Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Chalk Circle

Reading Helen De Cruz’s lucid post
mystical perception
(crossposted at Prosblogion:
mystical experience

I was reminded of the Caucasian Chalk Circle in Gurdjieff’s Meetings with Remarkable Men.
 I was deep in my work when suddenly I heard a desperate shriek. I jumped up, certain that an accident had happened to one of the children during their play. I ran and saw the following picture:
In the middle of a circle drawn on the ground stood one of the little boys, sobbing and making strange movements, and the others were standing at a certain distance laughing at him. I was puzzled and asked what it was all about.
I learned that the boy in the middle was a Yezidi, that the circle had been drawn round him and that he could not get out of it until it was rubbed away. The child was indeed trying with all his might to leave this magic circle, but he struggled in vain. I ran up to him and quickly rubbed out part of the circle, and immediately he dashed out and ran away as fast as he could.

Such is the case with De Cruz - a scruple of chalk is mighty powerful ju-ju. ‘Chalk’ here represents the secular academic world view in which the naturalistic criteria of what counts as data apply. This is readily seen in the comments on New Apps which would be her home planet. For them subjective reports even if consistent and community wide cannot be the basis of a rational assessment particularly when other communities with different practices and different fundamental beliefs also achieve states of gnosis. These are classic rejoinders from within the redoubt of scientism and induce what in the tales of the Fenians was called a ‘magic sleep’ (suan draíochta). On Planet Prosblogion, very very far from this one (sorry!) there is an attempt at rationalist engagement which is worthy but has to fail and not just because the judge is wearing a lab coat.

In the end someone has to rub out part of the chalk circle to release you.

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