The Work* begins with self observation
or more accurately said, uncritical self observation.
All of us notice things about ourselves and each time it is accompanied
by criticism. We drop a glass or trip on the curb and call ourself a
klutz or any number of things. We criticize our feelings,
"You shouldn't feel afraid of him. Negative feelings are bad."
We are having trouble solving a problem and say "You can't
think your way out of a wet paper bag." These are a
few examples of many thousands of ways we observe something in ourselves
and immediately become critical of it. We do this so often that this
type of observation becomes quite automatic. Ask yourself,
"Has critical observation stopped you from tripping over things
or feeling angry? Has critical observation cleared up your thoughts?"
Uncritical self observation is very different
from critical self observation. It must be learned as one would
learn to read or drive a car. First, as in learning to read, a
teacher is required because the habit of criticizing or analyzing
what one observes is far to strong and quickly all observations will
go to our inner critic.
Two things are required for right self observation, attention
and an object of the attention. The Work calls the part of
us that can observe, "Observing I."
Observing I works completely with the power of attention. This attention
can be directed to our thoughts, feelings or body. The function
of Observing I is not analysis or criticism, only directed attention
and the ability to record what is observed.
With time and practice, Observing I develops to the point
where we can clearly see the contents of our inner world and see where
any changes need to be made. With a clear sight we can see that many
inner things thought to be wrong or bad are not, and things in the inner
world thought to be good or right are not. When we begin to see
ourself clearly, without good or bad, right or wrong, real questions
will begin to emerge. For example, I see that I am afraid
and ask - How am I afraid? Why am I afraid? Who is afraid?
Where am I afraid? These are real questions and
real answers can be found.
*The Work - shorthand for the Teaching
of the Fourth Way of George I. Gurdjieff, sometimes
called the Gurdjieff Work, a system of work on oneself.