The Rest of Us

William James wrote “The rest of us can… imagine this by recalling our state of feeling in those temporary ‘melting moods’, into which the trials of real life, or the theatre, or a novel, sometimes throws us. Especially if we weep! For it is then as if our tears broke through an inveterate inner dam and let all sorts of ancient peccancies and moral stagnancies drainway, leaving us now washed and soft of heart, and open to every nobler leaning. With most of us, the customary hardness quickly returns, but not so with saintly persons…”

Maybe during his time this was an experience of a more saintly person but what I have discovered is that this is a potential quality of experience that is realizable, to as William James indicates, “the rest of us. It may be a religious man, or imaginative man, the state being realized through a refusal to develop those qualities of practical-mindedness and eye-to-business that seem to be the requisites for survival in our complex civilization.

Gurdjieff suggests, through Ouspensky’s writing that the main difficulty which the system must combat is man’s tendency to sleep, to do things mechanically. The world has no meaning for us because we do all things mechanically.

2 thoughts on “The Rest of Us

  1. I can relate to what James says. I find I long for catharsis – that ability to let go – which can allow me to open up to a kind of soft awareness of the world around me. Too often I find myself bound up by a kind of obsessive reactionary quality – full of judgement – to other people’s thoughts or behaviour. Sometimes that acts like the grain of sand which irritates me into productive thinking, but when I experience that rare moment where I can let it all go and just breathe in the easy joy of being, I think : “I don’t get enough of this.” After all, there is enough suffering in life without that we inflict on ourselves by holding on to what is best let go.

    1. I agree whole heartedly. In letting go we find something more authentic of ourselves. The key for me seems to be how to cope with the vulnerability that I experience when I let go of something that has provided me security however questionable the authenticity of it.

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