I had three quotes in mind for this piece but have only found two of them. Not to matter, as this will be a topic that I will return to a number of times and add depth to. It is something I have an ongoing curiosity with.
The basic premise is something along the lines of: what sort of education and preparation best suit doing the work that I teach [?]
Ok, here are the quotes:
‘You must understand that a man should have, first, a certain preparation, certain luggage. He should know what it is possible to know through ordinary channels about the ideas of esotericism, about hidden knowledge, about possibilities of the inner evolution of man, and so on. What I mean is that these ideas ought not to appear to him as something entirely new. Otherwise it is difficult to speak to him. It is useful also if he has at least some scientific or philosophical preparation. If a man has a good knowledge of religion, this can also be useful. But if he is tied to religious forms and has no understanding of their essence, he will find it very difficult. In general, if a man knows but little, has read but little, has thought but little, it is difficult to talk to him.’
[ Gurdjieff as quoted in ISOTM p242, penguin arcana, P.D.Ouspensky]
‘Abenthy was the first arcanist I ever met, a strange, exciting figure to a young boy. He was knowledgeable in all the sciences: botany, astronomy, psychology, anatomy, alchemy, geology, chemistry… He was portly, with twinkling eyes that moved quickly from one thing to another. He had a strip of dark grey hair running around the back of his head, but (and this is what I remember most about him) no eyebrows. Rather, he had them, but they were in a perpetual state of regrowing from being burned off in the course of his alchemical pursuits. It made him look surprised and quizzical all at once.’
[The Name of the Wind, p64, Patrick Rothfuss]
If we dissect some lines from each:
‘He was knowledgeable in all the sciences: botany, astronomy, psychology, anatomy, alchemy, geology, chemistry… ‘
‘ know what it is possible to know through ordinary channels about the ideas of esotericism, about hidden knowledge, about possibilities of the inner evolution of man […] It is useful also if he has at least some scientific or philosophical preparation.’
We have the idea [here] that one can benefit from having a wide range of prior studies in the sciences of the age – as well as sciences from other ages and material that is not yet entertainable on a consensus level as a reputable mode or line of inquiry. Also, the idea that if one intends to dive into more fringe research one ‘probably should’ have at least some grounding in some of the sciences of the age. Lastly, that some sort of training in a physical art or three is an essential component to go along with the different types of theory.
There is also a contextual element, say in relation to Physical Alchemy, astronomy is not as important [though if I had to go back to university I would probably toss a coin between studying astronomy or architecture] as we are dealing with physical bodies and not celestial bodies. So one would do better having more study or experience in the areas that feed into the work than having a wide but shallow base. One does not need to know everything; and in a later article we will look at ‘secondarily losing’ certain types of knowledge for certain purposes – as certain classes of knowledge actually inhibit the study and process for each mindshape.
But for now let us look at the basics:
[*] general preparatory education for Physical Alchemy
This list is not by any means exhaustive – and is not designed to be. I have left off many of the studies that if the person had a strong inclination towards I would recommend they study with somebody else. And these are not ‘must have all’ lists – even a few from each category is grand.
Some of the sciences that can serve as a goodly basis are: anatomy [an essential], physiology [also], chemistry, medicine [a double edged sword], biology and ecology [especially]. Archaeology and anthropology, also. Avoid too much neuroscience or evolutionary psychology if you think you do C3rberus mindshape.
Some of the ‘hidden knowledge’ that would form a solid basis: Indian yogic systems [Hatha yoga and Patanjali; tantra too for bonus points], ayuveda, basics of Buddhism plus a specialized study of Theravada, Zen or Tibetan Buddhism, study of one of the shamanic traditions of the world [practical study], basic knowledge of the teachings of Gurdjieff, preliminary studies in two different systems that utilise the Law of 3 [Western alchemy, ayuveda, etc], surviving high school without getting an office job afterwards.
Some of the physical crafts: martial arts of an ‘external’ nature [~7 years plus], internal martial arts training, strength training that has shifted the body substantially [ideally ~decade plus of training], athletics, flexibility work [particularly the Stretch Therapy and M3 mobility methods], bodywork of certain schools, circus training, mime, acting, dance.
Wildcards: musical ability, large forearms, good comedic timing, being a good waiter or barista, cooking, rewilding, woodworking, black-smithing.