Gurdjieff’s practical Work (some suggestions)

G.I. Gurdjieff

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How much time should be spended at the beginning Working on ourselves each day? This answer is given by Gurdjieff during one of his meetings:

Gurdjieff:…You must set aside a special time each day for the work. Not all the time, the Work is a serious thing. You cannot work interiorly all day. You must make a special time and increase it little by little. To this work you give a half hour of the 24 hours. During this half hour forget all the rest, put all the rest aside. It’s a little thing. You sacrifice to this time all your occupations, all the work of your exterior functions. Sacrifice everything for your interior work and afterward you can put it aside for the things of ordinary life. You cannot do this work all day.
Q: I think so. That becomes mechanical: I am, I wish to be.
Gurdjieff: You mix, you must not. Don’t mix this work with ordinary work. We have two kinds of waking state. For this work, you should have one active waking state. But a half hour of this waking state is enough for the rest of the day, which you live as you have the habit of doing. You can do this? And if you can’t do a half hour, even ten minutes is rich for him who work ten minutes. You must give and sacrifice to this work a special time. You cannot give all your time. Life is one thing, the work another. The substantiality of each one is different: for this work you must be more active. I’ve said this many times. When you begin your work, your task, it is your work. You should, even before beginning relax yourself, prepare yourself, collecting yourself. Afterward, with all your being, you accomplish your task. It is a very complicated thing. You cannot do it for a long time. You are soon tired. It takes all your strength; if you do it five minutes too much, you are drained of all strength. It’s for that reason that I say you must increase the time little by little, until you are used to it: five minutes, six minutes, ten minutes. Only this system will always give you a good beginning to prepare you for acquiring the state that is becoming to a real man. And if you work a long time, that proves that you do not work with all your being – you are working only with your mind. But as to that, you can do it for a thousand years without gaining anything; it is worth nothing. Work a short time, but work well. Here it isn’t the quantity but the quality that counts. Life is one thing. Do not mix it with other things. Five minutes of good work is worth more than 24 hours of another kind. If you haven’t much time, work 5 minutes. Let ordinary life continue automatically according to habit the rest of the time. What you say does not concern the work. Our life is one thing, the work another thing. Otherwise you will become a psychopath. You remember yourself with your mind – it is worthless; remember yourself with all your being. You can’t do it for long, you drain yourself. Do it for 5 minutes, but forget everything else. Be an absolute egoist, forget everything, your God, your husband, your children, money – remember only the work. Short, but substantial.

(Meeting Notes, Paris, Thursday, July 1, 1943)


So, we suggest to taking care of dividing your daily practice in seven segments with an exercise for each (if you find some questions or problems in organizing your daily exercises ”routine”, feel free to post your questions on the FAQ page or mail to the administrator)

Come up with an affirmation for each day from Monday to Saturday, and  use her every moment when during the day you have nothing to do or are annoyed.

Note: First of allIt is necessary to say that everything that comes from this point on is not to be believed.The greatest error we humans make is to believe blindly what some authority proposes. Many of us, for instance, blindly believe almost anything that is published in print. It is equally imperative to not disbelieve anything that is proposed. Cynicism is as damaging to the human psyche as naivete. A third alternative is this: to hold what is given in a neutral place within, neither believing nor disbelieving. This then leaves a space for verification. Verify everything and believe nothing but what has been verified. When this precept is followed, the ideas verified become ours, we own them. No one can take them from us. Be open to all possibilities and growth will accelerate.


The path leading to the discovery of who we truly are is unknown and unknowable. Who we truly are is the unknown aspect of our journey. We move along this path by revealing to ourselves who we are not. “The illusion is not external, but internal. Our task is similar to that of the sculptor faced with a block of raw marble. The inspiration within him, the miraculous within him, knows that within that block of stone lies a magnificent work of art. His job is simple. He must remove from the block of marble that which is not the statue. Gradually, bit by bit, the figure within will reveal itself. Our task as seekers is identical. We must remove from our inner world that which is not higher consciousness. As we do so bit by bit, the miraculous beings that we are emerge. It will not be what we expected, for how can we form an expectation about something that is unknown to us?

Thus we begin identifying the internal illusion. We must determine where we are and build a foundation that is firm and

solid. We would not expect to successfully erect a tall, strong building that would stretch up to the clouds by beginning our construction at the tenth floor. We must first dig a firm foundation deep in the earth. So initially we get our hands dirty. We dig down into the earth and we find that we have certain beliefs about ourselves that are not true. These are the illusions we hold about ourselves. They are not unique to us as individuals, but are generally held by most people who have not yet awakened.

The first illusion to be confronted is that we are complete, whole as we are. To believe this is to believe that there is nothing beyond our present experience of ourselves,that who we are today is who we will be the rest of our lives.

We all know, from examples around us and from throughout history, that some individuals have managed to find something different for themselves. Certain people have learned to transform themselves in some way, have overcome limitations imposed upon them by circumstances, have broken free. These individuals were able to access some hidden talent within themselves and develop it. Each one of us in our heart of hearts wishes for something similar to “happen” to us. We may think, however, that such potential doesn’t exist, or that such individuals were just lucky.

Most human beings walking the planet have brought with them some gift or gifts.We all can be more than we are now presently manifesting. We each can be greater than we presently are, both from an outer world point of view and, especially, from an inner world perspective. There exist potential functions, abilities, and powers within us that can only be developed through our own efforts. They will not “happen” to us!

How do we find them, especially when we haven’t a clue as to what they are? This is part of the journey into the unknown. The first step on the path has to be the experiential acknowledgement that what we are now is not the totality, that there is indeed a greater potential lying hidden within that conventional methods cannot tap into. We must discover that as we are now we are incomplete. This cannot come just as an idea. It must be felt as an emotional experience, so that you, whoever you are now, scanning these words, can feel,somewhere within the depths of your being, the truth of this expression. You must realize that you’ve known it for some time, and that reading it here causes something to resonate within you.

It is not the mind, nor even the heart that has this knowingness, but rather, the soul. This is true verification. We all have intuitive powers. We all are telepathic. We all have the potential capacity to see beneath the surface of people and events. Yet as we are now in our present state of awareness, or consciousness, these capacities remain dormant, and can only be awakened through the raising of our internal vibratory rate. Only by focusing our internal energies and creating a peaceful inner environment can we become complete.


To accomplish this requires the penetration of yet another illusion; the illusion that our inner world contains but a single entity. In fact, we contain a multitude. Science is fond of saying that we only use a small percentage of our potential capacity. This implies that the remainder is somehow locked away in some hidden vault and will only be made available to us in some science fictional future through genetic engineering, or some other technological revelation. It is more the case that our energies are divided. Prior to consciously working to create an orderly inner world, our inner world is a chaotic place inhabited by a gang of disorderly people, each of whom has his or her own wants, needs and desires, all in competition with each other. This situation is not too dissimilar to the appearance of our outer world, our society.

The illusion is that we tend to deny this is the case. We pretend that we are unified beings, that we are in control, that we know what we want and who we are. Each time a voice speaks within us, we pretend that that voice speaks for the whole, as if the mayor of Los Angeles when he speaks, is speaking for the entire nation. Politically we know that we’d be in trouble, and not a little dysfunctional, if we were to believe this. Yet, when some small part of an internal function speaks within us, we believe that a unified “I” who is our totality has spoken. Spiritually, this is as dysfunctional as believing the mayor of Los Angeles spoke for the nation.


It is right here, at this point, that we must establish an important tool. Now is the time to create the Observer. This is where practical work begins. The Observer is the beginning of a connection to who we truly are. It is a neutral entity within us who is detached from what swirls around it. It remains awake and watchful.

When our attention is located within the Observer, we can’t help but notice that we are indeed inhabited by multitudes. We can see that our inner world is peopled by a wide variety of characters all of whom have separate interests. Since each one of these entities calls itself “I”, we simply say that we are inhabited by many ‘I’s, each of whom has a different voice.

When we place our attention and our potential identity into the Observer, we can begin to experience that not any single “I” within this multitude of “I”s is really who we are. Once we can establish as a perception that none of this multitude is our true self, we can move toward having more choices in our life. We can now evaluate each inner character as being separate from who we are and can then choose whether or not this character is worth expressing. Such ability to choose, however, can only begin with the creation of an Observer within, who is not involved in the wants, needs, desires and demands of the other beings who inhabit us. In the beginning the Observer has no powers and can only watch helplessly.

It can make no changes initially and is simply there to learn about our internal workings. The power to choose comes later when the Observer is more mature and has acquired some practical tools.

We all have some resistance to this idea. It is hard to come to grips with the concept that we contain a competing multitude. We can note, however, that we will act upon some “I”, such as an “I” to buy something in the department store and charge it. At a time later, some other “I” will have to pay the bill and will be irritated with the “I” who spent the money. It was the case, then, that some part of us made the purchase, and some other part of us was confronted with the bill. For conceptual purposes, we can see these were two different people.

We can also observe that these “Many I’s” gather together in groups having similar interests. Thus we may have a group of “I’s” interested in sports, or in parenting. In fact, these groups of “I’s” comprise the roles we play in our outer world existence. We play the role of parent, child, employer, employee, brother, sister,husband, wife, customer, driver, homeowner…the list goes on and on. In each role we are called by the same name. Each role expresses itself by saying “I”, yet we don’t experience the often conflicting values that exist between the roles. We don’t acknowledge our own internal contradictions, or even notice them. We can’t see how one moment we are one person, the next moment another, because there is nothing permanent in us. The creation of the Observer is the beginning of something permanent.


So how do these “Many I’s” relate? What is it that creates order among the multitude? Once we are up and running as adults, we have all or most of our programing in place. We have established our roles. We have a job or a career, we’re married and have started a family, we have a place to live, and a daily routine. The groups of “I”s that relate to these various roles all know their places and are activated by external stimulation. Thus, more or less efficiently, everybody knows their job and when they are scheduled to appear on stage. This is true to such a degree that our lives, when well established, can almost run themselves without our paying a whole lot of attention. The courses have been set, the direction determined, the players chosen, the schedule established. Now, we can simply set the autopilot and just check in occasionally to make sure everything is running smoothly.

A well-oiled machine has been established that can literally run itself, all on the basis of a stimulus-response mechanism. Thus our output becomes determined by whatever the input is, plus how that input interfaces with our programing. Our lives run automatically, being disturbed from time to time by some accidental intrusion or catastrophe. When these interruptions come, we scurry about, diligently reassembling the machine so it will again run smoothly, automatically.


We’re now beginning to get a picture of a being that is incomplete, but doesn’t realize or acknowledge it. A being who’s energies are scattered, or disunified, and has an inner world inhabited by a competing multitude pretending to be a single entity. Its organization is determined by externally imposed programing set to run automatically.

Such a being has few choices. When the programing is set to respond automatically to external stimulation, life simply happens. It is not controlled by the will of the being, but by the accidental influences of external stimulation. Such a being has only the little wills of the “Many I’s”. Since there is no central unifying force, there is no real Will. What may appear to be a will that can accomplish something is more often externally applied pressure. The being does not “Do” anything. Everything is done for it. It cannot use the winds of life to consciously set a course, it can only be blown helplessly about by each gust that comes along. There is no purpose, no aim, no direction.


To conceive of ordinary life in such a way will be provocative to many who read this. There is no judgement in this view, simply a perception of what is. If we wish nothing further from life than what we already have, then these perceptions are of little value. If, however, there burns within a desire to penetrate deeper into the meaning of existence, if there is a sincere longing to connect to a greater purpose, to become greater than we are, then we need to take an accurate assessment of our present circumstances. The realization and verification of the above picture can be empowering. It offers the opportunity to appraise our life more objectively. If we have the courage to do this, then more is possible. There is a way out of this apparent dilemma, a practical way to begin the journey toward a more Enlightened way of living.


Sensing Exercises

Sensing Exercises are the basics to begin a work such as Gurdjieff suggested.

What is sensing?  Sensing refers to the ability to take in Impressions generated in and by our Physical Center. These include the sensations of touch, pressure, heat, cold, position and balance of our physical Being. Modern science has identified about 21 different types of nerve receptors that relay consciously perceivable information to our Instinctive brain. Learning to Sense our body is an essential and basic task of the Work. All of the Work exercises require Sensing the body all of the time. Sensing is the quintessential exercise for including the physical center in all three centered exercises. Get to know it well and strive to include it in all your Work on Self Remembering.

Basic Sensing Exercise

Take a comfortable position and become aware of your feet. Imagine that you are being filled with a warm, thick, honey like liquid and that it is slowly filling your body, starting from the feet and moving up to your legs, then pelvis, then torso, then arms, then chest, then head. Be aware of the sense of gravity pulling your body towards the ground. Be aware of the position of your limbs. Try to maintain an awareness of Sensing in the whole body. This requires your whole Attention.

Self Observation


How to begin the self observation?

“When walking, the practitioner is aware, ‘I am walking’; when standing, is aware, ‘I am standing’; when sitting, is aware, ‘I am sitting’; when lying down, is aware, ‘I am lying down.’ In whatever position one’s body happens to be, one is aware of the position of the body. When one is going forward or backward, one applies one’s full awareness to one’s going forward or backward. When one looks in front or looks behind, bends down or stands up, one also applies full awareness to what one is doing. One applies full awareness to wearing the robe or carrying the alms bowl. When one eats or drinks, chews or savors the food, one applies full awareness to all this. When passing excrement or urinating, one applies full awareness to this. When one walks, stands, lies down, sleeps or wakes up, speaks or is silent, one shines his awareness on all this.”

So said the Buddha.

This means that when we walk, we sense our body in motion, when we sit we perceive it in sitting posture and so on. So, sensing is the key to begin our self Observation practice. This practice has to be done several times during one day for short moments. We’ll achieve the best results if we’ll do this practice in different daily situations. This practice gives us the possibility to develop the ability of self-remembering or remember ourselves- this is a global envelope of consciousness that encompasses all things.


The practice of self observation requires attention and in the course of doing the exercises, the attention and concentration are developed as a matter of course. In the beginning, before ones tries to develop the self observation, it is good to practice focusing all of ones attention on one thing. As one gets more proficient, one needs to work on developing divided or global attention. The following are only some suggested starting practicies.

  • One of the classic attention exercises is to watch the flame of a candle.
  • Ouspensky suggested watching the second hand of a clock.
  • One can pay attention to the sensations in one part of the body.
  • One can attend to a particular sight, sound, taste or smell.
  • One can attend to ones thoughts, or emotions.
  • One can attend to ones breath


Reminders are little tricks and triggers, such as  people, places, events or things, that we use to remind ourselves to Stop and observe our inner state and remember ourselves. Each Reminder should be accompanied by explicit three centered Inner Work and a Sensing exercise. One should change Reminders often, as they tend to become mechanical otherwise.

The following are only some suggested starting practicies.

Suggested Inner Work

Always include a Sensing of your whole body, a part of the body or parts of the body in a sequence.

  • Observe ones thought, emotions and sensations.
  • Observe tension in the body.
  • Observe ones posture.
  • Observe ones breathing.
  • Remember yourself by bringing Attention to all three centers.
  • Remember yourself by doing the I AM exercise.
  • Quite the intellectual center by stopping thoughts.
  • Intone a Repetition or Prayer, verbally or silently.
  • Perform a ritual, such as making the sign of the Cross or take a particular posture or a Movements position.

Suggested Reminders

  • On awakening in the morning.
  • Feet touching the floor in the morning.
  • While washing in the morning.
  • While eliminating waste water and solids.
  • Beginning of a meal.
  • Opening the refrigerator
  • Answering the telephone.
  • Walking through a doorway.
  • Opening the car door.
  • Whenever a certain time is shown on a clock.
  • Turning on your computer.
  • Switching on a light.
  • Whenever you say “I”, or some other word.
  • Whenever someone else says “I”, or some other word.
  • When a certain sound occurs, such as car horn, dog barking, bird singing.
  • Meeting a certain person.
  • Entering a certain building or store.
  • Whenever a commercial comes on TV.

About mr Sarmoung

Andrea Dandolo je pisac i istražitelj razvoja svijesti i duhovnosti uključen u razotkrivanje drevnih učenja s ciljem olakšavanja unutarnjeg razvoja ljudskih bića. Jedan od načina kojima se time bavi je i kroz blog koji je preveden na engleski, španjolski i od nedavno hrvatski. Od rane mladosti je u svijetu duhovnosti i rada na sebi sudjelujući u radu grupa koje potječu direktno od Gurdjieffa, tj koje su bile vođene od strane samog Gurdjieffa U skladu sa drevnim znanjima, naglašava razvoj svjesnosti kao primarno sredstvo za psihološku transformaciju i duhovnu osvještenost individualaca. Karakteristike sistema koji predlaže su jednostavan jezik i moderni prijevod drevnih učenja kao i njihove praktične primjene u svakodnevnome životu. Njegov blog čitaju ljudi iz svih krajeva svijeta. Samorazvoj je ne religiozni i ne dogmatski put; sastoji se primarno od naprednog dostizanja viših stanja svijesti, p prisustva i konačno od ostvarivanja svoje prave intimne prirode, koja je poznata u mnogim tradicijama pod imenima poput esencija, duša, biće. Kroz takav razvoj individualna osoba ulazi u nove dimenzije svijesti koje mu omogućuju da vidi stvarnost sakrivenu iza iluzija. To mu omogućuje kreiranje osobnosti neovisne i otporne na vanjske situacije i vanjska uvjetovanja. Posljedice takvog razvoja su oštra inteligencija, izvanredni kreativni kapaciteti, ravnoteža i smirenost u svakoj situaciji i stabilno stanje višeg stanja svijesti koje je poznato u drevnim tradicijama pod nazivom “buđenje”.
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1 Response to Gurdjieff’s practical Work (some suggestions)

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