Commentary on Increase of Consciousness

standing alone

Commentary on Increase of Consciousness

(by Maurice Nicoll from The Psychological Commentaries on the Teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky)

According to the teaching of this Work we are at the second level of consciousness, designated the so-called Waking State in which people hate and kill each other in the name of some theory, etc.  The Work teaches that mankind, being at this level, which is not proper consciousness, suffers in accordance with this state, and is used for other purposes than are beneficial to it.  It says, before anything can become better, mankind–or a sufficient number of people—must reach the 3rd level.   Otherwise no real change in the affairs of mankind can occur and Man will continue to swing between the opposites, war and peace, etc.  In short, we here–each one–must undergo an increase in consciousness.  The 3rd level of consciousness–where outside help can reach us–is called the level of Self-Remembering, Self-Consciousness or  Self-Awareness.  We seek to reach this level.  Of course, in common fairness, everyone should.  Well, start with yourself.  Can you wake up a little?  How, then, can we individually, through personal work, undergo an increase of consciousness?

Now we come to a commentary on this central Work-idea of becoming more conscious and the consequences of remaining asleep in the 2nd state.


Our direction of increasing consciousness is making yourself more conscious to yourself.  We spoke recently of the person who “could not hear” and of the person who “was always out”.  As several people found the comments made on these two definitions given by Gurdjieff useful, let us speak about the person “who always makes difficulties”.  On one occasion Mr. Ouspensky said to me:  “You always make difficulties”.  I was surprised.  I thought at the time that this was really an absurd thing to say about me.  It seemed so obvious to me then that it was O. who always made difficulties.   I never made them.  So I was not only surprised, but offended.  Probably, I thought to myself:  “What?  Can he really mean that?  Can he believe it is true, when for several months or years I have been carefully pointing out to him how difficult he is, and what difficulties  he makes for me?”  Now I take this example in order to illustrate how, unless one becomes conscious of something in oneself one cannot see it,  cannot understand how it can possibly apply to oneself and so cannot change it.  Is it not clear that if you are not conscious of some quality in yourself, you are therefore not aware of it and therefore cannot believe that you possess it, if someone else happens to point it out to you, and so you cannot change it?  Consciousness and change are inseparable.  A person has two things:  a physical body and a psychological body.  The knowledge of both is extremely faulty and erroneous.  So people collide daily with one another.

Now let us take only the psychological body–a person’s psychology–your own personal psychology, through which you relate yourself to another person’s psychology.  A difficult matter indeed because you are not aware of your own psychology, nor is the other person aware of his or her psychology.  Both have a thousand and one things in them that they are unconscious of, that they are not aware of, and yet that manifest themselves all the time.  This is the general state of “Man asleep”.  So the Work starts with “self-observation”.  It says that it is necessary to “know thyself”–to quote the inscription written over the portico of the ancient Greek temple of Delphi, where there was an esoteric school that had clairvoyance and which was acknowledged throughout the North-Eastern Mediterranean some four thousand years ago.  Yes, before we can start, we must know ourselves much better than we do in the running stream of life:  and out of that knowledge we must become more responsible to one another and to ourselves.  Otherwise we do not really exist individually.




  1. Max on September 16, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Thank you!
    Why make laws for ourselves?
    Work is a Craft.
    Attention on Wish.
    Food from Above.
    Tastes so Clear!
    Open! Alive!
    Wake up.

  2. Max on September 16, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Thoughts are like ants.
    From high above.
    No big deal.
    Associative. Practical. Useless.
    Some carry big leafs in their mouths.
    They need each other.
    Sometimes they bite.
    Too many laws.
    Wish to stay high above.

  3. Max on September 16, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    “Attention is the way of immortality.
    Inattention is the way of death.
    Those who pay attention will not die.”

    ~ Buddha, ‘Dhammapada’ (2.21)

  4. Max on September 19, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Selling Water by the River. ~Peter Cutler.

    What I do, what all spiritual teachers do, is sell water by the river. There is nothing special about this. The river is already here. The water is already here. There is a constant and continuous flow of water. It has never not been here.
    The problem is few can see this river. It is as if the entire human population is wearing these thick glasses covered over with thoughts. The layers of thoughts are so thick that nothing can be seen but thoughts. The river is here. It has always been here. It always will be here. But as long as these thought-glasses are on, it cannot be seen.
    I’m not really selling anything. That would be dishonest. I’m simply asking people to take off the thought-glasses for just one moment so they can see that the river has always been here. There’s nothing special about this.
    Not many take me up on this offer. They are far too attached to the thought-glasses. So they continue searching for the river, even though they’re standing right in the middle of it and always have been.
    But some do remove the glasses. It could be because they have become so tired of searching without finding, or finding and losing. It could be simply because they are ready. The attachment to the thought-glasses has become thinner. They are no longer so addicted. They have begun to see the problems of the thought-glasses and the thought-world seen through them.
    There are not many who have removed the thought-glasses. There are not many standing in this vast river that are aware of it, that are no longer searching for what has always been here. Some remove the glasses for a while and through force of habit put them back on again. Then the river becomes but a fond memory.
    Many people think a spiritual teacher is something special. I’m only asking you to let this illusion go. We’re just aware we’re standing in the middle of the river, just as you are. That’s all. There’s nothing special about it. But, if possible, we’d like you to realize it too. Take off the glasses for just a moment. See what’s here. I’m pretty sure you’ll like it. Everyone else has.
    No teacher can take off the thought-glasses for you. We can give you encouragement. We can give you pointers. We can be your cheering section. But you have to do it. You have to let go of the attachment to the thought-glasses that hide this beautiful flowing river. Nobody, no teacher and no teachings can do this for you.
    ~Peter Cutler

    • Sam on May 4, 2022 at 7:56 pm

      Hi Max, teachers do something the rubber can’t do. They humanize the water. It drifts through their being which filters out some of the impurities. Makes it fun to drink.

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