… The first requirement, the first condition, the first test for one who wishes to work on himself is to change his appreciation of himself. He must not imagine, not simply believe or think, but see things in himself which he has never seen before, see them actually. His appreciation will never be able to change as long as he sees nothing in himself. And in order to see, he must learn to see; this is the first initiation of man into self-knowledge.
First of all, he has to know what he must look at. When he knows, he must make efforts, keep his attention, look constantly with persistence. Only through maintaining his attention, and not forgetting to look, one day, perhaps, he will be able to see. If he sees one time he can see a second time, and if that continues he will no longer be able not to see. This is the state to be looked for, it is the aim of our observation; it is from there that the true wish will be born, the irresistible wish to become: from cold we shall become warm, vibrant; we shall be touched by our reality.
Today we have nothing but the illusion of what we are. We think too highly of ourselves. We do not respect ourselves. In order to respect myself, I have to recognize a part in myself which is above the other parts, and my attitude toward this part should bear witness to the respect that I have for it. In this way I shall respect myself. And my relations with others will be governed by the same respect.
You must understand that all the other measures—talent, education, culture, genius—are changing measures, measures of detail. The only exact measure, the only unchanging, objective real measure is the measure of inner vision. I see—I see myself—by this, you have measured. With one higher real part, you have measured another lower part, also real. And this measure, defining by itself the role of each part, will lead you to respect for yourself.
Jeanne de Salzmann, First Initiation
...The man must understand this: his evolution is necessary only to himself. No one else is interested in it. And no one is obliged or intends to help him. On the contrary, the forces which oppose the evolution of large masses of humanity also oppose the evolution of individual men. A man must outwit them. And one man can outwit them, humanity cannot. You will understand later on that all these obstacles are very useful to a man; if they did not exist they would have to be created intentionally, because it is by overcoming obstacles that man develops those qualities he needs.
P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous – Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, Chapter III, p. 58
... No ordinary reason is enough to enable a man to take the Great Knowledge to himself, and make it his inalienable possession. Nevertheless it is possible for him. But first he must shake the dust from his feet. Vast efforts, tremendous labours, are needed to come into possession of the wings on which it is possible to rise. It is many times easier to drift with the current, to pass with it from one octave to another; but that takes immeasurably longer than, alone, to wish and to do. The way is hard, the ascent becomes increasingly steeper as it goes on, but one’s strength also increases. A man becomes tempered and with each ascending step his view grows wider. Yes, there is the possibility.
G.I.Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World, Glimpses of Truth – p.19-20
By liberation is meant the liberation which is the aim of all schools, all religions, at all times. This liberation can indeed be very great. All men desire it and strive after it. But it cannot be attained without the first liberation, a lesser liberation. The great liberation is liberation from influences outside us. The lesser liberation is liberation from influences within us. At first, for beginners, this lesser liberation appears to be very great, for a beginner depends very little on external influences. Only a man who has already become free of inner influences falls under external influences.
G.I.Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World, Prieuré, February 13, 1923. p. 266
...Ordinary life is under the law of the circle of mechanical influences. The way of development of being is opposed to everyday life. It is based on other principles, subject to other laws. This is the secret of its power and its meaning. Without the help of a way, of an influence of another order, no change of being is possible. The Fourth Way is a way of understanding. The magnetic center which leads one to a group following the Fourth Way is different from that which leads toward a monastery, a school of yoga or an ashram. This way demands another kind of initiative. It demands a broad mind and discernment, that is, the ability to distinguish the mechanical from the conscious in oneself. It requires the awakening of another intelligence. What can be attained does not depend on obedience. The knowledge that results is proportional to the state of awakening, of understanding. The Fourth Way begins from the idea of different levels of being. But what is being? The level of being is determined by what enters into one’s Presence at a given moment, that is, the number of centers which participate and the conscious relation between them. The level of being determines everything in our lives, including our understanding. My being today is not unified. It is dispersed, and therefore without consciousness. Can being change? Can my being become different from what it is today? This is where the idea of evolution, of work, begins. The first step is to recognize that through a certain effort I can live a moment of more complete Presence. Then I will see that the slightest difference in the level of being opens new possibilities to know and to act...
Jeanne de Salzmann, The Reality of Being
I would say that one of the most remarkable aspects of Gurdjieff’s thought is that it allows us to start from where we are...from our predominant fault. It casts a vigorous, surprising light of truth on our multiple weaknesses, our prison. And it shows us how to listen to another voice, to enter into contact with another reality.
Pauline de Dampierre, "The Human Place" in Parabola
Of the desires expressed the one which is most right is the desire to be master of oneself, because without this nothing else is possible. And in comparison with this desire all other desires are simply childish dreams, desires of which a man could make no use even if they were granted to him.
‘It was said, for instance, that somebody wanted to help people. In order to be able to help people one must first learn to help oneself. A great number of people become absorbed in thoughts and feelings about helping others simply out of laziness. They are too lazy to work on themselves; and at the same time it is very pleasant for them to think that they are able to help others. This is being false and insincere with oneself. If a man looks at himself as he really is, he will not begin to think of helping other people: he will be ashamed to think about it. Love of mankind, altruism, are all very fine words, but they only have meaning when a man is able, of his own choice and of his own decision, to love or not to love, to be an altruist or an egoist. Then his choice has a value. But if there is no choice at all, if he cannot be different, if he is only such as chance has made or is making him, an altruist today, an egoist tomorrow, again an altruist the day after tomorrow, then there is no value in it whatever. In order to help others one must first learn to be an egoist, a conscious egoist. Only a conscious egoist can help people. Such as we are we can do nothing. …
In order to help others one must first learn to be an egoist, a conscious egoist. Only a conscious egoist can help people. Such as we are we can do nothing. …
P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous – Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, Chapter VI, p. 103
...You do not realize that one has to learn to speak the truth. It seems to you that it is enough to wish or to decide to do so. And I tell you that people comparatively rarely tell a deliberate lie. In most cases they think they speak the truth. And yet they lie all the time, both when they wish to lie and when they wish to speak the truth.... The wish alone is not enough. To speak the truth one must know what the truth is and what a lie is, and first of all in oneself. And this nobody wants to know.
P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous – Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, Chapter I, p. 22
...If a man gives way to all his desires, or panders to them, there will be no inner struggle in him, no 'friction,' no fire. But if, for the sake of attaining a definite aim, he struggles with desires that hinder him, he will then create a fire which will gradually transform his inner world into a single whole.
P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous – Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, Chapter II, p. 43
People are machines. Machines have to be blind and unconscious, they cannot be otherwise, and all their actions have to correspond to their nature. Everything happens. No one does anything. 'Progress' and 'civilization,' in the real meaning of these words, can appear only as the result of conscious efforts. They cannot appear as the result of unconscious mechanical actions. And what conscious effort can there be in machines?
P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous – Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, p. 52
If knowledge outweighs being a man knows but has no power to do. It is useless knowledge. On the other hand if being outweighs knowledge a man has the power to do, but does not know, that is, he can do something but does not know what to do…
…Knowledge by itself does not give understanding. Nor is understanding increased by an increase of knowledge alone. Understanding depends upon the relation of knowledge to being. Understanding is the resultant of knowledge and being. And knowledge and being must not diverge too far, otherwise understanding will prove to be far removed from either. At the same time the relation of knowledge to being does not change with a mere growth of knowledge. It changes only when being grows simultaneously with knowledge. In other words, understanding grows only with the growth of being.
P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous – Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, Chapter IV, p. 66-67
...There is no need to study or investigate the sun in order to discover the matter of the solar world: this matter exists in ourselves and is the result of the division of our atoms. In the same way we have in us the matter of all other worlds. Man is, in the full sense of the term, a 'miniature universe'; in him are all the matters of which the universe consists; the same forces, the same laws that govern the life of the universe, operate in him; therefore in studying man we can study the whole world, just as in studying the world we can study man.
P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous – Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, Chapter V, p. 88
This continual consciousness of his nothingness and of his helplessness will eventually give a man the courage to 'die,' that is, to die, not merely mentally or in his consciousness, but to die in fact and to renounce actually and forever those aspects of himself which are either unnecessary from the point of view of his inner growth or which hinder it.
P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous – Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, Chapter XI, p. 218