beginning with the fundamental proposition that humans must be awakened to self-awareness, to the realisation that behind our "personality", influenced by any number of circumstances, lies our "essence", which is our identity with the universal.
The teaching is thus not about attainment of something that is missing, so much as the discovery or awareness of our real identity.
Lesson 1: Who am I?
And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened. (Luke, 11:9–10)
b. Sleeping humanity
Behind Gurdjieff's teaching lies the idea that human beings live and die in a state of sleep, but do not realize this. In this sense, all human beings are divided into two categories: those who realize they are asleep and who are attempting to awaken, and those who do not know.
A primary feature of this state of sleep is the illusion that we are each separate from one another.
Another primary feature of this state of sleep is that we regard our personalities as real.
Through the Work, we come to see that, in reality, we are not our personalities, even though our personalities are important. We are what Gurdjieff has called essence, our essential and imperishable being. In essence we are not separate from one another. In essence we are conjoined in identity with the universal.
c. The verification of new ideas
In our ordinary state, we do not think. In truth, what we call "our" thoughts come from outside and go through our mind, but do not arise from it. Thoughts do not originate in us, but to be true men and women, we should think by and for ourselves our own thoughts, and not submit to those coming from other, outside sources. Our age is the age of indoctrination.
In short, we are manipulated to react to outside stimuli rather than to act from within, from what Gurdjieff has called "objective conscience" or "objective consciousness."
To become capable of resisting all the subliminal and other suggestions that assail us from all sides, we must be "watchful." We must be more present to our own individual thoughts.
to be in the state that Gurdjieff calls "self- consciousness." To be able to discriminate properly and to think rightly, our own "I" must be present where and when the thought is.
d. Who am I?
what is the purpose of human life?
In brief, we can say that mankind is faced with a problem of identity. We do not know who we are, where we came from, or why we are here.
In "waking up" we experience our identity, the identity of the individual, with the universal. We discover that we can develop our capacity to perceive this identity.
the teaching is not about attainment, it is about the discovery or awareness of who we are.
e. What is the purpose of human life?
The distinctive feature of all the images of God is that in some sense God is separate and apart from each of us. This is the opposite of Gurdjieff's teaching and of all parallel teachings that maintain the identity of the individual with the universal.
we human beings have a purpose, and that purpose is to grow within us a "higher-being body," by us called soul.
we are only relatively individual creatures. We are really part of the greater being called Endlessness, and we have the unique capability, as our consciousness increases, to stand more fully in our true nature as Endlessness. There is no qualitative difference between each human being and Endlessness. The only difference is that of scale or relativity, and as we become more conscious, the differences in scale become less.
"know thyself." In proposing his answer to this question, Gurdjieff goes further and suggests that human beings are an experiment on planet earth to serve as vehicles by which Endlessness can know or be conscious of itself. But how are we, as vehicles through which Endlessness manifests, able to know ourselves?
f. Transferring our identity from personality to essence
In order to experience the highest state of human consciousness, objective consciousness, we must transfer our identity from the personality, which is what we mistakenly believe that we are, to essence, that which we really are.
Because of our improper education or conditioning we mistakenly believe that we are the personality. The personality is that tissue of memories, thoughts, emotions, and sensations that we have come mistakenly to call "I." Yet we know that none of this existed before birth and that all of this will dissolve at death or shortly thereafter. In this sense the personality is impermanent and thus in Gurdjieff's view, unreal. As long as we believe in the overwhelming importance of the personality we will never discover that which is real.
through many years of watchfulness or what Gurdjieff calls self-observation, in which we engage in exercises designed to help us to see that the personality is not really who we are and to shake us loose from this misconception.
We must not belittle the importance of the personality. Its development through food, education, and experience in this life is the stuff from which essence grows. So, our life, including all our experiences, is of the utmost importance.
g. The Fourth Way
By this he meant the transferring of our identity from the personality which exists in time and space and is therefore transient, to essence, which transcends time and space and is therefore immortal. These three traditional ways are:
- The way of the fakir (the way of struggle with the physical body).
- The way of the monk (the way of faith, the emotional way).
- The way of the yogi (the way of knowledge, the way of mind).
Gurdjieff went on to say that historically, these three traditional ways were the only possible methods for the development of the human being's potential to be objectively conscious. Objective consciousness brings the recognition of one's immortality. It is the immortality of essence that is meant. There is no immortality of the personality.
These traditional ways have always required the person to leave his or her environment and enter into a secluded, monastic existence. But in the societies of the 20th and 21st centuries these ways are less and less practiced and are difficult to find. Gurdjieff brought a Fourth Way, a teaching that can be practiced in the midst of life. The primary significance of the Fourth Way is that it is a way in life, whereas the three traditional ways, even if they can be found, require a complete change in one's ordinary living circumstances from the outset. Through Gurdjieff's teaching, we can apply the methods he brings to the events of modern everyday life.
This teaching works on all three sides of our nature at once: on our physical body, on our emotions, and on our intellect. This is another characteristic of the Fourth Way. It requires that we become balanced individuals, using the events of life to attain that balance. As we become more balanced, we can be self-conscious more easily because we are less identified with our body, our thoughts, or our emotions. When we no longer identify with these features of temporal life, we discover that we are free of all fears and all desires. We then stand in essence, not in personality, and essence is immortal.
h. Beginning the quest
Until we actually stand in the unity of our essential nature, our position is much less happy than is that of the person who sleeps soundly and who is not reached by ideas of this kind.
i. An exercise in consciousness: putting ourselves in the other person's place
Because the Fourth Way is a way in life, it is practiced in the midst of life. Students of the teaching engage in inner exercises which need not be known to other people. Many exercises were given by Gurdjieff himself.
All such exercises have to do with the expansion of consciousness that is characteristic of the transfer of our identity from personality to essence.
An exercise that Gurdjieff emphasized more than any other is to strive to put oneself in the position of another being. It is a principal exercise and is among the most difficult exercises that he gave, but because it is so important let us try it.
Take it as an inner exercise that we can practice in the midst of life. During this next week let us observe ourselves as we try whenever possible to put ourselves in the position of the people we encounter. Pick a particular person as the occasion presents itself, and try to satisfy what you perceive to be that person's wishes during the period of encounter, as if you were that person. Really try to put yourself in that person's position. At the beginning of the next lesson we shall share our experiences of what we have observed in attempting this exercise. Bring a specific example that you can share with others.
It is extraordinarily difficult to put ourselves in someone else's position, especially if that person is someone with whom we disagree. That is because we function through our personality, which we believe to be real, and each personality is separate from all other personalities. It is only when we stand in essence that we will be successful, because in essence we are all conjoined with the universal. Through the Work we begin to make a separation from the personality that we have been mis-educated to believe is who we are. In separating from the personality, we stand in essence, and we then experience what Gurdjieff calls genuine, impartial and non-egoistic love.
There is a particular method that is used for engaging in all such exercises. We must divide our attention so that all our attention does not flow into identification with personality characteristics. The method will be more fully described in the next lesson. The Gurdjieff method requires including the sensation of part or all of our body in our attention, as a device to help divide the attention. As we proceed through the week, encountering various people, let us try to have a sensation of our body including the sensation of its weight in our attention, while we attempt to put ourselves in the other person's position. This is the beginning of work on oneself.
Lesson 2: The expansion of consciousness
Self-observation is the chief means that is used to study oneself. By self-observation is meant the observation of the functions and characteristics of the human machine, the simple recording in one's mind of what is observed at the moment. We observe the human machine as we would any other machine, an instrument that can be probed and studied.
In order to properly observe the human machine we need to be in the state that Gurdjieff called "self-remembering" or "self-consciousness." This is a critical part of the process of expanding our consciousness and the inner effort required to enter into this state is explained in the remaining sections of this lesson.
During the past week, we have been trying to observe ourselves as we attempted to put ourselves in the position of another person with whom we disagreed. Let us consider these observations. What have we observed in ourselves?
b. Expanding consciousness
The Work is the development or expansion of our consciousness, especially the consciousness of ourself, and the Gurdjieff Work teaches us how to become really conscious and how to live here and now. We can say that Gurdjieff gives us the possibility to "wake up" and "to be" in the present. The Work is intended to help men and women to become more conscious and to acquire all the advantages and powers that self-consciousness brings. Indeed, the only real evolution, the evolution of which all esoteric teaching speaks, is the evolution of consciousness.
What is surprising about consciousness, about the state of being "conscious," is that people believe that they are always conscious. We live in the certainty of being conscious, of being responsible for our actions and certain that others are also conscious and responsible. But in reality we are not conscious in the sense that we do not possess the consciousness of which the human being is capable.
Ask yourself: "What am I really conscious of?" "What am I conscious of at this precise moment?" "Am I conscious of myself while I read or listen to these words?" "What does 'am I conscious of myself' mean?"
You can see that it is not possible to answer these questions, not with words, at any rate. Perhaps these questions disturb you and make you think of the mystery that consciousness represents. But consciousness need not remain a mystery. We begin to understand consciousness and to expand consciousness by including the consciousness of ourselves in our attention.
What is extraordinary is that by becoming more conscious of myself, I realize that I know more about everything else, even about consciousness itself, which therefore becomes less and less a mystery.
Our question then becomes: "How can I become more conscious?" and especially: "How can I become more conscious of myself?"
It is even possible, if not probable, that by simply speaking about it, our consciousness of self and our general state of awareness becomes greater. But in the absence of a real desire to acquire, keep, and perfect a state of consciousness greater than ordinary consciousness, this state of expanded consciousness rapidly disappears. We do not usually live with that aim in mind and so we do not know what is the effort necessary to become and to remain more conscious. To strengthen one's consciousness and make it more durable, one must not only desire it, but also must try to find out how to act towards such a goal, what we must do to achieve the aim of acquiring, keeping, and perfecting the state of a greater consciousness.
The particular effort required is not known by people who feel neither the need nor the wish to be more conscious of who they are and to know why they live on this earth. To learn what this effort is, one must study and practice one or another of the many existing methods of self-development, the Work taught by Gurdjieff being one of the most practical and most effective.
There are people who claim that being in the presence of an enlightened being, one who already knows that he or she is Endlessness, can cause us to become more conscious. In India, this is known as receiving the darshan (the blessed presence) of the guru. There may be some truth in this, because what we see in such a person, the dazzling light of enlightenment, is that which we seek to discover in ourselves.
We may even resonate to the same vibrations as the enlightened being, and in that sense being in such a person's presence may give us a momentary experience of enlightenment, a reflection in us of what is apparent in the enlightened being. In that person is a reflection of what is deeply in us. But the experience is soon gone, because without our own effort to connect with our essence there is nothing permanent within us to remain enlightened.
In ordinary life, we become conscious of ourselves only when we receive a "shock." If, for example, there is a loud noise, such as an explosion, we become very conscious of our presence and often a person in that state of enhanced awareness no longer acts as he or she usually does. He or she is temporarily liberated from inhibitions and mental paralysis. In these urgent circumstances he or she knows at once what must be done and acts rapidly, without hesitation. But real crises happen only rarely and so we remain unconscious during the greater part of our life.
c. The four states of human consciousness
The lowest or least con- scious state is the state of deep coma, a state of total unconsciousness. We often forget this state and speak of only the other four states. This is right in a way, since, strictly speaking, coma is not a state of consciousness.
The first state of consciousness, therefore, is the state that we usually call sleep, that is night sleep with dreams.
The second is the state that follows the moment when we "wake up" in the morning. This state is called "waking consciousness," though in truth it is only a state of "waking sleep" since our dreams continue during the day, but we are not aware of this. Just as the stars are no longer visible after sunrise, but still continue to exist, so our dreams are no longer perceptible when we get up in the morning, but they do not stop, and we do not appreciate that we are still in a sleep state and still dreaming. It is the sleep and dream of all with which we identify, of all that takes our attention. Not only are we machines, but we are machines asleep.
How can we understand one another while we are in such a state? It is obvious that we do not really understand one another and no one even understands him or herself, because no one knows him or herself. We do not even know that we do not understand ourselves, let alone understand another. However, we believe that we do know ourselves and that others can understand us if they try. We blame them bitterly if they do not understand us. But they are unable to do so, just as we are equally unable to understand them.
The two other states of consciousness are accessible only to the person who has worked on himself or herself. Such a person is permanently self-conscious (the third state of consciousness) and can finally enter the fourth and highest, state of consciousness, called "objective consciousness" by Gurdjieff, and sometimes called by others "cosmic" consciousness or the "unitive vision." This is enlightenment.
Gurdjieff said, "As long as a man [or woman] does not separate himself from himself he can achieve nothing and no one can help him."
Most of the Work is the effort to move from state #2 to state #3. The "how to" taught by Gurdjieff is described by
Ouspensky, as a double-headed arrow (page 19), along with examining the identifications that keep us from self- consciousness.
State 3: Self-consciousness (self-awareness) We include ourself in our attention. (We divide our attention). We are aware of being aware of ourself.
State 4: Objective consciousness (enlightenment) We experience the unitive vision and know we are the one life. This is called "enlightenment." It can be experienced but it cannot be described in words.
d. The inner effort required for self-consciousness
self-consciousness, is the intentional effort to include ourselves in our attention. Ouspensky expressed this as dividing the attention, as follows:
When I observe something, my attention is directed towards what I observe − a line with one arrowhead:
I … -> the observed phenomenon
When at the same time, I try to remember myself (be self-conscious), my attention is directed both towards the object observed and towards myself. A second arrow- head appears on the line:
I <- … -> the observed phenomenon
Our only tool for experiencing the state of self-consciousness is the intentional use of our attention, to divide the attention. Another way to view the intentional use of our attention is to look at the effort as including more in the attention. That "more" is the inclusion of ourselves in our attention at the same time that our attention includes all else that comes in through the senses and/or through memory.
Some students find it helpful to imagine an observing part of themselves somewhere near the ceiling gazing down and including themselves in the observation. But this technique should be taken only as a transitional aid to help in establishing the idea. In reality, there is no observing part of ourself because such a part would be in personality, and the personality is not real in the objective sense. There is only observation.
There is a subtle distinction between true self-remembering and illusory self- remembering. True self-remembering requires not only being aware of ourselves in our attention and at the same time including the internal or external object. It also means that we must be aware of being aware of ourselves in the moment. The object is relatively unimportant. What is important is to be aware of being aware. This subtle distinction may be expressed in the following manner:
Observe an object. The object can be an external object like a candle or it can be an internal object like an emotional state: i.e. anxiety, fear, internal considering, desire, pride, vanity, etc. See the object. See what is seeing the object. Drop away the object. What is left is that you are seeing or observing what is seeing the object. In other words, you are aware of being aware. This is true self-remembering or self- awareness, avoiding the trap of illusory self-remembering.
The inner effort that is necessary is best expressed in terms of attention. The person who really desires a new life, a new freedom, that is, an inner, durable change, has, in addition to his planetary body, the factory that supplies him or her with all the needed energies for work, only one tool: attention. The only effective tool to carry out the necessary work is attention. Most of the time our attention is completely taken by that with which we are identified. Something or someone constantly attracts, takes hold of, and retains our attention. Right now, it is held by what you are reading, but at least a part of your attention if you would experience self-consciousness must remain attached to yourself, to your presence here, to your activity now, at this moment.
In other words, you should be in the state that Gurdjieff called "self-remembering" or "self-consciousness" or "self-awareness." If you have forgotten that it is you who are reading this text and if you are reading mechanically without the awareness that it is you who are reading, where then is your sense of discrimination, your critical faculty? It is missing, as is the case most of the time.
Here is a critical and most important part of Gurdjieff's teaching, and the hidden teaching behind all spiritual traditions. It bears repeating and going over many times until it is fully understood. Being able to remain in this special state is extraordinarily difficult, but not impossible. It is this slim possibility, our ability to be aware of being aware of ourself, that is our only key to true freedom and our only means of access to the "higher worlds" of which all spiritual traditions speak.
f. An experiment in attention
let us try an experiment as we read or listen to the rest of this material. Place your attention on your right hand. If you accept what is suggested, accept it freely, choose to do it not because it is suggested, but because you have decided, of your own free will and accord, to do this experiment. You are quite free to accept or to refuse. If you choose to place your attention on your right hand, try to relax at the same time. If you have accepted to do this experiment, you have by now become conscious of a certain sensation in your hand. You sense your hand holding something, the book perhaps. Then you begin to sense the weight of your hand and you become conscious that it is attached to and is part of your body, that it is part of what you are used to calling "I." Remain relaxed and attentive and continue having the sensation in and of your hand while continuing to read or listen.
In your life also, in the midst of all your life activities, every time you remember, try not to forget to do it. Try to relax and to place your attention into some part of your body, thus becoming aware of the normal sensation which is always present in that part, but of which you are not usually conscious.
In your life also, in the midst of all your life activities, every time you remember, try not to forget to do it. Try to relax and to place your attention into some part of your body, thus becoming aware of the normal sensation which is always present in that part, but of which you are not usually conscious.
After what has just been said, the aim of this exercise is pretty clear. Through making the effort of keeping part of your attention on your right hand (or other body part chosen by you) you will not be as completely taken by what you are seeing or hearing or otherwise experiencing. You will no longer be completely subject to unconscious and unobserved dreams which pass through you. You will be a little freer from your ordinary state of identification.
You know now that you have a hand and that it has a specific sensation; this is a fact you are experiencing. And you are not as ready as you were previously to listen to your inner monologue about what you read or hear: "I have already read/heard this; it is rather old hat; how dumb can you be," and so on; or to lose your attention in something having nothing to do with what you read or hear: "I wonder if he/she really likes me? What are we having for dinner? That driver who cut me off was a real jerk," and so on. As long as you keep sensing your hand (rub your fingers together if that will help), your non-essential thoughts will have less force, will be less convincing, and will allow you to be more appreciative of the newness and importance of Gurdjieff's ideas, even if they seem to be already known or odd or ludicrous.
Now comes the question: how will you be able to maintain the consciousness of having a sensation of your hand? You have surely already realized that this sensation disappears after a few seconds and that you cannot sense your hand for very long before having to make a new intentional effort to bring your attention back to the hand. Every time you realize that you no longer sense your hand, do make the effort to sense it once again.You will often forget, for a varying length of time, perhaps even for days, to continue to make the necessary effort. You have already realized that? Very good: keep on trying, anyway. Why? To become more conscious of the existence of your body through direct experience of it and so that you may know that you have the power to direct and place your attention wherever you decide to do it. You do not have to let it wander uselessly, unconsciously and mechanically, lost in unimportant thoughts and/or emotions (feelings). If you let it do so, it is of your own choosing not because you cannot do otherwise. And now you know that consciousness can be obtained only through a voluntary, intentional and persistent action.
In trying to be conscious of ourself, every time we make the effort to be conscious, especially when we believe we are acting, we find that we do not really know what "action" is, because we almost never act: we react. We are incredibly passive: we only react, taking the easiest path. We are under the influence of external pressures, external stimuli. It is true, but there is nevertheless a possibility of voluntary, intentional action, because the only way we can act instead of react is through the voluntary, intentional control of our attention.
The work of dividing or including more, the "more" being ourselves, in our attention is of the utmost importance in the Work. It requires intentional effort to divide the attention and therefore to be in the third state of consciousness, the state in which we try to be always and everywhere.
Meeting as a group is especially useful for this purpose since we act as reminders for each other.
g. Relativity of consciousness in seven different levels of human beings
To help us further understand the relativity of consciousness, Gurdjieff divided human beings into seven categories of man/woman, each with its own level of consciousness.
Human being no. 7 is the one who has perfected him/herself through his/her own super-efforts. He/she has free will, objective consciousness, a permanent "I," and his/her own willpower. Therefore, he/she can do whatever he/she wants, and what he/she wants is always seen from and in the service of Endlessness, because metanoia has taken place in him/her and he/she experiences completely his/her identity with Endlessness. He/she is enlightened. He/she stands in the unitive vision. This is the perfect man or woman who is immortal, residing in the fourth state of consciousness. Gurdjieff makes a very interesting distinction between human being no. 7 and human being no. 6. The former resides permanently in the unitive vision and can no longer be deprived of or lose skills and powers.
Human being no. 6 is the one who really knows him/herself, is permanently in the state of self-consciousness, and has made contact with both higher centers, which therefore take part in all his/her functions. (We have touched upon the three centers generally familiar to everyone, the moving, emotional, and intellectual centers. Gurdjieff tells us that, in actuality, there are seven centers, including two higher centers, and this is the subject of the following section, "The seven centers.") Human being no. 6 has acquired all a man or woman can acquire: his/her individual "I," own will, "psychic" powers, etc., everything except permanence. He/she can still lose every- thing he/she has obtained through work and in that respect is not immortal.
Human being no. 5 has fully developed and properly equilibrated all his/her lower centers, and has established contact with one of his/her higher centers, the so-called higher "emotional" center. This man or woman is continuously in the state of self- consciousness, the state which we, ordinary "men" and "women," enter only sporadically, and then only if and when we apply ourselves to do the exercises that lead us toward it. Human being no. 5 has glimpses of the unitive vision.
Human being no. 4 is transitional. He/she has what Gurdjieff calls a magnetic center, having acquired a permanent center of gravity, knowing what he/she really wants and what he/she really needs. In other words, this man or woman has a well-defined aim and keeps it constantly in sight. Everything he/she does is in relation to this aim. The aim is to become more conscious, and he/she does what leads towards an expansion of consciousness, because he/she can choose what must be done. He/she has become capable of appreciating the real value of every "thing" in life because he/she is balanced. This is no longer either the physical, the emotional, or the intellectual man or woman, the type into which the human being was born. Man or woman no. 4 is balanced physically, emotionally, and intellectually. How does this human being and his/her further evolution into human being no. 5, then no. 6 and, finally, no. 7 come about? He/she is the product of continuous practical work on him/herself, very much along the lines of the practical exercises given throughout this text. It is a way of life. Through this work he/she has evolved from no. 1, no. 2, or no. 3, such as we are all born. Human being no. 4 is the product of work on him/herself.
Human being no. 1 the physical man or woman, no. 2 the emotional man or woman, and no. 3 the intellectual man or woman is every one of us, all on the same level, but of different types, reacting in radically different ways to the same stimuli. Each one of us is born into one or another of these three categories of man/woman. We are all born at the same basic level, with the same possibilities, but with different ways and capacities of perceiving and reacting to life events. From an objective point of view, none of us is born either "better" than or "superior" to the others. Nor is human being no.3 superior to no.1 or no.2.Men and women nos.1, 2, and 3 are all at the same level of consciousness.
h. The seven centers (brains)
These three aspects of the human being, physical, emotional, and intellectual, are recognized in other psychological and religious systems. Sometimes they are referred to as the hand, the heart, and the head.
Gurdjieff said that there are actually seven "centers," two of which are qualified as "higher" and five of which are called "lower." In every man and woman, there are two centers called the "higher emotional" and the "higher intellectual" centers. They are completely developed and have the capacity to function perfectly through human experience and maturity. In the ordinary man or woman, personality, consisting of the five lower centers, is not connected with essence, which consists of the two higher centers and which is our real being. Because of our improper education or condi- tioning, essence has been suppressed into the subconscious and takes no part in our ordinary lives. Thus, a principal goal of every esoteric school, including the Gurdjieff Work, is to help the student establish permanent connections between the lower centers (personality) and the higher centers (essence) in order to become a complete man or woman.
The five lower centers are called instinctive, moving, sex, passion or lower emotional, and thinking or lower intellectual.
Human being no. 1 is the one in whom the instinctive-moving center predominates. This is the "physical" man or woman, the athlete, the soldier, the explorer, often the actor. He/she wants to be a champion, to play games, to climb mountains, to fight. For him/her, the body and its activities are the most important, feelings and thoughts taking second place in all decisions.
Human being no. 2 is the one in whom the passion/sentimental or lower emotional center predominates. For him/her, everything is subject to the demands of his/her passions, sentimentality, feelings and emotions, mostly "negative" ones at that. This is the human being who desires either a contemplative religious life as monk, nun, or priest, or an artistic life: painter, poet, etc. He/she wants to live in his/her inner passions, a life not requiring too much thought or physical exertion.
Human being no. 3 is the one in whom the thinking center predominates. This is the scientist, the scholar, the school teacher, or university professor. For him/her, it is the intellectual center's work that is most important. He/she uses mainly mental abilities and disregards or neglects his/her feelings and physical activities.
Two people of different types can argue violently, thinking they disagree, when in fact their ways of looking at and of expressing the same thing is what really separates them.
Gurdjieff tells us that time in itself does not exist. At least it does not exist in the objective sense. It nevertheless plays a large role in all our lives. Gurdjieff suggests that we try to understand time in terms of relativity. He pointed out, for example, that an infinitesimally small world such as a drop of water contains a whole universe of beings. We know this to be true when we consider the bacteria and the even tinier entities that populate the drop of water. Time for them is relatively different than is time for us. Ouspensky tried to calculate the differences and concluded that the 24-hour lifetime of a large cell is equal to the 80-year lifetime of a human being. In this respect, time is subjective because the time of life for a cell is completely different than is the time of life for a human being.
For now we simply want to appreciate the relativity of time. Just as consciousness, as we have seen, is relatively different for different beings, so is time.
j. An exercise in consciousness: a "stop" before and during each meal
The exercise, then, is that at the beginning of each of our daily meals (for most people these will be three in number), before plunging into the actual eating, we "stop" and again come back to the sensation of our right (or left) hand. We try to hold that sensation in our attention for as long as possible, even through the entire meal if that is possible. We sense also the utensils in our hand. In this way we will be self-conscious through some or all of the meal.
Lesson 3: The transmutation of energy
a. A second experiment in attention
Let us try an experiment as we read or listen to the rest of this material. This time, place your attention on your left leg. If you accept to do this, accept it freely. Choose to do it not because it is has been suggested to you, but because you have decided, of your own free will and accord, to do this experiment. You are quite free to accept or to refuse. If you choose to place your attention on your left leg, try to relax at the same time. If you have accepted to do this experiment, you have by now become conscious of a certain sensation in your leg. You sense your foot resting on the floor, the pressure of the surface of the chair on which you are seated against the back of your thigh, the contact of your clothing against the skin of your leg. Choose what you wish. Then you begin to sense its weight and you become conscious that it is attached to and is part of your body, that it is part of what you are used to calling "I." Remain relaxed and attentive, having the sensation in your left leg while continuing to read or listen.
b. The five being-obligolnian strivings
- The first striving: to have in their ordinary being existence everything satisfying and really necessary for their planetary body.
- The second striving: to have a constant and unflagging instinctive need for self- perfection in the sense of being.
- The third: the conscious striving to know ever more and more concerning the laws of world-creation and world-maintenance.
- The fourth: the striving from the beginning of their existence, to pay for their arising and their individuality as quickly as possible, in order afterwards to be free to lighten as much as possible the sorrow of our common father.
- The fifth: the striving always to assist the most rapid perfecting of other beings, both those similar to oneself and those of other forms, up to the degree of the sacred martfotai that is up to the degree of self-individuality.
Gurdjieff gives much emphasis to these strivings in his writing. He said that many human beings of long ago who worked consciously upon themselves in accordance with these five strivings, quickly arrived at objective results.
In this lesson we take a closer look at the third conscious striving: to know ever more and more concerning the laws of world-creation and world-maintenance. The ideas presented may be difficult to comprehend because they deal with matters of a cosmic nature and are quasi-mathematical. But don't be intimidated. Try rather to get a "feel" for what is suggested in the text. These are ideas of a higher order, and although we might feel them emotionally to be correct, our ordinary intellect may not accept them. The ideas are to be taken seriously but not necessarily literally.