For nearly thirty years I have been somewhere trundling along the 4th Way; I have taken 4th Way ideas and made them into practical working exercises in Enneagram Studies, in NLP-related courses and in Life Coaching. In doing this I follow the principle promoted by Gurdjieff that
NOTHING SHOULD BE GIVEN IN A READY-MADE FORM
So what are the other three ways? The 1st Way is that of the Fakir who goes apart from the world to find enlightenment via physical excesses; the 2nd Way is that of the Monk who retreats to a monastery to adopt an emotional approach to reality; the 3rd Way is the Yogi's way which is to meditate in a darkened room in order to sort things out on an intellectual basis. The 4th Way combines these three approaches but crucially depends not on withdrawal from the world but on self-study during the process of everyday life, going about one's normal routines.
In a continuing attempt to come to terms with 4th Way teachings, I have embarked on writing a series of books called simply ROOM. ROOM ONE and ROOM TWO are already published under the Hub Editions imprint. (£6.50 each inclusive of postage, apply here) They consist of romps around my library with frequent visits to my versions of the writings of Mr G & Mr O, as Maurice Nicoll likes to call Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, relating their ideas to politics, literature, philosophy, and the contemporary scene.
The 4th Way and NLP
Back in the 1920's, Mr G, Mr O and Nicoll were already within the eclectic way of working now called Neuro-linguistic Programming (‘NLP'). When Mr G told a group to make a record of their lives for modelling purposes, O noticed that there were things he resisted sharing (‘Artful Vagueness'). Gurdjieff himself noted: ‘...I had become more adroit in the art of concealing serious thoughts in an enticing, easily grasped outer form...' (Meetings with Remarkable Men p7). Ouspensky realised that G's voice intonation changed subtly when he was attempting to explain those things and this enabled him to detect similar voice intonations in others. (In Search of the Miraculous p248) Talking to Mr G, O felt ‘as though he were deliberately trying from time to time to throw me a word that would interest me and make me think in a definite direction...' ISOTM p16. These are simple examples of establishing rapport and pacing and leading.
Many exercises in NLP rely upon the presupposition that there are different parts of our being that we can go to to establish a different point of view: likewise in the 4th Way discipline we learn, for instance, to step deliberately between Intellectual, Emotional and Moving Centres, to ‘move the brain at least once a day', as Mr G says, into a different way of being instead of just being stuck in the Centre that's habitual and comfortable for us. This also illustrates the NLP fundamental concept
SEPARATION PRECEDES INTEGRATION.
In Gurdjieff's ballet The Struggle of the Magicians, ‘...the same performers would have to act and dance in the ‘White Magician' scene and in the ‘Black Magician' scene;... they themselves and their movements had to be attractive and beautiful in the first scene and ugly and discordant in the second...; ... in this way they will see and study all sides of themselves...' In the NLP process known as meta-mirror, you learn to identify and disidentify with another person by deliberately moving from 1st to 2nd Position and then into Observer-I and Decision-making-I (3rd & 4th Positions) (In Search of the Miraculous p17)
The fundamental discipline in 4th Way studies is to learn to remember yourself, to enter into real consciousness rather than fester in the sham activity that we call ‘consciousness' which we kid ourselves that we're in during so-called waking life. G: ‘When you really remember yourself you understand that others are machines just like you are. And you will enter into their position, you will put yourself in their place (External Considering) and be able to understand and feel what others think and feel... Approach somebody else with your requirements and nothing except new internal considering [mind-reading] can ever be obtained...' (In Search of the Miraculous p153)
The 4th Way with Accelerated Learning
Towards the end of his life, J.G.Bennett who was valued by Mr G as a person who would carry on his work, had it in mind to think up ways of accelerating the learning of the 4th Way System. Under the general banner of Accelerated Learning, I have devised exercises that have the effect of getting people quickly into the discipline of the Pendulum as a way of reconciling negative & positive, of getting to Essence by blasting through the things of the personality. Gurdjieff's idea of Multiple-I's is now a simple and profound tool for Life Coaching and self-analysis.
The 4th Way and Found Poems
One way that I have found useful to keep myself on the track of the 4th Way is to construct Found Poems from the writings of others on the journey, especially from the huge Commentaries of Maurice Nicoll.
I ask you again as so often
what work have you done
on yourself today?
have you noticed yourself
being very identified?
have you noticed yourself
have you noticed yourself
laying up a lot of accounts
against others by criticising them?
seeming superior to them?
thinking they are fools?
have you noticed yourself making up
stories in a wild attempt to fix
the forever flexible nature of things?
have you been full of self-pity?
have you been gloomy and depressed
and useless to others?
have you spoken things mechanically
when you might have said things
has the day defeated you
or have you defeated the day?
have you leaked Force
or built up your energy-stock?
have you gone to the day
or has the day succeeded
in frog-marching you to it?
whatever you do is what you do
and can be used constructively
for the purpose of thinking
Maurice Nicoll-at Quaremead 30.6.45