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Gurdjieff Work The Doctrine of 'I's'

Gurdjieff Work The Doctrine of 'I's'

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Published by Jeff Meyers
We have no one permanent and unchangeable 'I' within ourselves. As we are. Our 'I's' change as quickly as our thoughts, feelings and moods. We make a profound mistake in considering ourselves as one and the same person when in reality we are different moment to moment; every thought, every mood, every desire says 'I'. In each case, whichever 'I' is speaking considers itself the whole or permanent 'I'. There is not an individual 'I'. Instead there are hundreds and thousands of separate little 'I's', some hostile to each other, some in agreement with each other and many completely unknown to each other.
We have no one permanent and unchangeable 'I' within ourselves. As we are. Our 'I's' change as quickly as our thoughts, feelings and moods. We make a profound mistake in considering ourselves as one and the same person when in reality we are different moment to moment; every thought, every mood, every desire says 'I'. In each case, whichever 'I' is speaking considers itself the whole or permanent 'I'. There is not an individual 'I'. Instead there are hundreds and thousands of separate little 'I's', some hostile to each other, some in agreement with each other and many completely unknown to each other.

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Published by: Jeff Meyers on Sep 12, 2010
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09/23/2011

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 Journey to Essence March 2010
 
The Doctrine of 'I's'
 
"We have no one permanent and unchangeable 'I' within ourselves...as we are. Our 'I's' change as quicklyas our thoughts, feelings and moods. We make a profound mistake in considering ourselves as one andthe same person when in reality we are different moment to moment; every thought, every mood,every desire says 'I'. In each case, whichever 'I' is speaking considers itself the whole or permanent 'I'.There is not an individual 'I'. Instead there are hundreds and thousands of separate little 'I's',«somehostile to each other, some in agreement with each other and many completely unknown to eachother."
 
² G. I. Gurdjieff ²
 
"If you do not observe what is taking place in your inner world, if you do not let, so to speak, a ray oflight, that is, conscious awareness, into your inner darkness by the practice of uncritical self-observation, you will never see anything real on which to begin the work of transforming yourconsciousness and changing your being. Only through the discipline of uncritical self-observation willyou catch sight of something definite to work upon. Everything else will be just so much pseudo-work,invented work, or imaginary work."
 
² Maurice Nicoll ²
 
INTRODUCTION
 
F
or students of the
F
ourth Way who wish to transform themselves, these teachings clearly define thenature of the
F
alse Personality, so that for the sincere seeker what is essential in oneself can becomeaccessible.
F
ourth Way work and the sincere quest for self-knowledge in tandem with self-observation,inevitably bring us to the realization that we are not one, unchanging 'I'. This is also referred to as theabsence of unity in oneself.
 
When we first become aware of our
F
alse Personality, it is startling to see how this system could serveso obviously as a map of the internal workings of the machine. Through self-observation, one can verifythat the constant struggle for supremacy and control among the multiplicity of different 'I's' ispractically always by accidental and external forces.
 
As the body grows when provided with physical food, so Essence needs psychological food to grow. Thefirst psychological food that Essence needs for its further development is knowledge. Obtaining thisfood does not happen automatically. One must begin to awaken before this is possible. Through theprocess of awakening, one begins to feel one's "Self" less and less through the
F
alse Personality. Whenwe draw force, through non-identifying, from an 'I' or a group of 'I's', and if we understand why we aredoing it, the force is taken from
F
alse Personality and is then made available for the growth ofEssence. Self-observation is to make
F
alse Personality conscious to us, with all its 'I's', its attitudes,pictures, roles, etc.
 
All self-observation leads into the questions "What in me is Essence?" and "What is
F
alse Personality?"Self-observation reveals clearly and succinctly all of one's habits of attention and all the various acts,or as the Work calls it, our "mechanicality." In beginning
F
ourth Way Work, the student is instructed toobserve such things as "negative emotions", "identification", "self-love", "vanity", "self-will", "likes" and"dislikes", etc. Although there are classical descriptions of what these terms mean, in terms ofpersonal development, the many ways these various features work or operate within themselves often
 
remain obscure for the student. Self-observation can be seen here as a possible bridge that assistsstudents in identifying or naming the many 'I's' that make up the
F
alse Personality.
F
or those new toself-observation, the recognition that there is not one unified 'I' in myself becomes clearer and clearer.It becomes evident how much of one's behavior is repetitive, and, more than that, it becomes evidentthat one's defense mechanisms work very well and, in fact, keep one from seeing that one's life is livedin a very narrow and recurring circle of attitudes, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. What becomeseven clearer is that 'I' don't change«the 'I's' do. The key to distinguishing
F
alse Personality fromEssence is uncritical self-observation, not attempting to affect the behavior in any way; simplyobserve, observe, observe.
 
L
isten to Being Real by James Parkinson
http://www.solidrockvista.com/Site/Podcasts/Phat_Podcasts/Phat101-180/160-Being_Real.html 
"To be real we must first know what is real. What we know isn't real."
 
THE DOCTRINE OF 'I's' - PART I
 
² Maurice Nicoll ²
 
From Psychological Commentaries on the Teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky 
 
L
et us return to the fundamental teaching of the Work and take as an example the doctrine of 'I's'."How many 'I's' have we got in us?" Ouspensky was asked. "Have we 20 or 30?" Ouspensky replied: "Wehave hundreds and thousands of 'I's' in us, only because of the action of buffers we do not see them asdistinct but retain our belief that we have only one 'I' that always acts and feels in the same way. Thisis "Imaginary I". It is this imagination that one has one 'I', this "Imaginary I", that prevents us fromchanging."
 
On another occasion Ouspensky was asked whether 'I's' weren't imaginary and he answered in so manywords that 'I's' were real beings in us, real persons, but because we did not see them we had theimagination of having "Real I". "The 'I's' are real," he said, "but the "Imaginary I" is imaginary. Each 'I' isa small living person in oneself."
 
Just as people are divided into Man #1, #2 and #3, so these 'I's' in a person are similarly divided. Each 'I'has a thinking part, an emotional part and a moving part, but its center of gravity may be more in thesphere of the thoughts or of the emotions or of the actions. Each 'I' is a distinct being that takescharge of us and speaks through our telephone calling itself 'I'. Some of the 'I's' are very harmful to us,some are indifferent and some are useful. A question was asked recently as to whether all ourthoughts came from different 'I's'. The answer was "Yes." But not only that. All your moods, all yourfeelings, your actions, your words, come from different 'I's' in yourself.
 
As we are, we have no individuality, no "Real I", no big 'I' that controls all the other 'I's' and arrangesthem in the right order. At first it is easier to observe 'I's' acting on your thoughts, giving you certainkinds of thoughts. You observe that you are thinking in a certain way about someone. This 'I' that isthinking is an 'I' that you are taking as yourself. Or say that you are thinking about your life: this isagain an 'I' and you are taking it as yourself. When you do not see this trick that is constantly beingplayed on you, you take all these thoughts as you. You think: "I am thinking this." Or you say, "This ishow I think." You do not see that something is thinking for you and that you are not thinking at all.You hear the thought of these 'I's' as if it were you who were thinking them. In fact, you think that youthink. Now better 'I's' can see worse 'I's' but worse 'I's' cannot see better 'I's'. What is higher can seewhat is lower, but what is lower cannot see what is higher. When you begin real observation of yourthoughts you can begin to see certain kinds of thoughts that you do not wish to accept, say, about
 
other people, or about yourself. Now if you think that these thoughts are you, or if you say: "I thinkthis," then you make one of the greatest mistakes you can make in the Work. You give these thoughtspower over you because you identify with them, so you simply go with them without realizing what theWork is continually teaching, i.e. that you must practice inner separation. If you take everything thathappens in the sphere of your thoughts as 'I' then you cannot practice inner separation. Why? Becauseyou take everything going on in your thoughts as yourself. How then can you separate if you takeeverything as yourself, everything as 'I'? How can 'I' separate from 'I'?
 
Now as regards the sphere of the emotions, here again many 'I's' exist in us that bring about changes inour emotional states. Just as 'I's' transmit thoughts into our minds, so do 'I's' transmit feelings into thesphere of our emotions. These 'I's' affect the emotional state directly and scarcely touch the thinking.Some of these 'I's' can exhaust us, make us lose confidence, make us depressed, low-spirited, and soon. Yet they are 'I's' acting on us and nourishing themselves at our expense. If we could alwaysremember ourselves, these 'I's' could not have any power over us. But as a rule we have given them somuch power that we never even challenge them and they walk in and out of our emotional part as ifwe belonged to them.
 
Now although they are difficult to observe directly, after a time in the Work you will always be able todetect their presence by being aware of a drop in the level of or a sudden loss of force (energy). If youare not quick enough, 'I's' of this kind will get in and take possession of your and it may take days to getrid of them. We have to learn to walk in ourselves very carefully. It is no use arguing with unpleasant'I's'. This is why the practice of inner separation is so much emphasized in the Work. One moment ofbeing asleep in some difficult situation will let in 'I's' of this kind. The next moment you are in theirpower and they will make you see everything and feel everything in their own peculiar way. Ifsomeone in the Work at such a moment gives you a shock that awakens you to higher 'I's' within yourselfyou suddenly see and feel everything quite differently and wonder what you were up to. This meansthat the 'I's' have changed and different 'I's' are now in charge of you.
 
All practical work lies in separating from wrong 'I's'. It begins first with the thoughts and then leads onto the emotions. This means that a struggle begins in oneself between the different 'I's', between beingin lower or in higher 'I's'. The power of this Work can give us the ability to separate from 'wrong' 'I's'.
L
ife cannot give us this power because life encourages very many wrong 'I's'. This is why we are taughtto observe ourselves in the light of the Work. The Work is a system of observation and comes fromConscious Humanity, that is, from those who have gone through this battle of 'I's' and attained theirgoal. When we are in bad states of thinking and feeling, if we make no effort to remember betterstates we are dragged down. And yet we need not be dragged down. What drags us down is ourchoice. We have the power of choice internally, say, of thinking in one way or thinking in another way.
 
Sometimes when we can do nothing with ourselves for the time being, we can at least retain the powerof not completely consenting to our 'wrong' states, of not believing in them entirely, and, as it were,being patient with ourselves and realizing we are all wrong, and yet not seeing how to get out of thestate. Then you may be sure that you will after a time get into a better state again. But if you fullyconsent to your thoughts and feelings, if you say 'I' to them, in a total sense, then you will lay down inyourself something which the next time it will be far more difficult to separate from because, so tospeak, you have signed your name in full on the cheque. When you realize beyond any doubt that youhave different 'I's' in you, when you can hear them speaking or notice them working in your emotions,and yet remain separate from them, you begin to understand the Work on its practical side. You beginto understand what in the Work is called the "first line of work", that is, practical work on yourself.
 
THE DOCTRINE OF 'I's' - PART II
 
² Maurice Nicoll ²
 
From Psychological Commentaries on the Teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky 
 

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