Monday, May 23, 2022
  Remember Yourself     From: gapingvoid      [Today’s guest post comes from Mark McGuinness.]
  • “Remember yourself always and everywhere.”

These words were inscribed on the walls of the study house of the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at the Château Le Prieuré, Fontainebleau-Avon, the home of the esoteric teacher George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. They summarised the essence of his teaching and were written there as a reminder to his students.

Gurdjieff taught that human beings are divided into two parts: Essence and Personality.

  • “Essence in man is what is his own. Personality in man is what is ‘not his own.’ ‘Not his own’ means what has come from outside, what he has learned, or reflects, all traces of exterior impressions left in the memory and in the sensations, all words and movements that have been learned, all feelings created by imitation …
  • “Essence is the truth in man; personality is the false. But in proportion as personality grows, essence manifests itself more and more rarely and more and more feebly and it very often happens that essence stops in its growth at a very early age and grows no further.”
  • (G.I. Gurdjieff, as reported by P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous)”

In other words, Personality is made up of the rules, conventions and expectations of the world around you; Essence is the real you. A bit like the white pebble.

By definition, Personality is hard to resist, since it carries the weight of the world’s expectations. It’s easier to go with the flow, to fall into step with those around you, to do as you’re told, at the expense of who you really are. But doing the easy thing comes at a price:

  • “Moreover, it happens fairly often that essence dies in a man while his personality and his body are still alive. A considerable percentage of the people we meet in the streets of a great town are people who are empty inside, that is, they are actually already dead.”
  • (Gurdjieff, ibid.)

According to Gurdjieff, we can only avoid this fate by staying in touch with our Essence and helping it to grow and develop unhindered by the shackles of Personality. The chief way of doing this is through an activity he called Self Remembering. In ordinary life, he said, we forget ourselves in the bustle of daily activity and the delusions of Personality. Self Remembering is the opposite of this forgetfulness – it involves becoming deliberately aware of yourself in the present moment, of your thoughts, feelings, actions and physical sensations.

Right now, for example, notice how you are reading words in front of your eyes, on a screen. Notice the thoughts and images that they are creating in your mind. Notice the emotions they are arousing in you. Notice how your body feels right this instant; the posture you are in; the sensations you can feel. Don’t let this article and these few seconds of your life be like a disembodied film being played out in front of you — put yourself in the picture. Feel what it’s like to be alive at this moment.

Now you are starting to remember yourself. Soon, you’ll forget again, and get caught up in demands and distractions of the rest of the day. But at any moment — if you remember — you can come back to yourself, and become a little more aware, feel a little more alive. Do this often enough, said Gurdjieff, and you open up the possibility of waking up to your real nature.

Self Remembering is not easy. Try to do it for more than a few moments at a time, and you’ll soon discover how hard it is to avoid getting sucked into the next train of thought, the next enthusiasm, the next pressing engagement. And the hardest thing is remembering to do it at all! When I was first introduced to Self Remembering, I experienced such a vivid sense of freedom and peace in the moment that I resolved to do it often as possible. Several days later, I ‘came round’ with a jolt when I realised I had completely forgotten all about that ‘unforgettable’ experience and hadn’t made an attempt to remember myself since!

As we’ve seen, the easy thing is to surrender to personality, the internalised rules and expectations of society. Remembering who you really are is hard work. You have to fight like hell if you want to hold onto it. That’s why Gurdjieff called it ‘The Work’ with a capital ‘W’.

Gurdjieff helped his pupils by providing reminders, prompting them to remember themselves ‘always and everywhere’. Sometimes he would ring a bell at irregular intervals during the day — on hearing the bell, his pupils were to remember themselves immediately, whatever they were doing, and start observing their mental and emotional state. He also encouraged them to make small changes in their daily routines, to create little reminders during the day. If you always take milk with your tea, get rid of the milk from the fridge — every time you go to make a cup of tea, the absence of milk should act as a nudge to remember yourself.

In his own way, I think Hugh’s after something similar with his cartoons and the ‘remember who you are’ shtick. If you have a picture like this or this hanging on your wall, looking you in the face every day, it’s hard to do the easy thing, forget your real nature, and slide back into conformity. The picture serves as a reminder, a challenge to stay true to yourself, no matter what. A bit like the writing on the wall back at the study room in Gurdjieff’s Institute.

[Mark McGuinness helps artists and entrepreneurs create remarkable things at Lateral Action. For bite-sized inspiration, follow Mark on Twitter.]

Read 2118 times

Fourth Way

Man Is in a Prison

  Man Is in a Prison     From: fourth way® gurdjieff ouspensky school When I was younger, for my sins, I spent time locked up in several of Her Majesty's prisons. In this Work Mr. Gurdjieff and others have often made use of the analogy that Man is in a Prison, of the need...

Read more

Food for the Moon

Food for the Moon     [Source] “For instance, the evolution of humanity beyond a certain point, or, to speak more correctly, above a certain percentage, would be fatal FOR THE MOON. The moon at present FEEDS on organic life, on humanity. “Humanity is a part of organic life; this means that humanity is FOOD for the...

Read more

Gurdjieff, Beelzebub, and Zecharia Sitch…

Gurdjieff, Beelzebub, and Zecharia Sitchin     [Source] By P.T. Mistlberger | An Abridged Essay from Appendix III of The Three Dangerous Magi For a couple of years between 1999 and 2001 I was part of a private and informal online group of researchers from around the world engaged in study of the so-called...

Read more

Who was Gurdjieff?

Introduction Contents   Who was Gurdjieff?   Introduction Below are (12) reports on and about G.I. Gurdjieff, ranging from 'hero worship' by various indoctrinated students of the Fourth Way to 'myth-busting' accounts by people not within the Gurdjieff-followers community. Gurdjieff's personal story about his father (chapter 2 of Meetings with Remarkable Men) is also reprinted here. Contents Introduction Gurdjieff's Biography | From: Gurdjieff Club Who...

Read more

Lying: Detailed Definition

  Lying: Detailed Definition   If a man could be described as a zoological type, he would be described as a lying animal. People pretend that they know all sorts of things: about God, about the future life, about the universe, about the origin of man, about evolution, about everything; but in reality they...

Read more

Entropy and the Laws of World-creation a…

  Entropy and the Laws of World-creation and World-maintenance    Source “In the beginning, when nothing yet existed and when the whole of our Universe was empty endless space ... our Most Great and Most Most Holy Sun Absolute existed alone in all this empty space. . . It was just during this period...

Read more

4th Way ♦ Soul References

  4th Way ♦ "Soul" References   Below aer excerpts from: The Fourth Way  —  (9) instances of the word soul. In Search of the Miraculous  —  (1) instance of the word soul Beelzebub's Tales  —  (85) instances of the word soul. in which "soul" is found in context.

Read more

Structure and Function of the Human Mach…

  Structure and Function of the Human Machine   The human machine has seven different functions.Five ordinarily and two potential. Four lower functions• Instinctive  • Moving  • Emotional  • Intellectual (also known as: centers = brains = minds) Sex centre Potential connection with two higher centers (soul & spirit)

Read more

Confluence and waking sleep

  Confluence and waking sleep     From:  Cassiopaea Glossary Moravieff uses the term confluence to designate a peculiar hypnotic state in man where he is identified with the mental currents that flow through him and mistaking the thoughts that are engendered from this current as his own thoughts. Man's submersion into this mental current is what...

Read more

4th Way ♦ Sex Center References

  4th Way ♦ "Sex Center" References   Below are excerpts from: In Search of the Miraculous Sexuality and the Evolution of Consciousness in which "Sex Center" is found in context.

Read more

4th Way ♦ Organic Life on Earth Referenc…

  4th Way ♦ "Organic Life on Earth" References   Below are excerpts from: The Fourth Way and In Search of the Miraculous in which "Organic Life on Earth" is found in context.

Read more

The Five Strivings

  The Five Strivings   All the beings of this planet then began to work in order to have in their consciousness this Divine function of genuine conscience, and for this purpose, as everywhere in the Universe, they transubstantiated in themselves what are called the ‘being-obligolnian-strivings’ which consist of the following five… - Beelzebub's...

Read more

Seven primary obstacles to self-awarenes…

  Seven primary obstacles to self-awareness   Identification – One of the characteristics of our psychology is that we lose ourselves by becoming absorbed into events, thoughts, and emotions. Negative Emotions – One of the chief obstacles to awakening is losing energy through the expression of negative and unpleasant emotions. Imagination – Our imagining that we already...

Read more

Remember Yourself

  Remember Yourself     From: gapingvoid “Remember yourself always and everywhere.” These words were inscribed on the walls of the study house of the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at the Château Le Prieuré, Fontainebleau-Avon, the home of the esoteric teacher George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. They summarised the essence of his teaching and were...

Read more

Implications for counseling

  The psychology of George Gurdjieff: Implications for counseling   Abstract  From: Counselling, Psychotherapy and Health This paper examines aspects of the teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff in the light of the current knowledge base of contemporary applied psychology, and in particular, that of current counselling theory and practice. It focusses on enunciating relevant aspects...

Read more

Unusual Assemblage of Syllables

Unusual Assemblage of Syllables A deliberate and rigorous obscurity …   of confusing terms and tangential    associations in interminable sentences Jargon-ridden and intentionally obtuse For several reasons, including the unique difficulties presented by Gurdjieff’s writing style, little commentary has been written on Beelzebub’s Tales. Without a determined decision on the part of the reader to...

Read more

Gurdjieff at Lascaux August 1949

  Gurdjieff at Lascaux August 1949   Soon after posting How I began "the Work", I began thinking about that title, and the fact that few people would have any idea as to what "the Work" is and means. So, I set about looking for a web page that I could copy which provided a brief and easy...

Read more

What is "the Work"?

What is the Work? Gurdjieff strongly condemned masturbation, contraception and homosexuality as affronts to the proper order of nature. (LINK) Perhaps that helps to explain why he was such a prolific procreater. According to Mark Pilkington, "He was highly charismatic and a notorious womaniser, said to have fathered over 100 children." Much has been written about what...

Read more

The Sly Man and the Devil

The Sly Man and the Devil The Sly Man and the Devil — Something Different? Previous Introduction    Limited Hangout Is it possible the Fourth Way is but another limited hangout? It undoubtedly was a release of previously hidden information, but was it done in order to prevent a greater exposure of more important details? If so, what are the missing details? Could there...

Read more

Annotated Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography A rich and multifaceted literature has been created over the years from the pens of Gurdjieff, his direct students (first generation), pupils of his students (second generation), scholars and researchers, journalists and critics, and biographers. At best these writings (Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, In Search of the Miraculous)...

Read more

4th Way Introduction

Entropy and the Laws of World-creation a…

  Entropy and the Laws of World-creation and World-maintenance    Source “In the beginning, when nothing yet existed and when the whole of our Universe was empty endless space ... our Most Great and Most Most Holy Sun Absolute existed alone in all this empty space. . . It was just during this period...

Read more

Remember Yourself

  Remember Yourself     From: gapingvoid “Remember yourself always and everywhere.” These words were inscribed on the walls of the study house of the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at the Château Le Prieuré, Fontainebleau-Avon, the home of the esoteric teacher George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. They summarised the essence of his teaching and were...

Read more

Implications for counseling

  The psychology of George Gurdjieff: Implications for counseling   Abstract  From: Counselling, Psychotherapy and Health This paper examines aspects of the teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff in the light of the current knowledge base of contemporary applied psychology, and in particular, that of current counselling theory and practice. It focusses on enunciating relevant aspects...

Read more