The final center of mechanical evolutionary development, reaching its peak in mankind, is the intellectual center. This center functions through thought. All normal mental processes are contained within this center: observation, analysis, synthesis, contrasting, comparison, formation of ideas, deductive and inductive reasoning and imagining. The physical system utilized by the intellectual center is composed of the majority of the association cortices of the cerebral cortex (the frontal, parietal and occipital lobes). The positive side of this center deals with affirmation, the negative side with denial.
As one can see through practice of self-observation, the majority of our thoughts, be they mundane or exalted, are purely mechanical in nature. Our thoughts, like our feelings, arise in response to the range of impressions impinging our ‘screen of sensitivity’. This ability of the intellectual center to perform automatically, once trained, can be quite detrimental to mystical growth. For example, the majority of our beliefs and actions stem from what has come to be known as the motor portion of the intellectual center. Gurdjieff called this the ‘formatory apparatus’. This apparatus continually responds to sensory impressions received from the outside or the inside, makes continual automatic associations and comparisons, and affirms or negates data without consideration of the consequences. Allowing the formatory apparatus to reign supreme makes us no better than any other programmed machine.
One explanation for many of the phenomena associated with hypnosis (negative and positive hallucinations, slow and mechanical speech, enhanced memory, and so on) is contact and communication with the formatory apparatus and the other parts of centers. This is an extremely interesting area of exploration.
The higher portions of the intellectual center allow us to simultaneously maintain and review in our ‘mind’s eye’ both sides of every question and choice, apply rational foresight and judgement to every problem, record and sort input data for later analysis and synthesis. Cultivation of the intellectual center leads to the ‘urge to see things for what they truly are, to learn the how and why of creation’.
The sex center is designed to work with the creative energy E3 so to serve the highest function of any organism, participation in the work of creation. The sex energy drives the species to reproduce itself–physically, mentally and emotionally. This is a very powerful energy and is frequently misused. For a greater discussion of this center I recommend Bennett’s book in the Transformation of Man Series, SEX.
These five centers take care of the day-to-day functioning of our machines: the instinctive center is concerned with the automatic maintenance of organic life; the moving center is concerned with movement in space and all the outer work of the organism; the lower emotional center deals with feeling and emotions; the lower intellectual center controls ideation and thought.
Unfortunately, in most people the separate work activities of each of the five lower centers is out of harmony with the needs of the others. Moreover, the functions of the higher emotional and intellectual centers are almost never utilized. Even though the food, air and vital energies ingested by each person contain the proper amounts and types of nourishment needed by each center for correct work; each center steals energy from the others. Stolen energy cannot be used properly, resulting in energy wastage and leakage. Consequently, people suffer from stress-related organic and psychological diseases. Obviously, one pragmatic goal of the esoteric schools is to teach students how to identify, accumulate and discharge properly the energy for each center. Some of these exercises will be discussed lin a later Chapter of this treatise.
Shown in figure 32 is a listing of the typical functions of the lower centers as modified from Nicoll by Kathleen Speeth.2 Notice how each center is further subdivided into moving-instinctive, emotional and intellectual parts, the functioning of which can be observed with self-observation.