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Psychological Illusions

Preface
     In Boyhood with Gurdjieff, Fritz Peters recalls experiences he had growing up in association with the teacher and master G. I. Gurdjieff.  In the 1920's, Gurdjieff had established the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at a chateau outside of Paris, France.  Peters was a young boy of eleven and served as a houseboy to this enigmatic man.
    On one occasion, Gurdjieff told Fritz to look out of the window, where there was an oak tree, and asked him how many acorns there were on the tree.   Peters responded that there were likely thousands.  Gurdjieff then inquired as to how many of those acorns were likely to become oak trees.  The boy guessed that perhaps five or six might, or maybe not even that many.  Gurdjieff then explained the essential nature of his teaching by comparing it to the possibilities that Nature provides:
“Perhaps only one, perhaps not even one. Must learn from Nature. Man is also organism. Nature makes many acorns, but possibility to become tree exist for only few acorns. Same with man - many men born, but only few grow. People think this waste, think Nature waste. Not so. Rest become fertilizer, go back into earth and create possibility for more acorns, more men, once in while more tree - more real man. Nature always give - but only give possibility. To become real oak, or real man, must make effort. You understand this, my work, this Institute, not for fertilizer. For real man, only. But must also understand fertilizer necessary to Nature. ...”
   “In west - your world - is belief that man have soul, given by God. Not so. Nothing given by God, only Nature give. And Nature only give possibility for soul, not give soul. Must acquire soul through work. ... Even your religion - western religion - have this phrase ‘Know thyself.’ This phrase most important in all religions. When begin know self already begin have possibility become genuine man.  So first thing must learn is know self .... If not do this, then will be like acorn that not become tree–fertilizer. Fertilizer which go back in ground and become possibility for future man.”  (1964, pp.42-3)
the Gurdjieff tree

G. I. GurdjieffThis work is dedicated to G. I. Gurdjieff and his student P. D. Ouspensky, who have left a rich and profound teaching for the modern world.  The fourth way deals with the possibilities for the awakening of consciousness and the evolution of the individual. Nature has given humans the possibility for attaining real “I” and a soul, but this self transformation is dependent upon attaining self knowledge, the refinement of the individual’s essence, and the formation of the higher being bodies.  To attain real I, we must seek after truth and come to know ourselves.  What these things entail are deep mysteries and there are many psychological illusions, layers of confusion and misunderstanding which limit humans’ grasp of these profound possibilities.
         This book is also dedicated to those nuts who sincerely wish to become oak trees, among whom I would include myself.  Two particular and special other nuts are James Moffatt and Anita Mitra who for many years have shared in the processes of realization and insight, and contributed in numerous and varied ways to the refinement and development of Psychological Illusions.  Twenty five years ago or so, when I first began the study of these objective teachings, I could not in my wildest imagination have conceived such possibilities about human nature, as explicated by master Gurdjieff and his various students.
    In brief, this is the story line.  According to Beelzebub, the central character in Gurdjieff’s Tales, the three-brained beings on planet Earth are microcosmoses, or “similitudes of the Whole.”  As such, they have the possibility of not only serving local cosmic purposes–feeding the earth and moon as part of organic life on earth–but also of attaining varied levels of Objective Reason and individuality, and even of “blending again with the infinite.” (1950, p. 945)  As a microcosm of the macrocosm, a human being can potentially coat higher being bodies for the life of the soul, instinctually sense cosmic truths and phenomena, and maintain existence within the subtle realms of being after death, achieving different levels of immortality.  Unfortunately, humankind came to exist only in waking sleep states of automated consciousness, perceiving reality topsy-turvy, conditioned by pleasure, desires and self love, and wasteful of their sacred substances.  Human beings no longer realize their deeper cosmic purposes and possibilities, or attain real “I.”

    The Gurdjieff fourth way teachings offers a profound analysis of human psychology, and a deep metaphysics and cosmology of consciousness.  It is a remarkable and coherent system of esoteric teachings about the miraculous possibilities existing for the evolution of the individual human being and about the terror of the situation for humankind asleep, living under their psychological illusions.

Christopher Holmes, Ph.D. (Psych),  2002

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