Lopsided development produces monsters – hysterical drama queens, hedonist jocks, or smug know it all intellectuals. None of these will bring happiness to the unbalanced person and will repel other people.
When Gurdjieff spoke of “the harmonious development of man,” he pointed the way to emotional and physical intelligence. Thinking is slow. Although logic is essential for many parts of life, emotional insights are way faster. Physical intelligence leads to a healthier life.
The only ones who don’t know intellectuals are stupid are the intellectuals themselves. The rest of the world laughs at them. But people who develop just the emotions or body are stupid too. The smart person is the one who develops them equally in balance. Generally they are all confused for one another. Someone says “I think,” when a feeling is being expressed, or confuses physical irritability for anger. Learning to tell the three apart is one of the early exercises of self observation.
Socrates was deemed by the Oracle of Delphi to be the wisest man in ancient Athens because he was honest enough to admit he knew virtually nothing. Once a person quits lying over what he can truly control in himself and what is mechanical, he realizes there is not much left.
Man is made in God’s image but only given a small amount of free will. The rest is completely out of his control, mechanical – no more self-controlled than the motions of a wind-up toy.
How to find a way out of this morass? The mechanical will reveal itself with a moderate amount of self observation because the mechanical is always negative without exception. It takes a measure of free will to turn away from it. With a consistent practice of honesty and learning not to identify with the mechanical, that small measure can grow into a larger consciousness. It takes a measure of free will to love.
At the peak of Gurdjieff’s cosmology is the highest of all manifestations and their source, the Absolute. The seven levels in the Ray of Creation represent states of being, stages in a human’s possible evolution. They also represent distinct levels of consciousness. This paradigm is echoed in the seven chakras of yoga and in the seven rooms of St. Teresa’s Interior Castle.
The idea of reaching higher than our everyday state, of human transformation, is not a weird, occult concept. Traditional Christian texts are permeated with this idea, to become more, to be born again, to put on the New Man.
Religion instructs people how to behave as if they had a conscience. Mysticism is direct experience of that conscience.
Christianity is the most human of all the religions, based on a God who became a human to speak directly to the human condition. As the world moves further and further away from humanity and toward a robotic and mechanized technical prison, we need more than ever a religion and mysticism that speak directly to the human experience and its potential for higher transformation.
Seekers during the Sixties, like the present generation, rejected traditional religious paths, but there is one very big difference. They did not throw out the baby with the bath water. While rejecting fundamental practices, they looked deeper into religion itself for life transforming experience.
Fourth Way mindfulness is not a form of elitism, but can be viewed as esoteric Christianity since very similar methods were practiced by early Christians, Gnostics, and contemplative monks. Self observation has core traits in common with some forms of Buddhist meditation.
The difference lies in Fourth Way’s insistence on being in the world rather than drawing away from it, and using everyday experiences as stepping stones to higher consciousness.