Turning Inwards

April 27, 2010


This is a transcript of a talk I gave in Darlinghurst, Sydney quite a few years ago. It is my understanding of the need for Self Observation and Self Remembering which can only truly begin when we turn inwards.  Everything written below is based on my understanding of the Gurdjieff Work. I gave the talk as part of the Sydney Group.



 We always imagine ourselves to be much higher than we actually are. We take it for granted that we are individuals, that we have consciousness and that we can ‘DO’. But there are moments in our life when events and situations might shock us into recognition that we do not know where we are going and that our own efforts to control and direct our lives have been in vain. In these moments we feel an emptiness, a void which cannot be filled by social position, friends or wealth.

It is in moments like these that we are given an opportunity to re-evaluate our so called individuality, consciousness and will, in other words, to re-evaluate the image we have of ourselves. If we are sincere in these moments we recognise that the image we have of ourselves is not us at all but rather a mask which we very rarely see through. Life through our sincerity has brought us to the question of ourselves. If we are not individuals with the power to be conscious of our actions and thus direct our lives, then who and what are we? Who am I? What is my place in the scheme of existence? In the face of such questions, we realise that we have a need to know ourselves for ourselves and through ourselves.

 If I wish to know myself and through this knowledge to know the real world, how do I begin? How do I make the right effort to turn inwards to myself and what is the right effort? It is at this point of our own search that we recognise the necessity to study the methods of self-study, which lead to understanding and eventually knowledge of ourselves. Whether alone or with others we have found ourselves in unfamiliar territory. In this region of the unknown we may hope that the forces active on this level will send us the help we need.

To have any chance of reaching our goal of self-knowledge without losing ourselves we need a guide. Here, as elsewhere, we must learn from those who know and accept to be guided by those who have already trodden the same path.

The guide cannot walk our journey for us, the guide cannot turn my attention inwards to myself. All that the guide may do is to point out the pitfalls and obstacles which lie along our path and whether we understand the methods of self-study. On this path understanding is our only currency and our only means by which we may pay for the help we need. The understanding spoken of here is completely different to the intellectual knowledge which our modern science has accustomed us to. It is for this reason that real self-knowledge requires a school. It cannot be found in books, which can give only theoretical data, mere information, leaving the whole of the real work still to be done – to turn inwards towards our own inner experience and transform information into understanding through consciously living what we are.

 If the turning we are speaking of is not only of the mind, but the whole of us, and if we realise that we are not the image we have of ourselves then what can the words ‘the whole of us’ mean? Here we come across our own doubts, confusion and resistance. The words come easy but the turning required is not as easy as hearing and saying the words. We listen, we speak, but over and over again we are taken by the disorder of outer activity and find ourselves falling prey to doubts, fantasies and sterile words. This is the beginning. It is this awareness which will provide the experience of a real wish to resolve this inner confusion.

When we try to observe ourselves we see that we have to remain attentive both to ourselves and to a particular aspect of ourselves. We realise that this turning is not given to us spontaneously and that the attempt to turn with the whole of ourselves is dependent up the participation of three factors or forces. These are ‘I’ who observe face to face with what ‘I’ observe within myself and the third factor which connects the two – our attention.

Taking these three factors into consideration we will speak firstly about attention. Our usual state of attention is one in which we lose our identity in some activity – be it reading a book, talking to a friend, listening to music, hammering a nail, or just simply daydreaming. This is known as identification. Identification has different ways of manifesting within ourselves depending upon the activity. One of these ways is when we drift from object to object, from sight to sound to thought to a sensation with no apparent aim, no apparent direction: it is automatic. Or, our attention is attracted by something which exercises a strong hold – an argument, a beautiful face, a memory of some place or person. In this way we are drawn by our interest and the situation takes over ourselves. Another way in which our attention is spent is when we direct it by a simple effort for a certain time intentionally – making something, studying, playing a musical instrument, cooking, sewing. The common element we find in each of these ways of paying attention is that we are aware only of one thing at a time. This is our ordinary state. We can be aware either of the person we are talking to, or of our own words, of a pain in my body, of a scene, or of my thoughts about the scene. But, except on very rare occasions, we are not aware simultaneously of our own words and the person we are addressing, of my own pain and someone else’s, of a scene and my thoughts about it, of my situation and my feelings of it. The attention which is needed to turn inwards so that a self study may begin is such a divided attention.

 Divided attention is from another level within ourselves. It is the attention which at the same time of observation takes into account everything we are. This two way attention requires an attitude very different from our usual one. When we first make the effort to turn inwards our attention goes one way, then another, sometimes towards what I observe in myself, alternating at a faster or slower speed. This happens as easily in one direction as another. Though this attention is not given to us naturally, the attempt to observe oneself generates the energy for divided attention artificially. This very attempt is an exercise which develops the needed attention and makes it possible so that it can grow to the point where self-study may begin. In the beginning there is no stable support on which our attention can be based. Real self-observation appears to us to depend as much on this support as on the attention itself. From this we understand that the three forces that must be present are closely interdependent.

The second factor is “who” observes. We said earlier that self-observation requires “the whole of ourselves” and not just our analytical mind and we realise that with our usual attention and attitude we become identified with the situation at hand. When we are identified we are not present to the situation. We become totally attached and there is no space for the sense of myself. With our normal attention there is no ‘I’ which is the stable support to observe particular aspects of my life. For real self-observation to be possible ‘I’ must be present while the observation is going on. The sense of ‘all of me’ is the ‘I’ which is able to take into account in the field of attention directed toward myself a greater number of elements. The ‘I’ who observes has a field of vision analogous to that seen through a fish eye lens which has a more global perspective when compared to the normal natural view.

When ‘I’ is not present (which is our normal state) we forget ourselves almost uninterruptedly. In us things do themselves – speaking, laughing, feeling, acting – but they do it automatically and we ourselves are not there to witness. One part of ourselves laughs, another speaks, another acts.

There is no feeling that: I speak, I laugh, I act, I observe. Nothing that is done in this way can be integrated into a whole. Life lives itself through us and we are not there to partake of it. From this we understand that what we truly seek is more abundant life.

If our usual state is one of forgetting ourselves then the need to have a stable presence of ‘I’ may be fulfilled by trying to remember ourselves.

 This stable presence is not given to us by merely knowing about it. It can be acquired after long work on ourselves but even now we can have a relative degree of presence, a certain coherence of all that we can collect in ourselves.

Self-remembering is the attempt to have global awareness of oneself. It is the state where I am conscious that I am here in these surroundings and feel a connection with the surroundings around me in the overall presence of something higher. This sense of something higher is connected with the valuation of our own essential question. It may be our own aim in the light of our search, it may be the Sun from which all life on this planet has its on-gen, it may be our own meaning of God, or our own teacher. What is important in this effort to remember oneself is that it must be attempted by the sense of “the whole of ourselves and not just thought about. It is only when we try to make this effort that real self-observation can begin. When we try it we discover that without it we are constantly changing, constantly taken by events both within and without. We discover that all that we have gathered within ourselves is dispersed at the slightest distraction. We also find that in practice nothing is more difficult for us than to be there with enough stability for an observation.

The third factor which is needed to turn inwards is the object of our ob¬servation – the elements of ourselves, what we are. These elements constantly change and escape us altogether.Though the elements are in constant change the field in which these elements move is always there. When we notice other people we see their external behaviour which we all perform as a response to the demands of life. This external behaviour is directed by the functional structures comprising the field towards which our attention is directed. These functional structures are the same in all circumstances and are the result of what we are and what life has made of them. We see through our eyes and hear through our ears, we don’t see through our ears or hear through our eyes. The seeing and hearing are the functional structures of our eyes and ears respectively. Likewise, within ourselves certain behaviours, such as thinking, emotionalising and moving, are possible due to the functional structures which allow them to happen. However, the way things take place in us, the interaction of our functions and the manner in which they associate to produce our personalities and responses, all this goes on in the dark with out our knowing it. So, to observe the elements of ourselves we must do something special to make them visible.

When we strike a match against the chemically treated part of a matchbox the friction between the two creates a spark which becomes a flame, and we have light. For us to see the elements of ourselves we must likewise have friction between the ‘I’ who observes and the field which contains the elements.This inner friction is the struggle against the automatic aspects of ourselves: those moment by moment personages which are always there. The struggle is against the habits which give us the false image of ourselves.

 This struggle arouses the light of double attention which we need and forces us to confront those habits which keep us asleep, automated and engulfed in constant self-forgetfulness.

Self-forgetfulness, sleep, is our lot without struggle with our automatic selves. Mechanicalness and dreams replace our true birthright of freedom and reality. What am I saying?

I will illustrate with an example. I find myself waiting for a bus to take me to the bank. After buying the bus ticket my hands begin fidgeting. Soon my fingers begin to fold the ticket over, and over again, until it is a tiny cube like they have done hundreds of times before in the same manner. My head and left arm, in perfect synchronisation, move to the exact spot where my eyes can see the time on my watch. There is no real need to know the time since a moment earlier this same action was performed. My head is full of associations which whirl by in a random manner – a half-eaten memory of words exchanged over the breakfast table, an image of a television commercial, a song picked up from, I don’t know where, provides the background muzak. The bus arrives. Find my self at the middle of the bus bumping a man who grunts at me. Anger rises – there is no rebuke in words but my posture and face express it all the same. Sitting down, the realisation dawns that the bus ticket is no longer in my hand. My hands search my pockets, my eyes search the floor directly beneath my feet, my body is in all sorts of positions looking for the bus ticket. Simultaneously, the thoughts and emotions race through to the tune of “What will I say if the ticket inspector boards this bus?” No ticket. Soon memories float by and that time on the beach in North Queensland returns. While daydreaming I miss my stop because I find myself two blocks further than the bank which was my original destination. The button is pressed and the bus stops.

The above is what is meant by mechanicalness and sleep. This is how we are living most of our lives, and this state of consciousness which we call ‘normal’, is what we have sold our birthright for. Where is the man here? Where is the ‘I’ which if present and active would make my life real? Below is a description of what struggle with oneself may be.

I find myself on the street. I begin walking back towards the bank, I remember what happened on the bus. From somewhere within me the feeling ari¬ses that there is something wrong with myself. I, who can create grandiose plans for my future life, even to the place beyond the grave, can’t even re¬member to get off the bus in time. The words of Gurdjieff cut through my as¬sociations, ‘Life is Real Only Then When I Am.’ It is remembered with my mind that it is possible to turn inwards so that I may live and be present to my life. I see that I am not present but I know that I can be present. What I am can be remembered by who I am. The matchbox can be struck by the match. Oh! But it is so pleasant, so easy, to remain within my automatic nature, fully asleep to myself and the world. The effort required to struggle with myself is something more than the effort to earn my physical livelihood. Besides, it is an effort not required for my physical survival so why should I bother. Let me sleep on. And yet, if there is no effort, no struggle, to be . I am dead and only an automaton of flesh, bones and memory exists. I wish to live. I – the all of me – wish to be. The emptiness of what I am is passive – it is easily comforted with illusions and imagination that already I am and that I can do.

I long for life but where this longing stems from I don’t know and what this ‘life’ is which is longed for, I don’t know. This longing, this yearning for something which is unknown draws a part of my attention away from the surface associations and for a moment the heat of the sun is sensed on my face and hands. I have a body which is real, concrete and here and now. My body is the anchor of my longing. It is possible to turn inwards. The walking continues back to the bank. The longing for life is now expressed by a wish to see through my own eyes, to sense with my own skin, to hear through my own ears, to feel the ground beneath my own feet. I wish to move with my own whole body.

 It is remembered that the easiest functional structure to attempt to study is the moving part of myself. I wish to be, I wish to struggle with myself, I wish to slow down my walking pace so that the walking part of myself can be seen. My hand reaches for my coat pocket searching for a cigarette. That part of myself which longs for life gives the strength to say no to my hand but I promise a cigarette later if it allows presence to fill it. My mind is once again occupied with associations which pass through it automatically. I struggle to place in my mind a conscious image of myself being fully present at the entrance of the bank. My walking becomes faster. To be present at the entrance of the bank my walking pace must slow down again. Intimations of the shoe around my foot, sensation of heel touching ground, then the front part of shoe, slight pressure of my trousers around my knee as it bends, the sensation of my collar around my neck comes and goes, a breeze returns my face to myself via sensation. My pace is slower. Emotion arises – it is connected with what happened on the bus – anger with myself. My mind reminds me a little later that the only way to struggle with emotions at first is not to express negative ones. Associations arise with this thought, my mind continues in its deviation from the conscious image of myself being present at the bank’s entrance but the awareness of my walking and the growing sensation of my body keeps some attention on the elements of what I am.

 My body reminds me of the Sun for its heat is once again sensed on my hands and face. The longing, the wish to be, now evokes a decision to try with the whole of myself, with the awareness of my walking, with the denial of the cigarette, with the struggle against self-pity and anger, with the effort to control my thoughts, I now try with the whole of myself to place and feel myself and the immediate surroundings of the street under the Sun. For a split second time slows down and something which connects me and the external world opens and within the traffic noise, within the milk bar sandwich sign, within the garbage bin beside me, within the shop windows displaying goods and the people around me, within my footsteps and the body that senses the clothes on it, within the associations running through the mind, within it all the sense of another realm, a realm which seems to give Life to life enters and the question “Who am I?” echoes back to myself. This sense leaves me with the memory of an otherness and I find myself at the entrance of the bank understanding that I know nothing when it comes to the Real World.

With this effort of struggling with our habitual nature we must remember that the original aim for making the effort is so that the elements of what we are become visible. This is of fundamental importance because at this point lies one of the biggest obstacles on the path of return to ourselves. For something to become visible means that it becomes seen and nothing more. So with turning inwards all that is required at the beginning is that we see ourselves and simply record what we see and nothing more. Within the more lies the obstacle and this more is manifested within us when we try to analyse what we see. This analysis is the deviation of our attention from the whole of ourselves towards the relatively small part of ourselves we call the mind. Once we begin to analyse what we see we cease to observe and begin to imagine that we are observing.

We must also be careful that in hearing about the process of turning inwards and the methods of self-study that we do not fall into the trap of the rational, logical mind and reduce the real meaning of the words self-study, self-observation and self-remembering to mere psychologising. These words are signs on the path back to ourselves and since we do not know who we are, have meaning which goes beyond what contemporary psychology may imbue them with. It is for this reason that Vaysse in his Towards Awakening calls self-observation the secret ally. In a similar vein Don Juan tells Carlos Castaneda that the warrior who follows the path of the heart has an ally which is a power a man could bring into his life to help him and give him the strength necessary to perform certain actions. This ally, Don Juan says will make a man see and understand things about which no human being could possibly enlighten him.

At the beginning of this talk we saw that life through certain circumstances brought about a shock which forced us into recognising the futility of living from a false image of ourselves. We have seen that by making certain efforts we may turn inwards consciously. This turning inwards is dependent upon our own essential need and longing for our true home. Sincerity is the key which unlocks the door to ourselves and this door becomes visible through turning inwards. By turning inwards we see what we are and through this seeing we are given the help with which the search for who we are may begin anew with renewed strength and real hope.

 I finish this talk with the words of Rene Daumal which, I believe trace the journey from the false image of ourselves towards the values of our real self:

 I am dead because I lack desire

I lack desire because I think I possess

 I think I possess because I do not try to give

In trying to give, you see that you have nothing

Seeing you have nothing, you try to give of yourself

 Trying to give of yourself, you see you are nothing

Seeing you are nothing, you desire to become

In desiring to become, you begin to live.


PS Check out the 3 pointed attention idea in my post on Kites and Attention


Time Body

August 23, 2009

 “Being in the timeless moment without the coercion of time is to dream, while lacking any sense of the timeless is to be only a machine.” Anthony Blake, “A Seminar on Time”

spiral clock-animated-gif-18

I have been long thinking about the Time Body since I turned 40. My interest in this was not only aroused by my entering the 40’s Chamber but also because I have read in the esoteric / occult tradition that the Path of Initiation cannot truly begin until the aspirant is at least 40 years old. So, all the Sufi practices, all the Gurdjieff exercises, all the attempts at the Jesus Prayer in Rhythm to the Breath, all the quiet desperation in a cube, all the immobility of mind, “Stopping the World” and the sacred wish arousing in the Heart….all of these things and more are only a preparation. Note, however, that when we speak of 40’s we are speaking of 4 to a number of degrees. Four is not 40 but shares attributes of four-ness with 40 as does 400 and 0.04 and 0.4.

Preparation for what? For the next phase of one’s life – the 40’s and the next few decades left in the mortal coil of three score and ten and beyond. Let’s remember that women, generally go through menapause in their 40’s, and men go through a “midlife crisis”. Why then? There’s something happening to us, just as powerful as puberty but this time it is the “puberty of old age”. What I mean by this is if I live to be 84 (a good number to work with because of the 12 X 7 connection), then 42 is the mid point (6 X 7). During the period of the 40’s we are laying the foundation (if we wish to) for a healthy, vibrant old age – my 60’s and the rest.
So, who is it that sees someone in the mirror that isn’t them? It’s me and all of us who are in mid life. In me there is a cry for the youth that I was and a fear of what I may be in old age. I have decided that this decade will and is the decade of consolidation. Actually, this is pompous. I didn’t decide anything, it’s more that there is a period of consolidation in one’s Time Body. The Time Body is the body of your mortal coil, it is the moment of your birth, like an Ourbouros, eating the moment of your death..this whole picture of one’s life/body is spatially perceived as 0 – 84 years long.



Taking the Time Body as 84 and working with a hint from Schwaller de Lubicz’s insight into Ancient Egyptian understanding we will enter a realm of geometrical/numerological correspondences. Though one is inclined in this Age of Techno-Scientism to use words like “mathematics” to denote a respectable regard for dead abstractions, I like to think that the magico-mythico-Pythagoro Number is where I’m working from. Status quo respectability, when it comes to such life and death considerations such as,  “Where am I going? Why am I here on this Earth? Who am I? Is there Life after Death?” can go in the dustbin of history. The danger of leaving the table of consensus reality – the current technoscience rationalism, is that you may end up sitting alone at  the table of insanity. An unbending intent, a purity of heart and a constant need to grow will at least provide some assurance that one’s understanding may not be crazy, but just the way things are if we live in an onion layered world.

Let’s get back to de Lubicz’s hint.  His insight is to consider that at every 7 years of one’s life a “life” has been and a new 7 year lot is coming up. Like layers of skin, each layer 7 years thick is a time-onion-skin where each skin is a period of 7 years. Consider that at 7 years old – the Church and Institutionalised understanding has it that a child has reason. Let’s go to 14 – puberty ….21 adulthood…..
A few clues: get Dane Rudyar’s  “Astrology of Personality” and read about The Dial of Life. It is interesting because he considers the language of Astrology as the Algebra of Life. Read P D Ouspensky’s account of the Enneagram in In Search of the Miraculous. Also Ouspensky’s “Tertium Organum”, a classic book which gives some semblence of “rationality” to the mystic vision and his other classic “A New Model of the Universe” where he introduces the idea of Eternal Recurrence (not the same as Nietzsche’s concept). My account of the onion skin layers of time is dependent on all of the above and a generous helping of experience.
Try this as an experiment:  Write out in 7 year lots X 7 a table like this:

time body table

To make it “user friendly” you can include the year of the age eg 1(1962)   2(1963)   3(1964)   4(65)……etc
As you write the number and year beginning from your birth year try to notice any images/memories arising and what year they pertain to. These memories as they arise become “key symbols”, they become in a very personal sense the x,y,z and the a,b,c ‘s of one’s own algebra of life. If focussed enough you create your own memory body. Now, look at your “algebra of life” through the prism of your meaning/memory. Like, what happened to you when you were 7,14, 21, 28, 35, 42 ? Looking across and down the table: what happened at 4,11,18, 25, 32, 39, 46 ? You will find that there is a corresponding change in “motion” for each layer of 7. With each lot of 7 years there is a noticeable change and experience that suggest layers of octave experience. Each year is a note in the scale Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Si Do. What is interesting is that there is a discernible signature for each octave period. Later on you can then put the table of years onto the Enneagram.



The Circle depicts daily life, the life of the diary - sequential time.

The Circle depicts daily life, the life of the diary – sequential time.

The inner movement 1-4-2-8-5-7 depicts the "notebook", the method and know how, the Sadhana. In the events of one's life, this is where synchronicity resides.

The inner movement 1-4-2-8-5-7 depicts the “notebook”, the method and know how, the Sadhana. In the events of one’s life, this is where synchronicity resides.

The Triangle depicts the idea of a creed, one's faith. It is Timelessness.

The Triangle depicts the idea of a creed, one’s faith. It is Timelessness.

The Enneagram with all three aspects of one's experience together as a whole. See A G E Blake's "The Intelligent Enneagram" for a detailed discussion of this symbol.

The Enneagram with all three aspects of one’s experience together as a whole. See A G E Blake’s “The Intelligent Enneagram” for a detailed discussion of this symbol.

I have done all this and more with my own life numbers. If you are astrologically inclined, do the Solar Returns of each year and see what you find. The whole purpose of this is to focus the mind onto one’s own life stream. This focussing is not analytical, indeed, the process abhors analysis. It is the realm of imagining and then self remembering – or at least a preparation for this. The exercise itself is another version of “Recapitulation” which Carlos Castaneda refers to. Indeed, you will, if you delve a little deeper in what I’ve just given above,  find not only clues to the notion of Fate but also clues to one’s Destiny. These clues are not uttered in any way by me, but rather by the very simplicity of the gods – Numbers. The Ancient Egyptian concept of Neter is close in meaning to the Pythagorean concept of Number.

The cover of R A Schwaller de Lubicz's magnum opus "Temple of Man"

The cover of R A Schwaller de Lubicz’s magnum opus “Temple of Man”

What are you looking for in the numbers of the years of your life? Just a few hints that can help name the years. Maybe then, your heart will play around with mystic circles and triangles with the Numbers of Life turning off and on like a  light show.
All this may sound weird, but I can assure you, if you try this experiment, you will be pleasantly surprised by the octave “correspondence” you will see in your life experience. It will be as if there is a pattern, unknown to you, unfolding in a manner totally unexpected. A kind of music of your life, a hidden melody that you were not able to hear notes of until this moment. At times you may experience a déjà vu  , the feeling that you have been here before,and this is interpreted exactly as that through the Great Idea of Eternal Recurrence as expressed through P D Ouspensky in his “A New Model of the Universe”. A good summary of this idea & its connection with Nietzche’s and Steiner’s take on it is here.

I’ve been influenced much by the 4th Way – through Gurdjieff and other teachings. Is it any wonder that I have become a middle aged Gnostic seeker carrying the lantern of wonder?

Try it  and see if it isn’t true. You will find a pattern that will truly spook you. If you follow the clues and hints you will see the synchronicity of events


maybe the big question will arise:


Now clock animated

On the Esoteric

March 23, 2009


To talk about the esoteric is in many ways a blasphemy – the very act of pretending knowledge of the divine is bad faith.

The intuitive finds its place in an inner hierarchy of will. I do feel sometimes that this kind of will should be capitalised – Will. When I think of the intuitive I think of the instinctive intelligence of a new born baby that turns its head and opens its mouth and begins to suckle on the mother’s breast. This is real intuitive intelligence – a balance between what is needed, what is possible, and what is beautiful. Today many in our Western “developed” world have lost the intuitive ability, to use one’s instinctive intelligence to create order in the world. The intuitive, I feel, is the circumference of the essential.


Esoteric to me means HIDDEN – nothing more and nothing less. The esoteric partakes of an energy rather than static conceptualisation. The esoteric current flows through all and everything – yes, there is the esoteric side of a stone and the esoteric side of rationality and a smile. The only way to convey the esoteric from one human to another is through presence or the ingestion of energetic – wisdom – texts. These texts are living organic IDEAS that act like yeast in the mind. There are certain Ideas which are larger than mere conceptualisation and these Ideas, I feel, partake of a life, they are angelic life forms. The purpose of these living texts / Ideas is not to stuff one’s mind with extra information but rather to change its constitution so that it can become receptive to the esoteric. This is an aspect of alchemy.

Alchemical Medal

Alchemical Medal

The discernment of the intuitive / esoteric is a function of that same hidden energy. These sacred esoteric texts serve as long koans, and if approached in an appropriate manner may open a mind to the hidden forces. The idea of text must also be enlarged in regard to the esoteric. In this context the Temple of Luxor in Egypt is a text behaving in the above manner (see R A Schwaller de Lubicz ), as are the various revelations of the world’s religions, and various dances, rituals and art. Gurdjieff coined a word for these “texts” – legominisms.

To someone who is imbued with an esoteric vision, the whole of life is one big hieroglyph waiting to be read and understood. Astrology from this perspective, is a form of life “language” and algebra. Dane Rudhyar called Astrology, the algebra of life. I like this, but I also see Astrology as a language with its own syntax and grammar.

I believe that the ability to discern the esoteric from the exoteric has something to do with one’s will. This something cannot arise without assistance from the hidden parts of one’s nature.

I don’t seek the esoteric, the esoteric seeks me.

Recommendatons for Living – G I Gurdjieff

March 15, 2009


George I Gurdjieff  (1866? – 1949) was a Greek – Armenian who introduced the Fourth Way to the Western world. His Greek name is Georgiades which has been “Russified” to Gurdjieff by which he is more commonly known. Gurdjieff’s ideas have touched me to the core and I can say that of all the spiritual teachings available to us today, that his resonates in a very deep way with my own needs and search.

G I Gurdjieff

G I Gurdjieff

Below are some “Recommendations for Living”  from a Spanish site that states these are Gurdjieff’s. Don’t know if this the case but they feel right. Both the original in Spanish and an English translation are here, plus a link to the original source is provided at the end of the quote:

1. Fija tu atención en ti mismo, sé consciente en cada instante de lo que piensas, sientes, deseas y haces.
~ Fix your attention in yourself, be conscious at every instant of what you think, feel, want and do.

2. Termina siempre lo que comenzaste.
~ Always finish what you started.

3. Haz lo que estás haciendo lo mejor posible.
~ Do your best with whatever it is you are doing.

4. No te encadenes a nada que a la larga te destruya.
~ Do not chain yourself to anything that will destroy you on the long haul.

5. Desarrolla tu generosidad sin testigos.
~ Develop your generosity without witnesses.

6. Trata a cada persona como si fuera un pariente cercano.
~ Treat every person as if they were a close relative.

7. Ordena lo que has desordenado.
~ Order what you have messed up.

8. Aprende a recibir, agradece cada don.
~ Learn to receive, thank every gift.

9. Cesa de autodefinirte.
~ Cease to autodefine yourself.

10. No mientas ni robes, si lo haces te mientes y te robas a ti mismo.
~ Do not lie or steal, if you do, you lie to and steal from yourself.

11. Ayuda a tu prójimo sin hacerlo dependiente.
~ Help your neighbor without making him dependent.

12. No desees ser imitado.
~ Do not wish to be imitated.

13. Haz planes de trabajo y cúmplelos.
~ Make work plans and carry them out.

14. No ocupes demasiado espacio.
~ Do not take too much space.

15. No hagas ruidos ni gestos innecesarios.
~ Do not make unnecessary noises or gestures.

16. Si no la tienes, imita la fe.
~ If you don’t have it, imitate faith.

17. No te dejes impresionar por personalidades fuertes.
~ Do not let yourself be impressed by strong personalities.

18. No te apropies de nada ni de nadie.
~ Do not take possession of anything or anyone.

19. Reparte equitativamente.
~ Distribute equitably.

20. No seduzcas.
~ Do not seduce.

21. Come y duerme lo estrictamente necesario.
~ Eat and sleep what’s strictly necessary.

22. No hables de tus problemas personales.
~ Do not speak of your personal problems.

23. No emitas juicios ni críticas cuando desconozcas la mayor parte de los hechos.
~ Do not emit judgments or criticisms when you do not know most of the facts.

24. No establezcas amistades inútiles.
~ Do not establish useless friendships.

25. No sigas modas.
~ Do not follow fashions.

26. No te vendas.
~ Do not sell yourself.

27. Respeta los contratos que has firmado.
~ Respect the contracts you have signed.

28. Sé puntual.
~ Be on time.

29. No envidies los bienes o los éxitos del prójimo.
~ Do not envy the goods or successes of your neighbor.

30. Habla sólo lo necesario.
~ Say only what’s necessary.

31. No pienses en los beneficios que te va a procurar tu obra.
~ Do not think of the benefits that your actions will bring you.

32. Nunca amenaces.
~ Never threaten.

33. Realiza tus promesas.
~ Keep your promises.

34. En una discusión ponte en el lugar del otro.
~ In a discussion put yourself in the place of the other.

35. Admite que alguien te supere.
~ Admit that someone might supersede you.

36. No elimines, sino transforma.
~ Do not eliminate, transform.

37. Vence tus miedos, cada uno de ellos es un deseo que se camufla.
~ Conquer your fears, each one of them is a desire that camouflages itself.

38. Ayuda al otro a ayudarse a si­ mismo.
~ Help the other help himself.

39. Vence tus antipatí­as y acércate a las personas que deseas rechazar.
~ Conquer your antipathies and get close to the persons you wish to reject.

40. No actúes por reacción a lo que digan bueno o malo de ti.
~ Do not act out of a reaction to what good or bad they say about you.

41. Transforma tu orgullo en dignidad.
~ Transform your pride in dignity.

42. Transforma tu cólera en creatividad.
~ Transform your anger into creativity.

43. Transforma tu avaricia en respeto por la belleza.
~ Transform your greed into respect for beauty.

44. Transforma tu envidia en admiración por los valores del otro.
~ Transform your envy into admiration for the values of the other.

45. Transforma tu odio en caridad.
~ Transform your hate into charity.

46. No te alabes ni te insultes.
~ Do not praise nor insult yourself.

47. Trata lo que no te pertenece como si te perteneciera.
~ Treat what doesn’t belong to you as if it did.

48. No te quejes.
~ Do not complain.

49. Desarrolla tu imaginación.
~ Develop your imagination.

50. No des órdenes sólo por el placer de ser obedecido.
~ Do not give orders just for the pleasure of being obeyed.

51. Paga los servicios que te dan.
~ Pay for the services that you are given.

52. No hagas propaganda de tus obras o ideas.
~ Do not make propaganda of your doings or ideas.

53. No trates de despertar en los otros emociones hacia ti como piedad, admiración,
simpatí­a, complicidad.
~ Do not try to awaken in others emotions towards you like compassion, admiration, sympathy or complicity.

54. No trates de distinguirte por tu apariencia.
~ Do not try to distinguish yourself by your appearance.

55. Nunca contradigas, sólo calla.
~ Never contradict, just be silent.

56. No contraigas deudas, adquiere y paga en seguida.
~ Do not contract debts, acquire and pay right away.

57. Si ofendes a alguien, pídele perdón.
~ If you offend someone, ask for forgiveness.

58. Si lo has ofendido públicamente, excúsate en público.
~ If you have offended him publicly, apologize in public.

59. Si te das cuenta de que has dicho algo erróneo, no insistas por orgullo en ese error y
desiste de inmediato de tus propósitos.
~ If you realize you have said something wrong, do not insist out of pride on that mistake, and desist immediately of your intentions.

60. No defiendas tus ideas antiguas sólo por el hecho de que fuiste tú quien las enunció.
~ Do not defend your old ideas just because of the fact that it was you who uttered them.

61. No conserves objetos inútiles.
~ Do not keep useless objects.

62. No te adornes con ideas ajenas.
~ Do not adorn yourself with others’ ideas.

63. No te fotografíes junto a personajes famosos.
~ Do not take Pictures of you next to famous characters.

64. No rindas cuentas a nadie, sé tu propio juez.
~ Do not explain yourself to anyone, be your own Judge.

65. Nunca te definas por lo que posees.
~ Never define yourself by what you posses.

66. Nunca hables de ti sin concederte la posibilidad de cambiar.
~ Never speak of yourself without granting yourself the possibility of changing.

67. Acepta que nada es tuyo.
~ Accept that nothing is yours.

68. Cuando te pregunten tu opinión sobre algo o alguien, di sólo sus cualidades.
~ When asked your opinion about something or someone, only say their qualities.

69. Cuando te enfermes, en lugar de odiar ese mal considéralo tu maestro.
~ When you are sick, instead of hating that illness consider it your teacher.

70. No mires con disimulo, mira fijamente.
~ Do not look hintedly, look straight.

71. No olvides a tus muertos, pero dales un sitio limitado que les impida invadir toda tu vida.
~ Do not forget your dead, but give them a limited place that impedes them from invading all your life.

72. En el lugar en que habites consagra siempre un sitio a lo sagrado.
~ In the place you live consecrate always a place for the sacred.

73. Cuando realices un servicio no resaltes tus esfuerzos.
~ When you perform a service do not highlight your efforts.

74. Si decides trabajar para los otros, hazlo con placer.
~ If you decide to work for others, do it with pleasure.

75. Si dudas entre hacer y no hacer, arriésgate y haz.
~ If you doubt between doing and not doing, take a risk and do.

76.  No trates de ser todo para tu pareja; admite que busque en otros lo que tú no puedes darle.
~ Don’t try to be everything for your couple; admit he/she may search for in others what you cannot give him/her.

77.Cuando alguien tenga su público, no acudas para contradecirlo y robarle la audiencia.
~ When someone has their public, do not approach to contradict or steal the audience.

78. Vive de un dinero ganado por ti mismo.
~ Live off of money earned by yourself.

79. No te jactes de aventuras amorosas.
~ Do not boast about love affairs.

80. No te vanaglories de tus debilidades.
~ Do not vainglory yourself of your weaknesses.

81. Nunca visites a alguien sólo por llenar tu tiempo.
~ Never visit someone just to fill your time.

82. Obtén para repartir.
~ Obtain in order to share.

83. Si estás meditando y llega un diablo, pon ese diablo a meditar.
~ If you are meditating and a devil arrives, put that devil to meditate.


Here are some photos of Gurdjieff and some of the key people in the Work:


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