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The Path to Developing Higher Consciousness

A New, Rare Book Just Published

The Work: Esotericism and Christian Psychology
by Rebecca Nottingham

  The teaching is called "The Work" and it is about the inner psychological meaning of Christ's teaching.  It is a system of ideas and psychological practices derived from the Fourth Way System that originated with George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, interpreted by Peter Ouspensky, and taught by Maurice Nicoll in "Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky".  Students at any stage can use this reference to find guidance into the intended aim of The Work in order to carry it forward as the sacred path it was meant to be and applies to anyone who is seeking meaning and an authentic path that leads to real personal development.

Click Here to Read the Introduction to The Work

Understanding is the most powerful force we can create in ourselves.
In the Work, a man is defined as his understanding; a man is his understanding.

— Maurice Nicoll —

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In speaking of evolution, it is necessary to understand from the outset that no
mechanical evolution is possible. The evolution of man is the evolution of his consciousness.

— G. I. Gurdjieff — is for those who are seeking to understand the nature of self, the universe, and the inner meaning of the Gospel message.  It is for those who care about our world, a world which seems tragically out of balance and not what it was meant to be or what we imagine it could be.  It is for those who sense the urgency of participating more consciously in their own development, and thus the transformation of the larger world.

  We must realize that man cannot expect to live in harmony if he cannot undergo a definite and radical transformation of his consciousness as it relates to the significance of human life on earth.  If we are unable to achieve the needed transformation to a higher level of consciousness, we can expect more of what we have seen throughout man's tragic history: violence, wars, and the slaughter of innocent men, women, and children to settle our racial, religious, and political differences. is a comprehensive source of information on the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff, known as "The Work" and the "Fourth Way," including numerous contributions from many of his closest students such as P.D. Ouspensky and Maurice Nicoll as we as articles, audios, and videos from other Fourth Way teachers.  These resources are offered to sincere seekers to help them gain access to a living truth referred to throughout the Gospels as the Kingdom of Heaven.

We see everywhere a preponderance of vulgarity and stupidity of all kinds,
and in life, we only see new divisions, new hostility, new misunderstandings.

  Gurdjieff called this the "Terror of the Situation".  Through whatever form Gurdjieff expressed himself, his voice must be understood as an urgent call to each of us, for he calls us to free ourselves from the inner chaos in which we live.  He calls us to open our "inner awareness".  He asks us why we are here, what humanity wishes, and what spiritual forces a man will ultimately commit his entire being to. Above all, Gurdjieff asks us if we understand who we are, and more importantly, what we might become?

Man's possibilities are very great. You cannot even conceive
a shadow of what man is capable of attaining.

  Go out one clear starlit night to some open space and look up at the sky, at those millions of worlds over your head. Look at the Milky Way. The earth cannot even be called a grain of sand in this infinity. It dissolves and vanishes, and with it, you. Where are you, and is what you want simply madness?

  Man's possibilities are very great.  You cannot even conceive a shadow of what man is capable of attaining. But nothing can be attained in sleep.  In the consciousness of a sleeping man, his illusions and dreams are mixed with reality. He lives in a subjective world and he can never escape from it.  And this is the reason why he can never make use of all the powers he possesses, and why he lives in only a small part of himself.  For a man who wishes to wholly be himself, the search for the truth of what he is becomes the most urgent necessity.

What is the sense and significance of life
on earth, and human life in particular?

  This was George Ivanovich Gurdjieff's question.  At an early age, he had realized a high degree of being.  Experiencing the mindless mechanicality of man, the wars, the destruction, and misery, the question arose in him: Why is there life on earth, what purpose does it serve, if any?  Gurdjieff studied orthodox religion and science but their answers didn't satisfy him.  He came to intuit that the wisdom societies of ancient civilizations held the key to man's true identity and purpose.  Humanity, he recognized, was in dire need of this knowledge for humanity had entered a crucial period in its development.  "Unless the wisdom of the East and the energy of the West," he said, "could be harnessed and used harmoniously, the world would be destroyed."  In 1911 Gurdjieff took a vow to awaken people to a new level of being, of consciousness, of conscience; in a word, to a new type of man.  He vowed to introduce and establish in the West the esoteric teaching of self-transformation he had discovered, one he said that was completely unknown up to the present time.  He called it The Fourth Way.

  In his talks, Gurdjieff gave a keen analysis of the modern dilemma.  "There is a growth of personality at the cost of essence, that is, a growth of the artificial, the unreal and what is foreign at the cost of the natural, the real and what is one's own.  We see everywhere a preponderance of vulgarity and stupidity of all kinds, and in life, we only see new divisions, new hostility, new misunderstandings.  To avoid a complete disaster, it was necessary to achieve world harmony as soon as possible.  It could not be achieved by politics, philosophy, religion or any organized movement that treats a man in the mass.  It could only be accomplished through the individual development of man.  If enough individuals could develop themselves, even partially, into genuine natural beings, each such individual would then be able to convince and win over as many as a hundred others who would, each in his turn, be able to influence another hundred and so on." What Gurdjieff was saying was that everyone, like Atlas, would hold up, be responsible for, their own world and thus the larger world.

"Awake thou that sleepest and Christ shall give thee light."

  He on whom your attention rests is your neighbor; he also will die. If you acquire data always to realize the inevitability of their death and your own death, you will have a feeling of pity for others, and be just toward them.  From realizing the significance of your neighbor when your attention rests on him, pity for him and compassion toward him will arise in your, and finally, you will love him. Also, by doing this consistently, real faith will arise in some part of you and spread to other parts, and you will have the possibility of knowing real happiness.

— G. I. Gurdjieff 

If a man reasons soundly, he inevitably arrives back at himself and begins
to search for the answer to what he is, and what his place is in the world.

  Psychological Commentaries on the Teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky by Maurice Nicoll provides a roadmap that leads one to liberation from self-illusions into the inner sanctuary of the heart where a man can discover what G.I. Gurdjieff calls "Real I", and what the Bible calls the Kingdom of Heaven.  It is from this heart where a man or woman can develop the wish, as the Gospels instruct, to "love God with all your heart, all your strength, and all your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself."

  In every age, there is sown into the world esoteric teaching which gives the direction in which individual development should take place.  In our epoch, we have been given the esoteric teaching in the Gospels indicating the direction in which individual evolution should take place.  The word esoteric is commonly misunderstood to mean secret or hidden.  Esoteric schools have existed for many thousands of years, but in the pre-industrial technological world, they consisted of relatively small isolated groups.

  The vast majority of humanity has never heard of esotericism and very few people have ever come into contact with a real school.  The "secret society" mentality connected with esotericism arose partly from this ignorance due to circumstances, and it is used in many current Fourth Way schools as a selling tactic.  People love secrets; they love elitism, "hats", and agreed-upon delineated hierarchical groups.  But esoteric does not mean secret or hidden; it refers to the inner meaning of a thing.  In the first place, this knowledge is not concealed and in the second place, it cannot because of its very nature, become common property.

  Esoteric knowledge is not hidden.  It is available however the vast majority of people cannot hear it or, if they do, they find it fantastic or, at least, unnecessary.  Esoteric teaching is for those who are not satisfied with themselves or with life as it is, it is for those who feel there must be some greater meaning to life and who yearn to find their own meaning in life.  If you are mostly satisfied with yourself, with the kind of person you are, the esoteric path is not for you.  You must have a question within yourself and feel a longing for understanding, for completeness and for personal meaning and direction.  Then, if you seek, and when you find, you will be able to hear.

  The Work is beautiful when you see why it exists and what it means.  It is about liberation.  It is as beautiful as if, locked up for many years in a prison, you see a stranger entering who offers you a key.  But you may refuse it because you have acquired prison-habits and have forgotten your origin, which is from the stars.

  Whoever meets these ideas without prejudice feels touched to the heart by a force of truth that cannot be denied, and also called upon to question all the values which, until then, have supported him through life.  Ideas of this magnitude are such that, in front of which, one's personal ideas and prejudices must stand aside to make way for the deeper meaning of the thoughts to penetrate a man's understanding and affect his being.  However, by finding again and again in himself the taste of these ideas, a man can receive practical help in his search for an unchangeable truth.

The Work is something living in our hearts and minds. Follow the path,
see what changes take place within you, and what light begins to dawn 
in you.

— Maurice Nicoll —

  Man, Gurdjieff taught, is an unfinished creation.  He is not fully "Man", considered as a cosmically unique being whose intelligence and power of action mirror the energies of the source of life itself.  That the fate of the earth is somehow bound up with the possibility of the inner development of individual men and women resonates with the contemporary sense of impending planetary disaster.  The Work may be understood as the practical, painstaking cultivation of the state of awakening to the truth of the human condition in the world and in oneself.

  How are human beings to change this state of affairs and begin drawing on the universal conscious energies which we are built to absorb but which now pass through us untransformed?  How is humanity to assume its proper place in the great chain of being?  It is necessary for individual men and women to awaken, to remember who they are, and then to become who they really are, to live it in the service of truth and love.  Without this awakening and this becoming, nothing else can help us.  But it is very difficult.  An extraordinary quality of help is needed.  To this end, Gurdjieff created what has come to be called the Work.  The practice of self-observation, in accordance with the overall aim of the Work, is not a form in an end in itself but provides the fundamental preparation for the inner search within the midst of life.

  Through the practice of self-observation, one acquires a completely new meaning about life as the developing attention lets go of its effort and by willingly submitting to a higher consciousness.  As a result, a man or woman begins to come into contact with an ever-deepening sense of an inner need which allows an opening to a powerful conscious influence within oneself.  According to Gurdjieff, without a relationship to this more central aspect of oneself, everyday life is bound to be an existential prison in which the individual is held captive, not so much by the so-called forces of modernity, as by the parts of the self that cannot help but react automatically to the influences of the world.

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Developing Higher Consciousness

The level above man is called the Kingdom of Heaven in the Gospels. It has many other names in different writings. In the Gospels it is said that the Kingdom of Heaven is within you. It is at a higher level of a man. To reach it a man must reach a higher level of consciousness in himself. If everyone did this the level of life on this earth would change.

— Maurice Nicoll —

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