Correctly Conducted Self-Observation

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.


  1. Leo on August 2, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    So much of me wants to do as I always do, but that just gives me more of the same. I am glad something encourages me to accept what is truly good for me.

  2. Max on August 3, 2017 at 12:59 am

    Thanks for this, Gina. Authentic truth teachings are now easier for me to recognize, thanks to Mr. Howard. I didn’t know Murray Oxman, but I’m really looking forward to reading all his books when I come back to USA this month.
    When Mr. Howard died, I had a spiritual crisis. He was the benchmark for all truth teachings for me. I still do measure everything according to his teachings. But, what a gift! I found many Gurdjieff groups since 1992 when Vernon passed. And, Mr. Gurdjieff was saying the same Truthful principles.

    Gurdjieff writings are very challenging. Compared to Mr. Howard’s clean, clear, simple English. But, some interesting extensions of correctly conducted self-observation are made by Gurdjieff. He said it was exact. Exact meaning that all description and interpretation had to be removed. In order to do this, one had to Work/ Observe with 1) Impartiality / Objectivity. (Beginning with the body). 2). Simultaneity (Nowness). And 3). Deep emotional Wish for a Higher force to see me. During the observation of ourselves, if we do this correctly, thinking is shut down – beginning in flashes – but extended thru practice. Wow! Mr. Howard was saying this place was the ‘space’ between the ‘boxcars’ of a train of thought. All these teachers were pointing to this Free Space of Consciousness! When I ‘Keep the mind where the body is’ as Mr Howard continually told us- I can Wish to be seen impartially – right now. With practice these states of Consciousness can extend.

    Thru this Work, remorse of conscience comes at seeing our whole world torn down, including all of what we thought was real and ‘believed’ in. Our self-loves and vanities crumble. We are wrecks, and of ourselves, we cannot fix that wreck. But, the revealing of that takes all the bricks off our backs! All we have to do (all we have to do!) is allow IT and invite IT! Deep down Relief makes further Work go faster, because we are more porous and invisible- connected to Consciousness.

    • Lisa on August 3, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      I like what you said Max, about Vernon Howard’s Clean, Clear, Simple English. Without a doubt, his teachings give me everything I need to work. My favorite exercise right now is to slow myself down physically when ever I feel anxious. I find this works like magic to break the state and remember myself. It’s amazing how uncomplicated this work really is. You just have to jump in!

  3. George on August 3, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Mr. Howard said when you rise in the morning, instantly come wide awake and don’t allow that groggy state to have its way. Tried this this morning and was pleasantly surprised to see many thoughts I was not aware I was having. I feel more refreshed and lighter in spirit and I’m ready for a day of insights into the truly last frontier of the self. The great vast adventure of self-discovery.

  4. Max on August 14, 2017 at 8:45 am


    How can a Power so High and Loving hear a self-centered Wish of “I want”, “Give me…”? Work has told us Wish is the most powerful force in the world. But, who is Wishing? The personality? Mr. Howard used to say, “Be careful what you Wish for, you might get it.”
    Deep Wish -is logical and cosmic. From Magnetic Center, Essential Essence. Here Real Wish seems to originate.
    Aim and Wish seem so closely related. “I Wish to Remember Myself”, “I want to know the mind of God”, “Fuse with All Life Existing.” But, what ‘power’ do I have? How strong is my will, determination, perseverance, and single-pointedness? How do I connect with Deep essence? My mind changes like the weather. We are so identified that we don’t remember- or lose our Wish altogether. To keep on track? How do I penetrate the heart of hearts of my Essence?
    Invite. Allow. Accept. Permit. Yield. Surrender. Get ‘me’ out of the way. Get ‘you’ out of the way. Allow for It to happen. Repeat it every moment, day after day. I need to leave myself behind ~everyday, more.
    The Work tells us that we are born with Higher mental and emotional centers that are on 24 hours a day. They are said to be fully developed, so what is my lack of connection? False personality, self-worship, buffers, greed, vanity, the narrative of vagabond thoughts- all the rest of it. Such heavy vibrations making a Wish, seems like trying to throw a stone into orbit. How do finer vibrations operate? Like Love, Innocence, Purity, Virtue, quintessential-ness?
    I need a miracle. Something under fewer laws. So I Wish with all 3 centers as sincerely and reverently as this person can, when Re-membered. With the full force of an Attention this person has capacity for. And just ask “God help me.” Or “Lord have mercy”. He knows my Wish far better than I do.
    Mr. Gurdjieff mentioned ‘Accumulators’ a lot in his talks. Where the mind’s will is but a ‘flash in the pan’. Whereupon storage in emotional and moving accumulators, feeling Wish, breath, movement–filling accumulators for ‘All Day Awareness’ (ADA) with laser-focus on making contact. Contact with the Absolute as well as Higher centers and Essential essence. We have to use descriptive words; personally I feel it’s so. I Know so. Building a Soul or growing ones Being aren’t simply words anymore.
    Groups are so helpful with Wish. A colleague told me the other day, “The Soul body is made up of particles of His Endlessness.’ Wow, that ignited my Wish for that to an awesome level — even though I had no idea how that took place, just those words struck me emotionally like a ton of bricks. Powerful words- essentially. The Group is like an accumulator, we can refine our Wish by years of Work with one another. The shocks applied and the support given in Groups can potentiate our Wish. Groups keep humility on fire and re-mind one of one’s nothingness.
    Contact cannot penetrate thru layers of self-centeredness. Being sincere and ruthlessly self honest takes years of Work and ALLOWING. Seeing my ‘selfing’ the moment it happens.
    Then just be quiet, wait, be patient, and shut up. “The Work is 50 times as strong as you are.” That’s re-assuring.

    • Gina on August 21, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      Wow! Beautifully said and inspiring !! Thank you Max!

Leave a Comment