What’s the Big Secret? Views of a Hidden Teaching. (Summer ’91)
My friend, Raymond Hebert, lent me his copy of this issue of the Gnosis magazine. Our shared interest is in Gurdjieff and his teachings. This issue’s total focus was on just that.
What is the Fourth Way?
“This teaching is named the ‘Fourth Way’ to differentiate it from the other ways of conscious evolution: the ways of the monk, the fakir, and the yogi. Each of these classic methods of human transformation focuses on different aspects of the individual: the emotional, instinctive and intellectual respectively. The Fourth Way deals with all of these dimensions at once, seeking to create a balanced individual whose inner work of transformation occurs in the midst of his or her daily activities. There is no need for monasteries, ashrams, or physical asceticism. Yet the efforts made are as intense and demanding as any of the practices which take place in these settings. The Work is entirely inner, invisible, and individual.” (The Fourth Way and Inner Transformation by Theodore J. Nottingham – page 19)
Doesn’t that sound a lot like Caroline Myss’ Entering the Castle?
“Self-remembering, combined with the insights of objective self-observation, helps create a balanced individual who is not completely under the sway of his or her inborn nature and acquired habits. It is not possible to experience a vaster sense of reality if we are entirely under the dominance of the intellect to the exclusion of the emotional or instinctive part of our nature and vice versa. In attempting to make the ‘machine’ work right, it is necessary to change attitudes and behavior developed over years of wrong function. Ouspensky told his students that it was only when we realize that life is taking us nowhere that it begins to have meaning. This observation is not a philosophy, but a pragmatic realization which can fundamentally alter our perception of ourselves and of the world around us.” (The Fourth Way and Inner Transformation by Theodore J. Nottingham – page 21)
Are we “Food for the Moon”? That’s the first question in the subtitle of Walter Scheer’s The Cosmology of the Fourth Way. Raymond suggested that he had missed this whole concept when he first read it in the early 1990’s.
It’s interesting how Gurdjieff tied the musical scale octave to emanation of life in the physical worlds. In this illustration the Absolute at the top is Unity and at the bottom, Nothing. Basically the on/off switch. This may seem simplistic, but it aligns with the idea of a binary code for 42 = 101010.
The Trinity figures strongly, too, as we shall see in a minute.
Meanwhile, it was suggested that: “The enneagram [is] perhaps the single most important diagram in the System. ‘For the man who is able to make use of it,’ said Gurdjieff, ‘the enneagram makes books and libraries entirely unnecessary.'”
How Gurdjieff’s System relates to the Tree of Life*
“The Tree of Life correlated to Gudjieff’s System. Gurdjieff’s teaching that there are three basic forces in the universe — active, passive, and equilibrating — can be correlated to the three pillars of the Tree. Because these three forces are so fundamental, ‘triads,’ or the intersections among three connected sefirot or principles, are particularly important.
“Gurdjieff also taught the ‘law of seven,’ or the ‘octave.’ Here the process of manifestation can be likened to a musical scale, which proceeds from an initial beginning (marked by Keter or the top Do of the scale) down to Malkhut, or the bottom Do, or final manifestation.
“The Tree can also be harmonized with Gurdjieff’s teaching of the seven levels of human development, focused on certain triads (numbered in this diagram). At the bottom are what Gurdjieff called ‘mechanical’ modes of life: habitual doing, feeling, and thinking, or types 1, 2, and 3 respectively. As the individual grows in consciousness by inner work, he or she ascends up the Tree to a point where enlightenment, or direct contact with the divine, is possible.” (Gurdjieff & Kabbalah by Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi page 43)
* “Death and then rebirth obliterates any recall of the past for most people, whereas advanced individuals often recognize places and people they have see before. In Kabbalah, the term gilgul (or ‘cycle’) is used for reincarnation. Gurdjieff said that his theory of repeating lives was not the full story, but he did not wish to elaborate. This may have been because people could become lazy if they believed they had endless opportunities. Kabbalah sees reincarnation as a progression in which the soul develops over a chain of lives. Karma in Kabbalah is called ‘measure for measure.’ It is very similar to the oriental view of merit and demerit determining the quality of fate.” (ibid)
George Ivanovich Gurdjieff died on October 29, 1949, slightly over four months before I was born. His Work, when I was 34 years of age, made a great impression on me. I didn’t ‘understand’ everything, but I knew it was important, which is why a lot of the sonnets I wrote that year have his concepts at the heart of them. Now I am more than twice the age I was then, and the seeds must have taken hold, since I have been on this inner journey to ‘know myself’.
Raymond suggested that perhaps knowing one’s self was actually code for getting to know one’s Higher Being. I agree, whole-heartedly. Thanks, Raymond.