The essays and fragments exposed here are some accounts of personal impressions and experiences, the inevitable results of my being in the Gurdjieff Work for many years. That statement might suggest that they belong in that same genre as the hundreds of other exposés now in the marketplace, all written by authors who are recounting, often in excessive and self-deprecating detail, their personal trials and tribulations as they dig and delve into that strange Fourth Way teaching known simply as “the Work.” They don’t.
Therefore, before beginning, I believe a few more don’t’s are in order.
• Don’t be fooled by surface appearances. Try and look below what seems apparent. • Don’t expect the carefully-crafted style of professional writers. What is penned here is more “stream of consciousness”—and the stream can get pretty muddy at times. • Don’t attribute what I say to my teachers or my group, although obviously they are contributors to the mix. I take responsibility for the ideas set forth herein.
This section is what it is: take it or leave it. But if take, then take, knowing that herein are the accounts of my own impulses and attitudes, which include revolt, imploration, scorn, pride, resignation, and humility. What is revealed is sometimes brutal in its honesty, embarrassing in its egotism, disconcerting in its content, and perhaps even preposterous in its assumptions, but always, always my own. At the same time, I believe it is not only the expression of me, but of us.
We pupils come to the Work “in revolt,” revolted by the world-at-large, and, if we are honest, with our own life. In due time, revolt turns to resignation: we are unable to change either the world or ourselves. The next step, imploration, suggests a realization of impotence and a need to appeal for help from above. The question is: help for what? The answer is not: help to become successful, rich, famous, adored. Rather, imploring means asking for help in understanding. Not the ordinary kind of understanding, which is termed “reason of knowing,” but help for understanding the reason and purpose for my existence, termed “reason of understanding.” The attitude of scorn may then arise when noticing how easily the words “vast efforts” and “tremendous labors” are attached to the physical domain, and how “working like a donkey” is all too often held up as the model to emulate. Pride, real pride, is the result of feeling oneself the vessel through which real Idea can manifest. It is not “help for what,” but rather “help from what.” The truth dawns that an “idea of one’s own” is instilled in the mind; it comes not from working and struggling and thinking about it (the “sweat of the brow”), but from quieting the mind, the slow-down allowing the “holes in the spinning wheel” to manifest. The holy manifestations are sometimes referred to as “intuition,” or, alternatively, as “divining.” Humility is last, but not least. Humility is when the high (the ordinary “mentation”) is made low. Only then, one knows that the only real Idea is from God, the Source of spirit and truth.