Do We Live in an Apocalyptic Time?

It would be hard to deny our present world situation does not clearly describe the first aspect of apocalypse.

War and the Octave of Evolving Consciousness

People who are willing to say and do anything, no matter how many lies they tell or how many people they hurt, have an obvious advantage over people whose behavior is restricted by conscience, common sense, and decency.

Impressions, Sanskaras, and the Many Worlds Theory

The jewel of an awakened man is a fully formed personality that can be described as a system of knowledge that does not stop impressions from entering into deeper aspects of his being.

The Ray of Conscious Influence or God and Man

uspensky didn’t want his students to equate the Absolute with God. When he was asked if 'Absolute' was not just another name for God, he answered that it was not and then added: The Absolute is the principle that lies in the beginning of things and...

On The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley

Mescaline doesn’t open up higher centers directly, but it forces them to the forefront of our consciousness to deal with and make sense of a world without associations.

On the Faculty of Judgment

Any man can speak truly; but to speak with order, wisely, and competently, of that few men are capable. ~ Montaigne

On COVID 19 or Scale and Relativity

It has been suggested to me by a number of readers that I write something on the COVID 19 pandemic which has affected all of us…

An Inconvenient Idea

It always amazes me that more people are not interested in the idea of conscious evolution.  The idea that a man (or woman) can, by making specific inner efforts…

A Few Observations on the Awakening of Meher Baba

o begin I should make it clear that Meher Baba considered himself an avatar, and that what I have to say here is partially an attempt to understand what that means. In simple terms an avatar is a god who became a man, rather than a man who, through...

The Rise of the Hasnamuss in Contemporary Politics

Another characteristic of the hasnamuss is that he appeals to the lowest in his followers, and in doing so destroys whatever higher possibilities they have.

On Friendship

Aristotle classifies friendship into three types: friendships of utility, friendships of pleasure, and perfect friendships…

Four Dreams

Dreaming is just a particular way that consciousness organizes experience; it can be used by higher centers to communicate spiritual truths, or it can be used to express our buffered fears and confusion…

In Defense of P. D. Ouspensky

Besides Gurdjieff, no one in the early days of the movement did more to support, clarify and promote the work than Ouspensky…

Accumulators, Energy, and Bipolar Disorder

Psychologically an ordinary man is not prepared for such an intense flow of energy, and the resulting manifestations (symptoms) are what we call the manic phase of bi-polar disorder.

Self-Remembering and Being

When people react negatively to inner work, it is often because ideas of conscious evolution threaten to expose the lies they tell themselves.

Man in the Image of God

As a rule, we either don’t think about how identity will organize itself without a body, or we assume we will be given a soul after death in the same way we were given a body at birth. But to believe that a soul can be given is a misunderstanding of what a soul is…

Lying and Choosing to Believe

The work we are involved in is long and it is normal to occasionally fall into a state of apathy about our progress,..

AI and the Mechanics of Consciousness

Thinking may make us human, but it doesn’t make us conscious.

Shakespeare, Gurdjieff, and the Idea of Good and Evil

When Shakespeare created Iago, he imagined a character that had never been seen in literature: a brilliant and sophisticated devil…

What Now? (The Collective Existential Crisis of November 9th 2016)

A couple of weeks ago I met with a friend who is a psychologist, and she described an encounter with another psychologist on November ninth, the day after the American elections…

When Life Is Uncertain

In the summer before my last year in high school my older sister’s best friend, Jeni, was killed in an automobile accident.;..

On the Fragility of the Body

When an impression is strong enough it can create a shock that allows it to enter essence and higher centers automatically…

The Fourth Way and Science

Gurdjieff and Ouspensky had an affinity for science. Gurdjieff was interested…

We Always Make a Profit

When we take this principle of balancing the four lower centers to the scale of nations, business mirrors the instinctive center; government, the moving center; religion and myth, the emotional center; and the press and the arts, the intellectual center…

On Grief

A couple of years ago two of my friends died within a short period of each other…

The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Not long ago I had a toothache, and between the time when the tooth began to ache and the time when my dentist could see me, I had a few difficult days…

On Good Fortune

The only way we can have a guarantee of good fortune is to find a way of thinking and living that transforms events that we now think of as bad fortune into events that we can consider good fortune…

Prayer as a Method of Inner Work

Before I can begin to talk about prayer and how it relates to inner work, I am going to have to speak about a few misconceptions…

Snipers I Have Known

For a time in my youth I thought I might become an artist and was part of an art guild that was run by a man who had been recruited by the army as a sniper during the Korean War…

That We Can Practice for the Moment of Our Death

When I was just beginning to explore the difficulties and possibilities of self-remembering—I believe I was twenty at the time—I discovered a fundamental truth about the practice of self-remembering that has stayed with ever since…


Once in my role as a counselor at the psychiatric clinic where I worked as a young man, I spent an afternoon talking to a new mother…

On Sacrifice

In chapter thirteen of In Search of the Miraculous Ouspensky asks Gurdjieff how he can recreate the emotional state that propelled into the series of extraordinary experiences he had undergone in Finland…

Teaching Conscious Evolution

There is a Mulla Nasrudin story that goes something like this: A woman came to Mulla and asked him to forbid her son to eat sugar…

On Finding Oneself

The very idea of finding one’s self is problematic because we are the never the same. If you think you have found yourself—a solid, unchanging self—wouldn’t that imply that you’ve stopped growing?

Words, Words, Words

ccording to the Kabbalists the twenty-two letters of the ancient Hebrew alphabet are the building blocks of the universe. God manipulated these letters (into words) to create everything in the physical universe. As a result the Jewish mystic...

Gurdjieff, Gnostics, and the Divinity of Christ

At the age of five I was sent to Catholic school and almost immediately got into trouble with the priests and nuns who ran the parish…

On Travel

I find it hard to talk to a man who knows little of history and little of what the rest of the world thinks. This kind of man is too often trapped by his own opinions.

Recurrence, Higher Dimensions, and Time Travel

Time travel a very attractive idea: to see the future, or to go back in the past and change events. It seems to have captivated our collective consciousness.

One Precept

Once a king called together all his wise men and asked them, ‘Is there one thought or precept that will work in every situation…

Type and Other Maps of Human Individuality

In order to understand the dynamics of human relationships it is necessary to understand to some extent the many factors that make up individuality. Human individuality can be mapped, but there is not just one map; there are many…

Ghosts, Desire, and Happiness

In his book The Theory of Eternal Life, Rodney Collin recounts a story about how native East Indians poured beer and whisky over the grave of a recently dead European planter…


Before I was five, that is, before I went to school and began to develop personality, I knew quite definitely that I had lived before…

The Law of Seven

While the nuclear bomb was being developed in the United States during the Second World War, there were a few scientists who theorized that once you started the nuclear chain reaction that caused the bomb to explode, that there would be no way to stop it…

P. D. Ouspensky Among the Lunatics

When I worked at a psychiatric clinic in my youth, I convinced the supervising nurse at the hospital to hire a friend of mine…

Higher Mind, Knowledge, and Being

In general people can agree that men differ in the amount of knowledge they possess–a man may be more knowledgeable or less knowledgeable than another man–but it is a little more tricky to see that two men may possess a different being, especially in relation to spiritual matters.

Educating Essence

We can even say that all effort to be presents begin at the level of essence.

That Our Thoughts Create Reality

In spiritual circles today there is a certain amount of contention about the role that thoughts play in the process of mastering higher consciousness…

I Contain Multitudes

When people first come in contact with Gurdjieff’s system, the idea that man is many ‘I’s’is often objected to. People don’t like being told that they are not one person; it sounds crazy. But really it’s reversed. The truly crazy people, the scary people, are the ones who are always the same.

Myth, Higher Centers, Lower Centers, and Madness

When I was a young man, I worked at a psychiatric clinic, and one morning I was asked to go to our front offices to admit a new patient…

Philosophy, Theory, and Practice

When I say ‘this is theoretical’ or ‘this is philosophy’ in answer to a question, it means that the language is wrong You cannot ask something in a philosophical way and expect a practical answer. ~ P. D. Ouspensky

Being Present and Self-Remembering

Part of what we are doing in choosing one effort over another is attempting to bring emotion into the effort we are making.

Esotericism and Morality

If esoteric practice is about creating higher consciousness and not about being good so that you will be rewarded in an afterlife, doesn’t that give students of esotericism the licence to be selfish and to take advantage of others?


Initially one of the problems in working against identification is that we think of it as a positive quality.

When We Talk About Freedom

When we talk about freedom, we’re speaking about the work an individual does to become free of unnecessary laws…

Law of Three

When I worked at a psychiatric clinic as a young man, I was asked this question by a friend: If you could explain one esoteric idea to your colleagues at the clinic, which idea would it be?

A Few Observations on Divided Attention

This ability to keep your attention on the world and, at the same time, on your reactions is a key element in being present.

Transforming the Fear of Death

Fear thrives best in a state of attachment to a small picture of self.

When You Want to Complain About Your Life

n the tenth book of the Republic Socrates tells the story of Er of Pamphylian, who was killed in battle. Ten days after he was slain, when the bodies of his dead compatriots were already in a state of decomposition, his body showed no signs of...

Being Present and Other People (External Consideration)

The point I want to make here is that inner considering is based on a delusion, the delusion that other people spend any amount of their time thinking about us.

Center of Gravity in the Present

People generally believe that they can be present in the enjoyable moments of their lives, and that other moments—moments that are either painful or are preparation for pleasurable moments—can simply be ignored or frittered away with imaging or thinking about more important moments.


Attention holds a specific energy in a fixed field around something that we want to observe or examine. Consciousness requires an ability to focus a similar energy around the body in a less directed way.

Life as a Test

I ask myself: ‘Am I dispassionate enough to transform this?’

The Student/Teacher Relationship

The teacher’s responsibility, and essentially his only responsibility, is to bring out, or feed, the student’s higher possibilities.

The Body, Health, and Being Present

The body is the only focus we have for consciousness. It can be seen as a kind of rallying point for being present, something for consciousness to form around.

A Continual State of Transformation

n the widest possible sense our work toward trying to achieve a permanent connection to higher centers is fueled by our day to day, hour to hour, transformations. These transformations, together with our work to be present and remember ourselves,...

Will, Self-Remembering, and the Desire to Be Present

Anybody who tries to be present for any length of time will eventually come to this thought: ‘If I could only increase my desire to be present, I could be present more often.’ But the question of how to increase the desire to be present is complicated. This is so because we are not unified. Our inner psychology contains different ‘I’s’ or parts….

The Nature of Suffering

There is a principle at work here and it is this: when we suffer we strengthen whatever we are feeling in our inner world.

Essence and Personality

When personality dominates it means that events are deflected, that they are not allowed to enter us in a way that affects us deeply.

Sex Energy

One of the most important things to understand about sex is that it should have no negative side. Either there are pleasurable and joyful sensations, or there are no sensations at all.

The Theory of Celestial Influence

In my experience in teaching esotericism, I have observed that the idea that we are influenced by the movement of the moon, the planets, and the stars is one of the esoteric ideas that is most often objected to.

The Stoics and Contentment

I think the idea that is hardest to understand here is that dispassion or detachment is a necessary component of happiness.

To Montaigne, who invented the essay form and the word, an essay simply meant to try, and though it has become something more formal over time, I cannot help feeling that all I have done here is to try.  These essays are hardly a complete picture of the inner work they describe, but they are something more modern: they are episodic. One of my early readers told me that what she liked about them was that ‘they made light bulbs go on in her head.’ I cannot think of a recommendation that pleases me more.

I imagined something like these essays when I was quite young, nineteen or twenty, but only came to write them in my relative old age. What I imagined was a mysticism that was descriptive and pragmatic, and didn’t rely on religious language. A little while later I read In Search of the Miraculous. Ouspensky’s book was close to what I envisioned, though, in my youthful arrogance, I thought his book would have been more to my liking if it had had more description of his inner world with less of an emphasis on knowledge. At the time I was unschooled in the craft of writing and had no understanding of how difficult a task it is to bring an inner world to life on the page.

The term Conscious Evolution, which best summons up the whole of this work, means pretty much what it sounds like: new powers and perceptions that are brought about by inner efforts, efforts consciously evoked that lead to a transformation of self or change of being. We don’t wait for evolution to overtake us, we practice methods that change us from the inside. When you hear people that are part of the Gurdjieff movement speak about the work, it is this they are talking about. 

So why Gurdjieff?  A friend in Paris, who has read many of these essays before they were published online, sometimes complained that they are ‘too denominational.’ What she means by this is that I could make them more accessible to a wider audience if I used everyday language instead of terms like higher centers or identification or octave or triad. Though I understand her criticism, I can’t help feeling that the use of the language of Gurdjieff/Ouspensky has more benefits than it does disadvantages. There are a few points here. One is that many of these terms, like identification, have become part of the contemporary vocabulary, at least in popular spiritual circles. The second is that if I use these terms, which were important to me, then perhaps a few other people will begin to understand that they reveal more than they hide. The third is that with most terms I would simply be trying to reproduce the work that Ouspensky did so well a hundred years ago. In other words why start over when I can, as my teacher said, stand on the shoulders of Ouspensky and Gurdjieff?

From the beginning of my involvement in the work, I was interested in the principles behind the concepts that I was trying to practice. For instance, when people hear about the practice of external consideration, they often equate it with love or kindness or with the golden rule of Jesus. These are fine interpretations, but for me, the principle behind external consideration is that it is divided attention in relation to people. What external consideration needs is a capacity to keep a part of your attention on yourself and a part on the person that stands before you. If you can understand this principle, its practice becomes something that is free from the Gurdjieff tradition, it becomes an esoteric principle that is relevant in any tradition or religion.

The practice described in these essays is my practice; in other words, it is my experience. I cannot see how it could be any other way. Ouspensky defined self-knowledge as the study of our limitations, and these essays have stretched the limits of my being both as an artist and as a man. That said, it is impossible for me to know to what extent the experience and understanding I describe have been given. Perhaps it fair to say that in writing these essays I have attempted to fix the understanding that is contained within them. And this, for me, has been the greatest motivating force to write them.