The following essays assume a knowledge of the material presented by P. D. Ouspensky in a series of ten lectures he or his students would give to people interested in hearing about the work that they were engaged in. Today, those lectures are available in two books: The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution and The Cosmology of Man's Possible Evolution. The context in which Ouspensky acquired the source of this material from G. I. Gurdjieff, as well as much of the same material, is described in Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous.
Without some familiarity (and in some cases a lot of familiarity) with the ideas as expounded in these books, the following may not make much sense.
The essays listed below are divided into two groups: psychological and cosmological. The cosmological ideas of the fourth way are closely bound with the psychological practices—this is not an armchair philosophy, it is an active way of life. The psychological and cosmological teachings go hand-in-hand, as "one hand washes the other", and simply reading or talking about the fourth way is to miss it.
"Speaking generally, you will never understand what I wish to convey if you merely listen."In addition, there are several essays I've combined into a group called "Miscellaneous". These last essays seem to me to contain a roughly equal combination of psychological and cosmological material, and so really belong with neither of the previous two groupings. But it is all somewhat academic—the fourth way is a whole, and every part relates and connects to every other part, and any approach must lead to all other approaches or it is simply not the fourth way. Enter from any angle you like, but be aware of other angles, and watch for connections. (For now, I am just appending any new essays to the Miscellaneous section, regardless of content.)
G. I. Gurdjieff
The scientific information contained in these essays is generally accepted and can be found on the web or in popular modern books. What is different here and not contained in those sources, is the organization or ordering of the information.
In particular, the structure applied here is based on my understanding of the fourth way. It may seem strange to see fourth way ideas expressed in terms of modern scientific thought, but much of the fourth way cosmology is supported by modern science (albeit unwittingly). It would appear, to one who values the fourth way even above modern science, to give modern science a special validity, especially in that area of modern endeavor known as quantum physics. In a similar way, we can find correspondences between modern psychological and neurological discoveries with fourth way ideas, but again the interpretation of the information, its meaning, is understood differently.
I am writing this and publishing it here because I think it is a useful example of how work on the fourth way (called, simply, "the work") can lead us into a more active and personal relationship with the world in which we find ourselves. We now find an announcement of some new scientific discovery intriguing, know what relates or might relate to it, "where it belongs" so to speak, and how it might add to our understanding in many different areas. We read a myth and suddenly gain an insight into something the inventors were trying to tell us. The fourth way enables us to integrate knowledge with life and so forge a path of ever-increasing understanding and wonder.
"After some time one comes to a position where nothing is independent of the work, where there are very few actions that are not connected with the work."
P. D. Ouspensky, A Further Record
Here, then, are the essays, arranged in groups—psychological, cosmological, and miscellaneous.
I wish you good luck, the opportunity to work with others, and consciousness.
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Notes on the Second Edition
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