The tao of Gurdjieff


The tao of Gurdjieff

"I saw that the ocean of pure awareness, on the surface of the universal consciousness, the numberless waves of the phenomenal world arise and subside beginninglessly and endlessly.  As consciousness, they are all me.   As events, they are all mine.  There is a mysterious power that looks after them.   That power is awareness..."

 Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj    from "I Am That"


NOTE: This blog is offered up as a 3rd party comparative analysis of Gurdjieff for seekers who are looking to make connections between Gurdjieff and other teachings.  It is not meant to be an authoritative review of his principles or his ideas.  That can be found by contacting the Gurdjieff Foundation.   The author makes no claims of any 'spiritual attainments'...  just as a writer and researcher interested in these areas.  It was primarily written between 2012 and early 2017 and has been shortened in order to accommodate modern attention spans.  More links to the original extended content may be added later, although the latest posts have continued through early 2018.


"Tao is the way of doing something"... Bruce Kumar Frantzis

Gurdjieff's relevance in today's world

 Gurdjieff is particularly compelling in today's world because although he taught in the first half of the 20th century, in retrospect he appears to have been speaking directly to those of us in the 21st century... and about all that we are dealing with.  That's because many of the topics he was speaking about back then are still relevant in our world.  So that tends to get your 'attention'.  In particular, Gurdjieff gets your attention when you start to see the subtle, 'covert' overlaps with the Gnostics and Gurdjieff... with Buddhism and Gurdjieff... with Vedanta and Gurdjieff, (and yes, taoism as well) which usually gets overlooked by the casual first time reader as it's typically presented in an almost subliminal fashion.   This also tends to get overlooked by most critics of Gurdjieff who usually fixate on one or two of his ideas by turning them into 'talking points' to debate, while ignoring what he is trying to tell us from the more profound, paradoxical standpoint of his own impersonal awareness or conscience.

Gurdjieff was all about the individual and all about waking up... and that takes attention.


Authors Update: 11/19/15

A word on the 'proper' application of Crazy wisdom as a communication tool

"He might  say one thing today and something different tomorrow, and yet, somehow he could never be accused of  contradictions; one had to understand and connect everything together"

from Ouspensky's 'In Search of the Miraculous'

Cognitive dissonance, as crazy wisdom, operates on multiple levels simultaneously.  Thus its aim (when done correctly and with the proper motivation) is to 'speak' to individuals on multiple levels... simultaneously... but with different messages and different goals, depending on the level of perception of each individual.

Because of the seemingly contradictory nature of cognitive dissonance, for an individual with a flexible linear mindset, if they are open to whats being transmitted, they can reach a point where they can no longer figure out whats being said at which point they are 'given' the opportunity to have a 'light bulb moment' in which they 'give up' trying to figure it out and just let go... thereby creating an opening in the form of a breakthrough which arrives as a sudden intuitive insight that they might not otherwise have had. 

So for these individuals, cognitive dissonance as 'crazy wisdom'... is a 'koan'.

  For those with a rigid and inflexible linear mindset, they may experience confusion as they will not be able to resolve the apparent contradiction in their minds.   The frustration with this confusion will 'send them away', if you will, as they will have no patience with what's being said, thus leaving them 'free' to find a more compatible message elsewhere.

For the individual operating on multiple levels simultaneously, cognitive dissonance will deliver multiple messages simultaneously... one to the 'person'... and one to the 'individual.   And because of its multidimensional nature it also serves as a sort of 'non verbal handshake' with the individual that simultaneously validates their multidimensional view by informing them on multiple levels... simultaneously.

So for one individual its a teaching tool in the form of an 'opening'.   For another its an 'invitation' to find satisfaction elsewhere and for another it's a form of multidimensional validation.

Thus it has multiple meanings on multiple levels for multiple individuals... simultaneously.   As such, it acts as a 'filter' and a time saver for the individual transmitting the message as they don't have to spend their time and attention on those that are not open to what they have to say while allowing them to focus on those that are open to their message... IE: those that have 'the ears to hear'.

Thus cognitive dissonance... is a paradox.

Thus, when 'crazy wisdom' teachers speak... their words have 'double' meanings.


The 3 levels of paradox

There are 3 levels of paradox.   The individual primarily identified as a separate 'person' is operating on a single level of perception.  Thus they only perceive contradictions... and thus 'problems'. 

The individual operating on multiple levels simultaneously perceives contradictions as a paradox... because their awareness enables them to 'understand' both sides simultaneously.   Thus for them, so called 'problems' brought on by contradictions are 'workable' paradoxical situations.  

For the enlightened non-local individual, they are both sides of the 'paradox'... thus they see no contradictions... or paradox.   Thus they have no 'problems'.


The 'mechanics' of 'crazy wisdom'

The mechanics of crazy wisdom - IE that which makes it work - is that the individual that is primarily identified as a separate 'person' reacts to the contradiction... whereas the individual that is primarily identified as impersonal being or awareness 'responds' to the paradox... with 'understanding'.

One is a knee jerk 'mechanical' reaction... the other an intuitive 'response'... an intuitive 'understanding'.

Big Difference.

They can 'do' that because they 'see' through the contradiction... to the paradox... via awareness.

Awareness makes us 'nobody's fool'... thus they're no longer 'fooled' by 'contradictions'... because they 'know better'. 

Thus 'crazy wisdom' teachers are not 'considering' your 'personal' opinion of them... or what they say.   They are only interested in communicating with other 'individuals'... or those that are intuitively savvy enough to aspire to being 'individuals'. 

The Seekers job

The seekers job is to discern between the crazy... and the wisdom... and to avoid the former while gaining from the latter.  That takes awareness... as in the awareness to discern what's in ones highest 'Self' interest.   Thus if the teaching leaves out the importance of discernment... or of looking after ones 'Self' interest... then ones 'interest' in the teaching may soon be waning.

It also helps if the seeker 'understands' that it's not their job to become enlightened... because the 'person' which is seeking is not what gets enlightened.   The seekers job is to find the correct path for them and to commit to the work that's required... until they 'understand'.

IE: until they 'know better'.

You'll know you 'know better' when you no longer fall for that which is clearly not in your 'Self' interest... and you're no longer trying to enlighten that which doesn't exist.  Trying to enlighten that which doesn't exist is a 'fools' errand.   Thus you're no longer 'fooled' by paths that 'make' you crazy... at the expense of your own 'Self' interest.

Only an individual being can reliably discern for its 'Self' that which is always in it's highest 'Self' interest.  'Persons'... are prone to craziness... because they are torn in opposite directions... simultaneously.   The individual see's through the craziness in the 'person' and the 'personal'... to that which 'knows better'.

Once you 'know better' you're no longer on a 'path'... so much as you're on a 'road'.   The 'road' that leads you directly to your destination.    Intuitively informed impersonal awareness is the road.   How you 'get' there is your business.

Once you're reliably 'on' the 'road'... you're 'good to go'.

When you're 'good to go' you no longer 'need' a teacher... 'crazy' or otherwise... because you'll 'understand' what's going on now.

NOTE: The perception of detached impersonal awareness, distinct from consciousness, is what makes the perception of paradox possible... and what makes Gurdjieff... 'understandable'.

IE: detached impersonal awareness... is what 'looks after' consciousness.

  Detached impersonal awareness can 'look after' consciousness because it's intuitively informed... thus it 'knows better'.

Being 'on the road'

 Everything makes sense at the level of 'understanding'.

   'Understanding' takes place when the individual is 'operating' on multiple levels simultaneously.   The individual is 'operating' on multiple levels simultaneously when they are 'operating on the 'impersonal' (and the 'personal') level... simultaneously.   

Thus 'the' level of understanding is actually two levels of understanding... simultaneously.

'Operating' on two levels of understanding simultaneously... is a paradox.

One is impulsive... one 'knows better'.   Thus the impersonal becomes the 'adult' supervision of the 'person' and the 'personal'.

IE: it 'looks after' them.

It 'looks after' them because it see's that which the 'person' can't 'see'... and it 'knows' that which the 'person' can't know.

Thus the impersonal individual 'understands'... because it see's more than the 'person'... because it 'sees' through it.  Thus the impersonal individual is the 'nexus' between the impersonal being and the 'person'.

So when the individual 'understands'... everything 'makes sense'... including the 'person'.

When everything 'makes sense'... you can go about your business (on the road)...  it's just that you 'know better' now about what's 'going on'... with 'you'... and 'others'.

(and the world)

IE:  you're mot 'fooled' by it anymore.

When you're not 'fooled' by it anymore... 'crazy wisdom' will make perfect sense.


NOTE: Gurdjieff divided the path between the 'stairway' and the 'way'... (Paul Brunton referred to this division as the 'long path' and the 'short path').   Intuitively informed impersonal awareness is what Gurdjieff referred to, in the language of his times, as... 'self consciousness' or 'objective consciousness' or... at times, just 'Consciousness'.... all of which require detached awareness.   Thus, in today's terminology, they're seen as more than just 'consciousness'... or as having something other than just 'consciousness'.
Consciousness is informed by the senses.  Only awareness is informed by intuition.  Awareness is the antenna for intuition... so the more continuous the awareness the more one is continuously informed by intuition.
The Gnostics recognized three mental archetypes... the 'Psychics' (those with an open minded flexible mindset)... the Hylics (or closed minded cynics)... and the 'Pneumatics' (those operating on multiple levels simultaneously).
Thus the paradoxical 'crazy wisdom' teacher Gurdjieff knew exactly who he was speaking to... and what he was up against.


The Buddha had a term for those that wish to distract and manipulate us... he referred to them as 'Mara's daughters'.   Gurdjieff had an equally descriptive term... he called them 'machines'.


Separating the 'Essential Gurdjieff' from his ideas

It helps if you don't take Gurdjieff at face value (at times) if you are going to appreciate his being as there is a certain level of 'cognitive dissonance' involved in some of what he say's (and does).   Several of his ideas were ahead of their time, to us, such as the Ray of Creation, which is a classic holographic description of the breakdown of the 'waves' of reality, while others are dated (on yogis) or merely meant to 'shock' the individual out of their complacency (the moon).  Some, like the ones on the astral body and 'centers' are, at times, better expressed elsewhere, as in TCM or Ayurveda. Eventually though, too many moving parts can be a distraction.   It's as if his ideas - and particularly the methodical way in which he presents them - were more of a tool for establishing his authoritativeness.   But once that is established in the seekers mind they no longer are the main point of his work.   So a certain amount of discernment is required with Gurdjieff.  In fact you could say that sifting out Gurdjieff's individuality and his being from his ideas is meant to be an exercise in discernment.

A good example of cognitive dissonance in Gurdjieff is in the presentation of his persona.   While he goes to great pains to establish his authoritativeness he goes to equal pains to disassemble his personal legacy through clearly and intentionally acting out in an off-putting manner.  In a sense this is a tribute to his lack of attachment to his own persona (IE not 'considering' what others think of him) and a tribute to the strength of his individuality as he clearly is doing this as a service to the seeker so that they are discouraged from putting him up on a 'personal' pedestal... and thus worshiping him... instead of actualizing their own self mastery, will and individuality.  In other words he's more concerned with the seekers experience then he is with their 'personal' opinion of him.   That is rare... and important to note.  So 'seeing through' Gurdjieff while 'seeing' what he has to say... is an 'art'.

Gurdjieff was first and foremost interested in if a seeker could work as hard work was an indicator of a focused mind and a focused mind was a mind focused on its own 'business'... as in internal business.  Gurdjieff appreciated seekers that could mind their own business as a focused mind is a balanced mind... and a balanced mind is the mind of a 'responsible' individual.  So if a seeker could establish that... that would indicate that they had potential.  First get a handle on the problem... and then the answers will come.   Once you understand the problem... intuition will be the individuals guide... and eventually conscience.   Once a seeker had conscience... they no longer needed Gurdjieff.   They were 'good to go'.


Getting the most from Gurdjieff

So getting the most from Gurdjieff is a matter of 'taking what you like and leaving the rest'.   The discerning seeker knows what to 'take'... and what to leave behind... and what to interpret in their own way based on their own experience with other teachings and traditions.  Thus it takes an open, aware, informed, independent and discerning individual to get the most from Gurdjieff... which is how he wanted it.

An 'open, aware, informed, independent and discerning' individual is the very definition of what Gurdjieff referred to as being... 'intelligent'.


Gurdjieff's General Laws

'General Laws' are in effect to the extent that we are reacting from a solely 'personal' perspective.  IE: from the sole standpoint of our 'Ouspensky'... IE: the separate 'person'.  Individual impersonal awareness, being or essence liberates us from 'General Laws'... because we don't take things so... 'personally'... so we're responding more... and not just reacting.  Thus we 'rise above' general laws... IE: unconscious mechanical habits of reacting from a solely 'personal' perspective.

Thus Gurdjieff taught 'impersonal awareness' that comes from practicing the 'observer' position... IE: 'self' observation or detachment. 

A being that rises above general laws is a being that is a 'law' unto its 'Self'... so to speak... because it is operating from its own 'impersonal' awareness or 'conscience'... instead of being mired in a solely 'personal' perspective.


NOTE: Overcoming 'general laws' liberates us from the 'general'  way of the world... which has the usual consequences.


 Individuals who are reacting solely from mechanical laws (IE 'machine like') are what Gurdjieff referred to as 'machines' (for all intents and purposes).   IE: they are 'asleep'.   Individual beings, on the other hand,  are what he referred to as 'intelligent'... because they are capable of making 'intelligent' choices.  IE: they have risen above mechanical laws to an awareness of  'impersonal awareness'... balanced with 'personality'.   An individual that is aware of awareness and personality simultaneously operates intelligently in this world... instead of merely being fooled by it.

The difference between a 'machine' and a 'being' is intelligent choices based on awareness.  Awareness makes us 'nobody's fool'... so to speak.

In order to make 'intelligent' choices it is necessary to have simultaneous access to something 'other' than the personality.  That 'something else'... is impersonal awareness... which is intuitively informed.   An intuitively informed individual is operating from 'conscience'... because they 'know better' than their own personality.

An 'intelligent' individual is a paradox as they appear to us as a 'person'... yet they are not solely informed by the 'General laws' of 'persons'... because they are informed by that which is 'above' the 'person', so to speak.   IE: impersonal awareness.

Being aware of 'impersonal' awareness and that which is 'personal' (personality) simultaneously is a paradox.  'Intelligent' individuals are a paradox.  You can only spot 'intelligent' individuals by what they 'don't do'.  IE: they don't merely react to 'General Laws'... because they 'know better' than that.   Thus they are 'free' to operate in this world 'intelligently'... which is a pleasure.  It's a pleasure to operate 'intelligently' in this world... instead of being 'burdened' by the 'General Laws' of it.  

 When operating in this world is a pleasure it's easier to 'aim' ones 'Self' in an intended direction... with a specific 'purpose'.  Intelligently operating individuals 'operate' on 'purpose'.   Operating on 'purpose' is an act of will... that serves a 'purpose'.   

Intelligent individuals operate for their highest good as well as the highest good of 'others'.  Operating for the highest good of our 'Self' and 'others' is a 'purpose' worth 'aiming' for.

Operating for the highest good of our 'Self' and 'others' simultaneously... is to 'operate' from inside the 'esoteric' circle of humanity.


Gurdjieff's 'circles' of humanity

 Gurdjieff noted three concentric esoteric circles of humanity but all three are based on a common 'understanding'.  Thus in essence, once an individual 'understands'... as in an understanding that comes from 'impersonal awareness' or 'conscience', they are operating from inside the esoteric circle of humanity.  Those outside the 'esoteric' circle of humanity are still operating from a solely 'personal position'... thus they are subject to 'General Laws'... and thus they lack a common 'understanding'.  This outer circle of humanity is what he referred to as the area of the 'confusion of tongues'... as in a lack of a common understanding even if people speak a common 'tongue' or language.  Thus mis-understandings are inevitable.   True 'understanding' only comes from an 'impersonal awareness' or 'conscience' that is greater than the 'person' and not limited to any language... thus it is available to all, but (in most cases), requires work to achieve.


A 'mistake' has been made

NOTE: Gurdjieff did not present such circles as some sort of 'elite' for a 'person' to apply to but rather as another example of the less than ideal circumstances that we have to labor under in this world, such as it is.  IE: that we have to work for that which is our 'own'... as in our own inherent awareness or being.   As such it's a 'Gnostic' view of this world.   One where the world is seen as having a 'design flaw'... a 'flaw' that leaves us no choice but to work for that which is our own... rather than just enjoy it as a 'birthright' in this world.

Thus we are presented with... a 'choice'... a choice that requires 'will'.  'Free will' begins with the freedom to make a conscious choice.  And in order to make a more productive 'choice' it helps to have an 'intelligent' view of this world.

NOTE: A world with a 'design flaw' indicates that a 'mistake' has been made... in its 'original design'.   Perpetuating the 'mistake'... is a 'mistake' on the part of the individual... that is 'correctable'... by the individual... with the will to make a conscious choice.

That choice is made... with inner attention.

Unconscious loyalty to the 'mistake'... is a 'mistake'... on the part of the individual... that can be corrected with will and inner attention.

IE: Loyalty to the 'original mistake' (separation)... is a mistake on our part.


Gurdjieff and 'free' will

One of the most instructive examples of cognitive dissonance in Gurdjieff is his apparently contradictory statements about 'free' will and the lack of self determination.  What is happening is that he is speaking from the second level of paradox that recognizes that he may appear to contradict what he says... but in reality he's actually validating it... but that can only be understood from a similar paradoxical view.

So Gurdjieff placed a heavy emphasis on 'will'... the individual will of a fully conscious individual.  But he also said that 'everything just happens'... and that there is nothing anyone can 'do' about it.   

That's a paradox.

What he was referring to was that on the unconscious mechanical 'personal' level everything is 'just happening'... but on an impersonal level there is a 'choice' to be made.  And that ability to 'choose' to be aware requires 'will'... which leads to awareness... which leads to the ability to 'do'.  

'Doing' implies that the individual is operating outside the purely mechanical general laws of 'persons'... thus they are 'free' to serve their own highest good as well as the highest good of 'others'.   Thus they are free to influence their future... in this life and beyond.  


NOTE: Knowing what you 'do'... is the antithesis of 'knowing not what you do'.


Dharma and General (karmic) Laws

The reason the 'person' can't apply to the esoteric circle of humanity is because you can only begin to 'enter' it with an 'impersonal' view.

General (karmic) laws are all about the 'person' and the 'personal'.   There are no impersonal General (karmic) laws... thus the 'impersonal' individual is a 'law' unto its 'Self'.

So 'dharma'... is just 'doing' what you came here to 'do'... 'outside' the General (karmic) Laws of 'persons'.

When you are 'doing' your 'dharma' outside the General (karmic) Laws of 'persons'... you are 'operating' inside the esoteric circle of humanity... whether you know it or not.   That's because the esoteric circle of humanity is not a group of 'persons' but an organic distributed network of individuals whose most important connection (if they have any at all) is a lack of connection to a 'personal' identity.   

And alot of what they 'do' will not be obvious... because it will be out of the 'view'... of the 'general' public.   That's because alot of what they 'do' is based on what they 'don't do'... (if you will).

When you're 'doing' what you came here to 'do'... you're no longer 'doing' what your 'Ouspensky' would 'have' you 'do'.   When you're no longer 'doing' what your 'Ouspensky' would 'have' you 'do'... you understand 'the way of doing something'.


Free will and Original Mind

'Free' will does not mean you can just do anything you want.   That's called willfulness.

'Free' will is intuitively informed individual will that is 'free' to serve the highest good of the individual... now that it is no longer completely 'distracted' by the 'personality'.

'Original mind' (IE: intuitively informed impersonal awareness) is the primary mode of perception when you are 'doing' your 'dharma'... inside the esoteric circle of humanity.

Thus 'free' will is only available to those who are 'doing' their 'dharma'... outside the General (karmic) Laws of 'persons'.

IE 'Free' will gains its 'independence'... from its independence from willfulness.


Objective consciousness

Distinguishing our 'Original mind' from our 'Ouspensky' is a form of 'detachment'.

IE: 'Objective' consciousness is not just 'consciousness'... it's consciousness and detached awareness... simultaneously.   Thus you 'see' the world (and the personality)... 'objectively'.

Thus objective 'consciousness' is 'seeing the world 'as it is'... not how we'd like it to be.

Some would call that 'mindfulness'... as in paying attention... as in minding your own business.

When you're minding your own business... you may appear to be doing 'nothing'... but in fact, you're 'doing' plenty... just not what 'others' would 'have' you 'do'.  

When you're no longer 'doing' what 'others' would have you 'do'... you're no longer 'doing' what 'Mara's daughters' would have you 'do'.

When you're no longer 'doing' what 'Mara's daughters' would 'have' you 'do'... you're no longer 'nobody's fool'... if you will.

Awareness makes us 'nobody's fool'.  If ever there was an individual who was 'nobody's fool'... it was Gurdjieff.


 Our 'proper' mind

'Objective' consciousness is a paradoxical perspective... because you are 'in' the personality... but not 'of' it... simultaneously... so to speak.

IE: 'Objective' consciousness... is a paradox.

When you are operating from the point of view of 'objective' consciousness ... you 'understand' the 'proper' use of the entire mind... as in your 'proper' mind. 


Impersonal does not mean inhuman

NOTE:  'Impersonal' does not mean inhuman.   'Impersonal' means we haven't completely 'personalized' our humanity.  

(humanity is required for a human experience)

Being is fully compatible with a human experience... but it can be obscured by a completely 'personal' experience.

The impersonal is not devoid of personality.  Impersonal means the 'person' is in its 'proper place'... in relation to the impersonal... in our minds.

If you think the 'impersonal' is 'inhuman'... try contemplating 'mans inhumanity to man'.


The Gnostic Conscience

Of all the concepts related to Gurdjieff the idea of Conscience is perhaps the most obscure in terms of its origin.   The quotes below shed some light on that...

   The following contrasts Gurdjieff and what Tobias Churton might call a 'hard core' Gnostic view on balancing temporal morality and spiritual conscience... from On the Gnostic World View.   Gurdjieff didn't teach 'subjective' morality as he saw it as changing from culture to culture, but he did teach 'objective' morality or 'conscience', because it is innate to all individuals and thus universal.   Gurdjieff did have his own 'subjective' morality based on his upbringing and other sources but he didn't 'moralize' people because he knew better than to do that... but... he didn't have a problem with using 'rules' to achieve his 'aim', as he saw them as a tool for developing 'responsible individuals'.

 "If the words “ethics” or “morality” are taken to mean a system of rules, then Gnosticism is opposed to them both. Such systems usually originate with the Demiurge and are covertly designed to serve his purposes. If, on the other hand, morality is said to consist of an inner integrity arising from the illumination of the indwelling spark, then the Gnostic will embrace this spiritually informed existential ethic as ideal."

 "To the Gnostic, commandments and rules are not salvific; they are not substantially conducive to salvation. Rules of conduct may serve numerous ends, including the structuring of an ordered and peaceful society, and the maintenance of harmonious relations within social groups. Rules, however, are not relevant to salvation; that is brought about only by Gnosis. Morality therefore needs to be viewed primarily in temporal and secular terms; it is ever subject to changes and modifications in accordance with the spiritual development of the individual."

  Further on it states...
 "Gnosticism embraces numerous general attitudes toward life: it encourages non-attachment and non-conformity to the world, a “being in the world, but not of the world”; a lack of egotism; and a respect for the freedom and dignity of other beings. Nonetheless, it appertains to the intuition and wisdom of every individual “Gnostic” to distill from these principles individual guidelines for their personal application."

 In the end both 'subjective' morality and 'objective' morality or 'conscience' work together and are important, in this life and beyond... one for the sake of ones own 'personal destiny' (in this life and beyond) and by extension, the destiny of others... and one for the sake of the individual... and by extension 'other' individuals.   Thus neither 'operate' in a vacuum. 

   But... one can get hung up on the horns of dilemma... one 'knows better' than that.  Thus one works well in an 'Age of Reason'... but one operates well... no matter what the 'season'.

 One is a necessary adhering to an 'others' rules for the sake of ones 'self' and 'others'... the other is ones 'rules'.   One is borrowed... one is ones own.   Thus one is an aide and a precursor to the other... but one is not the other.  

 Learning to adhere to another's rules, at the proper time, has its place... particularly when it comes to becoming an adult, by putting the 'self' in its 'proper place'.  But internalizing ones own rules is operating on another level altogether and that can only come from impersonal awareness that is informed by intuition.

 Gurdjieff used 'rules' as a tool for exposing the 'personal' willfulness of the seeker so that they could 'see' it for what it is... which helped them to 'sacrifice' it... thus building their individual will in the process. Thus they were a 'favor' to the individual.

  So 'persons' need rules (at times) in order to put them in their proper place.  Individuals are a 'law unto themselves'... as they know how to 'rule' themselves in such a way that they are 'Self' regulating... thus they are not necessarily in need of outer rules... but they are not disrespectful of them either... in their 'proper place'... as they understand their 'proper place' in the bigger scheme of 'things'... such as we are.

 So it would appear that Gurdjieff had the "conscience" of a Gnostic... but he understood rules as a teaching tool.   IE: rules are 'salvific' in helping to 'save' the individual from their 'Ouspensky'... as in 'saving' the 'Self'... from ones 'self'.

 So Gurdjieff was, 'essentially', a Gnostic because he was a 'law' unto his 'Self'... but... he wasn't 'just' a 'Gnostic'.

You can only 'spot' Gurdjieff by what he didn't 'do'... IE he didn't just react from the 'General (karmic) Laws' of 'persons'.


  A curious footnote to Gurdjieff's Gnostic connection comes from Gurdjieff and the Gnostic Gospel of Judas  by Ralph Metzner...

 "In 2006, there appeared the first English translation of a Gnostic text known as the Gospel of Judas, that had been lost for 1600 years, and was discovered in the 1970s in a cave in Egypt. It was traded and moved across through continents and suffered major damage that reduced it to fragments. This fragmented text was finally translated by scholars, from the Coptic into English, in 2001. The appearance of the text, and an article about it in the National Geographic magazine, caused a sensation, because it turned the traditional Christian conception of Judas as the prototypal traitor, on its head. In this version of the story, Judas is portrayed as one of Jesus’s closest disciples and friends, who carries out the so-called betrayal at the request of Jesus, and is rewarded by being given some secret, very high teachings that the other disciples did not get.

 Students and readers of Gurdjieff’s All and Everything no doubt recalled, as I did, that Gurdjieff had himself declared a very similar perspective on the story of Judas, calling him “not only the most faithful and devoted of all the near followers of Jesus Christ, but also, only thanks to his Reason and presence of mind, all the acts of this Sacred Individual (Jesus) could form that result…which was, during twenty centuries the source of nourishment and inspiration for the majority of them in their desolate existence and made it at least a little endurable.” (p. 740). Since Gurdjieff wrote his book in the 1940s, long before this Gospel of Judas, or any other of the by now extensive Gnostic texts had been re-discovered, this synchronicity confirms the notion that Gurdjieff was aware of and could draw on secret initiatory teachings and revelations that had not seen the light of day in almost two millennia."   


'Self'-ishness vs willfulness

Being 'Self'-ish is not the same as being 'self'-ish.

'Self'-ishness is operating for the sake of ones 'Self'... and 'others'... simultaneously.

Willfulness is operating for the sake of ones 'self'... and the hell with 'others'.

Big Difference.

'Machines' are willful because they 'know not what they 'do'.

The 'person' (our Ouspensky) is bound by willfulness... individuals are 'free' to 'do their dharma'.

Being 'Self'-ish is knowing that what's good for the 'Self' is, by default, good for 'others' because anytime you act for your highest good... it's for the highest good of 'all' involved.

Rules are a 'favor' to the individual (in their proper place) because consciously sacrificing willfulness is an act of will that transfers power from the willful 'person' (our Ouspensky) to the 'impersonal individual'.  Why?  Because they intuitively understand it serves their highest 'good' now.. as well as the highest good of 'others'.

Thus they learn to become 'responsible'... as in 'Self' regulating.

Gurdjieff was not afraid to be 'Self'-ish as 'machines' can be willful in the extreme... at the expense of 'all' involved.   Thus Gurdjieff did not come across as either 'stupid'... or a 'saint'.

(his words)

Sacrificing willfulness is a path to becoming an 'adult'.   Gurdjieff was the ultimate 'adult' in the room.



Buddhism can't be 'constructed' as in piling one concept on top of another until we come to a 'conclusion'.  It can only 'dawn' on the individual as the result of a 'deconstruction' of fundamental assumptions.  

So Buddhism is not a construction site... it's more of a 'hole' in the foundation.

The 'hole' in the foundation in Buddhism is where the 'personal' me (our 'Ouspensky') used to go.


Deconstructing Gurdjieff

If this page is helpful to individuals who are interested in the connection between Gurdjieff, Gnostics, Buddhism and Vedic thought systems it is because it 'takes' what's 'common' to all of them... which is what all of them have in 'common' from the standpoint of impersonal awareness (balanced with personality)... and 'leaves' (deconstructs) the rest... IE: that which is unique to all of them... or that which could potentially create unnecessary mental conflicts or 'barriers' in the mind to 'understanding'.  

So when you 'deconstruct' all that is around each of them and just 'leave' the rest... that which they have in common from the standpoint of impersonal awareness, then you are 'down' to the 'essentials'... as in the 'essential Gurdjieff'.

When Gurdjieff 'dawns' on you... as in his impersonal being or 'essence', there's no more need to turn him into a 'construction site'... because you 'understand' him now.

IE: Deconstructing Gurdjieff (the 'Essential' Gurdjieff) from his ideas is just... 'taking what you like and leaving the rest'.


NOTE: When you are letting go of (deconstructing) 'false ideas' (assumptions) about yourself... original (proper) mind will be staring you right in the 'face'.

 Gurdjieff was all about the 'way'... and all about 'doing something'. 

'Original mind'... (intuitively informed impersonal awareness) is the 'road' and the road is the 'way'... the 'way' that shows us the way to 'do' something... consciously...  IE: intentionally.

  When you are intentionally 'doing' something for your highest good, as well as the highest good of 'others'... you have the 'tao' right where you want it.

'Original mind' (intuitively informed impersonal awareness) is what Gurdjieff referred to as 'the Master'... as in the 'adult in the room'... which 'knows better'.  

You 'follow the Master'... with inner attention.


Authors NOTE 7-13-17

Being Responsible   (IE: 'Self' regulating)

In Gurdjieff's view the world is not divided between 'left or right' and 'this or that' but between those that are 'responsible'... and those that are 'not responsible'. 

Being 'responsible' is being responsible for ones inner life... which makes it simpler to mind your own business. Thus the individual is no longer unconsciously mind projecting their inner turmoil onto 'others'.

Those who are 'not responsible' are not paying 'proper inner attention' and thus liable to mechanically and unconsciously do anything and project anything onto others... thereby creating chaos in the world.  Thus they bear keeping a watchful eye on... but... without projecting blame onto them... because they are 'not responsible'... but merely mechanically 'reacting' to outer forces and influences... some very far away.

This 'watchful' but 'un-foolish' view from 'understanding' (or bare attention) is the actual view of detached compassion and discernment as the individual 'understands' what's going on in the world without 'beating it up' in their minds.

Thus the individual is no longer 'considering' them (others)... but... they are more likely to be considerate of them as they 'understand' them now... (because they're no longer taking them personally).   Thus the term... 'they know not what they do' takes on a literal and even practical meaning.

Those that adopt such a view find themselves 'waking up'... at which point everything starts to make sense.

There are 2 levels of awakening... mental and spiritual.   Mental awakening is a function of our view of our 'self' and the world.  Spiritual awakening is the view from the individual operating on multiple levels simultaneously... where awareness is aware of its 'Self'... distinct from consciousness.  Gurdjieff - at his 'best' (IMHO) was primarily operating from either one or the other - or both, simultaneously. 

 Enigmatic is a word used by those that only understand contradictions.  Thus Gurdjieff was an 'enigma' to those who didn't 'understand' him... and and a 'paradox' to those that did.

The correct view of the world is important to the individual because anything less than that and the mind begins to rebel... with the 'usual consequences'.  But with the correct view, the mind becomes an ally instead of an adversary.   Thus it becomes 'useful' to the individual who is then free'd up to 'do their dharma'.


Authors NOTE 11/29/17

When does tao become the way? 

So when does primordial awareness or 'tao' become the 'way'.  When it's intuitively informed.

When you're informed by the 'tao'... you're on your 'way'.

Thus the 'tao'... is a paradox.

Thus the 'tao' is no longer an enigma... its 'understandable'.

Gurdjieff was all about 'doing something'... consciously... intentionally.

Tao is the way of doing something... consciously... intentionally... in plain sight.

The taoists are 'the masters' of doing something in plain sight so as to not attract the attention of those that do not 'understand'.

Gurdjieff was all about 'doing something'... consciously... intentionally... in plain sight of the 'general public'.

If there be such a thing as the tao of Gurdjieff then it was on full display when he and his followers made their 'inconspicuous' escape from the matrix of insanity that was the revolution and civil war in Russia circa 1917.

In 'The Matrix'... the 'Machines', or 'Mara's daughters', are portrayed... as 'Agents'.

IE: those that do not 'understand'.

 If you are looking for a spiritual analog of 'The Matrix'... then the Gurdjieff (and Ouspensky) in 'In Search of the Miraculous' is a good place to start... because it was Ouspensky who was 'the One' who delivered his message... in the end.

The 'Matrix' of mind projections... is the 'Matrix' we're in.

Inconspicuous 'doing in plain sight' is what Gurdjieff might refer to as...  'the way of the sly man'.

 Thus the 'taoist'... is 'nobody's fool'.


Authors Note 11/8/17

The three levels of 'doing'

There are actually 3 levels of 'doing'.  

!) The 'person' as 'doer' - where the individual that is primarily identified as a separate 'person' is convinced they are doing when in fact they are unconsciously and mechanically reacting to outside forces and influences.

2) The individual is 'doing' - where the individual is capable of conscious (intelligent) choices - thus they are intuitively informed and consciously responding to outside stimulus... IE: 'intelligently'.

3) Doing gets 'done' (or 'non-doing') - there are 3 versions of this view... one is that 'doing gets done' yet one is not necessarily the 'doer' thereof (IE: the witness) - one where 'doing gets done' and it all appears to occur within ones 'Self' (IE: the view from the extended 'all-seeing eye' of non-local awareness) and one where 'doing gets done' and it all is somehow ones 'Self' doing.

One is asleep... one is awake... and one is either an aspect of an enlightened perspective or the non-dual view from the enlightened Jnani.
Thus one is 'willful'... one has 'free will'... one is a 'surrendered free agent'.

Gurdjieff was primarily concerned with the transition between the first two... as in 'first things first'... because one has to learn to 'walk' before one can 'run'... and... it's also where most of the work gets 'done'... thus it's the 'hard part'.   The second two levels are more about effort or effortless 'efforting'.  Thus there are three major levels of perception of... or experience of... the manifestations of original awareness... or 'tao' ... behind all that is.


Authors NOTE: 12-26-17

General (karmic) Laws vs karma

Gurdjieff may have been no ordinary 'person' but he was human and he had his karma too... just like the rest of us... no different.  Thus he suffered from all the usual limitations that come with it.  He 'worked' too... but not generally in an unconscious way.

Big difference.

 And... because he was human he was not a myth but a man... a man with karmic setbacks and challenges.  Thus to de-mythologize Gurdjieff is to humanize him which is not a bad thing but a good thing as we can all relate to another human being who struggles and has his awareness as well.   And if we never relate to Gurdjieff we will never come to appreciate him.  IE: as long as he's just a myth... we'll mythologize the myth instead of... 'understanding' him... as in when you can 'understand' his struggles as well as his awareness.

Karmic Laws are the laws of cause and effect.  Something happens to a 'person' (our Ouspensky) and there is an expected, even predictable, 'personal' reaction or effect.  The impersonal individual subverts the laws of cause and effect by not reacting with the predictable 'effect'... but with a conscious impersonal response... IE: an 'intelligent' response.  Thus they are 'operating' outside the laws of cause and 'effect'.

IE: outside the General (karmic) laws of 'persons'.

Thus the individual is unpredictable from the standpoint of 'persons' who expect them to react in certain ways.  That's an advantage in life... one of the few.  So it pays to take advantage of it.

If Gurdjieff was anything... he was unpredictable.

Thus 'operating' outside the general (karmic) laws of 'persons' does not make one free of karma.  It means the individual is reducing the effects of karma by minimizing self-inflicted reactionary karma, thus they're reducing the need for future karma by seamlessly moving through it with fewer, or even no negative side effects... thus they put it behind them more quickly rather than just unconsciously extending it by adding to the mountain - the burden - of their 'personal' story.  So instead of 'digging the hole deeper' from inside the hole the individual is standing on top filling in the hole.  Subverting the laws of cause and effect, as opposed to adding to it, could be said to be how the 'sly man' operates.

Creating unnecessary self-perpetuating (endless) karma is hard work... seamlessly moving through it is a rewarding 'effort'... with the 'end' in sight.   

 That's why you can only 'spot' Gurdjieff by what he didn't 'do'... IE he didn't just react from the 'General (karmic) Laws' of 'persons'.

Working off karma through conscious (Intentional) suffering

Gurdjieff's 'conscious (intentional) suffering' was an example of an impersonal approach to intentionally working off karma... his way of putting it into his own words.  Spiritual practice is conscious, intentional suffering... as in 'you can pay me now or pay me later' or 'no pain no gain'.  Every time a meditator meditates or a hatha yogi gets down on their mat, day after day, they make a conscious (intentional) choice to 'suffer' now rather than 'suffer' later.   They can do that because they are consciously by-passing their 'personal' willfulness and exercising the will of the impersonal individual.   Thus they are intentionally 'suffering' up front to forego even greater suffering later by putting the potential for 'self inflicted' reactionary karma in its proper place.

Same idea... just Gurdjieff's own way of putting it.   In the taoist martial arts world of Bruce Frantzis they call it... 'eating bitter'.

In the case of the savvy individual though, they see that it's only their Ouspensky that is 'suffering' because its being deprived of attention.  Thus its a false complaint.  Thus intentional 'suffering' eventually leads to enthusiastic voluntary (conscious) practice... for the sake of the individual.


For individuals in the 21st century, learning to turn insurmountable problems into 'workable' situations will make all the difference... in the world.


NOTE: If you don't believe that cognitive dissonance is a communication tool, try contemplating the message behind the words... 'Apple Computer'.   The term 'Apple Computer'... is a koan.  'Apple' is known... for 'operating' on intuitive insights... which attracted individuals who were intuitively 'savvy'.

Changing the name from 'Apple Computer' to 'Apple'... was a 'mistake'.


Authors NOTE 12-26-17

The Case for Gurdjieff in Tibet

"If he were to think the he was asleep he would wake up"  (from Ouspensky's 'In Search of the Miraculous')

He (Gurdjieff) also said one had to take the fact of sleep literally.   It has long been a spiritual practice, among the Bon and Buddhist traditions in Tibet, to practice waking up from the dream of ordinary life (in the midst of ordinary life) and is given as the four preliminary practices in the book... The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep

One doesn't need to be a lucid dreamer to practice these preliminary reminders... only the willingness to practice them is required.  The rest should be immediately obvious.

Practicing waking up in this manner is not about just saying 'its all a dream so I can do anything I want'.   That's a mistake... it's willfulness coming back in through the side door.  It's about letting go of personal attachments to the dream character so that the individual can operate from a higher level... a more impersonal, yet understanding level.

IE: its about a mental awakening.

The technique is to make the same mental shift that you make when you realize you are dreaming in a sleeping dream that you don't like and then you choose - you make the conscious choice - to wake up. Same choice... same mental shift applies in the waking dream.   It works exactly the same.

What you'll notice immediately is two things... that personal attachments dissolve because the attachment to the 'person' (the dream character) we were dreaming our selves to be (our Ouspensky) dissolves.   Thus you don't take things so 'personally'.  You're more detached.

What the book is not as clear on (and where Gurdjieff is) is the next logical step and that is to then see that 'others' are still dreaming their individual part of the collective karmic dream.  Thus you're no longer 'fooled' by them... because you see that they are dreaming... thus you 'see through' them.  Thus there are two dreams going on - the individual-collective dream as well as the Big dream (or the dream of the 'Rich Magician' as Gurdjieff calls him: IE Brahma).   Thus Brahma may have initiated it but as individuals we 'maintain' it.  In this case though we're not interested in the Big dream... only in our individual dream of the dream character... our 'Ouspensky'.   Thus we dream a dream character at night... and a dream character during the day... the process doesn't change from day to night... only our perception of it changes.  Thus in this case the practice applies only to the dream character and not the Big cream.

Once you 'see' that 'others' are still dreaming their individual part of the collective karmic dream (IE: their dream character or 'Ouspensky') then internal considering of the 'personal' opinions of 'others' begins to dissolve and external considering - IE understanding and true compassion for them arises... spontaneously. 

Thus there are three main symptoms that the practice is working correctly...

1) personal attachment to the 'person' and the 'personal' dissolves... thus you're subverting the General (karmic) laws of 'persons' by taking things less 'personally' and responding more to life... instead of unconsciously reacting to it.

2) spontaneous understanding and compassion for 'others' who are still dreaming arises... you 'understand' them now... as well as your 'Self'.   Thus the practice should 'flip' considering' from 'internal' to 'external' considering... in our minds.

3) common sense still prevails... you respect the Big dream and the other dream characters... but with a sense of joyful dharma or purpose. 

IE: you lighten up.

You might even experience moments (or even days) of un-caused happiness which can even be a bit hard to contain at times.

Choices (including the choice to practice mental awakening) are empowering.  It's empowering in an impersonal manner... not an inflation of the person or the personal.  So its just possible that Gurdjieff picked up this practice himself when he was in Tibet... and passed down his version of it to the west.

According to the Bon people all experience - mental or phenomenal - is dream... there is nothing outside our true nature that is not dream.  When seen from that point of view, then what happens to the individual is not seen as their life as their life is in their primordial being or awareness... and the rest is a dream of karma that is not them... but something that just needs to be experienced on the path to liberation.

This primordial awareness from which all arises is what they call rigpa... or primordial (original) mind.    The taoists call it 'tao'.

According to Gurdjieff, all initiation is 'self initiation'.  This practice is a classic example of that.   Thus the individual starts to become 'responsible' for their own awakening.

The real reason we sleep

We sleep at night for many reasons but the primary reason is to keep us asleep... to cement in our sleep by keeping us off balance through having to continually (and unconsciously) react to the inconsistency of our experience... we're constantly changing identities from one dream character to another and are, as such, constantly 'off balance'.   Thus we never have time to adjust.  Most seekers have had days when they were awake all day and everything was perfectly clear and obvious... and then they went to sleep and 'forgot' it all.  They went back to sleep.  

That's the real power of what the Bon people call samsaric dreaming.  It keeps us asleep.  But there are other levels of dreaming that they speak of... thus the individual can rise above samsaric dreaming... to more conscious dreams which come with greater awareness... at night and as well as the day.   Thus what once was a setback is turned into a chance to practice... to 'turn the tables' on the dream.

The Bon people see no inconsistency in the dreams at night and the dreams of waking... thus their view of the world is consistent.  It's this consistent view of the world that allows the mind to get a grip on the world rather than continuously being thrown off guard by it.

That's the power of a practice that is consistent, not just in its application but in its view... it makes consistent sense through its top to bottom view of the world... thus it gives a way to consistently respond to the world instead of continually reacting to it.   

Thus it's an advantage for the practitioner... a way to get ahead of the dream... and not be 'fooled' by it.   If the world were truly ideal (and truly working in our favor)  there would be no such thing as 'sleep'... only rest.


Authors NOTE: 1-4-18

Possible origins of considering

NOTE: One could even make the case that the most likely way that Gurdjieff could have come up with his unique insight on considering is if he had repeatedly practiced the reminders mentioned above (or some practice like it) and observed its results continuously and repeatedly over a period of time.


Authors NOTE 12-15-17

The Case for Gurdjieff in China

If Gurdjieff himself said that he got the basis for his system from an ancient tradition, but not from India, then there is a good case to be made that a significant part of it he found in China as their traditions are truly ancient and align in several key ways with what he says.  

For one, his '3 brained beings' are in alignment with the 3 tantiens (or dantiens) or 'centers' of mind in Traditional Chinese Medicine (head, heart and gut).  TCM is taoist medicine... it came from the original taoists... perhaps even the original taoist.   Thus his 'centers' have a familiar ring to them.  Also in taoism they speak of 'making a soul'... as what we take to be a solid personality is actually seen as a collection of parts that will be discarded for another set of parts in the next lifetime... unless... one makes a soul... otherwise known as the 'seventh body of individuality'... that is capable of surviving death, as Gurdjieff would say.   Thus this seventh body of individuality allows one to reincarnate 'intact' - as in to truly reincarnate - as opposed to starting all over again with a new set of 'parts' IE a new personality or personal identity.   Thus Gurdjieff's view that we would not truly reincarnate unless we 'make a soul' does have it's precedence... in China.

Thus in taoism only the individual can truly reincarnate and thus build on what they have (Buddhism refers to these individuals as Bodhisattva's) as opposed to being recreated anew and starting over from scratch.  A very tedious and time consuming project to say the least... and perhaps even 'foolish'... unless one 'knows better'.  The immortal and ever-present Self is there the whole time but it doesn't appear to have a say in the matter... unless one realizes it or works for it.  The taoists call this being 'one with the tao' IE: identified with it - as in primordial awareness itself.   Being aware of awareness itself is what they call 'Heart Mind'.

One is awareness of awareness... one is identification with it.   One is awake... one is 'realized'.

According to Tobias Churton, Gurdjieff himself say's he was studying in a Chinese Monastery.  So one doesn't have to look far to connect the dots.  Thus there was the Gnostic Gurdjieff... the Buddhist Gurdjieff... the Vedic Gurdjieff... the esoteric Christian Gurdjieff and the tao of Gurdjieff.  He was all of those and more. 

A no-nonsense view of taoism can be found in the epic life of Bruce Frantzis and his legendary teachers in China, including his final teacher, the immortal Liu Hung Chieh... much of which can be found in his book on... The Internal Martial Arts


For more on how this all relates to the 'impersonal' ego - as opposed to the 'personalized' ego as well as the difference between 'personal' opinions and 'impersonal' opinions (IE the opinions of the individual) see 'The 12 Clarifications' near the top of this blogs... Home Page


"They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
and I the hymn the Brahmin sings."

                                                                                From Emerson's "Brahma"

The ancients, like the Gnostics, Vedics etc., would agree with Gurdjieff that on an unconscious personal level everything was 'just happening'... and as such, even predictable.   In the case of the Gnostic Christians, it was a major 'complaint'.   They would also agree that the way 'out' was to learn to operate on multiple levels simultaneously - IE: raising impersonal awareness, which is 'outside' of that which 'just happens'... thus giving the individual 'conscious input' as to how their future unfolds... in this life and beyond.  For more on how everything is, on an unconscious personal level, electro (mechanically) 'just happening' as well as 'that' which is 'outside' of all that see this authors 2011 article on... Where is Time?

That article and its view of the brain, as well as Gurdjieff's view of 'free will'  (and how everything is 'just happening') was validated recently by Deepak Chopra and a recently revived scientific theory of how the brain interacts with the 'mind at large' in a July 14, 2017 television episode, linked here and titled... The Akashic Record

In addition the view of technology described in that episode validates the view described in this blogs Home Page section called 'On Technology' in the Footnotes near the bottom of the page.   See this blogs... Home Page

It's just another example of how the longer Gurdjieff is around, the more his views are validated by recent discoveries.


NOTE: Objective Art (as opposed to Subjective Art) is one way to 'do something inconspicuously in plain sight' for the sake of ones 'Self' and 'others' - see... Objective Art and Society


The Chinese say that one should never stop learning till you leave this world... and then you get a real education.

May we all be so fortunate.


Robert McCoy is a yoga practitioner who spent several decades in technology... primarily as an integrated circuit layout designer for Intel, working on microprocessors, including their first 64 bit chip (otherwise known as the Merced Project) as well as the original chip behind Google's Web TV.

See also this authors article on spirituality and Tesla titled... Who Needs the Higgs

as well as the authors article about A Yoga in Space