Constantinople Notes on the Transition to Man Number Four
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.
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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
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.