|4th Way ♦ "Sex Center" References|
- In Search of the Miraculous
- Sexuality and the Evolution of Consciousness
I remember that some of his remarks arrested my attention. For instance, when speaking of the sex center he said it practically never worked independently because it was always dependent on other centers, the intellectual, the emotional, the instinctive, and the moving. Then in speaking of the energy of centers he often returned to what he called wrong work of centers and to the role of the sex center in this work. He spoke a great deal about how all centers rob the sex center of its energy and produce with this energy quite wrong work full of useless excitement and, in return, give to the sex center useless energy with which it was unable to work.
I remember his words.
"It is a very big thing when the sex center works with its own energy, but it happens very seldom."
"In so-called 'occult' literature you have probably met with the expression 'Kundalini,' 'the fire of Kundalini,' or the 'serpent of Kundalini.' This expression is often used to designate some kind of strange force which is present in man and which can be awakened. But none of the known theories gives the right explanation of the force of Kundalini. Sometimes it is connected with sex, with sex energy, that is with the idea of the possibility of using sex energy for other purposes. This latter is entirely wrong because Kundalini can be in anything. And above all, Kundalini is not anything desirable or useful for man's development. It is very curious how these occultists have got hold of the word from somewhere but have completely altered its meaning and from a very dangerous and terrible thing have made something to be hoped for and to be awaited as some blessing.
"In reality Kundalini is the power of imagination, the power of fantasy, which takes the place of a real function. When a man dreams instead of acting, when his dreams take the place of reality, when a man imagines himself to be an eagle, a lion, or a magician, it is the force of Kundalini acting in him. Kundalini can act in all centers and with its help all the centers can be satisfied with the imaginary instead of the real. A sheep which considers itself a lion or a magician lives under the power of Kundalini.
"Kundalini is a force put into men in order to keep them in their present state. If men could really see their true position and could understand all the horror of it, they would be unable to remain where they are even for one second. They would begin to seek a way out and they would quickly find it, because there is a way out; but men fail to see it simply because they are hypnotized. Kundalini is the force that keeps them in a hypnotic state. 'To awaken' for man means to be 'dehypnotized.' In this lies the chief difficulty and in this also lies the guarantee of its possibility, for there is no organic reason for sleep and man can awaken.
"Theoretically he can, but practically it is almost impossible because as soon as a man awakens for a moment and opens his eyes, all the forces that caused him to fall asleep begin to act upon him with tenfold energy and he immediately falls asleep again, very often dreaming that he is awake or is awakening.
"There are certain states in ordinary sleep in which a man wants to awaken but cannot. He tells himself that he is awake but, in reality, he continues to sleep — and this can happen several times before he finally awakes. But in ordinary sleep, once he is awake, he is in a different state; in hypnotic sleep the case is otherwise; there are no objective characteristics, at any rate not at the beginning of awakening; a man cannot pinch himself in order to make sure that he is not asleep. And if, which God forbid, a man has heard anything about objective characteristics, Kundalini at once transforms it all into imagination and dreams.
"In this case nothing can be done by reason or by calculation. Neither can so-called love help because, in the real meaning of the word, mechanical man cannot love — with him it loves or it does not love.
"At the same time sex plays a tremendous role in maintaining the mechanicalness of life. Everything that people do is connected with 'sex': politics, religion, art, the theater, music, is all 'sex.' Do you think people go to the theater or to church to pray or to see some new play? That is only for the sake of appearances. The principal thing, in the theater as well as in church, is that there will be a lot of women or a lot of men. This is the center of gravity of all gatherings. What do you think brings people to cafés, to restaurants, to various fetes? One thing only. Sex: it is the principal motive force of all mechanicalness. All sleep, all hypnosis, depends upon it.
"You must try to understand what I mean. Mechanicalness is especially dangerous when people try to explain it by something else and not by what it really is. When sex is clearly conscious of itself and does not cover itself up by anything else it is not the mechanicalness about which I am speaking. On the contrary sex which exists by itself and is not dependent on anything else is already a great achievement. But the evil lies in this constant self-deception!"
"What then is the deduction; should it be so or should it be changed?" asked someone.
"That is something people always ask," he said. "Whatever they may be speaking about, they ask: Ought it to be like that and how can it be changed, that is, what ought to be done in such a case? As though it were possible to change anything, as though it were possible to do anything. You at least ought to have realized by now how naive such questions are. Cosmic forces have created this state of affairs and cosmic forces control this state of affairs. And you ask: Can it be left like that or should it be changed! God himself could change nothing.
Do you remember what was said about the forty-eight laws? They cannot be changed, but liberation from a considerable portion of them is possible, that is to say, there is a possibility of changing the state of affairs for oneself, it is possible to escape from the general law.
You should understand that in this case as well as in all others the general law cannot be changed. But one can change one's own position in relation to this law; one can escape from the general law. The more so since in this law about which I speak, that is, in the power of sex over people, are included many different possibilities. It includes the chief form of slavery and it is also the chief possibility of liberation. This is what you must understand.
" 'New birth,' of which we have spoken before, depends as much upon sex energy as do physical birth and the propagation of species.
"'Hydrogen' si 12 is the 'hydrogen' which represents the final product of the transformation of food in the human organism. This is the matter with which sex works and which sex manufactures. It is 'seed' or 'fruit.'
" 'Hydrogen' si 12 can pass into do of the next octave with the help of an 'additional shock.' But this 'shock' can be of a dual nature and different octaves can begin, one outside the organism which has produced si, and the other in the organism itself. The union of male and female si 12 and all that accompanies it constitutes the 'shock' of the first kind and the new octave begun with its help develops independently as a new organism or a new life.
"This is the normal and natural way to use the energy of si 12. But in the same organism there is a further possibility. And this is the possibility of creating a new life within the actual organism, in which the si 12 has been manufactured, without the union of the two principles, the male and the female. A new octave then develops within the organism, not outside it This is the birth of the 'astral body.' You must understand that the 'astral body' is born of the same material, of the same matter, as the physical body, only the process is different. The whole of the physical body, all its cells, are, so to speak, permeated by emanations of the matter si 12. And when they have become sufficiently saturated the matter si 12 begins to crystallize. The crystallization of this matter constitutes the formation of the 'astral body.'
"The transition of matter si 12 into emanations and the gradual saturation of the whole organism by it is what alchemy calls 'transmutation' or transformation. It is first this transformation of the physical body into the astral that alchemy called the transformation of the 'coarse' into the 'fine' or the transformation of base metals into gold.
"Completed transmutation, that is to say, the formation of the 'astral body,' is possible only in a healthy, normally functioning organism. In a sick, or a perverted, or a crippled organism, no transmutation is possible."
"Is complete sexual abstinence necessary for transmutation and is sexual abstinence, in general, useful for work on oneself?" we asked him.
"Here there is not one but a number of questions," said G. "In the first place sexual abstinence is necessary for transmutation only in certain cases, that is, for certain types of people. For others it is not at all necessary. And with yet others it comes by itself when transmutation begins. I will explain this more clearly. For certain types a long and complete sexual abstinence is necessary for transmutation to begin; this means in other words that without a long and complete sexual abstinence transmutation will not begin. But once it has begun abstinence is no longer necessary. In other cases, that is, with other types, transmutation can begin in a normal sexual life — and on the contrary, can begin sooner and proceed better with a very great outward expenditure of sex energy. In the third case the beginning of transmutation does not require abstinence, but, having begun, transmutation takes the whole of sexual energy and puts an end to normal sexual life or the outward expenditure of sex energy.
"Then the other question—'Is sexual abstinence useful for the work or not?'
"It is useful if there is abstinence in all centers. If there is abstinence in one center and full liberty of imagination in the others, then there could be nothing worse. And still more, abstinence can be useful if a man knows what to do with the energy which he saves in this way. If he does not know what to do with it, nothing whatever can be gained by abstinence."
"Speaking in general, what is the most correct form of life in this connection from the point of view of the work?"
"It is impossible to say. I repeat that while a man does not know it is better for him not to attempt anything. Until he has new and exact knowledge it will be quite enough if his life is guided by the usual rules and principles. If a man begins to theorize and invent in this sphere, it will lead to nothing except psychopathy. But it must again be remembered that only a person who is completely normal as regards sex has any chance in the work. Any kind of 'originality,' strange tastes, strange desires, or, on the other hand, fears, constantly working 'buffers,' must be destroyed from the very beginning. Modem education and modem life create an enormous number of sexual psychopaths. They have no chance at all in the' work.
"Speaking in general, there are only two correct ways of expending sexual energy — normal sexual life and transmutation. All inventions in this sphere are very dangerous.
"People have tried abstinence from times beyond memory. Sometimes, very rarely, it has led to something but in most cases what is called abstinence is simply exchanging normal sensations for abnormal, because the abnormal are more easily hidden. But it is not about this that I wish to speak. You must understand where lies the chief evil and what makes for slavery. It is not in sex itself but in the abuse of sex. But what the abuse of sex means is again misunderstood. People usually take this to be either excess or perversion. But these are comparatively innocent forms of abuse of sex. And it is necessary to know the human machine very well in order to grasp what abuse of sex in the real meaning of these words is. It means the wrong work of centers in relation to sex, that is, the action of the sex center through other centers, and the action of other centers through the sex center; or, to be still more precise, the functioning of the sex center with energy borrowed from other centers and the functioning of other centers with energy borrowed from the sex center."
"Can sex be regarded as an independent center?" asked one of those present.
"It can," said G. "At the same time if all the lower story is taken as one whole, then sex can be regarded as the neutralizing part of the moving center."
"With what 'hydrogen' does the sex center work?" asked another.
This question had interested us for a long time but we had not previously been able to answer it. And G., when he had been asked before, had never given a direct reply.
"The sex center works with 'hydrogen' 12," he said on this occasion, "that is to say, it ought to work with it. This is si 12. But the fact is that it very rarely works with its proper hydrogen. Abnormalities in the working of the sex center require special study.
"In the first place it must be noted that normally in the sex center as well as in the higher emotional and the higher thinking centers, there is no negative side. In all the other centers except the higher ones, in the thinking, in the emotional, in the moving, in the instinctive, in all of them there are, so to speak, two halves — the positive and the negative; affirmation and negation, or 'yes' and 'no,' in the thinking center, pleasant and unpleasant sensations in the moving and instinctive centers. There is no such division in the sex center. There are no positive and negative sides in it. There are no unpleasant sensations or unpleasant feelings in it; there is either a pleasant sensation, a pleasant feeling, or there is nothing, an absence of any sensation, complete indifference.
But in consequence of the wrong work of centers it often happens that the sex center unites with the negative part of the emotional center or with the negative part of the instinctive center. And then, stimulation of a certain kind of the sex center, or even any stimulation at all of the sex center, calls forth unpleasant feelings and unpleasant sensations. People who experience unpleasant feelings and sensations which have been evoked in them through ideas and imagination connected with sex are inclined to regard them as a great virtue or as something original; in actual fact it is simply disease. Everything connected with sex should be either pleasant or indifferent. Unpleasant feelings and sensations all come from the emotional center or the instinctive center.
"This is the 'abuse of sex.' It is necessary, further, to remember that the sex center works with 'hydrogen' 12. This means that it is stronger and quicker than all other centers. Sex, in fact, governs all other centers. The only thing in ordinary circumstances, that is, when man has neither consciousness nor will, that holds the sex center in submission is 'buffers.' 'Buffers' can entirely bring it to nought, that is, they can stop its normal manifestation. But they cannot destroy its energy. The energy remains and passes over to other centers, finding expression for itself through them; in other words, the other centers rob the sex center of the energy which it does not use itself.
The energy of the sex center in the work of the thinking, emotional, and moving centers can be recognized by a particular 'taste,' by a particular fervor, by a vehemence which the nature of the affair concerned does not call for. The thinking center writes books, but in making use of the energy of the sex center it does not simply occupy itself with philosophy, science, or politics — it is always fighting something, disputing, criticizing, creating new subjective theories. The emotional center preaches Christianity, abstinence, asceticism, or the fear and horror of sin, hell, the torment of sinners, eternal fire, all this with the energy of the sex center. ... Or on the other hand it works up revolutions, robs, bums, kills, again with the same energy. The moving center occupies itself with sport, creates various records, climbs mountains, jumps, fences, wrestles, fights, and so on. In all these instances, that is, in the work of the thinking center as well as in the work of the emotional and the moving centers, when they work with the energy of the sex center, there is always one general characteristic and this is a certain particular vehemence and, together with it, the uselessness of the work in question. Neither the thinking nor the emotional nor the moving centers can ever create anything useful with the energy of the sex center. This is an example of the 'abuse of sex.'
"But this is only one aspect of it. Another aspect consists in the fact that, when the energy of the sex center is plundered by the other centers and spent on useless work, it has nothing left for itself and has to steal the energy of other centers which is much lower and coarser than its own. And yet the sex center is very important for the general activity, and particularly for the inner growth of the organism, because, working with 'hydrogen' 12, it can receive a very fine food of impressions, such as none of the ordinary centers can receive. The fine food of impressions is very important for the manufacture of the higher 'hydrogens.' But when the sex center works with energy that is not its own, that is, with the comparatively low 'hydrogens' 48 and 24, its impressions become much coarser and it ceases to play the role in the organism which it could play. At the same time union with, and the use of its energy by, the thinking center creates far too great an imagination on the subject of sex, and in addition a tendency to be satisfied with this imagination. Union with the emotional center creates sentimentality or, on the contrary, jealousy, cruelty. This is again a picture of the 'abuse of sex.'"
"What must be done to struggle against the 'abuse of sex'?" asked somebody present.
"I was just waiting for that question," he said. "But you already ought to understand that it is just as impossible to explain to a man who has not yet begun to work on himself and does not know the structure of the machine what the 'abuse of sex' means, as it is to say what must be done to avoid these abuses. Right work on oneself begins with the creation of a permanent center of gravity. When a permanent center of gravity has been created everything else begins to be disposed and distributed in subordination to it. The question comes to this: From what and how can a permanent center of gravity be created? And to this may be replied that only a man's attitude to the work, to school, his valuation of the work, and his realization of the mechanicalness and aimlessness of everything else can create in him a permanent center of gravity.
"The role of the sex center in creating a general equilibrium and a permanent center of gravity can be very big. According to its energy, that is to say, if it uses its own energy, the sex center stands on a level with the higher emotional center. And all the other centers are subordinate to it. Therefore it would be a great thing if it worked with its own energy. This alone would indicate a comparatively very high level of being. And in this case, that is, if the sex center worked with its own energy and in its own place, all other centers could work correctly in their places and with their own energies."
The main subject of this book is the relationship between sexual health and spiritual evolution. Specifically, the book focuses on Wilhelm Reich's discoveries regarding sexual health and G. I. Gurdjieff's concept of spiritual evolution. The thesis is that spiritual evolution, in Gurdjieff's sense, is not possible apart from sexual health as Reich determined it.
Although contemporaries, there is no reason to believe that Reich and Gurdjieff knew each other or of each other's work. Reich was a natural scientist, a student and colleague of Freud who began his career in 1919. He made more discoveries of a revolutionary nature than seems possible for one man to realize in a lifetime, the most significant achievement being the discovery of a biological and cosmic energy he called "orgone energy."
Beginning in his childhood and continuing throughout his life, Gurdjieff (1880-1949) studied psychology, religion (both exoteric and esoteric), philosophy, mysticism, and occultism. He came in contact with schools of philosophy and science that had been, and continue to be, mostly esoteric. In these schools he learned of ideas and principles concerning the nature of consciousness which are deeply rooted in antiquity — ideas which have been transmitted orally (for the most part) from teacher to student for thousands of years. He eventually became a transmitter himself through personal contact with students and through his writings.
Reich and Gurdjieff were giants in their fields. Reich - in the area of natural science, Gurdjieff as a teacher of ancient, esoteric ideas. A lifetime could be spent trying to comprehend the work of each without succeeding. In choosing to write of their work and to show how they are related I have thus undertaken an impossible task — to explicate their ideas without disfiguring them beyond recognition. In attempting to do so, however, I hope to accomplish a number of things: to bring to students of Gurdjieff's ideas and to esotericism in general discoveries that make these ideas more comprehensible and to thus increase the likelihood of achieving success through work on oneself; to bring to students of Reich's work ideas connecting his discoveries and theories to ancient knowledge which I believe are based on real understanding; and to bring to those with an aim to develop his or herself a perspective anchored in the merger of Reich's discoveries and Gurdjieff's teachings which I think would be of great help in fulfilling such an aim.
Gurdjieff's teaching focused on ideas and practices he found necessary for awakening from sleep. Full awakening, for him, meant development or "crystallization" of what he called "higher-being bodies," spiritual bodies made of finer energy-matter than the physical body which can survive its death (although it is not clear whether such bodies are to be understood literally or merely psychologically -an interpretation problem that is examined throughout the text). He claimed that healthy sexuality is a vital part of this process but did not specifically or clearly characterize it.
Reich's early work centered on the nature of psychological health and disease; it was he who discovered the function of the orgasm in relation to the emotions and the psyche. Reich was not concerned with spiritual development in Gurdjieff's sense. He did, however, determine the nature of sexual health or orgastic potency and that sexual health is fundamental for psychological health. Because Gurdjieff claimed that sexual health is vital for spiritual evolution but did not describe sexual health, and because Reich is the only researcher who has determined its nature, it seems natural to merge them to form an understanding of the relationship between sexuality and the evolution of consciousness.
Many of the categories Gurdjieff utilized to describe the human organism are psychological in nature and thus have something in common with the categories of established psychology. Yet he also postulated the existence of a universal energy-matter that functions as the ground of all being including the psyche. Furthermore, he claimed that stimulation of this energy-matter within the human organism is the fundamental role his method of work plays in placing one in a position to form a spiritual or higher-being body.
During his psychoanalytical period Reich also utilized psychological concepts, but after discovering the biological basis of the psyche, the energy, which he called "orgone energy," out of which the psyche and all of being is formed, and after he determined that the free pulsation and flow of this energy within the person constitutes complete psychological and physical health, his level of discourse and analysis changed. I hope to show a profound correspondence between the levels of discourse and understanding in Gurdjieff and Reich, and further to show that Reich discovered, via natural scientific method, the energy that Gurdjieff postulated to exist.
It appears to me that Reich's discovery grounds and concretizes Gurdjieff's teaching in a way that makes it more accessible and understandable. It takes it out of the realm of philosophy or mysticism and brings it into the realm in which Gurdjieff himself claimed it belonged — that of objective science. At the same time, Gurdjieff's teaching expresses the possibility that Reich's discoveries have implications regarding spiritual evolution with which Reich himself was not concerned.
I have presented Gurdjieff's ideas as clearly and concisely as possible although their complexity and the symbolic and allegorical manner of their presentation makes clarity a goal not easily achieved. I have attempted to express the depth and understanding contained in the ideas but some simplification was necessary, and certain ideas were left out entirely. Reich's work is also difficult to present, as a number of his students have remarked — he discovered too much, his theories are relevant to nearly every area of inquiry, and they are very revolutionary. His research is extensive and thus only a condensed summary of some parts of it was possible. This presentation of Gurdjieff's ideas and Reich's theories therefore cannot be taken as anything close to being definitive. Because their work is so profound no summary, analysis, interpretation, or criticism can hope to capture their voices or to replace a study of their own writings. It is hoped that this book will stimulate such a study in individuals who have yet to do so and who consider themselves genuinely interested in awakening.
For it is my thesis that awakening, in Gurdjieff's sense, requires full capacity of what he called the "sexual center" — sexual health, in other words. To understand the nature of sexual health, however, I maintain, requires Reich. Gurdjieff did not explain it nor do I believe has anyone else but Reich.
I cannot prove these assertions, of course, for we do not as yet know how to measure awakening nor is it easy to measure sexual health. But there are ways of determining more or less what Reich called "orgastic potency" — Reich's term for sexual health, which I hope to explain in the text. My own experience working with individuals and groups for the past twenty-five years has made me a believer and I feel compelled to share those insights with those interested.
PART I: GURDJIEFF'S CONCEPTION OF THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Chapter One: Waking Up
Chapter Two: Etherokrilno
Chapter Three: Some Symbols
Chapter Four: Self-Remembering and Self-Observation
Chapter Five: First and Second Conscious Shocks
Chapter Six: Relativity
PART II: SEX
Chapter One: Gurdjieff on Sex
Chapter Two: Orgastic Potency
Chapter Three: Armoring
Chapter Four: Melting Buffers
PART III: REICH'S DISCOVERY OF THE PRIME SOURCE BIOLOGICAL LIFE ENERGY
Chapter One: Explaining the Orgasm Function
Chapter Two: Bions, Bion Radiation and Orgone Energy
Chapter Three: Experiments with the Orgone Energy Accumulator
PART IV: THE FUNDAMENTAL LAWS OF WORLD CREATION AND WORLD MAINTENANCE
Chapter One: Development of Reich's Theory of Cosmic Superimposition
Chapter Two: The Highest Laws
PART V: THE EVOLUTION AND INVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Chapter One: Consciousness and Evolution
Chapter Two: Biopathic illness
PART VI: THE FOOD OF IMPRESSIONS AND THE CRYSTALIZATION OF THE HIGHER BEING BODIES
Chapter One: How Impressions Provide Energy
Chapter Two: Impressions of the Higher Emotional Body
PART VII: SEXUALITY AND EVOLUTlON
Chapter One: Sex Energy
Chapter Two: Suppression of Sex
Chapter Three: Conclusion
Abbreviations Selected Bibliography
Hostile Suppression of Genital Play
Reich came to believe suppression of sexuality is of fundamental significance in armor formation and development of emotional illness. Sexual feelings are extremely powerful and until suppressed, are experienced as normal, very pleasurable sensations. Children have no idea that those feelings that give such pleasure are so ‘wrong.’
Not all suppression of sexuality is carried out with overt violence or obvious hostility. But when it is, infants and children are put in the position of having to defend themselves. First of all, the infant or child must inhibit its behavior as a means of self protection. Of course, hostility can come in various forms, the form of overt violence — an adult might shout at or strike a child when the child touches its genitals or engages in sex play with other children, for example — or the hostility can be more subtle — the adult might express disgust, moral indignation, shame, or indifference. When children are inhibited in sex play they are forced, to begin with, to pull their hands from their genitals. If the inhibition is consistent, they become afraid to touch their genitals. This means they must keep their hands away from ‘there,’ even when an impulse to touch arises, particularly when in the company of others.
It can be seen then, that behavior on the part of adults that we consider perfectly reasonable, moral, and in the best interests of the child — suppression of genitality which, in children, of course, cannot result in pregnancy, often the rationale given for suppression of adolescent sexuality, leads to chronic muscular armoring. Suppression of sexual feelings is crucial therefore, not only because it is suppression of a powerful, essential urge in itself, which feels to the one being stifled as if their very being is at stake, but also because suppression of this urge leads to massive armoring, armoring of the entire body in all the segments.
Infants and children obviously have no understanding of what is happening to them when adults condemn their natural expressions and can take the hostile reactions in only one way, as an expression or a statement, that what they feel is “bad,” that what they wish to express is “bad.” In other words, such suppression is taken as a comment on their very essence, that they, in essence, are bad. This attitude towards the living is very well expressed in the popular conception of the doctrine of original sin, which is an obvious cultural and institutional expression of the feelings of a large segment of the adult world towards infants, children, sexuality, and life itself.
By the time we reach adolescence, our character structure has become a many-layered labyrinth. At the “bottom” are the core or essence drives which continue to pulse. On top of them or surrounding them, the armor used to inhibit these drives which is layered according to the time the various impulses were suppressed and the intensity of the suppression. This layer is covered over by the facade, the “face” we present to the world and to ourselves.
To speak of armor as a labyrinth is to imply that it is not neatly layered but that the combination of core drives, suppressed emotions and impulses, anxiety, and the facade, intertwine in ways that are often confusing. The nature of the labyrinth depends on the timing and the severity of the suppression, but generally, according to Reich, as mentioned, the earlier the suppression occurs, the deeper will be the armoring.15 It develops differently if repression occurs when the impulse is at its peak of intensity or if it occurs when it is weaker. These and other factors determine the type of labyrinth that develops, the “character type.”16
Is it any, wonder that adolescence is a difficult time? During this period sexual impulses become organized around the genitals and the urge to superimpose or mate with a lover begins to surface. The labyrinth of armor is already well formed and added to the tension this produces is the fact that these genital impulses are not allowed free expression.
Teenagers are not told that this is a wonderful time to explore their sexuality. Parents don’t offer their homes for uninhibited, guilt-free sexual activity — condoms provided. This sounds ridiculous or horrible to most of us; immoral. Thus the damage done by sexual suppression in childhood is intensified in adolescence, and the armoring needed to deal with such suppression can only evolve and rigidify. In Gurdjieff’s terms, false personality and the buffers gain in strength at the expense of the essence.
Adolescent neurotic symptoms, like adult neurotic symptoms, are expressions of the conflict between the core and the armor.18 The symptoms, therefore, are distorted core impulses, impulses that, before emerging, must make their way through the labyrinth of the armor and are shaped by it. Adolescents often become overtly hostile, pick fights, commit crimes, drive recklessly, and so on. .....
.....adolescents are sexually suppressed at a time when genital urges are powerful. This leads to anger, anxiety, deep frustration, heartbreaking sadness, resignation, aching longing, and the need to escape. The fact that many teenagers make it through this period without exhibiting severe or overt symptoms is testimony to the power of the life force, not to “civilized” suppression.
This is not to imply that all problems of adolescence can be solved via sexual intercourse. Sex is not a panacea. But we’ve “tried” the opposite approach for a long time now and the adolescent problem has not gone away. Might we take a cue from the Trobrianders and learn from Reich’s discoveries that our approach perhaps has been misguided? It is not as if we have no evidence within our midst of the value of sex-positive upbringing. There are those who have loving, sex-positive parents and so develop relatively unarmored regarding their own sexuality. It cannot be easy for them, seeing as they must seek gratifying relationships and meaningful work in an armored, hostile, and resigned world. But at least they have their core intact and may be able to find some satisfaction in life.20
The Adult Character
By the time we reach adulthood we are full-fledged “characters” of one type or another. Our characters are formed initially from the way we deal with the conflict between our first feelings, our core impulses and the hostility of the outside world. But this conflict produces other feelings, such as anger or rage and these feelings are also usually suppressed. Suppression of these feelings leads to development of a secondary layer of feelings that are violent and destructive. As mentioned, most of us also develop a third layer, a facade, mask, or persona that hides the secondary destructive feelings as well as the primary, core or essence. By the time we reach adulthood, we have incorporated the “cruel world” into our own bodies. We now are the “cruel world” and we suppress our children and teenagers. Our characters are expressions of how we have learned to deal with our core impulses and destructive feelings — how we hide these feelings under the facade of mechanical politeness, restraint, false modesty and so on, which serves to keep the secondary layer and the core within the bounds of “decency.”21
Why does the layer of destructiveness form? Reich says that it took him years to understand this process for it takes many forms, not the least of which is the character’s resistance to attempts to melt the armor. Reich found that people reacted with intense hatred whenever he attempted to disturb the neurotic equilibrium maintained by the armor. Destructiveness bound in the armor, Reich learned, is anger about frustration of core emotions and needs in general Wand a denial of sexual gratification in particular.22 It is an expression of disappointment in love or to loss of love that has become anchored in the personality through repression of core rage. Reich says that he found that when impulses of rage are allowed full expression and dealt with in a life-positive manner, they do not lead to muscular armoring and so do not develop into destructive impulses. The un-armored organism, Reich found, does not have them; Thanatos exists exclusively in the armored.
Only the impulsive character type, says Reich, expresses the secondary layer in a direct way.23 This is the person we think of as a sociopath or psychopath, the person without scruples, who has no control of his or her destructiveness. The rest of us manage to keep most of our destructive hate hidden beneath a veil that forms the surface of the character structure. In the process, however, we present a false face to the world and to ourselves. We are afraid to drop that face because we are unconsciously afraid that our inner hate will show itself, not to mention the sadness, longing, anxiety, and love trapped beneath the hate. Insincerity, then, is our way, and we are afraid of behavior that is not calculated, of what is truly spontaneous and alive.24
The destructiveness that forms the secondary layer of armoring is not equivalent, for Reich, to core rage which is the organism’s natural response to chronic disappointment in gratification of its vital needs. It is not, therefore, a primary biological phenomenon but a property of armoring and must be distinguished, says Reich, from natural aggression. The literal meaning of “aggression,” he points out is approaching,” and, as he says, all life, manifestations; are aggressive in this sense.25 Natural aggression, says Reich, is the living manifestation of the musculature, the system of motion and locomotion, and its goal is to make possible gratification of vital needs.26
Suppression of core drives is suppression of primary desire or natural aggression and leads to the development of relatively passive adults whose prevalence, according to Reich, allows for the mass psychology of fascism.27 People in whom natural aggression has been suppressed have not the energy or power to struggle against those who use their political or economic position to dominate society. Nations of sheep then develop who meekly support or go along with the various fuhrers of the world. In political democracies, the fact that only a minority of citizens even vote is indicative of this general passivity which is exhibited in many other ways as well.
Why We Hate
Removal of armoring involves dissolution of all the layers, the peripheral layer — the I that hides the secondary layer — and the deeper layers that cover destructiveness, deep-seated anxiety, heart-breaking sadness, frustrated longing, and so on. As the peripheral layer begins to dissolve, breakthroughs from the deeper layers occur and we experience impulses and emotions repressed throughout the course of our lives. This can be a painful and difficult process, says Reich, which is why we usually prefer to forgo it and remain false.
But if Reich is correct that the great majority of humankind is armored and if armored organisms cannot love fully, work wholeheartedly or work to maximum capacity, how is it that so much has been accomplished in terms of scientific and technological advance? First of all, a case can be made that those who lead humanity’s advance, such as it is, those few individuals whose lives and work account for much of the progress we like to attribute to “mankind” and so, via identification, to ourselves, are and were the least armored and most awake of their time.30
But the few great people aside, one need only reflect on the number of examples of what Gurdjieff calls “the process of the periodic reciprocal destruction.”31 that have riddled human history and on the current state of affairs where our creations threaten to annihilate us and the biosphere as a whole and have made our species, for the first time in recorded history, an endangered species,32 and questions concerning the wonders of armored humanity come quickly into perspective. We create, we work, but we end up using our creations to make war and so destroy our very creations, ourselves, and our fellows on Planet Earth. Gurdjieff points out that the fact that recorded history only goes back a few thousand years, and that we have little evidence of what actually happened even then, is attributable to our “strange predilection,” as he calls it, for war.33 Better we should sit on the spot like an Indian Fakir, for then we would at least be less dangerous. From Reich’s point of view, armored humans create, not due to the armor, but to the force of life which has remained stronger. The soft little blade of grass still manages to find its way through cracks in the cement.
Will the latest wonders, including the computer, be used to further humanity’s life-positive goals or to make destruction even easier and more impersonal? Because of Reich’s work, the answer seems ominous if obvious, for he has made us aware that underneath the false personality, the facade of civilization, is a deep-seated hatred. We hate because we have been denied gratification of our essential needs, of that which is truly ours, and so deep down we do not care for people of other races and nationalities; we do not care for the preservation of the land, the water, and the air, or our common mother, the Earth; we do not care about how we manipulate lovely children into becoming as hard as ourselves as we transmit “the consequences of the organ Kundabuffer” from generation to generation.
Sex Energy and the Higher Emotional Body
..... Gurdjieff is quoted as having said that sex energy is the "matter with which sex works and which sex manufactures. It is 'seed' or 'fruit.'" As the finest energy produced from the transformation of first-being food, it functions as the fruit of physical food. As the energy utilized in the Second Conscious Shock for formation of the first higher-being body, it functions as this body's seed. .....
..... For a deeper comprehension of the process of the formation of the Higher Emotional Body, we need to understand how the Second Conscious Shock functions to saturate the cells of the physical body with sex energy. In his writings, however, Gurdjieff does not explain this process. Nor can we find any accounting in the writings of his students and followers. Students of Gurdjieff's ideas are thus in a difficult predicament. We are told that a fundamental principle of the Fourth Way is that nothing should be taken on faith alone, and that every idea must be verified, and that practice of the work should be undertaken with understanding of what the practice involves. Gurdjieff provides the necessary information regarding the First Conscious Shock, but not regarding the second. His remarks concerning this shock indicate that he thought the information was too 'hot' for the students he was working with at the time.
After studying Reich for many years and working with people utilizing Reich's and Gurdjieff's ideas, I can understand why. As Reich used to say about the sex function (what he called "genitality" in general), everyone is scared of it. "Don't go near it — Don't touch it!" That is how people feel, and as we go more deeply into Reich I think the reason for this will become apparent. At this point, all I wish to say is that, in general, people are afraid of going too deeply into sexuality because it is a function that has been severely repressed, tampered with and twisted over many centuries. Our fears regarding it are thus deeply ingrained in most contemporary cultures and individuals.
Gurdjieff says that the Second Conscious Shock involves the transmutation of emotions and, further, that the practice of "non-expression of negative emotions" is preparation for the triggering of this shock, but he does not define in more concrete terms the nature of the energy — sex energy — involved. Nor does he say how the centers , and particularly the sex center, function in relation to the shock. Let us, then, turn to a study of Wilhelm Reich's work to gain a better understanding of the sexual function before returning to the ideas presented thus far.
Buffers and Armoring
Gurdjieff says that essence is ours by birthright but that false personality is not. Reich concluded that core impulses and emotions are ours by birthright whereas character armor is "given" to us by a world that hates and fears the core. Gurdjieff says that negative destructive emotions have no center, are not a function of the essence. Reich learned that such emotions are a function of the armor, not the core. Gurdjieff teaches that false personality operates with utter mechanicalness, that we are unconscious of its existence, its motivation, and its source. Reich has shown why this is the case, with respect to armor, for he has shown how it is formed in infancy and childhood for the most part when we have no control or understanding of what is happening to us. By the time we have become adults false personality, armor, is completely habitual or automatic.
Gurdjieff points out that the greatest stumbling block to beginning work on oneself is our inability to realize how mechanical we are, a function, for him, of the buffers, Reich has shown why we cling tenaciously to the armor — or why it clings tenaciously to us — how terrified we are of losing it because of the fear of unleashing the secondary layer of destructiveness, expressing the primary emotions, and experiencing complete surrender in orgasm. We in waking-sleep may be ignorant fools or "slugs" for maintaining our false faces, but our faces protect us from powerful destructive impulses that are terrifying to ourselves and to others. This is the rational basis for our fear of losing the buffers.
Gurdjieff points out that if we attempt higher work before destroying the buffers we evolve, if anything other than a life of fantasy, on what he calls a wrong foundation. What crystallizes is the crust — false personality — and this can lead to crystallization of what he calls a Hasnamuss, defined in terms not unlike what Reich defines as an Emotional Plague Character. If we wish to evolve, in Gurdjieff's sense, it seems to me, then we must undergo the process of, in Reich's terms, dissolution of character armor. .....
Melting Buffers and Sexual Health
Reich discovered that orgastic potency accomplishes dissolution of armor and the central tenet of his understanding of health and disease is that orgastic potency is necessary for maintenance of an unarmored, healthy state. Gurdjieff taught that only people who are completely normal sexually have a chance in the work; that, in other words, people whose sexuality is governed by buffers cannot get anywhere via the work, and that the sex center must work properly, with its own energy, for the organism to evolve beyond the level of waking sleep.
If dissolution of buffers is necessary for effective practice of the work, and if dissolution of buffers means, biophysically, dissolution of armor, then the conclusion seems inescapable that establishment of orgastic potency is essential for development of the capacity to work on oneself effectively. One need not worry about it, though, for it happens naturally along with the destruction of the buffers during a process of such destruction — it is a consequence of it — if this analysis of Gurdjieff's ideas and Reich's discoveries is accurate.
Via Reich's work we have evidence as to the nature of what Gurdjieff called "sexual normalcy:" it is orgastic potency, as Reich defined it. Gurdjieff's notions of sexual fear, strange tastes, and constantly working buffers, also gain clarity via Reich. "Fears," in Reich's terms, means underlying anxiety; "strange tastes," sexual perversions due to an inability to experience direct, genital gratification; "buffers," of course, the armor.
To say of us in waking-sleep that our centers "borrow" unused sex energy from the sex center and that the sex center "borrows" energy from the other centers, is to say that unused sex energy becomes armor and is released unconsciously in activities with no healthy connection to genitality, for example, as mentioned, when we gather in groups, in church, at conventions, parties, and so on, more for sexual titillation than for the alleged purpose of the group. Furthermore, when sex energy is used by another center, says Gurdjieff, it can be recognized by a particular 'taste,' by a fervor or vehemence that belies the nature of the activity. .....
Did Reich and Gurdjieff Understand Sex in the Same Way?
Gurdjieff's notion that the other centers are subordinate to the sex center when it works properly is to say, in Reich's terms, that it is only when we experience periodic, gratifying orgastic release that we can function to capacity in other areas of life. The other centers are subordinate to the sex center because its proper functioning makes their proper functioning possible. For Gurdjieff, or course, such healthy functioning leads to formation of higher-being bodies, and in this teaching, Gurdjieff enters a realm that Reich had nothing whatsoever to do with.
Although these parallels can be drawn, it does not mean that Gurdjieff understood sexuality the way that Reich did. Gurdjieff's teaching comes from ancient sources and we have no idea of the means of verification used by them, or for that matter, by Gurdjieff himself — for he did not say. With Reich, on the other hand, we know how he came to his theories and the means he used to test his hypotheses, thus it would be presumptuous to infer that Gurdjieff understood the function of the orgasm as did Reich.
That Gurdjieff considered healthy sexuality central in the process of the evolution of consciousness, there can be no doubt, but as to what he meant by complete sexual gratification, by proper working of the sex center, and whether or not he understood the dynamics of the orgasm reflex, is impossible to say. Teachers of Gurdjieff's ideas since his death focus on aspects of his work other than the development of the proper working of the sex center, although considering the centrality of this function for Gurdjieff, this would appear a crying need. Since Gurdjieff provides little information with regard to it, however, it is understandable why study of it is usually omitted. If we wish to understand genitality, then, we must turn to Reich, for it was he that discovered the nature of the complete orgasm, thereby affording us an opportunity to understand sexuality that can be found nowhere else.
David Brahinsky has been a student of the Fourth Way and the work of Wilhelm Reich since the mid 1960s. He received a Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1976 from the State University of New York at Binghamton and has been teaching philosophy and comparative religion at various colleges since 1969. He is the director of the Akhaldan II School for Fourth Way studies. Email inquiries can be sent to
Sexuality and the Evolution of Consciousness
by David M. Brahinsky, Ph.D
Akhaldan II Press, NJ, USA
© Copyright 1995
Portions of the book are reproduced at Google Books.
Reproduced from the Akhaldan II Press website