In the previous class we talked about “The foundations we depend upon” and what being ‘Rich’ means in the esoteric sense. We want to remember our position in the Universe our place in the ray of creation so that we can fight our silly vanities which lead us to think we are ‘better’ than our fellow human beings.

Instead, we want to feel our own Inner Divinity, our Real Being, so that we can appreciate each moment we have and take full advantage of our time in the physical organism we currently occupy. But, unfortunately, the usual feeling we have is related to the particular egos or “I’s” that make up our psychology which is what blocks us from hearing our Inner Divinity.

If we analyze “the foundations we depend upon”, we find that each one of us has particular egos that play a recurring role in the make up our False Personality. This is our ‘Chief Feature’ or chief weakness and it is described as “the sum of several particular characteristic psychological elements”. There is “a definite event, a precise circumstance” that always repeats itself related to this Psychological Trait of ours and by studying our life, we can find those event and ‘get a lead’ our Particular Characteristic Psychological Trait.

Let’s understand that our Chief Feature or PCPT (Particular Characteristic Psychological Trait) is directly connected to how we process things (in our interior), the associations we make and, specifically, the ‘Accounts’ or Resentments we have… Resentments, Debts or ‘Accounts’ are related to the way we ‘keep track’ or ‘keep score’ and this is part of what is called “Considering” in the Work…

That is what we are going to review below.


Internal Considering as a Type of Identification

“Amongst the many things that we have to observe in ourselves and work upon, according to this teaching that we are studying, there is the psychological state called internal considering.”

“Internal considering or internal consideration is the disastrous consequence of “intimate self-consideration”.

Besides hypnotizing the consciousness, it causes us to lose a lot of energy.”

“Internal considering refers to a process which takes a great deal of force from us and, like everything that takes energy from us uselessly, it also keeps us asleep.

Internal considering is a branch of identifying and the study of identifying in all its different branches is one of the most important forms of practical work on oneself.

A person who identifies with everything is unable to remember themselves.

In order to remember oneself it is necessary not to identify.

But in order to learn not to identify, a person must, first of all, learn not to be identified with themselves.

One form of identifying is internal considering, of which there are several kinds, and some are forms of identifying with oneself.

One of the most frequent forms of internal considering is thinking what others think of us, and how they treat us, and what attitude they show towards us.

“Preoccupation about what others might think about us, that they might suppose: we are not honest, sincere, truthful, courageous, etc.

What is most intriguing regarding this subject matter is that we ignore the enormous loss of energy that this kind of preoccupation or worrying causes us.

Such worries (born from our inner self-consideration) are the cause of many hostile attitudes towards certain persons who have done us no evil.

In these circumstances, loving oneself too much, considering oneself in this way, it is clear that the “I” or better if we say the “I’s”, instead of disappearing, become horribly fortified.”

“A person may feel they are not valued enough and this torments them and makes them suspect others and causes them to lose an immense amount of energy and may develop in them a distrustful & hostile attitude.

Closely connected with this is that form of identifying called making accounts .”

“A person who is identified with themselves pities their own situation, and it even occurs to them to keep a count of their problems.”

“A man begins to feel that people owe him, that he deserve better treatment, more rewards, more recognition, and he writes all this down in a psychological account-book, the pages of which he is continually turning over in his mind.

And such a man begins to pity himself so much that it may be almost impossible to talk to him about anything without making him at once refer to all his sufferings.”

“Such people think that, in spite of all their well known generosities, the godfather, godmother, the neighbor, the boss, the friend, etc. have not repaid them as they were supposed to.

Therefore, bottled up within those egos of debts, that person becomes unbearable … to the entire world.

It becomes almost impossible to talk with such a person, because any conversation will certainly end up in that persons ‘account book’ where they unconsciously boast about their sufferings.”

“When one becomes identified with oneself, such a person loves themselves too much and feels self-pity.

Often, such a person thinks that they have always behaved very well with this or that fellow, with the spouse, children, etc., and that nobody has appreciated it, etc.

In summary, one is a saint and all others are scoundrels and rascals.”

-Paraphrase from Ch. 24 of Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
and from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, February 22, 1943 –
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


Forgiving our Debts in order to Grow

“All accounts of this kind, all feelings that you are owed by other people and that you owe nothing yourself , are of very great psychological consequence to one’s internal development.

In the Work, a person can only grow through the forgiveness of others.”

…the growth of one’s soul is only possible through the forgiveness of others.

“That is, unless you cancel your debts, nothing, in you, can grow.”

“If a person lives from instant to instant, from moment to moment, suffering because they feel that others owe them something,
because others have mistreated him, because others have caused him bitterness, then nothing will be able to grow in that person’s interior, because they will always sing the same psychological song.

As we emphasized in the previous class, the Lord’s Prayer says: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”.

Hence, the feeling that people owe us something or the pain we experience due to the evil deeds which others caused against us, etc., are obstacles for all internal progress of the soul.

“Feeling you are owed, feeling ‘debts’, stops everything.

You hold back yourself and you hold back the other person.

This is the inner meaning of Christ’s remark that one should make peace with one’s enemy. He says:

“Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilest thou art with him in the way; lest haply the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily, I say unto thee, thou shalt not come out until thou hast paid the last farthing.” (Matt. 5:25, 26)

If you are going to psychologically extract every pound of flesh or every “farthing” from a person who owes you —that is, if you are going to make everyone apologize and make amends and eat the dust, then you will be under the exacting law that Christ warns you to escape from.”

“This is the “Law of the Thalion”, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, an absurd “vicious circle”.

The apologies, compliance and the humiliations which we demand from others for the wrongs they caused us are also demanded from us, even if we consider ourselves to be “humble sheep”.”

“You will put yourself in ‘prison’ —that is, under unnecessary laws— and you will not get out until you have paid on your side for all your own faults.”

“… to place oneself under unnecessary laws is an absurdity. It is better to place oneself under new influences.”

“But there is a law of mercy —that is, an influence higher than the literal law of ‘an eye for an eye’ (which is the law of violent people).

This is an example of “putting yourself under new influences”.”

“It is urgent to intelligently place ourselves under the marvelous influences of the Gnostic esoteric work, in order to forget that people owe us and to eliminate from our psyche any form of self-consideration or internal considering.

We must never allow, within ourselves, feelings of the wrongs inflicted upon us, sentiments of revenge, resentment, negative emotions, anxieties, violence, envy, incessant remembering of debts, etc.”

-Paraphrase from Ch. 24 of Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
and from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, February 22, 1943 –
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


Observing our own Accounting

“If you want to put yourself under better influences coming down through the Ray of Creation, then you must behave differently,
and learn to take everything differently —that is, Work .

You must put yourself first under the influences of the Work and try to obey them.

That means, you must hear and do the Work.

In the Work, negative emotions, internal considering, making accounts, feeling violent, jealous, etc., are not encouraged.

Now if you make inner accounts, then you always feel that someone owes you.

Try to understand what this means: and then try to observe what it means in yourself and then finally try to do what the Work says,that is, separate yourselves from this identification.

And do not imagine it is quite easy.

The Work means work —hard work— on yourself .

Remember that this Work is for those who really wish to work and change themselves. It is not for those who wish to change the world.

We now come to a fuller description of one form of internal considering, but you must understand that you must observe this form in yourself .

No one can work on themselves without observing what this Work tells them to observe in themselves and seeing what it is one has to work on.

You must be able to perceive your inner state at any particular time as distinct from your outer physical body and what it is doing.

Once people can distinguish between their physical appearance and their inner states, then they can begin to work.

They see that they have a body which obeys orders, and a psychology.

The Work is about what a person is psychologically.”

-Paraphrase from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, February 22, 1943 –
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


The ‘Songs’ we Sing and Accounting

“When a person in the Work is called a “good singer”, this refers to the songs he or she sings.”

“If we observe people we can see in a direct way that each person has their own song.

Each one sings their own psychological song.

These songs typically emphasize the subject matter of “psychological accounting” which is the feeling that people owe us. One complains, one self-considers, etc.”

“Sometimes people sing their songs without any encouragement…”

“…without anyone winding them up, without anyone’s invitation…”

“…and sometimes, after a few glasses of wine, they begin to sing openly.

They sing about how badly they have been treated, about how they never had a real chance, about their past glories, about how no one understood their difficulties, about how they married wrongly, about how their parents did not understand them, about how nice they really are, about how they have been unappreciated, misunderstood, and so on, and all this means how everyone is to blame except themselves.”

“All of a sudden, we will meet someone who tells us: “In life I did this and that and that; I was robbed, I was a rich man, I had money and
then I was cheated; ‘so and so’ was the one who swindled me” (summary, this person is signing their psychological song).

Ten years later one finds the same person singing the same song; twenty years later one meets them again and they sing their same song again; this is their psychological song: they will remain identified with this event for the rest of their life, and in such circumstances, how is one going to dissolve the Ego? In what way, since it is being fortified?”

“All this is making inner accounts, or rather it is the result of making accounts. Which is one form of internal considering.”

-Paraphrase from Ch. 24 of Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
and from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, February 22, 1943 –
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky

and from Lecture #005 “The Exercise of Self-Knowledge” (also known as “The Knowledge of Oneself”) in El Quinto Evangelio


Getting rid of ‘Songs’

“Gnosis affirms that our songs must be eliminated, because it incapacitates us internally; and it robs us of a lot of energy.”

“Can you see, now, why it is necessary, in the Work, to get rid of songs as far as possible?

And why it is necessary to notice them, to starve them, to push them away, out of a central position in one’s life, until they are sung only on rare occasions, in faint voice, and perhaps, finally, never?

It is because they cripple you inside. They take energy. You smile —bravely—and it is all lies.

A good singer in the Work cannot get beyond themselves.

“…They remain in the past…”

They are a victim of their own account-making.

As soon as anything is difficult they begin singing.

This stops them: they cannot grow.

Perhaps they begin to cry.

They cannot change their level of being. They cannot get beyond what they are; they are crippled by sad songs. It is a sign of being.

Being is what you are and to change being one must not be what one is. Instead of working on themselves in some difficult situation, the person begins to sing at once, perhaps very nicely and quietly.

If they are criticized or spoken to sharply, then they begin to pity themselves, or get furious, and feel they are not understood, and so on. And then they begin to sing, either softly to themselves or to others, especially to people who will listen…”

“In order to pass to a superior Level of Being, it is necessary to cease being what one is; we need to not be what we are.

If we continue being what we are, then we will never pass to a superior Level of Being.”

-Paraphrase from Ch. 24 of Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
and from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, February 22, 1943 –
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


Friends and ‘Songs’

“Often a person makes friends with another person only because it is easy to sing his or her song to them, and if the latter suddenly says in so many words to “shut up”, he or she is so deeply offended that they go in search of a new friend — a person who will really understand him or her, as the expression goes —as if anyone could understand another person, just like that.

‘If only’, they say.

To understand another, one must first understand oneself, and this only begins after long work on oneself and catching glimpses of what one is really like.

A good singer certainly does not understand him- or her-self, even if they believe they do…

They prefer to sing the song that they are misunderstood and so they dream of a marvelous world in which everything is arranged so that they are the central figure in it.

And this attitude and these dreams create a weakness and, in fact, a real psychological sickness (for which a person may have to pay all through life).

This person has, as it were, let life overcome them.”

-Paraphrase from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, February 22, 1943 –
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


Secret ‘Songs’

“But you must realize that this does not apply merely to people who make no effort, to people who are not adjusted.

It applies also to people who do make ordinary efforts and yet who are sick in this sense because they feel life owes them things that they have never attained.

They feel they should be happier and very often think that other people seem to be happier.

And other people think the same thing of them.

And although they do not sing their songs openly…”

“…not all singers are public singers. There are also the reserved ones. They do not sing their song directly, but they do so secretly.

They are people who have worked much, who have suffered a great deal, who feel cheated.

They think that life owes them all that they were never capable of achieving.”

“They feel an inner sadness, a sense of monotony, a kind of inner tiredness or frustration around which thoughts gather.

It is about these inner secret songs that we wish to speak now.

For they also stand in one’s way, and very often they are not observed, although they are all the time secretly eating one’s life.”

“Unquestionably, secret songs prevent us from accessing the path of the Intimate Self-Realization of the Being.

Unfortunately, such inner secret songs go by unnoticed within ourselves, unless we intentionally observe them.”

“Only deeper self-observation will reveal them.

All self-observation is to let light in — in to oneself.

Nothing can change in us unless it is brought into the light of self-observation —that is, into the light of consciousness— and all self-observation is to make us more conscious of what is going on in us .”

“No interior change can occur in our psyche unless we allow the light of self-observation to penetrate.”

-Paraphrase from Ch. 24 of Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
and from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, February 22, 1943 –
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


Self-Observation when we are Alone

“You know, you must observe yourself when you are alone, just as much as when you are with people.

Self-observation is inner attention.

Do not think that when you are alone there is no need for inner attention.

When you are alone, quite different “I’s”, different forms of imagination, different thoughts, different moods, come forward.

You must not think that you are necessarily in good company when you are alone.

You may easily be in the worst company and yet not even think of observing where you are in yourself and what company you are keeping in yourself.

Your most negative and most dangerous “I’s” may come forward when you are alone.

You may have quite well-written songs that only come when you are quite alone —when you feel no one is looking.

Yes, but you must look.

You must never feel no one is looking, simply because the door is shut.

You must never feel that you can indulge yourself in your worst negative “I’s” just because you are alone and that therefore you can behave as you like in yourself.

You must cultivate quite a new idea of your responsibility to yourself in this respect.

To think that you can go to sleep in yourself just because there is no one there and that you can enjoy all your inner negative talking for that reason is to have no proper conception of what this Work means.

It means that you have no inner sincerity —and this Work demands inner sincerity as the first thing that is essential.

In life we keep up outer appearances. But in the Work the case is quite different.

It is about what goes on in you —inside yourself, in your thoughts and feelings.

By inner work on ourselves when we are alone, we can often change a whole outer situation.

But we cannot do that without inner sincerity and observing which “I’s” in us are lying or twisting things and so on.

We may make an aim not to be negative with some person, but if we are alone and let our negative “I’s” say what they please and make no effort not to identify with them, then we are not working sincerely —and we can undo a week of work in a few moments.

If we do not go with negative “I’s” in public, but indulge them in private, what do we think we are doing?

We certainly have not begun to understand what work means.

We must handle a person we are working with as carefully and as consciously in our inner thoughts and feelings as we do externally from polite manners.

If we cannot see what this means, then we do not see what self-observation means.”

-Paraphrase from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, February 22, 1943 –
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


Observing our ‘Songs’

“On one occasion Maurice Nicoll was sitting with Peter Ouspensky.

They had been silent.

Ouspensky looked up at Nicoll with a smile and asked him why he was so sad.

He responded that he did not know that he was sad.

Ouspensky said: “It is a habit. You are listening to some “I’s” that are singing some sad far-away song, perhaps a song without words or words you have forgotten.

Try to observe it. It takes force from you and is quite useless.”

And he added: “This is an example of the Moon eating you.”

This is as an example of what are called “inner secret songs”.

We know that the Work sometimes speaks of sacrifice —that we must sacrifice something in order to get anything.

What does the Work say that we must sacrifice first of all? It says we must sacrifice our suffering .

We express our suffering often in songs, both articulate and inarticulate”

“If we want to transform ourselves radically, then we need to sacrifice our own sufferings.”

“We are calling attention here to these inner inarticulate songs that we should try to observe and which can make us easily lose force, without our knowing what is happening.

They are, as it were, strange little sad private relationships we have with ourselves, that steal force from us and that we do not notice because they are habits.”

-Paraphrase from Ch. 24 of Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
and from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, February 22, 1943 –
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


Part 2 – ‘Requirements’, Negative Emotions and External Considering

“The more requirements you make, the more internal considering you will have.

You will always be disappointed and feel that somebody else is to blame.

People who make many requirements make life very difficult for themselves.

Nothing is right: they are not surrounded by the right people, they are not treated properly, and so on.

In this Work we must gradually feel our own nothingness by observation.

The opposite of internal considering is external considering.

External considering is thinking of others.

It is one of the few things in the Work that we are recommended to do.

We are told not to internally consider and not to have negative emotions, and so on, but we are told to consciously externally consider just as we are told to remember ourselves.

When we are in a state of internal considering (and this is our usual state) we are really thinking only of ourselves.

We regard ourselves as the center of the Universe. And, we have to realize that we are not the center of the Universe.

…You all know people, surely, to whom you cannot speak for a moment without their beginning to tell you what troubles they have, what a hard life they lead, and so on.

Such people are ruined. They are dead to the Work upon themselves.

…Just think how many people are completely ruined by constantly indulging in negative emotions.

Internal considering is a branch of identifying that is closely connected with negative states in us.

You must not think that the opposite of internal considering consists in a hearty, optimistic manner and loud laughter.

This is not external considering.

The opposite of internal considering, and what is in part a means of fighting against it, is ‘external considering’.”

-Paraphrase from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, March 1, 1943 –
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


External Considering requires a Control over Oneself

“External considering is based upon an entirely different relationship towards people than internal considering.

It is adaptation towards people, to their understanding, to their requirements.

By considering externally a person does that which makes life easy for other people and for themselves.

External considering requires a knowledge of people, an understanding of their tastes, habits and superstitions.

At the same time external considering requires a great power over oneself, a great control over oneself.

Very often a man desires not to express or to show to another man what he really thinks of him or feels about him.

But if he is a weak man he will of course give way and say what he really thinks and afterwards justify himself and say that he did not want to lie, did not want to pretend, but he wanted to be ‘sincere’.

Then he convinces himself that it was the other man’s fault.

He really wanted to externally consider him, even to give way to him, not to quarrel, and so on.

But the other man did not at all want to consider him, so that nothing could be done with him.

It very often happens that a man begins with a blessing and ends with a curse: he begins by deciding to externally consider, and afterwards blames other people for not externally considering him.

This is an example of how external considering passes into internal considering.

But if a man really remembers himself, then he understands that another man is a machine just as he is himself, and then he will enter into his position , he will put himself in his place, and he will be really able to understand and feel what another man thinks and feels.

If he can do this, his work becomes easier for him.

But if he approaches a man with his own requirements nothing except new internal considering can ever be obtained from it.”

-Paraphrase from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, March 1, 1943 –
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


Right External Considering in the Work

“Right external considering is very important in the Work .

It often happens that people who understand very well the necessity of external considering in life do not understand the necessity of external considering in the Work.

They even imagine that just because they are in the Work they have a right not to consider others: whereas in reality, in the Work—that is, for successful Work— ten times more external considering is necessary than in Life, because only external considering on a person’s part shows their valuation of the Work and their understanding of the Work —and success in the Work is always proportional to the valuation and understanding of it.

Remember that Work cannot begin and cannot proceed on a level lower than that of ordinary life —that is, it must begin on the level of Good Householder.

This is a very important principle, which is usually forgotten.

People must behave as Good Householders.”

In the Work external considering is more necessary than in Life.

It does not make “self-emotions”, but “others-emotions.”

…When we are involved in an Esoteric Group, when we Work in conjunction with others, this brings in the necessity of external considering, of putting ourselves into another person’s place, of realizing other people’s difficulties.”

-Paraphrase from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, March 1, 1943 –
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


Psychological Photographs and External Considering

In the practice of external considering it is necessary to realize that other people are mirrors of ourselves.

If you have taken an album of good photographs of yourself through long self-observation, then you will not have to look far in it to find in yourself what you object to so much in the other person

and then you will be able to put yourself in the other person’s position, to realize that he has also this thing that you have noticed in yourself, that he has his inner difficulties, just as much as you have, and so on.

External considering can be practiced when you are alone.

I will give you one example: go over carefully what you said to someone and put yourself in his place by visualizing them saying the same things to you and using the same intonation.

External considering is as vast and as varied in its range as is internal considering.

There cannot be right development of the Emotional Center without the practice of external considering: valuation of this Work, and the practice of external considering develop the Emotional Center.

The more you value this Work the less false personality can govern you, the less vanity you can have, and the more you consciously externally consider the less important will you think of yourself.”

-Paraphrase from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, March 1, 1943 –
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


Pretending and Inner Sincerity

“In this Work there is no such thing as pretending to do good when you really will evil.

It is no use pretending to be nice to other people when you hate them in your heart.

All this Work depends on inner sincerity.

External considering is not hypocrisy, it is not “good works”, but it is a question of inner attitude.

Remember that when you find the same thing in yourself that you are blaming in someone else it has the magical effect of canceling your inner accounts out.

This is real “forgiving”.

You know that our natural state is to be very surprised that there is anything wrong with ourselves.

…We say, for example: “Yes, I am afraid I feel like I was very much to blame for that incident.”

If the other person says “Yes, certainly you were” … then Are we not then very startled?

Usually, we will be hurt and offended at once.

All this is because it is very difficult to think that anything is wrong with us and it is all part of the sleep we are in, the deep sleep that covers all humanity.

Now self-observation is very harsh and becomes more harsh, if it is done sincerely, then it often hurts.

But it lets light in and stops all sorts of rank weeds from growing within, and amongst them all the strange growths due to internal considering and self-pity and song-singing.

And then at last we begin to see what it means that a man must realize that he is nothing before he can expect to be something.”

-Paraphrase from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, March 1, 1943 –
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


‘Songs’ about the Conditions of our Life or Situation

“With regard to that form of internal considering which is based on feeling that life has cheated you, that you should be in a different situation, you must remember that the Work says very emphatically that everyone starts from where he should be.

It says that the conditions under which you encounter this Work are the right conditions for you.

Nothing is more absurd than to think that one’s life is being wasted in this Work.

It is extraordinary that people have very narrow opinions as to what life should be like.

They have, as it were, one or two prescriptions for life and if a person’s life does not correspond to these prescriptions, then it is regarded as being wasted or useless and with such an outlook a person may internally consider a great deal and feel that everything is against him, even God and the whole Universe, and it is simply because he does not take his life in the right way.

He makes requirements which cannot be satisfied.

He is like a person who goes into a grocery store and asks for a top-hat or a sewing-machine and does not take what can be sold to him.

The forces of hypnotism which keep Humanity asleep are the same for everyone.

If awakening is your aim, then whatever your circumstances are, it should make no difference to you, unless perhaps you are forcibly deprived of the Work.

…Since internal considering is a form of identifying you will realize that the practice of non-identifying which has been sometimes been called detachment is the cure for internal considering.

If you realize that internal considering can become a real illness and can ruin you, if you can see it at work in yourselves, then you will do all in your power to try to escape from it.

It is no good saying, for instance, “Oh, so and so has no idea what life is like for a person like me.” It will only increase your internal considering.

It is the internal considering in yourself that has to be stopped or else it will grow and grow and grow.

…Do not ask what is the remedy for internal considering please.

You have got to study it in yourselves and notice what harm it does to you and from that gain a real desire to free yourself from it.

You have got to see it first in yourself and then you have to take it seriously, in conjunction with all the other things that you are told in this Work to practice.

For the whole Work is necessary.

The application of all the parts of the Work is necessary, for the whole Work is a living organism.”

-Paraphrase from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, March 1, 1943 –
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


[Supplement] The Work and our Perspective

“This Work has sometimes been compared with a map and a compass.

When a person is first given this map and compass, he often does not really understand them.

After a time he begins to realize one or two things, as, for example, that Personality must get less active.

You know that whatever is done through Personality is often done through the force of external circumstances.

…External circumstances drive people, as different kinds of machines, in this direction or in that.

But the directions given by the map and compass of the Work are not derived from external circumstances because the Work is another force coming, not from life, but from outside life; the ideas of the Work are not new directions for life but new directions for living in life.

Let us take the Work-idea that a person must aim to become Human Being No. 4 —that is, a Balanced Human Being.

Human Being No. 1 is either moving or instinctive, No. 2 is emotional and No. 3 man is intellectual.

All these are one-sided. One center predominates over the other centers.

But in the Balanced Human Being, all the centers have a required development.

That is, Human Being No. 4 is all-sided, and this means that all sides of life are known and understood by them to some extent.

He is not a person who says, for example: “Oh, politics are stupid,” or “Greek and Latin are silly,” or “Emotion is hysteria,” or “Sport should be abolished,” or “Religion is rubbish,” or “Science is bunk,” or “What’s the good of this or that ?” and so on.

A Balanced person or one who is aiming at balance knows that every aspect of life is necessary for development.

They do not waste their time complaining of life and finding fault with it, because they realize that life is a school and that is its real meaning, that life is a means and not an end in itself.

Remember that according to the Work … that a person has a small degree of will, comparable with the degree of freedom of movement a violin would have in its case.

So everything depends on what direction a person uses the small will that they naturally have.

If one never uses it in connection with the directions given by the Work, then one will not develop any further will.

But it is impossible to get this point of view properly unless one has the possibility of viewing one’s own life from the judgment of esoteric teaching —that is, unless one sees the necessity of inner development.

A man, viewing himself, as the result of his personal self-observation, in the light of the directions given by the Work, will recognize sooner or later where he is deficient, and seek on purpose what in life will help him in this respect and will go to it willingly.

He will not be following a life-direction but a direction in life, given to him by the Work.

It will not be done through Personality —that is, through the force of external circumstances, from life-ideas— but from his own insight into himself —that is, through internal circumstances, created in him by thinking from Work-ideas.

Everyone, without exception, is crossed in life.

But if a person in the Work begins to reach the point of understanding that he must bear the burden of his own life and begin to work on himself and change himself, then the whole situation is changed.

His choice of will then will lie no longer in life —whether he smokes these or those cigarettes, etc.

The small amount of will that we have must begin to turn in the direction given by the map and compass that the Work offers us.”

-Paraphrase from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, February 15, 1943 –
(Paper 3 – On Effort in the Work)’
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


If we Wish to be Different and the Directions of the Work

“If people are still thinking from life, they say: “Why should we do this?”

Yet exactly here lies the beginning of the Work in regard to effort.

You can be the same person every day if you like: or you can wish to be different.

You can go on submitting to negative emotions, identifying, being angry, justifying yourself from your life-ideas, and so on —or, on the other hand, you can think from the Work-ideas and use a little choice.

If you sincerely evaluate the Work and desire to make choice for it, for its meaning and teaching, then the small amount of energy gained will pass towards the essential you, the real person in you, and strengthen you and perhaps open up for a moment a certain happiness that is internal and quiet.

Now let me give you an example of a man following the directions of the Work in life and not the directions of life only —that is, a man living and willing the Work in life.

Let us take the example of a man so placed that he cannot change his outer circumstances.

What can he change? He can change his attitude, his way of taking life.

We are going to quote what Mr. Ouspensky writes about Karma Yoga in his book the “New Model of the Universe”…

Everyone in this Work must to some extent practice this Yoga, which is that of non-identifying.

Remember that the passages we quote here are written to illustrate what it means to follow new directions in life and not life-directions, not the hypnotism of life.

“Karma Yoga teaches right living. Karma Yoga is the Yoga of activity.

Karma Yoga teaches the right relation towards people and the right action in the ordinary circumstances of life

…Karma Yoga is always connected with the aim of inner development, of inner improvement.

It helps people not to fall asleep inwardly amidst the entangling influences of life, especially in the midst of the hypnotizing influence of activity.

It makes people remember that nothing external has any significance, that everything must be done without caring about results.

Without Karma Yoga people become absorbed in the nearest, the visible aims, and forget the chief aim.”

-Paraphrase from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, February 15, 1943 –
(Paper 3 – On Effort in the Work)’
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


‘Karma Yoga’ and the Work

“Karma Yoga teaches people to change their fate, to direct it at will.

According to the fundamental idea of Karma Yoga this is attained only by altering the inner attitude of a person towards things and towards that person’s own actions.

The same action can be performed differently, one and the same event can be lived through differently.

And if a man alters his attitude towards what happens to him, this will (in the course of time) inevitably change the character of the events which he encounters on his way.

Karma Yoga teaches people to understand that when it seems to them that they themselves are acting, in reality it is not they who acts, but only a power passing through them.

Karma Yoga asserts that a person is not at all what they think themselves to be, and teaches people to understand that only in very rare cases do they act of themselves and independently, and that in most cases people act only as a part of one or another great whole.

This is the ‘occult’ side of Karma Yoga, the teaching concerning the forces and laws which govern Human Beings.

A person who understands the ideas of Karma Yoga feels all the time that they are but a tiny screw or a tiny wheel in the big machine, and that the success or unsuccess of what they think they are doing depends very little on their own actions.

Acting and feeling in this way, a person can never meet with failure in anything, because the greatest failure, the greatest unsuccess, may further success in that person’s inner work, in their struggle with themselves, if they only find the right attitude towards this unsuccess.

A life governed by the principles of Karma Yoga differs greatly from an ordinary life.

In ordinary life, no matter what the conditions may be, the chief aim of people consists in avoiding all unpleasantnesses, difficulties and discomforts, as far as this is possible.

In a life governed by the principles of Karma Yoga, a person does not seek to avoid unpleasantnesses or discomforts.

On the contrary, they welcome them, for they afford that person a chance of overcoming them.

From the point of view of Karma Yoga, if life offered no difficulties then it would be necessary to create them artificially.

And therefore the difficulties which are met with in life are regarded not as something unpleasant which one must try to avoid, but as very useful conditions for the aims of inner work and inner development.

When a person realizes this and feels it constantly, then life itself becomes their ‘teacher’ or instructor.”

-Paraphrase from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, February 15, 1943 –
(Paper 3 – On Effort in the Work)’
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


The Principle of Non-Attachment

The chief principle of Karma Yoga is non-attachment.

A person who follows the methods of Karma Yoga must practice non-attachment always and in everything, whether to good or to evil, to pleasure or to pain.

Non-attachment does not mean indifference.

It is a certain kind of separation of self from what happens or from what a person is doing.

It is not coldness, nor is it the desire to shut oneself off from life.

It is the recognition and the constant realization that everything is done according to certain laws and that everything in the world has its own fate.

From an ordinary point of view the following of the principles of Karma Yoga appears as fatalism.

But it is not fatalism in the sense of the accepting of the exact and unalterable preordination of everything without the possibility of any change whatever.

On the contrary, Karma Yoga teaches how to change the karma —how to influence the karma.

But from the point of view of Karma Yoga this influencing is an entirely inner process.

Karma Yoga teaches that a person may change the people and events around them by changing that person’s own attitude towards them.

The idea of this is very clear.

Every person from their birth is surrounded by a certain karma, by certain people and certain events.

And in accordance with their nature, education, tastes and habits each person adopts a certain definite attitude towards things, people and events.

So long as a person’s attitude remains unchanged, then people, things and events also remain unchanged —that is, they continue corresponding to that person’s karma.

If a person is not satisfied with this, if they want something new and unknown then they must change their attitude towards what they have and then new events will come to them.

Even if These people feel that they cannot change themselves visibly; they can change themselves only internally, while externally remaining the same as before, saying the same things, doing the same things, but without attachment, like actors on the stage.

Having become such actors in relation to their life, they become Yogis in the midst of the most varied and intense activity.

There can be peace in their soul no matter what their troubles may be.

…Karma Yoga gives freedom to the prisoner and to the king,if only they can feel that they are actors playing their roles.”

This example has been given to show how a person can follow new directions in life and so live their life under other laws while being in life.

The Work is a set of new directions for living life.

These directions come from a far source: they come from Conscious Humanity, from those at a level far above our level.

In terms of the side-octave or lateral octave of the sun, they come from those who have reached the level of being, understanding and consciousness represented physically by the sun.

All those who have developed have left memorials behind them in teachings, parables, and other directions for those still in prison on earth.

These constitute the map and compass, the chart, the secret instructions, and, in our case, the Work itself.

If you follow these directions —that is, if you think from the ideas of the Work, then you are no longer driven by life even though you may still be living in life.”

-Paraphrase from the Lecture ‘Birdlip, February 15, 1943 –
(Paper 3 – On Effort in the Work)’
in Volume 1 of Psychological Commentaries
on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


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