Part 1 – Energy, The Human Factory, the 3 ‘Foods’ and Why to Transform Impressions

“The world is magnetized by the light of the Sun, and we are magnetized by the astral light of the world.

That which operates in the body of the planet, is repeated in us.

There are three analogical and hierarchic worlds within us, as there are in all of nature.

Man is the microcosm or little world, and, according to the dogma of analogies, everything that is in the big world is reproduced in the little world. There are therefore three centers of fluidic attraction and projection in us:

[1] the brain,
[2] the heart or epigastrum, and
[3] the genital organ.”

-Paraphrase from Ch.6 of Dogma of High Magic


We explained that in order to create the Superior Bodies (the Solar Astral, Mental and Causal Bodies), that we have to use the sexual energy (the creative energy of God in us) which is esoterically called Hydrogen SI-12 in Gnosis. Now we are going to talk a little bit more about how the Human Machine develops the Hydrogen SI-12 as well as the other types of Hydrogens are that it processes and works with.

Let’s look in more detail at the work of the Human Machine, and how we can leverage it in order to become more efficient with our energy, as well as how to increase the surplus of energy.

Energy and Doing

In the previous class we mentioned that “Magic is Doing” and that right now we are unable ‘to do’ because of all the influences which push us and pull us in different directions. So now lets look at how it is that this happens in the human machine with our Energy.

We want to ‘do’, but in everything we do we are tied and limited by the amount of energy produced by our organism. Every function, every state, every action, every thought, every emotion, requires a certain definite energy, a certain definite substance.

We have come to the conclusion that we must ‘remember ourselves’. But we can ‘remember ourselves’ only if we have in us the energy for ‘self-remembering’.

We can study something, understand or feel something, only if we have the energy for understanding, feeling, or studying.

What then is a person to do when they begin to realize that they do not have enough energy to attain the aims they have set before themselves?

The answer to this is that every normal person has quite enough energy to begin work on themselves.

It is only necessary to learn how to save the greater part of the energy we possess for useful work instead of wasting it unproductively…

-Paraphrase from Ch 9.3 of In Search of the Miraculous


Energy and the Human Machine

“The human organism represents a chemical factory planned for the possibility of a very large output.

But in the ordinary conditions of life the output of this factory never reaches the full production possible, because only a small part of the machinery is used which produces only that quantity of material necessary to maintain its own existence.

Factory work of this kind is obviously highly wasteful and completely uneconomical.

The factory actually produces nothing —all its machinery, all its elaborate equipment, actually serve no purpose at all, in that it only maintains its own existence with difficulty.

The work of the factory consists in transforming one kind of matter into another, namely, the coarser matters (in the cosmic sense) into finer ones.

The factory receives, as raw material from the outer world, a number of coarse ‘hydrogens’ and transforms them into finer hydrogens by means of a whole series of complicated alchemical processes.

But in the ordinary conditions of life the production by the human factory of the finer ‘hydrogens’, is insufficient and they are all wasted on the existence of the factory itself.

We are particularly interested in these finer ‘hydrogens’ because of their direct relationship to the possibility of higher states of consciousness and the work of the higher centers.

If we could succeed in bringing the production up to its possible maximum we should then begin to save the fine ‘hydrogens’.

Then the whole of the body (all the tissues, all the cells) would become saturated with these fine ‘hydrogens’ which would gradually settle in them, crystallizing in a special way.

This crystallization of the fine ‘hydrogens’ would gradually bring the whole organism onto a higher level, onto a higher plane of being.

This, however, cannot happen in the ordinary conditions of life, because the ‘factory’ expends [or consumes] all that it produces.

‘Learn to separate the fine from the coarse’ this principle from the ‘Emerald Tablets of Hermes Trismegistus’ refers to the work of the human factory, and if a person learns to ‘separate the fine from the coarse’, that is, if they bring the production of the fine ‘hydrogens’ to its possible maximum, then they will (by this very fact) create for themselves the possibility of an inner growth which can be brought about by no other means.

-Paraphrase from Ch 9.3 of In Search of the Miraculous


Inner Growth and the Nourishment of the Superior Bodies

Inner growth, the growth of the inner bodies of the human being, the astral, the mental, and so on, is a material process completely analogous to the growth of the physical body.

In order to grow, a child must have good food, their organism must be in a healthy condition in order to prepare (from this food) the material necessary for the growth of the tissues.

The same thing is necessary for the growth of the ‘solar astral body’; out of the various kinds of food entering it, the organism must produce the substances necessary for the growth of the ‘solar astral body’.

Moreover, the ‘solar astral body’ requires (for its growth) the same substances as those necessary to maintain the physical body, only in much greater quantities.

If the physical organism begins to produce a sufficient quantity of these fine substances and the ‘solar astral body’ within it becomes formed, then this astral organism will require less of these substances for its maintenance than it required during its growth.

The surplus from these substances can then be used for the formation and growth of the ‘solar mental body’ which will grow with the help of the same substances that feed the ‘solar astral body’, but of course the growth of the ‘solar mental body’ will require more of these substances than the growth and feeding of the ‘solar astral body’.

The surplus of the substances left over from the feeding of the ‘solar mental body’ will go to the growth of the ‘solar causal body’.

But in all cases the surplus will have to be very large.

All the fine substances necessary for the growth and feeding of the higher bodies must be produced within the physical organism, and the physical organism is able to produce them provided the human factory is working properly and economically.

All the substances necessary for the maintenance of the life of the organism, for psychic work, for the higher functions of consciousness and the growth of the higher bodies, are produced by the organism from the food which enters it from outside.”

-Paraphrase from Ch 9.3 of In Search of the Miraculous


The Nourishment of the Human Machine and the 3 Types of Foods

“The human organism receives three kinds of food:
1. The ordinary food we eat
2. The air we breathe
3. Our impressions

It is not difficult to agree that air is a kind of food for the organism.

But in what way impressions can be food may appear at first difficult to understand.

We must however remember that, with every external impression, whether it takes the form of sound, or vision, or smell, we receive from outside a certain amount of energy, a certain number of vibrations, and this energy (which enters the organism from the outside) is a kind of food.

Moreover, as has been said before, energy cannot be transmitted without matter.

If an external impression brings external energy with it into the organism it means that external matter also enters which feeds the organism (in the full meaning of the term).

For its normal existence the organism must receive all three kinds of food [or nourishment], that is, [1] physical food, [2] air, and [3] impressions

The organism cannot exist on one or even on two kinds of food, all three are required.

But the relation of these foods to one another and their significance for the organism is not the same.

[1 – FOOD]
The organism can exist for a comparatively long time without a supply of fresh physical food.

Cases of starvation are known lasting for over sixty days, when the organism lost none of its vitality and recovered very quickly as soon as it began to take food

Of course starvation of this kind cannot be considered as complete, since in all cases of such artificial starvation people have taken water.

Nevertheless, even without water a person can live without food for several days.

[2 – AIR]
Without air they can exist only for a few minutes, not more than two or three, as a rule a person dies after being four minutes without air

Without impressions a person cannot live a single moment.

If the flow of impressions were to be stopped in some way or if the organism were deprived of its capacity for receiving impressions, it would immediately die.

The flow of impressions coming to us from outside is like a driving belt communicating motion to us.

The principal motor for us is nature, the surrounding world.

Nature transmits to us (through our impressions) the energy by which we live and move and have our being.

If the inflow of this energy is arrested, our machine will immediately stop working.

Thus, of the three kinds of food the most important for us is impressions, although it stands to reason that a human being cannot exist for long on impressions alone.

Impressions and air enable a human being to exist a little longer

Impressions, air, and physical food enable the organism to live to the end of its normal term of life and to produce the substances necessary not only for the maintenance of life, but also for the creation and growth of higher bodies.

The process of transforming the substances which enter the organism into finer ones is governed by the law of octaves

-Paraphrase from Ch 9.3 of In Search of the Miraculous


The Process of Transforming Substances in the Human Factory

“Let us take the human organism in the form of a three-story factory [see Fig.25].

The upper floor of this factory consists of a person’s head; the middle floor, of the chest; and the lower, of the stomach, back, and the lower part of the body.

Physical food is H 768, or LA, SOL, FA of the third cosmic octave of radiations.

This ‘hydrogen’ enters the lower story of the organism as ‘oxygen’ DO-768.

‘Oxygen’ 768 meets with ‘carbon’ 192 which is present in the organism.

From the union of O 768 and C 192, N 384 is obtained.

N 384 is the next note RE.

‘RE-384 which becomes ‘oxygen’ in the next triad meets with ‘carbon’ 96 in the organism and together with it produces a new ‘nitrogen’ 192 which is the note MI-192.

As it is known from the law of octaves MI cannot pass independently into FA in an ascending octave; an ‘additional shock’ is necessary.

If an ‘additional shock’ is not received the substance MI-192 cannot by itself pass into the full note FA.

At the given place in the organism where MI-192 ought, apparently, to come to a stop there enters the ‘second food’—air, in the form of DO-192, that is, MI, RE, DO of the second cosmic octave of radiations.

The note DO possesses all the necessary semitones, that is, all the energy necessary for the transition to the next note, and it gives as it were a part of its energy to the note MI which has the same density as itself.

The energy of DO gives MI-192 force enough, while uniting with ‘carbon’ 48 already in the organism, to pass into ‘nitrogen’ 96.

‘Nitrogen’ 96 will be the note FA.

FA-96 by uniting with ‘carbon’ 24 present in the organism passes into ‘nitrogen’ 48 —the note SOL.

The note SOL-48 by uniting with ‘carbon’ 12 present in the organism passes into ‘nitrogen’ 24 — LA-24.

LA-24 unites with ‘carbon’ 6 present in the organism and is transformed into ‘nitrogen’ 12, or SI-12.

SI-12 is the highest substance produced in the organism from physical food with the help of the ‘additional shock’ obtained from the air.

DO-192 (air) entering the middle story of the factory in the character of ‘oxygen’ and giving part of its energy to MI-192 unites in its turn at a certain place with ‘carbon’ 48 present in the organism and passes into RE-96.

RE-96 passes into MI-48 with the help of ‘carbon’ 24 and with this the development of the second octave comes to a stop.

For the transition of MI into FA, an ‘additional shock’ is necessary, but at this point nature has not prepared any ‘additional shock’ and the second octave, that is, the air octave, cannot develop further and in the ordinary conditions of life it does not develop further.

The third octave begins with DO-48.

Impressions enter the organism in the form of ‘oxygen’ 48, that is, LA, SOL, FA of the second cosmic octave Sun-Earth.

DO-48 has sufficient energy to pass into the following note but at that place in the organism where DO-48 enters, the ‘carbon’ 12 necessary for this is not present.

At the same time DO-48 does not come into contact with MI-48 so that it can neither itself pass into the next note nor give part of its energy to MI-48.

Under normal conditions, that is, the conditions of normal existence, the production of the fine matters by the factory at this point comes to a stop and the third octave sounds as DO only.”

-Paraphrase from Ch 9.3 of In Search of the Miraculous



The Nourishment or Food of Impressions

So now let’s take a look at what impressions are (in terms of the Gnostic Esoteric Work).

Impressions coming into the human machine are a food which constitutes the beginning of an octave.

-paraphrase from Lecture “Birdlip, October 10, 1943 – THE DIGESTION OF IMPRESSIONS”
in Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky – Vol. 1

“…It has often been said that everything you see, everything you hear, the people you know, the books you read, enter as impressions. Other people are impressions to you. You touch them, you see them, you hear them, and so on.

Now the first place of work on oneself is designated as the place of the First Conscious Shock. The meaning of the First Conscious Shock, which is sometimes called in a general way Self-Remembering, is to transform impressions. You can accept some impressions and reject others, just as ordinary food coming into the body as Hydrogen 768 is either accepted or rejected by the stomach.

So first of all there is the acceptance or rejection of impressions, and then comes the digestion of impressions which is exactly comparable with the digestion of food in which you extract, as it were, certain parts, and excrete or get rid of other parts.

To make a ‘right stomach’ in the top compartment or 3rd floor of the 3-story factory is the object of this Work. The Work can form (when it is sufficiently understood) a stomach that rejects or accepts—that is, a stomach that digests.

The transformation of impressions is exactly comparable with the transformation of food in the stomach. Food is taken in and digested—i.e. it is transformed into finer and finer matters. You remember that Hydrogen 768 passes to Hydrogen 384 and then to Hydrogen 192, and so on.

Impressions enter the human machine in the top-floor as Hydrogen 48 and can become transformed into Hydrogen 24 and Hydrogen 12. But the Work teaches that ordinarily this does not happen except in very small quantities.”

-paraphrase from Lecture “Birdlip, February 5, 1944 – THE ENNEAGRAM III—SHOCK”
in Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky – Vol. 2


Part 2 – Metanoia (μετάνοια) and the Work upon Ourselves

Metanoia 1: To Transform One’s Whole Way of Thinking

“When you begin to become active to your life, when you begin to take things often from the Work point of view and not from a natural or mechanical point of view, then you begin to digest impressions.

This idea of the transformation or digestion of impressions is met with in the Gospels.

As you all know already, we have to take everything in a new way. Ordinary people will take things in an ordinary way, but in the Work we must take ordinary things in quite a new way.

This was called in the Gospels μετάνοια [metanoia : repentance, a change of mind, change in the inner man (Strong’s #3341)]. Many people have written about the meaning of this strange word which is so wrongly translated as ‘repentance’. Other author’s have suggested ‘transformation of the mind’ as a better translation.

We take in impressions through the present form of our minds. We see things, as it were, through our mental apparatus.

Take a very simple, mentally ‘uneducated’ person who sees an elephant. They will probably say: “Tut, tut.” Perhaps you see what I mean.

We all have mental attitudes, mental apparatus for reception, a set of ideas that we take as completely veracious, as completely right, true, and so on. [This could also be called our Conditioning or Programming.]

When we become more educated our mind changes to a small extent, so it becomes transformed slightly. What we previously thought was quite impossible, or wrong, we now see differently. Every one of us is limited by his or her thinking. Of course we do not see this yet.

For some reason or other, we all think we already have all points of view, all possible thoughts. This is utterly wrong. Each one of us is limited completely and totally by the small range of thinking that we have, acquired by our mental prejudices, attitudes, and so on.

Life appears as it does to us because of our mental level or our way of thinking. We cannot take things in a new way unless the way we think changes, unless our mental level is changed.

-paraphrase from Lecture “Birdlip, October 10, 1943 – THE DIGESTION OF IMPRESSIONS”
in Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky – Vol. 1


Metanoia 2: Taking in New Experiences

“…It is extraordinary that we all think we are capable of taking in any kind of experience or of understanding anything just as we are.

Do you see that we do not have the apparatus, we do not have the power of reception, to understand beyond our limited mental outlook and limited mental functions?

Now μετάνοια [metanoia] (so wrongly translated as ‘repentance’) means “to get beyond one’s present mind” —not to pass out of one’s mind, but to get beyond one’s present mind, to transform one’s whole way of thinking about oneself, about other people, and so on.

…The Work teaches us many quite new ideas about the meaning of life in general and about our own lives. Unless these ideas are taken in and thought about or reflected upon individually then our minds will remain exactly the same kind of dungheaps as they presently are.

We may have heard the expression that ‘we need to change our way of thinking’. Now take this phrase and apply it to every place in the Gospels where the word ‘repent’ [metanoia] is used.

Let us suppose that it [metanoia] was already translated as “think in a new way”. Then perhaps we will see how the Work is designed to change the entire furniture of the mind and re-arrange the whole mental apparatus.”

-paraphrase from Lecture “Birdlip, October 10, 1943 – THE DIGESTION OF IMPRESSIONS”
in Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky – Vol. 1


The Digestion of Impressions

“Now with regard to the digestion of impressions —digestion of impressions depends on a stomach, and the stomach in this case is the Mental Stomach.

The Work is to give you a mental stomach with which to digest impressions.

You can only digest your day by having something to digest it with, something that has been established in you through the assimilation, consent and valuation of the Work.

When you refer things to the Work, then you will find at once something that will help you to arrange your daily impressions rightly.

You will learn to take things in a light and easy way which ordinary people would take very negatively and heavily, and you will also learn to take things in a serious way that ordinary people take very lightly.

Let us take an example: Someone speaks to you in a way that you do not like —you feel all the mechanical reactions arising in you, you feel how you dislike this person and so on.

Now suppose that you identify with all these typical mechanical reactions, which means consenting to the feeling of ‘I’ and going into these mechanical reactions automatically aroused in you, so that you say: “I can’t stand this,” or “I can’t bear this,” or “I dislike so much this kind of person who looks like this, behaves like this,” and so on.

Well, of course, if this happens, you are not transforming impressions, you are not working on yourself at all.

Let us take another example: a person you do not like mechanically happens to say something to you of which you see the truth.

…Now you may think it ridiculous that a person of this kind can say anything of the slightest value to you, possibly because you think you are far better, yet at the same time here is something that you must accept and digest.

What you must excrete are your feelings of disliking and so on.

You will usually find that your best advisors, your best sources of knowledge, are people whom you would normally completely disregard.

…We need to try to see what we are resting on that is, to see our psychological structures and foundations. We need to try to see the basis of our egoic self-satisfaction. Then we will understand that unless this basis is completely broken up there can be no change of being.”

-paraphrase from Lecture “Birdlip, October 10, 1943 – THE DIGESTION OF IMPRESSIONS”
in Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky – Vol. 1


The Need to Digest Impressions in the Work

“…if impressions come in and call up the usual place there can be no digestion of impressions at all. And we are not then attempting to transform impressions.

We may talk a great deal about the First Conscious Shock but we are not practicing it because the First Conscious Shock is to transform impressions.

Now suppose we are sufficiently interested and sufficiently conscious to notice how these impressions fall on us mechanically, and suppose that we have sufficient valuation of the Work to wish to transform these impressions, which means not letting them simply fall on their usual place, exciting our usual dislikes and hatreds.

In order to do this we must have some power of digesting impressions, and this is where the Work comes in.

We know that the Work says that people are mechanical. Now suppose you apply a Work idea of this kind at the moment when you notice that someone is making a customary negative impression on you. If you understand something of what it means when it is said in the Work that people are mechanical, then you will not accept the impression so easily.

You will realize that it is not the person’s fault …and that the person always does this, always says this, because they are a machine. But of course you already know that you will never really see in the right way the mechanicalness of other people unless you see your own mechanicalness and how you are constantly doing the same thing.

…If you have these Work-ideas in connection with this person then the impression will fall in a quite new place in you. It will be digested.”

-paraphrase from Lecture “Birdlip, October 10, 1943 – THE DIGESTION OF IMPRESSIONS”
in Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky – Vol. 1


Transforming Impressions and Changing Ourselves

“But first of all you must have a new kind of thinking, some degree of μετάνοια [metanoia], before you can transform or digest these impressions.

If you can do this then you will find yourself entering on a very strange path that you cannot understand for a long time.

You may tend to go back to your old ways of thinking because you cannot understand Work-ideas, but if you do it will be a great mistake.

To think in a new way about other people means that you yourself are beginning to change and when you are beginning to change you will feel that you are losing sight of yourself of who you believe you are.

But if you always remain in sight of yourself of who you believe you are —that is, if you always remain as you were, then you cannot change.

To change, you must lose your ordinary feelings of identity.

…Change of being, change of oneself, means that you become quite different.

Now if you apply the ideas of the Work as a transforming agent to your life, to yourself, and to people around you and the impressions they make on you, then you begin to change.

The Work is designed to make you change.

Taking things in a new way —namely, from the Work point of view, from the Work teaching— is bound to make your whole relationship with other people change, but this will not happen unless you digest impressions by means of the alchemy of the Work.

…If we could work more consciously then we would digest impressions at the moment of taking them in, but since we do not yet have this power, since we are not conscious enough yet, then we can digest impressions taken in during the day at night-time or even the next day.

That is, we can re-arrange them in our minds in terms of what the Work teaches as good and evil.

You remember that it is said in the New Testament that we should not let the sun go down on our wrath or anger.

It is important how we go to sleep and it is equally important how we get up.

Past moments of psychological sleep, past moments of identifying with wrong “I’s” in ourselves, can be (to a certain extent) cancelled by consciously going over the whole situation in our minds afterwards.

You must never think that you cannot work on a thing in your past. Never think that you cannot alter the way it exists in you…”

-paraphrase from Lecture “Birdlip, October 10, 1943 – THE DIGESTION OF IMPRESSIONS”
in Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky – Vol. 1


Conscious Humanity and A New Life through Changing Ourselves

“Now I will tell you one of the most important ideas of this Work teaching.

This life on earth cannot be understood save in terms of another life, of another world.

All that this Work teaches is about how to educate ourselves in terms of another life, of another level of being, of another level of humanity called conscious humanity. This is one of the greatest transforming ideas contained in the Work.

…we must begin to imitate a higher level of humanity. We are all in the basement…

All the Work teaching about non-identifying, about negative emotions, about self-remembering and all the rest of it, is about going upstairs. Of course if you take this life and all that happens in it as the only thing and have no idea that there is anything else, then you will never be able to transform impressions. You will always remain under type A influences.”

-paraphrase from Lecture “Birdlip, October 10, 1943 – THE DIGESTION OF IMPRESSIONS”
in Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky – Vol. 1


Summary: The Importance of the Additional Shocks in the Work

Gurdjieff emphasized that awakening results from consistent, prolonged efforts. These efforts are the ones that are made after a person is already exhausted and feels that he can’t go anymore, but nevertheless he pushes himself.

“One lives one’s life… without the slightest idea that one has to give oneself a shock, and certainly one can live one’s life in this way owing to the mechanical shock of air.

But the Human Being’s is created for something further. …the Work teaches us that we are capable of giving ourselves two conscious shocks beyond the mechanical shock of air and that unless these shocks are given a person remains asleep and indeed begins to die to all possibility of spiritual development.

The Human Being’s real life lies in the psychological sphere, in the development of understanding [or comprehension], of feeling, of thought, of inner perception [and of applying additional or conscious shocks to ourselves]

…The first of these additional shocks … belongs to the intake of impressions and the reception of them and the digestion of them. This shock is called the First Conscious Shock.

In a fully developed and conscious person three shocks take place —the mechanical shock of air, which is given, and two additional shocks which are not given but must be created.

All esoteric psychology is ultimately about the nature of these two additional shocks and the means by which they may be given, and they refer to octaves that potentially exist in the Human Being which can develop through conscious work.

To change, to become different, to transform oneself, these two shocks must be understood and continually given to oneself in daily life.”

-paraphrase from Lecture “Birdlip, February 5, 1944 – THE ENNEAGRAM III—SHOCK”
in Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky – Vol. 2



So, why are we studying all this related with the Transformation of Impressions? Let us remember that of the 3 types of food or nourishment the 3rd type (Impressions) entered the body and were not transformed into any other type of substance.

By learning to ‘digest’ or ‘transform’ Impressions, we can acquire more energy, that is, we can extract more substance from Impressions than is currently being done. This will allow us to have a new type of ‘Hydrogen’, a refined ‘Hydrogen’, that can be used for the functioning of the higher centers and states of consciousness.

As Gurdjieff said:

“We are particularly interested in these finer ‘hydrogens’ because of their direct relationship to the possibility of higher states of consciousness and the work of the higher centers.”

The ‘transformation of impressions’ allows the Human Machine to create a new type of substance.

Remember what Gurdjieff says:

“Every function, every state, every action, every thought, every emotion, requires a certain definite energy, a certain definite substance. We have come to the conclusion that we must ‘remember ourselves’. But we can ‘remember ourselves’ only if we have in us the energy for ‘self-remembering’.”

So the beginning of understanding the Ray of Creation in Ascent and the application of ‘additional’ or ‘artificial’ Shocks (that is, ‘man-made’) is the Transformation of Impressions.

Next class, we are going to cover this “First Conscious Shock” in more detail and we are going to talk about the “Second Conscious Shock” (related with the HYDROGEN SI-12) in addition to the need for “Conscious Effort” in the Work and the Working on the Emotions.

So all that we are doing, in order to for our Organism to manufacture these ‘finer hydrogens’, is because the Superior Bodies (the Solar Astral, Mental, and Causal Bodies) need NOURISHMENT in order to grow and develop and this Nourishment is not possible without a change in the way our Human Factory works.



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