What is it that a completing principle still needs to do? … Answer: repeat itself. One happy accident is not a structure. One viable cell is not a tissue. One viable egg is not a new species. The massive, biological experiment that is Life, has some “well tried” patterns, and these are, of course, “law conformable” in Objective Science. One of those patterns is that each new arising must complete itself by reproducing. Without reproduction, it is not complete. And that is just as true in the psychic sphere as it is in the biological. [In reality, the former is only a complexity of the latter, in any case.] A scientific discovery is only an interesting theory until it can be repeated. And enlightenment, too, must be reproduced and, eventually, become self-sustaining. But how? And why?

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The “Fourth” Way

Any search on the internet for G.I. Gurdjieff will reveal a lot of results for the system he called the Fourth Way. There’s a whole Wikipedia article about it. It is explained (based largely on the writings of P.D. Ouspensky) that Gurdjieff called it the Fourth Way because there were already three “traditional” ways to reach enlightenment: the Way of the Fakir, the Way of the Monk and the Way of the Yogi. Students like Ouspensky learned that these three Ways were linked to the three lower “centres” of the human psyche – that they gave access to the higher through a “controlled” attention invested in either the physical body (Fakir), the emotions (Monk) or the beliefs (Yogi). They learned (or thought they learned) that the Fourth Way was the Way of the Sly Man – combining the three traditional ways to give some sort of “short cut” to controlled attention. But, as with much that he taught, Gurdjieff left it to his students to find out why – and indeed how – it could be such a short cut.

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The Gurdjieff Work

A little while ago, I was asked “What is the purpose of the Gurdjieff Work?” The sub-text for the question was that the person asking it had observed a number of self-styled “teachers” acting in ways that indicated a lack of spiritual advancement, over the human norm. Instead of having conscious contact with something “higher”, they seemed at times to be acting just as other people: forgetful, defensive – even uncaring. If even teachers could “lose the plot”, why would anyone go through the Work? At the time, I didn’t get very far with an explanation, because it hit an immediate road-block. The issue was the nature of “I”.

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What Do You Want?

In the English language, the word “want” has a curious, double meaning. On the one hand, it can mean the same as “desire” but it also means “lack”. At this time of year, in particular, quite a lot of emphasis is placed on the former meaning, but perhaps we could also consider the latter. Of course, when the people to whom we give our Christmas gifts already have a surplus of material wealth, it is harder to imagine what they lack. But you might find that the mere fact of the apparent wealth – along with the need to protect it – has resulted in a rather dusty emotional life, full of dark shadows. Perhaps what those people most “want” is a simple touch of kindness, unalloyed with anything that touches on their fears.

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Green Transformation

I wrote recently about the drive to “net zero” emissions by the end of the century. It is a target that I support but I also feel it is a very hard target to meet. It faces a number of challenges, from indifference among the general population to “more urgent” problems for politicians. And although we have a roadmap of sorts, we are already rather late leaving home. I can understand why some activists press for more urgent action, but we’re a rather perverse race when it comes to future crisis … A great many of us would rather wait to see if it is real and even then wait for some “easy” solution. Well, perhaps we have already passed the first point and now need some “clever bods” to put their heads together and show us that easy solution: one that spreads any pain that we cannot reasonably avoid, so it’s not only easy but “fair”.

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Paper Faces

Loneliness is an affliction that affects a great many people – probably many more than you might imagine. It’s not a new issue: far from it. Loneliness is older than the human race and it affects all social creatures. It is not about being alone, though that can remind one of the real cause. We need social connections. We need to feel the social support of others. It’s not just about “validation”, though that’s a big part. We have to find ourselves; invent a role in the world. And we need that role to be accepted. We are (unless psychologically damaged) part of a “universe” of other minds and our very survival depends on finding our place in that universe. And so we learn to wear a whole range of “paper faces”, each of which represents a “person” that might fit other people’s needs. In satisfying those needs, we find a place for ourselves. But we know it’s false. And we know that what we see of others is mostly their own paper faces.

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What We Wish For

In these dark times, it is easy to blame “bad luck” for the ills that we are facing. But each of the things that is plaguing us now – pandemic, war, global warming, rapacious industry and imminent financial crisis – all of these are born of our own wishes. Of course we don’t wish for them directly, but their origin lies in what we do wish. We wish for prosperity, comfort, entertainment – and yet those very things cause (directly) envy, greed, anger, fear and shortness of vision. Had we wished for wisdom, with our hearts and not just as a faint hope, we would have been better off. But wisdom shows the lie and the shallowness in those other wishes, and so, if it arrives we brush it off as quickly as we can and put it back to sleep.

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