Explorations in Active Mentation
by Keith Buzzell


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A Grandchild’s Odyssey

Explorations in Active Mentation
Re-membering Gurdjieff’s Teaching.

Bound Softcover using PUR glue • 135 symbolic color illustrations • full color frontispiece • 328 pages

This new publication continues what was begun in Perspectives on Beelzebub’s Tales (Fifth Press, 2005), namely, the exploration of Gurdjieff’s written Legominism. Both volumes investigate his teaching on the potential transformation of man. Utilizing scientific, geometric and Work principles, Explorations in Active Mentation focuses on Gurdjieff’s cosmology and on a number of the fundamental circumstances which keep man imprisoned within his topsy-turvy view of the Universe. The aim, as in the first volume, is to contribute to the formation of a reconciling force – a force powerful enough to evoke the emergence of real conscience in man – the singular hope for the future.


It has been nearly a hundred years since G.I. Gurdjieff began his teaching odyssey. He lived through half of the 20th century in the midst of "the most terrible of all the horrors which can possibly exist in the whole of the Universe." During that century, the earth and all of life endured two world wars, countless smaller conflicts as well as dramatic civil, political and technological changes. The entire spectrum of man’s thinking, feeling and physical manifestations was impacted and unbalanced in ways only dimly understood even today.

One view of the history of Western Civilization, is that it is a report and commentary on the interplay, over time, of the varying and unbalanced relationships among the three mentations (thinking, feeling and moving center functions), with moving and thinking mentations dominating alternately. By the end of the 19th century, the chasm separating the beliefs and views deriving from moving and thinking mentation, fueled by conviction and egoism, had widened to such a degree as to appear to be unbridgeable. Feeling mentation had become almost non-existent as an equilibrating force in a three-brained being’s potentially harmonious functioning.

The imminent worsening of this state of man’s three brains was the circumstance facing Gurdjieff in 1912. He understood that to address this dilemma via any large-scale social or religious movement would be futile or, even worse, it could contribute further to the existing fracture. Only a radical transformation of individuals, conducted in the midst of the discordant world, could provide the requisite understanding and passion to fuel a potential reconciliation of these divergent perspectives. Man’s emotional world (of his feeling brain–the guide to all self-other relational values and responsibilities) had to be established as the reconciling force between his world of abstract thought (of his thinking brain–the instrument of inquiry, of testing, of discovery of law) and the world of physical survival (his moving brain).

Gurdjieff’s Method

To initiate the process of reconciliation, Gurdjieff’s students were first directed to impartially observe their inner worlds of automatic thinking, feeling and moving, in order
1) to verify their inner state of disharmony and
2) to come to a clear view of the power of these automaticities in daily life.
These two factors are the reason for opening Explorations in Active Mentations with the chapter entitled Entirely New Principles, which is a consideration of the historical context of Gurdjieff’s teaching. Following this, are explorations of central themes drawn from The Tales. These themes deal with major impediments to a balanced three-brained existence, some of which derive from Great Nature and some from our egoistic and unbecoming behaviors. They are entitled:

The Emergence of the Function of Emotion
The Paradox of Hypnotism
An Accursed Mirage
The Duration of Being-existence
Image as Man’s Three-brained Reality

A note of hope is struck in the following chapter, The Cosmic Dimensions of Faith, Hope and Love, as a more impartial view of these sacred impulses is explored.

The next four essays undertake an extended exploration of Gurdjieff’s cosmology and underscore a number of the unique aspects of his view of the Megalocosmos. They are:

Being and Becoming-Ilnosoparno
The Power of Symbol
In the Beginning
Primordial Heptaparaparshinokh-Triamazikamno; Autoegocrat to Trogoautoegocrat

To enable that exploration, we introduce a new symbol that has been named, A Symbol of the Cosmos and Its Laws. By its integrated symbolic use of the point (as the Will), the triad (as the Being) and the circle (as the Functional expression), the various unfoldings create opportunities for exploring relationships and meanings that go far beyond what words alone can convey.
An enneagram-like form emerges quite naturally in the unfolding geometry, which reflects natural laws and processes, creating a host of questions, possibilities and new relationships. In its final unfolding to World 96, A Symbol creates an image which contains integrated representations of the Ray of Creation, of the multiple enneagrams of all brained and non-brained life forms, of the lateral octave of the Sun-Earth-Moon and of the transformational process of a three-brained being through the coating of Kesdjan and Higher Being-body. Be prepared for a complex but exciting journey!

The penultimate chapter melds together three views: Gurdjieff’s Multiplication exercises, A Symbol and current knowledge in neurobiology and is named:

Changing the Brain-Transforming the Mind
Starting from the assumption that the inner circulation (1 4 2 8 5 7) of the enneagram can be understood as a model and a mirror of the given interconnections between our three brains, the inner connections established by each successive multiplication are then viewed as establishing additional interconnections. Placing the process of the multiplications on the enneagram-like form of A Symbol creates a useful way to view the processes occurring as a result of Work as a changing of the brain and a transforming of the mind.

The concluding chapter is a statement of our view of the Great Task that confronts us.

Keith A. Buzzell=Author