
But we have to realize…
…instant perception?
…reason is anchored in the awareness of the body. So the talking tomyself stops and I go beyond what Gurdjieff calls the “formatory apparatus”into the silence of Mind. There what the Buddha is saying makes perfect sense because you’re experiencing it as you perceive it.Now, just to go back a minute to the teaching that Gurdjieff brought, hesaid its origin was “prehistoric Egypt.” Therefore it is
Christianity,Buddhism and Islam. There are certain correlations between Buddhism and theGurdjieff teaching. But Gurdjieffians would say that Buddhism was simplytaking elements of what was originally The Fourth Way. But whether that’s trueor not, the aim in Buddhism is for what Tibetans call the “mere I” to realize itself as
, full solid emptiness. Whereas in the Gurdjieff Work the aim is to become an individual, a sacred individual. So those are two differentorientations.
From my perspective I think that the Buddhists had misinterpretedwhat the Buddha said because it was added to. Adding always makes it morecomplicated and things are never complicated in nature. Emptiness is not theemptiness that people think of.
That’s right.
Emptiness is not a psychological concept.
Emptiness is not alienation, right? That’s a psychological experience.
Right. It seems to me that the truth of the matter is there is thephysical world and mind uses the physical brain, but mind is not something initself, it’s the offshoot of the brain. Awareness and physicality are the twoprimary forces, and awareness actually disseminates matter, in our case the brain.
What if all is Mind and within Mind the brain is appearing andoperating. What if it’s just the reverse [of the Mind being an offshoot]? Thatwe’re living in Mind but we’re not conscious of it. We’re conscious of thecontents of consciousness but not of consciousness itself.
That’s definitely true. Awareness as an independent force, you

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