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The Work

“Knowledge of oneself is a very big, but very vague and distant, aim. Man in his present state is very far off from self-knowledge. Therefore, strictly speaking, his aim cannot even be defined as self-knowledge.


Self-study must be his big aim. It is quite enough if a man understands that he must study himself. It must be man’s aim to begin to study himself, to know himself, in the right way.


Self-study is the work or the way which leads to self-knowledge. But in order to study oneself one must first learn how to study, where to begin, what methods to use. A man must learn how to study himself, and he must study the methods of self-study.


The chief method of self-study is self-observation. Without properly applied self-observation a man will never understand the connection and the correlation between the various functions of his machine, will never understand how and why on each separate occasion everything in him ‘happens’”.

– G.I. Gurdjieff


Gurdjieff was an Armenia born philosopher, mystic and spiritual teacher that effectively taught that people are not conscious of themselves and thus live their lives in a state of hypnotic “waking sleep”. But it is possible to awaken to a higher state of consciousness and serve our purpose as human beings through self-study which has become known as “The Work”.  His teachings are complex and heavy and not the place to start a journey of awakening, but my experience is that most who go down a path of seeking higher consciousness end up pulled into “The Work” at some point. I personally hold him as one of my main teachers.


In Gurdjieff’s framework, at 48 years old, I was late to the party questioning my reality and starting “The Work”. He allegorizes our mental, emotional, and spiritual evolution as the arising of a crystal structure that is built up over the years by our conditioning. In general, our ‘society’ leads us down a path of worshiping the false idol of productivity which is simply the other side of the coin of consumerism. We hitch our wagon to the work, eat, sleep, entertainment cycle so that not only do we rarely feel the need to really look at ourselves,  but if we did we wouldn’t have time to do it and certainly wouldn’t prioritize it.


Who am I? What am I? Why am I here?


The longer the crystal structure is built up, the more painful it becomes to break it down and start again. And intensely painful it was but it is mostly behind me now and the message I carry is that if you are “hearing the call” the journey is worth it for you, and ultimately for everyone you love (even if it takes time for them to understand).


But how do we hear the call to start “The Work”?  Some are born just not fitting in, but they are so out of the cycle with society at large they often can’t build the needed container and get lost in the chaos (Ironically there is an advantage to some time spent in the dream).  Some lucky ones just wake up or meet the teacher, but the vast majority need some intense trauma to get them to look closely at the crystal structure they have built and decide it needs to be torn down. That was my path and for the record, my trauma was self-induced as is often the case. It is the soul rising to crucify the ego and to resurrect our purpose as human beings. Reach out if you are hearing the call.  You are not alone.


The Way

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