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  • Charles White

Our two natures: to question, to seek, to find -- 2

Photograph by Minor White: Gallery Gully, Capital Reef National Park, Utah, July 1963
Gallery Gully. Photograph by Minor White *

To Seek


At the beginning of an inner search, it is impossible to comprehend what I can be, my dormant potential. But one may instinctively feel or sense that there is something more, something mysterious, a possibility of a healthier, larger way to live, a more sensitive way to be.


Of our two natures, if our first nature develops in such a way that it consumes all our life force, we don’t give any consideration to the questions of the second nature when they surface. We might discard them with thoughts, such as, “It’s too hard a question for me. I’ll never be able to understand that.” or ”I’ll think about that later.” Or we may try to answer with the tools of our first nature. For example, in answer to the question “Who am I?”, one might say “I am a lawyer”, or “I am a parent”. But these are categories that describe my horizontal life. I don’t experience myself as a breathing, organic being who is feeling and thinking in the moment.


However, for some the state of questioning that calls to our second nature keeps returning and may lead us to seek for something that resonates. We may not know what it is we seek, but we are drawn to ideas in books or on the internet, to events that discuss ideas that resonate with our questions, and to people who have similar questions or have a certain quality we recognize as more aware, more sensitive, deeper.

The development of our second nature is up to each of us. I earn my understanding, my level of being, by my own efforts.


 If we are to develop our second nature, we need help from others who have plowed the same field.  If we are fortunate, we find a genuine teaching that will nourish our search and provide conditions in which we can develop our inner potential.


Nevertheless, the development of our second nature is up to each of us. No one can plow the field for me. I earn my understanding, my level of being, by my own efforts. But we need help, guidance along the way. Otherwise, we are easily lost. Our habitual way of living is too ingrained.


We can receive help from others by participating in special communal activities and from listening to shared struggles and observations. We also receive help from within in response to our individual inner efforts. One of the hallmarks of an inner search is the occurrence of incremental revelations that further our understanding.  We don’t create the revelations; they are given. Such occurrences confirm our sense that we are on the right path. In this way, our inner lives and our search are nourished. People who pursue the path of inner questioning develop a personal line of work.


Elements of the inner search that are necessary for the development of our second nature have been described in early entries to this Journal. For most of us in the Gurdjieff Work, the journey is a lifelong work, which includes experiences of growth, deeper understanding of the reason for our existence, and transformation.


What We Discover along the Way


Before the development of our second nature, my experience of life revolves around me, my subjective self. With a limited awareness, my functions – thinking, body, emotions -- live for me through reaction.


If I pursue inner work, the grip of the first nature on my way of being begins to loosen. From time to time, I experience a more intelligent, objective way of being, one more centered in the second nature.  This new state appears like light from a flickering lightbulb, sometimes connected to electricity and sometimes not.


For example, in Nature, instead of looking at a forest, I may actually be conscious of being connected with the living quality of the trees. When I’m with other people, I may see them anew, experiencing them as they are at that moment, without imagination, analysis, or judgment.

I experience a more intelligent, objective way of being, one more centered in the second nature.  This new state appears like light ...


The second nature’s proper place is between the first nature and the flow of higher energy descending from above. I serve as the mediator. My attitude toward the first nature is acceptance, not judgment. It is with acceptance of my participation in external life, and the simultaneous acceptance of being in service to higher forces, that I find meaning and purpose in life.


I am: the still, wordless perception of an attentive, deeply relaxed body; the still, wordless perception of being alive in relationship to the descending and ascending flow of life energies; the still, wordless perception of pure thought – seeing and witnessing life as it is.


Gurdjieff encouraged his pupils to live life to its fullest. How does one live life to the fullest? One works to be all that one can be.


*Gallery Gulley: The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art, Bequest of Minor White


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