Week 13

Fourth Way Wisdom Work: Self-Remembering
Week Thirteen


One of the difficulties in practicing Self-Remembering is that or a long period of time we must see our sleep — our inability to Self-Remember. Seeing our inability to do this, seeing our own inner poverty and lack, is the beginning of Self-Remembering.

This week’s reading states that Self-Remembering creates new energies by the transformation of the food of impressions. How do you sense new energies in your own practice of Self-Remembering?

We have no given organ for transforming impressions. By Self-Remembering, we create an “organ” for the digestion of our life problems, our life situations, our life conundrums. How is Self-Remembering creating this new digestive agency in you? How are you learning to transform your own life impressions? Are we learning to receive life events in a new way? How do you react to your psychological life, your own problems and worries in the tumble of everyday life?

We we remember ourselves at a difficult moment, when we “eat the impression” rather than the impression eating us, we are beginning to give ourselves the First Conscious Shock. What are some ways that you are giving yourselves the First Conscious Shock this week?

Self-Remembering creates cellular changes and coats our inner being body with finer substances that allow help from Above to reach us. In the diagram at the end of this week’s reading, the mechanical or sleeping individual will have some of this finer substance created automatically (substance 12 in the diagram). When we know how to give ourselves the First Conscious Shock by Self-Remembering at the point of the intake of life impressions, more of this sacred substance accumulates.

This completes our 13 week series on Self-Remembering  At midweek, I will send a few more readings on Self-Remembering that we can read on our own in the weeks following the completion of this class.

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 Thirteen.

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 Thirteen.


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 thirteen.

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Gospel of Thomas – Logion 28: Blind

Yeshua says…

I stood to my feet in the midst of the cosmos,
appearing outwardly in flesh.
I discovered that all were drunk
but none were thirsty,
and my soul ached for the children of humanity,
for their hearts are blind.
They cannot see from within.
They have come into the cosmos empty,
and they are leaving it empty.

At the moment you are inebriated,
but when freed from the effects of wine,
you too may turn and stand.


John 20:1-18 (New International Version)

  1. Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
  2. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
  3. So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.
  4. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
  5. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.
  6. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there,
  7. as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen.
  8. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.
  9. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
  10. Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
  11. Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb
  12. and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
  13. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
  14. At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
  15. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
  16. Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
  17. Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
  18. Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 (New International Version)

  1. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.
  2. Let Israel say:
    “His love endures forever.”
  1. The Lord is my strength and my defense[a];
    he has become my salvation.
  2. Shouts of joy and victory
    resound in the tents of the righteous:
    “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
  3. The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
    the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
  4. I will not die but live,
    and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
  5. The Lord has chastened me severely,
    but he has not given me over to death.
  6. Open for me the gates of the righteous;
    I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
  7. This is the gate of the Lord
    through which the righteous may enter.
  8. I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
    you have become my salvation.
  9. The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
  10. the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
  11. The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.


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. 1136-1139

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 thirteen.


You are not properly conscious. To become so, you must begin by remembering yourself. But first you must through observing yourself for a long period realize that you are asleep.


The Work speaks of Self-Remembering from several different angles. The first is that we, capable of 4 States of Consciousness, know only two states, the so-called waking state, which we take as full consciousness, and sleep. However, both of these states are called sleep by the Work. For this reason it speaks of Humanity asleep, of the evils of life being incurable as long as we are asleep, and so on.

We were born to be in the 3rd State of Consciousness — Self-Remembering

It says that we should, normally, be in the 3rd State of Consciousness which it calls the State of Self-Remembering, Self-Awareness and Self-Consciousness, and were born to be in this state. But we fell asleep, through hypnotism.

Hypnotic sleep is the problem

This part of the teaching we are studying is of such importance that it must be repeated often. In observing other people, in observing the world, in observing ourselves, we gradually realize that the reason why things are as they are is because we are in hypnotic sleep. This is the real explanation. And this idea has been taught for thousands of years.

We are hypnotized into believing we are awake

But so powerful is the hypnotism playing on humankind on Earth that it is not realized. We are hypnotized into believing we are awake, fully conscious, that we have Real Being, Real Will, Real ‘I’, and that we know ourselves and can do. We cannot see that we are a machine and that everything we do the machine is doing and that we ascribe to ourselves a thousand and one things that we do not possess. “For”, as Gurdjieff said once, “this sleep of Humanity, of which I am speaking, is not ordinary sleep, but hypnotic sleep.”

Now let us speak of Self-Remembering from another angle. The question might be asked:

What is the difference between one who Self-Remembers and one who does not?

“If, as you say, the Work teaches that the normal state of consciousness in us should be that of Self-Remembering, could you express in some way the difference between one who remembers themselves and a one who does not remember themselves and lives in the so-called waking state of consciousness?”

The act of Self-Remembering creates new energies

The answer that the Work gives to such a question is: “Yes–the difference can be expressed in a very clear way. The act of Self-Remembering creates new energies which are not formed in one asleep.”

The three foods

Now to begin with, to understand what is meant, it is necessary to study the 3 foods of Humanity and the transformations of these 3 foods that take place in the human machine. I will begin, in this commentary, by asking you if you believe that a person by Self-Remembering could keep themselves alive for a longer time than another person who did not self-remember, supposing they were experiencing the same difficulties such as inadequate food, exposure, etc.

The food of impressions

From the Work point of view the answer is–Yes. Why? Because the person who self-remembers actually creates energies by the transformation of the food of impressions. The Work teaches that we live on 3 foods–not one food.

The most important food is called “Impressions”; the next important is “Air”; the least important is “Food”–ordinary food. Without impressions we cannot live for a moment. Without air we cannot live for a minute. Without food we can live for a month or more.

Everything in nature works by transformations 

Now ordinary food on entering the body undergoes successive transformations into finer and finer substances. Everything in nature works by transformations. The egg is transformed, stage by stage, into a bird or snake, the seed into a tree.

It is strange how many people look on this word transformation with suspicion, not seeing that their very existence was brought about by a series of transformations in the womb, of which they know nothing, and that the fact that they are alive is due to transformations going on at every moment in their bodies.

The wonder of our own existence

They take themselves for granted and see no mystery anywhere. This is the trouble. Humanity, taking everything for granted, cannot grow, cannot develop. The sense of the miraculous is stifled. The wonder of our own existence simply does not enter our limited consciousness.

Let us speak further about transformation. The fire on your hearth is burning by transformation. The grass is growing through transformation. The grub turning into a butterfly is transformation. The thought in your mind is transformed into speech. Everything, seen psychologically, spiritually, is transformation.

Everything is transformation except at the place where impressions are received

Yes–everything is transformation save, in regard to Humanity, at one place. That place is where impressions are received. We do not transform what our eyes see and our ears hear.

Food received from the mouth is transformed first by the stomach. Air is transformed by the lungs. But impressions entering the brain are not transformed. This is the point that the Work lays such emphasis upon. Here (at the point where the entry of impressions is marked), you will notice that they do not pass on to anything finer. They remain as an energy level of 48.

The First Conscious Shock

The Work teaches that if we remember ourselves this energy level of 48 will pass on to a more refined energy of 24 and 12. At this place the First Conscious Shock is given and is called the Shock of Self-Remembering. From what has been said you will see that this shock must lead to transformation. As ordinary food is transformed for us without aid–so the food of impressions must be transformed in some similar way.

We receive our life-problems and life-situations as impressions

But as we are it is not transformed. Beef steaks, as it were, remain beef steaks. Well, if that were the case as regards ordinary food we would die. Now you receive your life-problems, your life-situations, your life-conundrums, as impressions. This aspect of life enters not as physical beef steaks, but in another form.

We are exposed to the food of literal beef steaks occasionally and we have the apparatus given us to digest–that is, transform them. But we do not–and, I notice, cannot–take in the corresponding idea that we are exposed to situations, problems, and so on psychically, spiritually.

Can you see that a situation arriving suddenly as: “How awful, X has quarreled with his wife,” or “I have lost a packet on the Gold Cup”, etc., etc., are all “beef steaks”, as it were, coming in via impressions–that is, mainly through the eyes and ears–those other mouths in our faces distinct from nose and mouth?

We have no transforming organ for impressions — we have to create it ourselves

Each aperture takes in different material. And, as was said, we have for nose and air a transforming thing called the lungs, and for mouth and food a transforming thing called the stomach. But, to repeat, we have no transforming thing for impressions–and we have to create it ourselves. This is why the Work is called psycho-transformism.

We have to learn how to transform impressions

We have to learn how to transform impressions, which are psychological. Otherwise life will remain undigested, untransformed, in which case there will be no inner development. Remember that Humanity was, according to the Work, made a self-developing organism.

To transform life it is necessary to receive impressions in a new way

Now to transform life it is necessary to receive impressions in a new way and this is called the First Conscious Shock–given the name of Self-Remembering. Now a person asleep identifies with every situation– that is, with every impression coming in via eyes or ears.

How do we react to our psychological life, our problems, our worries?

If you had no eyes or ears the situations that you suffer from all day long would not exist for you. So do you see that your psychological life, your problems, your worries, and so on, are all due to impressions entering the eyes and ears–and, let me emphasize–how you react to these impressions?

Once you begin to grasp this, once you see what is meant, you begin to enter this Work in a real sense. When you remember yourself at a difficult moment when you might easily identify with everything, you are beginning to give yourself the First Conscious Shock.

In answer to the question: “Could you express the difference between a person asleep and a person self-remembering in some way?” the difference is expressed in the two diagrams that follow:

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