About 100 years ago Pietr Ouspensky, a Russian mathematician and philosophy student of Gurdjieff, commenced writing his understanding of the practical philosophies of Gurdjieff.
While many would struggle with Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, most found the practical and intellectual approach of Ouspensky at least understandable. But even then, without practice to test the ‘teaching’ what use are words?
Gurdjieff did not teach a new philosophy, his way of teaching was different, through work and dance, dining and readings. To help explain the approach of Gurdjieff and the books of Ouspensky, I am reminded of just three rules on the road to wishing to be.
Avoid negative emotions
Anger, hate, envy, self-pity are at one end of the bundle of sticks of life while, for example, happiness and compassion are at the other. Creativity is not possible for those trapped in a negative emotion. Senses are impaired, facial muscles tighten and enemies abound. Negativity blames, while one key element of life is to accept personal responsibility. The ability to change is instant, it is a matter of a decision to take the other end of the stick – to stop frowning and to smile.
Stop inner considering
Inner considering is, in effect, worrying what other people think of us says Gurdjieff. Often it is delusory. Always, considering drains energy. In every case, the ‘soul’ influence we can have, is on who we are and what we do for ourselves. If your job is to be a bell ringer to wake the town at dawn, many will curse you – it is your choice whether this destroys you or not.
Stop being identified
Who are you? Are you trapped in a personality that causes pain or tribulation? Are you proud because of your title or because of the quality of your work? To the extent that reality is conquered by dreams of who we are not but wish to be, Gurdjieff admonishes, you cannot ‘become’. When we are identified, we are living in a shoebox with a label on the outside, but we can’t read it. We need to take the risk and lift the lid on who we are.
This is the work of life that Gurdjieff espoused, so simple but so difficult for me to remember myself. Nevertheless, ‘I wish to be free’ can be the desire of every human, free in body and in being.