G.I. Gurdjieff

1870ish-1949; Armenian Greek

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The Teaching of the Fourth Way

Learn You Are     Learn to Do

The Fourth Way


Levels of Awakening

Three Centers

Essence and Personality

I Am (self-remembering)

Body First

Relax Face and Hands

Shocks and Buffers

Suffering and Sacrifice

Considering Others

Changing Speeds

Stopping Time

Organization of the School

Don't change your life,

   change your approach

“Sacrifice is necessary. If nothing is sacrificed nothing is obtained. And it is necessary to sacrifice something precious at the moment, to sacrifice for a long time and to sacrifice a great deal. But still, not forever. This must be understood because often it is not understood. Sacrifice is necessary only while the process of crystallization is going on. When crystallization is achieved, renunciations, privations, and sacrifices are no longer necessary. Then a person may have everything they want. There are no longer any laws for such a person, they are a law unto themself."

“The fact is that the enormous majority of people do not want any knowledge whatever; they refuse their share of it and do not even take the ration allotted to them, in the general distribution, for the purposes of life."


The Fourth Way

"The results of the work are in proportion to the consciousness of the work."

"The way of the fakir is mastery of the body but not of emotions or mind; the way of the monk is mastery of emotions but not of body or mind; the way  of the yogi is mastery of the mind but not of body or emotions.

"The Fourth Way affects simultaneously every side of one's being. (Body, mind, emotions)  A whole parallel series of physical, mental, and emotional exercises serves this purpose.

"When the fourth way is attained, one can make use of it because one has acquired control of all bodily, emotional, and intellectual functions. And besides, a great deal of time is saved by working on the three sides of  being in parallel and simultaneously.

"No 'faith' is required on the fourth way; on the contrary, faith of any kind is opposed to the fourth way."

'In addition, on the fourth way it is possible to individualize the work of each separate person, that is to say, each person can do only what is necessary and not what is useless for him. This is due to the fact that the fourth way dispenses with a great deal of what is superfluous and preserved simply through tradition in the other ways.

"The fourth way differs from the other ways in that the principal demand made is the demand for understanding. A student must do nothing that they do not understand, except as an experiment under the supervision and direction of the teacher. The more a student understands what they are doing, the greater will be the results of their efforts. This is a fundamental principle of the fourth way. The results of work are in proportion to the consciousness of the work.

"No 'faith' is required on the fourth way; on the contrary, faith of any kind is opposed to the fourth way. On the fourth way one must satisfy oneself of the truth of what one is told."


Essence and Personality

"For inner growth, for work on oneself, a certain development of personality as well as a certain strength of essence are necessary."

"It must be understood that people consist of two parts: essence and personality. For inner growth, for work on oneself, a certain development of personality as well as a certain strength of essence are necessary. Essence is what is your own. Personality is what is 'not your own.' 

"'Not your own' means what has come from outside, what you have learned, or reflect, all traces of exterior impressions left in the memory and in the sensations, all words and movements that have been learned, all feelings created by imitation—all this is 'not your own,' all this is personality.

"As soon as so­-called 'education' begins personality begins to grow. Personality is created partly by the intentional influences of other people, that is, by 'education,' and partly by involuntary imitation of them by the child itself. In the creation of personality a great part is also played by 'resistance' to people around the child and by attempts to conceal from them something that is 'its own' or 'real' [essence].

"In proportion as personality grows, essence manifests itself more and more rarely and more and more feebly and it very often happens that essence stops in its growth at a very early age and grows no further. It happens very often that the essence of a grown­up, even that of a very intellectual and, in the accepted meaning of the word, highly 'educated' adult, stops on the level of a child of five or six. This means that everything we see in this person is in reality 'not their own.' What is their own, that is, their essence, is usually only manifested in their instincts and in their simplest emotions.

"(However,) An insufficiently developed personality means a lack of 'conditioning,' that is, a lack of knowledge, a lack of information, a lack of the material upon which work on oneself must be based. Without some store of knowledge, without a certain amount of material 'not their own,' a person cannot begin to work on themself, cannot begin to study themself, cannot begin to struggle with mechanical habits, simply because there will be no reason or motive for undertaking such work.

"There are cases, however, when a person's essence grows in parallel with the personality. Such cases represent very rare exceptions especially in the circumstances of cultured life.'

For parallel teaching, see Carlos Castenada "Tonal" and "Nagual".

 "Personality must become passive and essence must become active."

Movie characters whose essence development has out paced their personality development:

  Forrest Gump

  Chauncy Gardner (Being There)


"If we take an average cultured person, we shall see that in the vast majority of cases their personality is the active element while essence is the passive element. Inner growth cannot begin so long as this order of things remains unchanged. Personality must become passive and essence must become active."