Gurdjieff II – Balanced Functioning of the Three Brains

Dr. Charles Tart


Dr. Charles T. Tart, Mindfulness, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology,

Lecture 4, Part 8 of 18 parts. To start class from beginning, click here.

CTT: Now Gurdjieff said that if the emotional center was working correctly – if it hadn’t been neglected and suppressed and abandoned – it would give evaluations of situations faster than the verbal center and it would then be done. It’s like, you walk into a room and, while you’re getting acquainted with people, an emotion of fear suddenly floods through you. That’s the emotional center’s way of saying, “There’s something scary in this room. Pay attention.” And a properly working emotional center then essentially turns off the fear emotion. You got the message. It doesn’t need to keep repeating it. That’s if you got the message, of course.

Or your body center: you walk into that room and your body feels funny. You feel off center, or you’re meeting all these delightful people and your stomach hurts. Your body center – your body process – is giving you an evaluation also. Well, if you’re all stuck up in the head process, you don’t pay attention to these things.

So Gurdjieff said the proper functioning of emotions is to quickly give you a message and then it’s up to “you,” something beyond the verbal part, or the emotional part, or the bodily part, to make a decision.

Now that doesn’t mean that your advisers, your three “brains”/processes are always correct, okay? They may be doing the best they can, if they’re not neurotic, or they may be doing a really rotten job, if they’re very neurotic. So one or two or all of the three centers may just be wrong, or they give you different opinions of the same situation. It’d be hunky dory if all three of our advisers always advised the same course of action, because that would make decision making very straightforward. But reality doesn’t cooperate like that all the time.

So it’s not like becoming more mindful and tapping into these processes better somehow gives you an infallible route to the truth. You get a bigger route to the truth, a more balanced route to the truth without getting carried away on any one of them, and that’s very good.

Well, that leads to what Gurdjieff talked about as balanced man. Now incidentally, he talked about Man No. 1, Man 2, 3, and 4, and so forth. I’m sorry he used that particular terminology, because 2 is not bigger than 1, 3 is not bigger than 2, and so forth. 1, 2, and 3 is just a nominal scale. They’re just names. You’re not better if you’re an emotional person instead of a bodily person, or something like that. 1, 2, and 3 are all on the same level of development, in that you’re overly stuck in one of these processes, and the other two aren’t developed properly.

It’s the jump to a balanced functioning that is actually a quantitative/qualitative transition to a greater maturity. So that’s more in the direction of greater being. When you move up to Man No. 4, balanced man, that’s the difference.

I want to say “balanced person” to be politically correct, but somehow that sounds stupid. I don’t know why. My wife chastises me all the time when I try to be politically correct with gender words. She says it sounds stupid, but anyway….I’m telling you what Gurdjieff said, and he said “man.”

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