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Knowledge and Being

The fourth way is the way of understanding, and understanding is defined as the relationship between knowledge and being. These terms may appear familiar to us but be aware that their definitions on the fourth way are much more exacting than the ones you will find in the dictionary. The definitions are not in conflict with common understanding, but are defined exactly, in order to be used rigorously.

The fourth way is characterized by work on being, a work that is in harmony with work on knowledge. The work on being distinguishes the fourth way from all other approaches, approaches that can ultimately lead to nothing of lasting value, except by the occasional accident—certainly not consciously. These other approaches may or may not develop being as a result of various practices when there is a fortuitous interaction with that particular practice on a person of the exactly requisite type and center of gravity. And then that person thinks they know "the way" and tries to reproduce the same results in another. Eventually, perhaps centuries later, there will be another lucky combination.

The fourth way teaching is as much about the acquisition of higher knowledge as it is about the means to use that knowledge, which is being. It could equally be said that the fourth way is about the development of higher being, and the means to acquire that being, which requires a higher knowledge. That is why it is said: the fourth way is based on understanding. This means, according to the definitions of the fourth way, that the fourth way is based on the relationship of knowledge and being.

If you think of this as "playing with words", you do not know when to play with them and when to work with them.

Examples of Knowledge and Examples of Being

Knowledge                                    Being

Everyone has a chief feature.  I             Seeing our chief feature
 have a chief feature, my chief 
 feature is... etc.                            
We are asleep, we do not remember            Self-remembering
It is useful not to express                  Not reacting negatively when
 negative emotions                            someone cuts us off in 
We can do nothing                            Sustaining the actual realization
                                              of our mechanicality
Like what it does not like                   Appreciating the moments of   
                                              the experience of
					      Using the
					      frustrating traffic
					      situation as a way to
					      develop being.

All of the above knowledge is useful if it is applied, understood. It may come as a surprise to realize that the touchstone of the fourth way is the same as that of Western science—test knowledge against experience. The integration of knowledge and experience results in understanding, which is the aim. Many people hear about or read these ideas, and may even parrot them, but never come to work on being. At the first hint of seeing their being, they denigrate the people or situations that began to show it to them. This, above all else, is why the fourth way is "esoteric" or "occult". Not hidden, but hidden from.

If we look at the examples of knowledge and being above, we can see something about the conditions common in life. How many people even recognize the items in that left-hand column as knowledge? Real knowledge is hard to come to, and here we begin to see the inner connection between knowledge and being: We cannot really know the being side of things without struggle, without trying to self-remember, trying not to express negative emotions, trying to work on chief-feature, and so on—the struggle against mechanical momentums which is the Work. And the experiences gained in that struggle can be seen in our knowledge of what are useful techniques, what are overly ambitious goals, and so on. In this way, we can begin to see how a person's knowledge is a reflection of their being.

Because of the direct relationship of knowledge with being, it is possible to estimate a person's knowledge by their level of being, and to estimate a person's being by their level of knowledge.

That is a difficult idea to accept if we can even hear it.

"For the truth of being and the truth of knowing are one, differing no more than the direct beam and the beam reflected."
Francis Bacon, On The Advancement of Learning

We cannot know that we do not remember ourself if we do not try to remember ourself and honestly note the results. By seeing our being, we gain real knowledge. We cannot see our chief feature unless we can bear to see it, even want to see it. Our inability to see ourself is lack of being. Any hard-won increase in the ability to see ourself is accompanied by an increase in our knowledge of ourself. And this is Socrates' first commandment—know thyself.

What is being? No definition, no knowledge, can convey what being is. We can try to use words, ideas, knowledge, round 'em up in a certain way and try to express or indicate being. But immediately we come to the fundamental difference of knowledge-based cultures and being-based cultures: they do not even recognize each other.

The best expression I know is that being is the ability to be. To be present. Being, on the fourth way, is self-remembering. Sleep is our level of being. Helplessness is our level of being. In fact, our level of being is not really even there yet—our level of being is such that we do not even experience our helplessness, our sleep.

I don't know if there is anything more difficult than seeing oneself, seeing what we are, seeing our level of being. On the fourth way, we may begin to appreciate that vision, as we begin to realize that just such a hot seat may make us move. In fact, we may begin to "like what it does not like". The extent to which we can see ourselves is the measure of our being. Similarly, the extent to which we see ourselves corresponds closely to our ability to tolerate the mechanicality of others. It is often the case that a more tolerant, understanding person indicates a relatively higher level of being.

"[Y]ou can understand other people only as much as you understand yourself and only on the level of your own being."
P. D. Ouspensky, The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution

Another clue to being is reliability, although this is by no means obvious at first glance. Someone may be reliable, for example, because they are afraid of losing their job. That is not being. But being reliable when one gains nothing from it but a sense of personal integrity is an indication of being. Everybody, of course, thinks they are reliable. We have to see how we are not, where we are not, and that seeing is a beginning of being.

It is an absolute perfection, and as it were divine, for a man to know how to enjoy his being loyally. We seek for other conditions because we understand not the use of ours; and go out of our selves, not knowing what is abiding there.
Michel de Montaigne, Essays

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