Theodore J. Nottingham

Teachings On The Fourth Way: Answers to Questions From a Seeker

Deep within our buried conscience is some awareness of what is right in the presence of God and as part of our true destiny. We cannot do this extraordinary Work—which is the heart of all esoteric and spiritual teaching given to humanity—without a sense that there is something higher than oneself. This is where our magnetic center, the small part of us that has led us on some kind of spiritual search for meaning and purpose, is especially valuable. There are 'I's within us that know there is more to life than self-gratification, self-love, self-interest. These 'I's yearn for a mysterious inner liberation where a new quality of consciousness and of daily living can take place. This is no fantasy. It is the very reason why we were created as self-evolving beings. We have a job to do and it is called "metanoia" or transformation of mind.

There is no doubt that we cannot do this on our own. Perhaps you've heard the sayings "when the student is ready, the teacher appears", or "seek and you will find". All persons who enter a real search for something greater discover that help becomes available. In this Teaching, we are told that there is help available to us but we cannot receive it in our current condition or state. We must enter the Third State of Consciousness in order to "catch the rope" that is handed down to us. This Third State is Self-Remembering and it is characterized by non-identification, inner separation, external considering. It is the state of detachment found in Zen or in Christian mysticism. One has managed to step out of personality and its many petty requirements and found a place where a certain transcendent peace exists. This is a place that is familiar to us. We were all born with some knowledge of this in our essence, but life and its hardships blinded us as we developed personality and its defense mechanisms.

One of the fundamental aims of the Work is the purification of the emotional center. Our emotions are meant to be instruments of cognition, not endless generators of self-emotions that toss us from one state to another. One can intuit the state of another and the sense of what right action is needed in a moment through the proper use of the emotional center. But to do this one must break with the wrong work that has been unconsciously instilled in us. This is not impossible and in fact is a requirement of being a real adult. We must break from the "sins of the fathers". Regardless of what was done to you, your responsibility is to not pass it on to another generation. You must gather the strength of character and presence of mind to say before all that is holy—"This wrong behavior stops here."

The Work and all the great religions require self-sacrifice, the crucifixion of the self-interested person (the "old man"). You have an opportunity to become a new person, to be good to your wife in spite of everything, to forgive her, to forgive yourself for the sake of your children. You have access to special tools that can help you have compassion for her and assist you in understanding yourself (the two go together).

If you make the effort to not go with 'I's that you know are from old ways that do not serve your aim of evolving and awakening, you will reap the reward both for yourself and for your family. You will experience an increase of marvelous energy, an empowering of your will to go with the higher in yourself, and a new peace of mind.
There is no future in staying on the road of old habits and wrong behavior. There is only unspeakable misery. You have been given the chance to save yourself and your family from such dark despair. Your past does not need to haunt you or control you. You have a chance to acquire wisdom, to incarnate goodness, to find fulfillment by doing right.

But it is spiritual warfare and you have to make definite choices. So it is with everything in life, from the ordinary business of dieting to accomplishing things in education and business. It is all the more necessary in the spiritual realm.

Seek out Third Force to strengthen your aims. Find kindred spirits where you live—other students, a wise counselor in a church. Somewhere there awaits another person who will help you if you truly wish to stay on the path of spiritual transformation.
Do not be discouraged. Do not allow yourself to fall into unnecessary negative emotions. We have all suffered and made mistakes. Above all, never give up. It is time for a new thing to happen. Enter the path of becoming and there will be light in your future.

REGARDING AIMS

For a long time, simply the aim of seeing what is occurring is a major one indeed. Eventually, you move from recognizing negativity (for instance) and its toxic impact on your life to making the effort of not expressing it, and then to making the choice in the moment to transform it into neutral energy which is used for generating a more serene state of consciousness. This is a prototype for the stages, whether dealing with inner considering, negative imagination, false personality, features, etc.

Clearly, the early stages require the painful labor of seeing oneself honestly in the light of objective observation. That seeing alone will reveal extraordinary new data, such as how much of one's psychology is imitated from parents and cultural influences. Also, to witness the amount of negativity in one's reactions creates a desire for developing the will to change.
I would recommend the more personal approach of discovering your own specific "wrong work" based on the teaching and dealing with particular details one at a time. One classic element would be the indulgence in daydreaming which often creates worries about the future based on imagination. This is a giant leakage of energy and can be seen for what it is very quickly.

Simply witnessing your inner reactions with people and circumstances will give you mountains of information about yourself. Gathering that material will lead to being able to make different choices in the moment of reaction.
So the simple aim of seeing without identification is one that needs to be primary for a good while. Second, focus on the issue of negativity. Try to not express it and see what happens.

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS

QUESTION:
What I do see is that my mind is not sufficient to solve its own problems, and if that is a correct observation, I wonder what I can do about it all?

RESPONSE:
Knowing this is already an important step. This is where Nicoll would say that one needs the "Neutralizing Force of the Work" without which we cannot change. Our life is generally lived under the impact of the neutralizing force of life—outer circumstances, inward attitudes and illusions continually shape our behavior.
Making the Work and its ideas the neutralizing force means that we seek to no longer be determined by the same things. Our personality is made passive so that the Work ideas can influence our actions and understanding.

QUESTION:
Somehow I feel very blocked in my mind, and I don't know what to do or what to say, or what to ask next.

RESPONSE:
I would suggest a slow but regular reading of the Commentaries. Take an idea and seek to apply it to yourself. Learn from the observations and obstacles. Verify its truth for yourself. Let it help you discover something about yourself. Let it help you seek the inner space of Self-Remembering which lifts you beyond the questions and answers and becomes an answer itself—a state of peace, even bliss, where one is no longer devoured by the 'I's (thoughts and emotions) that flood us constantly.

QUESTION:
In spite of the many thousand things it can think and know, I feel there is something important that it cannot know, and does not know.

RESPONSE:
This is important and opens you to the possible experience of something higher than yourself. The Work tells us that our higher centers are continually active and available to help us but we live only in the lower centers and cannot hear them. To not identify, to practice inner separation with whatever is going on inside and outside of you, opens the door to receiving help.
Help is available. It is we who are not.
You are on the right track by knowing that you do not know.

QUESTION:
How can I learn to know which are the good 'I's, as I practice self-observation? ...but I would like to know a little more about how I can identify and support the good 'I's.

RESPONSE:
This is the very important work of discernment (the famous "diakrisis" of early eastern Christian teaching) where one learns to discern by inner taste the good from the bad within.
In relation to the Work, you should have some assistance in telling the difference between I's that wish to work and those that clearly don't.
This can be a simple matter of honestly observing what is trying to take center stage.

QUESTION:
For instance, is external consideration a way to do this?

RESPONSE:
This effort would certainly call forth the I's that wish to evolve in this Work. A certain self-sacrifice is required and this is always against the current of False Personality.
This is a good insight.
Seek to establish inner silence at times (for a definition, see the terminology on the website). This will help to control the parts of you that do not wish to work.

QUESTION:
Should contradictions be viewed as blocking or promoting self-remembering?

RESPONSE:
The awareness of contradictions within oneself is critical to the beginning of real self-knowledge. This is where one verifies that one is not unified but a multiplicity and therefore has no real will. This perception is itself a moment of higher consciousness that can create authentic self-observation and enough liberation from the many I's to generate self-remembering.
Learning about buffers means entering the painful waters of seeing oneself with harsh honesty. This is the beginning of the weakening of False Personality.

QUESTION:
Does not contradiction also works to promote, rather than block, these two processes?

RESPONSE:
Contradictions do not promote, but interfere with the development of the Work. They are one of the greatest blocks to self-change. Awareness of contradictions is necessary to even know why there is a need for this Work. But that is the only way they "contribute" to the process of the Work. Contradiction is the opposite of the aim of the Work, which is internal unification around conscious understanding. That allows the reception of new influences and the capacity to do right action in the world.

QUESTION:
Now, this is the question I feel that I must ask you now: is it correct to practice self-remembering in the way that Ouspensky suggests here, or is there something that I have missed, concerning the way I shall practice it?

RESPONSE:
Your intuition that something has been missed is correct. This stems, in part, from Ouspensky himself. I am assuming here that you do not look upon Ouspensky as an infallible super human (as many followers inevitably do, especially in the case of Gurdjieff who was a much more impressive person). The quote you shared from Ouspensky strikes me now, some twenty-three years after taking it as objective truth, in the following manner:
Ouspensky was supremely intellectual, a man of mind first and foremost. He was that rare type who was centered in the intellectual part of the intellectual center. This explains his extremely dry and meticulously analyzed approach to something utterly spiritual. In my view, the statement you quoted on self-remembering fails miserably to grasp the essence of the concept, because it is approached in such a rational, scientific manner. Self-remembering is not divided attention, just like a house is not its cement foundation. Ouspensky has reduced it here in this comment to the point of being unrecognizable.
Other important students like Nicoll and Rodney Collin were better able to express the meaning of this term. Collin especially made it clear on an intuitive level. To paraphrase him, he said that self-remembering means to forget oneself, and moreover, that self-remembering means to remember God.
To qualify my criticism of Ouspensky, I would simply point to the end of his life where he told his students to "abandon the system", where he began to speak of the "Jesus Prayer" as a means of self-remembering, and where he was known to spend long nights drinking vodka alone.

Remember the idea of bringing the mind into the heart? I would suggest that this brilliant man may not have (at least publicly) managed to do that.
I would suggest that self-remembering is closer to Buddhist mindfulness than to divided attention. It is similar to the later only because one is free from what is going on around or going on inside one. Self-remembering is a leap upwards out of identification and into a realm that brings "peace that passes understanding", new insight, compassion, and ultimately unconditional love.

I spent many years struggling with this idea as well. Perhaps it is best not to complicate it too much or one will forever be twisting and bending one's mind over it. Self-remembering is the English translation of what Gurdjieff named in French "le rappelle de soi". That verb ('rappeller') has more to do with bringing back into awareness a quality of being which was ours before we became lost in the madness that is called adult life.

Remember also the perennial wisdom of making "effortless efforts". It requires a certain relaxation and peace to bring forth a different state of consciousness.

QUESTION:
I have a feeling that there is something that blocks me from bringing the mind into the heart, although I can't exactly put the finger at it.

RESPONSE:
This is a specific technical phrase from the Early Fathers. It could be translated in Work language to "intelligent emotion" or emotional cognizance coming from a higher use of the Emotional Center (particular the intellectual part of the Emotional Center, also known as the King of Hearts in the coded symbol of the cards).

QUESTION:
Could it be that False Personality feels frightened to bring the mind to the heart, and instead does everything in its power to bring the heart into the mud?

RESPONSE:
This may be a case of the nature of your machine being a man number three, centered in the intellect. Such persons do have trouble balancing their proper functioning so that emotion is more active as an instrument of perception (and compassion). Intellectually-centered persons respond to other people's pain with rational analysis rather than empathy.
Self-Remembering requires the activation of the Emotional Center (see Nicoll's writings in Volume 2 on this matter).

QUESTION:
There is a central dilemma here that I don't know exactly how to solve: Shall I separate from the feeling of fright in this case? An alternative would be to go into the feeling, facing it, and go through it, but being aware that it is False Personality that makes it all up.

RESPONSE:
Fear is a topic and form of wrong work on which much is written. Most of all, you might want to engage your Intellectual Center when that feeling arises and think of it as negative imagination. This can free you from its power.
Also, think of that phrase "mind into heart" more simply as a type of conscious awareness that integrates intelligence and emotion in a manner that unifies, uplifts, and intensifies perception. You may also want to put this idea on the "back burner" for awhile so that it is not confusing to the more fundamental ideas expressed in the Work.

QUESTION:
First of all, could it be that the heart should be taken almost literal, to refer to the rhythms of the heart beat, i.e. a deep connection with bodily states, in case it would be something very concrete to "listen to the heart"?

RESPONSE:
The answer is no, the heart has understood in the teachings of the Early Fathers is the inner eye of the soul, the center of our being. The solar plexus is the location of the emotional center, so one could say that the heart can be equated with the source of emotions. A further definition, although more complex, is that the "heart" is known in ancient philosophy as the "nous". Here is a definition of that word by Robin Amis in his book "A Different Christianity":
"What then is the nous? This is experienced as that single organ of consciousness which contains all our knowledge in itself, not verbal or diagrammatic knowledge, but direct knowledge, entirely different from the descriptions and definitions that with most people pass for knowledge. This distinction is essentially of the unwritten tradition, as it is one of those things that really cannot be adequately conveyed in writing without the aid of inspiration or spiritual intuition."

This barely touches on the importance of this term as it relates to "metanoia" and I would recommend that sometime you obtain a copy of Robin Amis' book. He is a longtime teacher of the Fourth Way, now informed by the work of Mouravieff, and is also a dear friend.
More specifically, it is critical to not interfere with the functioning of your physical body (such as breathing, etc) without more knowledge. The best thing to do in that area is focus of attention, relaxation, separation. Also, in regards to emotions, know that the true purpose of the emotional center is to be an "instrument of cognition". In other words, if we can overcome the wrong work of our emotions, they become a sensitive form of intuitive sight and wisdom. This is one reason it is so important to cleanse them of negative emotion, imagination, and all the chaos that they bring.

Inner purification is indeed a goal of the Work. "The pure in heart will see God" remains a cosmic and practical Truth. This inner cleansing does require special work on the emotions, but the Fourth Way starts us with the intellect which is easier to control than the speed of emotional response. To remember certain ideas and apply them leads to understanding the wrong use of emotion and eventually to making choices and using will power when they arise. Saying "This is not I" when a silly feeling arises can help to find a separate space that is not flooded by the wild swings of our emotions.
Helping to quiet the heart might be a better way to look at the matter. The Fathers have a mysterious saying: "Bring the mind into the heart", which on one level means bringing intelligence to the emotions and emotional quality to the intelligence.
For now, you might continue the exercise of not expressing negative emotion so that you can at least develop some will over them and observe how useless and damaging they are. That will lead to the first steps of purification and freedom.

QUESTION:
How can I maintain an adequate inner attitude (Work attitude) in the midst of so many external demands?

RESPONSE:
It is correct to understand that the Fourth Way is a spiritual path that is specifically aimed at taking place in the midst of life, as opposed to other ways, such as the way of the monk. This is why Gurdjieff called it the way of the "sly man" (le ruse in French, which translates better as the "smart" one) because someone in the Work learns to benefit from all that life throws at him, whether good or bad.
This is also why it is called the way of "Understanding" because it requires the wisdom to deal with external events and one's own psychology in order to produce something fruitful for one's spiritual awakening.

Self-Observation is the key. Even if you react wrongly (according to the Work) to a situation, the ability and knowledge to recognize this actually feeds your development in the Work. All information is useful. It is not about "behaving in the right way". You can learn a great deal in a moment of negativity about the misuses and wastes of energy, the value of not identifying, the opportunity to make other choices, the reason to put things in a larger perspectives, the limitations of your old habits and imitations, etc.
So whether False Personality rules the day or not, you can still be harvesting a great deal each and every moment that you make the effort to apply Work ideas. This is also true in observing others and seeing their sad state of affairs due to functioning in a state of Sleep.

Don't expect results from yourself. It is important to recognize the reality of your situation. We are prisoners of our dysfunctional psychology and we must realize over and over again how damaging is the state of Sleep and the tyranny of Personality.
Eventually we begin to develop "True Personality" which allows us to function appropriately in life, but with intention, purpose, and will.
Each moment is the best of opportunities to learn about your condition, the human condition from the viewpoint of the Work, and to verify the authenticity and potential of the Work ideas.

QUESTION:
Is it a good idea to write down observations on a more or less regular basis? Could that be a way to make the "recording" more effective? Or are there other elements in the process of self-observation that could be missing, which should be included?(What about self-remembering?)

RESPONSE:
I recommend that you look up material from Maurice Nicoll on "Work Memory". This is essentially a new faculty that retains insights from Observing I and begins to build a new perspective on one's mechanical nature. This requires time, of course, and continued efforts as recurrent observations begin to form an "image" of one's particular wrong work, and ultimately of one's Chief Feature—the axis around which Personality operates.
Writing things down may be helpful, certainly. But more important is the objective honesty that takes place in the moment of perception. It will not take long to recognize the familiar taste of certain recurring states.

As for Self-Remembering, this is a different activity than Self-Observation. It is important to attempt it several times a day, when you intentionally leave behind all thought and separate yourself from the ordinary involvement with life. This is the "first conscious shock" that the Work speaks of. In the long run, it enables us to deal entirely differently with incoming impressions. But first we must know how it is that we deal with them to begin with.

QUESTION:
...as if personality have wanted to drag me down in the mud.

RESPONSE:
You will note as time goes by that False Personality will in fact defend itself. So will the Instinctive Center. After a few victories, you will find harder resistance manifesting. Sometimes, it will be as simple (and obvious) as falling asleep every time you try to read material on the Work.
This is why the great Teachers of eastern Christianity (for instance, Theophan the Recluse from 19th century Russia) always emphasize that one must continue on with zealous perseverance. You might find his work "Inner Warfare" especially helpful.

QUESTION:
Somehow it is always easier to destroy than build up something.

RESPONSE:
Insightful wisdom.

QUESTION:
How could I grow stronger in inner separation?

RESPONSE:
Find a "third force", that is, ways to reinforce your desire to sustain effort in this Work. Don't let much time go by without feeding that part of yourself that wants to make these efforts. If one does not increase, one will decrease. Christ says: "He who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not worthy of the Kingdom."
Know that you must compromise with your Instinctive Center. Give it a "cookie" when you have required effort from it (advice from Gurdjieff himself). Make an aim and keep it small and achievable. Return to it each day without remorse for forgetting. Don't let negativity creep into your Work I's. Self-observation does not work if it makes you negative.

Remember that ultimately this is spiritual work and that there is help.
As Winston Churchill said: "Never, never give up." (Because the unexamined life is not worth living.)
You will have breakthroughs or this Work would not have found you.

QUESTION:
There are two questions that I would like to make:
1. Is it correct to describe all these different aspects of my behavior as 'I's, in the sense of the Work?

RESPONSE:
Yes, all of these thoughts come from the makeup of personality, which is known as "false" or "acquired". This means that our ways of responding to things are learned unconsciously and are therefore subjective perspectives on Reality. The more they are separated from, the more their source can be seen. The key here is learning the art of inner separation.

QUESTION:
2. What shall I do with all these sub-personalities once I have begun to observe them?

RESPONSE:
Leave them be. Just don't "touch them" as Nicoll says. Don't let them take center stage and claim themselves as your Real Self or fundamental identity.

QUESTION:
But still I have this nagging feeling that I am not doing enough in the Work, or that I am not doing it in the "right" way, and I think that is the feeling that troubles me right now.

RESPONSE:
Self-observation takes a long time. It both creates new information about yourself and a new inner space which becomes independent of outer circumstances and of inner psychological conditioning. These I's cannot be removed, certainly not instantly. Some are useful for general activity. One must learn to make "effortless efforts" as Zen Buddhism speaks about. The Work is about using "attention" with more consciousness.

QUESTION:
And because I must study a lot in order to finish these studies, it is a great "enemy" to the Work, and I don't know how to do with it.

RESPONSE:
Keep it simple. When it is time to read, read. Focus the use of self-observation on times that bring wrong work, not on times when you are doing what needs to be done.
Moments of self-remembering at the right time will make the fruits of the Work evident. You can also verify the truth of these ideas in observing both yourself and others. Also remember what Gurdjieff said: "Patience is the mother of will. If you have no mother, how can you be born?"

QUESTION:
Is the transformation of impressions also a way to transform energy (as your letter perhaps suggests), i.e. to gradually take energy from personality in order to build up new being, as you expressed it? That would mean that if I keep silent, if I stay passive, if I realize that I cannot do and in this way transform impressions -, then personality would gradually be loosing strength, because it would be operating with less energy?

RESPONSE:
The transformation of impressions is a particular dimension of the Work, one especially studied in the "school" known as "The Fellowhip of Friends". I wonder if you are familiar with them. Be sure to stay away if you find a link with them—they are without question a dangerous cult, led by a criminal sociopath. However, some of the Work ideas came through, and one was this idea of transforming impressions. Impressions is here understood as what is perceived in the outside world, i.e. visual perception. As one becomes more sensitive to energies and more discerning of higher or denser "vibrations" through liberation from wrong work within, it becomes possible to "feed" oneself finer food through intentionally receiving finer impressions. For instance, a particular inner state is created when watching a horror movie. It is evident even to sleeping machines that there is something toxic taken in to us. In the Work, this is most significant because it is very literally poisoning ourselves and damaging our efforts to evolve. Negativity is contagious.

On the other hand, if you visit a museum, your inner state will be impacted by finer energies that will in fact lighten your state and place you in a higher emotional state that bring you closer to a different state of consciousness. This is advanced Work as it requires a good deal of sensitivity to one's inner psychological country, and the differences there so well described by Nicoll. If you work in a barren or grim environment, one pleasant image can influence the quality of your inner state. This is the use of impressions.

As for the transformation of impressions, you are correct in deducing that passivity to personality is a first step. Neutralizing the negative energy of someone's nasty comments to you, or keeping your own negative reaction to this event from taking over your emotions, is indeed the beginning of transformation. In the long run, this transformation becomes potent when you can actually make the choice to not be negative in a difficult moment, to not be victimized by vanity and habit. Then the energy created by the event generates a moment of presence (and self-remembering) that will give you an entirely different experience. This is virtually an alchemical phenomenon effected by a new form of will, a new relationship to one's sense of identity, and a new understanding of the purpose of one's existence.
Once again, you are correct in your intuition that being passive to personality does in fact weaken it.
You might find it useful to read material from a different stream as you seek to apply the teachings of Nicoll. St. Augustine's Confessions come to mind. The mystics were certainly focused on inner transformation. This may add a strong emotional element to the entire process.

QUESTION:
Should the transformation be seen primarily as a means of "neutralizing" negative reactions to impressions, or could it also be a way to self-remembering, little by little? In other words: Is there a connection between transformation and self-remembering?

RESPONSE:
To answer your second question first: Certainly, there is a connection between transformation and self-remembering. The latter is called "the third state of consciousness". It is already a form of transformation. Those rare moments in which we experience a transcendent state of joy, gratitude, peace, intense presence are moments of self-remembering that we carry for a lifetime and which cry out to us of another quality of living. The Work is meant to make these moments more frequent and longer lasting through intentional effort, rather than by accident.

The purpose of dealing with negative emotions is to a) clean up our inner life so that b) we can use the energies precisely for experiences of higher consciousness. We thereby stop the wasting away of energy and redirect it for our aim of awakening, experience higher consciousness—in other words, self-remembering. Nothing can happen as long as we remain in the same darkened condition. One of my favorite quotes from Nicoll is: "How can you change if you remain the same?"
Overcoming our wrong work leads to the possibility of re-channeling that energy with the help of knowledge and understanding in order to create new "being".

QUESTION:
1. Could self-observation be practiced all the hours of the day, or is it better to confine it to certain hours, and leave the mind to "rest" the remaining time?

RESPONSE:
It is not possible to practice self-observation all the time. In fact, one of the critical discoveries in this effort lies precisely in seeing how often we forget to do this. This forgetting is of course falling into the natural state of Sleep in which we all live as stimulus-response machines, to use Gurdjieff's language. Remember that this primary effort of the Work is a first step that evolves with personal experience. What you are creating by this effort is: a) a point of awareness beyond your mechanical behavior, and, b) a gathering of more objective information about yourself. This kind of self-knowledge is a cornerstone to spiritual evolution, as was stated by Socrates and all the great sages of humanity. Since we live primarily in illusions and self delusions, it is necessary to face the reality of how much of our "pictures" of ourselves are imaginary. As the Hindus say, we live in "Maya" (illusion) and it is this ignorance that keeps us asleep to our true potential and birthright.
Regarding this new point of awareness which is the birth of Observing I, this is the baby step of a new state of being, one that will lead to the ability to live in the presence with detachment, peace, independence of outer circumstances, freedom from distorted and imitated habits.

QUESTION:
. . . and have found it rewarding in many ways (for instance a more relaxed state of the body, less of mechanical reactions like irritation, anger and worry . A problem is of course that mechanical reactions now and then takes over at the cost of Observing I, but sooner or later the latter "wakes up", and starts to work again, noticing what happened in the "absence". In short: Is this an adequate way to work?

RESPONSE:
Certainly, there must be balance. And we must learn to "bargain" with the powerful aspects of our nature (Gurdjieff said that we were three-brained beings—composed of the Intellectual Center, the Emotional Center and the Instinctive Center). The latter he named in French "le patron" (the boss) and we often must appease it so that it does not come back at us with a vengeance.
However, it is important to recognize that when we are not attempting to "be present" (which means aware of ourselves to some extent), then our life is either wasting away or running out of control. In the long run, self-observation leads us to living in a state of relaxation because we are less identified (a very key concept) and therefore released from the constant flow of thoughts, feelings, and imagination that poison our existence. Therefore, the aim is to find in this initial exercise a new joy of being in the moment that was very rare before this effort of becoming more conscious and only came to us by accident.

QUESTION:
2. When (Observing) I is separating and detaching from reactions to impressions, by saying for instance "This is not me - I", is it correct to apply that to all impressions, and reactions to impressions, independently if they are "negative" or "positive"? In other words: Should Observing I in that way exclude everything that belongs to the many I's and Me's of personal self?

RESPONSE:
The important factor here is to become free from the wrong work of your mechanics. If the body is hungry, self-observation will recognize that fact and deal with it without "becoming the hunger". What this effort leads to in the long run is "purity of heart", sensitive of conscience, and discernment. This last word means that you will be able to disentangle your sense of self from passing thoughts that randomly enter your mind and emotions. This is a very significant development on the spiritual journey. But in order to achieve these skills of perception, you have to have a different relationship with what is occurring in your inner world. Therefore self-observation simply sees. By that seeing, you are already disengaged to some extent from what you are witnessing. It does not mean that everything is alien to who you are, but that you are not victimized by all that occurs in your psychology.

QUESTION:
What is really the place of meditation in the Work? How did Gurdjieff and Ouspensky view it? Could the techniques of self-observation in the Work - inner separation, non-identification, and passivity to personality, etc., be practiced in meditation?

RESPONSE:
Gurdjieff had his students start the day at the Prieure where he taught for some years with 45 minutes of silence. This was not a time to practice self-observation—that is for use in the "heat of the battle" when there are mechanics at work to be discovered.
Meditation helps to quiet the mind, body, soul. This is valuable for anyone. Have you seen the material we translated about the practice of meditation?
This would be a way to clear the ground a bit and give you additional force to avoid immediate identification first thing in the morning.
By the way, you should expect strong resistance because our False Personality knows that the Work is out to destroy it. This is why you must use the intellect and as much understanding as possible in dealing with yourself. Faith in something higher than oneself is crucial.