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Constantinople Notes on the Transition to Man Number Four

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Joseph Azize

Constantinople, Turkey c 1890 – 1900

Mindful of the approach of 29 October 2010, I have prepared extracts from a typed and manually corrected manuscript which Mr Adie gave me to study called the “Constantinople Notes of Mr. Ferapontoff”. If I understand correctly, the author was Boris Ferapontoff, who was a pupil of Gurdjieff in Russia, in Constantinople, and was again with him at the Prieuré. At the Prieuré, he was a movements demonstrator, and apparently correctly predicted that he would die young. I am pretty sure that I read somewhere that he travelled to Australia. That is all I know. Attempts to locate his literary executors, if any, have proved fruitless.

What is the material? I think that, as one person said, much of it may be based on lectures Ouspensky gave in Turkey. Some of it seems to me to be pure Gurdjieff, although Ouspensky could quote Gurdjieff directly, so one cannot be dogmatic. Various ideas in these notes, e.g. those concerning karma, were never referred to by Ouspensky in “Miraculous”, “Psychology”, “New Model” or in any of his reported questions and answers. That makes me think that these notes are unlikely to be Ouspensky’s words alone, because had Ouspensky ever expressed these powerful ideas, why would he apparently discard them, especially as he stated that he aimed to pass on the system as he had received it and as a whole? Also, one of the comments about the Absolute (not in this selection) makes the Absolute sound like God, and Ouspensky repudiated that suggestion. If the sound of Gurdjieff comes through loud and clear in this extract, it’s in the pithy comment about “perspicacity”.

At the end of the day, there seems to me something unique about these notes which makes me conjecture that they represent the fruit of Ferpontoff’s own understanding of his time with both Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. I think that the material deserves full publication, and would suggest a properly edited production with cross-references to other published material, including Tchetchovitch’s French notes.

I have chosen some short extracts from passages titled “Attitude to Psychology”, “The Emotional Centre”, “Work in relation to Centres”, “Work of Centres”, and “Matter of Centres”. I have edited the extracts to have a loose theme of the transition to man number four. This sample begins by stressing the necessity of having an aim. It states that the system is, above all, practical (one might add that if it isn’t taken practically, it turns into its opposite: it becomes a soporific drug). I was also struck, even warmed, by what is said about the work of the emotional centre, and pleasant sensations.

Sometimes the text is enigmatic, if not obscure. I have not tampered with it at all except to exercise editorial discretion and sometimes remove entire sentences where I judged that the material was not sufficiently striking to warrant reproduction. It isn’t as if the material isn’t all of a remarkable quality: it patently is. But for a piece like this, I thought it better not to needlessly restate here what is already familiar to us from other books. I trust, however, that enough of the background has been included to provide a good background to the practical hints with which the text abounds.

I have used three dots to indicate where I have omitted text. In Mr Adie’s typescript, there were some corrections. I have reproduced below the text as corrected, that is, I have omitted the excised typed words and have not given any special indication of the few words which were written in by hand. None of the amendments were mine, and neither is the handwriting Mr Adie’s.

Joseph.Azize@gmail.com, or respond via comments box at end of post

Attitude to Psychology

Everything is from outside. … The system is purely practical. Everyone who begins to study it must ask himself what he wants. … We have in us a possibility of a higher, finer knowledge. … Study of man is useful only in connection with study of possibilities.

The emotional centre.

Even for it distance no longer exists. Feeling cannot be permanent in man, unless it is connected with consciousness. Inverse unwinding of impressions. There is no control of emotions, even apparent control does not exist. Spinoza: emotion can only be conquered with emotion. Categories in emotional centre: fear, curiosity. Fear and lies. Only they can conquer emotions in sleep. Work has other methods.

Lying to oneself. Calling the bad good. You cannot help lying and you will not help it. Distribution of time is such that no time is left for self-observation.

What a tremendous number of fears! This emotion should only be studied; all the manifestations of so-called bravery are fear. Real bravery is something quite different. It is hard to give up suffering. We like to dream about unpleasantnesses. … Prevailing emotions may become the negative force. The emotional centre can be moved by different motors, different accumulators. Often the accumulator of emotions takes part in intellectual work. Emotional centre can understand the work of formatory apparatus. The principle of passionlessness in religions.

The emotional centre solves problems quicker but it is impossible to remember. … All pleasant sensations are useful. For, instance, smoking in a given form is balanced. Biological meaning of an unpleasant sensation is a warning of danger.

Work in relation to centres.

In the domain of moving centre: observation of pulsation. Pulsation must be mastered, otherwise many experiments will be impossible. 2) sensation of parts of the body, 3) relaxing muscles.

For the thinking centre: concentration, stopping thoughts.

For the emotional centre it is first of all necessary to free oneself from unnecessary unpleasantnesses. All pleasant sensations are useful.

The emotional centre is the starting point. Only after acquiring the second emotional centre can one acquire the thinking, making it connect with the others.

Perspicacity. It should be stolen from another centre which has it.

Work of Centres.

Incomplete work. Only formatory apparatus works to its full capacity. Man works with a very small part of his energy. A cultured man is a man who is being cultivated, who has deve1oped all that is possible. Uncultured man is divided into three categories. Man No 2 and 3 is usually the result of work.

The outpouring of energy from one of the centres. It is as though the driving belt has been taken off. We do not know how to use the emotional apparatus, we do not know how to set tasks for our thought.

With incomplete work of the factory not all the substances are produced. Dullness with a chronic cold in the head. Each organ has several functions, even the stomach.

Matter of Centres.

Each centre produces its own substances which spread out like a cloud. It also spends.

Theory of hormones. Each function requires a definite substance. To possess all substances. Not only to wish, but to be able, and to have the wherewithal to awake.

Fa 96 also feeds the organism by collecting radiations. Some throw away the ends of rays, others absorb them. Imagination and worry throw them away. One can be more tired after an hour of dreaming than after a day of work. We dream more of unpleasant things. The matter of formatory apparatus is more coarse, that of the moving centre is finer and that of the emotional still finer. We are too fond of being tired. We have huge reserves. What he1ps and what hinders. The apparatus proves to be stronger. To add qualities by accumulation of matter.

Excess. Normal work corresponds to accumulating matter. We must have excess. Only then is the work of higher emotional centre possible. There are means of increasing accumulation.

Man No 4. Each centre does its own work without interfering in the work of another. Work without superfluous expenditure of energy. No 4 is not produced by life. Broadening knowledge only by perfecting the apparatus. The first task is to balance the centres. It is necessary to find the memory of each centre. Which centre is working now? Does it work rightly? As a rule the work of centres is automatic. Noteworthy moments. To catch and to continue. To seeks means of awakening. Only when you know the taste of each centre is it possible to judge whether a given work is right. Concentration is at present impossible: adjusting the apparatus. Observing separate centres is the beginning of self-study. It is the first step. To begin from the central point with the representation which evoked the thought. Cramming. Saturation. The organism has to be saturated with substances. New organs may result from deposits of substances. Connection with the emotional centre as a result of a deposit. No driving belts.

Crystallisation after saturation. Only with saturation. But there is too little of some substances, a special effort is required.

Fusion. Our usual consciousness is consciousness of what is on the surface. Vessel with powders. Powders change place. No fusion. Man No 4 is a man who always understands in the same way. Understanding depends on what one understands with.

Fusion means a whole. Personality as one whole. Magnetising the alloy. Imbibing the substances. Acquired qualities can be lost. Fixing is acquisition of the fourth body. Fire can be due to many causes. Fixing by means of fire. Fire as the result of friction. Friction as the result of struggle between “yes” and “no”. A long process. If one conquers at once there is no struggle. Fire as result of effort. Struggle to create some kind of unity. Inimical attitude to oneself: one begins, another ends. If all struggle is concentrated on increasing consciousness there can be no wrong fusion. Struggle with the unconscious.

Wrong fusion can result even from arduous work. Necessary to break up. Wrong fusion may make the formation of the second body impossible. Wrong fusion can result, for instance, in connection with understanding what is good and what is evil, or on the basis of some fear. Wrong crystallisation in sleep when a mask is being formed.

At first struggle is only to accumulate material. The method is individual. One needs one thing, another another thing. Another may need not only not to destroy his small ‘I’s but to acquire new ones. One should begin with some very small habit. Sometimes it is very

difficult to conquer it, for it is connected with others. If one struggles with one habit several disappear.

One can increase energy only by the struggle between “yes” and “no”. If one wants one thing, to do another. Awakening needs energy. The most difficult thing is to see one’s  preponderant desire. Intentional and unintentional lies, fear, greed. Usually the chief feature is the best hidden from man. Until one begins to dissect oneself. All other features are also bad. We do not realize that we have never once made an effort in our life. But effort influenced by necessity or desire is no effort. To remember oneself is an effort, because no external shock can force us.

Effort for the sake of consciousness. Passive life. Struggle with habits gives a taste of effort, inner effort. Effort of the whole mass of shocks. If there is no struggle, there is no fixing. Struggle between different qualities. Only that which conquers can become fixed. Much will be thrown away. Inner struggle and struggle between centres

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JOSEPH AZIZE has published in ancient history, law and Gurdjieff studies. His first book The Phoenician Solar Theology treated ancient Phoenician religion as possessing a spiritual depth comparative with Neoplatonism, to which it contributed through Iamblichos. The second book, “Gilgamesh and the World of Assyria”, was jointly edited with Noel Weeks. It includes his article arguing that the Carthaginians did not practice child sacrifice.

The third book, George Mountford Adie: A Gurdjieff Pupil in Australia represents his attempt to present his teacher (a direct pupil of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky) to an international audience.The fourth book, edited and written with Peter El Khouri and Ed Finnane, is a new edition of Britts Civil Precedents. He recommends it to anyone planning to bring proceedings in an Australian court of law.

“Maronites” is pp.279-282 of “The Encyclopedia of Religion in Australia” published by Cambridge University Press and edited by James Jupp.

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Written by SOPHIA WELLBELOVED

October 25, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Gurdjieff & Christianity: part one

Joseph Azize

Joseph.Azize@gmail.com

I feel that the time has come for this blog to address the relationship between Gurdjieff, his teaching and methods on the one hand, and Christianity on the other. I have been pondering the issues for some time, but have always sensed that the issues were too big for me to tackle just now. Really, they still are, and maybe always will be. But I’ve found that the exercise of writing helps me to understand, to see where I don’t understand, where I can’t understand, and to perceive more clearly where the limitations in my thought lie. So, the fact that a topic is difficult for me, or even beyond my capacities, may be a reason to attempt it, to try to expand my range.

The impulse to broach the topic right now came from an acquaintance who asked me some pretty good questions about Gurdjieff and Christianity. Unfortunately, the information available to him is so lopsided or even distorted that he cannot even obtain a half decent idea of the possibilities of Gurdjieff’s teachings and methods. Once I addressed myself to the topic, certain very clear ideas appeared as if they’d been waiting to be articulated … and so, here we are. I’ve planned this as a series of short blogs, of no more than 1,000 words each, to present a few of my more or less tentative conclusions in crisp outline.

My first thesis is this: Gurdjieff’s teaching and Christianity have the same aim, to secure eternity with God. It seems to me to be obvious, and entirely unoriginal, to say that our lives depend upon our aim. If I have no aim, then, as Mr Adie said, everything is equal. Aim brings meaning to life and unity to our strivings. Multiple, mixed or conflicting aims lead to futility, meaninglessness and disturbance. Therefore, it is of the utmost significance that the Christian religion and Gurdjieff’s system coincide in aim.

Of course, they express this one aim in their own unique terms. But if my aim accords with that of Christianity – to attain to the beatific vision – then it also accords with Gurdjieff’s, as stated in Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson. There he says that it is possible for one to become “a particle, though an independent one, of everything existing in the great universe” (183, see also 162, 244-5, 384 and 452). On the Planet Purgatory, he said, souls strive to purify themselves specifically to be able to unite with and become part of the universal “Greatness” (801). In the 1930 typescript, it states:

… the souls inhabiting that planet Purgatory might have a perfect and quiet existence, with everything uniquely favourable. Nevertheless, for them these external circumstances of quiet and comfort simply do not count at all. They are entirely absorbed in the increasing labour of their purgation; and only the hope of one day having the good fortune and the possibility of becoming a part of the Greatness which is fulfilled by our All-possible Endlessness for the good of All, appears occasionally to give them peace.

There is an important reference to the beatific vision, but it is characteristic of Gurdjieff that it is perhaps secondary to unity of being. That the beatific vision is the ultimate Christian aim is trite. Catechetic texts abound in statements such as the following: “Faith is the indispensable prelude to the beatific vision, the supernatural end of man. Both are immediate knowledges of God, faith the hearing of His word on earth, vision the seeing of His face in heaven. Without revelation there would be some natural knowledge of God, but not the knowledge of faith.” As we shall explore in future blogs, this idea of the necessity of revelation is found also in Gurdjieff, and his references to “messengers from above”.

Aquinas said that “the beatific vision and knowledge are to some extent above the nature of the rational soul, inasmuch as it cannot reach it of its own strength; but in another way it is in accordance with its nature, inasmuch as it is capable of it by nature, having been made to the likeness of God.”

This, it seems to me, is also a good summary of Gurdjieff’s position. We have possibilities, as Gurdjieff said, “according to law”. The most important of our possibilities do not depend on us, they are part of the makeup of creation as it is. What depends on us is that we take advantage of our lawful possibilities. That Christians will speak of “grace” whereas Gurdjieff does not is merely a semantic difference. Christians also speak of “providence” and “predestination”, although less frequently than of “grace”, and these all come down to the same thing. Calvin utterly misunderstood predestination, and since him, the Western Christian discourse has been somewhat confused. To my mind, Gurdjieff can best explain how these concepts all fit together.

“Grace” refers to the action of God (chiefly felt in the soul, but also manifested as the rare miracle), and to the divinely planned system of the creation.

“Predestination” in human terms, is pretty much like the way that the Department of Roads laid down a broad street between Rydalmere and Parramatta. But if I want to travel to the predestined end (my home in Rydalmere), I still have to drive my car. The road is there by providence: the facilitating of road-making, driving and navigating. That I do not crash or lose my way is due to grace: that God has freely given me (the etymological meaning of “grace”) the means of availing myself of this providential arrangement.

Gurdjieff says little about grace in the first sense, although it is actually in Beelzebub, e.g. the pardoning of Beelzebub. For this reason, among others, the apparent difference between Gurdjieff and Christianity is greater than it is. But as I have said, Gurdjieff shares the aim of Christianity, to bring humanity to God. And that is the most possible significant fact.

JOSEPH AZIZE has published in ancient history, law and Gurdjieff studies. His first book The Phoenician Solar Theology treated ancient Phoenician religion as possessing a spiritual depth comparative with Neoplatonism, to which it contributed through Iamblichos. The second book, “Gilgamesh and the World of Assyria”, was jointly edited with Noel Weeks. It includes his article arguing that the Carthaginians did not practice child sacrifice.

The third book, George Mountford Adie: A Gurdjieff Pupil in Australia represents his attempt to present his teacher (a direct pupil of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky) to an international audience.The fourth book, edited and written with Peter El Khouri and Ed Finnane, is a new edition of Britts Civil Precedents. He recommends it to anyone planning to bring proceedings in an Australian court of law.

“Maronites” is pp.279-282 of “The Encyclopedia of Religion in Australia” published by Cambridge University Press and edited by James Jupp.

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Jeanne de Salzmann’s “The Reality of Being”

JOHN ROBERT COLOMBO REVIEWS

JEANNE DE SALZMANN’S “THE REALITY OF BEING”



A page from one of Jeanne de Salzmann’s notebooks


‘Madame de Salzmann’s Testament’

I have in front of me, as I keyboard this review, my prized copy of “The Reality of Being.” The copy is prized, despite the fact that it has not been autographed by its author; despite the fact that it lacks any association with an individual person, place, or incident; despite the fact that it was not given to me by a specially sensitive well-wisher; despite the fact that it was purchased through the Internet and arrived unheralded; despite the fact that it is the trade edition of the book that was published in thousands of copies in May 2010 and this is already October. The reasons why it is prized lie elsewhere and herein.

I prize it because of the quality of its contents, and so I have reserved a space for it on the bookshelf in my study where I display the spines of a limited number of select volumes about the Work that were published over the last three-quarters of a century. This brace of books includes the three volumes of G.I. Gurdjieff’s “All and Everything” series, four books written by P.D. Ouspensky, “The Harmonious Circle” by James Webb, and perhaps a dozen slender volumes composed by people whose last names are Claustres, George, Ravindra, Tracol, Vaysse, Welch, etc.

Before I attempt to convey the extent and limits of the contents of the present volume, I want to praise first its publisher and then its editors. It is a handsome piece of book-making. It measures 6″ x 9″ and has a substantial, dark blue cloth cover embossed in gold; it has end-sheets and an inspired and atmospheric dust-jacket which features an image that combines the horizon of the earth with the stars of the heavens which was created by an artist who goes unnamed but is nevertheless intriguingly referred to as “the author’s great-granddaughter.”

The typographical design of its pages appears at once casual and classical. The volume is published by Shambhala of Boston and London, which ensures it will be widely distributed and kept in print, and it is very reasonably priced at CDN $32.00. The publisher even had the signatures of the book sewn – most books these days have their pages glued together, a process euphemistically described as “Perfect Binding.” As well, they have added, like a sovereign crown, a bright yellow-orange headband. The book is a durable and handsome product, worthy of the muse or saint of printing and publishing, if there is one. Thank you, Shambhala, for taking pains!

I hope I do not sound like a claque because, as well, I will praise in extravagant terms the editors of this book. On the mundane level I did not find a single misprint, and that rarely happens these days, even with scholarly texts issued by university presses. I did note, in passing, that there are discrepancies between the birth years of its subject and its author. The copyright page, which includes the by-now standard Library of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publication Data, gives G.I. Gurdjieff’s year of birth as 1872, whereas the text gives it as 1866. The same page gives Madame de Salzmann’s year of birth as “1889?” whereas the text gives the same year but without the droll question mark. But these are matters of amusement and no consequence, unlike the text of the book itself.

The text is well organized, indeed super-organized, with a Foreword, an Introduction, twelve main sections, a Biographical Note, a list of the four Gurdjieff centres (Paris, London, New York City, Caracas), and an Index. Let me pause over the latter item, the twelve-page, double-column index, as indices are often overlooked, despite the fact that the attentive reader may tell a lot about a book from a cursory examination of its index.

After perusing it, I thought, “The only personal name in this index – and hence in the text of the book itself – is that of G.I. Gurdjieff.” Then I looked closer and found three other names, those of Christ, Buddha, and Mohammed. Illustrious company indeed! Added to them, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, I found that of Ashiata Shiemash. So it is apparent from this index that the reader will not turn the pages of this book in order to be entertained by stories, anecdotes, or descriptions of the men and women who participated in the evolution of the presentation of Work principles and practices from Ouspensky’s “Special Doctrine” to Madame de Salzmann’s embodiment of the Fourth Way.

The present volume is about as far from a gossipy book as it is possible to be. In fact, the book is about how it is “possible to be,” and in doing so, I find I want to describe the text as a collection of homilies. A homily is a commentary on a passage of scripture, and during a church service a homily is delivered following the reading of the specified passage of scripture. It is basically a sermon with a practical application of the general principles found in the day’s passage. Hence a homily deals more with practice and not directly with principle. It is hortatory.

If I am right when I claim that what we have here is a series of homilies, it is also true that the thrust of the texts is towards the harmonization of the three centres of man. There is next to nothing about the speculative nature of this system of thought at least of the sort identified with the expositions of P.D. Ouspensky. The sections about the Law of Three and the Law of Seven are perfunctory in the extreme; indeed, they are credited by the editors to legitimate sources outside Madame de Salzmann’s notebooks, the source of these texts.

Instead of regarding thought, feeling, and sensation as separate subjects, we have an integration of them within the human body. The index, once again, gives an idea of what is being emphasized, with entries such as these, each of which has a dozen or more page numbers: being, body, consciousness, contact, crystalization, efforts, energy, existence, feeling, instrument of knowing, mind, nature, order, perception, reality, relation, seeing, sensations, shocks, teaching, tensions, understanding, vigilance, voluntary suffering.

There is an abstract quality to the exposition, certainly the quality of selflessness, so it is a relief that the texts themselves are surprisingly short – one page, two pages, three pages – seldom more. If they were any longer, they would be somewhat tedious to read; if they were any shorter, the expositions would be reducible to maxims, like the pages of sentence-long quotations that introduce each of the twelve sections. Two instances of these mantras are “We struggle not against something, we struggle for something” and “I have to maintain a continual sensation in all the activities of my daily life.” In his memoir of Madame de Salzmann called “Heart without Measure,” Ravi Ravindra made exceptional use of such expressions of experience.

The structure of this book as a collection of meditations or a passel of ponderings is such that it may not meet the needs of the novice in the Work, but by its nature it will address the deep-seated needs of people experienced in the ways and words of the Work, people who are in need reminding. In a way the present book reminds me of Maurice Nicoll’s multi-volume set of “Psychological Commentaries” in which each short essay concentrates on one particular element of the teaching. Whereas Nicoll is intellectual and philosophical, Madame de Salzmann is physical and functional..

Each of Madame de Salzmann’s texts illuminates an aspect of the Work, what used to be called “the practice of the presence of God” and what is now recalled by the words of the title of Patty de Llosa’s fine book “The Practice of Presence.” As Nicol was indebted to Ouspensky, Madame de Salzmann is indebted to Gurdjieff. Over the last fifty years or so, I have watched as the word “religion” has been replaced by the word “spirituality” and how that word is now passing out of style in favour of such words as “being,” “presence,” “consciousness,” and “awareness.” Who knows where it will end (to pose a Zen-like question!)?

Let me pause over the arrangement of the contents of the book. Each of the twelve sections is neatly divided into three sections, and each of these three sections has four subsections. This would create a book of 144 texts of homilies, except for the fact that four of the subsections have not four texts apiece but three. That makes 140 texts. (These short subsections are “A Sense of the Whole,” “Ego and Illusion,” “Voluntary Attention,” and “Voluntary Suffering.” It might be worthwhile, at some future time, to pause to wonder why this lack of symmetry is so.)

If the sign of a fine translation is that the reader hears the sound of the voice of a person whose words are being rendered into another language, this translation is sound indeed! I have never heard words spoken by Madame de Salzmann, but as I read these words I feel I am hearing her speaking her own words in her own way. She owns them. Her use of words is measured, they are masterfully chosen, and they are rhythmically arranged. There is a flow of language to match the flow of the teaching. The English translation from the French seems amazingly fine. Yet there is no way to ensure that this is so because the French originals of the notebook are not in print. Indeed, it seems that this English edition is the “editio princeps,” as the French text has never been published. A world first.

Who edited this book? Who prepared the translations from what are described as the “notebooks” kept by the author over the last half-century, from the death of Gurdjieff in 1949 and the death of Madame de Salzmann in 1990 at the age of 101? (Both the Library of Congress and the text of the book agree on these years!) “This book was edited by a small group of Jeanne de Salzmann’s family and followers.” Thus reads the last paragraph of the Foreword. This is a self-effacing sentence, so I wish I knew more, so I could credit the collective effort of family and followers.

Maybe I do know more. I have heard that the positive force behind the book’s appearance originated with the author’s daughter Nathalie de Salzmann de Etievan, who died in 2007. The project was carried out by a couple, Nathalie’s daughter Anne-Marie and her husband Stephen Grant, a retired New York lawyer, supported by the author’s grandson Dr. Alexandre de Salzmann. The labours of Anne-Marie and Stephen, to use their first names without leave, were no doubt augmented by those of other unnamed contributors. Their efforts “have surpassed expectations,” as M.B.A.s in business schools are wont to say these days.

The organization and presentation of the Work that is currently overseen by the four Gurdjieff centres would seem to be based on the efforts of preservation, continuation, elaboration, and extension led by Madame de Salzmann and continued by her son Dr. Michel de Salzmann until he died in 2001.” The text reads, “Before Gurdjieff died he charged Mme. de Salzmann to live to be ‘over 100’ in order to establish his teaching.” She certainly succeeded in more ways than one!

What is her message? Here any reviewer has to make a decision. He can either report on what the author says in the order of the excerpts from the notebooks that appear here, and thereby write at considerable length; or he can summarize the approach that the author takes, and thereby risk sounding somewhat platitudinous. After pondering the matter, what I have decided to do is offer the reader two sentences, no more, on each of the twelve sections of the text. They will give the flavour of the whole and a sense of its direction.

The first sentence is my summary of the argument of the section, expressed in language that sidesteps the terminology of the Work. The second sentence is taken from that portion of Madame de Salzmann’s text and represents an idea or a formulation that struck me as a novel in expression if not new in insight. The book is so arranged as to lead the reader from the simple to the complex, yet at the same time the text resembles a hologram, for which every portion is a portal to the whole.

1. “A Call to Consciousness.” Man does not know himself, but he may through self-knowledge become a conscious being. “Everything comes from the wish, the will.”

2. “Opening to Presence.” We sense ourselves in a passive way, but it is possible to have an active impression of ourselves. “At every degree of awareness my response is in the way I exist at the very moment, and the kind of action in which I am engaged.”

3. “In a Common Direction.” Attention must be paid to the feeling of being alive. “In order for my being to change, I must understand my state emotionally.”

4. “The Work to Be Present.” There are moments of awakening and we need to aim at these, to concentrate on these. “Only one thing counts: ‘I exist.’”

5. “With Others.” Man is a living organism and it is necessary for living organisms to meet and learn and work and move together. “This is why the most important condition, the necessary condition, is to work with others of comparable experience and understanding, who are capable of upending the completely false scale of values established by personality.”

6. “To Be Centered.” Through concentration, through will, and through breath-work, I may find my inner center. “I need to know myself as a whole and to express myself as a whole, that is, to be a whole.”

7. “Who Am I?” The real self is consciousness itself. “No movement from the periphery toward the center will ever reach the center.”

8. “Toward a New Being.” Man has various centres and these need to be sent shocks in order for man to collect himself. “Our work is to understand better the collected state, a state in which I engage in a new order.”

9. “In a State of Unity.” If all my sensations, feelings, and thoughts were in alignment, I would be a conscious being. “Seeing is an act.”

10. “A Presence with Its Own Life.” There are very special energies and subtle forces and man has to experience them in quietude to be truly alive. “To come to this state, I need a right posture, an attitude in which I am grounded, maintaining an inner center of gravity.”

11. “The Essential Being.” Forces pass through us and we must learn to sense those vibrations that are subtle and submit to them. “I need to have a force in me coming from a higher level of the cosmos. It must become part of what I am.”

12. “To Live the Teaching.” We live in two worlds and with our bodies we may feel a Presence. “With consciousness, I see what is, and in the experience ‘I Am,’ I open to the divine, the infinite beyond space and time, the higher force that religions call God.”

These twelve chapters take the reader from a concentration on the ego through schools with practices to a sense of the cosmos, not really step by step but all at once. Hologram-like, these homilies repeat the main thesis that change in level of being is possible and they treat the reader to an array of approaches to the central existence of gnosis or the “knowledge of being.” The book is rightly named “The Reality of Being” for it deals with what is most real in us and in the world in which we live. This is Madame de Salzmann’s predominant testament, one that is to be prized.

John Robert Colombo, Toronto-based author and anthologist, has recently published “Poems of Space and Time,” a collection of 360 poems written over the last half-century and inspired by “the fantastic imagination.” Watch and hear him read some poems on YouTube. Listen to his podcasts on topics of the day on his website: www. colombo -plus. ca. He writes regularly on Fourth Way subjects for this blog.

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