William Patrick Patterson
The Deep Question of Energy

Gurdjieff, Fourth Way, Being Partkdolg-Duty We prize energy, for energy is life, gives life, enables life. The less energy, the less life. And so the lament of the old adage, "Youth is wasted on the young," meaning not only is energy wasted on the young, but being inexperienced they don't realize the opportunities they have. But with experience, are energy and opportunities used any more wisely? Societally, that can be true, but from the perspective of the aim of self-awakening unfortunately it's not. What we are today, how we are living our life, as Mr. Gurdjieff says, is what we will be and how we will live tomorrow. Only we will be older, have less energy.

Though admitting mortality, most people, particularly the young, live as if they were immortal, the supply of energy endless. It's only with age, the sapping of vitality, that this unconscious assumption of "godhood" weakens and the egoistic assumptions which have taken one's energy may be recognized for what they are and were: diversions from the work of self-transformation. So, whether young or old, if we are not serious about awakening, about learning how to process energies consciously now, then it is unlikely we will be so tomorrow. To begin to understand energy, its uses and misuses, a new perspective is needed, the larger and more comprehensive the better.

When the Universe began what was there?

Given the assumption of a beginning of the Universe, whatever else there might have been there was certainly energy, for without energy there is no life. So: In the Beginning there was energy.

And then, what?

The Fourth Way—Sacred Science

Physicists offer descriptions of the development of the world, as do various religions. These are well known, if only superficially. Relatively unknown is the esoteric perspective, especially that of The Fourth Way, the ancient and sacred esoteric teaching rediscovered and reformulated and brought to the West by G. I. Gurdjieff. This teaching, here simply sketched, holds that contained within the wholeness of the Absolute, which is all and everything and no thing, there was the Most Holy Sun Absolute and empty endless space filled with the presence of the prime-source cosmic substance, Etherokrilno, which is "the basis for the arising and maintenance of everything existing."

The Most Holy Sun Absolute was maintained and existed on the basis of two fundamental cosmic sacred laws. Triamazikamno, or the Law of Three, is said to be "a law which always flows into a consequence and becomes the cause of subsequent consequences, and always functions by three independent and quite opposite characteristic manifestations, latent within it, in properties neither seen nor sensed." Heptaparaparshinokh, a second sacred cosmic law, exists as well. This law is formulated by Objective Science as: "The flow of forces [Triamazikamno] follows a line that constantly deflects at specific intervals and unites again at its ends." The Law of Seven acted in terms of the Autoegocratic principle, or design, with no gaps in its seven gravity-centers, or Stopinders, processing the Law of Three systematically, thus eliminating all hazard or chance. All seemed well.

But then the Creator God, arisen within the Absolute, observed that Heropass, or Time, was diminishing the Most Holy Sun Absolute and so He changed the design of the Law of Seven from Autoegocratic to Trogoautoegocratic. Whereas Autoegocratic is a closed system, Trogoautoegocratic is open in that the gaps, or intervals, between certain Stopinders were lengthened or shortened. This allowed the entry of new energy from outside which would either spur the processing of the Law of Three or impede and change it; the one allowing the octave to continue to descend, the other to allow it to ascend. While this new processing eliminated the threat of Time to diminish the Most Holy Sun Absolute, it did introduce hazard and chance.

Under Trogoautoegocrat, the Most Holy Sun Absolute emanated the prime sacred element Theomertmalogos, or Word-God. Within the Most Holy Sun Absolute, the inner forces were One, but when issuing into the Etherokrilno it self-divided into a trinity or triad of independent forces [Triamazikamno]: Holy-Affirming, Holy Denying and Holy-Reconciling. The sacred Theomertmalogos blended with the Etherokrilno that fills the empty space to create the Omnipresent-Active-Element-Okidanokh. Its prime arising then is outside the Most Holy Sun Absolute.

These forces mixing with Okidanokh created the Megalocosmos, filling the once empty space with successive levels of worlds known as the Ray of Creation. The farther a given world, and the beings inhabiting it, from the Most Holy Sun Absolute, the more dense, the slower the vibration, the less intelligent and less conscious. Nonetheless, everything is an expression of energy, of vibration, of force, but at different levels. Thus, every thing, every manifestation, is relative in terms of its potency.

Images of God

Though very far removed from the Most Holy Sun Absolute, we human beings represent in our world the acme of creation—"We are images of God," said Gurdjieff. We are three-brained beings, that is, beings who have intellectual, feeling, and instinctive brains. Two-brained beings are animals; one-brained are insects. Not having a third brain, two- and one-brained beings live mechanical lives. They are what they are and cannot be or do otherwise. A lion is a lion is a lion. A snake, a snake. A bee, a bee. Because we are three-brained beings, we have the possibility of self-consciousness, will and reason, of being capable of transforming ourselves from mechanical to conscious beings. We are then beings of great possibility in which bodies other than the physical are formed leading to immortality within the solar system.


We receive the Omnipresent-Active-Element-Okidanokh through the three foods: physical food (which is dead) and air and impressions. We receive this energy and transmit it simply by living. But we do so mechanically. That is, we eat, breathe, and see and feel automatically, only occasionally aware of the intake of these foods. It is only when we practice being-Partkdolg-duty, aligning ourselves in a triadic configuration, that the Okidanokh contained in these foods undergoes Djartklom, a dividing of Okidanokh into three forces, active, passive, reconciling, which then blend and nourish and coat our three brains, intellectual, feeling, and instinctive, mixing with "kindred-vibrations" which are localized in the corresponding brain. These blendings are known as "being-Impulsakri" and it is the quality of these that allows the self-perfecting and coating of the various bodies. If we do not practice being-Partkdolg-duty, then there is no Djartklom (except when Great Nature needs it), and of the three brains, only the denying-brain in the spine is fed. Hence, if there is no conscious work, then the older one becomes, the more denying, the less conscious.

Being energy systems, we absorb and refine energy from lower levels to higher, for example, the eating and transformation of physical food. In maintaining ourselves, energy is used in four different ways. We use it biologically to support the various bodily functions, such as the respiratory system. We use it mechanically to run, climb, lift. We use it psychically or mentally to associate, daydream or think. And, engaged in self-transformation, we use energy to consciously inhabit ourselves and to observe what is present as impartially as possible. These direct impressions, undiluted by personalization, transform themselves to higher and higher levels. (It is all one energy, of course, but of different potencies—the energy it takes to run a race is not the same as that needed to solve a chess problem, or to self-remember.)

At a young age Gurdjieff came to what he termed "the full sensation of myself." That is, he came to the full expression of the energy of consciousness. Observing people's suffering and delusion, self-love and vanity, hatred and violence, the question arose in him: "What is the sense and significance of life on earth, and human beings in particular?" The answers of religion and science he found inadequate. He came to intuit that the ancient wisdom societies had discovered the answer. After making many journeys into remote and dangerous areas, he finally discovered in Egypt an ancient, esoteric teaching which he called "The Fourth Way." He said he was initiated four times into the sacred Egyptian mysteries, in which he says "The Christian church, the Christian form of worship, was not invented by the fathers of the church. It was all taken in a ready-made form from Egypt, only not from the Egypt we know but from one which we do not know. This Egypt was in the same place as the other but it existed much earlier. It will seem strange to many people when I say that this prehistoric Egypt was Christian many thousands of years before the birth of Christ, that is to say, that its religion was composed of the same principles and ideas that constitute true Christianity." Over time elements of this seminal and sacred teaching had migrated northward and so Gurdjieff made a second journey to the Hindu Kush, Siberia and Tibet. This is where the confusion began with people believing that these areas were the teaching's origin and not Egypt.

Mechanical or Conscious?

Unlike the three classical ways of working with the body, emotions, or the mind, this way worked with all three centers at once. Instead of withdrawal to a monastery or ashram, the teaching taught that by consciously receiving and working with the impressions of ordinary life one could come to real life. As to the significance, the purpose, of human beings on Earth? The answer is not for the fainthearted or romantic. Our mechanical purpose on Earth is to do exactly what we are all doing right now. Simply by functioning—breathing, moving, associating, thinking—we mechanically receive, refine and transmit energy. There are higher energies that we can work with, but Nature neither needs nor compels us to do so.

We can breathe, move, associate, think either mechanically or consciously. If we live mechanically, we "die like dogs," as Gurdjieff puts it. If our wish is to live consciously, possibilities abound. The initial barrier to this wish is that most people believe they are already living consciously. In actuality we live in the hypnotic momentum of a seamless stream of energy, a momentum nurtured by societal suggestion, as well as our unquestioned assumption that we are awake. Only when we begin to experience how reactive and conditioned our lives are can we be touched by what Gurdjieff means when he says, "We are unfinished worlds." Within us a germ begins to stir, a seed of our highest aspiration, one which impels a search for being-Partkdolg-duty.

I then become a seeker after truth. The search, if sincere, will ultimately bring a genuine teacher and teaching into my life, one that will lead me by the evidence of my own experience to the realization of the obvious—that I am asleep to my real self. My thoughts "think" me, my feelings use me, my postures take me. How to get out of this morass? Do nothing, I will be told. For who is doing it? And why? Simply observe myself, for observation changes nothing and so encounters no outer resistance. I will see that I am not who I imagine myself to be, that I live in a world of words, constantly talking to myself, completely psychologized, moved mechanically by one shock, internal or external, to another, identifying with all, and deeply believing "I" am getting some place, learning something, becoming something. More deeply, self-observation will show I have no conscious awareness of the body. True, I am quite concerned with how it looks, but other than hunger, desire, fear or injury, I give it no attention. Though I appear to be in the physical dimension, I am somewhere else—in a thought, a feeling, an impulse. All carom off one another and completely envelop me, absorbing all my energy and attention. Objectively, energy is simply manifesting itself in accordance with my conditioning and possibilities of the moment. Energy is being mechanically received and mechanically transmitted. All this is simply to be part of the descending octave of the Ray of Creation.

Necessary Preparation

If, however, I wish to work to become a conscious receiver-transmitter then my life reorients itself to an ascending octave, one of return to the Source, ascending the Ray of Creation, allowing a living at higher and higher levels of consciousness and vibration. Interestingly, one also wakes up simultaneously to deeper and deeper levels of sleep. But to begin with, I simply observe my life, my conditioning, patterns, beliefs.

No, I'm not going to like what I see, because what is seen is how truly asleep I am to myself, to others, the world—that all along a self-image, a false personality, has been living me. In this waking sleep, only the biological energy is spent rightly, because it is self-regulating so that I have nothing to do with it (though I can interfere with it through drugs, etc.). Mechanical energy is always moving me around, and mental and emotional energy is spent in imagination, internal considering, lying, identifying, idle talk and expressing negative emotions. This self-observation, rightly conducted, removes the blinders.

Observing how my life is being lived as impartially as possible (like a scientist looking at a virus through a microscope) allows my natural intelligence to enter and I begin to directly sense and feel what is being observed—direct, unfiltered impressions of postures, breathing, thoughts, feelings, actions, inaction. In this way I begin to recognize by the evidence of my own observation that I am not the indivisible I have taken myself to be, but many "I"s, each with its own agenda, often quite contradictory. These "I"s feed on my energy, capture my attention, lead me here and there.

A Subtle Discrimination

And so by simply observing (when reactive judgment enters, which it will, this is observed as well), one begins to see how energy is used and misused, how its transmission is discolored with egoism and identification. This evokes a real suffering, not a physical or psychological suffering but a moral suffering. This suffering in time will generate an inner heat, one which will begin to create a separation between what is perceived and its perceiving. If one identifies with the perceiving by saying "I" to it, the observing is overlaid with the "observer-I." Thus, the original egoism with which I identify, not to lose control, simply moves to a more subtle level. And so the experience of "the observer is the observed" remains.

However, if the separation between the perceived and the perceiving can be maintained, then an inner space appears for one's natural intelligence to directly absorb the impressions of the mechanicality-of-the-moment as it functions in the service of whatever "I" is in action. If an inner separation between consciousness and the contents of consciousness is maintained, then one is and is not what is observed. The transmission of energy is not discolored or diluted to the degree that the energy received is not identified with and psychologized. It is crucial to understand that one can do none of this without a teacher, for if I am asleep to myself, how can I awaken? Moreover, the self-observation referred to is not the usual observation by and of the head with which everyone is consumed. Rather, it is predicated on self-remembering.

Gurdjieff once succinctly explained self-remembering by saying "To know you are angry when you are angry," meaning to experience the anger without identifying with it. That is, knowing how one is manifesting, outwardly or inwardly, with all three centers—intellectual, emotional, instinctual. One can observe how all things, from gross to subtle, appear and disappear within consciousness. A consciousness cleansed of identification with its content is thus without personal referent. One realizes that the body appears in consciousness and not otherwise. Yes, though not generally known or rightly "practiced," the teaching extends from the lowest idea and experience of self to the very highest. Gurdjieff clearly said of the teaching that it "possesses full knowledge" and "is completely self-supporting and independent of all other [spiritual] lines." But this is generally not taken far enough.

Now what was it about "Energy being wasted on the young"? Isn't it wasted on the old as well?

We must remember that as we have the possibility to ascend to higher levels of being and consciousness, we can also descend to lower animal realms. We live not only in possibility but in question.

The deep question of energy is—for what is it being used?

First printed in Revue 3e millénaire, #82. Reprinted in The Gurdjieff Journal Issue #45

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