Some of my fondest memories deal with my unique education in art school. I attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, New York. It was a very progressive school. It was there that I was given real insights to mind expansion (apart from any drug use).
I particularly remember my drawing instructor asking everyone in the class to bring in a head of cabbage. He then asked us to draw the cabbage—with our weaker hand! This not only led to greater concentration on my part, but I could sense that an important principle to inner development was being taught.
Because I was using my left arm to draw, I was forced to use different parts of my brain. My brain also had to use different pathways, rather than the “beaten path” to coordinate these new movements.
We like routine. It is way more comfortable and uses up very little mental energy. But we cannot find our full potential unless we find ways to escape the tyranny of our habitual mind. I actually felt that this drawing exercise fused together new cognitive functions and built up a new force within me, which gave me better command of my potentials and energies—mentally, emotionally and physically.
Then a wonderful bit of providence happened to me. While I was attending the School of Visual Arts, it became fully accredited and began to offer a wider variety of courses. Later, after moving into the professional world as a writer for a large advertising agency, I continued to take advantage of these new courses in the evenings and in the summer.
One such class hit me like a double-barreled shotgun. I was introduced to the unique ideas of both George Gurdjieff and Emanuel Swedenborg simultaneously! Years later, I joined organizations which promoted the ideas of these two extraordinary individuals. They were extraordinary because they simply could not be studied by one’s habitual mind—in fact, they destroyed it.
Gurdjieff offered evidence that we live in an “imagined reality” and Swedenborg offered new ideas about God, religion and the Holy Word. Both men concentrated on helping humanity identify their flaws and to develop their true inner potentials.
I remember taking part in some of Gurdjieff’s “sacred movements,” which reminded me of drawing a cabbage with my left arm—but were way more challenging. One was forced to concentrate with special effort in order to move one’s arms, legs and body in unfamiliar and increasingly complicated ways. These movements were designed so that we could not allow our minds and bodies to fall into a routine or habit.
These sacred movements also helped to “soften the beaches” for getting one’s mind ready for Gurdjieef’s unique cosmology. Gurdjieff focused his teaching on helping us to individuals to verify the reality of their flaws (and “mechanicalness”) and make real changes that could have positive eternal consequences.
Swedenborg’s writings complement this fearless (and unflattering) exploration of our flawed nature and worldviews. He provides ponderous evidence that God’s Holy Word is a multi-dimensional document with deeper levels of meaning. These “inner” levels of Scripture provide further information and details on the steps toward proper spiritual growth (for positive eternal consequences).
Between studying Gurdjieff and Swedenborg, my brain was not only making new connections and synapses, it was being challenged into activating deeper neural substrates where unexpected and distinctly new cognitive functions were awakened. We were all designed by God to transcend our biological selves (not just attend church services)!
The problem with spiritual growth in a material world is how do you earn a living being able to draw a head of cabbage with your left hand? The answer is simple. Your brain will have been exercised sufficiently enough that you can more readily tap into new creative capacities and figure out how to become increasingly valuable to society and even earn some money, no matter what you turn your attention to!