Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ouspensky on Knowledge, Part I

I’ve started Chapter One of "Tertium Organum: A Key to the Enigmas of the World," by P D. Ouspensky.** He begins with assertion that "The most difficult thing is to know what we do know, and what we do not know."

He says we can start with knowing two facts. The first is our inner life, which is the subjective fact of our existence. The second is the existence of the outer world, which is objective. He maintains that we cannot prove these two basic facts, that we must simply accept them as given. Everything else is an unknown.

His conclusion: we learn about what exists outside us by the sensations generated within our inner selves. The mistake we then make is in thinking our sensations are the cause of what we experience in the outer world.

For me, Ouspensky’s insights resonate with the idea that nothing is good or bad in and of itself. Our attitude, our thoughts, our experiences, our sensations combine to make something seem good or bad. We always have a choice as to how we regard any particular object or action, although it may not seem so in the heat of the moment.

Thoughts happen so quickly that it seems impossible to control them in any way, but I’ve learned from others that there is an instant, an infinitesimal space, before the thought forms. The trick is to become aware of that instant, that space, and in that manner gain awareness of our thoughts. Then we can start learning why we perceive the outer world the way we do.
But for starters, I think it’d be helpful if I’d just pause before I say "I know this or that" and wonder whether or not I truly know it. And if I know it, how?

**Refer to first Ouspensky post for more info on him and his book.

1 comment:

Bliss Addison said...

This is the second time I read this post (the first time I couldn't find the comment button. It's there. I just didn't see it.) and I found it interesting both times.

I also found your understanding on "thoughts" interesting, as well. One of the frequent words out of my mouth is "Ooops". Perhaps if I learned to grab hold of that infinitesimal space before a thought forms and rephrase it
I'd have a lot less "Oooop-ses" in my speech.

Bliss Addison