Fourth Way Perspectives


Selected questions and responses from The Gurdjieff Legacy Foundation group meetings.

Postures & Energy

Question: There was an experience with postures this past week while trying to read. There was trouble staying awake. I knew I couldn't read while lying down. I tried sitting on the couch, in a straight chair, at a table. Sitting at the table, one leg wanted to rest on the other, my upper body wanted to lean to one side or sprawl. Each time I found myself falling asleep and not having the attention to read more than a few sentences. Up until the very end, sitting at the table, the body resisted what I knew was the correct posture: sitting at the table with my feet flat on the floor, knees over the ankles, my back aligned properly, the shoulders over the hips. Once I got into this posture, attention was easier to control and there was more energy for the task.

Response: The body always seeks its 'comfort zone.' Unless educated, it lives in inertia. It hasn't yet tasted the experience of verticality, its freedom, nobility. So our first work is with the body, with inhabiting the body, with awakening to postures. Work with postures is primary. We wake up in one posture or another and have no memory of the previous posture. It was seen how postures influenced the intellectual center, and the inertia, the pull of gravity, was struggled with. This took aim, clarity and will and finally verticality was achieved and sustained, and so a new energy appeared.

Castes & Classes

Q: I was struck by the reading in All and Everything about castes and classes. I had read Gurdjieff's aversion to castes before and had thought only of the Indian caste system, but this was the first time I had seen mention of classes. He said we always relate to others "up" or "down"—with deference or false humility to those above or with contempt or condescension to those below. He says we need to be sincere to relate in any other way. Then, at the grocery store I saw myself on a level above the clerk, not relating as an equal. A German woman pushed past me at the checkout stand, asked if I was going to bag my own groceries; I nodded no. She proceeded to do the bagging with an air of moral superiority that seemed to put her above and the clerk and myself "below." It was a shock.

R:Sincerity takes unity. We live in our "I"s, not our being. The "I"s have not only their agendas but the beliefs that bolster them. Our "societal I" believes we live in a classless society. Well, we don't yet have the class system we see in Europe. It's not being built here on blood and breeding but on Mammon. Ever wonder why there are so many ads for watches? Is everyone losing their watch? Of course not. The watch you wear is a sign—and there are hundreds of them—about where you stand in society, what you can afford.

Fear & Resistance

Q:At the last meeting you answered a question that I had not asked. Earlier I had spoken about my experiences with self-remembering while on a hike. I felt I was coming to a "wall" or place from which I could go no further. Later in the meeting in response to another's question, you spoke of how self-remembering changed and that at first the resistance is usually coming from the body. If the body awakens and begins to experience beyond what the head believes is normal, then it resists. Hearing this it became immediately clear to me that this was exactly what I had experienced. It was also observed that the same stopping occurred in my sitting. There came a place where the mind would not release and I could go no deeper. Fear seems to be involved in the resistance I experience.

R:Inertia and fear and our identification with them is at the base of much of our resistance. Usually I am too caught up in the surface manifestations to observe their origin. We can spend our life pruning the tree of our resistance, but it's only when the roots are cut that we free ourselves.

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