Week 9

Fourth Way Wisdom Work: Self-Remembering
Week Nine


This week’s reading speaks about many ways of Self-Remembering: cultivating a sense of wonder, knowing our need for higher help, remembering the Work, standing up in life, choosing work I’s, separating from negative I’s, seeing our many selves, seeing our mechanicalness and sleep, remembering our aim, insulating ourselves, becoming conscious between the opposites, creating inner silence, making inner stop.

Post in the discussion forum how you are working with this week’s readings, and the different ways that you are working with Self-Remembering.

We will continue with our core inner work practice that was given the first week, but may want to use a modified form of this practice as given by Jeanne de Salzmann in The Reality of Being: The Fourth Way of Gurdjieff, page 73:

Gurdjieff gave us the exercise “I am” to work on feeling. In a collected state I come to the feeling “I.” I direct it into my right arm–“I”–and then have a sensation in my right leg–“am.” Thereafter, I have a feeling , right leg; sensing, left leg; feeling, left leg; sensing, left arm; feeling, left arm; sensing, right arm. I do this three times, each time feeling “I” and sensing “am.”  Then when I have done it three times, I feel the whole body–“I”–and sense the whole body–“am.” I experience “I” always as feeling, “am” as sensing. Feeling is a more intense quality of sensing. The exercise can also be practiced beginning successively with the right leg, left leg and so on. The words “I am” can be replaced by the words “Lord … have mercy.”

As a reminder, this is the core practice that we will use for the next 12 weeks:

  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 Nine reading and your own inner-life experiments in the Discussion Forum for Week Nine.


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 nine.

Gospel of Thomas – Logion 24: Glow

His students said to him,
“Take us to the place where you are,
since we are required to seek after it.”

He answered them,
“Whoever has an ear for this should listen carefully!
Light shines out from the center of a being of light
and illuminates the whole cosmos.
Whoever fails to become light is a source of darkness.”


John 2:13-22 (New International Version)

  1. When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem
  2. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.
  3. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.
  4. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”
  5. His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
  6. The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
  7. Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
  8. They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”
  9. But the temple he had spoken of was his body.
  10. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

Psalm 19 (New International Version)

  1. The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
  2. Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
  3. They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
  4. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
    In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
  5. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
  6. It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth.
  7. The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
    The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
  8. The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
    The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
  9. The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
    The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.
  10. They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
    they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
  11. By them your servant is warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.
  12. But who can discern their own errors?
    Forgive my hidden faults.
  13. Keep your servant also from willful sins;
    may they not rule over me.
    Then I will be blameless,
    innocent of great transgression.
  14. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.


The following reading is taken from Maurice Nicoll, Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, Vol. 2, 1996 Edition: Samuel Weiser Inc., pp. 601-606

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 nine.


There is a certain emotional feeling aways connected with Self-Remembering

In a conversation recently held here the talk turned on Self- Remembering. It has often been said that unless you believe in something higher you cannot remember yourself. There is a certain emotional feeling always connected with Self-Remembering. You cannot just in cold blood remember yourself.

It is necessary to get into a certain state, whereas one can observe oneself without getting into this particular state. Yet the two actions finally meet. Through Self-Remembering we come under new influences which otherwise cannot reach us.

The state necessary for Self-Remembering

If you feel the extraordinariness of your own existence, if you feel the miracle of your body, of your consciousness, of the world that surrounds you, if you begin to wonder who you are, then you are in the state necessary for Self-Remembering.

On the other hand, if you are completely identified with yourself and take everything for granted, you are not in the state that is necessary for the act of Self-Remembering. I often said to you in the past things such as “Look at your hands, do you know what they are or how they move?” or “Look at the trees and ask yourself how it is you see them”, and many other things of a similar nature.

The sense of the miraculous

In all this the sense of mystery is in us, the sense of the miraculous. It is not necessary to go to Tibet to find the miraculous. You can find it here, now at this moment. How do you hear these words that are read out to you? How is it that you are conscious of what they mean; and how indeed are you sitting here listening?

But usually we do not ask ourselves such strange questions, and even think they are absurd, or we imagine that they have all been explained by science whereas nothing has been explained by science.

Unless you can look on life differently you cannot remember yourself.

Remembering that one is in the Work

One form of Self-Remembering is remembering that one is in the Work and that one has to take everything in a different way according to the meaning and instruction of the Work. This is a very powerful form of Self-Remembering which can be practiced very often.

Life is coming in through your senses in bundles and packets at every moment but how are you reacting to it? Does the Work stand between you and external life or are you just immersed, asleep, in external life and its events? If so, you are not remembering yourself.

Mechanical humanity

You are then what the work calls mechanical man or woman driven by life and its events as a machine is driven by a belt. To stand up in life with a feeling of distinctness of yourself experiencing life, of yourself looking at life and noticing the reactions it makes in you, to feel that you are living life and not that life is living you–all this belongs to the idea of Self-Remembering as well as a thousand and one other thoughts and feelings of the same kind.

But if you think that nature created itself, that matter created matter, then you cannot remember yourself. On the other hand if you often think internally about the Ray of Creation coming down from above or about the side octave from the Sun from which we ourselves are created, and if you no longer think that such great ideas are unimportant but are absolutely necessary for the right ordering of one’s thoughts, then you may have a moment of Self- Remembering and catch a glimpse of what it means.

A feeling of something higher is needed

It is only through a feeling of something higher that you can separate from something lower, and, after a time, when you have experienced what this means, you will do everything you can to keep the feeling of something higher alive in you at all costs and you will begin to hate those periods in which you are totally identified with external things.

Here we have a definite stage in the Work. We then know to a small degree what it is to be awake and by contrast we know what it is to be asleep, and for a long time this stage remains with us in such a way that we know that we are more awake and know that we are more asleep.

Inner choice

Then it becomes a matter of inner choice, inner taste, and this stage inevitably lasts a long time. Here, in this stage, there is, as it were, a long test depending entirely on oneself, provided that one is constantly reminded of the Work and its ideas.

We need reminders from others

For this reason it is necessary to find a person who will teach you the Work and keep reminding you about it, and such a person must know the Work and be constantly thinking about it and applying it.

Yet, as I say, this stage depends on oneself finally. For the Work seeks to make a new arrangement in our minds and it can only do so when it is allowed to enter a person’s mind. Nothing will enter anybody’s mind unless they feel an affection for it, a desire for it.

Choosing I’s that wish to work

And this means in so many words that unless one has ‘I’s in oneself that wish to work, ‘I’s that have always felt there is something else, ‘I’s that can hear the Work, not merely through the ears, but through the mind and understanding–unless such ‘I’s exist, the Work can never enter, but if it does enter then it becomes a matter of choice.

Self-Remembering begins with preferring better I’s

One can always go with bad ‘I’s and even spend one’s whole life in the company of such ‘I’s, or one can choose by very slow and gradual insight to notice bad ‘I’s and to prefer not to surrender to their power. It is in this feeling of choice, of preferring better ‘I’s, that Self-Remembering begins.

One experiences the fact that by a curious kind of mental act, or if you prefer, an act of the will, it is possible to separate oneself from the immense morass of negative ‘I’s and, as it were, stand upright. This is a lifting of oneself above oneself, but, as was said, this is impossible unless one knows for certain that there are better states and worse states of oneself.

Separating from the immense morass of negative I’s

It is not a question of theoretically believing there is something higher, but of the actual perception of it in oneself, for the subject of this Work is this strange and complex thing called oneself. One can often observe a regular horde of unpleasant mean little ‘I’s that surround one and wish to drag one down to their level, to their way of taking everything.

And the act of transformation consists in being aware of this and not identifying because one knows, because one can remember, that there are quite different ways of taking things, even if for the time being one cannot get into those ‘I’s that know better.

Why do we think, for example, that things should always go right and why are we upset when they do not go in this way? Why is it we never remember about Second Force? The reason is that only ‘I’s that are in the Work can remember such things and that there lives in us a vast crowd of ‘I’s that have never heard of the Work and simply take things in their own way.

We have in us crowds of I’s that have never heard of the Work

It may sound very strange that we have in us crowds of ‘I’s that have never heard of the Work. It sounds strange because we will keep taking ourselves as one and find the greatest difficulty in moving away from the power of this illusion and catching a glimpse of our multiplicity of being.

Catching a glimpse of our multiplicity of being and our mechanicalness

Even such a glimpse is called in the Work a moment of Self-Remembering. It is called a moment of Self-Remembering because it is a moment of realizing one’s mechanicalness. To realize emotionally one’s mechanicalness is called a moment of Self-Remembering, whereas to be identified with one’s mechanicalness, to be identified with every ‘I’ that takes charge, is called a state of sleep.

Everything happens

Again, to realize what the Work teaches when it says that everything happens, to catch a glimpse of the meaning of this phrase, may constitute a moment of self-remembering, that is, a moment when through inner taste and perception you perceive you are not in your usual identified state.

Just reflect what it means that “everything happens” and think how completely contrary this idea is to your ordinary way of thinking which is based on the idea that one can do, and that life is run intelligently. I think in these present times this is one of the most useful forms of thinking. It at least prevents us from being completely upset when things do not turn out as we expected, or when some unhappy, insoluble thing meets us.

What is the solution? The solution lies in the direction of Self-Remembering. It lies in the direction of all that the Work teaches because, if we could remember all that the Work teaches, if it became a living reality to us, a thing that we really begin to live by, then our relationship to life and its events would no longer be that of a person completely asleep in life, a person who is full of useless suffering, who takes everything as a matter of astonishment, who is made negative by the most ordinary events.

Remembering one’s aim at a difficult moment is a form of Self-Remembering

Now when we make an aim it should always have some connection with the Work. Remembering one’s aim at a difficult moment is a form of Self-Remembering by definition in the Work, but if the aim has nothing to do with the Work–if, for example, my aim is to make £100,000 or gain a title–and I remember my aim, it will have no connection with the Work.

Work aim and life aim

It is said that we must make aim in the Work–a Work aim. But a Work aim is not the same as a life aim unless in some way the two are connected. If my aim is to make £100,000 in order to make possible some form of this Work which requires money, and if this is genuinely so, then this apparent life aim will be connected with a Work aim.

If I am clever at making money, and at the same time put the Work first in my valuation, my cleverness in life and my feeling for the Work will reinforce each other and there will be no contradiction.

So you will understand that when the Work says that one form of Self- Remembering is to remember one’s aim, or when it says that when you try to remember yourself you must remember your aim, if your aim is merely a life aim such as making plenty of money and getting a title, it will not be of any use.

Three lines of Work

Remembering an aim of this kind will take you straight into life and its power and will rob you of any force you may possibly have that belongs to the Work. I will just add one thing here about Work aim connected with life–namely, that the Work has three lines of work in it, work on yourself, work in connection with other people in the Work, and work in connection with the Work itself. Unless these three lines are satisfied, at least provisionally, your aim will lead nowhere.

There are three aspects to all Work aims. If you only wishes to work on yourself you will get nowhere, in fact you will become much worse than you were in ordinary life. So try to think what it means that an aim should have three forces in it, and what the three lines in the Work indicate. To work simply for other people and not on yourself is wrong. To work on yourself and regard other people as a nuisance is wrong. And again to work on yourself in connection with other people without thinking of the Work itself and what it needs is wrong.

You must insulate yourself from life

Now we will speak about insulation of oneself in connection with Self-Remembering. On one occasion Gurdjieff  said that you must insulate yourself from life in order to work. This is very easily misunderstood.

Its deeper meaning is that you must insulate yourself from your mechanical self so that you are not exposed to every change of external circumstances. I will quote you something from one of the esoteric books connected with the Sufi School, which was the esoteric school which worked on the Koran.

One teacher in this school used the following phrase: “Safety lies in solitude”. He added: “Let none imagine that solitude consists in living alone”. I will paraphrase what this Sufi teacher said. He was dwelling on the importance of how we think of other people and whether our thoughts are entirely governed by their behavior. We all know that at one moment we dislike and the next moment like the same thing or person and think accordingly.

Not indifference but becoming conscious between the opposites

When we know this by observation and reach a point in which both liking and disliking and all their thoughts do not govern us we become insulated from the ordinary power of life over us. Remember that this is not indifference but is a state of becoming conscious between the opposites that are always swinging our life to and fro as on a pendulum.

Indifference is mechanical but keeping between the opposites is conscious. It is like keeping our balance. This Sufi teacher points out that whether a person takes pleasure in disliking the thing itself or in the thought of it, it is the same thing, and vice versa.

Creating inner silence in ourselves

Now the Work speaks about creating inner silence in ourselves, which is comparable to this idea expressed by the Sufi teacher that “safety lies in solitude” but that solitude does not consist in merely living alone in a physical sense.

We are taught in this Work to keep silence about things we should not express or which would do harm. This, so to speak, is an external ritual, an external discipline. No proper group in this Work can ever be made if everybody chatters. Chattering always comes from small mechanical ‘I’s through which all force in the Work runs away into life.

In the Gospels it says you must reach that state in which your left hand does not know what your right hand does. On one occasion Ouspensky was speaking a great deal about this subject and said it referred to the power of inner silence, and he connected it with Self-Remembering.

Making inner stop in ourselves

One could, for example, say many things, but one does not. That is external. But, more deeply, one could allow many ‘I’s to talk in oneself and one stops them, does not listen to them, does not go with them and above all does not believe in them by inner choice.

On this occasion Ouspensky talked to us about making inner stop in ourselves and connected it with a form of Self-Remembering. Inner stop means stopping thinking in a certain way. You may prevent yourself saying certain things outwardly for various reasons, for social behavior, fearing the consequences, from manners, from some picture of yourself being charitable and so on.

But this is not inner stop. This is not keeping inner silence which is so necessary for everyone to understand after a certain time in this Work and must arise from inner choice. Here then we have people who begin to understand the Work at a certain stage and begin to apply it internally to themselves and begin to realize its meaning from something internal in themselves. And here you no longer work for a reward, but from inner choice.

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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