The following is an excerpt from one of Maurice Nicoll’s commentaries entitled:  ON AWAKENING FROM SLEEP.  It is from his 3rd book of “Psychological Commentaries on the Teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.”



We are studying a system of ideas sometimes called esoteric Christianity and which amongst ourselves we call the Work.  This system of ideas shews us quite definite lines upon which we have to work on ourselves and all this work on ourselves depends on observing ourselves far more consciously than we ever do in life and observing ourselves in certain definite directions laid down by the Work.  This Work is based on the idea that we are not properly conscious as we are now, but that a quite definite increase of consciousness is possible through which we begin to evolve.  Mankind at present, this Work teaches, is not properly conscious and only by an evolution of consciousness can it reach any desirable state.  It also teaches that because Man is not properly conscious everything that happens in the world, all disasters, wars, and other evils, necessarily take place, simply because Man is not properly conscious and does not know what he is doing or saying.  Now we are taught in this Work that consciousness cannot develop unconsciously but by effort.   Mankind at present is used by nature and so everything happens in the only way it can happen, but if Man became more conscious things would happen differently.  In this Work we are told that a certain number of people can always become conscious at certain periods if they are willing to work on themselves and study how they are not conscious yet and how they can increase consciousness in themselves, and for this reason the work begins with self-observation.  A man must observe himself, he must notice himself, and gradually he must distinguish himself from this mechanical figure that he has hitherto been.  By this personal work he can attain a higher level of consciousness called in this system the level of Self-Consciousness, Self-Remembering or Self-Awareness.


Inner Life Exercise

This exercise as given by Vernon Howard in one of his recorded lectures, serves an excellent method for increasing Self-Awareness.

Here it is:  For 10 minutes, put your whole heart, mind, Spirit and body into one task.  It does not matter what the task is – preparing a meal, cleaning a drawer, singing a song – whatever it is, do it entirely.  All attention is given to this one task with no interruption from thought.


  1. Max on November 22, 2016 at 4:45 am

    Q. Is self-remembering the initial process of this system?
    A. It is the center of the initial process, and it has to go on, it must enter into everything. At first this sounds improbable, because you may try to remember yourself, and then you find that for long periods of time it does not come to your mind; then again you begin to remember about it. But efforts of this kind are never lost; something accumulates and at a certain moment when in the ordinary state you would have been completely identified and submerged in things, you find that you can stand aside and control yourself. You never know when it will be or how it comes. You must only do what you can—observe yourself, study, and chiefly try to remember yourself; then, at a certain moment, you will see results.
    ~P. D. Ouspensky “The Fourth Way” chapter 3

    Practicing awareness and attention is money in the bank. Just keep depositing by wishing for self-remembering everyday. How important to a human being that one can do this! Mr. Howard said, “Keep your mind where your body is”. One can use the body to strengthen and lengthen self-remembering. The body also reminds us to Work. And, there’s a joy one senses, that it builds up in one–so it just happens ‘by itself’.

  2. Gina on November 23, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    I love what you said Max about how doing the Work, by Self-Remembering and being present in the physical body, brings into existence an incredible and unmistakable joy. Thankfully, this joy is so Pure and so Right that it exists in spite of ‘me’: certainly nothing that ‘I’ could have come up with on my own. For me, and in Reality, this Work proves the existence of a compassionate, all-knowing and all-powerful Creator that acts in this world, and in my life, in spite of the downward spiral that ‘I’ in society contribute to and am subject to. One only need submit. It’s one way or the other: Dark or Light. If I choose to no longer radiate dark and negative forces, I can Work through Self-Remembering, and Self-Observation to expose the indefinite and nebulous in my life to honest scrutiny. That’s it! I don’t have to know what to do, just what not to do. And so the Joy expresses itself from Creation thru the ‘one’ who will submit and follow instructions. We all have a choice, but it is the Light that will replace our despondency with true Happiness.

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