This morning I received an email from a sometime member of casschat as follows (emphases, mine):
I have put in bold several items that lead us to the main problem this individual is having: he is considering the 4th way work as "transmitted by Ouspensky" to be a standard, a yardstick, and for some reason, he fails to note the many, MANY confirmations of the C's material that the "Ouspensky Fourth Way Work" can't even come close to. Most curious. In any event, I responded to him as follows:The Fourth Way as transmitted by Ouspensky does not recognize any form of
"conscious evil". The part of the C's transcripts that I am trying to
reconcile with the system is that of FRV, frequency. And conscious evil is
one way to understand STS, the intentional choice to manifest entropy in the
universe. But the fourth way doesn't recognize it, it sees no duality of the
sort other than consciousness and mechanicality, ascending octaves and
[Here's an excerpt from Ouspensky's Fourth Way (pg.19-20):
A***: By this system, or at least the versions of it that I am familiar"Try to connect in your mind what I said about the study of good and evil,
mechanicalness and consciousness, morality and conscience, and then put the
question, 'Is conscious evil possible?' That will require study and
observation, but from the point of view of the system there is a definite
principle that conscious evil is impossible; mechanicalness must be
*Q. The idea of evil being always unconscious is rather difficult to
understand. Can you explain it a little more? *
*A. I said, first of all try to find for yourself what you call evil, not by
definition but by examples. When you have a certain number of examples, ask
yourself, could they be conscious? Could evil things be done consciously?
Later you will see they could be done only unconsciously. Another answer is
that all you call evil can happen mechanically, and it always does happen
mechanically, so it has no need of consciousness."*
with, conscience exists as a function of the [intellectual story of the
emotional center]. It is therefore a component of the machine. It states
that all have it available to them as a potentiality, part of the process of
awakening the emotional center and bringing its functions into "right work"
and so on. It acts as a bridge between the lower centers and the higher
emotional center. Therefore the system rejects the idea of frequency, the
idea of a choice between STO and STS. This is a fundamental block to any
hope of a reconciliation of the system with the C's and the idea of
frequency. It assumes that every developed individual will have conscience,
along with the tools available to those who function from the intellectual
story of the centers, and will therefore choose to be creative (to say that
each man chooses good or selflessness is subjective, it is better to stick
with creativity as the aim of the 'conscious adept'), not because of a
choice between the star and black-hole energy dynamic but because this is a
result of becoming un-identified with the ego, the personality. It assumes
that evil is the result of mechanicalness, that consciousness is of another
character altogether, too high above the mortal battlefield to ever be
interested in such, to it futile and unappealing, things.
I believe it was RA or the C's (probably RA) that said that the STS
candidate bypasses the need to connect to the higher emotional center and
connects directly to the higher intellectual center. This is very
interesting but also very far from reach.
The question needs to be addressed formally Laura. The system needs to be
bridged with the principle of FRV. But there are too many blanks, holes, and
I cannot allow myself to believe or speculate anymore than I already
unconsciously do quite enough of. Too much of what comes out of the C's is
left unavailable for verification, and I am not attacking this vulnerability
– not at all. I am simply trying to reconcile the system with what IS
verifiable, that of the question of frequency.
Regardless of how well I try
to pull away from the C-groups and focus on the Work, something which is
verifiable and practical, something which views material like the C's,
channeled materials, as "imaginary B-influence" (at least those who I learn
it from), the theories of STS and STO, the seven densities of awareness,
lingers and demands attention. I need your help to keep what I value from
the C-transcripts with me as I choose to move forward.
Here I would like to add that Patterson writes from his own bias, so that must be taken into account. As a reviewer on amazon.com wrote:Hi,On 5 Feb 2006, at 2:27, a*** wrote:
> The Fourth Way as transmitted by Ouspensky does not recognize any form of
> "conscious evil". The part of the C’s transcripts that I am trying to
> reconcile with the system is that of FRV, frequency. And conscious evil is
> one way to understand STS, the intentional choice to manifest entropy in the
> universe. But the fourth way doesn't recognize it, it sees no duality of the
> sort other than consciousness and mechanicality, ascending octaves and
> descending octaves.
Well, first of all, you might want to read Patterson's "Struggle of the Magicians,",which is a very good collection of all the historical events,
supported by documents and "testimony," of all the people and events
surrounding Gurdjieff's work. It gives one a pretty good understanding of
why Gurdjieff closed his school and sent all his pupils away. He realized,
almost too late, that nobody really "got it." And so, he sat down to write
Beelzebub in hopes that someone "in the future" might have what it took to
really "grok" things.
Another reviewer rightly points out that:Patterson shows the teacher-pupil relationship in the fullest relief with three of Gurdjieff's leading pupils: first with P. D. Uspenskii, then A. R. Orage and finally John Bennett. Each of these men living in their own time and space was attracted to the Work. Uspenskii was `in search of the miraculous;' A. R. Orage was trying to find God; and Bennett was interested in hypnotism, the occult, and the fifth dimension. Each man had talents of persuasion and knowledge and each was approached by Gurdjieff at specific times to help spread the teaching. All failed for reasons outlined in the book because, ultimately, they could not give everything.
Uspenskii halved the `ideas' from the man, Gurdjieff, who embodied and brought the teaching to the West. He was unable to separate the `conditions' that Gurdjieff demanded from his own `conditioning.' Orage was unable to discriminate the vastness and seriousness of Gurdjieff's mission and Bennett seemed unable to `stay on track.' None of them seemed to fully sense or realize the urgency and what Gurdjieff called the `terror of the situation.'
Now, back to my response to this morning's correspondent:Patterson [whose 'eating the I' is really quite valuable - for guys at least ] here does some interesting work w/ the chronology of G's Work and that of his major [male] students.
Apparently Pentland was P's primary source and LP and Bennett had something of a major fallout, so everything Patterson has to say re: JG Bennett is rather jaded. As is somewhat common amongst the 'orthodox' camp of Gurdjieff students Ouspensky is seen as really having gotten something at the end of his life, whereas Bennett's
rather obvious transformation in his last decade which did not just 'abandon the system' as did O. instead flowered and produced some of the most genuine and valuable 4thway books extant [Deeper Man, A Spiritual Psychology, Energies and the Sevenfold Work].
Patterson is something a Gurdjieffean Fundamentalist [even going so far as splitting off from the 'foundation', in true Protestant fashion] as far as I can tell from his several books I have read.
As regards the critique of Ouspensky, it seems to me from the evidence scattered around that P. tells it like it is in that regard, and adds a few genuine insights, but ironically enough, in Eating the I, we see patterson losing his own 'struggle w/ the magician' Pentalnd and suprise, suprise, he has now set up 'Prieure West'...
Even if you are turned off by this one, his Voices in the Dark is obligatory for all students of the work as it has priceless transcripts of G's wartime meetings.
Continued next post.Sometimes, it takes some concerted "reading between the lines" to really
understand what Gurdjieff did and why. Most often, it is only when a person
has been through similar dynamics themselves can they do this.
That's the first thing.
It's also important to remember that ISOTM was read by Gurdjieff before it
was published and his comment was that Ouspensky had a "very good memory,"
so we can generally rely on it. Ouspensky himself did not want to publish
it after he had written it, though I'm not sure why except to think that he
wanted to suppress what Gurdjieff was really about in some sense.
Then, of course, one must understand Gurdjieff's limitations. Gurdjieff was
a man dominated by his moving center. He certainly had a definite aim, and
I believe that it was benevolent. But, as noted above, he realized
somewhat late in the game that how he was going about it wasn't working;
his ideas of how to implement things just simply were not effective. And
so he closed his schools and sent everyone away.
Gurdjieff and Mouravieff both suffered from the same malady, it seems - an
inability to really grok hyperdimensional realities.
In a certain sense, both good and evil are merely "mechanical," since they
function according to "laws." What we call "consciousness" from the STO
point of view would be called "sleep" from the STS point of view and vice
versa. It depends on your goal. Gurdjieff said when you have a goal,
whatever leads you to that goal is "good" and whatever leads you away from
it, or blocks you from it, is "evil."
But there is still more. In ISOTM, there are a number of clues:
Then, there is this:"People are machines. Machines have to be blind and unconscious, they cannot
be otherwise, and all their actions have to correspond to their nature.
Everything happens. No one does anything. 'Progress' and 'civilization,' in
the real meaning of these words, can appear only as the result of conscious
efforts. They cannot appear as the result of unconscious mechanical actions.
And what conscious effort can there be in machines? And if one machine is
unconscious, then a hundred machines are unconscious, and so are a thousand
machines, or a hundred thousand, or a million. And the unconscious activity
of a million machines must necessarily result in destruction and
extermination. It is precisely in unconscious involuntary manifestations
that all evil lies. You do not yet understand and cannot imagine all the
results of this evil. But the time will come when you will understand."
The closest Gurdjieff came to trying to grok hyperdimensions and "worlds of"The influence of the moon upon everything living manifests itself in all
that happens on the earth. The moon is the chief, or rather, the nearest,
the immediate, motive force of all that takes place in organic life on the
earth. All movements, actions, and manifestations of people, animals, and
plants depend upon the moon and are controlled by the moon. The sensitive
film of organic life which covers the earthly globe is entirely dependent
upon the influence of the huge electromagnet that is sucking out its
vitality. Man, like every other living being, cannot, in the ordinary
conditions of life, tear himself free from the moon. All his movements and
consequently all his actions are controlled by the moon. If he kills another
man, the moon does it; if he sacrifices himself for others, the moon does
that also. All evil deeds, all crimes, all self-sacrificing actions, all
heroic exploits, as well as all the actions of ordinary everyday life, are
controlled by the moon. "The liberation which comes with the growth of
mental powers and faculties is liberation from the moon. The mechanical part
of our life depends upon the moon, is subject to the moon. If we develop
in selves consciousness and will, and subject our mechanical life and all
our mechanical manifestations to them, we shall escape from the power of the
information" was his theory about the moon. Read it and just replace
"moon" with 4 D STS. Obviously, his idea about the "growth of the moon" is
somewhat silly, but if you understand it as 4 D STS, and the fact that he
may have heard many traditions of so-called extraterrestrials on the moon
that had been distorted and veiled in transmission, then it is completely
Then Gurdjieff talks about the "materiality" of the universe." He found it"The process of the growth and the warming of the moon is connected with
life and death on the earth. Everything living sets free at its death a
certain amount of the energy that has 'animated' it; this energy, or the
'souls' of everything living—plants, animals, people—is attracted to the
moon as though by a huge electromagnet, and brings to it the warmth and the
life upon which its growth depends, that is, the growth of the ray of
creation. In the economy of the universe nothing is lost, and a certain
energy having finished its work on one plane goes to another.
"The souls that go to the moon, possessing perhaps even a certain amount of
consciousness and memory, find themselves there under ninety-six laws, in
the conditions of mineral life, or to put it differently, in conditions from
which there is no escape apart from a general evolution in immeasurably
long planetary cycles. The moon is 'at the extremity,' at the end of the
world; it is the 'outer darkness' of the Christian doctrine 'where there
will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
almost impossible to think in any terms other than material, though he did
carefully qualify his words.
In this last series of remarks we find the clue that Gurdjieff wasn't able,"The next idea which it is necessary to master is the materiality of the
universe which is taken in the form of the ray of creation. Everything in
this universe can be weighed and measured. The Absolute is as material, as
weighable and measurable, as the moon, or as man. If the Absolute is Cod it
means that God can be weighed and measured, resolved into component
elements, 'calculated,' and expressed in the form of a definite formula.
"But the concept 'materiality' is as relative as everything else. It we
recall how the concept 'man' and all that refers to him—good, evil, truth,
falsehood, and so on—is divided into different categories ('man number one,'
'man number two,' and so on, it will be easy for us to understand that the
concept 'world,' and everything that refers to the world, is also divided
into different categories. The ray of creation establishes seven planes in
the world, seven worlds one within another. Everything that refers to the
world is also divided into seven categories, one category within another.
"The materiality of the Absolute is a materiality of an order different from
that of 'all worlds.' The materiality of 'all worlds' is of an order
different from the materiality of 'all suns.' The materiality of 'all suns'
is of an order different from the materiality of our sun. The materiality of
our sun is of an order different from the materiality of 'all planets.' The
materiality of 'all planets' is of an order different from the materiality
of the earth, and the materiality of the earth is of an order different from
the materiality of the moon.
"This idea is at first difficult to grasp.
People are accustomed to think that matter is everywhere the same. The whole
of physics, of astrophysics, of chemistry, such methods as spectroanalysis,
and so on, are based upon this assumption. And it is true that matter is
the same, but materiality is different. And different degrees of
materiality depend directly upon the qualities and properties of the energy
manifested at a given point."
because of his dominating moving center, to really grok non-physical
existence = pure information. As the C's remarked (and I think that, on
this point, it applies as well to Gurdjieff):
We see above that Gurdjieff himself did not understand the nature of theQ: We have recently been working with some material from Boris Mouravieff.
We can see many relationships. I would like to ask about some of his
political views, his ideas about creating some elite corps to help the world
graduate to what he calls the cycle of the Holy Spirit. How accurate are
those views of Mouravieff?
A: Mouravieff, like many who have protected and passed on the "tradition"
are merely carriers and not interpreters of the capacity of a Master. The
True Master understands the nature of the "worlds" in terms of real,
Hyperdimensional Interpenetration. Thus Mouraveiff and others misunderstand
and misinterpret, thinking in 3rd density Hierarchical terms which simply do
"worlds of laws" in terms of hyperdimensional realities. This is evident in
his remarks quoted above.
Continuing, we come to the issue of good and evil:
Two important points above. Gurdjieff has said that "A subjective man can"The idea of morality is connected with the idea of good and evil conduct.
But the idea of good and evil is always different for different people,
always subjective in man number one, number two, and number three, and is
connected only with a given moment or a given situation. A subjective man
can have no general concept of good and evil. For a subjective man evil is
everything that is opposed to his desires or interests or to his conception
"One may say that evil does not exist for subjective man at all, that there
exist only different conceptions of good. Nobody ever does anything
deliberately in the interests of evil, for the sake of evil. Everybody acts
in the interests of good, as he understands it. But everybody understands it
in a different way. Consequently men drown, slay, and kill one another in
the interests of good. The reason is again just the same, men's ignorance
and the deep sleep in which they live.
"This is so obvious that it even seems strange that people have never
thought of it before. However, the fact remains that they fail to understand
this and everyone considers his good as the only good and all the rest as
evil. It is naive and useless to hope that men will ever understand this and
that they will evolve a general and identical idea of good."
"But do not good and evil exist in themselves apart from man?" asked someone
"They do," said G., "only this is very far away from us and it is not worth
your while even to try to understand this at present. Simply remember one
thing. The only possible permanent idea of good and evil for man is
connected with the idea of evolution; not with mechanical evolution, of
course, but with the idea of man's development through conscious efforts,
the change of his being, the creation of unity in him, and the formation of
a permanent I."
have no general concept of good and evil." This was Ouspensky's main
failing. He was never able to be anything other than subjective. He did
not have a "network," and he was never able to submit, even for a short
while to learn, his "reading instrument" to another for tuning. He was,
until he died, a "subjective man." And that is probably why he became an
alcoholic and drowned himself in drink. At some level inside him, there was
this struggle, that he knew he had failed, and he drank to drown out the
voices in his head.
And sadly, this last remark applies to Ouspensky himself."A permanent idea of good and evil can be formed in man only in connection
with a permanent aim and a permanent understanding. If a man understands
that he is asleep and if he wishes to awake, then everything that helps him
to awake will be good and everything that hinders him, everything that
prolongs his sleep, will be evil. Exactly in the same way will he understand
what is good and evil for other people. What helps them to awake is good,
what hinders them is evil. But this is so only for those who want to awake,
that is, for those who understand that they are asleep. Those who do not
understand that they are asleep and those who can have no wish to awake,
cannot have understanding of good and evil. And as the overwhelming majority
of people do not realize and will never realize that they are asleep,
neither good nor evil can actually exist for them."
As did Ouspensky... though he could not take the final step. In this next"This contradicts generally accepted ideas. People are accustomed to
think that good and evil must be the same for everyone, and above all that
good and evil exist for everyone. In reality, however, good and evil exist
only for a few, for those who have an aim and who pursue that aim. Then what
hinders the pursuit of that aim is evil and what helps is good.
"But of course most sleeping people will say that they have an aim and that
they are going somewhere. The realization of the fact that he has no aim and
that he is not going anywhere is the first sign of the approaching
awakening of a man or of awakening becoming really possible for him.
Awakening begins when a man realizes that he is going nowhere and does not
know where to go."
passage, you will see that Gurdjieff described exactly the problem that
Ouspensky faced. I should note that in our own work, we have tried to avoid
this problem by creating the "group mirror" which takes the place of a
"master." The individual must, however, be willing to submit to the
concensus of the group as composing a "Man number 5".
This exactly describes what happened to Ouspensky: "A man is afraid that he"As has been explained before, there are many qualities which men
attribute to themselves, which in reality can belong only to people of a
higher degree of development and of a higher degree of evolution than man
number one, number two, and number three. Individuality, a single and
permanent I, consciousness, will, the ability to do, a state of inner
freedom, all these are qualities which ordinary man does not possess. To the
same category belongs the idea of good and evil, the very existence of
which is connected with a permanent aim, with a permanent direction and a
permanent center of gravity.
"The idea of good and evil is sometimes connected with the idea of truth and
falsehood. But just as good and evil do not exist for ordinary man, neither
do truth and falsehood exist. "Permanent truth and permanent falsehood can
exist only for a permanent man. If a man himself continually changes, then
for him truth and falsehood will also continually change. And if people are
all in different states at every given moment, their conceptions of truth
must be as varied as their conceptions of good. A man never notices how he
begins to regard as true what yesterday he considered as false and vice
versa. He does not notice these transitions just as he does not notice the
transitions of his own I's one into another.
"In the life of an ordinary man truth and falsehood have no moral value of
any kind because a man can never keep to one single truth. His truth
changes. If for a certain time it does not change, it is simply because it
is kept by 'buffers.' And a man can never tell the truth. Sometimes 'it
tells' the truth, sometimes 'it tells' a lie. Consequently his truth and his
falsehood have no value; neither of them depends upon him, both of them
depend upon accident. And this is equally true when applied to a man's
words, to his thoughts, his feelings, and to his conceptions of truth and
falsehood. "In order to understand the interrelation of truth and falsehood
in life a man must understand falsehood in himself, the constant incessant
lies he tells himself.
"These lies are created by 'buffers' In order to destroy the lies in oneself
as well as lies told unconsciously to others, 'buffers' must be destroyed.
But then a man cannot live without 'buffers.' 'Buffers' automatically
control a man's actions, words, thoughts, and feelings. If 'buffers' were to
be destroyed all control would disappear. A man cannot exist without
control even though it is only automatic control. Only a man who possesses
will, that is, conscious control, can live without 'buffers.' Consequently,
if a man begins to destroy 'buffers' within himself he must at the same
time develop a will. And as will cannot be created to order in a short
space of time a man may be left with 'buffers' demolished and with a will
that is not as yet sufficiently strengthened. The only chance he has during
this period is to be controlled by another will which has already been
"This is why in school work, which includes the destruction of 'buffers,' a
man must be ready to obey another man's will so long as his own will is not
yet fully developed. Usually this subordination to another man's will is
studied before anything else. I use the word 'studied' because a man must
understand why such obedience is necessary and he must learn to obey. The
latter is not at all easy. A man beginning the work of self-study with the
object of attaining control over himself is accustomed to believe in his own
decisions. Even the fact that he has seen the necessity for changing
himself shows him that his decisions are correct and strengthens his belief
in them. But when he begins to work on himself a man must give up his own
decisions, 'sacrifice his own decisions,' because otherwise the will of the
man who directs his work will not be able to control his actions.
"In schools of the religious way 'obedience' is demanded before anything
else, that is, full and unquestioning submission although without
understanding. Schools of the fourth way demand understanding before
anything else. Results of efforts are always proportional to understanding.
"Renunciation of his own decisions, subordination to the will of another,
may present insuperable difficulties to a man if he had failed to realize
beforehand that actually he neither sacrifices nor changes anything in his
life, that all his life he has been subject to some extraneous will and has
never had any decisions of his own. But a man is not conscious of this. He
considers that he has the right of free choice. It is hard for him to
renounce the illusion that he directs and organizes his life himself. But no
work on himself is possible until a man is free from this illusion.
"He must realize that he does not exist; he must realize that he can lose
nothing because he has nothing to lose; he must realize his 'nothingness' in
the full sense of the term.
"This consciousness of one's nothingness alone can conquer the fear of
subordination to the will of another. However strange it may seem, this fear
is actually one of the most serious obstacles on a man's path. A man is
afraid that he will be made to do things that are opposed to his principles,
views, and ideas. Moreover, this fear immediately creates in him. the
illusion that he really has principles, views, and convictions which in
reality he never has had and never could have. A man who has never in his
life thought of morality suddenly begins to fear that he will be made to do
something immoral. A man who has never thought of his health and who has
done everything possible to ruin it begins to fear that he will be made to
do something which will injure it. A man who has lied to everyone,
everywhere, all his life in the most barefaced manner begins suddenly to
fear that he will be made to tell lies, and so on without end. I knew a
drunkard who was afraid more than anything else that he would be made to
"The fear of being subordinated to another man's will very often proves
stronger than anything else. A man does not realize that a subordination to
which he consciously agrees is the only way to acquire a will of his own."
will be made to do things that are opposed to his principles, views, and
ideas. Moreover, this fear immediately creates in him. the illusion that he
really has principles, views, and convictions which in reality he never has
had and never could have."
And based on this conviction, Ouspensky left Gurdjieff and set up his own
"school," when in fact, he never had the will to do anything, and the
evidence was his alcoholism. He literally drank himself to death.
But still, we have only danced around good and evil. I'm getting there. In
this next passage, we come very close to the main definition of "human"
In the next passage, Gurdjieff describes what has actually happened to his"The study of the chief fault and the struggle against it constitute, as it
were, each man's individual path, but the aim must be the same for all. This
aim is the realization of one's nothingness. Only when a man has truly and
sincerely arrived at the conviction of his own helplessness and nothingness
and only when he feels it constantly, will he be ready for the next and much
more difficult stages of the work.
"All that has been said up till now refers to real groups connected with
real concrete work which in its turn is connected with what has been called
the 'fourth way.' But there are many imitation ways, imitation groups, and
imitation work. These are not even 'black magic.'
"Questions have often been asked at these lectures as to what is 'black
magic' and I have replied that there is neither red, green, nor yellow
magic. There is mechanics, that is, what 'happens,' and there is 'doing.'
'Doing' is magic and 'doing' can be only of one kind. There cannot be two
kinds of 'doing.' But there can be a falsification, an imitation of the
outward appearance of 'doing,' which cannot give any objective results but
which can deceive naive people and produce in them faith, infatuation,
enthusiasm, and even fanaticism.
"This is why in true work, that is, in true 'doing,' the producing of
infatuation in people is not allowed.
"What you call black magic is based on infatuation and on playing upon human
"Black magic does not in any way mean magic of evil. I have already said
earlier that no one ever does anything for the sake of evil, in the
interests of evil. Everyone always does everything in the interests of good
as he understands it.
"In the same way it is quite wrong to assert that black magic must
necessarily be egoistical, that in black magic a man strives after some
results for himself. This is quite wrong. Black magic may be quite
altruistic, may strive after the good of humanity or after the salvation of
humanity from real or imaginary evils.
"But what can be called black magic has always one definite characteristic.
This characteristic is the tendency to use people for some, even the best of
aims, without their knowledge and understanding, either by producing in
them faith and infatuation or by acting upon them through fear."
own work, the many "schools" that have been created by his "annointed"
followers and their "students."
This pretty much describes Ouspensky and ALL of Gurdjieff's students!"But it must be remembered in this connection that a 'black magician,'
whether good or evil, has at all events been at a school. He has learned
something, has heard something, knows something. He is simply a 'half-
educated man' who has either been turned out of a school or who has himself
left a school having decided that he already knows enough, that he does not
want to be in subordination any longer, and that he can work independently
and even direct the work of others."
I'm sure you realize that the C's are very much a "school" and later"All 'work' of this kind can produce only subjective results, that is to
say, it can only increase deception and increase sleep instead of decreasing
"Nevertheless something can be learned from a 'black magician' although in
the wrong way. He can sometimes by accident even tell the truth. That is why
I say that there are many things worse than 'black magic.' Such are various
'occult' and theosophical societies and groups. Not only have their
teachers never been at a school but they have never even met anyone who has
been near a school. Their work simply consists in aping. But imitation work
of this kind gives a great deal of self-satisfaction. One man feels himself
to be a 'teacher,' others feel that they are 'pupils,' and everyone is
satisfied. No realization of one's nothingness can be got here and if
people affirm that they have it, it is all illusion and self-deception, if
not plain deceit. On the contrary, instead of realizing their own
nothingness the members of such circles acquire a realization of their own
importance and a growth of false personality."
Gurdjieff describes exactly this sort of "initiation" as the ONLY kind of
initiation that is valid. Gurdjieff's initiation, I think, came via moving
center oriented events similar to the events I experienced with the C's via
the emotional and intellectual centers.
This last is VERY important. A person must have done all they can do on"At first it is very difficult to verify whether the work is right or
wrong, whether the directions received are correct or incorrect. The
theoretical part of the work may prove useful in this respect, because a man
can judge more easily from this aspect of it. He knows what he knows and
what he does not know.
"He knows what can be learned by ordinary means and what cannot."
their own before they even seek out a "school." Otherwise, they cannot know
"what can be learned by ordinary means."
As you may notice, this has happened with a number of our former members."And if he learns something new, something that cannot be learned in the
ordinary way from books and so on, this, to a certain extent, is a guarantee
that the other, the practical side, may also be right. But this of course
is far from being a full guarantee because here also mistakes are possible.
"All occult and spiritualistic societies and circles assert that they
possess a new knowledge. And there are people who believe it.
"In properly organized groups no faith is required; what is required is
simply a little trust and even that only for a little while, for the sooner
a man begins to verify all he hears the better it is for him.
"The struggle against the 'false I,' against one's chief feature or chief
fault, is the most important part of the work, and it must proceed in deeds,
not in words.
"For this purpose the teacher gives each man definite tasks which require,
in order to carry them out, the conquest of his chief feature. When a man
carries out these tasks he struggles with himself, works on himself. If he
avoids the tasks, tries not to carry them out, it means that either he does
not want to or that he cannot work.
"As a rule only very easy tasks are given at the beginning which the teacher
does not even call tasks, and he does not say much about them but gives
them in the form of hints. If he sees that he is understood and that the
tasks are carried out he passes on to more and more difficult ones.
"More difficult tasks, although they are only subjectively difficult, are
"The peculiarity of barriers consists in the fact that, having surmounted a
serious barrier, a man can no longer return to ordinary sleep, to ordinary
life. And if, having passed the first barrier, he feels afraid of those that
follow and does not go on, he stops so to speak between two barriers and is
unable to move either backwards or forwards. This is the worst thing that
can happen to a man. Therefore the teacher is usually very careful in the
choice of tasks and barriers, in other words, he takes the risk of giving
definite tasks requiring the conquest of inner barriers only to those people
who have already shown themselves sufficiently strong on small barriers.
"It often happens that, having stopped before some barrier, usually the
smallest and the most simple, people turn against the work, against the
teacher, and against other members of the group, and accuse them of the very
thing that is becoming revealed to them in themselves."
They stopped before the simplest and easiest barriers and have subsequently
turned against us, loudly and vehemently accusing us (usually me, who set up
the task) of the very things of which they, themselves, are guilty.
"Sometimes they repent later and blame themselves, then they again blame
others, then they repent once more, and so on. But there is nothing that
shows up a man better than his attitude towards the work and the teacher
after he has left it.
"Sometimes such tests are arranged intentionally. A man
is placed in such a position that he is obliged to leave and he is fully
justified in having a grievance either against the teacher or against some
other person. And then he is watched to see how he will behave. A decent man
will behave decently even if he thinks that he has been treated unjustly or
wrongly. But many people in such circumstances show a side of their nature
which otherwise they would never show. And at times it is a necessary means
for exposing a man's nature. So long as you are good to a man he is good to
you. But what will he be like if you scratch him a little?
"But this is not the chief thing; the chief thing is his own personal
attitude, his own valuation of the ideas which he receives or has received,
and his keeping or losing this valuation. A man may think for a long time
and quite sincerely that he wants to work and even make great efforts, and
then he may throw up everything and even definitely go against the work;
justify himself, invent various fabrications, deliberately ascribe a wrong
meaning to what he has heard, and so on."
"What happens to them for this?" asked one of the audience.
"Nothing—what could happen to them?" said G. "They are their own punishment.
And what punishment could be worse? [...]