Week 12

Fourth Way Wisdom Work: Self-Remembering
Week Twelve


This week’s reading talks about Self-Remembering as a pill that we swallow. One way we swallow the pill is by seeing and acknowledging what is wrong with us at the moment. At any given time, what is needed may be quite different.

“Making the pill is only possible through seeing oneself by direct self-observation — that is, by personal work and formulating what one sees.”

“Give us this day our daily bread,” according to Nicoll, means this: “May we be given vision and insight and new meaning today so that we know what to do and how to work on ourselves today.”

This daily “heavenly painful bread” is given and digested when we see the truth of our impoverished state of being in the light of the Work. Swallowing the pill is not easy.

Can you make a pill and swallow it this week?

If you want to share with others how you are working with this week’s reading, you can post your comments in the Discussion Forum for Week Twelve.

We will lightly continue with our core inner work practice:

  1. Become aware of the natural flow of your breathing for a few breaths, noting the sensation or presence of the physical body as the air comes in and goes out. Relax the body as you breathe out.
  2. Let a feeling of gratitude or wonder arise. Relax into a feeling of gratitude or wonder for life or for whatever you may feel gratitude for. Do this for a few more breathes.
  3. For the next few breaths, say inwardly “I”, as you inhale, breathing with the intention of taking in finer energies or substances in the air and feeling a connection to Higher help. When you breathe out say inwardly “AM”, with an awareness of your whole body physical presence.
  4. Finish in three breaths with Inner words: “Lord Help Me”; “Lord Help Us”; “Lord Have Mercy”.

The exercise itself is a form of self-remembering — returning from “all these other things” back to ourselves.  Its aim is to practice three-centered awareness — observing (seeing), sensing, feeling. Engaging all three centers and having a sense of whole body awareness is essential. Activating gratitude, wonder, a sense of our own being, or our own inner poverty and need for higher help — all are good catalysts for self-remembering.

Post your reflections on Week Four reading and your own inner-life experiments in the Discussion Forum for Week Twelve.


Do you see any connections between these scripture readings and the Nicoll commentary reading for this week?  Post any reflection in the work group discussion for week twelve.

Gospel of Thomas – Logion 27: Centering

Yeshua says…

If you do not fast from the cosmos,
you will never grasp Reality.
If you cannot find rest on the day of rest,
you will never feast your eyes on God.


Mark 15:1-39 (New International Version)

  1. Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.
  2. “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.
    “You have said so,” Jesus replied.
  3. The chief priests accused him of many things.
  4. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”
  5. But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.
  6. Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested.
  7. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising.
  8. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.
  9. “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate,
  10. knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him.
  11. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.
  12. “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.
  13. “Crucify him!” they shouted.
  14. “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
    But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
  15. Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
  16. The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers.
  17. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.
  18. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!”
  19. Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him.
  20. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
  21. A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.
  22. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”).
  23. Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.
  24. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
  25. It was nine in the morning when they crucified him.
  26. The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.
  27. They crucified two rebels with him,
  28. one on his right and one on his left.
  29. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days,
  30. come down from the cross and save yourself!”
  31. In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!
  32. Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
  33. At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.
  34. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
  35. When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
  36. Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
  37. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
  38. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
  39. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Psalm 31:9-16 (New International Version)

  1. Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
    my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
    my soul and body with grief.
  2. My life is consumed by anguish
    and my years by groaning;
    my strength fails because of my affliction,
    and my bones grow weak.
  3. Because of all my enemies,
    I am the utter contempt of my neighbors
    and an object of dread to my closest friends—
    those who see me on the street flee from me.
  4. I am forgotten as though I were dead;
    I have become like broken pottery.
  5. For I hear many whispering,
    “Terror on every side!”
    They conspire against me
    and plot to take my life.
  6. But I trust in you, Lord;
    I say, “You are my God.”
  7. My times are in your hands;
    deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
    from those who pursue me.
  8. Let your face shine on your servant;
    save me in your unfailing love.


The following reading is taken from Maurice Nicoll, Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, Vol. 3, 1996 Edition: Samuel Weiser Inc., pp. 941-943

NOTE: This week’s reading is edited to reflect more inclusive language. Post any reflections from this reading in the work group discussion for week twelve.


In a recent paper reference was made to the Sly Man in the 4th Way who knows how to make a pill and swallow it, instead of making all kinds of painful, prolonged efforts such as the Fakir or Monk makes.

People can make all sorts of useless and unintelligent efforts to attain a higher level of Being, by asceticism, by torturing their bodies, keeping vows of silence, starving themselves, denying themselves all pleasure, elaborate rituals, repeating prayers mechanically, constantly doing unpleasant or unreasonable things, and so on. All this is not intelligent.

Seeing what is wrong with us at the moment and swallowing it

The Sly Ones see what is wrong with them at the moment by self-observation and acknowledges it–that is, swallows it–and thereafter remember themselves in connection with it. They work personally on themselves.

Making the pill

Making the pill is only possible through seeing oneself by direct self-observation–that is, by personal work and formulating what one sees. In this way, one sees what effort is needed for oneself at a particular time in order to keep awake. What is needed by one person at a given time may be quite different from what is needed by another.

For example, the Lord’s Prayer can be seen as the Prayer of “Sly One”. Notice it is said first that it is useless to pray by vain repetitions: “In praying use not vain repetitions as the Gentiles do: for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking.” (Matt. VI 7.)

Prayer must be conscious and not mechanical

What is meant is not directly said–namely, that prayer must be conscious and not mechanical. It must be conceived by the mind and its meaning seen internally in relation to one’s state of Being. Every word must be said consciously with full meaning.

Bread from heaven

In this prayer (which we gabble in Church uselessly) we ask for daily bread: “Give us this day our daily bread.” But in the Greek it does not mean daily but “what is needful.” It also has the meaning of “trans-substantial bread” or “what is beyond ourselves.” Bread does not mean literal bread, but “bread from heaven”–that is, psychological bread, psychological insight, mental nourishment, coming from a higher level, and so showing us what is wrong and violent in our level of ourselves.

Give us this day our daily bread

To paraphrase the section: “Give us this day our daily bread” means “May we be given vision and insight and new meaning today so that we know what to do and how to work on ourselves today.”

To sincerely observe ourselves in the light of the Work and see what it is necessary to work on

So in one sense the pill is this “heavenly painful bread” that we have to swallow. It is the same as the manna in the desert. It is just as if we prayed to be able directly and sincerely to observe ourselves in the light of the Work and so through its mental illumination see what it is necessary to work on, and what has to be not identified with, etc.–and accept this flash of given insight or light –take it inwards and not argue about it or self-justify, but accept, acknowledge its truth. But most people argue about any true internal or external criticism of themselves and so do not swallow it–that is, accept it, and see it as truth about themselves.

Making a pill of what we are shown about our state of Being and swallowing it

When we are shown something about our state of Being, whether by inner perception or by an outward suggestion or hint, we do not make a pill of it–that is, formulate it–nor swallow it–that is, accept it–as truth. But if we did, this would lead to direct and intelligent effort based on understanding.

This is the way of Sly Ones –that is, intelligent Humanity–and it is incommensurably superior to breathing exercises, ritual, starvings, torturings of the body, following mechanical disciplines, and so on. The Fourth Way is based on understanding.

The Fourth Way

The Work is the Fourth Way–that is, it is not the Way of Fakir or the Way of Monk, or the Way of Yogi. In this Work understanding is the most powerful thing you can develop. Therefore it is necessary to begin to to try to understand what this Work teaches and see for oneself why it teaches it.

We must understand for ourselves what must go

What does that mean? It means in brief that you must understand for yourself why negative emotions must go, understand why self-justifying must go, why lying and deceit must go, why internal considering and grievances and making internal accounts must go. (Notice the Lord’s Prayer says: “Forgive us as we forgive others.”)

What must go

You must understand for yourself why egotistical phantasies must go, why self-pity and sad regrets must go, why hating must go, why the state of inner sleep must go, why ignorance must go, why buffers and attitudes and pictures of yourself must go, why False Personality, with its two giants walking in front of you, Pride and Vanity, must go, why ignorance of oneself must be replaced by real uncritical self-knowledge through observation, why external considering is always necessary, and finally you must understand and see why Self-Remembering is utterly and totally necessary for you at all times if you want to awaken from the great sleep-inducing power of nature and the increasing mass hypnotism of external life.

All this is the Work

All this is the Work and what it teaches –namely, what it is we have to do in order to awaken from the state of sleep in which we live.

Making a pill by seeing with uncritical self-observation

Now if you see by uncritical self-observation something, let us say, arising solely out of False Personality, out of vanity and self-love, and so out of wrong self-memory, controlling you and speaking out of you and directing all your emotions and thoughts and facial expressions and movements, and if you see it clearly and formulate it–then you make a pill.

Can you roll it between your fingers?

Yes, but can you roll it between your fingers? Is it so clear, so definite, so objective yet? No, but it can become so, as understanding of what the Work is about becomes stronger and as you become more responsible for it.

Swallowing the pill is not easy

You have then to swallow the pill– accept it–that is, see it is something in you and that you are wholly to blame because you have been identifying and saying ‘I’ to this thing in you up to now, which has been probably making you miserable and everyone connected with you even more miserable. I will not say that the swallowing of the pill is easy.

Right self-observation

Now a person has no power of right self-observation save through the force of the Work. So in the case of a person who is secretly insincere in attitude to the Work you always find a curious inability to self-observe. Such have no light to see themselves. There can be no question of making a pill or of swallowing it in such cases.

You cannot understand the Work unless you feel it

Consider what has been so often said. You cannot understand the Work unless you feel it — that is, value it. To understand in the Work-sense requires to begin with the co-operation of two centers–the Intellectual Center and the Emotional Center.

The Fourth Way Wisdom Work group is a program of Wisdom Way of Knowing. Any errors or omissions are unintentional and will be corrected in future offerings of The Fourth Way Wisdom Work as they are called to our attention.   If you are using the links below from your phone, you will need to login with your email and password to have access to the class material.

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