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Ouspensky - Conscience

Ouspensky - Conscience



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Published by: John on Oct 08, 2008
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IntroductionMemorySurface PersonalitySelf-WillNegative EmotionsNotes on Work 
In approaching any of the published works of P. D. Ouspensky, from
Tertium Organum
(firstreleased in Russia in 1912, subsequently translated and published in England in 1920, re-issuedmany times since) to this new collection of short works, it is important to remember thatOuspensky himself put small faith in the written word as the primary method of reaching theTruth. Not that '0' (as members of his circle called him among themselves) had any contempt for scholarship or the desire for access to knowledge. A voracious but discriminating reader himself,Ouspensky was six years of age when he first read Turgenev — a clear indication of extraordinary talent at so young an age. By the age of twelve he had devoured most of theliterature in natural science and psychology available to him. By the time he was sixteen,according to his own testimony, he had decided to take no formal degrees, but to concentrate hisstudies on those aspects of knowledge which were outside and above the traditional fields of study. 'The professors were killing science', he said, 'in the same way as priests were killingreligion*. None of the established sciences went far enough, he felt, in exploring the other dimensions which surely existed; they stopped, as Ouspensky put it, at a 'blank wall'.Ouspensky's subsequent reluctance to depend upon writing as a means of conveying knowledgewas based upon two major points, both integral to the system he taught. First, was theimportance of working upon one's own development with, and through, a school or 
2 Introduction
structured group environment. Ouspensky's philosophy was based on the idea that man was amachine, moving through his existence in a dream-like, mechanistic state, and that in order to taphis full potential he had to awake through a disciplined attempt to 'self-remember', — to be ableto become fully aware of himself at any time. Self-remembering was difficult, requiring a seriesof steps in a definite order together with the help of a school; the eventual reward, through self-study, control, and the transformation of negative emotions, was the attainment of objectiveconsciousness. This was an awakened state in which a man, released from his state of 'wakingsleep', would be capable of seeing the higher reality ('esoteric knowledge') invisible to him in hisordinary, undeveloped level of being. The key in all this, of course, was school work based onthe principle that development of knowledge and growth of being must proceed together for rightunderstanding. Unlike many other systems, Ouspensky's could not be successful for theindividual alone through contemplation, or be understood solely by the exercise of theintellectual faculty. It was for this reason that Ouspensky stressed throughout his life that 'theSystem could not be learned from any book'. Although chapters of his book 
 In Search of theMiraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching 
were occasionally read aloud to older members of his London groups, they were used there not only to spark discussion, but also toshow the level and intensity of work in the original Russian group. All of Ouspensky's booksshould consequently be seen as introductions to the work of the system rather than as'guidebooks' for the undertaking of that work.1 New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1949; London, Roudedge & Kegan Paul, 1950

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