Gurdjieff’s The Fourth Way Meditations:
A way of Being and Knowing
Although Gurdjieff developed a whole way of being and knowing, including attentional practices, dance/body movements, group processes, and meditations here I will focus only on some of the suggested meditations. In particular, I include the meditations noted by his primary student (J. DeSalzmann, 2011). In fact, I found her writings more clear regarding processes than Gurdjieff’s writings. In some ways these meditations resemble both mindfulness and concentration meditations from the East, on which Gurdjieff did some of his own study. These meditation practices imply that consciousness of self is pure consciousness, and that ultimate truth cannot be attained via thoughts or perceptions. It is all about deep and personal private experience. I have made some modifications of the original writings.
1) Meditation – Discarding Your Conditioned Learning
Begin with being comfortable. Now take a few slow, deep, smooth breaths and relax your body. Recognizing and discarding of our conditioned, learned self-perceptions may be the first steps in knowing The Fourth Way. At the same time, just be, without trying to seek anything special or personal answers to life’s questions. This process is one of the highest forms of thought. Just be fully open to being with what is now – seeing and hear hearing (inside and outside) without any form of judgment or evaluation. This is difficult to do. This practice requires strong attention and concentration so as not to be distracted while in the process of meditation without an object. Remain open to what arises from within you – deep down inside you. While in this meditation on nothing (objectless attention – a form of pure awareness), begin to become freed from past learning and conditioned existence. Perhaps, there is one thing you wish to free yourself from at this time. Do you best to LET GO of the “I” and the “Me” and the “Mine” as well – all the parts of you that have been conditioned by others and society. The “I” and “Me” and “Mine” all trap us into continued existence in a conditioned self. These are the greatest obstacles to consciousness of the most true self. Where are you now? Are you experiencing anything worthwhile?
2) Meditation – Finding the Deep Silence Within Me
Being in silence is one of the best ways to connect with inner energies. Work on letting go of Ego, your “I” “Me” meanings, sensory introjections, and personal views of your functioning. These are difficult practices – do your best to approximate them. Feel the tranquility of your true self in the feelings of your resting body. See if you can experience both inner and outer space. Note that ongoing thinking about these experiential processes is NOT silence or tranquility. This experiential intelligence is very sacred, and cannot be accessed by your ego-dominated self. Be in complete submission to your inner silence, or as close to it as you can get. As you begin to experience the quietude of self, allow joy to present itself. Feel it now! Work very hard to drop all projections, and see if you can reach the feelings of the deep void of being. Where are you now? Are you experiencing anything worthwhile?
3) Meditation – Contemplation without Perception or Being in Pure Presence
Allow yourself to open up yourself without fear. We are the outcomes of many, many years of body-mind conditioning. As the Tao has no form, neither does your true self experience within in equanimity. Liberation may come to you by prolonged experiences of profound inner peace. Feel the falling away of past unhelpful experiences and the arising of quiet awareness. Dissolution of the conditioned, learned self concepts brings deep inner intelligence and tranquility. Perhaps the most important form of intelligence is deep meditation on tranquility itself, which then may open up liberation from your conditioned reactions in life. Work on becoming aware of your presence – ONLY your presence. Again, this is a difficult practice. However, if you obtain even an experiential glimpse of the purity of presence you will find inner peace and happiness. Can you feel it now?
After practicing the three selected and modified meditations, see if you have a feeling for the inner sensations of making spiritual contact with yourself and the Beyond.
For more information refer to DeSalzmann, J. (2011). The Reality of Being: The Fourth Way of Gurdjieff. Boston: Shambhala, pp. 57-58, 165-169, 278-279, etc.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness
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