Are we able to say that life is governed by a group of conscious people? Where are they? Who are they? We see exactly the opposite: that life is governed by those who are the least conscious, by those who are most asleep.
Provocative ideas such as these have attracted generations of thoughtful people to the methods of self-study and inner work devised by Gurdjieff, one of the most radical spiritual teachers of modern times. According to Gurdjieff, the wars raging at this very moment are nothing more than millions of sleeping people trying to annihilate millions of other sleeping people. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such as thing as progress and evolution as long as humanity remains asleep.
Two hundred conscious people could change the whole of life on the earth, Gurdjieff says. If we want to become those conscious people, we must learn how to change ourselves. With the help of self-knowledge and an understanding of our relation to the universe, we can awaken to a higher level of being—if we wish to change ourselves.
All of Gurdjieff's fundamental principles and methods of transforming the intellect, emotions, and body, in the system known as the Fourth Way, are presented in this book in his own clear, precise words preserved by his closest pupils.
Arranged in an orderly sequence of passages drawn from two primary source books—P. D. Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous, and Views from the Real World, recorded and arranged by Mme. Jeanne de Salzmann—this material is an indispensable introduction for those determined to undertake the efforts and practices necessary for awakening consciousness.
All the basic concepts and methods are covered, including:
- man is "asleep"
- we have no unified "I"
- the need for self-knowledge
- functions of the human "machine"
- states of consciousness
- levels of being
- three centers: moving, emotional, and thinking
- personality and essence
- the possibility of self-development
- remembering oneself
- conscious evolution
- the law of three forces
- the ray of creation
- the law of octaves
- the Enneagram, a universal symbol
- the variety of spiritual ways
- esoteric Christianity
- working in groups
- the necessity of schools