July 2010 Edition of Journey to Essence
Entering the Work and Self-Observation
Personal Reflections: Is There a Future for Mankind?
Below is an e-mail I received from a GurdjieffWork.com visitor and my reply for the benefit to others who may have had similar thoughts and questions.
Is there anything I can do to assure a future for mankind?
All creatures are born develop and die or transform. That is the law of nature. The law is valid to me as a person as to mankind.
Following this logic the law will act as was created. Mankind will exist as long as nature allows it to exist. One day mankind will disappear or change, but why does he live so miserably in the meantime? Why is there no understanding that cooperation is better than competition, and that to love my neighbor benefits myself? Why do people invest so much effort and creativity in building destructive weapons that will destroy the enemy, knowing that the enemy is doing the same for our own destruction?
The moment I awakened to these simple and basic questions I could not understand why leaders, generals and important politicians continue to slip into self destruction. Why cannot intelligent people recognize the contradiction their actions lead to?
I can see they all are in a deep hypnotic sleep. How do I know? I was there. I was an 'indoctrinated patriot', and remember the feeling of being part of my nation. I know because now I feel part of humanity. I don't know what my contribution can be to assure a future for mankind, but I do know that it is my duty to do everything possible to help other people to awaken.
As I read your question, "Is there anything I can do to assure a future for mankind?", the first thought that came to mind was, "Are you God"? That's a pretty big responsibility for any person to take upon him or herself, don't you think?
I don't know if there is anything anyone can do to assure a future for mankind because I don't know what the ultimate possibilities are for any man, nor do I know what plans the Creator might have for your life specifically.
I've thought about this question from time to time and long ago came to the conclusion that if Christ, Buddha, Lord Krishna, Mohammed, G.I. Gurdjieff, Thomas Merton, St. John of the Cross, and all of the many 'enlightened ones' who have come before, even the Creator of the universe, has been unable to save mankind from himself, why would I think I could?
The foregoing is not to say that your aim is not a noble and worthy mission, but is it realistic, is it in the realm of possibility for any man to assure such an outcome for the rest of humanity? Given the fact that there are approximately 8 billion people on the planet, how do you propose to affect an awakening of these individuals such that the future you envision might come to pass?
Yes, as you say, and it seems to me also, that man is born into this world with the potential to transform his level of being, even create an eternal soul, just as the Gospels teach that man is a 'seed' sown into the this earth and capable of transforming his consciousness to a higher level of being, to a level called the Kingdom of Heaven which, if you have studied Maurice Nicoll's works, "The Mark" and "The New Man", refer to this state, this higher level of consciousness available for a man to raise himself to, provided that he makes the proper efforts. Once one has reached this higher level of inner development, one might be able to answer the question, "Is there anything I can do to assure a future for mankind?"
Regardless of whether or not a man completes this possible transformation, his earthly body still dies. If, as you say, "Mankind will exist as long as nature allows it to exist", then again, I ask, is it within any man's ability to determine the future destiny of humanity?
If one did not have the potential of transforming him or herself, that is, to rise above the 'accidental existence' created by his or her self-centered motivations and interests, then I ask, what kind of a Creator would permit such conditions to exist in the Universe?
Only I can choose to understand, to cooperate, not compete, to love my neighbor as much as I love myself, and not participate in the manufacture of destructive weapons. I cannot control what others do however I can choose to live consciously from a higher truth and thus help to create the kind of destiny I envision for all mankind.
As Maurice Nicoll reminds us, man is a 'self-developing organism and when, through individual effort, he complete that transformation spoken of in the Gospels, he can, just as Christ demonstrated, "overcome the darkness of this world". He can then lead others to the "Way of Life", to the "Way of Love". That is all. Do you have a better plan?
Regarding your question, "Why do leaders, generals and important politicians continue to slip into self-destruction? Why cannot intelligent people recognize the contradiction their actions lead to?", I can only refer you to what I shared in the June 2010 Edition of Journey to Essence:
G. I. Gurdjieff maintained that if a man's consciousness is not awakened his existence is as if living in a suspended state of hypnotic sleep. To prove his point, Gurdjieff presents us with a very convincing argument: "How could it be possible for fully conscious people to kill each other in World Wars to achieve some trivial and illusive aims? Only asleep people would be able to do it."
I believe that G.I. Gurdjieff, the Work Teachings, and the Gospels have provided ample explanation as to the nature and cause of man's sleep and what one can do to awaken to that higher level of being already existing in oneself.
Through your efforts to awaken you have probably come into a more harmonious relationship with your fellowman, thus, as you say that you now "...feel a part of humanity." J. Krishnamurti said, "You are the world, the rest of humanity."
I encourage you to continue listening to your heart and to respond to this inner guidance, as you say, "to do my duty to do everything possible to help other people awaken." If you stop to think about it, what else can one do? If you so choose, you can rest in your noble and worthy life mission, and do much to advance the great vision our Creator has for the rest of humanity: "Our Father who art in Heaven, holy is Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
The Heart & Soul of Maurice Nicoll
"When impressions begin to fall on us to a deeper level, we begin to live in an entirely new world."
— Maurice Nicoll —
Entering The Work by Rebecca Nottingham
The Work is for Those Seeking Authentic Selfhood Through an
Understanding of Objective Knowledge Which Leads to Real Being
"Before you begin practicing the psychological Work of the Fourth Way, you must first have a strong desire to change the kind of human being you are; a reaching out metaphysically, seeking meaning and authenticity and growth into what you were born to become. This kind of dissatisfaction with yourself as you are is a prerequisite because the Work can then use the energy of that desire to fuel the real change it is aimed at. Since the Work is a path devoted to concrete change so must the student be seeking actual change. Each student must be willing to undertake the efforts necessary due to a sincere longing for personal development.
The Work must be done willingly and this is a most critical point. First, you must understand what you are doing and why you are doing it before you can do it willingly. If you try to engage in the Work practices in an uninformed or casual way, or out of curiosity, or if you are simply following the directions given you by your Teacher in a legalistic manner, you will find that you have bitten off more than you can chew and the Work will become hazardous to you. Again, if you are generally satisfied with yourself the Work will only offend you. If you imagine that you can gain the kind of self-mastery that will give you the power to fulfill your dreams and desires and thus be satisfied, you will be in for a rude shock. None of these approaches will get you anywhere in the Work. From the outset, you must willingly be seeking sincere self-change in order for the Work to work in you. If you understand this clearly and you have the right attitude, which is Conscience toward the Work, then you begin with acquiring knowledge.
Gaining knowledge is the first effort in the Work because you cannot get the right results until you understand how and why and what you must do. Since the Work is esoteric knowledge it is of a special quality which requires thinking. You cannot learn about the ideas and exercises intellectually, by rote using your ordinary memory, and get any results. The ideas of this system need to be assimilated into your consciousness by way of understanding which is not the same thing as knowing. This requires personal Work, thought and reflection and a flexible mind which doesn't presume it understands everything already.
You can spend your lifetime studying the knowledge of the Fourth Way, becoming a technical expert, and never actually be on the path of the Work. Knowledge comes first but it goes nowhere until you apply it to yourself, to your Being. No amount of knowledge alone creates change, but when you begin to practice what you have learned you receive 'light', understanding, and gradually the ideas become organic understanding by way of the personal experience you have in practicing them.
Studying this esoteric teaching will give you small shocks of awakening if you reflect on the ideas. The idea that humanity is asleep is a shock only slightly less alarming than the idea that you are asleep. The idea of self-evolution and different levels of consciousness is a shock. And the idea of 'Multiplicity' and 'Mechanicalness' can leave you reeling. You can find momentary mind expansion but not permanent personal transformation in the knowledge of this teaching. Transformation, which clearly indicates change, happens in and through your individual effort to apply this knowledge to yourself by way of practicing its teachings. Too many students confuse knowing about the ideas of the Fourth Way with understanding that only comes with the enlightenment gained in practical efforts. You may know that you do not remember yourself, but that knowing doesn't mean you are remembering yourself. You have to make the effort to actually remember yourself in order to understand what it means that you don't remember yourself. You may know quite well that you must observe yourself but never get beyond merely noticing this or that randomly, or you may have a very clear grasp of the idea of mechanicalness without ever having observed your own. You cannot have the perspective of the Third State of Consciousness unless you reach up into it in a practical way through your effort.
Getting into the Third State of Consciousness, awakening, is made possible mostly by way of making your personality passive; by going against the mechanical momentum of sleep which is always asserting your personality. Remember that the Third State is available to you at all times, above your ordinary state, accessible by the means of practicing Self-Remembering, Self-Observation, and Non-Identification which are conditions of consciousness in the Third State. You can create these conditions yourself by doing the Work yourself. That is what self-evolution means.
This is an incredible idea, that you can raise yourself up into higher levels of Being and Consciousness within yourself by doing the Work, and in so doing, you can receive enlightenment. The magnitude of this gift of opportunity exceeds words, yet it is verifiable and true. Your valuation of the Work will deepen and grow as you learn to appreciate the significance of this gift. If you find this esoteric path, you may consider yourself blessed."
"The object of self-observation, as it is said in the Work, is to let a ray of light into oneself. The next thing that is said is that when light is let in in this way many things begin to change of themselves. It is the light of consciousness that begins to change things. For this reason it is said in the Work that the light will cure us. Have you ever thought what it means, this extraordinary phrase: 'the light will cure us'"?
— Maurice Nicoll —
Fourth Way Practice of Self-Observation by Rebecca Nottingham
"The Work begins with dividing one's attention. While being aware of your external experience become concurrently aware of your inner state. This internal awareness is the beginning of self-Observation. Self-observation is the foundational effort in this process. Its value cannot be overestimated, and all development proceeds from that point. You must intentionally turn a portion of your attention inward in order to observe yourself." Click here to read the Fourth Way Practice of Self-Observation.
Quote of the Month
"For, as all exponents of the Perennial Philosophy have constantly insisted, man's obsessive consciousness of and insistence on being a separate 'self' is the final and most formidable obstacle to the unitive knowledge of God. To be a 'self' is, for them, the original sin, and to die to 'self' in feeling, will and intellect is the final all all-inclusive virtue. Man's final end, the purpose of his existence, is to love, know and be united with the immanent and transcendent Godhead. This identification of self with spiritual not-self can be achieved only by dying to selfness and living to spirit."
— Aldus Huxley —
If you have any comments or questions please Click for Email Address. I trust that your journey through the GurdjieffWork.com website will lead you back to your essence—back to your Real I.
The beginning of spiritual transformation is to observe our own psychology in action.
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