In the Marketplace

Erwin Blumfield: "Line on face," 1947-1949
Erwin Blumfield, Line on face, 1947-1949

In Peter Brook’s epic adaptation of Gurdjieff’s autobiography, Meetings with Remarkable Men, Father Giovanni advises the young Gurdjieff: “Listen, you have now found the conditions in which the desire of your heart can become the reality of your being. Stay here, until you acquire a force in you that nothing can destroy.” What would it mean to have a desire of the heart? The desire that Father Giovanni speaks of has a different quality, as though there are two very different realities or two different worlds. In the first one, I think that I know just about everything, and I am pushed and pulled by every passing desire. The second world is far more mysterious and it seems to call for us to participate in it. We find ourselves motivated to seek answers to questions like, ‘Why am I here? What is life? Who am I?

The writer and editor Margaret Anderson once wrote: “The great thing to learn about life is, first, not to do what you don’t want to do, and, second, to do what you do want to do.” In this seemingly obvious statement, Anderson hints at the difficulty of pursuing an aim in life that one sincerely wishes for. The forces of life send us floating downstream so quickly that it is very difficult to simply grab onto a tree branch or a rock, and for a moment to stop to consider, “what is it that I truly want?”

Later, in that scene with the young Gurdjieff, Father Giovanni instructs: “then you’ll need to go back into life, and there you will measure yourself constantly with forces which will show you your place.” As seekers, we all need each other to remember the desires of our being. Similarly in “Ten Rungs: Hasidic Sayings.” Martin Buber writes: “When a man is singing and cannot lift his voice, and another comes and sings with him, another who can lift his voice, the first will be able to lift his voice too. That is the secret of the bond between spirits.” And like the tenth painting in the Ox Herding pictures from the Zen tradition, we also need to be a part of this world as well.

See you in the marketplace.



Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

September 2, 2010 at 2:51 am

Relaxing into the flow of life, is not truly a Capricorn concept, right Goergy?

Gurdjeff is sometimes in the way of Gurdjeff!

Luke Stormsreply
September 3, 2010 at 7:02 am
– In reply to: antiphonsgarden

Hi antiphonsgarden. Thanks for dropping in. Well, I certainly seem to be in the way of myself most of the time. How to just Be? I often return to Gurdjieff’s aphorism, “Love of God only, indifference to the saints.” It’s a pithy quote. I know that I often get hung up on what this teacher said, or this quote and so on, but that’s in the way of direct experience isn’t it? It’s like that zen story where the teacher is pointing to the moon and all the students are mesmerized by his finger.

warm regards,


September 3, 2010 at 9:02 am

Hi luke,

How just to be? maybe puzzled, controversy, paradox, moody, foggy, whatever just is, is IT.

My old friend R.D.Laing(opps another one!)used to call it : “finger licking!”.
It s still the : “burn the wooden buddha”, I mostly ad: “and the flie crap full sutra!”.

Much fun during your acrobatic attempt to be yourself in your way (who push whom and who kicks back in that game?)!Courage!

noelle clearwaterreply
September 30, 2010 at 12:03 am

First of all, I read your blog a lot even though I don’t comment. I am commenting now. This really spoke to me. I am going through a sort of mental crisis trying to write a thesis for a second masters in counseling psych and working a job that was supposed to be temporary. I want to be a counselor and I don’t want to continue doing what I am doing to make money, but I have gotten used to it and put off the thesis work for a time for several reasons. I am now trying to push myself forward to realize that change is good, that temporary is okay and that if I want to lead the life that is really the desire of my heart, I must make this plunge into progress. I have a friend “one who is able to lift his voice” and who “sang with me” at dinner the other night. He told me that my anxiety at work was due to putting off what was truly the desire of my heart. I think he is right. It was a great encouragement, as was this post of yours. This is a long response, but suffice it to say, thank you!

Luke Stormsreply
October 5, 2010 at 12:02 pm
– In reply to: noelle clearwater

Hello Noelle,

Thank you for your comment and raising this question. You are certainly not alone in your predicament. I also find myself in a day job that doesn’t particularly interest me, but it does allow me to pay bills and live a modest lifestyle where I am free to place my energies into more fulfilling avenues. For me, that is my spiritual practice, my writing, and working as an online editor for a non-profit organization (PARABOLA Magazine). I know a few people who are actually doing what they have always wanted to do in their lives, but they are the exception. Furthermore, even the lucky ones who have found their so-called dream jobs are just as screwed up as the rest of us. Outwardly, they seem to have everything, at least that is how we perceive them, but inwardly I find many of them are still feeling unsatisfied and unlived. I think it’s a great mistake to get caught up in attitudes of, “if only I had this job, or this thing, then I would be happy.” There’s a real danger, I think, in losing all of ourselves to our careers or our image of how things aught to be. I’m not implying that this is what your doing, but I know that personally I need to be wary of that. I need to continually ask myself “where do I stand,” and “what is really the most important thing in my life?” As human beings we all want to be valued and appreciated. I believe that there is something inside all of us that calls us to something. For me, that call means to try to live a more inward life. If you feel as though you are in a crisis, maybe it’s a blessing. It’s like when people complain that they are depressed. Well, what is being “pressed” down? The forces of life are very strong. For example, the media is built upon making us dissatisfied with ourselves, and that we need to find happiness externally. This is simply not true. We all know that on the inside and even though we continually forget, something can remember.

warm regards,


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