George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (January 13, 1866 – October 29, 1949) was an influential spiritual teacher of the early to mid-20th century who taught that most humans live their lives in a state of hypnotic “waking sleep”, but that it is possible to transcend to a higher state of consciousness and achieve full human potential.
This is written by someone who is not a Gurdjieff follower, so I am sure the wording doesn’t accurately reflect his. Still, the words used here are good fodder for inquiry, and for finding the validity for me in these words and their turnarounds.
This is all awakeness, whether a thought says mind is identified or not, or both are here at once (which seems more true for me). In that sense, calling it “walking sleep” doesn’t quite make sense.
And I also see how it’s valid in that when mind is identified with images and thoughts, it tries to make these appear true, and that is – in a sense – a trance.
For me, calling it “walking sleep” is a little heavy handed, although I also see it’s validity.
Higher state of consciousness?
For me, it’s not really about states. States come and go. It’s more about noticing and a shift in identification.
And yet, that too is a state. It’s a state of noticing, or a certain state of identification (or release of identification). That too may well come and go. When there is an idea of time, it certainly does appear to come and go.
So using the word “state” can be a bit misleading, although it does point to a release of identification as a state, and that can be helpful.
And what about the idea that it’s “higher“? Again, that’s not how it appears to me. It’s more about finding a more basic and simpler way for the mind to operate, one that’s more closely aligned with reality. It’s not higher. If anything, it seems “lower” in that it’s simpler, more basic, more aligned with reality, and less stressful and contrived.
And I also see how it can be labeled “higher” since most people think of a simpler life, and one more aligned with reality, as “better” so also “higher”.
So here too, the word “higher” doesn’t quite fit since it’s really more about a simpler and more basic functioning of the mind, and I also see why they use that word since it fits more conventional ways of looking at it.