Working with the ideas and methods of G. I. Gurdjieff
In the tradition of J. G. Bennett, Pierre Elliott, George Cornelius, and Irmis Popoff
(From a talk by Mr. Gurdjieff to a Paris Group, September 16, 1941)
Mr. Gurdjieff: You must see that in life you receive exactly what you give: life is the mirror of what you are; it is in you own likeness. You are passive, blind, and demanding. You take everything, you accept everything, without ever feeling any obligation. Your attitude towards the world and towards life is the attitude of one who has the right to demand and to take, who needs neither to pay nor to earn. You believe all things are due to you simply because you are you. You don’t notice this. Nevertheless, it is that in you which separates one world from another.
“You have no yardstick by which to measure yourself. You live entirely by ‘It pleases me,’ or ‘It does not please me.’ This means that you appreciate only yourself. You acknowledge something higher than yourself only in theory or with your logic—not in actual fact. This is why you make demands and continue to believe that all things are cheap, that you have enough in your pocket to buy everything you may want. You do not acknowledge anything above, outside, or within yourself. It is for this reason, I repeat, that you have no yardstick and live passively according to your whims.
“Yes, your ‘self-esteem’ blinds you. it is the biggest obstacle to a new life. In order to go further, one must cross this barrier, this threshold. This is the test which separates mankind into two: the ‘wheat’ from the ‘tares.’ However intelligent, brilliant, or gifted a man may be, if he does not adjust or modify his evaluation of himself, he will be unable to pursue his inner growth and unable to work on self-knowledge, to achieve real being. He will remain what he is all his life.
“The first demand, the first condition, the first test for one who wishes to work on himself, is to change his evaluation of himself. He must not imagine, believe, or think, but see—and really see—things in himself which he never saw before.
“His evaluation will never change so long as he sees nothing in himself. And in order to see, he must learn to see: this is the first initiation of a man on the path to self-knowledge…”
The Fourth Way is not only a way of service but also a way of self-perfecting, of self-transformation. It is necessary for people who wish to serve to be able to sacrifice. Anyone can sacrifice in a splendid way where everyone’s eye is on them. The small daily sacrifice of doing without this or that, of allowing oneself to be imposed on, to allow others to get the better of us, to give up our pride and sometimes even to give up our self-respect. That sort of sacrifice doesn’t come without very great inward change and one must know that change is necessary and be prepared to commit oneself to it. only people who are committed to change can be said to be people of the Way.
Our lives are not arranged for our own welfare. We are being used. But this does not mean that the Higher Power is indifferent or hostile to us. On the contrary, it puts before us not only all the possibilities of fulfilling our obligations, but at the same time the possibilities of gaining something for ourselves. But the situation is such that the chance of any one man doing this alone is very small. And for this reason alone, we need one another and must respect one another.
Our group currently meets in Acton, MA. For more information, please contact Pierce Butler, 781-893-0514, firstname.lastname@example.org or Debra Strick, 978-263-9425