Thursday, December 4, 2003


Although there are countless systems, teachings, religions, philosophies, etc., out there in Life to feast upon, there seems to be a few which have "risen to the top" of the heap of garbage that litters the landscape of "self- improvement technologies" available to all those "inquiring minds" out there. Two, in my opinion, stand out: the Fourth Way and Advaita, seem to be the most sublime, intelligent, and self-consistent, though they couldn't be more different in their approaches. The Fourth Way stresses effort, and "creating a soul" (or, consciously evolving that which is not already existent), while Advaita stresses non-effort, "realizing the Self" (or, realizing that which is already perfectly existent.)

Some people may have heard about both, at the start of their "spiritual journey", and gravitated to one or the other. But, no matter which way one goes, there are very similar milestones along the way - the first being, the excitement at hearing/reading some new ideas, the almost feverish acquisition of books/tapes/videos of the presumed "leaders" and historians and biographers (living or dead), and the attempted commitment to "do the work" however described in those books/tapes/videos, sometimes - though not always - even moving on to locating a group and qualified teacher, joining up, and staying awhile. Likely, most of those subscribed here, experienced a similar set of initial steps.

After having studied the Fourth Way, alone, then with some few friends, then in a group with a teacher for almost 10 years, I found it absolutely necessary to leave, for various reasons having to do with certain realizations I was having regarding the ideas. Had it not been for the fact that I found another person some years later, whom I met with, listened to intently for some years, I never would have discovered the limitation the Fourth Way represents - be that Gurdjieff's version, Ouspensky's version, Collin's, Nicoll's, Bennett's, Pentland's, Orage's, or any of the numerous entities that purport to know something.

All systems are interesting presentations, and fill a void that many people have who want a "new inner life", but ultimately fail all those who attempt them, regardless what they say to the contrary. The founders of their respective systems may have certainly achieved something significant, but their followers? Highly doubtful. A person should be able to realize that, if not, they may never realize it, and it becomes more difficult with time.

The central idea of absolutely ALL systems/teachings is this: man is incapable of knowing himself as he is, because he can't awaken as he is, and all the theories he holds about himself, the world, Life, his possibilities, are just theories he can't verify as he is, even the ones he "acquires" by reading, from supposedly esoteric sources. The systems suggest you can change, and give you certain methods to start that process - self remembering and self observation being the chief ones (though those terms are fungible and go by many, many different names - chanting, meditating, mindfulness and many others.) But they all come down to one thing, man does not understand that what he thinks he is studying - and it could be anything, Fourth Way, Buddhism, Christianity, Sufism, whatever - is a distraction at best. What he must start studying, IS THE THING DOING THE STUDYING.

99% of people who hear that, miss it, or dismiss it, or want to argue with it. 1% or less, instantly have a new realization of the correctness of that statement. It's NOT the system (nor "yourself" -features, characteristics, flaws) that you need to study, it's the thing doing the studying. The mind.

No one can possibly give you any more instruction than that, and no one would dare CHARGE you money to hear more instructions, who was capable of telling you more. There are no foundations, no schools, no gatherings, no flocks out there that could guide you or lead you to the "way" to study the thing doing the studying - you must discover that on your own, or it's worthless. Other people's clues sound interesting, when you first hear them, but immediately - as with all things - you forget them, don't employ them further, because you have no control over what flows through your mind from moment to moment. That is, you can not think intentionally for any length of time, and that's precisely what you must learn to do - think more than you have to, about everything.

Here's one BIG HINT you can play with: remember the old maxim, "as above, so below"? Well the updated, more powerful version reads, "as without, so within." Everything you see out there in the world -politics, art, philosophy, psychology, religion, human strife, war, you name it - is reflected in the mind, that is, the same forces which enable those external phenomena to be witnessed by humans, can be witnessed internally, and all of them lead to the condition from which you want to be freed - sleep, mechanicalness, stupidity, lack of will, etc. That is, you are (everybody is) a "city/state", with all the same institutions, allegiances, power struggles, forces in play, consisting primarily of a leader and followers, the powerful and the absolutely powerless. That is, again, a partnership, between the force of power in you, and powerless in you, all trying to gain the upper hand. That dynamic can not change, must not be changed, until it can be changed ALL AT ONCE, by the emergence of a REAL POWER, which remains hidden to the powerful and the powerless, yet is capable of full and absolute control.

Here's another BIG HINT: don't talk about yourself, don't give interviews to anybody including yourself, don't tell anyone how you're doing - in a word, forget about yourself - you're unimportant in the grand scheme. Concentrate all your efforts on thinking more than you have to about the external world of man, of Life and it's interactions through man (including you of course), as if "knowing Life" was a more important maxim than, "knowing yourself", as if "the unexamined Life of Life is not worth living" was a more important maxim than, "the unexamined life of me is not worth living."

This is a major shift in your power of attention, what to attend to, and believe it or not, you can learn MUCH MORE about yourself and your possibilities when you learn to do that, than you'll ever learn studying a system, Gurdjieff's way, Buddha's way, Jesus's way, Lao Tse's way, or any way.

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