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How I am shown that “The Way” is not a religion or church…

Woman with Disheveled hair, Da Vinci

Am I led?  How? Who or what leads me? I have often felt guided, although it has always been my highest honor to live fully in this world.


Last January I read “The Secret History of the World,” a book outlining the evolution of mystical experience, mostly in the west. I was struck by a mysticism and technologies similar to my own.

Just recently, I came across a tradition called “The Way.” It’s not a religion or church, but a way of practice considered to be part of Taoist, Buddhist, Yogic, Kabbaalistic, Jesus’ and Gurdjeiff’s teachings.  The leadership of Mary of Magdala is included.

I found it by stumbling across a website on Waysim and a Church of the East centered in Northern India that lifts up tenets of no religion and no teacher. I felt deeply and oddly connected in my body.

Then, strangely, at Redux, my art studio, I found a white box imprinted on the top with “The Renaissance Journal” on the recycle shelf. I opened it in my studio to discover glorious pamphlets with Renaissance art portraits on the front and pages of finely printed notes ascribed to The Teacher along with comments about A, B and C influences. There were also numerous classical concert programs with quotes on the back from great teachers. After some online research I suspect Gurdjeiff as the Teacher most quoted.

His “Fourth Way” illuminated the formerly secret Enneagram as a modern tool along with sacred dance movements that he used to teach the way of consciousness.


I relate.

Phil and I have avoided religious language and beliefs in our development of InterPlay although certainly, a powerful connection has guided us and kept us together. We did not want to trigger pictures and beliefs of religious systems but to move more directly to the gifted states available in the present moment.  Helping people enjoy and claim gifted states seems like a huge benefit, one that I would certainly now claim as “A Way.”   I might add that many of these states are close at hand…in the ordinary…or just a song or dance away.

Most recorded teachers of “The Way” have been men. Few speak much of women’s ways of knowing and the potential of a more direct and compassionate path into the present from those who know how to cultivate a relational, gracious context.  Not that I think that women alone are good at this.  I do think however, that our natural relationality opens us to greater life giving energies and heightens our emotional centers meaning that we are less likely to over-ride them.

I see in Jesus teachings that he didn’t think the way took maximum effort. It seems more of a surrender into life, a willingness to play as well as suffer, and to experience the pervasive joy in the Divine Dance.  In a third century text he said, “Who does not dance does not know what comes to pass.”  The Hymn of Jesus, Aprocryphal acts of John. I would love to hear from any of you who have also stumbled across “The Way” and what you think about it.  Check here for more info.  http://wayism.wikispaces.com/


Fragments of an Unknown Teaching



Seminal masterpiece of spiritual search and discovery – it’s influence is inestimable.

THE SEARCH of P. D. Ouspensky in Europe, in Egypt and the Orient for a teaching which would solve for him the problems of Man and the Universe, brought him in 1915 to his meeting in St.  Petersburg with Georges Gurdjieff.  (It is Gurdjieff who is referred to, throughout the text of this book, as G.)

In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching is the record of Ouspensky’s eight years of work as Gurdjieff’s pupil.



Return from India. The war and the “search for the miraculous.” Old thoughts The question of schools.  Plans for further travels.  The East and Europe. A notice in a Moscow newspaper.  Lectures on India.  The meeting with G.  A “distinguished man.” The first talk, G.’s opinion on schools.  G.’s group. “Glimpses of Truth.” Further meetings and talks.  The organization of G.’s Moscow group The question of payment and of means for the work.  The question of secrecy and of the obligations accepted by the pupils. A talk about the East. “Philosophy,” “theory,” and “practice.” How was the system found? G’s ideas.  “Man is a machine” governed by external influences Everything “happens.” Nobody “does” anything In order “to do” it is necessary “to be.” A man is responsible for his actions, a machine is not responsible.  Is psychology necessary for the study of machines? The promise of “facts.” Can wars be stopped? A talk about the planets and the moon as living beings. The “intelligence” of the sun and the earth. “Subjective” and “objective” art.


Petersburg in 1915 G.  in Petersburg.  A talk about groups.  Reference to “esoteric” work “Prison” and “Escape from prison.” What is necessary for this escape?  Who can help and how?  Beginning of meetings in Petersburg.  A question on reincarnation and future life.  How can immortality be attained? Struggle between “yes” and “no.” Crystallization on a right, and on a wrong, foundation. Necessity of sacrifice. Talks with G and observations. A sale of carpets and talks about carpets. What G. said about himself. Question about ancient knowledge and why it is hidden. G’s reply. Knowledge is not hidden. The materiality of knowledge and man’s refusal of the knowledge given to him.  A question on immortality.  The “four bodies of man.” Example of the retort filled with metallic powders. The way of the fakir, the way of the monk, and the way of the yogi The “fourth way.” Do civilization and culture exist?


G.’s fundamental ideas concerning man. Absence of unity. Multiplicity of I’s. Construction of the human machine.  Psychic centres.  G.’s method of exposition of the ideas of the system.  Repetition unavoidable.  What the evolution of man means Mechanical progress impossible. European idea of man’s evolution.  Connectedness of everything in nature.  Humanity and the moon.  Advantage of individual man over the masses Necessity of knowing the human machine. Absence of a permanent I in man. Role of small I’s. Absence of individuality and will in man. Eastern allegory of the house and its servants. The “deputy steward.” Talks about a fakir on nails and Buddhist magic.


General impressions of G.’s system.  Looking backwards.  One of the fundamental propositions. The line of knowledge and the line of being. Being on different levels Divergence of the line of knowledge from the line of being. What a development of knowledge gives without a corresponding change of being — and a change of being without an increase in knowledge.  What “understanding” means.  Understanding as the resultant of knowledge and being. The difference between understanding and knowledge. Understanding as a function of three centres. Why people try to find names for things they do not understand. Our language. Why people do not understand one another. The word “man” and its different meanings.  The language accepted in the system. Seven gradations of the concept “man.” The principle of relativity in the system. Gradations parallel to the gradations of man. The word “world.” Variety of its meanings. Examination of the word “world” from the point of view of the principle of relativity. The fundamental law of the universe. The law of three principles or three forces. Necessity of three forces for the appearance of a phenomenon. The third force. Why we do not see the third force. Three forces in ancient teachings. The creation of worlds by the will of the Absolute. A chain of worlds or the “ray of creation.” The number of laws in each world.


A lecture on the “mechanics of the universe.” The ray of creation and its growth from the Absolute. A contradiction of scientific views. The moon as the end of the ray of creation. The will of the Absolute. The idea of miracle. Our place in the world. The moon feeds on organic life. The influence of the moon and liberation from the moon.  Different “materiality” of different worlds.  The world as a world of “vibrations.” Vibrations slow down proportionately to the distance from the Absolute.  Seven kinds of matter. The four bodies of man and their relation to different worlds. Where the earth is. The three forces and the cosmic properties of matter. Atoms of complex substances. Definition of matter according to the forces manifested through it.  “Carbon,” “oxygen,” “nitrogen,” and “hydrogen.” The three forces and the four matters.  Is man immortal or not? What does immortality mean? A man having the fourth body. The story of the seminarist and the omnipotence of God.  Talks about the moon. The moon as the weight of a clock. Talk about a universal language. Explanation of the Last Supper.


Talk about aims.  Can the teaching pursue a definite aim?  The aim of existence.  Personal aims.  To know the future.  To exist after death.  To be master of oneself.  To be a Christian.  To help humanity.  To stop wars. G.’s explanations. Fate, accident, and will. “Mad machines.” Esoteric Christianity. What ought man’s aim to be? The causes of inner slavery. With what the way to liberation begins. “Know thyself.” Different understandings of this idea. Self-study. How to study? Self-observation. Recording and analysis. A fundamental principle of the working of the human machine.  The four centres: Thinking, emotional, moving, instinctive.  Distinguishing between the work of the centres.  Making changes in the working of the machine. Upsetting the balance. How does the machine restore its balance?  Incidental changes.  Wrong work of centres. Imagination.  Daydreaming.  Habits.  Opposing habits for purposes of self-observation. The struggle against expressing negative emotions. Registering mechanicalness.  Changes resulting from right self-observation.  The idea of the moving centre.  The usual classification of man’s actions.  Classification based upon the division of centres.  Automatism.  Instinctive actions.  The difference between the instinctive and the moving functions.  Division of the emotions. Different levels of the centres.


Is “cosmic consciousness” attainable? What is consciousness? G.’s question about what we notice during self-observation. Our replies. G.’s remark that we had missed the most important thing. Why do we not notice that we do not remember ourselves?  “It observes,” “it thinks,” “it speaks.” Attempts to remember oneself.  G.’s explanations.  The significance of the new problem. Science and philosophy. Our experiences. Attempts to divide attention. First sensation of voluntary self-remembering.  What we recollect of the past. Further experiences. Sleep in a waking state and awakening. What European psychology has overlooked.  Differences in the understanding of the idea of consciousness. The study of man is parallel to the study of the world. Following upon the law of three comes the fundamental law of the universe: The law of seven or the law of octaves. The absence of continuity in vibrations. Octaves. The seven-tone scale.  The law of “intervals.” Necessity for additional shocks.  What occurs in the absence of additional shocks. In order to do it is necessary to be able to control “additional shocks.” Subordinate octaves.  Inner octaves. Organic life in the place of an “interval.” Planetary influences.  The lateral octave sol -do. The meaning of the notes la, sol, fa. The meaning of the notes do, si. The meaning of the notes mi, re. The role of organic life in changing the earth’s surface.


Different states of consciousness. Sleep. Waking state. Self­-consciousness. Objective consciousness.  Absence of self­-consciousness.  What is the first condition for acquiring self­-consciousness?  Higher states of consciousness and the higher centres. The “waking state” of ordinary man as sleep. The life of men asleep. How can one awaken? What man is when he is born. What “education” and the example of those around him do. Man’s possibilities. Self-study. “Mental photographs.” Different men in one man. “I” and “Ouspensky.” Who is active and who is passive? Man and his mask. Division of oneself as the first stage of work on oneself. A fundamental quality of man’s being. Why man does not remember himself. “Identification.” “Considering.” “Internal considering” and “external considering.” What “external” considering a machine means.  “Injustice.” Sincerity and weakness.  “Buffers.” Conscience. Morality. Does an idea of morality common to all exist? Does Christian morality exist? Do conceptions of good and evil common to all exist? Nobody does anything for the sale of evil. ‘Different conceptions of good and the results of these different conceptions.  On what can a permanent idea of good and evil be based?  The idea of truth and falsehood.  The struggle against “buffers” and against lying.  Methods of school work.  Subordination.  Realization of one’s nothingness.  Personality and essence.  Dead people.  General laws.  The question of money.


The “ray of creation” in the form of the three octaves of radiations. Relation of matters and forces on different planes of the world to our life. Intervals in the cosmic octaves and the shocks which fill them.  “Point of the universe.” Density of vibrations.  Three forces and four matters.  “Carbon,” “Oxygen,” “Nitrogen,” “Hydrogen.” Twelve triads.  “Table of Hydrogens.” Matter in the light of its chemical, physical, psychic and cosmic properties. Intelligence of matter.  “Atom.” Every human function and state depends on energy. Substances in man. Man has sufficient energy to begin work on himself, if he saves his energy.  Wastage of energy.  “Learn to separate the fine from the coarse.” Production of fine hydrogens.  Change of being.  Growth of inner bodies. The human organism as a three-storied factory. Three kinds of food. Entrance of food, air and impressions into the organism.  Transformation of substances is governed by the law of octaves. Food octave and air octave. Extracting “higher hydrogens.” The octave of impressions does not develop. Possibility of creating an artificial shock at the moment of receiving an impression. Conscious effort. “Self-remembering. “Resulting development of impressions and air octaves.  A second conscious shock.  Effort connected with emotions Preparation for this effort.  Analogy between the human organism and the universe.  Three stages in the evolution of the human machine.  Transmutation of the emotions.  Alchemy.  The centres work with different hydrogens.  Two higher centres.  Wrong work of lower centres. Materiality of all inner processes.


From what does the way start?  The law of accident.  Kinds of influences. Influences created in life.  Influences created outside life, conscious in their origin only.  The magnetic centre.  Looking for the way.  Finding a man who knows. Third kind of influence: conscious and direct. Liberation from the law of accident.  “Step,” “stairway,” and “way.” Special conditions of the fourth way.  Wrong magnetic centre is possible.  How can one recognize wrong ways? Teacher and pupil. Knowledge begins with the teaching of cosmoses. The usual concept of two cosmoses: the “Macro­cosmos” and “Microcosmos.” The full teaching of seven cosmoses. Relation between cosmoses: as zero to infinity. Principle of relativity. “The way up is at the same time the way down.” What a miracle is. “Period of dimensions.” Survey of the system of cosmoses from the point of view of the theory of many dimensions. G’s comment, that “Time is breath.” Is the “Microcosmos” man or the “atom”?


“Except a corn of wheat die, it bringeth forth no fruit.” A book of aphorisms. To awake, to die, to be born. What prevents a man from being born again? What prevents a man from “dying”?  What prevents a man from awakening? Absence of the realization of one’s own nothingness.  What does the realization of one’s own nothingness mean?  What prevents this realization?  Hypnotic influence of life. The sleep in which men live is hypnotic sleep. The magician and the sheep.  “Kundalini.” Imagination.  Alarm clocks.  Organized work. Groups. Is it possible to work in groups without a teacher? Work of self-study in groups.  Mirrors.  Exchange of observations.  General and individual conditions. Rules. “Chief fault.” Realization of one’s own nothingness. Danger of imitative work.  “Barriers.” Truth and falsehood.  Sincerity with oneself. Efforts. Accumulators. The big accumulator. Intellectual and emotional work. Necessity for feeling. Possibility of understanding through feeling what cannot be understood through the mind.  The emotional centre is a more subtle apparatus than the intellectual centre. Explanation of yawning in connection with accumulators.  Role and significance of laughter in life.  Absence of laughter in higher centres.


Work in groups becomes more intensive.  Each man’s limited “repertoire of roles.” The choice between work on oneself and a “quiet life.”’ Difficulties of obedience. The place of “tasks.” G. gives a definite task. Reaction of friends to the ideas.  The system brings out the best or the worst in people.  What people can come to the work?  Preparation.  Disappointment is necessary. Question with which a man aches. Revaluation of friends. A talk about types. G. gives a further task. Attempts to relate the story of one’s life. Intonations. “Essence” and “personality.” Sincerity. A bad mood. G. promises to answer any question. “Eternal Recurrence.” An experiment on separating personality from essence. A talk about sex. The role of sex as the principal motive force of all mechanicalness.  Sex as the chief possibility of liberation.  New birth. Transmutation of sex energy. Abuses of sex. Is abstinence useful? Right work of centres. A permanent centre of gravity.


Intensity of inner work. Preparation for “facts.” A visit to Finland. The “miracle” begins.  Mental “conversations” with G.  ‘“You are not asleep.” Seeing “sleeping people.” Impossibility of investigating higher phenomena by ordinary means. A changed outlook on “methods of action.” “Chief feature.” G. defines people’s chief feature.  Reorganization of the group.  Those who leave the work.  Sitting between two stools.  Difficulty of coming back.  G.’s apartment. Reactions to silence. “Seeing lies.” A demonstration. How to awake? How to create the emotional state necessary? Three ways. The necessity of sacrifice. “Sacrificing one’s suffering.” Expanded table of hydrogens.  A “moving diagram.” A new discovery. “We have very little time.”


Difficulty of conveying “objective truths” in ordinary language. Objective and subjective knowledge. Unity in diversity. Transmission of objective knowledge. The higher centres.  Myths and symbols.  Verbal formulas.  “As above, so below.” “Know thyself.” Duality. Transformation of duality into trinity. The line of will.  Quaternity, Quinternity — the construction of the pentagram.  The five centres.  The Seal of Solomon.  The symbolism of numbers, geometrical figures, letters, and words.  Further symbologies.  Right and wrong understanding of symbols. Level of development. The union of knowledge and being: Great Doing. “No one can give a man what he did not possess before.” Attainment only through one’s own efforts. Different known “lines” using symbology. This system and its place.  One of the principal symbols of this teaching.  The enneagram. The law of seven in its union with the law of three. Examination of the enneagram.  “What a man cannot put into the enneagram, he does not understand.” A symbol in motion. Experiencing the enneagram by movement. Exercises. Universal language. Objective and subjective art. Music. Objective music is based on inner octaves. Mechanical humanity can have subjective art only. Different levels of man’s being.


Religion a relative concept. Religions correspond to the level of a man’s being. “Can prayer help?  “Learning to pray.  General ignorance regarding Christianity. The Christian Church a school. Egyptian “schools of repetition.” Significance of rites.  The “techniques” of religion.  Where does the word “I” sound in one? The two parts of real religion and what each teaches. Kant and the idea of scale.  Organic life on earth.  Growth of the ray of creation.  The moon. The evolving part of organic life is humanity. Humanity at a standstill. Change possible only at “crossroads.” The process of evolution always begins with the formation of a conscious nucleus. Is there a conscious force fighting against evolution? Is mankind evolving? “Two hundred conscious people could change the whole of life on earth.” Three “inner circles of humanity.” The “outer circle.” The four “ways” as four gates to the “exoteric circle.” Schools of the fourth way. Pseudo-esoteric systems and schools. “Truth in the form of a lie.” Esoteric schools in the East.  Initiation and the Mysteries.  Only self-initiation is possible.


Historical events of the winter 1916­17. G.’s system as a guide in a labyrinth of contradictions, or as “Noah’s Ark.” Consciousness of matter.  Its degrees of intelligence. Three­, two­ and one-storied machines. Man composed of man, sheep and worm.  Classification of all creatures by three cosmic traits: what they eat, what they breathe, the medium they live in.  Man’s possibilities of changing his food. “Diagram of Everything Living.”  G.  leaves Petersburg for the last time.  An interesting event — “transfiguration” or “plastics”? A Journalist’s impressions of G. The downfall of Nicholas II.  “The end of Russian history.” Plans for leaving Russia, A communication from G.  Continuation of work in Moscow.  Further study of diagrams and of the idea of cosmoses.  Development of the idea “time is breath” in relation to man, the earth and the sun; to large and small cells. Construction of a “Table of Time in Different Cosmoses.” Three cosmoses taken together include in themselves all the laws of the universe. Application of the idea of cosmoses to the inner processes of the human organism. The life of molecules and electrons.  Time dimensions of different cosmoses. Application of the Minkovski formula. Relation of different times to centres of the human body. Relation to higher centres. “Cosmic calculations of time” in Gnostic and Indian literature.  “If you want to rest, come here to me.” A visit to G. at Alexandropol. G.’s relationship with his family. Talk about the impossibility of doing anything in the midst of mass madness.  “Events are not against us at all.” How to strengthen the feeling of “I”?  Brief return to Petersburg and Moscow.  A message to the groups there.  Return to Piatygorsk.  A group of twelve foregathers at Essentuki.


August 1917. The six weeks at Essentuki. G. unfolds the plan of the whole work. “Schools are imperative.” “Super-efforts.” The unison of the centres is the chief difficulty in work on oneself. Man the slave of his body. Wastages of energy from unnecessary muscular tension.  G.  shows exercises for muscular control and relaxation. The “stop” exercise. The demands of “stop.” G. relates a case of “stop” in Central Asia.  The influence of “stop” at Essentuki.  The habit of talking An experiment in fasting. What sin is. G. shows exercises in attention. An experiment in breathing. Realization of the difficulties of the Way Indispensability of great knowledge, efforts, and help. “Is there no way outside the ‘ways’?” The “ways” as help given to people according to type.  The “subjective” and “objective” ways.  The obyvatel.  What does “to be serious” mean? Only one thing is serious. How to attain real freedom? The hard way of slavery and obedience. What is one prepared to sacrifice. The fairy tale of the wolf and the sheep. Astrology and types. A demonstration. G. announces the dispersal of the group. A final trip to Petersburg.


Petersburg.  October 1917.  Bolshevik revolution.  Return to G.  in the Caucasus.  G.’s attitude to one of his pupils.  A small company with G at Essentuki.  More people arrive Resumption of work.  Exercises are more difficult and varied than before Mental and physical exercises, dervish dances, study of psychic “tricks.” Selling silk Inner struggle and a decision. The choice of gurus.  The decision to separate. G goes to Sochi. A difficult time: warfare and epidemics. Further study of the enneagram, “Events” and the necessity of leaving Russia. London the final aim Practical results of work on oneself: feeling a new I, “a strange confidence.” Collecting a group in Rostov and expounding G.’s system. G. opens his Institute in Tiflis. Journey to Constantinople. Collecting people. G arrives New group introduced to G. Translating a dervish song.  G the artist and poet.  The Institute started in Constantinople. G authorizes the writing and publishing of a book. G. goes to Germany.  Decision to continue Constantinople work in London, 1921 G organizes his Institute at Fontainebleau. Work at the Chateau de la Prieuré. A talk with Katherine Mansfield.  G.  speaks of different kinds of breathing. “Breathing through movements.” Demonstrations at the Theatre des Champs Elysées, Pans. G.’s departure for America, 1924. Decision to continue work in London independently.

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One comment

  1. phoenixdog says:

    I am currently reading “A New Model of the Universe by PD Ouspensky. I have felt deeply drawn to the work of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky and have studied in a “Work Group” for seven years- The Work or the Fourth Way is what is known as esoteric spirituality, inner work, only available to those with magnetic center and the desire to be witness to oneself fully. It is taught that we need a group to accomplish this task of observing oneself unflinchingly. I find that InterPlay has so many corresponding principles and embodied practices. If you ever have the opportunity to see the movie “Meetings With Remarkable Men” (Peter Brooks), a story based on Gurdjieff’s extraordinary life, you will see some of the sacred dances based on the enneagram. Exceptional film! Worth noting, Gurdjieff entrusted his teaching to a woman; Jeanne De Salzmann.

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