A miracle is the manifestation in this world of the laws of another world. A higher world is exempt from the laws that govern the worlds beneath it, and this exemption, seen from the vantage point of the lower, comes across as miraculous. If, like Jesus, I walk on water, then I defy the laws of gravity. If, like Muhammad, I bring rain during a drought, then I defy the laws of meteorology. If, like the Buddha, I take seven steps after being born from my mother’s side, then I defy the laws of physiology. And if, like Mary, I conceive while remaining a virgin, then I defy the laws of pregnancy.

“The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee,” says Gabriel to Mary in the miracle of the Annunciation; “Therefore that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Miraculously, Mary conceives from a higher world. When the archangel departs, she remains impregnated with God’s seed. A trace of the higher is left in the lower, one that now unfolds independently of its catalyst. “Hail Mary full of Grace… Blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”

Miracles are not confined to the world of legends. A leaf, of the kind presented to us by the farmer of the April Labor (featured atop this post) is endowed with powers very similar to Mary’s. It can transform solar energy into cellular matter. Solar energy is exempt from physicality, gravity, and time, and is, in this respect, superior to the cellular world. Imbued with omnipresence, it bathes everything indiscriminately — mountains, seas, valleys, animals, humans and plants — all in equal measure. But of these, only a leaf is able to retain and fix solar radiance through photosynthesis. A leaf, despite being physical, conceives and grows by the light of the sun, just like Mary, despite being human, conceives and grows by the Holy Ghost. “Hail leaf full of chlorophyll... Unique art thou among the world of living things!”

The evolution of man’s consciousness hinges around the very same principle. “In an ordinary psychic state I simply look at a street,” says George Gurdjieff. “But if I remember myself, I do not simply look at the street; I feel that I am looking, as though saying to myself: 'I am looking.' Instead of one impression of the street there are two impressions, one of the street and another of myself looking...” The view of the street is like God to Mary or sunlight to the plant. It bathes everything indiscriminately. From the sidewalk, a fly, finch, french bulldog, or human being are all afforded with the same view. But the human alone can internalize this impression to elicit a process that culminates in self-consciousness. Self-remembering is photosynthesis in the micro-cosmos man.

Is it a remarkable coincidence that the feast of the Annunciation would be celebrated around the Spring Equinox, heralding the reappearance of foliage in nature? Or did the Gospel authors have in mind the miracle of photosynthesis when they coined the miracle of their virgin? April is planting time. Our Chartres farmer displays two plants that he himself has germinated. Now that temperatures will rise, he must transfer his plants to their final position in the garden. But before this is done, a selection must be made: plants that are too weak or too small cannot properly enact the miracle of photosynthesis. They will develop improperly and produce a poor harvest. Our farmer must therefore choose the good and discard the bad. This is his Labor of April.

We must apply similar discrimination. We are in search of the miraculous — not in Egypt, Ceylon, or India, but standing on the street where we live. The present is reliably there. It is up to us to Be there for it, to use it as a catalyst for self-consciousness. Our skills in photosynthesis have improved. Having formulated aims around our habits during January, experimented with non-identification during February, pruned and refined our work during March, we are naturally brought to the position of asking ourselves: which of our efforts really work?

Focus on those and discard the rest.

Responses

  1. Tim

    Asaf – This very nicely written and thank you again for all that you do here. I wish to post a comment and apologize ahead of time if what is posted is not what you hoped for. I have fallen behind the group’s progress so it may not track with where the active members of your group are in terms of the work. We all occupy certain countries, inner countries, at any given moment.

    What has been working for me, in my present condition, has been the preservation of internal force by adopting good attitudes, albeit artificially made, that prevent negativity from consuming my sense of self. I walk a little lighter, my head a little higher. And because of this new contrast I can see where I previously fell in to a rut. It isn’t intellectually seen, it noticed and realized by something else. When we feel a perk in internal energy would this be instinctive/moving center that notices? Or emotional?

    What has also been working has been studying Maurice Nicoll. His commentaries are pure instruction without innuendo. Whereas reading Ouspenski, and therefore G, seems to contain instruction but also flavors and impressions arising from the times in which that writing took place and also dynamics between the two men.

    I wish now to balance the centers, to think what is felt and feel what is thought… in order to transform impressions

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Thanks for the kind words Tim. Your comment is in line with the April Labor. Could you be more specific and share which attitudes have helped you minimize the expression of negativity? This would instruct and inspire the rest of us.

      1. Tim

        The work is meant to help us get to influence C but I find its application in the realm of influence A to also be profitable. I manufactured a positive financial attitude several months ago based on self reliance and on taking personal responsibility. I found out this past week I’ll likely be downsized from my job. While this caused anger, I am able to avoid self pity, booze, and all the typical reactions thanks in part to my previous efforts.

        Ouspensky once said we should try to remember ourselves during a critically emotional situation and that such efforts would help our cause in future events. I wasn’t able to do this per-se when first finding out about my job situation but I was able to remind myself I was in the danger zone of possibly expressing negative emotions. Some leaked out but nothing too bad. The positive attitudes fostered earlier have become a fall back position and the raw, all-consuming emotion soon passed.

        While this isn’t the path to enlightenment it’s also not the path to identification, self absorption, negativity, etc. I understand this is the law of accident writ before me but I still have mouths to feed so there is a self perceived responsibility to make things work. But now I know even more so that we can do nothing. I hope this helps someone.

  2. Dean Whittingham

    In the day to day hustle and bustle (in contrast to being at home or in private and being able to read a book or close my eyes), I feel I can always count on the moving center and the sensations on my body to give me the beginnings of consciousness, and like a shed or machinery is earthed to the ground, it always seems the best place to start.

    There is always some muscle in me tense, some part of me wishing to speed up, some part wishing to move or engage in some act, and without fail, if I can produce the required effort, I can take it from the moving center and see further in to the emotional and intellectual centers. Why is this muscle tense, oh, it is because I feel insecure at this point,and why is that, oh, because I have just imagined and played out in my mind some situation which if ‘were’ to happen might cause me great discomfort.

    By then relaxing that muscle, I have allowed myself to Be.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Thanks, Dean, for this very practical example. It can be used at any moment. It reminds me of the eastern comparison of man with a carriage, horse, driver, and master, mentioned in In Search of the Miraculous. In the example you give, you are using the connections between the carriage, horse, and rider, to observe them and rein them in:

      “The horse is our emotions. The carriage is the body. The mind must learn to control the emotions. The emotions always pull the body after them. This is the order in which work on oneself must proceed. But observe again that work on the ‘bodies,’ that is, on the driver, the horse, and the carriage, is one thing. And work on the ‘connections’—that is, on the ‘driver’s understanding,’ which unites him to the master; on the ‘reins,’ which connect him with the horse; and on the ‘shafts’ and the ‘harness,’ which connect the horse with the carriage—is quite, another thing.” – George Gurdjieff

      Krishna and Arjuna (Kangra Pahari, 19th c. Delhi Museum)

  3. Bastián Osorio

    Thanks Asaf for the interesting text that you wrote.

    I think that when we are sorrounded by people that share honesty, conscience, and love, miracles come start to happen.

    My efforts aim to join a group of work in order to know other experiences and share mine.

    1. Rachel Crochet

      hi ! thanks ! In French we say “idem” who is “the same” and I say “id’aime” who is “the same love”. a good journey for the consciousness of the counsciousness in the observation during the lovely slowly time how permit this contemplation of the consciousness’s material manifestations by the shyny cousniousness in our brains… and vice versa 🙂 of course…

  4. Rachel Crochet

    I choose grateffuly these words :
    “Self-remembering is photosynthesis in the micro-cosmos man.
    Le rappel de soi est la photosynthèse chez l’homme du micro-cosmos.

    The present is reliably there. It is up to us to Be there for it, to use it as a catalyst for self-consciousness.
    Le présent est fiable. Il appartient à nous d’être là pour l’utiliser, comme un catalyseur de la conscience de soi.”
    Thanks Asaf

    and I shared these pearls with my friends in fb :
    if someone have ears to heard…

    King Salomon said “I Throw my bread in the plan of many rivers, perhaps somewhere, someone will find it…”

  5. Kalev K

    Choosing the efforts. Over last months I have had two principally different efforts – mainly I was occupied with reading about the practices and a bit with real practicing too.
    It is really nice to know how things are (or should be) but it is a big difference to feel the same.
    Couple of weeks ago we were on skiing holiday with family. We are not experts and I have a very mechanical reaction with anger, if anything goes wrong. My youngest son reflects this back with triple force. Instantly. So, we were in skiing and a fear of my sons reactions forced me to observe my emotions constantly. This was like a hunt for oncoming emotions. It did work almost half a day.
    So what is the force that makes leaf to make photosynthesis?

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Kalev, I find this comment of yours perceptive:

      It is really nice to know how things are (or should be) but it is a big difference to feel the same.

      Emotion is the force that enables photosynthesis. Self-remembering shouldn’t be only a physical awareness of myself in my immediate surroundings. It should also generate an emotion. We will discuss this in greater depth during the coming workshop on What Really Works?

      “Moreover, it very often happens that the additional sensation connected with self-remembering brings with it an element of emotion.” – George Gurdjieff

  6. Hannah K

    APRIL MUSIC
    A little late (apologies!) but here are the musical hydrogens for April.

    Vivaldi, in the second movement of “Spring” from “The Four Seasons”, chose to portray a pastoral scene of a goat-herd sleeping in a meadow full of flowers echoing the plant analogy for our April labour. Here is the relevant lines from the sonnets that Vivaldi allegedly wrote to accompany these concertos and the YouTube link.
    Largo
    On the flower-strewn meadow, with leafy branches rustling overhead, the goat-herd sleeps, his faithful dog beside him.

    Largo “E quindi sul fiorito ameno prato
Al caro mormorio di fronde e piante Dorme ‘l Caprar col fido can’ à lato.”

    “Spring” 2nd movement from The Four Seasons by Vivaldi
    https://youtu.be/1Nx4B0hUbs8

    Tchaikovsky also chose to portray a plant in “April” from his cycle of piano pieces entitled “The Seasons”. However, it would seem that in Russia, being much further north than Italy, that by April only the snow drops are beginning to show through the melting snow and hence his piece for April is subtitled “Snow Drops”.
    Here is the YouTube link

    April “Snow Drops” by Tchaikovsky
    https://youtu.be/07KXmaHpzXo

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Thanks Hannah.

      It is helpful to keep in perspective the relativity of the seasons, that despite the fixed dates of solstices and equinoxes, spring arrives and departs differently in different parts of the globe (occurring in opposite times in the southern hemisphere). After all, we are drawing an analogy from the macro-cosmos earth to the micro-cosmos man. Man’s cycles are faster and more erratic. A person can experience the principles of each labor in any time of the year.

  7. Hannah K

    For me, one of the things that works best for bringing me into consciousness in the present moment is to fix my inner attention on the centre that is most active, like I would have had to have done as a child before I learned to do things automatically. It’s when I go into automatic that my mind starts wandering into day dreaming. So, for example, if I am preparing a meal, then I try to observe my moving centre internally and the sounds and smells it is creating externally. But if I am having a conversation with someone then the emotional centre is the key player internally and the words of the speaker externally. Lying in bed before sleep is all instinctive centre (the sensation of my back on the mattress, the colours playing behind my eyelids) but writing this post I am trying to focus my attention on my intellectual centre formulating it’s thoughts internally and the sounds of my fingers tapping on the iPad externally.

    The other thing I find really effective is becoming aware of myself as awareness in a body sitting in an environment. This always spooks my machine out and shocks it into silence for a moment or two!

      1. Tim

        Dean I find that the person who’s talking gives off micro facial expressions which I don’t account for and they trigger in me mechanically established reactions. I experiment once in a while by pretending to look at something important when someone is talking to me. It’s amazing to me what the eyes pick up from another’s face and what we take for granted.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Similar to Dean’s comment on using the moving center to observe other centers, the work you describe brings up the image of the driver, carriage and horses. What transpires is that we must gain a certain amount of control over our lower centers in order to be able to introduce and prolong consciousness, to Be. We will discuss this in greater depth during the coming workshop on What Really Works?

      1. Dean Whittingham

        Thanks Tim and Asaf,

        Is it enough to say that if one can remember what one has said to another, or what one was feeling, etc, say the following day, that one has self-remembered during that time?

        Yesterday, a work colleague who is also in a band, was approached by a couple of other workers, who do not usually talk to him about this, but asked him how his recent weekend went considering he played every night. I watched how on one hand he was smiling and laughing and seemed to enjoy talking about it but at the same time he could not stop moving around, as if he was also uncomfortable about it, and because I used to be in bands and is therefore something we share in common, he kept turning to me as if to seek some form of comfort. I was very present to this and noticed immediately the way in which I and others tend to ‘move about’ when uncomfortable and I also felt sympathetic towards him as now the conversation was dying and the others had stopped asking questions. At this point, I knew exactly what to say to keep the conversation going and create some ‘ease’ in him, and at the same time remembering my aim to self-remember when talking. I still remember exactly what I said to him, and I remember his response, but I do not know if this means I have self-remembered. I could not tell you if my body was relaxed or not at the time, nor what, if any, emotion I was experiencing right at that time either.

        Compare this to later in the night (and after having read what Hannah said), my son, who is a Batman enthusiast, whilst eating our dinner kept telling us all ‘I am batman’ in a growly voice. Seeing that this was starting to irritate others at the table (which I must confess made me giggle a little inside) I remembered my aim and what Hannah had said and focused in on my emotions, where I could also observe that I was getting a little irritated also, but it seemed more for others sake and not my own, but nonetheless, I observed it as the ‘feeling’ that it was and then promptly told my son something along the lines of ‘that’s enough for now’. In this instance, I remember the feeling well, but I do not remember exactly what I said, only generally what I said, and again, I could not tell you if my body was relaxed or not except that I was still eating my own dinner and that my body was not doing anything out of the ordinary.

        1. Asaf Braverman Post author

          Consciousness has degrees. It is a dimmer switch rather than an on-off button. You were more conscious during the conversation between your colleagues. With increase of consciousness comes an increase of possibilities; we gain more choices. “Do I step into the discussion and help my friend explain himself?” “Do I sit back and let him inner consider?” Ultimately, your choice doesn’t matter so much, but the fact that you had a choice at all shows that you were more conscious. If you weren’t, you would not respond but react.

          In some cases, what we choose to express or not express may influence our ability to remain conscious. For example, say you knew that Dean gets easily identified with the topic of bands. In the situation you describe, it would be prudent not to intervene in the conversation – not because of your friend, but because you would likely lose consciousness. In this way, our consciousness affects our decisions.

  8. Goran Djukleski

    When I formulated my aim in January, it was to eliminate the crudest negative imaginations and emotions. Not all, since that would be to great of an aim for me at this time, but the most negative ones. Still, every morning since then, after I woke up, by the time I drove up to my work, there would be a dozen of negative imaginations.
    I noticed that every time I did something habitual with my moving center, like shaving, driving to work, walking or washing the dishes, negative imaginations would emerge automatically. But this realisation did not help me very much in stopping them. Sooner or later, the train of thoughts would end up with something negative, whether by association or by a memory.
    Feeling frustrated by this, couple of days ago I decided to try something else. While showering, I was just conscious of what I was doing, and instead of “fighting” negative imaginations like previously, I strongly self-observed myself. This dual attention, being conscious of my activity and self-observing myself, left no space for any thought or emotion. The first thought that came to my mind, after some time was: not only no negative emotions came, but I had no thoughts at all! I was so preoccupied with the effort of being conscious and self-observing myself, nothing could enter my mind.
    I did practise before, being present and remembering myself, but nothing like this happened. I felt like in the story of Buddha, when he entered the new dimension for the first time. The feeling associated with this experience was so strong, like I took a powerful drug, that I must have again, and again.
    Thank you all.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Thanks, Goran, for this inspiring story (it changed my experience of getting ready this morning). It’s significant to note that as long as you focused on changing the ‘I’s, they didn’t change, but once you focused on changing consciousness, that indirectly changed the ‘I’s. This reminds me of a quotation by Albert Einstein:

      “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

  9. Orazio Sorgonà

    Ouspensky said of Practice it’s ‘Experience-Action’.
    This morning, I had the Work-i:

    “Experience-Action of the Nine of Hearts”.

    It’s working, it’s an attitude toward me of the /actuality/ of the Work, throughout that card to reach Hogher Centers.

  10. Adriana

    I was sitting at the dentist chair the other day, my heart was pounding and my mind was very busy entertaining anticipation of pain, discomfort and fear. It this point somehow I became very aware of my body, my muscles being tense and my breathing very shallow. I then focussed on noticing my breathing, in and out, closed my eyes and scanned my body through out. I suddenly went into this place of “witnessing” what was happening, hearing the sounds in the room, aware of my heart beat, my hands on my belly, the conversation between the dentist and his assistant. I find that focusing on my breathing is a good resource when I “catch” myself in identification or negativity.

    Thank you all for your sharing, looking forward to our labors of April.

    Adriana

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Adriana, this is a very useful observation. The breath is closely tied to our many ‘I’s, and it would seem our breath triggers ‘I’s:

      “A cycle of respiration takes about three seconds. This also is a definite and complete period of time for a man. If he observes closely he will find that every breath brings a new thought to his mind, or a new turn of repetition to an old thought.” – Rodney Collin

      By focusing some attention (not all) on breathing, we place a guard at the door through which new thoughts, sensations or emotions appear. Witnessing them emerge, we are more likely to avoid giving them our identity, avoid identifying with them.
      We will use this observation as a little exercise during the coming workshop on What Really works

  11. Dakhxesh

    Dear Friends
    Warm greetings !
    For April labour, What Really works?
    Last three months labour I was working on on two area, Hot temper Dakhxesh and second talking loud on phone.
    My main area success was on soft taking on phone and but hot temper Dakhxesh struggling a lot. My machine want to express negativity , direct and indirect through that it’s want to relief from intention suffering.
    Today morning I had a thought, if we not see any miracles around us, we are lacking self remembering
    Thank you all for your efforts
    To Be
    Your friend
    Dakhxesh

  12. Dakhxesh

    My best moments was when speak slow with my business friends and shopping at grocery stores , in India mostly people speak loudly in general. When I speak slow with them, and they ask me again, can you say again please that was my best moments. Inner work is like intention fun.
    To Be

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Thanks for the practical example, Dakhxesh. Different features predominate in different cultures, and it is power feature behind speaking forcefully. Lowering one’s voice would then require self-remembering. It would also require reaffirming your aim again and again, because your voice will perpetually want to rise to its habitual volume. Keep up the good work!

    2. Lazaros Lazarakis

      This is my favourite exercise since three years ago,it’s like an alarm of awakening:everytime I catch my biomahine speaking fast and loud a spark of consciousness reflects.Speaking with presence effects on me and also on my interlocutors (they who are enthousiastics and are talking loud and hurry are asking me:hey Lazaros why are you sad?perhaps they confuse the calmy voice with sadness and melancholy).Also this kind of speech is effecting on our breath making it deeper.

  13. Luís Sales

    In certain situations when my instictive center feels threatned, my machine usely reacts towards this situatuon in a negativy way. For example when a situation that i have no control over: usually other peoples atitutes that interfer with the instictive interests of this group of “I”s , i tend to burst out in negativity.
    This groups of “I”s have a strong sense of injustice. If I dont remember myself when this states of negativity arises it can probably continue for hours, without me noticing it.
    To know it and observe it was the first step. In this sense I verified the importance of setting this aim in January so i can focus on this specific group of “I”s that usely wants to engage in this situations.
    I have been trying the same effort, saying to myself: “This is just another situation where you are reacting negativily” or “You have to accept the present in its own terms”.
    This are all valid efforts. But this group of “I”s are getting used to this effort, it still has the power to dismiss those negativy states, but it has loosen the capacity to generate Self-Remember.
    The work “I” that I developed around this state is stronger now than when i started this year. I can now identify this situations sooner and in more deepth. In this way, the effort to generate Self-Remebering must also be stronger, wiser.
    I pretend to continue the effort to talk to myself in sense to calm the machine down, but i am adding another element: standing up, go for a walk, have a deep breath, have a cup of coffee, listen to some quality music. I just started out this second effort and I don’t have many observations, but this second effort allowed me to non-identify with the situations more quickly and to be able to transform the energy of this negativy into Self-Remember.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      The effort you are adding to your work with negativity – going for a walk, taking a deep breath, sipping a cup of coffee, listening to some quality music – is an effort to take in impressions. This falls very much in line with the April labor and Gurdjieff’s description of doubling the intensity of impressions through self-remembering.

      Negative emotions often attack us when we are in our weakest position: tired, depleted, depressed, etc. To work with such negativity we must strengthen our state, and to strengthen our state we must take in impressions. This is called the ‘looking exercise’ and was presented a few months ago in this post: How Deep is the Moment?

      Luis, I am curious to hear how this new effort works for you on the long run. Let me know when we next speak.

  14. András V

    I aimed to combat imagination and following Asaf’s advice, I narrowed down my efforts to business meetings only – five days a week, four 15 minute meetings a day. After about a month of practice, I noticed that even when I arrive to a meeting with my aim entirely forgotten, right at the beginning of that meeting a bell rings in my head, warning that I should stop imagining and focus my attention to the discussion. These short, intense, repeated efforts formulated a discipline connected to the habit that reminds me my aim. I also noticed that these “wake-up call”s work not only during business meetings, but gradually spread over other areas, like conversations, arriving spontaneously, feeling foreign like a visitor.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      This is proof of the value of small efforts. “If we do not make small efforts, we will remain the same — one moment there, another moment not there,” said Ouspensky. “But if we make small efforts and remember about them, that will give a line, a direction.”

      We form work disciplines in the same way that we form habits: through repetition. The only difference is that habits happen mechanically while disciplines require intention. But once disciplines are formed, they remain almost effortlessly (not entirely, but almost). Then they spontaneously spill over to other areas of work, the way Andras describes. Our large-scale aim of awakening is thus possible through small-scale efforts.

  15. Patrick H

    I have made the experience that it is very small efforts that produce results. For example, whenever I am walking down the stairs (I live on the 3rd floor) I try to consciously take every single step without skipping one and this immediately brings me back into the present and interrupts any flow of thoughts I may have. Sometimes I also combine this with a Sequence, using the Work-I “Move”.

  16. Jack

    For me, self-remembering is when observing myself I seek not to be identified with Jack, with it’s attitudes, negativity, fears, judging and self love. Overall efforts that have helped me become more successful have been my valuation of The Work by daily reading for knowledge, attending all workshops and doing Work assignments to gain Understanding.
    A specific aim and effort recently has been to focus on anger, irritation, resentment and other negative emotions. This could not happen without observing myself. My efforts have helped reduce some verbal expression of negative emotions ,but they are still internal negative emotions. My focus has been on inner separation, this is not me, this is Jack. This is not who I want to be. At first I was not feeling the separation, now I am starting to feel it as well sometimes. Before I was trying to stop it and feeling like I had failed when I did not. Then I read again, probably for the 10th time, that the effort should be on separation. The light went on, I think I am starting to get it. I awake most mornings and give thanks for this day and ask for help and understanding to do the Work today. I am finding that if you do the Work it Works.
    Thank you Asaf and all those who contribute on this site.

  17. brant smith

    One thing that I have taken advantage of in the past but am now understanding is valuing what my efforts of today. So often do I get caught up in the imagination of the future that I disregard what I have done for today. Yet as I delve deeper into this information dy by day and start to live as I learn it, I realize strength is grown not made all at once. Every day whether we like it or not we are developing through our actions just like with each passing day the growing end of a branch moves closer to the sun. Through struggling with my habits daily it becomes clear as day that the energy spent in a habit if removed, naturally frees up space for something else. That something else if we want to be consciously developing beings would then have to be replaced by our intentional efforts that peruse our highest aims to live our life. In the same spirit I have taken up sitting down in silence for about 20 minutes before bed. Sometimes excuses are made yet it is somewhat comical how a part of me makes them just to not take a small amount of my day to relax.

    1. Jack

      Thanks Brant for your sharing,” Every day whether we like it or not we are developing through our actions just like with each passing day the growing end of a branch moves closer to the sun.” I appreciate your showing me how we are related to nature, as in pruning and growing like a branch toward the Sun.
      I also have been seeking more quiet time alone, usually sitting on my back lanai listening to birds, feeling the breeze, watching the blue sky and clouds while thinking about the Work and why I am here. I am watching a lot fewer news programs and watching less TV. I feel they have been good decisions and I plan to continue to monitor my actions and habits.

    2. Asaf Braverman Post author

      I second Jack’s note of thanks to you, Brant. A positive attitude to our work is essential. If we let our failures color our work negatively, we foolishly magnify them. Seeing our sleep on a daily basis is in itself a movement towards awakening, a “branch moving closer to the sun.”

  18. Evgueni Z

    Since January, I’ve been trying to set an aim, constantly re-formulating, adjusting, and tuning it up. Still, I don’t have a clear small aim which I understand.

    Interestingly, over the course of those months the most reliable “alarm” that faithfully wakes me up has been my negative emotions. My day can be different, my attitude changes, but those negative emotions are always nearby, there is no lack of opportunities to experience them.

    More and more often I detect them, see them coming, and see myself expressing them. In this brief moment before falling into expressing them I ask myself – “Here it is. I see it’s coming. Now what?” It feels like I’m looking for some “external” help at those moments. As if something (or someone) that’s not me is supposed to give me a hand, fight on my side. I suspect this “someone” would be my another “I”, but I’m not sure how to let that “I” help me.

  19. Myrto

    It’s not always straightforward to discern whether a leaf is healthy or wilted. There are efforts that work, and efforts masked as ‘healthy’, but actually inhibiting any ‘photosynthesis’.

    These days, I am experimenting with the distinction between Discipline vs Compulsion.

    Eating manner, has always been for me a field of struggle and learning. There are times when I feel a strong urge to eat, though I am not really hungry. Actually, there is another type of hunger, which is evoked by an emotional discomfort that seeks to get relieved. At that critical moment, just before my hand grasps a piece of food, there are three possibilities. The first one, is that the Hurt/Irritated ‘I’, automatically overeats, disregarding any future cost on my body. The second one, is a ‘Dominant/Need to Control’ ‘I’, forces me to stop eating. The third one, is my Observer to appear and take a distance from the urge, understand the pattern and the reason of my urge, and finally choose to stop my hand from grasping the food. At that moment, this Discipline, is experienced as a serene surrender to a higher aim. It is not felt as a hard Compulsion, which usually proves to have only short term effects.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      It isn’t obvious. That’s why we superimpose the work on an annual cycle of labors. Discerning whether or not a ‘leaf is able to enact photosynthesis’ is determined by our aim. “We forget the beginning,” said Peter Ouspensky, “where and why we started… Self-remembering is of no use without remembering the aims of the work and your original fundamental aim.” Aim is formulated in January, but from another angle, each monthly labor is a reexamination and reaffirmation of our aim.

      You give a good example of buffering emotional discomfort by eating. The third possibility you list, of observing this urge, is the beginnings of consciousness. It is, in this respect, proof of ‘photosynthesis.’ Those efforts that encourage the appearance of this observer are the ones you should keep. The rest can be safely discarded.

      This is much easier said than done. I would be happy to hear what else you discover through this area of work.

  20. Hicham B.

    Our machine is very complicated. If we change one thing, the whole machine is affected.
    In this teaching we talk about “change”. But what is it exactly?
    I want to change something in myself. Let’s say, I experience fear in different situations. Following Work ideas, I have to struggle against the manifestation of fear.
    In the last five months, I tried as much as I could to struggle against my fears and not express them. I have achieved some results however I noticed the appearance of side effects such as anger and fatigue.
    Something must be wrong!
    What is meant by “struggling” against something in the Work context? Is it holding in like we hold in our breath under water? Obviously we can’t hold in for long.

    For each manifestation of a negative emotion (or a positive one) there are two sides: an external manifestation i.e. the body (increase in heart beats, body temperature, muscle tension) and an internal manifestation i.e. the mind (racing thoughts and associations). We are dealing with at least two centers at the same time.

    By the power of “Will”, I was able to produce unwanted results!

    Then, one night I had a dream (or a nightmare?). I was in a desert highway I never saw before, with my bicycle. The front tire was flat. Besides the road, I found a compressor and started to inflate the tire. I recall hearing air flowing, then suddenly the rear tire exploded. I mistakenly inflated the wrong tire and ended up with two flat tires. And hence I was unable to move elsewhere without my bicycle.
    I woke up and the first thought I expressed out loud was:”I work in the wrong direction!”
    Now, I’m experimenting with “attention”. Doing nothing, just watching the emotion from its creation, taking control over centers, and finally it’s expression, without interference.
    Attention should be able to freeze emotions like the Medusa turning everything it gazes upon into a stone…

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      In the myth of the Churning of the Milky Ocean, devas and asuras first begin churning without a foundation. Consequently, Mount Mandara sinks into the ocean, resulting in destruction. Seeing this, Vishnu incarnates as a turtle, positions himself beneath the mountain, and supports the churning with his shell.

      What is the proper foundation for our efforts? In the February Labor, we spoke of the tendency of our features to “do” the work. With our features at the foundation, we are bound to achieve unwanted results. However, this isn’t unusual, Hicham, and is a necessary step before we learn to make right efforts for the right reasons.

      So the question for you now is, why struggle against fear?

      1. Hicham B.

        Thanks Asaf for your reply.
        Yes, it is the question. Why struggle against it?
        Fear is something I acquired during my childhood as a result of many bad experiences and also imitation.
        Fear eats my energy and prevents me to achieve what I want. Even the way I see the world is distorted with it.
        I wake up every morning with a certain amount of energy, most of it is lost in imagination, expression of negativity. An important part is due to fear.
        The positive thing is that this struggle keeps me awake. It’s a reminding factor.

  21. anselmo

    About a month ago i started a new work discipline. After preparing for the day, i am reading some pages of a specific book. The author is Attar (Farid ud-Din Attar).
    What i have observed, is that by reading an inspiring book, that is connected with fourth way ideas, i attune my emotional center with the desire to make efforts.
    The book gives me an idea of scale. The author often talks about death and that it is not wise to persue material things that perishes with time. These higher ideas are very inspiring to make more efforts to Be. My entire day evolves much better.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      This effort, Anselmo, shows that we have more influence over our thoughts than we normally realize. By exposing ourselves to certain ideas (and avoiding other ideas) we can influence our inner landscape.

      “We do not realize what enormous power lies in thinking… if we always think rightly about certain things, we can make it permanent—it grows into a permanent attitude. You may find some inclination to wrong emotional manifestations of some kind. Just at that moment you can do nothing, you have educated in yourself the capacity for this kind of reaction by wrong thinking. But if you start from right thinking, then after some time you will educate in yourself the capacity for a different reaction.” – Peter Ouspensky

  22. Vatsal Desai

    I have joined this workshops and became part of community a bit late .Setting up aim helped me a lot .It caused many deviating “I” to be hidden which earlier used to come up.Increased motivation as well and added clarity.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Don’t worry about not starting exactly on January 1st. The point of an annual cycle is that it repeats. If you have formulated an aim (as you say you have), then you should be able to step right into the rhythm of this teaching and make useful verifications.

  23. Gary Boland

    Members will share efforts that have proven successful in introducing and prolonging self-remembering.

    Thirty years ago, my first teacher introduced me to the concept of many I’s. I had attempted to identify through inventory the nature of my wrongs. However, I was informed that much of my work had only blamed others for my failings. My teacher asked me to identify the many roles I had undertaken in life. Again, my horizon was expanded with additional roles as my teacher added roles to my list. Then, I was instructed to identify the exact nature of my wrongs regarding each of my roles. From that point forward my inventory became clear and fruitful for my growth and change. I became aware of my identity and the many other players in my thought processes.

    Later, I queried my teacher as to how I could readily identify if I was in my identity. He suggested that each time I stood in front of a mirror, that I was to stare into my eyes until I could see the “child of God” looking back at me. Well, for 6 weeks whenever I was in front of a mirror, I would look to find “ME”. And then it happened. I saw this “child of God”, tears came to my eyes, and a new presence of Being came over me.

    Since that experience, and especially if I am under stress, or making big decisions, or some life event baffles me; I can easily find myself a mirror, focus, breathe, and find my “child of God”. And, I become present, in the now, awake and non-resistant to embracing a proper course of action.

    I am happy that I have found new teachers

  24. Hannah K

    I found these lines in a poem by Rumi called “The Sunrise Ruby” that I was reading the other night. I thought they echo what Asaf was saying in the workshop today about the importance of a daily effort focused in one direction.
    “Be courageous and discipline yourself….
    Submit to a daily practice.
    Your loyalty to that is a ring on the door.
    Keep knocking, and the Joy inside
    Will eventually open a window
    And look out to see who’s there.”

    Could what he calls “the Joy” be the Miraculous, when a higher dimension opens a window through to our world?

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Most likely. Rumi wouldn’t have used the Fourth Way terminology as we know it, because that terminology was coined by Gurdjieff and Ouspensky long after his death. But reading the excerpt you quote above, what else could he have been thinking of but these very same principles?

  25. STAVROULA KOURTIDOU

    I have been fully occupied with matters concerning my job and I didn’t have access to an internet connection. I read the message at this very moment.
    Although it might be out-dated an effort that really worked for me was the following. I decided to remember myself every time I was climbing stairs. When I woke up in the morning I spent some time trying to mentally renew this decision and be wakeful during the following day. Almost every time I was about to climb some stairs something from inside woke up and I started my effort. In order to do this I had to slow down my steps. I clearly remember one day when I had to be quick, because a father came for a bureaucratic transaction and I could watch my impulse to be quick and present myself as a helpful school director. I had to struggle with this impulse. I realised that it originated from the fact that I did not want to destroy my image of being an effective and helpful school director. I ignored everything and climbed the stairs trying to be fully present at each step. Some thoughts came in my mind. ”What is this father going to think about me?” , ” What a lazy person is this school director!” . My emotional state was in full swing. I had to hold back the impulse of trying to accelerate at almost every step and I was able to watch every part of my body. I managed not to submit to this impulse and after about two minutes I experienced a miracle. Inside I had a feeling of undescribable freedom. Outside everything was lit up, as if I had been in that surroundings for the first time. I did everything that had to be done for that father calmly and carefully. I did not care about his opinion of me.
    I can still feel the taste of that state of presence.
    My question is: ”what are some practical exercises that could keep someone alert?”

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Congratulations, Roy. It is that simple and that miraculous. It doesn’t mean that each time you walk up or down stairs you’ll be able to replicate the same state of freedom, but you’ve verified how pulling against habit (in this case, the habit of inner considering) can generate consciousness. On this verification, we build our work.

      What are other practical exercises? Expand your discipline of walking up and down stairs with self-remembering to other moving-centered areas. Open doors with self-remembering. Open cupboards and drawers in your kitchen with self-remembering. Self-observation should slowly reveal more areas in which you are habitually asleep. By the same principle you describe in your comment above, you can work to pull against those situations and turn then in your favor.