The Master Game, Robert S. De Ropp
- The transformation of an ego-centered being to a free being does not place either easily or quickly. One is converted into the other gradually, by a series of stages, and each stage carries with it its own dangers and difficulties. (Table III)
Table III - Stages in Work
4. Master Body of consciousness or "soul" is formed . Inner directed, cosmically oriented man.
3. Observer Prospero dominates Caliban
2. Magnetic Center Active quest for teacher.
1. Seeker First realization of sleep.
0. Sleeping Man Outer-directed puppet. No inner aim or real will.
The transformation begins when one of the selves in a man's personality (the Seeker) develops an awareness of the state of sleep, or, alternatively, a hunger for the fourth state of consciousness (Baudelaire's "Taste of the Infinite") The Seeker forms as a result of the working in man of the will to meaning and the will to self-transcendence.
The self or group of selves, creating a ferment, a restlessness, a dissatisfaction with all the games that have previously proved satisfying. The effect of this force is often disruptive and may produce great misery. The old game no longer satisfy but a new game has not been found. Much of the material which William James incorporated in the chapter "The Sick Soul" described the grief experienced by one in whom the Seeker is beginning to develop. Leo Tolstoy, John Bunyan, William James himself and his father Henry James, Sr. all suffered greatly during this phase of their inner development. William James wrote: "In Tolstoy's case the sense that life had any meaning whatsoever was for a time wholly withdrawn...At about the age of fifty he began to have movments of perplexity, of what he calls arrest, as if he knew not how to live or what to do." John Bunyan found himself in a similar condition, also recorded by James. "I was both a burthen and a terror to myself; nor did I ever so know, as now what it was to be weary of my life; and yet afraid to die. How gladly would I have been anything but myself! Anything but a man! and in any condition but my own."
These examples could readily be multipled. They illustrate the fearful ferment which the genesis of the Seeker may produce, at least in the early stages. Selves that were once believed in and trusted now seem as lifeless as rag dolls. Aspects of the persona that once appeared admirable show themselves as grotesque masks, grinning and sillly. The artist becomes disenchanted with his art, the scientist with his research, the preacher with his sermons and with his whole religion, the businessman with his business. There is an awful awareness of the limitations of life, of an imperative need to set up new values, new aims, to start a new game, before death sweeps all the pieces from the board. Unless the sense of totaly futility has completely paralyzed his will, a person in whom the Seeker has developed is bound to serach dilligently for some way out, for the Master Game, which he feels almost instinctively must exist and be worth playing. To find this game he will read everything available that might possibly provide a clue to the mystery and enable him to emerge from the prison of total disenchantment. He will study works on psychology, religion, yoga, occultism, theosophy, magic. He will seek out others whose interests are similar to his own. What is the way out? What is the great secret? What is the Master Game and from whom does one learn how to play?
All this activity results in the transformation of the Seeker into a new and more powreful entity within the personality, an entity called, in the Gurdjieffian system, the "Magnetic Center". The Magnetic Center feeds on all those materials that the Seeker has culled from his readings and reserarches, his conversations with fellow seekers and so on. The magnetic quality of this element in the personality consists in its power, "IF it is rightly formed", to draw its possessor in the direction of a teacher from whom he can learn the things he needs to know.
A person's success in this respect depends on the strength and quality of his Magnetic Center. A defective center leads its possessor into the swamps of phoney mysticism or occultism, brings him to a teacher who is either a fool or a fraud, exposes him to the breed of spiritual vampires which prey on the credulous. A weak magnetic center does not lead its possessor anywhere. It leaves him comfortably sitting in his armchair dreaming about the marvelous powers that will be his when he attains higher consciousness.
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