“Get away from ignorant”
NON CONFLUENCE- NON INNER CONSIDERING
“Inner considering and confluence are the direct consequences of man's constant drowsiness, a drowsiness which results in this strange phenomenon of almost permanent forgetfulness of oneself.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
All forms of internal considering, of which making accounts against another person is one form, belong to identifying. The Work says that we must study identifying down to its very roots. A man is only offended where he is identified with himself. And the Work also says that the study of identifying must begin with a study of where you are identified with yourself. It is here that you can be upset, hurt, offended, insulted. The being identified with oneself comes first, being upset and offended comes second, making inner accounts comes third.
. The basis of internal considering is thinking that others should be different, and from this comes "making accounts" against others. It is necessary to understand this point clearly. You feel another person should not treat you as he does, or should not annoy you, or should not be as he is. Are you then making demands or not? Of course you are.
"Psycological comentaries on the teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky” Maurice Nicoll.
External considering (in the Work sense) requires conscious effort, whereas internal considering is mechanical. To externally consider another person it is first necessary to put yourself in the other person's position. To do this you must think of yourself as being this other person, having to do the same things, having the same difficulties, the same handicaps, the same life.
Psycological comentaries on the teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky” Maurice Nicoll.
Outer consideration must take the form of a game. The man who walks towards the Way must understand that he can never again participate enthusiastically in life — this permanent wave — and that he must acquire prudence and circumspection if he does not want to be crushed by the blind forces of “A” influences, forces which can be unleashed by conscious movements too weak to master them, but which move too far beyond the range of habitual mechanicalness to pass unnoticed. Man therefore must no longer live his life as before, but must play it, through conscious efforts of outer considering.
External considering must be increased as much as possible. Exterior life is characterized by mechanicalness on the mental plane as well as on the physical. We know that we must not let our finger slip into the wheels of a working machine: it would be crushed. We might even lose our lives. It is the same on the mental plane: our attention must remain vigilant. Being machines ourselves, we must avoid colliding with the mental mechanisms which surround us.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
To constate means to recognize the state of a thing or phenomenon, to establish a fact without applying any kind of personal judgment. The act of constating therefore implies simple observation of a fact while at the same time being conscious of oneself.
Thus — and this is its esoteric meaning—constatation demands a doubling of attention; to the object, and to one's own self. It is only when we observe, while making a conscious effort directed simultaneously towards the exterior and towards the interior, that we reach true constatation which itself then produces an esoteric result. Observation of this general rule of doubled attention is demanded throughout the Way,
all the way to the summit of esoteric evolution.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
PRESENCE IN HIMSELF- DOUBLE ATTENTION
The exercise of presence is an effort of watchfulness; as we have seen, it is the principal element in this. When done daily, in the form of passive constatation, it leads to knowledge of oneself. But because presence must as far as possible become permanent—and we emphasize this point because of its importance—the seeker must practice doubled attention as much as he can during all his activities. He will notice in time that this effort of memory, of presence, not only does not hinder his activities, but on the contrary it helps greatly in carrying them out.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
Know that a word suddenly shot from the tongue
is like an arrow shot from the bow.
O tongue, you are an endless treasure.
O tongue, you are also an endless disease.
In our actions in the milieu in which we live, we must take care not to believe that those around us automatically follow our evolution stage by stage, and that they are at each moment at the level we have reached by following conscious and sustained efforts which they have not made. Such an idea would certainly be absurd; but does not man live in the absurd?
We must nevertheless be prudent. The Tradition's rule on this subject is explicit; it prescribes: 'keep silent' But it would be an error to think that it requires a true vow of silence. To keep silent, in the esoteric sense, means to talk, but to talk within well defined limits: man must say what must be said, when it must be said, and to whom it must be said. This naturally excludes all gossip and loquacity.
Lastly, it is firmly recommended to remain earnest in contacts with people like ourselves. This precept demands a comment. Being earnest, in this case, does not mean being morose, still less taciturn. Esoteric work requires a vigor of the mind. What we are asked to do is to maintain a positive emotional attitude within us, and to acquire inner serenity. Man must keep an attitude of benevolence towards all; he must rejoice with the happy, be charitable towards those who suffer, and indifferent to the wicked. He must not play the role of a clown. Much as this may be astonishing, such an attitude is much more harmful to him who is addicted to it than we may think. In reality, it tends to debase everything to the level of triviality and platitude. Clowning, derived from skepticism, is a true opponent to the enthusiasm indispensable for passing through those
difficult moments which will never be wanting in esoteric work.
These rules must therefore be observed. That of keeping silent is imperative. Nevertheless, people whose magnetic center have made their appearance and are developing feel the need to talk about it. “It is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” But let them only share their joys and experiences with those who, like them, have undertaken esoteric work.
Besides, the rule of keeping silent is not obligatory, except at the beginning of esoteric training. Soon, by virtue of his conscious efforts, man starts to evolve and perceives the futility of most mundane relations. To mix the fruits of evolution with this life is always erroneous.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
God says: “I stand at the door and knock.'' Meaning that every man is always kept underpermanent pressure coming from the esoteric Center in the form of “B”influences. However, man must open the door by his own efforts; in otherwords, he must discern and assimilate these influences, then the Personality,surmounting its proud nature, must bow to and accept the primacy ofthe real “I”. It must do this in advance by an act of faith and of hope, not knowing exactly where it will lead. We are therefore invited to “put our trustin God”. This is the role of humility as the sine qua non condition for anypractical esoteric work.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
DON´T ATTACK DIRECTLY ”A” INFLUENCES
“A” influences act through the General Law, and therefore conform to the Divine will.
We already know one reason for their being: to serve the interests of the Ensemble. Yet let us not forget that everything is relative. He who studies esoteric science must not naively oppose “A” influences. That would only succeed in bringing catastrophe.
To attack the “A” influences frontally would be to repeat the experience of Don Quixote — charging the windmills. Thousands and thousands of well intentioned people have perished without profit by making this error of conception, inspired by the Devil: believing in the possibility of the impossible. The 'World' is incomparably stronger than the isolated individual, as long as he remains an exterior man.
Anyone who wants to benefit from the Law of Exception must first achieve a victory over himself, over his own interior world, before he will be able to overcome the 'World' and — by doing so — escape from the General Law.
The principle of this method is simple. One must remember Plato's proposition by which like can only be perceived and understood by like.
Extending this, we say that exterior influences cannot act on the individual, except by the mediation of similar elements which form part of his interior world: the interior world of the individual is also subject to “A” and “B” influences. The accumulation of the latter within him forms the magnetic center, which in some way forms a new center of consciousness. As gradually the center of gravity of the interest we take in life is displaced towards the magnetic center, finally installing itself inside it in a permanent manner, the pressure of the General Law is increasingly intensified. Also, the spirit of the ensemble of ”A” influences, who watches over the application of this Law from the outside, seeks to act on man by its agents; by the A' influences of his interior world. We can easily understand that mastering the latter closes the door to exterior 'A' influences, and this ends their power.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
TO STOP LYING TO HIMSELF
However, if man cannot stop lying to others, the same cannot be said as far as he himself is concerned. He is therefore asked to stop lying to himself— and this in a definite way. This requirement is absolute, and we can easily understand why. The objective of esoteric work is the march towards Consciousness, which means towards Truth. It would be a contradictio in objecto to try to approach the truth while continuing to lie to ourselves or to believe in our own lies.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
DON´T TO EXPRESS NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
Thus, as we have said already, negative emotion has Love as a basis; otherwise it would not be an emotion. To this base are added, in varying proportions, elements which, although they are oriented in the opposite direction, are analogous to those which exist in the case of a normal love.
Pure negative emotion does not exist.
The negative emotion usurps the energy of the sexual center, that is, the energy of carnal love, in order to manifest itself. The more violent the negative emotion expressed or suffered, the greater the quantity of energy utilized.
Negative emotions disturb the whole organism of the psyche, upset the Personality, and cause considerable loss of the finest and most precious energies which will be dragged into the movement. Man then needs time to rebuild these reserves of fine energies.
A diametrically opposite effect is produced if at the moment when negative emotions arise in him, the subject remains calm and does not mechanically fall into a state of confluence.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
TO ECONOMIZE OUR ENERGIES
The quantity of force necessary to genuinely oppose the influence of the Moon is already considerable. The first imperative, then, is to stop wasting these forces, to turn
off the taps which let the energy escape uselessly: sterile emotions, in particular negative emotions; fantasies from uncontrolled imagination; uncoordinated mental gymnastics, gossiping and chattering. We must thus act like a wise minister of finance and carefully economize our energies, yet without all the time sterilizing either our activity or our intelligence. On the contrary, we must store and as far as possible augment these forces to build up our reserves. These are the two main aspects
of the first objective we have to attain.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
GORDIANS KNOTS MUST NOT BE CUT
We have already indicated the form of a just and objective solution to the problems that face us when a situation has been entangled by our errors: the Gordian knots must not be cut, they must be untied in such a way that the participants, both tied by the same knot, feel only relief at the disappearance of a situation which was simply a source of suffering for both.
If the situation is truly resolved, to the benefit of all those originally concerned, the original meaning of the film and its normal development can be found. Nevertheless, we should beware of the last trap, one we can fall into just at the moment when ineffable happiness seems to smile upon us. We have just said: all must be sacrificed; we have not said: all must be broken.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
TO HURRY SLOWLY
For the latter to be correct, it is important that we do not hurry things. This esoteric staircase has a peculiarity which we must keep in our minds. It is not possible for us to stay on a particular step indefinitely. After a specified delay, sufficient for him to fulfill the task required from him by the note in force, the step will give way.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
MAN MUST LINK TOGETHER THE WORK OF THE INTELLECTUAL AND EMOTIONAL CENTERS
It is one of the Golden rules of the Tradition: man must link together the work of the
intellectual and emotional centers. This is how it is done: If the question to be studied and solved is of an intellectual nature, then, after the intellectual center has elucidated it, before reaching a conclusion or final decision, and before taking action, man must consult his emotional center. Conversely, he must not act impulsively or exclusively under the influence of the emotional center: before acting, he must consult his intellectual center.
In general, man must cultivate in himself the ability to grasp any phenomenon and any problem—in the inner or outer worlds — by simultaneously using the two centers, emotional and intellectual.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
WELL AND EVIL
A man whose psyche is not oriented by a ruling idea is generally stationary, until the
moment comes where, often by fortuitous impulse, he takes decisions which will direct his life for scores of years.
For one who begins to search for the Way, all this changes. This search constitutes a permanent goal. Even without leaving relativity, such a man is now able in practice to define his notions of positive and negative: whatever guides him towards his proposed goal, helps him to attain it, or contributes to this attainment, is for him a Good; whatever turns him away, retards him, stops him, takes him backwards, and in general anything that creates material or psychological obstacles on the path that leads him towards the goal he seeks, is for him an Evil.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
The conditions required to search for the Way are four in number:
— a passionate desire to reach it;
— a discipline of steel;
The disciple, having been recognized apt by the master, must seek a way to put the accumulated knowledge into practice. Although he must always consult his master, he must never lose sight of the fourth rule, that of personal initiative: he must not wait, he must act in such a way as to participate in one of the many esoteric works being actually carried out in the world. In this, our present era, one can quote two. One is analogous to the construction and right organization of Noah's Ark, which occurred some four thousand years before our era. As in the distant past, this work consists in collecting, in a compact, schematized form, the sum of acquired knowledge and experience, preserving them, and then transmitting them to the new humanity.
Another esoteric work, which has been pursued in a more immediate and more intense way since the beginning of the century, even more since the first world war, aims at the formation of a new human type. The problem of the new man is placed before us by the logic of History. We shall try to elucidate the elements of this problem, whose proper solution will determine the fate of tomorrow's humanity.
This analysis draws its very great importance from the fact that, although we are not generally aware of it, definite plans must quickly now be taken to the point of preparation for the future.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
The seeker must learn how to master these influences, especially those which become factors in the film of his personal life. He will achieve this by drawing a complement of energy from the source of the “B” influences, which he must utilize in his 'life' in strict obedience to the demands of the Law of Seven. For that, he must make himself recognize all the gamuts — at least all the principal ones — of which he is either agent or victim, and in the midst of which he finds himself at every moment. This is the first part of his work, which corresponds in principle to knowledge. The second part, no less important, corresponds in principle to savoir-faire. Having objectively recognized his place in the gamut he meets at any given moment, he will next proceed to relate this data to the practical means at his disposal, in ways consistent with a chosen or perceived aim within the esoteric plan. Then the savoir-faire will gain force, allowing the seeker to act in two ways. He must first draw on the necessary energies at the source of the “B” influences, to apply them later to the gamut of A' influences of which he forms a part. This is done in a strictly realistic spirit, free from all hypocritical tendencies, all mechanisms of self justification, and, above all, free from all lying about himself. This last condition is indispensable to success. In every case which is subject to the Law of Seven, the period of application will bring conscious efforts into play by introducing lateral octaves, in a way analogous to that by which the lateral octave introduces itself into the cosmic
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
FIRST STEPS ON THE TRACK
For now, without going that far, we must say that, from his first steps on the track, man must apply the principle: 'feed the crocodile so that we are not devoured.' The same idea can be expressed in equally figurative form by saying that our approach must be that of a player who is engaged in a game where the usual rules are reversed, meaning that whoever wins loses; a game of: 'whoever loses wins'. This analogy is, in fact, almost exact.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
WE MUST AVOID COLLINDING WITH MENTAL MACHINES
Exterior life is characterized by mechanicalness on the mental plane as well as on the physical. We know that we must not let our finger slip into the wheels of a working machine: it would be crushed. We might even lose our lives. It is the same on the mental14 plane: our attention must remain vigilant. Being machines ourselves, we must avoid colliding with the mental14 mechanisms which surround us.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
In esoteric teaching this figure could be said to be the most important
The black arrows represent influences created within life by life itself, this is the first variety of influence by which man is surrounded. These are called ”A” influences. We will notice that they are distributed almost equally over all the surface of the circle of life. As in the case of all radiant energy in nature, their effect is inversely proportional to the square of the distance; thus man is subject most of all to arrows influencing him from those immediately around him. He is pulled every instant by the way they
act at that moment.
The influence of the ”A” arrows on exterior man is imperative; driven, he wanders in the circle of his life from birth to death, following a broken line which is sometimes subject to dangerous changes of direction. The ensemble of ”A” influences forms the Law of Chance or Law Of Accident. Man is subject to its rule, yet if we examine the figure more closely we will perceive that each black arrow is counterbalanced, neutralized in some other part by another arrow equal in force and diametrically opposed, so that if we had left them to effectively neutralize each other the resultant force would have been equal to zero. This means that in their ensemble the ”A” influences are illusory in their nature, although the effect of each one of them is real, so that exterior man takes them for reality. The white circle represents the esoteric Center, located outside the general laws of life.
The white arrows represent influences called “B”. These influences are thrown into the turmoil of life and originate from the esoteric Center, treated outside life, these arrows are all oriented in the same direction. In their ensemble they form a sort of magnetic field. Since ”A” influences neutralize each other, “B” influences actually constitute the only reality. The small circle with the shaded lines represents man, who in this figure is taken in isolation. The oblique shaded lines signify that the nature of exterior man is not homogeneous: it is mixed.
If man spends his life without distinguishing between ”A” and “B” influences, he will end it as he started, one could say mechanically, driven by the Law of Accident. However, according to the nature and the intensity of the resultant forces to which he is subjected, it can happen to him to make a brilliant career, in the meaning the world gives to this expression.
Yet he will come to the end of his days without having either learned or understood anything of Reality. And earth returns to Earth. In life, every being is subjected to a sort of competitive test. If he discerns the existence of the “B” influences; if he acquires a taste for gathering and absorbing them; if he continually aspires to assimilate them better; his mixed inner nature will slowly undergo a certain kind of evolution.
And if the efforts which he makes to absorb the “B” influences are constant and sufficient in force, a magnetic center can be formed within him. This magnetic center is represented in the diagram by the small white space. If this center once born in him is carefully developed, it takes form, and in its turn will exercise an influence over the results of the ”A” arrows which are always active, deflecting them. Such a deflection may be violent. In general it transgresses the laws of exterior life and provokes many conflicts in and around man. If he loses the battle, he emerges with the conviction that the “B” influences are nothing but illusion: that the only reality is represented by the ”A” influences. Slowly the magnetic center which had been formed within him is reabsorbed and vanishes. Then, from the esoteric point of view, his situation is worse than the one he had started with, when he was just beginning to discern the “B” influences.
But if he emerges a winner in this first struggle, his magnetic center, consolidated and reinforced, will draw him to a man having a 'C influencestronger than his own, and possessing a stronger magnetic center. Andso on in succession, the last man being in connection with another havingan influence 'D', who will be his link with the Esoteric Center 'E'.Henceforth in life, that man will no longer be isolated. He will certainlycontinue to live as before under the action of the ”A” influences, which for along time will continue to exercise their power over him; yet little by little,thanks to the effect of the influence of the chain “B”-'C'-'D'-'E', his magnetic center will develop. To the measure of its growth, the man willescape the dominion of the Law of Chance and enter the domain of Consciousness.
If he reaches this result before his death, he can say that his life was not lived in vain. Let us now examine a different version of the same diagram:
This second figure, with black magnetic centers, represents the situation where man deludes himself and, believing he is absorbing “B” influences and making the necessary selection all the while, he in fact absorbs 'A' influences, those of the black arrows that are in some way parallel to the white arrows of the “B” influences. This will put him into contact with people who possess magnetic centers of the same nature: who are themselves duped or who dupe others, and who have no direct or indirect link with the esoteric Center.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
ACTING LIKE AGENTS OF“B” INFLUENCES
We have just constated that even though we persevere in searching for the Way, we continue to live among ”A” influences, which will continue to form the circumstances of our lives. From now on, however, ourattitude towards them begins to change. Previously we sought to master one group of these influences in ourselves by identifying with another group. Now, lodged in a cage exclusively filled with “B” influences, strengthened by our weapon, the formula I AM, our attitude towards the ”A” influences takes a new aspect. They certainly remain our field of action; but we no longer enter the arena to hurl ourselves head down into the tournament; from now on we act as agents for the “B” influences, working on their account.
The most important and most difficult stage of the Way to pass is the Staircase, also called the path of Access, which leads to the level of man 4. Anyone who seeks to climb this must make this effort the principal aim of his life. From now on, esoteric work must become the axis of his existence, round which the inner and outer circumstances of his life revolve. These circumstances start to change the moment man crosses the first Threshold. . It is true that from the time man first mounts the Staircase he is watched, especially if he makes sincere and considerable efforts. The Great esoteric Brotherhood offers him a helping hand. Certain meetings, a play of favorable circumstances, are the forms taken by this help. This assistance does not, however, free him of the need to work on himself and to go on making conscious to work on himself and to go on making conscious efforts. In addition, it must be said that often the proffered help is not used, because man does not listen to the advice given, or because he does not grasp the meaning of the favorable circumstances and the possibilities of progress which open before him.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
CREATE NEW CIRCUNSTANCES AROUND HIM FOR TO RESOLVE KARMA
It has already been said that he must restore the original meaning of his film, then push the development of the latter in such a way that the 'play' be properly played out to its intended denouement. The hero, while working on himself, must apply himself to create new circumstances around him, which will enhance the unfolding of the action towards its originally intended conclusion. His exterior efforts must above all be directed towards the creation of these circumstances, not towards seeking direct influence over people: this kind of influence often seems opportune, but in the great majority of cases it is an error. Instead of unraveling the situation, the influence creates karmic debts which complicate things all the more. One must be very prudent and circumspect. Yet new circumstances must be created in a way that effectively helps those interested to act in the direction desired. Once again, man should seek to serve, not to impose himself. Patience, perseverance and faith are qualities of great practical value in this work.
This passage can be compared to the conception of the future Individuality. The Staircase symbolizes the period of gestation, and the crossing of the second Threshold
represents the second Birth, the birth of Individuality. During his later development, corresponding to the notes MI and RE of the Way, the Individuality becomes progressively integrated with the higher cosmoses. By acquiring the gifts of the Holy Spirit appropriate to his nature, he progressively participates in real, objective existence, which finally characterizes his being. This is Salvation; liberation from the bonds of the film.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
DON´T INTRODUCE NEW CHARACTERS, FOREIGN TO THE FILM AND DON´T TO TAKE NEW COMMITMENTS
One of the great obstacles to evolution is that man does not generally think of his esoteric evolution except in old age, when he has already accumulated a considerable amount of error and new complications in his life. He often introduces into the play new characters, quite foreign to the underlying meaning of his life, or to the reason for which his team is created. He sometimes takes on commitments which tie him narrowly, when he most urgently needs all his liberty of action to catch up with time wasted in enterprises or causes which have nothing to do with esoteric evolution.
GNOSIS I, Boris Mouravieff
DON´T TO COME BACK TO THAT YOU HAVE VOMIT
Make sure-footed those who stumble and stretch forth your hands to the sick. Nourish the hungry and set at ease those who are troubled. Foster men who love. Raise up and awaken those who sleep. For you are this understanding which encourages. If the strong follow this course, they are even stronger. Turn your attention to yourselves. Do not be concerned with other things, namely, that which you have cast forth from yourselves, that which you have dismissed. Do not return to them to eat them. Do not be moth-eaten. Do not be worm-eaten, for you have already shaken it off. Do not be a place of the devil, for you have already destroyed him.
"GOSPEL OF TRUTH"
This system of esoteric exercises has been conceived so that people who have already acquired a certain store of theoretical Knowledge can go on to practical work. It is based on the Doctrine of the Present. These exercises are divided into three groups, correlated to the structure of the Personality. These three groups of exercises have a single common goal: the acquisition of the real Present. They are both physical and psychological.
If the psychological exercises are to be fruitful, it is necessary to render the body capable of supporting the required work by a series of physical exercises. Let us not forget that we live in the body, and that, properly trained and disciplined, the latter is a marvelous instrument, as well as the only one available to us for achieving the proposed goal.
Let us not forget also that esoteric development demands considerable efforts, largely surpassing those we generally make in life. To sustain these efforts, the body must be sound, strong and trained. The three groups of exercises, practised all along the Way, have the following objectives:
— mastery of the body;
— mastery of the Personality;
— establishing contact with higher levels of consciousness.
We can see that these exercises concern the three 'I's of man: by training based on a rigid discipline of the 'I' of the body and the 'I' of the Personality, we open up for ourselves access to the consciousness of the real 'I'. This is the theory. The practice has been elaborated since time immemorial: it consists of a ladder of eight groups1 of exercises.
He first group relates to outer cleanliness: the body must be washed carefully every day; with special attention to the cleanliness of the navel, the feet, and the genital organs. The head must be washed regularly.
The nostrils must be cleared to let the air pass through freely. he second group aims at inner cleanliness: the complete and regular evacuation of the digestive tract must be rigorously observed. Constipation deeply intoxicates the organism. By interrupting at a certain point the working of the digestive system, which normally operates according to the Law of Seven, it hinders the transmutation of hydrogens and so deprives the organism of that part of solar energy most precious for esoteric work. Because of this, man loses the possibility of rising above the lower levels of consciousness.
These two groups of exercises have great importance, even though their value is, so to speak, negative. They do not themselves lead towards esoteric evolution, but they are an indispensable condition of this evolution, and must therefore be practised with care.
The maintenance of inner cleanliness is facilitated by daily physical exercise: by walking, gymnastics, and an appropriate dietary regime. Experience will allow us to discover the proper measure for ourselves in this.
Here too, we have to guard ourselves against excess. Right measure will be recognized by the sensation of satisfaction it gives us. The activity and regimen we follow must be sound, fortifying, and agreeable. The aim is to restore to the organism its natural balance, generally broken by the artificial conditions in which we live and work. The maintenance of our weight within normal limits also attests to the right choice of our mode of life.
In monastic practice, the conditions of a balanced life are fixed by a Rule established centuries ago and practised under the direction of the Igoumen (superior). For esoteric work followed in the secular world, these conditionsmust be studied and applied by the practitioner himself.
The third group of exercises aims at acquiring correct posture. For the practice of psychological exercises, the body must be kept in as perfect a state of equilibrium as possible, so that the attention can be totally concentrated on the object of the exercise. For that, the best posture, called by the Tradition the posture of the Sage, must be studied and practiced until it can be maintained in total immobility for as long as necessary. It is practised seated on a hard chair which does not exceed thirty centimeters in height; legs crossed, knees widespread, hands freely placed on the knees. The position of the arms and hands may be changed, depending on the object of the exercise.
The essential condition is that the head, neck and the vertebral column are kept in a straight vertical line. The shoulders must be held back, and the head high. Dolichocephalic persons must watch to maintain their sinciput horizontally.
All the muscles must be relaxed. This can be done by first contracting them group by group, then suddenly releasing them. The waist must be arched, and if we have followed the instructions just given, the back and head will then naturally take the correct position in a straight line. Bending the back during these exercises must be avoided at all costs. If this becomes a habit, we risk damaging the cerebro-spinal system. In addition, we must pay attention that the vertebral column does not jut out. Lastly, we must watch that all the muscles of the extremities — the hands including the fingers, and the feet including the toes — are completely relaxed. The eyes must remain motionless. Their position depends upon the purpose of the given exercise, but in general we must look straight ahead, our vision following a line parallel to the ground. To be sure of that, we measure the distance between the eyes and the floor in the sitting position and then fix what the Tradition calls the sun on the wall; about four to five meters away and in front of us. This is a black matt circle of three centimeters in diameter, drawn on a white card. Mastery over the eyes is not acquired instantaneously. This is generally the last organ to submit to discipline. That is why the study of the posture of the Sage begins with closed eyes. Later on, when we open them, we tolerate their movement on condition that the sight does not leave the limits of the sun. Finally, we will achieve immobility of sight.
This is a basic description of the posture of the Sage. In practice, we will come up against a multitude of minor difficulties. We must neither worry too much, nor be discouraged. By following the instructions given above, each of us must find his own position of equilibrium. This, as we have said, does not come immediately. When, after repeated trials, the correct posture is finally found and can easily be re-assumed, we will recognize this by the following sign: a sensation of relaxation and of rest which even sleep itself does not give.
The practice of the posture of the Sage forms an indispensable condition for the success of the exercises leading to the mastery of physiological processes, and for discipline of the mental2 life. This is why we must try to find this posture, and perfect it with application and diligence.
The Tradition teaches other postures and other movements: different sorts of genuflections, prostrations and 'stolpostoyanie'. The latter consists of standing erect like a pole. It was especially used in the primitive church of Egypt. For this type of practice, which demanded considerable mastery of the body and the nerves, even greater than that possessed and exhibited by a professional sailor on the high masts of a sailing ship, they chose highly elevated positions such as the tops of columns.
To practice the psychological method, called the Royal Way3 in the Tradition, the posture of the Sage, correctly maintained, is necessary and sufficient for almost all training requirements. Nearly all the psychological in this are referred to Vivekananda's commentaries on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. This reference by the Author to the Indian Doctrine is intentional, and in another place he has said that the Indian term Agni refers to the Holy Spirit.
exercises, and a great part of the physical exercises, can be done on the basis of this posture.
The fourth group of exercises concerns respiration. If we consider the organism as a machine, respiration represents the flywheel. It regularizes the operation and maintains the rhythm established by the work of the heart. Respiration exerts a direct influence on the metabolism, contributing to the production of the finest energies by the organism, those necessary to establish contact with the higher centers. This influence can be augmented considerably by the control of respiration, particularly by the practice of rhythmic respiration. This possibility is given us by the fact that the movement of the thoracic cage which maintains respiration has dual nervous regulation: the instinctive-automatic system and the voluntary.
The possibility of passing from one to the other provides a bridge inside our organism between physiological and psychological functions.This bridge is not the only one, but it is very important. However much they open up seductive perspectives of esoteric evolution,breathing exercises have this risk: badly performed, they can lead toundesirable or even dangerous consequences. They can provoke pulmonaryemphysema, for example, or derange the functioning of the heart.
The first precept for the control of breathing is simple. It teaches that, once the lungs have been filled, one must retain the air. We find this instruction in texts of the Orthodox Tradition coming down to us from long ago. However, the duration over which this suspension of the respiratory rhythm is to be maintained is not specified. Since then, a whole series of variations in the practice of this precept have been elaborated.
Because of the danger if this is applied without discernment, we must not make use of it except under the personal and constant control of a master. Since the beginning of the century, we find many books from Hindu, Buddhist or other sources dealing with the question of breath control and rhythm, often commented on by occidental authors. Without going into a critical analysis of the systems and directions given in these books, we must insist on the dangers of practising these breathing exercises when relying on book descriptions only, without the attentive presence of a competent guide.
In Orthodox monastic practice, and especially in the Russian branch of the Tradition, liturgical chant plays an important role by serving as a respiratory exercise. In certain monasteries, for example the Petchera Lavra in Kiev, these chants are carried out in full voice. At the same time, the choir must concentrate on the theme of the canticle. This mixed exercise, physical, mental and spiritual, uses powerful means and produces remarkable results.
The fifth group of exercises have as their object constatation. With the exercise of constatation we enter fully into the psychological field. By this exercise, we start to face the problem of self study in a practical manner.
To constate means to recognize the state of a thing or phenomenon, to establish a fact without applying any kind of personal judgement. The act of constating therefore implies simple observation of a fact while at the same time being conscious of oneself. Thus — and this is its esoteric meaning—constatation demands a doubling of attention; to the object, and to one's own self. This exercise demands all the impartiality of which one is capable. Otherwise, it degenerates into reporting; a unilateral act which, from the esoteric point of view, leads to nothing. Constatation involves two groups of exercises:
— Constatation called exterior, where we observe one or several external objects, including ourselves; where we look at ourselves, so to speak, “from the outside”.
— Constatation called interior, where we observe one or more traits, facts, or phenomena of our own inner life.
Constatation includes every mode of the new attitude that forms in a man who starts esoteric work. It is a permanent struggle against the force of mental sleep. We know that one can look without seeing: this is the characteristic of the majority of our visual impressions. We can look and see, in other words, we can observe. There is progress there, with attention brought into play; but observing is not enough to obtain esoteric results, since even while we are attentive, the object can still seduce us to the point of making us lose our consciousness of ourselves. It is only when we observe, while making a conscious effort directed simultaneously towards the exterior and towards the interior, that we reach true constatation which itself then produces an esoteric result. Observation of this general rule of doubled attention is demanded throughout the Way,
all the way to the summit of esoteric evolution. That is the tresvenic of the Tradition, to which we have already referred. It is the constant effort to be watchful, keeping the idea of the 'I' present in one's mind, while continuing one's outer activities as before — but better. Constatation has for its basis and starting point the general instruction which Jesus taught to his disciples: 'What I say unto you, I say unto all: Watch.
But we have already seen that the exterior man lives absent from himself. He lives in dreams: dreams at night, and daydreams. We sleep in life, and sleep deeply. How, in practice, can we get out of this situation? It is difficult, and this is why. A sleeping man retains a sense of the experience of his life in the waking state, with the memory of his name, that symbol of his Personality. When he wakes, these (memories) will allow him to recover his waking consciousness without difficulty. But for the passage from this to the higher level of consciousness, to the consciousness of the real 'I', these two essential elements are missing: experience of that life, and the knowledge of his name at that level. It is by working ceaselessly, 'boring away', by the practice of constatation—which
comprises and implies a conscious effort of presence, to the point where it becomes a true presence in oneself— that man can reach the second Birth, the birth of Individuality, understood as the indissoluble junction of his developed and born Personality with his real 'I'. At this time he will obtain his new name, and he will progressively be initiated to that new experience, previously unsuspected, to which the book of Revelation refers: “To him that overcometh... to him will I give a white stone and upon the stone, his new name is written, which no one knoweth but he that receiveth it.”
External constatation can be passive. In this case it relates to objects presented to us on the external film of events, without our exercising any selection between them. Alternatively it can be active, when it is directed at a chosen object. In this active form, external constatation can make use of a particular method which, when practised regularly, helps us greatly to know the impression we produce on others. Although not an aim in itself, this exercise is at least a valuable means of discarding a great part of the false representations we have of ourselves. This type of constatation can be called constatation by reflection, or taking snapshots of oneself. These snapshots give the best results when they are taken at meetings,9 while we are speaking. A sudden effort of constatation then permits each of us to feel ourselves as we are seen at that moment by those around us. An album of such snapshots allows us to reconstruct in our mind's eye the image we present to others. To know that image even better, a simple exercise with two mirrors is also very useful. We know that our image in a mirror is inverted: the right becomes left, and vice versa. If we look at ourselves by means of two mirrors, our
image is corrected. This generally gives us a strange impression. The defects of our faces appear accentuated, because the eye can no longer automatically correct our features, as it did in the case of an inverted image. The exercise with two mirrors also allows us to see ourselves in profile. We do not know our profile at all. These new visions of ourselves alwaysbring us something.
Orthodox practice knows another form of tresvenic, of active external constatation, which it commonly uses. It acts in the prayer of Jesus, inthis form:
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” We can recognize the double objective presented to the attention in this verse: asking for grace, and consciousness of oneself as a sinner. The two elements required for constatation are combined here, but only on condition that this prayer is not done mechanically, but by a conscious effort of presence. Bishop Theophan says in his commentaries that the force of this prayer does not reside in the words. The words can be modified. The power of the invocation, he says, lies in constating our degenerate state before God in His state of perfection. We add that this simultaneous effort of constatation creates what we called a difference of potential. This will generate a current of grace. The prayer of Jesus is repeated a great number of times, up to ten or even twenty thousand times a day, both by practising religious, and by laymen. he second group of constatations are interior constatations. This is a vast field of indispensable exercises which, with those already described, will firmly establish us on the Track which leads to the path of Access, and
then to the Way.
In these interior constatations, we find the same distinction between passive and active exercises as in the case of outer constatation. Interior constatation is to be practised daily in its passive form, preferably in the morning, and as far as possible at the same time. The exercise consists of the following: after having remained in the posture of the Sage for the time necessary to feel the muscles relax and the rhythm of the body become
normal and regular, we must constate passively everything that unfolds itself in front of the mental eye. This exercise requires training. It is possible that.
At the start, we shall see nothing, or very little. By persevering, little by little we will discover a whole world rich in life and colours. Later on, this worldwill become the object of a work whose aim is to bring order to it and, finally, to master it or, in esoteric language, to overcome it. But before that, we have to make it emerge totally from the wings of waking consciousness.
This is achieved by calm and impartial passive constatation. Impartiality is required above all, as man is generally surprised to discover certain emotional and instinctive movements within him, certain ideas which, during the normal state of waking sleep, will appear totally foreign to him. The seeker will progressively learn to explore his own moral content. He will constate that only a small part of this content is usually visible on the scene of his waking consciousness, the principal part being shut out somewhere in the wings of his soul. It is with stupefaction, and sometimes with fright, that he will discover coexistences within him that will appear to him impossible and absurd—a poet and a cynic, a hero and a coward. He will perceive that he is essentially an egotist, ready to justify to himself, if necessary by the most fallacious processes of rationalization, any state of soul that he would judge contemptible or criminal in others.
Similar traits — and there are large numbers of them, some more detestable than the others—are dumped behind the scenes of our consciousness, they are instinctively hidden in the 'wings' for two reasons. On the one hand — and this is the general case — man forms a picture of himself far removed from the reality, and then will simply and directly exclude anything that does not correspond to this self-image. Yet these rejected characteristics remain his own. On the other hand, man is afraid of what he really is. As long as he remains inside exterior life, he has no need to begin an introspection which will lead him to confront his inner life face to face.
In the rare cases where fortuitous circumstances put him momentarily face to face with himself, he turns away his inner eye, immediately returning to the image he has created of himself. This naturally has its source in a systematic lie to himself, but this is not at all surprising, given that exterior man is born in lies, lives in lies, and dies in lies. It is only esoteric work which can lead him out of this wilderness, this forest full of wild beasts in which he lives. He will then stop being an exterior man.
The same exercise of constatation yields yet another important result. This is the recognition of the principal feature of the Personality.
Each Personality has a principal feature for its axis, and all its qualities and defects gravitate around this. It is not necessary for this trait to be striking; it can be insignificant and even ridiculous. It is remarkable that man recognizes the principal feature in himself only with the greatest. Tr. For each person, the chief feature will determine the type and number of illusions which form the source of our errors of conception and so of our sins. Because everyone's chief feature is different, they cannot be described for all, so that the guidance of a master is needed to reveal them.
difficulty. Yet it is important to recognize and accept it. We could say, in a pictorial way, that to grasp this is to hold the end of the thread that will allow us to unwind the bobbin. It is by recognizing and studying his principal feature that man will be able to define and recognize his own type, to place himself with no possibility of error in the center of gravity of his own Personality, in one of the eighteen sectors of his lower centers.
Here we pass beyond mere theory to begin our practical work, which starts when we recognize and begin to adjust the functioning of the three centers. This task extends along the whole length of what we have called the path of Access.
The diligent practice of constatation, particularly in its passive form, as just described, is an instrument of selection. The weak will turn aside from it, abandoning the search for the Way to sink further into Illusion. The strong are aware of the terrible reality which their moral contents represent, and they understand — no longer philosophically, as if it concerned somebody else, but with upheaval of soul — that the moment has come to prepare a balance sheet and set it before the Judge. This demands courage.
We have indicated many times already that the Way cannot be reached without the seeker accepting his moral bankruptcy and passing beyond this. We are now better placed to understand the reason for and significance of this necessity. From the very beginning of esoteric work, man has every interest in establishing his moral balance sheet: it would be less painful for him to uncover these elements of the balance sheet in stages than to gather them all at once. Whatever the method used, the balance sheet must be arrived at, formulated honestly, and set down. Once having reached the level of man 4; the end of the path of Access, to set out upon the Way, man can no longer hold a false image of himself. He must become as a child, stripped of lies and illusion about himself, rid of all that is artificial which his instruction, education and experience of life have laid down in him. That is the meaning of the words of Jesus: “Verily I say unto you, except ye turn and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven”
This exercise of interior constatation is the instrument which allows the courageous and persevering seeker to become a child. To enter the Way of Salvation with a firm tread.
In its active form, interior constatation chooses the particular object of our interior life that should be brought to our attention; its typical form is the practice of examining the conscience.
The aim is the same as in active exterior constatation. Either of these exercises can lead to concentration. The object of this caneither be interior or exterior, since the Kingdom of God is both inside andoutside us at the same time. (See Fig. 27).
Constatation can take various forms, appropriate to the chosen object and attitude. But doubled attention is always obligatory. The exercise of presence is an effort of watchfulness; as we have seen, it is the principal element in this. When done daily, in the form of passive constatation, it leads to knowledge of oneself. But because presence must as far as possible become permanent—and we emphasize this point because of its importance—the seeker must practice doubled attention as much as he can during all his activities. He will notice in time that this effort of memory, of presence, not only does not hinder his activities, but on the contrary it helps greatly in carrying them out.
Presence, among others, takes two forms which must be particularly observed: these are, first, non-confluence, and second, non-considering. We have commented on these two attitudes on several occasions. It is, however, necessary to study one particular aspect with greater consideration. Interior non-considering must be cultivated in such a way that it becomes total. But we must not confuse this with exterior non-considering. Generally, exterior man, when in a state of confluence, is full of inner considerings. On the other hand, he lacks external consideration. One must look out for that.
External considering must be increased as much as possible. Exterior life is characterized by mechanicalness on the mental plane as well as on the physical. We know that we must not let our finger slip into the wheels of a working machine: it would be crushed. We might even lose our lives. It is the same on the mental14 plane: our attention must remain vigilant. Being machines ourselves, we must avoid colliding with the mental mechanisms which surround us.
In broad outline, this is the meaning and purpose of the exercise of constatation, and the objectives it allows us to reach. We can now understand why it must be followed all along the Way. It serves first as a means to reach these objectives, and then as a means of controlling the results acquired at each stage.
The sixth group of exercises concerns concentration, an active psychological exercise. This consists of withholding the attention from everything which is not the object of moral or physical concentration.
The seventh group concerns contemplation. This is reached when we are able to keep our concentration on the same object during a specified period of time.
The last group aims at ecstasy. Concentration followed by prolonged contemplation leads man towards ecstasy, which is a state of consciousness. As long as this state endures, man finds himself outside the five senses.
The last three groups of exercises, starting from concentration, cannot be usefully approached until tangible results have been obtained by the prolonged practice of constatation. For the time being, we must apply ourselves to that which is accessible to us, and is indispensable if we are to reach the level of man 4. It is only then, as we have tried to show, that the Way of esoteric evolution will open to the seeker.
Chapter XX of Gnosis I