What kind of wine would you like your vineyard to yield?

A vintner aims at a particular flavor. Conceived in January, this aim dictates the vintner’s March pruning and determines the precise time for harvest in September. It governs grape-pressing, fermenting, barreling, and bottling. Are the grapes too sweet? Are they sour, dry, or watery? Depending on the year’s conditions, harvest may be more or less suitable to the desired end-flavor, but the vintner must nevertheless bend their yield toward their aim, despite being at the obvious mercy of nature’s circumstances.

Our psychological landscape is also at the mercy of circumstance. A good night’s rest, a bad confrontation at work, a good word from a colleague, a bad traffic jam on the way home – these cloud or clear our inner landscapes unforeseeably. Like the vintner, we cannot control these circumstances, but we can bend them toward our aim.

During September, we observed the harvest of our emotions. We daily paced our vineyard, plucking a grape, pressing it between thumb and finger, examining its skin texture, body robustness, flesh flavor, sampling our yield to forecast the challenges of our winemaking. We worked with what we observed impartially, resisting the urge to change one emotion with another. Most members discovered a surprising fact: negativity was our basic crop. “We are too dull, not emotional enough,” said Peter Ouspensky. “This is why the emotional center must be free of negative emotions, because otherwise we use all its energy on them and can do nothing.”

Grape juice is a poor yield of a vineyard and negativity is a poor yield of an emotional center. But wine-grapes aren’t harvested for grape juice and neither should we settle for the yield negativity. If we work with an end flavor in mind, then a challenging harvest needn’t necessarily portend a bad bottle. In September, we examined that harvest. In October, let us consider what it might mean to refine it into a profound elixir. Which emotions would accelerate our work if we could experience them more frequently, more durably, and more deeply?

In other words, what kind of emotions would you like your emotional center to yield?


  1. Hannah K

    In Autumn the earth’s energy starts to withdraw back into the ground and the hours of sunlight become shorter. As that energy starts to turn inwards, the external manifestations of life -flowers, leaves, grasses – start to fade and die leaving only the earth’s inner energies. Similarly, as the illusions that the machine spins start to be pierced by the light of understanding and the mists that imagination creates drop from our eyes, so the more profound emotions, glimmers of the soul, can start to come through, emotions that often cannot be described in words but only alluded to by approximations such as unconditional love, compassion, awe, wonder at the vastness of this reality that we are living in.
    Both the pieces from Vivaldi and Tchaikovsky capture the essence of such emotions, both have a sadness but also an ethereal quality which hints at an awareness of something higher.
    Vivaldi’s sonnet that he wrote to accompany the second movement of his “Autumn” concerto tells of the peasants sleeping under the influence of the wine with which there have celebrated the successful completion of their harvest, but then only when the erroneous beliefs of the machine have been tamed and quietened, can the higher centres can then awaken.
    I wish you all inspiration for your wine-making!

    Here are the YouTube links for you to listen to:

    Vivaldi “Autumn”, 2nd movement – “Adagio Molto”

    …and the verse of the accompanying sonnet….
    “The singing and the dancing die away
    as cooling breezes fan the pleasant air,
    inviting all to sleep without a care”

    … and “October – Autumn Song” from Tchaikovsky’s “The Seasons”

  2. Alen

    For some years now, I have been doing an exercise every night. While brushing my teeth was a necessary thing to do each day, I figured, Why not make an exercise out of it. While doing it, I pray for the deceased and for near ones around Me. Aside the Observation of many forms of automatic thoughts entering and identifying that try to prevent this attempt of conscious praying, the feeling of Hope, Love and Faith come as a by product.
    With the part of the prayer for the deceased ones, inevitability of My death and those around Me is summoned. And for the living ones, Love. I am then left with Faith.
    I also Observed that this repetition tends to mechanical performance, so I switch the way I brush my teeth. Also, my teeth are in perfect condition, due to the fact that it always takes longer then 3 minutes to finish this 🙂

    As for the question at the end, what kind of emotions would I like for my emotional center to yield; Conscious ones. Positive can quickly turn to Negative and vice versa. When the emotion is not there, I remember with My head how necessary the Work is. In faith I keep the struggle, and these Emotions then always come.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Thanks for sharing your ritual, Alen.

      In researching material for this labor, I also came across “faith, hope, and love” as emotions of distinguished value singled out by the Christian teaching. If you remove the religious connotation that they’ve now accumulated, it is very interesting to consider what they actually mean, how they manifest in us, and how they might factor into our aims in this work.

      For example, in a negative state, I am closed to my own possibilities. I do not experience the transformation of negativity as a possibility, but am stuck in my own justification of myself, blind to any other points of view. Can I reach “hope” from this place? Can I hope to Be, even though I am not? A 6th-7th-century monk called John Climacus placed these three emotions at the top of his ladder to heaven, and commented:

      “Hope lifts despair and is the image of what is not yet present.”

      “Hope is the power behind love.”

      “Love is the banishment of every sort of contrariness, for love thinks no evil.”

      1. Shane Scanlon

        Hi Asaf,

        I find that I have developed a strong aversion to hope. There is a passage from the Tao Te Ching that resonates with me:

        What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
        Hope and fear are both phantoms
        that arise from thinking of the self.
        When we don’t see the self as self,
        what do we have to fear?

        I have found that my deepest and longest lasting negative emotions have spawned from shattered hope.

        Do you have any advice on how one can harness the power of hope while avoiding its pitfalls?

        1. Asaf Braverman Post author

          I’d say that, rather than hope, what stands at the bottom of negative emotions is expectation. Do you see a difference between ‘hope’ and ‘expectation,’ and if so, which of the two do you feel gives rise to negativity?

          In the context of this work, hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had. If I realize that I’m in a lower state of consciousness, then without the hope that by intelligent efforts my state can rise, I would not bother making efforts. So there must be a certain positive attitude that underlines our work, and ‘hope’ is a good name for that attitude.

          Can you relate to this?

      2. Alen

        Thank You for Your response Asaf.

        During the early period of My interest in The Work, curiosity has always led me to try to find the possible explanations and definitions. One of them, was of course the definition of this mysterious “Love”. Others were Magnetism, Higher bodies, the root of Hypnosis etc.
        It was frustrating for My Mind, to find only explanations through the word and idea of Consciousness.
        “Conscious love evokes the same in response.”

        With the actual practice of The Work, in time, it showed that this is the only way of formulating it. My apparatus just wanted to gather more information and put it in to My “Understanding Drawer”.
        These old comments and paragraphs, which would seem unclear and vague to Me before, Illuminate so much more deeply now through the actual Work.

  3. Mario Fantoni

    I would like my emotional center to generate more gratitude for my mechanicality, that is, to see my machine more as an opportunity for work. I am grateful for having found the Fourth Way and this school, but rarely am I grateful for having a field to plow.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      During the September and October labors we’ve aimed to map out the spectrum of our emotions. At the very bottom of this register we’ve found an array of negativity. As we climb upwards, negativity disappears and more noble emotions start to enter.

      The two above comments by Ansley and Mario mention gratitude. Other members also mentioned to me in person that more ‘gratitude’ would accelerate their work and open hidden possibilities. Once we realize that gratitude is an emotion from the middle-to-upper register of our emotional center, we can use it as a meter by which to gauge our present state.

      Am I grateful right now? If not, what am I presently taking for granted? What am I blind to? After all, to Be and to see are synonymous. If I can’t find what to be grateful for, it’s not because it isn’t there, but because I am not there. This holds true for any other noble emotion. Gradually, our emotional center becomes a gauge of our state of consciousness.

  4. Jack

    I would like to have stronger feelings of dislike for the negative emotions I have seen in myself, especially those involving “love of self”, putting Jack 1st before all else. Also constant feelings of gratitude for this Work and the light it is shining on my dark side.
    Then more moments of Joy and gratitude when I can remember myself and feel when I am in lower or higher states, and stop identifying with the lower self.
    High aims, but ones than can grow with effort

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      I appreciate your mentioning ‘dislike of negative emotions,’ because when we speak of noble emotions we tend think only about the positive side of the spectrum. But repulsion from sleep, and repulsion from our habitual manifestations when we sleep, is a significant motivating force behind our work. If we portray the emotional center as a musical instrument with a long register of keys, ranging from base emotions to the most noble, then repulsion from sleep becomes accessible at an earlier part of the register than the more positively-inclined emotions of gratitude, hope, etc. We must use this repulsion if we are to climb higher up in our register.

  5. András V

    During the last week I had the chance to feel long lasting gratitude for several times. Now, that I have returned to my everyday life, it seems that it has an effect, a trace that helps me introduce the Work more to my daily routine.

  6. Tim

    I have to leave this country called self if I want freedom. I can examine my machine all day long, but until I leave it, it still finds new ways to bind me to matters. Within the context of the exercise, my aim is to divest myself of internal consideration so I may be higher up the pyramid’s structure. What emotion lies on the other side of the apex is beyond my understanding. To really, truly put yourself in another’s shoes and try to see what they may see, that is more of an effective departure for me. Then to understand that that person, after you’ve walked in their shoes, loves and helps you, even though they may be tired and worn out at the end of the day, that is a dilation of something inside my country, an expansion of heart.

  7. Evgueni Z

    Looking back at the last week’s experience in Rome, I certainly want my emotional center to yield the same kind of emotions in my day to day life. Never before I had such prolonged and intense periods of the higher state. I’m having difficulties with defining a concrete term to describe this emotion – most likely because it doesn’t belong to the ordinary emotional range. I used to describe it as having a special “taste” or “flavor”. The closest word with which I can now label this emotion would probably be “inspiration”.

    Which made me think about the relationship between emotions and states: when I feel inspiration (an emotion), I’m inspired (a state) – and I embrace this unity. However, for negative emotions I want to separate them from the corresponding states. When feeling anger I don’t want to BE angry.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      What you say, Evgueni, about the relation between emotions and states, explains the role of this labor. When we are inspired, consciousness is more accessible. Inspiration stands at the opposite spectrum of negative emotions. So the September and October labors are designed to map our our emotional spectrum, and point to the obvious conclusion of moving away from the lower registers of negativity as much as possible, to draw closer to the higher registers of inspiration.

      If we don’t formulate this – if we don’t know that this is what we want – then there’s no reason to expect to get it.

  8. Hannah K

    I have been experiencing a lot of feelings of very powerful love at the moment. The raw reality of death, the mortality of the machine, the impermanence and urgency of our existence on this physical plain, has revealed to me that love is all there is. I know this sounds like a cliche but believe me, it is an absolute truth! The illusions of my machine – judgements, imaginations, peevish complaints, self-pity – have been utterly stripped away by the sheer force of this awareness. I am seeing so clearly all the stupid barriers that the machine puts up between myself and other people – accounts, grudges, politeness, inner considering. With my eyes so peeled by the death of my husband I find that all I can see is the soul of other people – their pain, vulnerability, the chains that imprison them in their mechanicalness, but even more so their goodness, their tryings, their love. So many people have shared or sent me the most incredible words of love and support (including all you beautiful souls in Rome) and I in return find I am not the reticent person I used to be. I feel love for everybody, compassion like I’ve never known before, and so much gratitude. I know that these higher emotions are being powered by a rare and possibly once in a life time third force so I am carving them firmly in stone so that I can reach for them when my machine will inevitably wake up again!

    1. George Gurdjieff

      “The nature of [the second conscious shock] demands special study. From the point of view of the general work of the machine it can be said in general that this effort is connected with the emotional life, that it is a special kind of influence over one’s emotions… The practice of not expressing unpleasant emotions, of not ‘identifying,’ of not ‘considering inwardly,’ is the preparation for the second effort.”

      George Gurdjieff (as quoted by Peter Ouspensky in In Search of the Miraculous)

      1. Asaf Braverman Post author

        Hannah, you mention knowing that the higher emotions you’ve been experiencing in the last days are being powered by a rare and possibly once in a life time shock of the passing of your husband. This is a key observation. Gurdjieff points out (in the quotation above) that the second conscious shock is work on the emotions. In the rare occasion that we receive such a shock externally, we get to experience the full spectrum of our emotional center and verify its incredible range. This then teaches us for later times, when external shocks aren’t available, and when we must aspire to re-create such shocks internally. Thanks for sharing these observations!

  9. Goran Djukleski

    I would like my emotional center to yield the emotion of Love. I have noticed that when this emotion is present, if it lasts longer, than other noble emotions emerge: gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, kindness. And if it lasts very long and is strong and deep, than even higher emotions emerge: feeling oneness with everything around me, and divinity.
    Also, when Love is present, it takes me very little effort to change or stop any habit I have.

  10. Mayra

    The possibility to participate actively in the Rome’s gathering was a big opportunity for me to understand how big is my commitment to the Work. Moreover, in these few days I found in myself emotions that I didn’t know I could have; at certain point the same old streets in Rome were brand new. Most especially, what I realized and what I want to make deeply mine is a specific feeling of love for the group that suddenly embraced me: I felt love for every person that was there, and I started to understand why I need others.

    1. Peter Ouspensky

      “I saw that self-remembering gave wonderful sensations which, in a natural way, that is, by themselves, come to us only very seldom and in exceptional conditions. Thus, for instance, at that time I used very much to like to wander through St. Petersburg at night and to “sense” the houses and the streets. St. Petersburg is full of these strange sensations. Houses, especially old houses, were quite alive, I all but spoke to them. There was no “imagination” in it. I did not think of anything, I simply walked along while trying to remember myself and looked about; the sensations came by themselves.” – Peter Ouspensky (In Search of the Miraculous)

    2. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Mayra, thanks for your remarkable contribution to this event. What you say, about the same old streets in Rome becoming brand new, shows the importance of this October labor. Our emotional state either opens or closes possibilities for our experience of the moment. It reminded me of Ouspensky’s experience quoted above.

      And here is a window into Mayra’s puppet making for the Rome event last week:

  11. Olga

    I wish I could experience the emotion (or rather a feeling) of connection and unity with people and the world around me more frequently, and for longer periods. I think this deep feeling is what love actually is. That is, when I stop being concerned about myself, raise my head, and see the broader picture. Then I can act as part of the whole, and this is what makes life really meaningfull.

    In Rome, when we together were looking at great pieces of art, I felt both the fact that we were together, and the art pieces themselves had this power of lifting higher, as art actually IS about unity, connection and sharing what truly matters. I think I should make a closer relationship with art now when I’m in Moscow so that I’m able to restore this connection when I loose it.

  12. Kalev K

    We have higher centers ready, well developed, but until there is no connection between lower and higher, we do not experience them.
    Could we look also in this way that we have all positive emotions in us, but concealed by negative emotions?
    I would like to yield joy of getting free from some certain negative habits, id est joy from work.

  13. Melissa Sweet

    My primary emotional ground is that of gratitude. I say ” ground” since it seems to be ever present, no matter what my outer world brings. Along with this, although it came later, in my process, is ” joy”. Perhaps the two go hand in hand. This is not, in any way, a giddy joy and, like gratitude, doesn’t depend on everything in my life going as I want. It is simply the joy which comes from being alive. The joy, itself, has a very high vibration which is a felt sense in my body. At times it is stronger than others, kind of like the cloud covering the sun but I always know that the sun is present.

  14. Shane Scanlon

    I think that compassion is something that I need to work on. I spend so much time wallowing in self-pity that I fail to consider what others are going through and really take it to heart. I generally have a strong sense of empathy for those close to me, but I feel I am lacking when it comes to most everyone else.

    I would also like to work towards more patience and contentment with my own situation. My eagerness for gratifying my desires causes me to disregard the role time needs to play in achieving my goals.

  15. Jatinder Singh Joshi

    I would like my machine to have an emotion of realization of my nothingness which push me away from my default state of ego (finding faults in others , judgement ) and frequently compares my default state to higher states experienced by me which further give me a new attitude to have an urgency to work , a realization that i am not immortal ,i have limited time.

  16. Jim Vander Noot

    When I first read the October post, I could not think of any particular emotion that I wanted to nurture. Now, after several days of self observation in which I noted the limitations of my machine and of others, especially when trying to communicate, I began to experience compassion in a genuine way, perhaps for the first time. I realize that I need to foster this emotion and that compassion can greatly advance my work and my consciousness. In fact, without compassion, I cannot be truly awake.

  17. Goran Djukleski

    Last night I had a interesting dream. I know what the system says about dreams, but I will share it anyway. In the dream, my observer was telling me the following: If you manage to maintain the emotion of love for some time, a fission reaction will occur and a lot of energy will be generated. This energy will create higher emotions, and if you sustain them longer, a connection will be established with the higher centers. This connection, if you maintain it longer, will produce fusion reaction and with the release of energy will start to fuse or crystallize the real I.


    I have observed that whenever I heard voices of my brother and father, I start getting identified with a chain of negative thoughts, belittling them , feeling myself superior than them, maknig internal accounts against them.
    So, I would like to remember the they are not responsible for their behaviors. Their behaviors are result of external circumstances. They as well as I are machines. So, I would like to be alert to not to get identified with their behaviors toward me.

  19. Hannah K

    I thought this might be of interest. After last week’s workshop on inspiration I Googled the meaning of the names Adam, Eve and Mary.
    Adam comes from the Hebrew for “earth”. Eve comes from the Hebrew for “breathe” which is interesting as the Bible says Eve was created from Adam’s rib and of course the ribs encase the lungs and move with each breath. Similarly, the emotions animate the body which according to the bible is made of earth. The name Mary, according to the Internet, comes from the Egyptian word “mr” which means “love”. I thought this was fascinating as Asaf asked “How does Eve become Mary”, “What has Mary done that Eve didn’t do”. And the answer to those questions is actually contained in the names of the characters in the myth themselves. Eve or breath is Mechanical Shock but Mary or “love”, being a higher emotion, is second conscious shock. In order to move from the mechanical (Eve) to the higher (Mary) we have to generate in ourselves love.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Thanks for doing this research and sharing its remarkable results with us. I wasn’t aware of the meanings of ‘Eve’ and ‘Mary’ (‘Eve’ doesn’t obviously translate into ‘breath’ in Hebrew, so it must be some older meaning of the word). Below is the illuminated manuscript scene of Eve beside Mary:

      Adam and Eve Detail (Biblia Pauperum, 1464 Flemish MS, Biblioteque Royale, Brussels)

  20. Myrto

    In the Labour of October on Chartres Window, next to the vitner, we see a Scorpion, the symbol of the zodiac sign of Scorpius.
    The zodiac constellation of Scorpius, is the area of the sky behind the Sun at November end.
    It is one of the most beautiful constellations, seen at summer nights on the south sky.
    In greek mythology, Skorpios (Scorpius) was a giant scorpion sent by the earth-goddess Gaia to slay the giant Orion when he threatened to kill all the beasts of the earth. The Scorpion stung Orion on the heel (marked by the star Rigel, beta Orion) and killed him. These two opponents Orion and the Scorpion were placed amongst the stars as their namesake constellations, but are positioned on opposite sides of the sky, one sets as the other rises. The Scorpion rises as Orion starts to sink into the other side of the sky, and this was seen as Orion running away from the attacker, and still in fear of him.
    The Semang (ethnic groups of the Malay Peninsula), believe that at death the soul leaves the body through the heel (ELIC p. 281). Scorpions and snakes most often bite the heel. The heel is, as it were, the foundation-stone of the human being with the characteristically upright stance. Once the heel is affected, the person falls down. In the logic of the imagination, then, there is no contradiction for the entry-point of death to be also the final exit-point of the soul” [The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols].
    Scorpion men feature in several Babylonian and Sumerian myths, including the Enûma Elish and Gilgamesh. They are also known as aqrabuamelu or girtablilu. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, they stand guard outside the gates of the sun god Shamash at the mountains of Mashu. These give entrance to Kurnugi, the land of darkness. The scorpion men open the doors for Shamash (Sun) as he travels out each day, and close the doors after him when he returns to the underworld at night. They also warn travellers of the danger that lies beyond their post. Their heads touch the sky, their ‘terror is awesome’ and their ‘glance is death
    Source http://www.constellationsofwords.com/Constellations/Scorpio.html
    Below a depiction of Scorpius of the 19th century.