Gurdjieff taught that each of the lower centers was connected to and fed by a series of energy accumulators. Specifically he said, “a very important role in the human machine is played by a certain kind of accumulator. There are two small accumulators near each center filled with the particular substance necessary for the work of the given center. In addition, there is in the organism a large accumulator which feeds the smaller ones. The small accumulators are connected together, and further, each of them is connected with the center next to which it stands, as well as with the large accumulator.”
Shown in figure 33 is a diagram of the Gurdjieffian accumulator system for a single center. Each of the lower centers is connected in this manner with the large accumulator. In order to increase clarity, I have made some modifications to the original diagram given by Ouspensky, IN SEARCH OF THE MIRACULOUS.
Gurdjieff’s contention that each center is connected to two small accumulators is based upon common experience. For example, there is the concept of the ‘second wind’. During strenuous exercise or mental exertion, it is a common that one begins to feel tired or fatigued after a short time. If exercise continues, quickly following the period of fatigue many people experience surges of additional energy sufficient to complete the endeavor. This phenomena represents opening of an inflow value allowing the additional input of energy from the second accumulator. If one pays careful attention to his or her overall ‘energy level’ while actively engaged, he or she will sense a series of discrete decreases and increases in the energy of the body. These changes represent the alternative, cyclic opening and closing of the small accumulators.
The Energy Accumulator System of Man
A modern interpretation of the intrinsic cycling of the small accumulators can be seen in the functioning of the several biological clocks present in plants and animals.
Observation has demonstrated that living entities experience specific periods of activity and quiescence related to the functioning of one or more biological clocks. These biological clocks function in the regulation of all of many activities of the several lower centers. In humans, there is a circadian, or daily clock, located within the suprachiasmic nuclei of the hypothalamic region of the brain. This particular clock is synchronized by the 24 hour light-dark cycle and regulates the secretion of pituitary hormones such as cortisol and growth hormone. This clock is also responsible for our daily rhythm of body temperature, highest in the late afternoon and lowest just prior to rising.
Another important clock observed in mammals has a basic period of between 90 to 120 minutes. The effects of the cycling of this short-period or ultradian clock is seen in our sleep patterns (see footnote 3 in the previous Chapter), in our digestion, in our hemispheric dominance, in the shift of nasal dominance. These cycles were first reported in the scientific literature in 1957, by Dement and Kleitman, and appeared to be associated with periods of rest and activity, hence, were called basic rest-activity cycles, or BRAC.1
An example of a typical nasal congestion-decongestion cycle is seen in figure 34 (from Debra Werntz, 1981 PhD thesis, Cerebral Hemispheric Activity and Autonomic Function, UC San Diego, California).2
Nasal Dominance Cycle
A typical example of the BRAC cycle can be found in the pattern of a work-day in America. Work begins around 8 am, break around 10 am, lunch 12 noon, break around 2 pm, work ends around 5 pm.
Interruption in the smooth functioning of this cycle is thought to be directly responsible for the initiation and maintenance of many of the stress-related diseases arising within the autonomic, endocrine and neuropeptide systems. Orr, Hoffman and Hegge report that most humans maintain a stable ultradian rhythm when under quiet conditions.3 When severely stressed, ultradian patterns undergo major disruptions of amplitude and patterning. Work in rhesus monkeys demonstrates that psychosomatic disturbances are a consequence of continual disruption of the ultradian cycle, manifesting as problems in cardiac rhythm, dermatological changes, respiratory complaints, peptic ulcers and so on.
Self-observation and non-identification are excellent techniques for maintaining normal ultradian cycling.
As shown in figure 33, each lower center controls the input of energy to it by controlling the output valving of the directly attached small accumulators. Based upon this model, the other lower centers cannot directly affect the secondary accumulators of any other center.
During non-strenuous, normal activity energy generally flows out of only one, small accumulator. While one secondary accumulator discharges, the other secondary accumulator is being recharged from the primary accumulator. As shown in figure 33, the primary or large accumulator is fed by external energy coming in the form of food (organics plus the B element of the R+C), air (oxygen plus the a element of the R+C) and impressions (mental sensations and ptahonic energy). Since the only way external energy can enter the body is through the primary accumulator, it is of critical importance that each person provide the proper food to the primary accumulator for distribution to the lower centers.
Unfortunately, most people are ignorant of how the body accumulates and discharges energy. Consequently, few people take time to surround themselves with the proper kinds of food. Many feel they are doing all that is necessary for their development when they insure a balanced diet, clean air and purified water. Few realize that exposing oneself to the proper mental impressions and stimuli is also necessary for proper development of the lower centers.
This model also provides an explanation for yawning and nervous laughter. Figure 33 shows input and discharge valves attached to the small accumulators. These values can be opened or closed to retain or discharge energy from the small accumulators. Yawning allows a center to increase net energy inflow to its accumulators, laughing allows a center to discharge excess nervous energy.
For the ordinary affairs of life, all that is needed is to insure that the body is provided sufficient food, water and air. Under these circumstances, sufficient energy flows from the environment into the large accumulator into the smaller accumulators to maintain the machine. Unfortunately, it is impossible for the small accumulators to store and provide sufficient energy to develop the lower centers. Mystical growth and conscious evolution cannot occur in a center unless the restrictions to energy flow provided by the small accumulators are removed. In other words, conscious evolution requires the direct input of energy from the large accumulator into the centers.