A. R. Orage

Gurdjieff International Review

My Note Book

by A. R. Orage

April 1934

Blinds and Breathing—A Respectful Suggestion to Gandhiji—Life, Nature and Art—Western Materialism an Ancient School—Leisure and Yoga—Kali-yuga and Man.

[A. R. Orage, Editor of The New English Weekly, passes on a very helpful “tip” to the readers and students of old Indian texts. There are people who read the Bhagavad-Gita and Yoga-Sutras of Patanjali upside down, and there are those who read too literally. Much damage to mental balance and even to bodily health results. Breathing, or Pranayama, about which Mr. Orage writes, awakening of Kundani and the development of the Chakras, etc., are undertaken without even a proper comprehension, let alone competent personal guidance. Thus, we know of one person, among those who have practiced meditation according to some verses in the sixth chapter of the Gita, who succeeded in becoming somewhat cross-eyed as a result of “the gaze directed to the tip of his nose without looking in any direction” (verse xiii), and then blamed the Gita! Carefully read, this description is but a picture of how the true contemplator seems to an outside observer—he is not gazing at the tip of his nose, he only appears as if he were. The same explanation holds good for verses 27–28 in the fifth chapter of the Gita. Instances can be multiplied.

“As above, so below,” is a recognized fundamental of Esoteric Philosophy; from within without is ever the course of progress—cosmic and human. When the order is reversed in practice, idolatry results; since the inner meaning of the symbol is not recognized the outer object is taken as real. Forgetting that man is made in the image of Deity, people conceive God in human form. A special feature of the men of this hard iron age, to which Mr. Orage also refers, is that they mistake beauty of form for Beauty of Soul, outer personal consciousness for the Inner Ego, and maya for Reality.—The Aryan Path Eds.]

The appearance of a fourth edition of M. K. Gandhi’s Self-Restraint and Self-lndulgence, while gratifying to all of us who realise Gandhi’s greatness, is a little disturbing to those who would fain follow the high Aryan Path. It was many years ago that Mme. Blavatsky communicated to the present writer, via the late great Gnostic scholar, Mr. G. R. S. Mead, the clue—I might also say the tip—that the precise instructions laid down in many of the ancient Indian works were what she called a “blind”—that is to say, something to be read with particular care. In many such works, she said, effects were substituted for causes, and for the subtle reason that the causes in question could not be communicated in words. Let us take a simple case. Every state of consciousness, it is well known, has its own characteristic form and rhythm of breathing. Anybody can observe this for himself. When we are excited our breathing is irregular and staccato. In states of peaceful reverie our breathing is correspondingly regular and smooth. And, similarly, every state of consciousness, up to the very highest, is accompanied by a form and rhythm of breathing which is peculiar, typical and characteristic. But now let us suppose that a teacher wishes to induce in his pupil this or the other state of consciousness—how could he set about it? According to Mme. Blavatsky, he could set about it directly or indirectly; directly by personal contact when possible; but indirectly, when contact was not possible, by prescribing the effects for the causes; that is to say, by giving directions as to the form and rhythm of breathing in the anticipation that the special mode of breathing would induce the corresponding state of consciousness. The “blind” to which Mme. Blavatsky drew attention lay in precisely this fact; that the substitution of the effect for the cause was in lieu of something better, namely, personal instruction: and, secondly, that the cause when thus, so to say, artificially evoked, was not real, but, as she suggested, as moonlight is to sunlight.…

[The complete text is available in the printed copy of this issue.]
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