Gurdjieff’s The Fourth Way to Consciousness: Background
A core teachings is that there are three ways of being: the fakir (master of the physical body); the monk (master of faith and feeling); and, the yogi (master of mind development). A key goal is to KNOW yourself at the deepest levels. To KNOW is to be, to BE is to do, to DO is to master your awareness and inner growth of your true self. The only way into the self is via non-cognitive and non-associative experience in the present moment. The KNOW the self is to become free from all forces of cultural, social and attachment conditioning you have experienced during your entire life. NOT an easy task! Gurdjieff viewed typical humans as automatons – being under complete control of external forces and materiality. Self-cherishing is a major obstacle to conscious awareness of your pure self. To find consciousness of self, one would have to give up self-centered, sensory experiences. A person seeking consciousness of the self would be required to sit in silent meditation for prolonged periods of time, while holding an emphasis on observing the self in the succession of present moments. His approach was wide-ranging, and included the importance of group process, meditation, body movements, sound vibrations, etc. He also utilized a metaphor about the “driver,” the “horse,” and the “carriage.” Somewhere in his formula, there is also a “master.” Perhaps, the master is the source of the true self. His system of awareness included the Ennegram, a structure of symbolic teachings. If you practice and are lucky, you may experience the self in observation of the self while in present-moment meditation. You may experience a mind-body feeling of total unity. You may also only experience a glimpse of these experiences. Take what you get!
For more information refer to Gurdjieff, G. I. (2012). In Search of Being: The Fourth Way to Consciousness. Boston: Shambhala, pp. 1-4, 34-48, 129-132, 149-153, 201-206, 233-243, and 258.
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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