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Gurdjieff and the plunder/rape of Samkhya

September 24th, 2007 · 3 Comments

Continuing from yesterday,
Spiritual psychologies and Christianity,
More on Spiritual Psychologies

If we examine the spiritual impoverishment of current scientism, or the New Atheists, we see wistfully at what might have been: an intelligent Samkhya, beyond religion, available to social man as his birthright.
The question of Samkhya is very complicated, and my references to it are provisional at best. But the point is clear enough. Dawkins et al. ought to take note, and consider how they play into the hands of religious traditionalists.

The point is that Samkhya indicates something that should exist, but doesn’t yet exist: a sort of spiritual FAQ, free of theistic mystifications a nd religious domination, that can explain to man his evolutionary (spiritual) potential and its realization. In its original form it was a revolutionary naturalism (materialism, of an exotic variety) of the Axial Age. It is a tough set of materials, hard to interpret now, and the various impostors claiming it have turned it into a mess. The key to the theme of triadic gunas has been lost, and endures as perverted flotsam in everything from non-dual mysticism and to Hegelian dialectic.
That aspect has made understanding of the original fragile. It might have done better with a slightly different approach.

And what do we see now? The figure Gurdjieff, a really vicious and creepy reactionary fascist sufi/guru, attempts to coopt it to slip a mickey to secular modernists, with a theological vein slipped in in disguise, and what an atrocious theology of authoritarian spiritual politics, on the level of the tsars and the serfs of ancient Russia. It is obvious designed to bypass material/spiritual debates and mesmerize the liberal modernist with fear and thence the surrender of freedom.

This sleight of hand was obviously deliberately designed to reestablish authoritarian control thinking, and its considerable success ought to make any honest person wince who realizes the tactics being used.

Then Bennett, his student, comes along and tries to weave Christian theology into his version, and soon we have the triad of the doctrine of the trinity popping out of the gunas of the original. This becomes a version of ‘esoteric Christianity’, and the theft is complete.

This rape of the original is a clear warning of the hopeless obstacles in the way of trying to establish a new evolutionary psychology for modern man.
Samkhya should be the text for a spiritual left, and yet its twisted fate in this example shows how it was used to bamboozle the scientific public of modernity with a trojan horse version of a degenerated mysticism rendered something it was not, and we can see the near hopelessness of getting anywhere in these aggressive mind control tactics of the gurus. They are not in the business of conveying Enlightenment to anyone, and consider the psychological control of populations via spiritual submission the prerogative of some spiritual elite.


Tags: New Age · Philosophy · Science & Religion · The Axial Age

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 sillykitty // Sep 24, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    is it necessary to understand any of this? if anything, all this ‘it is not this,’ and ‘it is not that,’ can be used as a very helpful neti neti winnowing down of options. don’t all dogmas inevitably fail? maybe by necessity. in the end isn’t it always the man alone under the tree, the man alone in the desert? maybe we are each meant to create it new, working from the ashes of what has gone before, each of our paths different from everyone elses. there is nothing ‘hopeless’ about these problems, except that we have been led to believe that we ‘can’t’… but it seems to me like it has never been done any other way, truth being a pathless land, as krishnamurti said.

  • 2 nemo // Sep 25, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    The issue to me is the attempt to foist the Indic/Sufic traditions on modern man in a postmodern reactionary against modernity. That tactic in such as Gurdjieff is/was both unnecessary and out of character with the very traditions in question

  • 3 James // Oct 1, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    “If we examine the spiritual impoverishment of current scientism, or the New Atheists, we see wistfully at what might have been: an intelligent Samkhya, beyond religion, available to social man as his birthright.”

    I’m as much in favor of this as you are, but do you think it will result in anything greater than philosophical masturbation? Even if we could succeed in flushing both Darwinian scientism and ID down the toilet, it doesn’t seem like any society or economy was/is successful in placing the “self-development” of man on its to-do list.

    The Sramana movement in India was successful in this aim for an extremely short period of time, but it soon ended up back where it started. How do we prevent the mistakes of the previous attempts to bring these spiritual psychologies to social man? I guess we have to find some middle ground between the total institutionalization/mechanization of these psychologies that is prevalent in Asia and the mindless openness that characterizes the New Age movement. Given the history of this arena, I’m skeptical that it will ever happen.

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