Whenever I read Mr Gurdjieff’s writing, the mind is exceedingly challenged to seek a higher level of understanding. It is capable… just out of practice. We find a strange sort of comfort and sleep in what we ‘know’ and ‘understand’. To awaken that buried ability is tremendously enlightening and well worth the effort! The words of Mr Murray Oxman ring true in this light: “If it can be upset, it should be.”
What follows is from GI Gurdjieff’s monumental “Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson: All and Everything”, from the section entitled ‘From the Author’:
Correctly Conducted Self-Observation
“And as regards this possibility of correctly conducting self-observation and conducting it without the risk of incurring the maleficent consequences which have more than once been observed from people’s attempts to do this without proper knowledge, it is necessary that the warning must be given – in order to avoid the possibility of excessive zeal – that our experience, based on the vast exact information we have, has shown that this is not so simple a thing as at first glance it may appear. This is why we make the study of the mechanicality of contemporary man the groundwork of a correctly conducted self-observation.
“Before beginning to study this mechanicality and all the principles for a correctly conducted self-observation, a man in the first place must decide, once and forever, that he will be sincere with himself unconditionally, will shut his eyes to nothing, shun no results wherever they may lead him, be afraid of no inferences, and be limited by no previous, self-imposed limits; and secondly, in order that the elucidation of these principles may be properly perceived and transubstantiated in the followers of this new teaching, it is necessary to establish a corresponding form of ‘language,’ since we find the established form of language quite unsuitable for such elucidations.
“As regards the first condition, it is necessary now at the very outset to give warning that a man unaccustomed to think and act along lines corresponding to the principles of self-observation must have great courage to accept sincerely the inferences obtained and not to lose heart; and submitting to them, to continue those principles further with the crescendo of persistence, obligatorily requisite for this.
These inferences may, as is said, ‘upset’ all the convictions and beliefs previously deep-rooted in a man, as well as also the whole order of his ordinary mentation; and, in that event, he might be robbed, perhaps forever, of all the pleasant as is said ‘values dear to his heart,’ which have hitherto made up his calm and serene life”.
Inner Life Exercise
“Nothing can develop by staying on one level. Ascent or descent is the inevitable cosmic condition of any action. We neither understand nor see what is going on around and within us, either because we do not allow for the inevitability of descent when there is no ascent, or because we take descent to be ascent. These are two of the fundamental causes of our self-deception. We do not see the first one because we continually think that things can remain for a long time at the same level; and we do not see the second because ascents where we see them are in fact impossible, as impossible as it is to increase consciousness by mechanical means.”
~P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous.