Part 1 – Influences, Crystallization and the Human Being’s Possible Development

Influences and the Mechanical Human Being

From the Esoteric point of view all people are machines governed by external influences. If you think there is something that chooses its own path, something that can stand against mechanization; then you think that not everything is equally mechanical. Art, poetry, thought, are just as mechanical as everything else. Human beings are machines and nothing but mechanical actions can be expected of machines. Although there people who are not machines…”

-paraphrase from Ch. 1.05 of In Search of the Miraculous


External Influences

“As we have said before, the human being’s chief delusion is their conviction that they can do.

All people think that they can do, all people want to do, and the first question all people ask is what they should to do. But actually nobody does anything and nobody can do anything. This is the first thing that must be understood.

Everything happens.

Everything that occurs to a person, all that is done by them, all that comes from them —all this happens. And it happens in exactly the same way as rain falls as a result of a change in the temperature in the higher regions of the atmosphere or the surrounding clouds, as snow melts under the rays of the sun, as dust rises with the wind, etc.

The human being is a machine. All their deeds, actions, words, thoughts, feelings, convictions, opinions, and habits are the results of external influences, external impressions. Everything they say, do, think, feel —all this happens.

To establish this fact for oneself, to understand it, to be convinced of its truth, means getting rid of a thousand illusions about ourselves, about being creative and consciously organizing our own life, and so on. There is nothing of this kind. Everything happens —popular movements, wars, revolutions, changes of government, all this happens. And it happens in exactly the same way as everything happens in the life of individual people.

The human being is born, lives, dies, builds houses, writes books, not as he/she wants to, but as it happens. Everything happens. The human being does not love, hate, desire —all this happens. But no one will ever believe you if you tell them that they can do nothing. This is the most offensive and the most unpleasant thing you can tell people. It is particularly unpleasant and offensive because it is the truth, and nobody wants to know the truth.

When you understand this it will be easier to see our true situation. But it is one thing to ‘understand’ with the mind and another thing to feel it with one’s “whole mass”, to comprehend it and to be really convinced that it is so and to never forget it.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 1.07 of In Search of the Miraculous


Influences acting upon the World and Choosing Influences

“Humanity and organic life on earth, is acted upon simultaneously by influences proceeding from various sources and different worlds:
    • influences from the moon & the planets,
    • influences from the sun,
    • influences from the stars.

All these influences act simultaneously; one influence predominates at one moment and another influence at another moment. And for the human being there is a certain possibility of making a choice of influences; in other words, of passing from one influence to another.

To explain how, we need to first understanding one thing: it is impossible to become free from one influence without becoming subject to another.

The whole thing, all work on oneself, consists in choosing the influence to which you wish to subject yourself, and actually falling under this influence. And for this it is necessary to know beforehand which influence is the more profitable.

-paraphrase from Ch. 1.10 of In Search of the Miraculous


Possibilities for the Human Machine in the Future

“Many things are possible, but it is necessary to understand that a person’s being (both in life and after death, if it does exist after death) may be very different in quality. The ‘human-machine’ with whom everything depends upon external influences, with whom everything happens, who is now one, the next moment another, and the next moment a third, has no future of any kind; they are buried and that is all.

In order to be able to speak of any kind of future life there must be a certain crystallization, a certain fusion of one’s inner qualities, a certain independence of external influences. In certain cases of fuller crystallization what people call ‘reincarnation’ may be possible after death, and, in other cases, what people call ‘existence on the other side’. In both cases it is the continuation of life with the ‘astral body’, and with the other Superior Existential Bodies of the Being.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 2.3 of In Search of the Miraculous


The Astral Body of the Human Being

“What does the expression ‘astral body’ mean? Many of the esoteric systems that use this expression state that all people have an ‘astral body’.”

This is somewhat confusing or incorrect, so we should clarify. According to the Gnostic system we are studying: all people have a Lunar Astral Body (or Body of Desires), but not all people have a Solar Astral Body (and, as such, not all people are liberated from the Body of Desires).

“What is called the ‘solar astral body’ is obtained by means of fusion, that is, by means of terribly hard inner work and struggle. The human being is not born with it. And only very few people acquire a ‘solar astral body’. If it is formed it may continue to live after the death of the physical body, and it may be born again in another physical body.

If this person who has a solar astral body is not re-born, then, in the course of time, that astral body also dies; it is not immortal but it can live long after the death of the physical body. Fusion, inner unity, is obtained by means of ‘friction’, by the internal struggle.

-paraphrase from Ch. 2.3 of In Search of the Miraculous


Inner Struggle and the Crystallization of something Permanent

“If a person lives without inner struggle, if everything happens in them without opposition, if they go wherever they are drawn or wherever the wind blows, then they will remain just as they are.

But if a struggle begins in them, and, particularly, if there is a definite line in this struggle, then, gradually, permanent traits begin to form themselves, and they begin to ‘crystallize’.

But crystallization is possible on a right foundation and it is possible on a wrong foundation.

‘Friction’, the struggle between ‘yes’ and ‘no’, can easily take place on a wrong foundation. For instance, a fanatical belief in some … idea, or the ‘fear of sin’, can evoke a terribly intense struggle between ‘yes’ and ‘no’, and a person may crystallize on these foundations. But this would be a wrong, and unhelpful crystallization. Such a person will not possess the possibility of further development.

In order to make further development possible they must be melted down again, and this can be accomplished only through terrible suffering. Crystallization is possible on any foundation.

Take for example a robber, a really good, genuine thief. They will stand with a rifle behind a stone or a tree by the roadside for eight hours without stirring. Could you do this? All the time, mind you, a struggle is going on in them. They are thirsty and hot, and flies are biting them; but they stand still.

Another example is a monk; he is afraid of the devil; all night long he beats his head on the floor and prays. Thus, eventually, crystallization is achieved. In such ways people can generate in themselves an enormous inner strength; they can endure torture; they can get what they want. This means that there is now (in them) something solid, something permanent.”

Such people can become immortal if they learn to properly direct themselves. In order to win the inner struggle sacrifice is necessary…

“If nothing is sacrificed nothing is obtained. [An Exchange!] And it is necessary to sacrifice something precious at the moment, to sacrifice for a long time and to sacrifice a great deal.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 2.3 of In Search of the Miraculous


The Four Bodies of a complete ‘Man’ or Authentic Human Being I

“In order to understand what the human being is at the present level of development, it is necessary to imagine (to a certain extent) what they can become, that is, what they can attain.

Only by understanding the correct sequence of development possible will people cease to ascribe to themselves what, at present, they do not possess, and what, perhaps, they can only acquire after great effort and great labor.

According to an ancient teaching, traces of which may be found in many systems, old and new, a human being who has attained the full development possible, a human being in the full sense of the word, consists of four bodies.

These four bodies are composed of substances which gradually become finer and finer, which mutually interpenetrate one another, and which form four independent organisms, standing in a definite relationship to one another but capable of independent action.

The reason why it is possible for four bodies to exist is that the human organism, that is, the physical body, has such a complex organization that, under certain conditions, a new independent organism can grow in it, affording a much more convenient and responsive instrument for the activity of consciousness than the physical body.

The consciousness manifested in this new body (the body grown within the physical body) is capable of governing it, and it has full power and full control over the physical body.

In this second body, under certain conditions, a third body can grow, again having characteristics of its own. The consciousness manifested in this third body has full power and control over the first two bodies; and the third body possesses the possibility of acquiring knowledge inaccessible either to the first or to the second body.

In the third body, under certain conditions, a fourth can grow, which differs as much from the third as the third differs from the second and the second from the first. The consciousness manifested in the fourth body has full control over the first three bodies and itself.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 2.6 of In Search of the Miraculous


The Four Bodies of a complete ‘Man’ or Authentic Human Being II

These four bodies are defined in different teachings in various ways. The first is the physical body, in Christian terminology the ‘carnal’ body; the second, in Christian terminology, is the ‘natural’ body; the third is the ‘spiritual’ body; and the fourth, in the terminology of esoteric Christianity, is the ‘divine’ body.

In theosophical terminology the first is the ‘physical’ body, the second is the ‘astral’, the third is the ‘mental’, and the fourth the ‘causal’. In the terminology of certain Eastern teachings the first body is the ‘carriage’ (body), the second body is the ‘horse’ (feelings, desires), the third the ‘driver’ (mind), and the fourth the ‘master’ (the consciousness, willpower).

1st body
2nd body
3rd body
4th body
  Christian Term
Carnal body
Natural body
Spiritual body
Divine body
  Theosophical Term
Physical body
Astral body
Mental body
Causal body
  Eastern Term
(feelings, desires)
(consciousness, willpower)
FIG. 1

Such comparisons and parallels may be found in most systems and teachings which recognize something more in the human being than the physical body.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 2.6 of In Search of the Miraculous


Development and the Four Bodies

“But almost all these teachings (while repeating in a more or less familiar form the definitions and divisions of the ancient teaching), have forgotten or omitted its most important feature, which is: that the human being is not born with the finer bodies, and that they can only be artificially cultivated in us provided favorable conditions both internal and external are present.

The ‘Solar Astral body’ is not an indispensable implement for a person. It is a great luxury which only a few can afford. A person can live quite well without a ‘Solar Astral body’. Their physical body possesses all the functions necessary for life.

A person without ‘Solar Astral body’ may even produce the impression of being a very intellectual or even spiritual person, and may deceive not only others but also themselves. This applies still more, of course, to the ‘mental body’ and the fourth body (the ‘causal body’).

Ordinary human beings do not possess these bodies or their corresponding functions. But they often think, and make others think, that they do. The reasons for this are, first, the fact that the physical body works with the same substances of which the higher bodies are composed, only these substances are not crystallized in it, they do not belong to it; and secondly, the physical body has all the functions analogous to those of the higher bodies, though of course they differ from them considerably.

The chief difference between the functions of a person possessing the physical body only and the functions of the four bodies, is that, in the first case, the functions of the physical body govern all the other functions, in other words, everything is governed by the body which, in its turn, is governed by external influences.

In the second case, the command or control emanates from the higher body.

The functions of the physical body may be represented as parallel to the functions of the four bodies.

In the first case, that is, in relation to the functions of a person with a physical body only, the automaton depends upon external influences, and the next three functions depend upon the physical body and the external influences it receives. Desires or aversions—’I want’, ‘I don’t want’, ‘I like’, ‘I don’t like’—that is, functions occupying the place of the second body, depend upon accidental shocks and influences. Thinking (which corresponds to the functions of the third body) is an entirely mechanical process. ‘Will’ is absent in ordinary mechanical human beings, they have desires only; and a greater or lesser permanence of desires and wishes is called a strong or a weak will.


1st body
2nd body
3rd body
4th body
1st body directs the rest
Automaton working by external influences.
Desires produced by automaton
Thoughts proceeding from desires.
Different and contradictory “wills” created by desires.
(1st Case) The Human-Machine who is the victim of external influences

1st body
2nd body
3rd body
4th body
4th body commands the others
Body obeying desires and emotions which are subject to intelligence.
Emotional powers and desires obeying thought and intelligence.
Thinking functions obeying consciousness and will
True Individuality, Awakened Consciousness, Real willpower.
(2nd Case) The developed Human Being or ‘Man’ who creates their own causes
FIG. 2

In the second case, that is, in relation to the functions of the four bodies, the automatism of the physical body depends upon the influences of the other bodies.

Instead of the discordant and often contradictory activity of different desires, there is individuality, dominating the physical body and its desires, which is able to overcome both its reluctance and its resistance. Instead of the mechanical process of thinking there is consciousness. And there is will, that is, a power, not merely composed of various often contradictory desires belonging to different “I’s,” but issuing from consciousness and governed by individuality.

Only such a will can be called “free,” since it is independent of accident and cannot be altered or directed from outside influences.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 2.6 of In Search of the Miraculous


Part 2 – Fusion, Development and the Fourth Way

Understanding our Present State and the Fusion of the Metallic Powders (or Loose Cathexis)

“An Eastern teaching describes the functions of the four bodies, their gradual growth, and the conditions of this growth, in the following way: Let us imagine a vessel (or a retort) filled with various metallic powders. The powders are not in any way connected with each other and every accidental change in the position of the retort changes the relative position of the powders to each other.

If the retort is shaken or tapped with the finger, then the powder which was at the top may appear at the bottom or in the middle, while the one which was at the bottom may appear at the top, etc. There is nothing permanent in the position of the powders and under such conditions there can be nothing permanent. This is an exact picture of our psychic life.

Each succeeding moment, new influences may change the position of the powder which is on the top and put another (in its place) which is absolutely its opposite. Science calls this state of the powders: the state of mechanical mixture.

The essential characteristic of the interrelation of the powders to one another in this kind of mixture is the instability of these interrelations and their variability.

It is impossible to stabilize the interrelation of powders in a state of mechanical mixture. But the powders may be fused; the nature of the powders make this possible.

To do this, a special kind of fire must be lit under the retort which, by heating and melting the powders, finally fuses them together. Fused in this way the powders will be in the state of a chemical compound. And now they can no longer be separated by those simple methods which separated and made them change places when they were in a state of mechanical mixture.

The contents of the retort will have become indivisible, or ‘individual’. This is a picture of the formation of the second body, the Solar Astral body.

The fire by means of which fusion is attained is produced by ‘friction’, which in its turn is produced in a person through an internal struggle. If a person gives way to all their desires, or panders to them, then there will be no inner struggle in them, no ‘friction’, no fire.

But if, for the sake of attaining a definite aim, they struggle with desires that hinder them, then they will thus create a fire which will gradually transform their inner world into a single whole. Let us return to our example.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 2.6 of In Search of the Miraculous


The Further Fusion of the Metallic Substance

“The chemical compound obtained by fusion possesses certain qualities, a certain specific gravity, a certain electrical conductivity, and so on. These qualities constitute the characteristics of the substance in question. But by means of a certain kind of work upon it: the number of these characteristics may be increased, that is, the solidified mixture or alloy may be given new properties which did not belong to it before.

It may be possible to magnetize it, or to do something else with it. The process of imparting new properties to the alloy corresponds to the process of the formation of the third body (the Solar Mental Body) and of the acquisition of new knowledge and powers with the help of the third body.

By means of a special kind of work for all three bodies the acquired properties may be made the permanent and inalienable possession of the third body (the Solar Mental Body). The process of fixing these acquired properties corresponds to the process of the formation of the fourth body (the Solar Causal Body).

And only the person who possesses four fully developed bodies can be called a ‘Man’ or authentic ‘Human Being’ in the full sense of the word. This person possesses many properties which ordinary people do not possess. One of these properties is immortality.

All religions and all ancient teachings contain the idea that, by acquiring the fourth body (the Solar Causal Body), the person acquires immortality; and they also all contain indications of the ways to acquire the fourth body (ie, immortality).”

-paraphrase from Ch. 2.6 of In Search of the Miraculous


The Possibilities for Development

“In order to grasp the essential part of this teaching it is necessary to clearly understand the idea that there is a way to develop the human being’s hidden possibilities. But the development of these possibilities is not a law. The law for a human being is existence in the circle of mechanical influences, in the state of ‘human-machine’.

The way of the development of hidden possibilities is a way against nature, and some will even say that it is against God.”

But it is not actually ‘against God’, it is against the level or rung of Nature that we currently occupy. It would be more accurate to say that we need to ‘Dominate Nature’ at a certain level, in order to raise ourselves up to the next level…

“This explains the difficulties and the exclusiveness of the way. The way is narrow and strait. But at the same time only through it can anything be attained.

In the general mass of everyday life (especially modern life), the way is a small, quite imperceptible phenomenon which (from the point of view of mechanical life), need not exist at all. But this small phenomenon contains (in itself) all that a person has for the development of their hidden possibilities.

The way is opposed to everyday life, it is based upon other principles and is subject to other laws. In this consists the power and the significance of this esoteric development.

In everyday life, even in a life filled with scientific, philosophical, religious, or social interests, there is nothing, and there can be nothing, which could give the possibilities which are contained in the way.

The way leads the human being to immortality. Everyday life, even at its best, leads the human being to death and can lead to nothing else.

As a matter of fact, if we take all the people who are neither fakirs, monks, nor yogis, and of whom we may say with confidence that they never will be either fakirs, monks, or yogis, then we may say with undoubted certainty that their possibilities cannot be developed and will not be developed in them. This must be clearly understood in order to grasp all that follows.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 2.8 of In Search of the Miraculous


Development and the Fourth Way

“In the ordinary conditions of cultured life the position of a person (even of an intelligent person) who is seeking for knowledge is hopeless, because, in the circumstances surrounding them, there is nothing resembling either fakir or yogi schools, while the religions of the West have degenerated to such an extent that for a long time there has been nothing alive in them.

Various occult and mystical societies and naive experiments in the nature of spiritualism, and so on, can give no results whatever. And the position would indeed be hopeless if the possibility of yet a fourth way did not exist.

The fourth way requires no retirement into the desert, does not require a person to give up and renounce everything by which they formerly lived. The fourth way begins much further on than the way of the yogi. This means that a person must be prepared for the fourth way and this preparation must be acquired in ordinary life and be a very serious one, embracing many different sides. Furthermore a person must be living in conditions favorable for work on the fourth way, or, in any case, in conditions which do not render it impossible.

It must be understood that both in the inner and in the external life of a person there may be conditions which create insurmountable barriers to the fourth way. Furthermore, the fourth way has no definite forms like the ways of the fakir, the monk, and the yogi. And, first of all, it has to be found. This is the first test.

It is not as well known as the three traditional ways. There are many people who have never heard of the fourth way and there are others who deny its existence or possibility. At the same time the beginning of the fourth way is easier than the beginning of the ways of the fakir, the monk, and the yogi.

On the fourth way it is possible to work and to follow this way while remaining in the usual conditions of life, continuing to do the usual work, preserving former relations with people, and without renouncing or giving things up in the traditional sense.

On the contrary, the conditions of life in which a person is placed at the beginning of their work, in which, so to speak, the work finds them, are the best possible for that person, at any rate at the beginning of the work.

These conditions are natural for that person. These conditions are the person themselves, because a person’s life and its conditions correspond to what that person is. Any conditions different from those created by life would be artificial for a person and in such artificial conditions the work would not be able to touch every side of their being at once.

Thanks to this, the fourth way affects simultaneously on every side of person’s being. It is work on the three rooms at once. The fakir works on the first room (the Action Brain), the monk on the second (the Emotional Brain), the yogi on the third (the Intellectual Brain).

In reaching the fourth room (the Equilibrium of the 3 Brains) the fakir, the monk, and the yogi leave behind them many unfinished things, and they cannot make use of what they have attained because they are not masters of all their functions.

The fakir is master of their body but not of their emotions or their mind; the monk is master of their emotions but not of their body or their mind; the yogi is master of their mind but not of their body or their emotions.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 2.8 of In Search of the Miraculous


The Fourth Way

“So the fourth way differs from the other ways in that the principal demand made upon a person is the demand for understanding or comprehension. The fourth way is sometimes called the way of the sly man.

The ‘sly man’ knows some secret which the fakir, monk, and yogi do not know. How the ‘sly man’ learned this secret is not known. Perhaps he found it in some old books, perhaps he inherited it, perhaps he bought it, perhaps he stole it from someone. It makes no difference. The ‘sly man’ knows the secret and with its help outstrips the fakir, the monk, and the yogi.

Of the four, the fakir acts in the crudest manner; he knows very little and understands very little. Let us suppose that by a whole month of intense torture he develops in himself a certain energy, a certain substance which produces certain changes in him. He does it absolutely blindly, with his eyes shut, knowing neither aim, methods, nor results, simply in imitation of others.

On the other hand, the monk knows what he wants a little better; he is guided by religious feeling, by religious tradition, by a desire for achievement, for salvation; he trusts his teacher who tells him what to do, and he believes that his efforts and sacrifices are ‘pleasing to God’. Let us suppose that a week of fasting, continual prayer, privations, and so on, enables him to attain what the fakir develops in himself by a month of self-torture.

The yogi knows considerably more. He knows what he wants, he knows why he wants it, he knows how it can be acquired. He knows, for instance, that it is necessary (for his purpose) to produce a certain substance in himself. He knows that this substance can be produced in one day by a certain kind of mental exercises or concentration… So he keeps his attention on these exercises for a whole day without allowing himself a single outside thought and, thus, he obtains what he needs. In this way a yogi spends on the same thing only one day compared with a month spent by the fakir and a week spent by the monk.

But on the fourth way knowledge is still more exact and perfect. A man who follows the fourth way knows quite definitely what substances he needs for his aims and he knows that these substances can be produced within the body by a month of physical suffering, by a week of emotional strain, or by a day of mental exercises —and also, that they can be introduced into the organism from without if it is known how to do it.

And so, instead of spending a whole day in exercises like the yogi, a week in prayer like the monk, or a month in self-torture like the fakir, he simply prepares and swallows a little pill which contains all the substances he wants and, in this way, without loss of time, he obtains the required results.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 2.8 of In Search of the Miraculous



On the surface, it may seem like we need to take a pill, but this is probably not what Gurdjieff was referring to… In English, we have a saying “that is a difficult pill to swallow”. This is often used when referring to something that we do not want to confront or face, about ourselves, about our life, etc.

So let’s ask ourselves “what do we need to face?”, because that will help us to see what has to change (within us) in order to progress.

    • We cannot stop influences, but we have the ability to choose the influence “to which we wish to subject ourselves”
    • Through an internal struggle, we can crystallize ‘something’ within ourselves (Exchange!)
    • To walk on the Path of the 4th Way, we need to be Sincere with ourselves. This will save us a tremendous amount of time, and help us to grow quickly.



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