P.D. OUSPENSKY and the FOURTH WAY
By Kurt Abraham
P. D. Ouspensky’s book The Fourth Way consists of question/answer sessions that followed his lectures in London and New York from 1921 through 1946. The “fourth way” follows upon the first way (physical being), the second way (emotional), and the third way (mental). The human being is a mixture-combination of the physical-emotional-mental natures, with one aspect generally predominating. The primary point to realize about human nature at these levels is that it is mechanical. In contrast, the Fourth Way is a way of consciousness, and in that it is comparable to what Bailey and Theosophy have termed Soul.
The Mechanical Nature of Man. The first point that needs appreciation-recognition in the system that Ouspensky taught is the degree to which man is mechanical. Being mechanical means essentially that one is subject to laws of nature—the higher or greater the development, the fewer the laws controlling the being. An animal is “controlled” by more laws than man, with the instinctual nature being both a guide and a limitation. Other words that Ouspensky uses for mechanical are automatic and asleep. Only when contrasted to elevated states of consciousness can one realize that the “normal” man is, for the most part, automatic-asleep-mechanical. Ouspensky illustrates this point by saying that history is enacted by mechanical men. So-called “good” people are mechanically so, as are the “bad” people. To drive the point home, Ouspensky challenges his listeners to change something about their nature. Everyone thinks they are in control and that they can change, but in fact when one “I” makes the effort, another “I” stops the change and reverts to the old ways. Each person is made up of multiple “I’s” with the dominant one termed the “false personality.”
Man Lives Far Below His Potential. As a metaphor, think of a large mansion in an elegant estate. In the basement there are the servants’ quarters, kitchen, and storage units. On the ground floor there are several large rooms, including dining areas, an extensive library, galleries, and verandas leading to lush gardens. On the higher floors there are beautifully furnished spacious rooms with balconies and grand vistas. Mechanical man never gets out of the basement. He is like a prisoner in his own system. When someone tries to tell him that he could be lord and master of his own rich domain, he merely laughs and calls it superstition, fairy tales, and a belief system of no validity. Thus is humankind imprisoned in his own sleeping (unawakened) consciousness. “The evolution of man, if it occurs, can only be the result of knowledge and effort; as long as man knows only what he can know in the ordinary way, there is no evolution for him and there never was an evolution for him.” (Fourth Way 2)
The Way Up and Out. Self-Observation is perhaps the most important technique, for in self-study one recognizes how mechanical one is, not just theoretically, but in actual fact. People must see, according to Ouspensky, that they are not only resistant to change, but that it is impossible to change without a school that addresses these factors of being and without extraordinary effort.
Self-Remembering. Self-remembering is the primary technique that is used to awaken from the slumber of ordinary living. One makes regular reality checks as to one’s state of mind. For example, one asks oneself, “During the last half hour was I conscious, was I awake, or was I mechanical and asleep? When I wrote that letter, was I conscious? When I was talking to that person, how conscious, how automatic was I? During work today, how many moments did I actually remember myself?” When one makes a concentrated effort to awaken, to “self-remember”, then one begins to see the extent of the mechanical nature. This will either spur one on to new effort, or one will give up and return to ordinary, automatic, thoughtless living.
Remembering yourself does not mean thinking about oneself. If we use the Bailey terms—Self and self, or Soul and personality— the distinction becomes immediately clear. The person who is preoccupied with the little self is not conscious (not awake) and only vaguely aware. The person who is conscious forgets self (personality) and has a much larger vista. Ouspensky uses the term “considering.” One tends to consider one’s own situation, likes and dislikes, wishes and role. This is a steady and strong preoccupation. This self-considering is one of the “wrong functions” of the false personality and prevents right thinking and true consciousness.
New Kind of Effort. There is comfort in the habits and grooves, and there is much work-effort in breaking the habit and becoming conscious. Everything is in degrees. Ouspensky uses the terms asleep and half asleep. Without the esoteric instruction people do not make an effort to become more conscious because they already think that they are conscious. That is why it is so important to recognize the actual state of mechanical non-thought and the need for a new kind of effort.
Mystery Schools. Esoteric schools, mystery schools, are designed to wake people up, for they address primarily the factor of being, while at the same time bringing new levels of knowledge. Ordinary conventional schools address in part the factor of knowledge but totally neglect being. Even the knowledge addressed is of a superficial form orientation. Mystery schools stand on the shoulders of long traditions of work and effort. A school, however, can itself fall asleep and lead an essentially mechanical existence, imagining that it is a “mystery school” when in fact it is nothing of the sort. One could say that organized religion has gone the way of mechanicalness, although there are awakenings here and there in all walks of life.
Importance of Control. As an automatic mechanism, the task is to find (remember) something like the true self, the higher self, the soul, which Ouspensky simply calls man number four (1, 2, and 3 being physical, emotional, and mental-intellectual man). Designating simply a number forces the self-studying person to form new thoughts and make new observations about the phenomenon. When terms like “soul” or “higher self” are used, there is some risk that the person will think he already knows something, when in fact there is no real knowledge.
As well as remembering the spiritual essence, there is the task of controlling the mechanical nature. In order to control the lower mechanism (rather than be controlled by it) one must have greater understanding of how it works (the constitution of man from the esoteric perspective).
People think they know themselves and that there is but a single “I.” The truth of the matter is that people do not know themselves, for they are imagining themselves to be something that they are not. According to Ouspensky, there are multiple “I’s” with no controlling “I.” The factor of control is paramount. Each person has a struggle-within between the various “I’s”, each vying for control. Some “I’s” are nice on a good day and try to suppress the ugly “I.” The ugly “I” may surface via negative emotion, take control and feel fully justified in the process. The suffering caused by this “I” will bring retreat and then immergence of peace-making “I.” It is as if everyone had a mild case of multiple personalities. There is no end to the drama, but there is a pattern. Some of these “I’s” are alright and serve a necessary function, some are detrimental and need to be eliminated, some are imaginary and based on limited knowledge or falsehoods. The effort required to break the pattern and bring it all under control is enormous.
The Various Functions of Man 1, 2, and 3. Man 1, 2, and 3 are comprised of various functions. The instinctual function has to do with the work of the organisms (digestion of food, beating of the heart, sense of seeing, hearing, etc.). The moving functions are physical (like the instinctual) but they are learned—one is not born with them. People learn to walk, to throw a ball, to write, to pound a nail, play a violin, etc. The emotional function is feeling and the mental function is thinking. When carefully observed, it can be noted that these latter two functions are often confused one for the other. “When we really feel, we call it thinking, and when we think we call it feeling.” There is a difference in “the speed” between these functions, with the emotional center being the fastest. Thus the emotional function can easily dominate, followed only later by thought. This is one of the reasons why anger is difficult to control.
People think, therefore they think they are conscious. If one observes carefully what passes through the mind and what people call thinking, one will see that there are many bad habits. One’s thinking is for the most part automatic. What people call thinking is, according to Ouspensky, useless. “All study, all thinking and investigation must have one aim, one purpose in view, and this aim must be attaining consciousness.” (Fourth Way 28.)
Man 1, 2, and 3 is controlled by his instinctual, moving, emotional and mental functions. The observing function, however, is something new. Personality does not really see itself. One has to get above personality in order to see it. This function or effort to observe leads to “man number 4.”
The Observer recognizes that the emotional function is quick and dominant, the thinking function is slow and reluctant, and that a great many of the thoughts around self are erroneous and self-imprisoning. The observer, while it seeks to be conscious of, and eventually in control of, the mechanism, seeks also to retrieve or align with essence. Man number 5, 6, and 7 are higher manifestations of essence.
The Problem of Lying and Other Wrong Functions. A chief obstacle to the development of consciousness is lying. Ouspensky goes so far as to say that man is something like a “ lying animal.” Politicians, it is said, lie in order to get elected. They tell the people what they want to hear, as in “no new taxes.” But people generally tell others what they “want to hear” (bosses, spouses, friends, strangers) in order to get along and be accepted. The main problem, however, is lying to oneself. “The most serious lying is when we know perfectly well that we do not and cannot know the truth about things and yet never act accordingly. We always think and act as though we knew the truth. This is lying.”
The origin of lying is that we know that we do not know who we are, yet we always carry on as if we did. It is more difficult to see this tendency in ourselves and easier to see in others. In Ouspensky’s system of self-study, one looks at every word and thought with the question: Is this truth or falsehood? Self-lying is mechanical, and therefore difficult to detect. People are very opinionated. These opinions are actually a form of lying. This is especially true concerning the opinions about oneself.
Another “wrong function” is talking too much. Talk is mechanical, useless, unconscious, and automatic. It is for the most part a waste of time and energy. It is necessary, however, to observe this in order truly to see it. Observation takes effort. Anything out of the norm is both unsettling (scary) and potentially awakening (self-remembering).
Identification and Imagination. Both imagination and identification are considered “wrong functions” in that they are part of the mechanical nature that keeps one “asleep” and unconscious. The fundamental principle has to do with control. When thought is controlled, then imagination will be controlled. It is then usually called something else—creative visualization, inventive thinking, etc. Generally, however, when one observes carefully the workings of the mind, one will notice that one tends to imagine all sorts of erroneous things. One imagines things about self and others, about personal and historic happenings. These thoughts begin as speculative imaginings and later are taken as fact.
Closely interwoven with imagination is identification. Here, too, identification can have a positive-helpful connotation-function when the identification is with the true and the essential. Generally speaking, however, identification is with the unessential and the unreal. Identification emanates from a false “I”, a false personality. The person, as essential being, is controlled and limited by his false imagination and identification.
“We ascribe to ourselves powers which we do not have; we imagine ourselves to be self-conscious although we are not…. We imagine that we can ‘do’, that we have choice; we have no choice, we cannot ‘do’, things just happen to us. So we imagine ourselves, really. We are not what we imagine ourselves to be.” (Fourth Way 9)
According to Alice Bailey, one ought not identify with the “not-self which leads to all the pain” or with the “unreal.” (Consciousness of the Atom 108-9) According to DK, one ought not identify with “astral conditions.” DK also mentions, however, that the insensitive person needs more identification with others, while the overly attached person needs less identification. Through identification with others, one “loses sight of the little self.” (DINA 1 88, 139, 253)
The Advantage of the Ordinary Man. Developed intellect, even brilliance, is no guarantee of “consciousness”, if by that term we use Ouspensky’s meaning of awakened or “self-remembering” consciousness. If a person is brilliant, it won’t be the brilliance that prevents him from getting into the real work of knowing oneself, it will be identification with the brilliance. Being an ordinary man is actually an advantage. Being humble, one is more open to real and higher knowledge. Being brilliant one is blocked by the glamour of knowing it all, or thinking one knows much more than one actually does. We would say, as students of Bailey, that intellectual thoughtforms (lower mind) block soul knowing or soul alignment.
Negative Emotion. In the Ouspensky system it is important to observe just how pervasive these “wrong functions” are, both in others and, more important, in oneself. Negative emotions—such as fear, panic, self-pity, irritability, impatience, anger, hostility, etc.—are of primary concern. Once again, negative emotions are mechanical-automatic, and therefore extremely difficult to change and control. Some people automatically suppress-internalize anger while others automatically express it in a specific way—physically (as in violence), emotionally (as in verbal abuse), or mentally (as in getting even). Negative emotions are unproductive (they never help) and are self-damaging (sometimes extremely so). Many people’s lives consist in expressing negative emotion—their whole identity evolves around it.
Negative Emotion and Identity. In the process of gaining consciousness and control it is vital to realize that negative emotion “has no useful function” and always has to do with a loss of energy. Some people claim that the expression of negative emotion is better than suppressing it. It is better to get angry than to bottle it up inside. According to Ouspensky, both suppressed and expressed negative emotions are problems. The way to avoid and stop negative emotion is to consider most carefully the factor of identity. One becomes angry when one’s identity, one’s self-image, is brought into question or attacked. This identity is part of the false “I’s” or false personality. One’s identity is a creation of the false personality, and it has no reality to it. Suppression of negative emotion simply postpones negative emotion, for it leaves the identity in tact. Some people claim that negative emotions are the fault of circumstances and other people. “There is not a single unavoidable reason why somebody else’s actions or some circumstance should produce a negative emotion in me. It is only my weakness.” (Fourth Way 71, 72, 73)
One may not be able to stop negative emotions right away, but in the effort to stop them comes opportunity for greater observation. One will be able to see more clearly the factors of identity and imagination, and how they are interwoven in the mechanical expression. Change the identity, and the negative emotion will become weaker and eventually disappear. Negative emotion is like too much talk. When one resists the tendency, there is opportunity for self-observation, which leads to greater consciousness, less automation, and more control.
DK mentions that Christ was “undefiled by any form of self-identification.” (DINA II 468) This would correspond to Ouspensky’s meaning of the word, which has to do with identifying with something in a personal way. According to Ouspensky, “In the state of identification you cannot feel right, see right, judge right…. If you turn your attention to more important things, you become less identified with unimportant things.” (Fourth 123)
Identity According to DK. The factor of identity, as Ouspensky uses the term, has to do with the masks of personality that are always temporary and usually erroneous. They tend to keep one in the state of small mindedness. One can also identify with the other person, the group, the tribe, all humanity, the principle, the soul, the spirit, etc. Rather than “self-remembering”, DK uses such terms as alignment and light.
“I would suggest that you concentrate upon holding the mind steady in the light. This will involve renewed work in alignment, and in the conscious refocusing of the mind towards reality. It is the activity of the inner, conscious man which ceaselessly turns its attention to the soul, seeking identification with that soul.” (DINA 1 298)
The above statement by DK does not make anything that Ouspensky said about identification wrong. Ouspensky is very helpful in calling one’s attention to the degree of the problem of false personality and mistaken identification.
The Tramp, the Lunatic, and the Householder. Every system has its typology and this system is no exception. Ouspensky calls our attention to three fundamental types: the Householder, the Tramp, and the Lunatic. “Householder” is a translation from the Russian Snataka. It means “a man who leads an ordinary life”—one who is practical, realistic, down-to-earth, and has self-discipline. The “Householder” is the one who has the best opportunity to make progress in an esoteric school.
“Tramp” refers to attitude towards life, one’s values, and not one’s financial status. A Tramp could be a rich man but one who lacks a sense of responsibility towards others. While the Tramp has no values (“everything is relative”) the Lunatic has false values. “Lunatic” does not actually mean a crazy person, for a Lunatic could be a statesman or a professor. The Lunatic is one running after false values and lacks discrimination.
These terms have a certain shock value. Shocking people is a technique used in Ouspensky’s school to wake people up. One might interject here that dreams use the very same technique. This can be observed when one has a relatively clear dream and then suddenly wakes up. One feels the need to understand the dream. The “shock” element in the dream is often the key to understanding it.
All personalities have sub-personalities of the tramp type and the lunatic type. As fundamental types, they relate to Carlos Castaneda’s dreamer (the lunatic) and the stalker (the tramp). One could even relate them to the 2-4-6 pronounced type and the 1-3-5-7 pronounced type. The 2-4-6 type could easily be the dreamer, borderline “lunatic” with sweet and sometimes fanatic false values, and the 1-3-5-7 personality type would definitely tend more towards the stalker and the “tramp” with chameleon-like values worn as loosely as cufflinks.
What Can One Take Seriously? According to Ouspensky, when it comes to personality (the multiple “I’s”) one really cannot take people seriously. “One moment [people] are serious, another moment they forget everything.” The only thing one can take seriously is the work—the effort to become conscious, to remember the essence. To know who we truly are.
Glamour of the Path
by Carol Ann Deans
The reasons for finding our feet upon the Path will, I am sure, be without number. For me it was through illness and discovering Spiritual Healing. When I “found” myself taking part in a training course with The National Federation of Spiritual Healing it was a “coming home” experience as it was for everyone I met there. We had all found “family”. We were filled with excitement and enthusiasm at the new found facets of life and of ourselves. I encountered no ego or glamour then, just thoroughly nice people. Did we remain free of glamour? Mmmmm. One young man later told me that he had rushed home from this course, threw himself into his mother’s arms and sobbed “Mum, I’m a healer!” “Steady on,” I thought.
There is no doubt that there are many opportunities to fall into glamour in the healing world but the NFSH is a well thought of organization. The training and supervision is designed to keep our feet firmly on the ground and there is a strong Code of Conduct. This, together with my West of Scotland upbringing where no-one likes a “show off”, I think helped me retain a healthy skepticism of anything too wild and wooly!
However, perhaps not all of my fellow Scots had the same discrimination when, at one of the early Body, Mind, Soul Exhibitions in Glasgow the NFSH had a group of us enthusiastic healers standing by to answer questions and give healing to the public. We were given strict instructions. Dress modestly, give healing quietly, no trances, no psychic interpretations, no extravagant gestures. Nothing to frighten people off. We were moderately busy, but, imagine our fascination as directly opposite our little stand there was a tall, darkly handsome man, dressed in flowing white robes and an ornate white turban who was offering healing. An Errol Flyn of the healing world! He was exotic, loud, and gesticulating wildly. There was some “speaking in tongues” and ululating, followed by shrieks from those paying for this experience, and guess what, the queue waiting for him snaked all around the hall. Glamour certainly pays well although we never did see him again.
One glamour that I discovered along the way, was the use, or miss-use of language. I struggled to understand many “popular” books and workshop leaders, and for a long time assumed I was not very bright when I couldn’t seem to understand their meaning or concepts, until one day I attended the workshop of a wise lady who quietly and simply conveyed multi-layered concepts as if we were having a chat over coffee. A “eureka” moment as I realized that the humble teacher uses clear speech to simplify concepts while the self important use big words and phrases so convoluted to be incomprehensible. Clear speech does not frighten people away. Clear speech gives the listeners room to think for themselves. It is encouraging and welcoming. The spiritually arrogant need to tell us they are spiritual just in case we should be in any doubt. Jargon spins a Web of Glamour.
I do understand why those on the Path become glamoured, especially in those early, heady days. We are just so excited. This Glamour does not come from having a big ego, or from a sense of self aggrandizement, it’s just that we want to do good and we want to do it now!! However I have had an experience with someone for whom Glamour on the Path had taken over from her intentions of healing service.
One day I received a call from a woman, asking if I would be willing to sponsor her to train with the NFSH. I pointed out that there was a development group which met in the city and she said she had been there and the facilitator was “so full of ego”. I suggested another group and she said the same thing about them. I noted her language, but, here one of my glamours surfaced—I could be useful! So, I agreed to meet with her. She already ran a Healing Centre and was a Reiki healer. She was a stunningly beautiful Indian woman and had “Glamour” spun around her. I was glamoured by her! Om Shanti was on her lips and in her palms so often pressed together humbly, but slowly, slowly I could no longer ignore that the way she worked was not acceptable, her personality was dubious, as were her reasons for wanting to be part of the NFSH. She avoided meeting to discuss the necessary training and was not keen to have me around her Centre. She took part in her first training course at Head Office for which she received Certificates to put on the wall, which was all she had wanted. I was a good friend to her, gave her sanctuary in my home when she needed it, but ultimately when she no longer needed my input, discarded my friendship, accusing me of “expectation”. However it was not till much later that I discovered to the full extent the size of her ego and her glamours. Clients started to come to me who had been damaged as a result of her methods. They told me she had opened her apartment as an Ashram (her word). She took people there, did not allow them to phone their families, they had to eat her food etc. She bullied and dominated vulnerable people. I was horrified that I had not realised all of this—of course this was why she kept me at arms length from her Centre. I had to contact the NFSH and withdraw Sponsorship. Glamours of the Path seem relevant to her. DK advises “Emphasise in your own minds the spontaneity of the life of the soul and spoil it not with the glamour of high aspiration selfishly interpreted, self-centredness, self-immolation, self-aggressiveness, self- assertiveness in spiritual work—such are some of the glamours of the Path.” (Glamour 80)
And what is relevant for me? Well, I have learned many things here. I realised a few of my own glamours and especially that we cannot be “glamoured” if we have already dealt with our own glamours. I was glamourised by her because she was giving me something I needed. If I had not had this need, I would have been more discriminating from the start.
My personal experience of Glamour on the Path feels like a Rite of Passage. I started out in the manner of a child. Happy, excited, open. I tumbled from book to workshop, training course to therapist, always greedy for more, until a certain flat, jaded feeling overtook me. It was as if I had reached the cynicism that accompanies adolescence. A “Been there, seen that, did that ages ago” sort of feeling. I was no longer the naïve child, but had not yet reached maturity. A most uncomfortable stage. But, at last I feel the quiet joy of slowing down to deeper understanding, and with a little wisdom that comes from experience, more able to discriminate and focus. A Coming of Age.
POETRY by ANDREW NELLIST
Creativity comes from the soul.
We are the instrument and it speaks.
We are the plough, toiling and turning,
Through ages, the ground of living.
We are the waters on which it moves,
A chorus modulating around a major key.
The strange pattern of love
Tells its syllables
In ever-living flame.
by a Student
I am SPIRIT
igniting the fire
I am MATTER
fueling the fire
that gives birth
to consciousness divine.
I stand midway
within the continuum,
balancing the forces
that swing to the left
and to the right.
the burning ground
Through the light and love
within the heart,
the universal note is struck.
I stand within the
Will of God
and know the ways of man.
SPIRIT – MATTER am I.