The Gurdjieff Teaching in Practice
Methods are needed to reach for deeper self-knowledge and new possibilities, without adding to the imprisonment by excessive emphasis on any one method.
One of those methods is self-observation in the course of daily life. Self-observation is a quiet, invisible movement toward oneself that reveals, over time, why and how and what one does -- and, above all, who is the doer. The result of self-observation is not just intellectual information; it is the beginning of a way that can lead far.
Kenneth Walker recalls in one of his books an image from P. D. Ouspensky, a student of Gurdjieff:
"A parable is used in ancient teaching which illustrates very clearly the various stages in a man's evolution. It is the parable of the house that is being prepared by the servants for the arrival of the absent master. The house is in a state of chaos and instead of the cook being in the kitchen, she is in the garden, the gardener works in the kitchen, the groom in the pantry, and everybody is in the wrong place. Whenever a caller rings the front door bell a different servant opens the door and in answer to inquiries, declares he is the master of the house."
When we discover this chaotic condition, how do we proceed? How can we move toward real change when we so quickly fall asleep again and forget the whole affair? Gurdjieff said,
"One man can do nothing. Before anything else, he needs help. ... One man can easily deceive himself about his awakening and take for awakening simply a new dream. If several people decide to struggle together against sleep, they will wake each other. It may often happen that twenty of them will sleep but the twenty-first will be awake, and he will wake up the rest."