Newsletter Introduction - Ben Bennett
NEWSLETTER SPRING 2020 – INTRODUCTION
On New Year’s Eve of 1949, nine weeks after the death of Gurdjieff, John Bennett was in New Jersey, staying at the home of Mme. Ouspensky, and on that afternoon he met with her and Jeanne de Salzmann. In a letter to his wife he writes: “I am bound to say that when Mme. O. laughed at us both sitting beside her bed and said “You both alike. You love people and want to help them. I not love nobody. I only value consciousness. I see Mr. Gurdjieff’s work after hundred years or two hundred years—not now.”
Twenty-one years later, Bennett was in New York promoting his International Academy for Continuous Education and presented a lecture at the Gotham Book Mart in Manhattan. The larger theme of talks given by Bennett at this time was of a vision of the fifty years that were to come and how to prepare for a time of accelerated change. He specifically refers to 2020.
Now in 2020, we see a situation that is changing human life in ways that all living humans are compelled to consider. Bennett began about this time to speak in terms of ‘the old world and the new world’ and three years after his New York lecture, Bennett, speaking to students at Sherborne House said “The old world will not give up without a fight.”
There are two central elements to the Gurdjieff teaching. The first can be seen as defined by the two modes of human existence, the first of which is the sleeping or animal state of degradation of humanity, entirely dependent upon stimuli from outside circumstances compelling us to react, and the second state is the waking state in which human beings can act intentionally and decisively from their own initiative. This is a stage of consciousness. The other central element of Gurdjieff’s teaching is that humanity has an important but not supreme part to play in the overall existence, and must adapt consciously in order to fulfill our role in an entirely new material and spiritual environment, into which we are now moving.
The doctrine of a transitional period of human history is apparently something which Ouspensky received from Gurdjieff, since it is to be found in his “A New Model of the Universe” but not in his “Tertium Organum” written and published prior to his first meeting with Gurdjieff in 1915. Bennett took this doctrine up and described it in his “The Crisis in Human Affairs” first presented in 1946, returned to Gurdjieff two years later, and amplified and intensified this message for the remainder of his life, making it the theme of his Academy.
Madame Ouspensky said “I only value consciousness.” In all of these writings it becomes clear that the two terms “being” and “consciousness” can be used interchangeably. Our next task it is make this “being/consciousness” a medium for communication and unification for all humanity. This is something everybody can work on.
J.G. Bennett, 1972
Can you make the idea of Reciprocal Maintenance really clear so that any intelligent person can understand it?
First of all, there is the obvious fact that all life on this planet is interlocked, interdependent. Nothing exists without the support of something else. Vegetation needs the chemicals of the soil, water, air and sunlight. It is able to build out of these the materials of its own body. All other forms of life depend on green vegetation. We depend on one another not only for food, but for various essential services. Without worms and insects and bacteria there would be no soil. Without insects flowering plants could not be fertilized. Without birds and fishes, seeds would not be transported from place to place. Ecological science is telling us how far all this interdependence goes. Human beings depend on the lot: the minerals in the earth’s crust, green vegetation, animals, insects, bacteria, enzymes. We are beginning to realize how precarious this balance is and how easily disaster can come if we disturb it too far. What no one stops to ask is whether we in our turn are not required to support some other form of existence. Once you ask this question, you can see that the answer must be that we who take more from the earth than any other form of life and give back so very little must be abusing our power. There must be powers greater than our own and it is highly probable that these powers make use of us as we make use of plants and animals.
A great operation is in progress on the earth. Life is evolving towards consciousness and man is evolving towards spiritual awareness. This evolution requires energies of high quality and we people can produce these energies. We release energies by prayer and meditation, by self-denial and self-control. We do so by service. We are the highest and most intelligent form of life on the earth and we have the responsibility to all other forms of life. In fulfilling that responsibility, we have to sacrifice some of our own desires.
Originally published in
Proceedings of the XIth International Congress of Philosophy
PHILOSOPHY AND METHODOLOGY OF THE SCIENCES OF NATURE
Brussels, 20-26, August, 1953
Originally Published “Communication” Vol. 2 1975
Lectures on Gurdjieff
Lectures on Gurdjieff: 14 Public Lectures, 1949-1973
(The Collected Works of J.G. Bennett Book 45)
The fourteen lectures which compose the text of this volume were given in four series over a 24 year period and all were previously distributed in various formats under different titles. The first series of four lectures was presented in October 1949. Less than a week later George Gurdjieff departed this life. .....