The Gurdjieff Journal—Fourth Way Perspectives

Leaving The Work


Why does a person leave the Work? Rather than begin with the leaving, what is it that brings a person to the Work? According to Mr. Gurdjieff, they must be disappointed in themselves, in life.

There is one general rule for everybody. In order to approach this teaching seriously, people must be disappointed, first of all in themselves, that is to say, in their powers, and secondly in all the old ways. A person cannot feel what is most valuable in the teaching unless he or she is disappointed in what they have been doing, disappointed in what they have been searching for....

[He speaks of what it means for a politician, occultist, philosopher and scientist.]

I say for instance that a religious person should be disappointed in religion. This does not mean that they should lose their faith. On the contrary, it means being "disappointed" in the teaching and the methods only, realizing that the religious teaching he or she knows is not enough for them, can lead nowhere. All [authentic] religious teachings consist of two parts, the visible and the hidden.

To be disappointed in religion means being disappointed in the visible, and to feel the necessity for finding the hidden and unknown part of religion.

Tramps, Lunatics and the Curious

Though disappointed, there are people attracted to the Work who are not ready for it. Either they are still "shopping," still think they know, have the answers, or are simply curious. Then there are what Gurdjieff called tramps and lunatics. Tramps are the so-called intelligentsia—artists, poets, any kind of "bohemian" in general. Tramps despise the householder: people who can support themselves, pay their bills, have relations with others and have a wish for something higher. The tramp couldn't live without the householder and yet despises him. Lunatics are those who have false values, no right discrimination. They are always formatory. The world for them is black and white. Attracted to the Work also are those whose being is so small that there is no starting point in them. Lastly, there are those who have destroyed all possibility of changing their being. Of these, all can change, all can rise to the level of the householder except the last who is without possibility.


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