The Fourth Way
The Last Esoteric Message
Just as many religions have been introduced during the current cycle of humanity, there have also been esoteric teachings which teach how to do what the exoteric part of religion preaches. Gurdjieff said an esoteric teaching is "preserved in secret in special schools and with its help it is always possible to rectify what has been distorted [in religion] or to restore what has been forgotten."
All the religious revelations failed to create the New Type of Man needed to fill the enlarging gap. Warned Gurdjieff: "Humanity is at a standstill and from a standstill there is a straight path to downfall and degeneration.... There is nothing that points to evolution proceeding. On the contrary when we compare humanity with a man we quite clearly see a growth of personality at the cost of essence, that is, a growth of the artificial, the unreal, and what is foreign, at the cost of the natural, the real, and what is one's own.... Contemporary culture requires automatons. And people are undoubtedly losing their acquired habits of independence and turning into automatons, into parts of machines.... Man is becoming a willing slave. He no longer needs chains. He begins to grow fond of his slavery, to be proud of it. And this is the most terrible thing that can happen to a man."
In a rare political pronouncement Gurdjieff predicted that the eastern world would again rise to a position of world importance and become a threat to the momentarily all-powerful, all-influential new culture of the western world dominated by America, a country that was very strong but also very young.
Gurdjieff said that one should look at the world in the same way that one would look at another person or at oneself. The world was, in a sense, only a reflection or an enlargement of the individual world in each of us. Just as there were two sides to a person, there were two sides to the earth. To bring each of these sides together so that they might live in peace and harmony was the one fundamental purpose of all messiahs and messengers from the gods. He said that the time was very short. That it was necessary to achieve this world harmony as soon as possible to avoid a complete disaster.
Gurdjieff said that the world harmony of which he spoke could not be achieved by politics, philosophy, religion or any other organized movement that treated "man in the mass." It could only be accomplished through the individual development of man. In doing so, an individual's unknown potentialities would become strong so that he might influence many more people. If enough individuals could develop themselves—even partially—into genuine, natural men, each such individual would then be able to convince and win over as many as a hundred other men, who would, each in his turn, be able to influence another hundred, and so on.
For the current cycle, Gurdjieff brought the ancient teaching of The Fourth Way—a sacred and scientific teaching of self-transformation—which speaks directly to our situation and gives the principles and practices by which human beings individually and collectively come to a new awakening. The Fourth Way is the last esoteric message and teaching.