Agnes Hidveghy interviewed by Reijo Elsner
Bruno Martin, Germany, sent the February GIG Newsletter to Agnes Hidveghy as he knows that Agnes has studied “Objective Art” in the way Gurdjieff defines it. The contact led to this interview and is a follow-up of articles by Agnes published in GIG with the name “An Experssion of Legominism in Christian Language” and “The Retable of Isenheim” (Read the Articles). The articles are an introduction to her talk at the All & Everything Conference on the 25th of March. The interview was conducted in Bognor Regis.
Reijo: What made you into a seeker?
Agnes: Where is the beginning? We are in the prison of linear thinking: the causes are in the past, the effects are later in time. But why did I get these parents, why was I protected, but lonely, in my childhood? Why did I understand the Christian ideas in this way and not the same way as so many others? Why did I meet people when I was 14 who gave me the books of Vivekananda and Paul Brunton? Why all the other possibilities for inner growth? I can give you only one answer to this question, which is true: “The reasons are not necessarily the answer. Since the cause is the effect of its own effect" (Reshad Feild).
Reijo: How about Gurdjieff?
Agnes: I was impressed by the phenomenon Gurdjieff from the very moment on I heard of it. I read All and Everything in German within four days the first time - I was then in bed with fever. I participated 15 years in a Gurdjieff group started originally by Dr. Maurice Nicoll. Gabi Patak, who run a group in Zürich and had contact with Beryl Bogson. We also met Mrs. Oldham and had a contact with the Amersfort group in England. You mentioned Sam Copley as your group leader - I also met him in Amersfort. My "work-history" is a long one, with many colours and impossible unexpected turns. At the end of the seventies and beginning of the eighties we had contact with Mr. Paul Beidler from America. He knew Gurdieff personally and studied some 20 years in the East. Mr. Beidler was a teacher and had his center near New York. It exists today and is called The Search at Northeon Forest (endlesssearch.co.uk - a new web site by Ian MacFarlane). But my wish to go there could not be realised.
In the early eighties Mrs. Louise March visited my one-week seminar, which was on Astrology as a cosmological system. You know who she was? She was Gurdjieff’s secretary, who translated All and Everything into German and established a Work-farm, The Rochester Folk Art Guild (Read more), in the USA. She was then 82 and even though she was very ill, she was present every minute of the hard program. According to Astrology as cosmological system one of the subjects was also then the expression of Astrology in Objective Art, especially in the frescoes of Villa dei Mysteri in Pompei.
By the way - a new insight came to me recently about Gurdjieff’s work. The question arose in me again, what was his task? And I saw it in connection of the gap between the two cycles of ages. First of all he destroyed the old structures. This he expressed in many ways. But the consequences of it are not understood by many of his followers. He did not leave a “school” with a mission. He had to do a “dirty” job, a very difficult one. But now we can not go that same way, the way he went, the way he showed us. We have to use the possibility of being without structures and working on building up the new structures of the future. That needs creative human beings with knowledge and a kind of inner development, with inner independence. He left us ideas and tools that are necessary in building these new structures.
Reijo: Gurdjieff said he wanted to bring a new idea of God to the world. I see his teaching with so many ‘interesting’ ideas as basically intellectual. At the same time the ideas 'Objective Conscience' and 'Objective Morality' are so far removed from the present day life and the grip of 'Subjective Morality' is so strong, that the effort to 'bridge over' is an enormous task.
Agnes: It is not possible for me to make any judgement on the moral side and the intentions behind Gurdjieff’s teaching. I do not have the knowledge and understanding to do it. What I know is that I can not use Gurdjieff as an example for myself. Neither do I think that when I meet a person who drinks Armagnac and smokes that this person really understood Gurdjieff. A teacher is not an example to be imitated in the details of his or her personality and Gurdjieff’s was a very strong one. What is important is what comes out and takes place in the individuals. You know a tree by its fruits. Mrs. March was a person in whom I saw something of the direct influence of Gurdjieff. For her he was the expression and influence of a real man.
What I definitely can not accept is to manipulate the emotional world in oneself. This means for me to deny an aspect of Unity. To be free for me is to create an independent place in oneself, and take part in what is going on. With a picture: not to hold on a pendulum, but climb up to the point where it is hanged on. Become the whole pendulum. There is enough “reminding factor” in it!
His artificial inner war is also something I have difficulty with. If we are full engaged in life it gives us this war whether we want it or not. Another possibility to involve energy is not by struggle. My way is to hold the opposites in mind and ask for the reconciling third force. To endure the tension and not to look for any synthesis. It does work. It is very simple. An other formulation of it is: to live with an open Question. Looking for Question and not for answers. I know this is encouraged in at least some groups. It took years for me to be able put questions at all. I was drilled by my intellectual family background to “know without having a question at all”. This way is to let the third force work directly by being the witness.
Reijo: How did you go on after the Nicoll group?
Agnes: I studied Christian mysticism, holy geometry, Jewish mysticism and Astrology as a cosmological system. Through the teachings of Gurdjieff I found the same knowledge and cosmology that he was expressing. And then I was prepared to meet a living teacher.
Now I see that my life was from the very beginning already planned to prepare me for a very definite task. Now it is time to begin to fulfil it. I went through a training in the Sufi tradition for about ten years. All this time I have been a consultant on my own for life crises for 45 years. I work with astrology and lead seminars and give talks on spirituality. Last year I started a project called “ars sacra” with a group of friends, and the main part of this project is the study of Objective Art.
Reijo: How do you define the concept Objective Art?
Agnes: The object of my main study for the past 25 years is the Altar of Isenheim. It is a good example of how I understand the concept. I think this work is the most perfect and most extensive manifestation of Objective Art in Europe. The basic idea of this masterpiece is the Enneagram and the Law of the Octave. The universal knowledge is in a genial way planned as concept and realised in every detail by the genius of the artist, who is now known as Grünewald. The work entails cosmic laws and their relations to each other, the main stations of the Way and the way of functioning of a perfect man. The first volume I wrote on it for publication is now ready for print in German. English translations are in preparation and it is my wish that these two versions can be published at the same time.
The Enneagram and the Law of the Octave are put into the concept of the Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci and in the frescoes of villa dei Mysteri in Pompei, which I studied for many years.
The effect of Objective Art is a direct, deep and a subjective one without any knowledge about it. To understand it is necessary to know the objective cosmic structures and laws.
In any other way any study remains a subjective interpretation. For example without knowing what the Enneagram is about, it remains very interesting information, but lost for people on the Way. The way to become able to recognise an Idea (in sense of Plato) is long and there is a distinction between an Idea and a concept made by our cloudy brains. It is not enough to study Gurdjieff and his environment. But it is necessary to find the essence of his teachings and formulate it for our time in a way, that people can understand.
Reijo: The Altar of Isenheim is a combination of many icons. These type of triptychs or retables can be found in some Orthodox Churches. It looks to me that this way the presentation can give a better picture of the whole than the Orthodox Iconostasis, which is a collection of many different individual icons presented at different levels.
Agnes: Nevertheless, the images work on you in a very similar way. Every comparison destroys - there is no need to compare -- they are different cross-
sections of the one real world.
Icons have their own language. If they are “Written” then it is necessary to learn to read this kind of script. Anyway here in the West it is necessary to learn the language of pictures. A mental analysis is rather a veil on the direct communication between the icons (or any other pictures) and the inherent knowledge of the heart.
As you wrote Christianity is a “school” - without a teacher. Without living tradition here in the West. But in Orthodoxy there is a living Spiritual tradition. I met it with astonishment.
In the Orthodox Iconography they build the link between Greek mythological figures and Western Christianity. For example John the Baptist is developed of Pan, the “goat-god”. The most important figure is Dionysos, the only God, who knows death and transformation. He is the “three times born”. The knowledge of mythology and the understanding of their pictures on the inner level is needed and necessary.
A very exact formulation is important for me. It is necessary to communicate as precisely and exactly as possible. This is the way of passing on teachings in the new age of Aquarius. The collective channel of communication in the next 2000 years is an intellectual one. I want to say something about expressions. After a while - beginning already in the second generation - the terms expressed of genuine experiences do not work any more. They are analysed, and interpreted. Therefore I don’t use often the generally used expressions neither of Gurdjieff nor Jungian psychology or any other system. I try to express things in my own way, in the language of today as I know it.
Reijo: My knowledge of Sufism is limited to reading some literature Khayyam, Attar and Rumi. What has Sufism given you that you were missing in the Gurdjieff group?
Agnes: My dear Teacher, Reshad Feild said once - and it became of a great importance on my way - “Creation is made of love. In order to everything should be connected, God implanted a need in everything that is created.” (my own free formulation). He also said often: “Love reaches you just like a knife". It is always LOVE which makes every contact to whatever is possible.
The presence of a teacher has another effect than a study of the ideas he left behind. The presence of a teacher transmits always a substance, which enables the pupil to understand and to work in the right way.
Reijo: I find often when looking at a man, an average man like a businessman or a politician for example, that they are ‘full of themselves’, the petty self-esteem, the kind of self-importance that I also have to a smaller or larger degree. Of course there are exceptions, but it is an interesting spectacle, often even quite ridiculous. Women seem to be much less ‘full’. It has been said that a woman needs a real man to grow. Is it not true that a man needs a real woman - perhaps even more than a woman needs a real man?
Agnes: In German there is an expression for giving birth: ‘auf die Welt bringen’, to ‘bring into the world’. Only a woman can bring a man into the world. However, this is only possible if the man is bound through a commitment. But men do not like to commit themselves. That is why women often say: “I do not understand. He opened himself and exactly when he had done so, he left me.” The teachers in Tibet know that there are more perfect women than men, but they do not need to be known.
Back to Sufism: I met it for the first time on a four day retreat with Pir Vilayat Khan in the beginning of the eighties. It was like fresh water from a spring! My being opened and I thought: I am a Sufi from my birth. The same happened when I met Irina Tweedie on a weekend seminar. They were totally different from each other, individual, but both living in and of the Truth.
Then came Reshad, a well educated Englishman. It was the same as with Gurdjieff with the difference that he was, and is, a living person. He knew always what was going on with some 70 people around him. His visions are in the Christian form and his methods are the Sufi methods. He uses the tools that are available.
His strength in God and weakness as a human being were never separate. If he shouted with his mighty voice I only felt the direct trasfer of Love. It was not important why he was shouting and if he was right or not. He did not try to hide his problems. Things were as they were. In each moment in his “Living School” I was aware of the extraordinary happening that I took part in. I paid my own way: I brought to him all the people I prepared or was connected with through my work. My whole praxis, buildt over 25 years, broke down. These were some 80-100 people, perhaps 30 left over a longer period, who are now in the closest circle around him.
Reijo: How would you sum up your own situation in relation to Gurdjieff and his teachings?
Agnes: My contribution is my own work, made with the original spark from his Spirit. My authority springs from my own relationship with my God - it is my reality, expressing ‘my views from the real world’.
I am grateful to Gurdjieff for the sacrifice of his life, what he did for us, for the sake of the coming world. We can’t really estimate it - he was bigger than us. His Conscious Labour and his Intentional Suffering remains a secret between him and God.