The Lotus Thrives in Rotting Matter

lotusLewis: An anonymous student, I’ll call him John Martin, has been studying with me for the past six months. The following story is from my perception of John. John has studied Gurdjieff for 40 years and has been involved with several different Gurdjieff groups. When he first called me he was in a quandary, his thinking was “I’m tired and I’m unhappy. I sit and vegetate in a dark room. I don’t like to socialize or go out. My wife Sharon is unhappy because I am unhappy. I’ve become someone I’ve dreaded all my life: a passive non-productive, sad human being.

John: I was looking for the YouTube video of Gurdjieff talking when I came across a video created by Lewis Almeida talking about some of Gurdjieff’s ideas, but also about Spinoza. I was familiar with Spinoza, I even had a copy of his work The Ethics, but it had sat on a shelf because I could not understand it. I was impressed with Lewis’s candor and the fact he was not trying to be some guru big-shot. There was new material here, and this was something I needed. It seemed very natural to email Lewis and we set up a Skype meeting.

I have to say that my European sensibilities were offended somewhat by the upfront manner in which Lewis spoke about money. Having been involved with several Gurdjieff groups before, the money question is dealt with quite differently by European and US based schools. In both cases these schools cannot exist without some sort of financing, but the money issue is always handled more subtly by Europeans than by US equivalents. But, absolutely nothing worth anything is free in this life, and so I arranged the meeting and would make a contribution to Lewis’s activities if I in return got value from it.

My first meeting intrigued me. Lots of new material, and a different but complementary slant on things than the pure Gurdjieff take. I’ve done enough work to know that intellectual types (which pretty much characterises me) miss a great deal because they think everything has to be complicated. Lewis’s take is often the simplicity that sits at the other side of complexity, and unless the highbrow attitude is dropped, much can be missed.

Once explained, the ideas proposed by Spinoza are very powerful. Many of the ideas are truly life changing, but simply sitting and reading the books doesn’t do it. It’s clear you need someone who knows what the words are saying. For me personally it seemed as if 40 years of searching, and being involved with several well known Gurdjieff groups, came to fruition within a few months.

I should warn that working with Lewis is a serious business, for people who are serious about losing their pain and finding freedom. To this end Lewis patiently goes through life events to establish where the blocks are (or buffers as Gurdjieff would call them). This is generally not all that pleasant and a good deal of honesty is required. Not everyone can do that.

It is clear that Lewis possesses something very, very rare – real knowledge. In all spiritual schools you will find plenty of phonies – people who think they know but don’t, and people who know they don’t know but want you to think that they do. And this is as true of Gurdjieff schools as any others. Lewis does know, and what he knows he has shared with me. The end result is that much of the pain in my life is dropping away, and I sense the heartbeat of this huge, integrated universe much more potently than I ever did before.

Many intellectual questions have been answered for me – but in truth this is a bit of an aside now. I feel emotionally engaged with the universe, and not some isolated thing looking out at the world with trepidation.

I was once told that the lotus grows because it is nourished by the rotting matter at the bottom of the pond. We all have rotting matter sat within our psyches. The task at hand is that of taking this stinking pile of rotting matter and nourishing the lotus flower within us. It takes effort, courage and someone to show us how it is done.