Preparation for The Third Line of Work

Threading the Needle Between Wiseacring and the Law of Hazard

Stephen Aronson

“Any prayer may be heard by the Higher Powers and a corresponding answer

obtained only if it is uttered thrice”

Active, Passive, Reconciling

The Higher blends with the Lower to actualize the Middle

Work on Oneself, Work with Others, Work for the Work



The Question


At the beginning of this new century, as the last of Gurdjieff’s direct pupils pass away, we, the grandchildren of that initiating force, are left with the ongoing responsibility to repay the debt of our awakening, opened for us by his labors. Our responsibility to keep alive The Work, echoes The Fourth Striving: “the striving from the beginning of their existence to pay for their arising and their individuality as quickly as possible, in order afterwards to be free to lighten as much as possible the Sorrow of our COMMON FATHER.” [ 386] What can this mean, “to pay” for our “arising” and “lighten” the “sorrow” of Endlessness? Perhaps when this becomes a burning question, we are approaching the stage of digestion Gurdjieff refers to as “fathom the gist”, or in the formulation of lines of Work as, “To Work for the Work.” It has long seemed to this author that the third line of Work referred, primarily, to transmission. In exploring the subject for this paper, new questions have risen as to the completeness of this assumption. This paper represents the author’s pondering of this question through Work literature, primarily by exploration of characters and events in G. I. Gurdjieff’s, All and Everything, within a framework of the Law of Three. As such, it is an offering of inner work brought forward for the sharing of impressions.


There is a mysterious quality to this phrase, ‘Work for the Work’. The words on, with and for have each a different taste. Thus, Work on Oneself implies a change in relationship by looking down from a level above, at what was previously known as ‘oneself’. Work with Others suggests feeling and manifesting equality of relationship with neighbor, family, and other life forms. Work for the Work has the sense of a willing submission to something higher than the level of oneself. What is a willing submission to serve something above one’s level? With what are we to form a relationship of service?


Gurdjieff tells us that all and everything in the Universe is created by the eternally fluctuating relationship between three forces. What three categories of factors might be helpful with this question of lines of Work? To ‘Work’, whether ‘on’, ‘with’ or ‘for’, requires interaction between initiated effort or action, within an environment or field, dependent on understanding relationship between aim, action and field. Perhaps in exploring the relationship between action, field and understanding, we can come closer to the Third Line.


First Force: Action


In the arena of initiated efforts, the Gurdjieff’s system provides new ideas about the structure of our psychology and its relationship to what ‘it’ experiences as the world outside itself. This is accompanied by specific suggestions about how to look at things differently through the lens of practical methods designed to test the veracity of the new ideas offered as an alternate view of reality. Self-verification is foundation for the method to avoid fantasy, wishful thinking and corrupted ‘faith’ in doctrinal ‘truth’.


We are made aware of the possibility of self-observation, sensing, divided attention, Self-Remembering, conscious labor and intentional suffering, as efforts designed to shine light upon, and restructure, our conditioned inner patterning. We are given directions regarding negativity, identification and considering in preparation for the fulfillment of five encompassing strivings. Efforts at directed attention are to be in multiple fields simultaneously. Efficacy is dependent on timing and appropriateness, each attempt informed and infused by the level of understanding behind its application in the moment. In this sense, we might say the Work is educating our ‘Will’. Will initiates through the direction of The Work and serves something other than ordinary desire for comfort or self-satisfaction.


Second Force: The Field


All this observing, sensing and experimenting is directed into a field of potential action, a something, which must serve as a medium in which the effect can manifest. The quality of the result is a function of understanding and aim behind the initiative, in relationship to the receptiveness of the field. In ordinary life, we assume the field lies within our direct control, if our initiative is correctly chosen and implemented, and if we have sufficient ‘will power’. Much of human suffering can be understood as the frustration encountered when the reality of the moment does not conform to expectation. It seems as if someone or something must be to blame. If we are to avoid bringing the patterns of ordinary life with us into the Work, we must find an understanding of, and appropriate attitude towards, the field into which we cast our seeds of effort.


The question of Second Force and the formation of appropriate attitude towards it, is addressed early and consistently in Beelzebub’s Tales. In The Arousing of Thought, we meet the Transcaucasian Kurd, the Russian merchant and the Karapet of Tiflis, all of whom display different attitudes towards things not turning out as expected: mechanical perseverance in eating the hot pepper since it had been purchased; emotional acceptance to ‘go whole hog including the postage’ rather than be set back by minor additions in the price to be paid for a book; and immunization from the negativity of others by inwardly cursing them in advance. The Tales themselves are being told to Hassein, and us, at this time due to the appearance of the comet, ‘Madcap’, unexpectedly crossing the path of the trans-space ship, Karnak, and trailing in its wake, Zilnotrago, “a special gas which on entering the planetary body of a being disorganizes most of its functions until all the Zilnotrago is volatilized out of it” [56] . Faced with options to take unnecessary risk or delay, Beelzebub chooses to wait. Hassien quotes Beelzebub to Ahoon as saying, “we must not oppose forces higher than our own … but even submit and receive all their results with reverence, at the same time praising and glorifying the wonderful and providential works of Our Lord Creator”. [59-60]


We will lawfully encounter obstacles in our path as we move through life. More importantly, we may also unnecessarily create resistance through inappropriate initiation without sufficient understanding. In Why Beelzebub was in Our Solar System, we learn that, Beelzebub, “owing to (his) as yet unformed Reason… and … impetuous mentation …interfered in what was none of his business” and due to “the impetuosity and force of Beelzebub’s nature, his intervention together with his comrades then soon captured all minds”. The result was that His Endlessness “was constrained to banish Beelzebub with his comrades … a number of those who merely sympathized with him, and also the attendants and subordinates both of Beelzebub and his comrades”. [52-53] Presumptuousness, impatience, impulsive gestures, a ‘don’t just stand there do something’ attitude, or intellectualized decisions, without consideration of the complexity of systems and the reasons behind patterns, expose us, and others, to unintended and often messy consequences. Manifestation bears responsibility, both for those open to our influence, as well as innocents connected only by accident or circumstance. We do not affect ourselves alone.


In the First Descent of Beelezebub upon the Planet Earth, the young kinsman interferes in the administration of King Appolis, in a manner seemingly identical to that of the youthful error committed by Beelzebub. This is particularly interesting since the young kinsman would have been among the comrades involved in the near revolution and was among those exiled with Beelzebub for his behavior. How could he repeat the same mistake that got all of them exiled in the first place? Apparently, we tend not to learn from the mistakes of others and, even then, accepting the reality of our limitations may take more than one lesson.


In the Second Descent on to the Planet Earth, Beelzebub tries to end animal sacrifice by showing Abdil the unvarnished, logical absurdity of the practice. Abdil, preaching this logical truth, without understanding the resistance it would generate from the professional priest caste, ends up murdered and dismembered. In The Fifth Flight to the Earth, Hamilinodir, becomes horrified to realize that Reason, by itself, can not help him find the Truth of spiritual questions. An early lesson in relating to Second Force seems to be the limitation of intellect and Reason alone.


However, the mystery of this is much deeper. It is demonstrated from the outset that the unexpected must be expected even at the highest levels. Angels and Archangels make errors with cosmic implications. The timing of the comet, which splits earth into three parts, was miscalculated. The continuation, of the consequences, of the organ Kundabuffer, after its removal, were not expected. Repeatedly, man is referred to as poor unfortunates, who through no fault of their own have become unbecoming. It is clear that the terror of the situation in which we find ourselves is not always of our doing, yet it is our responsibility to work within the situation as we find it, because that is reality and, perhaps, even the Law.


Why are we in this situation? Where is the justice in being left with responsibility for correcting error, whether personally culpable or not, constrained by a conditioned upside-down, inside-out view of reality, with only enigmatic, often hard to find, paths of escape? Why such a state of exile from the proximity to the Truth? Why are we in a situation so subject to the Law of Accident? We might as profitably ask, why are we in the Solar System Ors? In gracefully accepting exile to a situation “unsuited to him, together with the perceptions unusual for his nature and the experiences not proper to his essence…” [51-52] , Beelzebub demonstrates that one can accept the reality of resistance while being flexible within a range of available options.


There seems to be something lawful about finding oneself with responsibility, subject to random variables, and no clear understanding about how to proceed or guarantee of success. J.G. Bennett observes that “exploring does not mean that one knows where one is going, it means looking for what one has not yet found.” [Deeper Man, p. 12] He addresses the question by framing The Law of Hazard. This term is favored in this paper as it seems to combine Gurdjieff’s Law of Accident and Law of Fate as well as his observation that every stick has two ends. It recognizes that unexpected consequences may be fortuitous, neutral, or negative. In this way of describing the law, Bennett says everything must have some ‘holes’ within itself. Without ‘holes’, there would be no place to move. The more ‘holes’ there are, the more freedom of movement, the more possibilities for something new to appear, but also, the likelihood that what appears may lead to unintended consequences. Thus, it seems lawful that we cannot be certain how to best manifest from moment to moment, yet the demand remains. Life continues to come at us. We cannot, not, respond. To stand still and quiet is still a response. The risk of loss is always the other side of the risk of gain. As Bennett puts it; “All opening is a hazard. You arrive at a crossroad. If you can see which way, if it is clearly labeled, that the road on the left is the one that leads to your destination, then choosing that way is not an opportunity. If the way is not labeled at this crossroad – and in life our ways are not labeled – then when we come to the crossroad, there is an uncertainty and a suspense and, with that, an opportunity. How to recognize it? This is really the art of living.” [Hazard, back jacket]


Third Force: Relationship with the Outside World


Hazard appears a fundamental law underlying the interaction of First and Second Force. In the chapter The Holy Planet “Purgatory”, we are told that Endlessness sensed that the Sun Absolute, the abode of His Being, was imperceptibly, but, none the less, definitely diminishing. Despite being Endlessness, this was something even He had not anticipated and did not initially know how to respond, as He did not yet understand the cause. If The Father Creator can find Himself in this situation, perhaps we can forgive ourselves when we continually experience the same dilemma. What guidance are we given here? First, accept that one does not know. Consciously suffer the distance between the wish to understand and the inability to see the answer. Then, intentionally holding all this together, ponder.


Observation, study, sitting in the Tchai-Kana and taverns of our mind, will provide impressions for association, the seeing of patterns and connections. One then has to become quiet and digest the new material. King Kunuzion, Beelcultasi and Ashiata, all ponder. Even the Creator ponders. Pondering seems to be a divine process. The result of the ponderings of Endlessness results in His recognizing the diminishment of possibilities was due only to the Heropass, the flow of time. Why do I work? What do I notice is diminished, for my own possibilities, with the flow of time? If I don’t labor wisely, certainly my own possibilities will diminish as time carriers away the opportunities.


How did Endlessness solve the problem for Himself? He brought into existence an independent world with which there could be exchange and relationship, so that there would be something that could flow back to replenish His possibilities. This was accomplished by changing the Laws of Three and Seven by altering the “subjective actions” in the stopinders, changing the lengths of the way in, the mdnel-in. One was lengthened, one was shortened and one was dis-harmonized. How could this help? If all is equal, if there is no disharmony, if all flows smoothly without holes of different size, there will be no interference patterns in the flow of vibrations. Nothing unexpected can happen. New possibilities are never conceived, much less born. But, even God cannot predict what will return.


We must also examine the specific word used by Gurdjieff as to what ‘actions’ are to be altered through this change in Law. “Subjective” is defined as “existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought (and) relating to properties or specific conditions of the mind (such as), placing excessive emphasis on one’s own moods; attitudes, opinions; unduly egocentric”. [Webster’s p. 1813] The solution to the corrosion of Time lies in altering our psychology, as Time is “the Ideally-Unique-Subjective-Phenomenon”. [124] We change worlds by making changes in Mind. How is this to be approached?


One of the unexpected, reality-distorting effects of the “abnormal conditions of external ordinary being-existence which they themselves have gradually established”, is what Gurdjieff names their “inner Evil-God, called Self-Calming’, described as “a-complete-absence-of-the-need-for-being-effort-and-for-every-essence-anxiety-of-what-ever-kind-it-may-be” [88, 688, 1222], and the “denying-principle inherent in the common presences of the three-brained beings” [588] .


Such an inherent desire certainly works against finding a useful response to disharmony. [105] Something has to be changed. This change is initially spoken of by Gurdjieff as bringing something to the point of incoming impression or “when man creates a volitional shock at the point do 48” in the digestive process. He calls this the First Conscious Shock. “The effort which creates this ‘shock’ must consist in work on the … transformation and transmutation of the emotions”. [ISM 192] He later mentions a Second Conscious Shock, but does not elaborate.


Self-observation and Self-Remembering might be understood as differentially sensitized digestive processes or, perhaps enzymes, for material entering through the lengthened mi-fa interval. Impartial, directed attention brings impressions from both the world of the outer senses, as well those now perceived in the ‘inner world’ as thoughts, reactions, moods, feelings, and sensations, into the psychological space of that which sees. In this way appears a new relationship with the fields, both outside, and inside, ‘oneself ‘.


How are we to accommodate our aim to the lawfulness of Hazard? Key here appears to be understanding and attitude. We must expect the unexpected and learn to extract energy from the friction, rather than losing it in identification. Recognizing the precariousness of each moment, we might also consider the avoidance of provoking the resistance of others unnecessarily. Beelzebub warns Hassein not to call men ‘slugs’, even at the distance of another star system, as telling people unflattering things about them can get one anathematized. Belcultassi, in seeking others to confirm his observations about his and other psyches, began inquiring among his friends “… how they sensed it all and cognized their past and present perceptions and manifestation … very discreetly, so as not to touch the … impulses inherent in them (of) ‘self-love’(and) ‘pride’ “. [296-297] Gurdjieff states, that “ outrage anybody’s religious feeling is contrary to all morality, so, when existing among them, I always tried to do as they did, in order not to be conspicuous and attract their attention”. [224] This advice should be directed inwards towards our different parts during moments of self-observation, as well as outwards towards the people around us.


The middle path seems not to openly oppose resistance, but rather to go with the existing flow and find a way to use its direction for one’s aim. Konuzion recognized existing, prevailing tendencies of the human psyche to divide things into dualities and to be open to suggestion. Rather than try to oppose this fact, he utilized the direction of its flow for his aim.


Understanding must also include a sense of timing. Beelzebub travels on a ship named “Occasion”. After deciding he wants to go somewhere, he has to wait for the occasion to appear. Later, he is able to utilize the transspace ship ‘Omnipresent’. Wanting to travel to India, Beelzebub must wait for a caravan going in that direction. Later, deciding to go to Tibet, he is able to organize is a caravan of his own at a time of his choosing. In Becoming Aware of Genuine Being Duty, Beelzebub advises a remorseful Hassain, “I repeat once more, my dear boy, try in the meantime not to think about these questions, which at your age it is still early for you to think about. Everything in its proper time!” [78] In the chapter Form and Sequence, Beelzebub explains that long preparation of rich “egoplastikori” (associations) are necessary to later provide material for “being contemplation”, or pondering, and that opinions should be withheld until one can think for oneself and be less susceptible to substituting opinions of others for personal confirmation.


Third Force: Relationship with the Interior World


Gradually coming to a more intelligent relationship with the world of my outside senses requires bringing into focus, in a new way, the psychological world within. The Law of Accident may predominate in the world of mechanical man, but with persistent work, the inner life may begin to fall under the influence of the Law of Fate, because “for a man there is a certain possibility of making a choice of influences; in other words, of passing from one influence to another.” [ISM 25] What are we to look for? Throughout The Tales, relativity of Understanding, Reason and Being, are illustrated.


The Learned are described as those “with a sincerity proceeding from their separate spiritualized parts, (who) strove for High Knowledge only with the aim of self-perfection” [454]


As a representative, Hamolinadir “ … already had his ‘I’ – in respect of rationally directing what is called the ‘automatic-psychic-functioning’ of his common presence – at the maximum stability for three-centered beings of the planet Earth at that time, in consequence of which during what is called his ‘waking-passive-state’ he had very definitely expressed being-manifestations, as for instance, those called ‘self-consciousness’, ‘impartiality’, ‘sincerity’, ‘sensibility of perception’, ‘alertness,’ and so forth.” [333]


Learned-beings-of-new-formation, in distinction, appear in Babylon after being brought, under compulsion, by the Persian king to find the secret of gold. This type of individual does not come seeking for his own self-perfection, but rather to help the power possessing, or themselves, become rich without effort. They wish to be judged wise by others to enhance self-image. They are described as talking from mechanical roles, never personally verifying what they say, getting together with others simply for ‘maleficent mutual inflation” and a sense of power through an inherency of cunning wiseacring. They are “ … ‘learned-by-rote’ as much as possible about every kind of vacuous information, such as old women love to relate about what was presumably said in olden times.” Mullah Nassr Eddin says of them, “ Everybody talks as if our learned know that half a hundred is fifty.” A subset of this type is mentioned as ‘sorry scientists” or “scientists-of-new-formation”. [323-4, 399]


The being of most destructive quality is the Hasnumuss, a term that, “ …designates every already definitized common presence of a three-brained being, both those consisting only of the single planetary body as well as those whose higher being-bodies are already coated in them and in which for some reason data have not been crystallized for the Divine impulse of Objective-Conscience”. [235] The Hasnamuss seeks power to hide his nullity.


Four levels of Hasnumuss have varying degrees of seven qualities or tendencies:


1. Every kind of depravity, conscious as well as unconscious


2. The feeling of self-satisfaction from leading others astray


3. The irresistible inclination to destroy the existence of other breathing creatures


4. The urge to become free from the necessity of actualizing the being- efforts demanded by Nature


5. The attempt by every kind of artificiality to conceal from others what in their opinion are one’s physical defects


6. The calm self-contentment in the use of what is not personally deserved


7. The striving to be not what one is. [406]


Gurdjieff talks of these different qualities of being-motive as manifestating in other “chief particularities of their common psyche” such as “‘egoism’, ‘self-love’, ‘vanity,’ ‘pride’”, but “the most terrible for them personally is that which is called ‘suggestibility”. As a result of the absence of realization of ‘being-Partkdolg-duty, “ (they) now they no longer strive at all to know anything cognizable by their own active deliberations alone” … but depend exclusively only upon what others say about the given question”. Gurdjieff is giving us clear guidelines to examine ourselves, not only others. Using the language of these descriptions, one could put a number of questions before oneself. [104, 107]


Can I truly, sincerely distinguish a striving for High Knowledge, only with aim of self-perfection, from an attraction for “mutual inflation” with my peers? Do I recognize when I am speaking about Work ideas, methods and impressions that I have personally verified from those I have never actually sensed, but imagine to be true? Can I distinguish the parts of me that like the feeling of power that may come with talking about important and mysterious things? Do I enjoy leading and enlightening others so much that I never consider the possibility of leading them astray? Would this represent a degree of the calm self-contentment in the use of what is not personally deserved? How strong is my urge to become free from the necessity of actualizing the being-efforts demanded by Nature? How do I understand the distinction between the first striving, “to have in their ordinary being-existence everything satisfying and really necessary for their planetary body”, from urges to comfort and gratify my body and senses? [ 386] Do I still identify sufficiently with my body so that I attempt at times artificiality to conceal from others what, in my opinion, are my physical defects? Can I still become so identified with a role cherished by self-image that at times I manifest the striving to be not what I am? Am I able to differentiate a striving to be anything, rather than just to Be?


Perhaps many of us would absolve ourselves of characteristics of the learned-of-new-formation and Hasnamussian qualities, but Gurdjieff clearly states that these factors can exist even in individuals whose higher being-bodies are already coated in them. We are all aware of such people who after years of apparently productive teaching, seemed to have gone astray. Assuming responsibility for these qualities in oneself leads to the digestion and transformation of negativity and is prerequisite to the end of sacrificial offerings and war and readiness for the Second Conscious Shock.


In the chapter Beelzebub’s Opinion on War, Gurdjieff introduces the idea of Soolienensius as a cosmic cause of the tension felt as dissatisfaction with one’s life. This feeling will generate energy from the friction of wanting change, or what contemporary men call the “need for freedom”. [624] That energy will either be projected outward, resulting in ‘war’, or, it will waken one to the “Sacred Iabolioonosar, the feeling of religiousness (and) desire (for) striving for speedier self-perfecting in the sense of Objective-Reason. “ [623] When experiencing inner tension, do I self-calm or do I Work? The level of understanding, sincerity and potency of wish determines how one understands the meaning of the discrepancy between what is wished and what actually is. This determines the relationship between action and the medium. Does the problem lie outside or inside? Is the solution outside or inside?


Remorse of Conscience is defined as a sensation that arises when one becomes conscious of “one’s past deeds against one’s own convictions” [959] and, seeing the gulf between what one wishes to be and what one is at the moment, accepts the responsibility to work again to be what one ought to be. The capacity to feel this wish comes from having particles of the suffering of Endlessness within us.


It is difficult to impossible to sustain this state of tension if ego is involved in the effort. After removal, the consequences of the organ Kundabuffer did not disappear as expected, but continued to manifest as what is now called Egoism, leading men always “to strive to arrange their welfare .. exclusively from them themselves”. [383]. As a result, men were easily aroused to righteousness, pride and anger if offended or impeded in gaining whatever they wanted, immediately, and without cost or effort to themselves. Ego cares about the product of its’ effort as it wants or fears its name will be associated with the results. This motivation for effort is not for the welfare of others, or one’s own higher potential, but rather for the continuation of ego’s imagination of itself and it’s inner considering.


Just as with all the great cities, from Samlios, to Gob, from Babylon to Paris, each ego wants be its’ own “ center-of-culture”.


To continually work to separate from this contamination requires a Presence that can distinguish egoic concerns from an objective, sincere wish to pay the debt of my arising and lighten the burden of Endlessness. One must labor consciously, intentionally risking the suffering of unintended consequences. When possible, anonymity of effort, ‘praying in silence’ as the Gospel recommends, is better protection for myself and others than ‘praying in public’. Beelzebub tells Hassien, “No honest being who does not manifest himself absurdly will ever become famous among other beings or even be simply noticed, however good natured and sensible he may be himself.” [224] Ashiata tells us that real leaders do not seek power. Rather, “ …when a being has “worked consciously upon himself in accordance with these five strivings, many of them thanks to this quickly arrived at results of objective attainments perceptible to others. Of course, these objective attainments then, as it is said ‘attracted-the-attention’ of all around them, who thereupon made those who had attained stand out from their midst and paid them every kind of respect; they also strove with joy to merit the attention of these outstanding beings and to have for themselves their counsel and advice how they themselves could attain the same perfecting.” [386]


What are these observable manifestations of “objective attainment”? We are told that “endurance towards others’ manifestations displeasing to oneself could alone crystallize in their common presences that Partkdolg-duty which, in general, is necessary for all three -centered beings”. [243] We are told “Only-He-May-Enter-Here-Who-Puts-Himself-In-The-Position-Of-The-Other-Results-Of-My-Labors” [1164] We are told that our labors must be conscious and that a conscious “man is a being who can do and to do means to act consciously and by one’s own initiative”. [1202] We are told that we must be intentional about our suffering …”because the completed actualizing of the manifestation of such a being impulse in us can proceed only from the constant struggle of two quite opposite complexes-of-the functioning of those two sources, namely between the processes of the functioning of our planetary body itself and the parallel functionings arising progressively from the coating and perfecting of our higher being-bodies, which functionings in their totality actualize every kind of Reason in the three-centered beings “ [372] These efforts are internal and are contrary to both self calming and mechanical life.


Intentional suffering appears to involve making an effort for the future whether or not it may bear fruit or, whether or not we may ever know the outcome or receive credit for the effort. Despite the risk, we are also advised, “if on a spree, then go whole hog, including the postage”. [35] How can we reconcile going whole hog while admitting we don’t really know what is best, and also recognizing we may never know the outcome in order to help us make better choices? We cannot avoid the demand, and yet, we cannot know what or how our manifestation will occur, nor can we know in advance, its effect.


There seems to be a paradox in the recommendations to not oppose resistance or higher forces, while also struggling to perform Partkdolg Duty. If one is not to oppose, how does one struggle? Ashiata Shiemash, in discussing suffering, says, “In consequence of this, every three-centered being of our Great Universe, and also we men existing on the Earth, must, owing to the presence in us also of the factors for engendering the Divine impulse of “Objective Conscience, always inevitably struggle with the arising and the proceeding within our common presences of two quite opposite functions giving results always sensed by us either as “desires” or as “nondesires. And so, only he, who consciously assists the process of this inner struggle and consciously assists the “nondesires” to predominate over the desires, behaves just in accordance with the essence of our COMMON FATHER CREATOR HIMSELF; whereas he who with his consciousness assists the contrary, only increases HIS SORROW.” [373].


The challenge appears to be to accept the inevitability of mechanical preferences of both attraction and repulsion, but to separate from them through non-identification. The world below continues functioning under its own set of laws, but we can literally ‘rise above’ that world, sensing it but not valuing or obeying it. In Heptaparaparshinok, it is described as the ‘potency-not-to-be-identified-with-and-not-to-be-affected-by-externals-through-one’s-inevitably-inherent-passions” [817]


If taken in the wrong way, these efforts can result in a heavy attitude, an inappropriate shutting off the flow between inside and outside, as explored in the chapter Beelzebub for the First Time in Tibet, through the sad tale of the Self-Tamers. St. Buddha taught that, “One of the best means of rendering ineffective the predisposition present in your nature of the crystallization of the consequences of the properties of the organ Kundabuffer is “intentional-suffering”; and the greatest intentional-suffering can be obtained in your presences if you compel yourselves to be able to endure the “displeasing-manifestations-of-others-towards-yourselves”. This alone could “crystallize in their common presences that Partkdolg-duty …”. Buddha’s followers later wiseacred that this endurance should be in solitude, failing to understand that this endurance, while with others, leads to the evocation of Trentroodianos , “.… ‘psychic- chemical-results’ which, … form those sacred being data which actualize in the common presence one of the three holy forces which always becomes affirming towards all denying properties already present in them.” [242-243]


An antidote for taking ourselves too seriously is humor, which is repeatedly illustrated throughout the Tales. On occasions, Beelzebub winks, uses a sly smile, hints at a double meaning in his talks with Hassein.. Many descriptions are overtly comical and Beelzebub himself is most concerned for the survival of Mullah Nassr Eddin whose satirical observations are quoted over one hundred times throughout the Tales. Of Mullah Eddin, Beelzebub calls him “very wise” and says “for each and every peculiar situation great and small in the existence of the beings there, this same terrestrial sage, Mullah Nassr Eddin had an apt and pity saying; as all his sayings were full of the sense of truth for existence there, I also always used them there as a guide in order to have a comfortable existence among the beings of that planet”. [57] Keeping a sense of humor about oneself helps minimize identification.


However, there is nothing humorous about ‘wiseacring’, described as “an-irresistible-thirst-to-be-considered-as-learned-by-beings-around-them-similar-to- themselves”. [842] It lies in wait, crouched next to any creative impulse and sits astride the question of how to carry this Work into the future. Is there a way to avoid this trap without impeding the growth of new shoots of genuine Work or sanctifying particular approaches to the point of cultism and orthodoxy? In the face of the need to be an embodiment of Work, how does one Work for the Work? Does one mimic the approach of one’s teachers or does the demand to bring the understanding gained, only through personally verified experience, mean I must be myself and risk making a mistake? We must not invent! At the same time, a reference in the chapter Religion, makes this observation. “The strangeness of the psyche of your favorites in respect of the religious teachings which arise in this way among them, manifests itself in this, that they already from the very beginning understand ‘literally’ all that has been said and explained by these genuine Sacred Individuals actualized from Above and they never take into account in which environment and for which case this or that was said and explained.” [696-697]


Beelzebub tells Hassein to ask him questions about what interests Hassein, not what interests Beelzebub. Following the principle, by their fruits you shall know them, the form and sequence of what is offered in a moment, is dependent on the need and readiness perceived in the younger by the elder. This is the essence of oral tradition.


This seems to support the notion that Work has to be flexible and open to alteration depending on time and circumstance. Gurdjieff appears to be saying that a static Work becomes a dead Work. Genuine initiates seem able to thread the needle of this apparent paradox by demonstrating this creative flexibility. The creations of wiseacrists and hasnamuses are destructive. What seems to be the difference?


A clue to this question is provided in the contrast between the actions of King Konuzion and the followers of Moses: “ Your favorites of already the first generation of the contemporaries of Saint Moses, evidently found it profitable for their special aims to insert in these religious teachings almost the entire fantastic teaching which I already told you when I related that among the ancient three-brained beings of the second group on the continent Ashhark or contemporary Asia, there was a king named Konuzion, a subsequent Saint, who, for the purpose of saving his subjects from the pernicious habit of chewing the seed of the poppy first invented his fantastic ‘religious doctrine”. [700] If Konuzion invented an ‘entire fantastic teaching’, why was he made a Saint, when the followers of Moses, who inserted almost the “entire fantastic teaching” of Konuzion, are responsible for destroying the teaching of Moses? The difference seems to lie in sincerity and aim. The followers of Moses are implied to be imitating, literalizing, and accepting as true, what they do not know from their own experience. Konuzion knew his invention was not true, but used suggestion to alter the flow of his followers’ thinking, in the hope of decreasing a manifestation harmful to their development. And, he did not take credit or use the ‘invention’ to promote himself as ‘learned’.


Perhaps the dilemma around conservation of the teaching as given, and bringing the teaching in a form consistent with one’s individuality, lies in this distinction. If I am parroting method and doctrine, I am imitating. If I imitate as if I actually knew, I am lying. If I modify, with the wish or satisfaction of being seen as ‘learned’, I am wiseacring. If I wiseacre in order to engage in ‘maleficent mutual inflation, I have become a ‘learned-of-new-formation.’ If within me there are urges “to become free from the necessity of actualizing the being-efforts” or if there is a “calm self-contentment in the use of what is not personally deserved” or a ‘striving to be not what one is”, then there is the risk of Hasnamussnian tendencies to maintain a watch upon. [235] If I manifest in word and action the teaching, only as I understand it from personal experience and from a state of presence, then my manifestations may be appropriate and lawful to the “striving always to assist the most rapid perfecting of other beings, both those similar to oneself and those of other forms, up to the degree … of self-individuality” [386]. Striving for this level of sincerity seems to offer a degree of protection against wiseacring.


Even so, the Law of Hazard awaits any effort. Yet, we are also told that Justice will prevail. Sincerity seems to absolve. On Purgatory, Makary Kronberkzion is forgiven his unintended connection with subsequent misunderstanding of others. Looisos is made an Archangel despite his responsibility for the consequences of Kundabuffer. The young kinsman matures into “an excellent bailiff for all the beings of our tribe”, despite causing a catastrophe for his kinsmen and the kingdom of Appolis. [120] Beelzebub, whose unforeseeingness contributed to the death of Abdil, obviously uses this suffering to deepen his understanding. Purgatory itself is created as a measure of justice for higher being bodies impeded from going directly to the Sun Absolute as a result of the change in the Law. It appears that suffering and mistakes are unavoidable necessities for development of being.


Work for the Work


All of these recommendations are clearly to be practiced at each Line of Work. We must see that all the characters and situations in the Tales apply to our own inner world. As we try to reduce sacrificial offerings of unbecoming parts of ourselves, as we descend deeper into ourselves, as we experiment with less forceful, intrusive reactions to our mechanical nature, we begin to utilize these guidelines in the manner of Beelzebub. This constitutes Work on Oneself. As we try to apply these principles to people around us, this constitutes Work with Others. How then do we apply these principles upward to Work for the Work?


As I begin to feel The Work as the carrier of my salvation, there may appear recognition that, of myself, I am nothing. There may be a new quality of shock felt at this point. I must admit that I, myself, did not invent this Work, that it is working Itself upon me. My part was to open to it and accept its guidance. Perhaps I believed my efforts alone were producing the results that seemed sometimes to lift me higher. Perhaps, I believed I was alone inside myself, working towards self-improvement for my personal quality life on Earth. At some point, there may appear the recognition that I am, and have been, in relationship with something greater than myself, something that appears to be coming into me from the outside, as ideas and methods, but curiously seems also to have been inside of me all along waiting to be awakened. I may begin to experience ‘myself’ as the medium upon which The Work is now imprinting Itself. From this perspective, The Work seems to be the carrier of the Active Force and I, myself, am the field. What then is carrying Reconciling? Something else is watching this interplay between Work and ‘myself’, understanding differently, accepting differently. This altered perspective finds itself in new relationship to what used to be called myself and what is being called The Work.


Beelzebub tells us that not even Messengers from Above were able permanently to establish their aim. Where, then, do the fruits of our labor go if they don’t find permanence on Earth? Perhaps, we have been focused on the wrong ‘field’. Gurdjieff gives us the metaphors of Steward and the Driver of the carriage, both waiting for the Master to appear. We have the image of Beelzebub gracefully accepting his exile, expanding his knowledge and understanding, while always being receptive when asked for help. We have the image of his kinsman offering to risk the sacrifice of their lives to protect King Appolis. We have the image of Beelzebub’s kinsman “consenting” (and) “wishing” to “renounce for Beelzebub’s merited pardon certain particles of (their) own horns”. [1175] The bird-beings of Saturn are said to “have hearts exactly like those of the angels nearest OUR ENDLESS MAKER AND CREATOR (and ) exist strictly according to the ninth commandment of our CREATOR, namely: ‘Do unto another’s as you would do unto your own’.” [92-93] “The eighteenth personal commandment of OUR COMMON CREATOR … declared: “Love everything that breathes”. [198]


We are given the enigmatic Step Diagram in In Search of the Miraculous which suggests than man, himself, ought to be food for angels and archangels, not only for the Earth and Moon. [ISM 323] Saint Buddha is quoted as saying; “This Most Great Foundation of the All-embracing of everything that exists, constantly emanates throughout the whole of the Universe and coats itself from its particles upon planets – in certain three-centered beings who attain in their common presences the capacity to have their own functioning of both fundamental cosmic laws of the sacred Hetaparaparshinokh and the sacred Triamazikamno – into a definite unit in which alone Objective Divine Reason acquires the possibility of becoming concentrated and fixed.” [244]


We should remember that when the Laws were changed, one of the stopinders was shortened. The si-do interval is filled by the “will of the Absolute … by means of a conscious manifestation of neutralizing force which fills up the ‘interval’ between the active and passive forces.” [ISM 137] Perhaps the Third Line of Work has to do with becoming food of a sufficiently high quality to be digested by something higher than what I know as ‘myself’.


When I experience ‘waking up’ there is a new dimension to what is seen, a sense of depth, awareness of being aware. We do not know ahead of time when we will wake in a moment. That is certainly something unexpected creating a hole in the moment. Something new has appeared, something that sees from outside Time, bringing with it new potential. Here is a true crossroad. There is danger in that moment. I can become identified with the experience of ‘being there’ and fall back to sleep imagining I am awake. I can take credit for my ‘progress’ and exalt my spiritual attainment, thus unwittingly feeding ego instead. Or I can thank the Work and suffer consciously, the tension between inner and outer. The choice is to intentionally risk manifestation, or, suffer the manifestation in progress. In either case, I watch as it enters the ‘world’ and wait to discover the results. I may feel reminded of Gurdjieff’s statement, “Only he can have his own initiative for perceptions and manifestations in whose common presence there has been formed, in an independent and intentional manner, the totality of factors necessary for the functioning of this third world. “ [Life is Real, p. 173]


Beelezebub’s Tales end without apparent solution to the ongoing destruction of two and three brained beings by men. Rather, Beelzebub obtains, as a result of his impartial investigations, a degree of Reason up to the Sacred Anklad. He is thus able to propose an answer to the question, but one that brings us full circle. He states that it would take another divine act of intervention to implant yet another organ into men such that a man would always “be cognizant of the inevitability of his own death as well as the death of everyone upon whom his eyes or attention rests. Only such a sensation and such a cognizance can now destroy the egoism completely crystallized in them that has swallowed up the whole of their Essence …” [1183] Clearly, a change in Being is necessary to appropriately participate and fulfill one’s role in the universe. What is required is de-buffering. And yet, nothing in the Tales suggests that this can be successfully imposed from the outside. So, in the end, even Endlessness Himself, appears left with the same question we began with; how to be of help?


Gurdjieff tells us that “in order to be able to help people one must first learn to help oneself”. [ISM 103] Perhaps we can reflect once more on how Endlessness helped Himself. He realized that the laws under which His Being existed, were diminishing His possibilities. He changed His way of Being by allowing the creation of something under His direction but not under His control. He opened Himself to new and unexpected possibilities, which because they each carried within themselves a particle of Himself, would try, through the Law of Attraction-and-Fusion-of-Similarities, to find their way back to Him. When I Remember Myself, when the experience of I AM appears with awareness of awareness, I find myself outside linear time. There exist new possibilities not available a moment prior. I see in that moment that the Work is not in the future of Time, but is right here, right Now, at all times. Just above me is a world out of Time where what I had hoped to find someday in the future, is waiting for me Now.




To bring something new, one must understand the creative dynamic between Active and Receptive. Attempts to bring change, inside or outside, without the understanding of the nature of resistance, will fail and, in time, likely lead to their opposite. To introduce something new, an effort must be indirect so as not to arouse active resistance. Long periods of observation and active pondering are necessary to prepare an opening in oneself where a new idea can enter and transform. In the end, only individual effort can lead anywhere new, even with all the resources of the Universe standing by to help. So, how do we prepare ourselves to be able to ‘Work for the Work’? The answer must lie inside, by supporting the Work, within ourselves, in the moment. “Remember Yourself Always and Everywhere”. [Views 273] The Tales provide guides for us to evaluate our level, to discriminate the relativity of fluctuating states and learn how to use our unbecoming qualities as a source of energy rather than resistance. Perhaps the new organ proposed by Beelzebub is not to be implanted without our awareness or consent from the ‘outside’. Perhaps the new organ that will maintain a continuous awareness of the mortality of all and everything, including ourselves, must be willingly, consciously, intentionally implanted within, by I, myself.


To Work for the Work, then, seems to have much to do with another shift in under-standing. There remains the sense of responsibility to be of help and share what has been given, to keep The Work alive into the future. There is also the recognition that we function under the Law of Hazard, up to the highest levels, subject to results that become otherwise and opposite to our intentions. Results are uncertain. We are told to practice Being Partkdolg Duty in the face of this inherent unpredictability. We are told to continue to labor, but to do so Consciously. We are told we will suffer, now or later, but must bear our suffering and continue to risk with Intention. This effort gradually burns away Ego and the remnants of Kundabuffer. We realize that before, we had believed we had the Work as a method for our use. Now, we begin to sense that The Work has us for Its use. If we love Work, if we love being Awake, if we love being a infinitesimal part of something bigger and are satisfied with being a good servant, and not the Master of the Universe, then we may find that surrender implies no loss, but rather infinite gain. Perhaps when we die to ourselves, we become The Work.


January, 20, 2009




G. I Gurdjieff, All & Everything: Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, E.P.Dutton Company, Inc. N.Y. 1964


G. I Gurdjieff, Life is real only then, when “I am”, E.P.Dutton, N.Y. 1975


G. I. Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World, E. P. Dutton, N.Y. 1973


J. G. Bennett, Deeper Man, Claymont Communications, Charles Town, W.VA. First U.S. Edition 1977


J.G. Bennett, The Dramatic Universe V.II, Claymont Communications, Charles Town,W.VA. 1987


J. G. Bennett, Hazard: The Risk of Realization, Bennett Books, Santa Fe, N.M.1991


J. G. Bennett, The Sevenfold Work, Claymont Communications, Charles Town, W.VA. 1973


P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, Harcourt, Brace and Company, N.Y. 1949


Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, Deluxe, Second Edition Dorest & Baber 1983: “Subjective”


All quotes are from All & Everything unless noted otherwise.

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