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If I would see, my eyes
must be open;
If I would drink, my mouth
must reach water;
If I would have, I must
come to the gift;
Can I receive if I am not present?

— Anna Logan

 

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SELF OBSERVATION

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.