Fourth Way School

“Fourth way schools have existed and exist, just as schools of the three traditional ways existed and exist. But they are much more difficult to detect, because—unlike the others—they cannot be recognized by any one practice, one method, one task, or one name.” – Rodney Collin Smith

Video Credits: Camera Man for Rome footage: Ollie Green | Camera Man for Brazil footage: Israel Menezes | Puppet designer: Mayra Monserrat

How does this fourth way school work?

Fourth Way School Labors Icon

LABORS OF THE MONTH

We follow a structured teaching called the 'Labors of the Month.' A parallel is drawn between farming and the cultivation of consciousness. As a farmer would attend to different aspects of their land each month, so does a fourth way student attend to different aspects of their psychology. This offers a unified structure for all students, while enabling enough flexibility for each to focus on their specific challenges and needs.

(If you haven't already, watch the introductory video on the Labors of the Month)

ONLINE WORKSHOPS, GROUPS & FORUMS

Communities are divided into languages (English, Spanish, Russian, etc.). Every weekend, each community meets online for a workshop related to the labor of that month. Workshops convey knowledge and set exercises. Throughout the week, students stay in touch on WhatsApp groups to share questions and observations of working with these exercises.

Students also post questions and observations in private groups on this site, and periodically develop particular areas of work on dedicated forums.

INTERNATIONAL GATHERINGS

BePeriod gathers internationally twice a year for week-long meetings in destinations that harbor traces of fourth way schools. During the days of these gatherings we tour the sites, and students also get to know each other better. In the evenings and nights we incorporate our findings into a theatrical play. In this way, we step beyond being passive spectators and actively attempt to experience how past teachings were used to cultivate consciousness in their participants.

What is the Fourth Way?

The three ways of developing consciousness correspond to the three brains of our psychology: the body, the emotions and the mind. The first way brings awareness and discipline to the body, the second to the emotions, and the third to the mind. A fourth way school brings awareness and discipline to all three brains simultaneously.

What is the aim of this community?

To serve as a fourth way school for practitioners worldwide. To take advantage of modern connectivity to bring together people who value the fourth way. To formulate a practical teaching that will instruct and inspire them by revisiting ancient schools from a fourth way perspective.

How do I find a friend?

When you make a personal connection with another member, add them as a friend right away! There is no public list of all school members, but you can view the friends you’ve already added: navigate to your profile, then click “Friends” just below your profile picture (between “Messages” and “Groups”).

How do I add a friend?

Your friends will be able to see your activity and send you private messages. To send someone a friend request, click on the picture next to their comment to view their profile, then click the “Add Friend” button near their profile picture.

How do I join a group?

Groups host an exchange on a given subject, generally separate from the weekly topic. To join one, select one from the sidebar or the group directory, then click “Join Group” near the group’s image.

How can I stay anonymous?

There are many professional and private reasons you may wish to remain incognito here, but this school requires openness and sharing of personal experiences. To reconcile these opposing tendencies, try using your real first name with only the initial of your last name, or uploading a profile picture that evokes your emotions or that connects to your spiritual work.

Do I have to pay?

We aim to be inclusive and minimize barriers to participation and membership. Accordingly, almost everything here is free — this school is supported by voluntary contributions. That said, some of the more intensive activities, like online workshops and private tutoring, require payment.

Are there any rules?

Explore, engage, and interact with us! This school will only grow with the sincere expression and effort of its members. Amidst this organic and original medley, there is one guideline we ask you to respect: do not express negative emotions.

Who should I ask my questions?

This is a community where we all work together to answer the questions of members, new and old. Bring your questions into the discussion with your friends, in groups, and in the comments.

I need technical help — who should I ask?

Please send us any feedback by getting in touch.

How is the pyramid constructed?

The evolution of man’s consciousness is divided into topics and spread on a pyramid based on their relation to each other.

The Pyramid is divided into five steps: the realization of man’s undeveloped consciousness at the base; the self-knowledge required for developing consciousness above that; and the disciplines that actualize its development at the top. The summit designates conscious man, a man able to govern himself, to be conscious, to Be.

All ancient schools expressed this conscious evolution allegorically, symbolically, or literally. The Be pyramid synthesizes these many expressions into a single whole.

Buddhist School

The first step of the pyramid is illustrated by an episode from the life of Prince Siddhartha called The Great Departure. Siddhartha grows up in a confined and conditioned environment unknowingly. His gradual realization of his prison is symbolic of the first step of evolution: we too must realize our unconsciousness and the possibility of attaining consciousness; our conditioned knowledge and the possibility of acquiring more precise knowledge; our enslavement to morality and the need of awakening conscience.

Judeo-Christian School

The second step of the pyramid is illustrated by the Biblical Creation. The Creation is viewed as an allegorical expression of our micro-cosmos. “Let there be light” represents the light of self-observation; “separating the light from the darkness” represents separating the true from the false within us; naming the objects of creation represents naming the many habits we observe, based on the brain from which they originate. Nature creates us as incomplete beings – incomplete cosmoses – and leaves us to develop further by our own efforts. The Biblical Creation portrays allegorically what we must achieve in practice.

Hindu School

The last three steps of the pyramid are illustrated by the myth of the Churning of the Milky ocean. In this myth, Vishnu winds a giant serpent around mount Mandara and instructs the devas (gods) and asuras (demons) to tug at this serpent, so as to use the mountain as a churning rod with which to churn the ocean of milk. The habits we observed on the second step now play the role of asuras, and are counterbalanced by disciplines which we form through our work. This internal tug-of-war develops our will, and generates the energy needed for transforming our identity from fragmented thoughts, emotions and impulses, into a permanent consciousness that is able to Be.

20th Century Authors on Fourth Way Schools

Gurdjieff Fourth Way School
George Ivanovich Gurdjieff

“A fourth way school demands understanding before anything else. Results of efforts are always proportional to understanding.” – George Ivanovich Gurdjieff

“A magnetic centre that brings one to a Yogi school or a monastery is different from the magnetic centre that brings one even to a group that may possibly lead to a Fourth Way school. With that kind of magnetic centre one would not be able to work here: people would not have enough initiative. In the religious way they must obey. In this way people must have broader minds, they must understand.” – Peter Demianovich Ouspensky

Ouspensky Fourth Way School
Peter Demianovich Ouspensky
Rodney Collin

“Fourth way schools have existed and exist, just as schools of the three traditional ways existed and exist. But they are much more difficult to detect, because—unlike the others—they cannot be recognized by any one practice, one method, one task, or one name.” – Rodney Collin Smith

“The fourth way is never without some work of a definite significance, is never without some undertaking around which and in connection with which it can alone exist. When this work is finished… the fourth way disappears from the given place, disappears in its given form, continuing perhaps in another place in another form. Fourth way schools exist for the needs of the work which is being carried out in connection with the proposed undertaking. They never exist by themselves as schools for the purpose of education and instruction.” – George Ivanovich Gurdjieff

Gurdjieff Fourth Way School
George Ivanovich Gurdjieff
Maurice Nicoll

“The Fourth Way must always be related to the varying circumstances of life and can never become fixed and habitual. Suddenly it may be necessary to alter the whole external scheme of things.” – Maurice Nicoll

“The work itself of schools of the fourth way can have very many forms and many meanings… The quicker a man grasps the aim of the work which is being executed, the quicker can he become useful to it and the more will he be able to get from it for himself.” – George Ivanovich Gurdjieff

Gurdjieff Fourth Way School
George Ivanovich Gurdjieff
John Godolphin Bennett

“Gurdjieff defined ‘schools’ as organizations that exist for the purpose of transmitting to the ‘Outer Circle’ – that is, ordinary people – the knowledge and powers that originate in the ‘Inner Circle’… The Fourth Way would have no meaning if there were not an ‘Inner Circle’ to which it leads.” – John Godolphin Bennett

“An organization that can be called a fourth way school is an organization which introduces three forces into its work.” – Peter Demianovich Ouspensky

Ouspensky Fourth Way School
Peter Demianovich Ouspensky
Ouspensky Fourth Way School
Peter Demianovich Ouspensky

“In schools of the Fourth Way it was found that the best conditions for study and work on oneself are a man’s ordinary conditions of life, because from one point of view these conditions are easier and from another they are the most difficult.” – Peter Demianovich Ouspensky

“A student of a fourth way school works in the midst of life, is surrounded by all the misfortunes of life, and eventually life becomes his teacher.” – Maurice Nicoll

Maurice Nicoll