When you are a prey to the dog of passions, sit down and wait for it to fall asleep before you


















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Gurdjieff's main theory says that man has incredible abilities that he is not able to use. We are structured in a very complex and efficient way but very few of us are able to make use of the physical and mental resources of our system. The only way to take a step in this direction is to study ourselves.

If we begin to observe ourselves we can make a simple classification of our functions that will make our task easier.

How are we structured?

First of all we produce thoughts and emotions. These two functions are different from one other. We often think one thing but we "feel" another, or we make an intellectual decision (eg. I have to study because tomorrow I have an exam) in contrast with an emotional force (eg. the feeling of inability and fear). Or we know rationally that a person is worthy of our respect but we feel a strong dislike towards him.

For convenience, we will call these two functions "Centres". So we have as Emotional Centre and an Intellectual Centre.

Gurdjieff then mentions two other functions (or Centres): the Instinctive Function and the Motion Function.

The Instinctive Function rules the internal workings of the human body (heart beat, breathing, digestion, etc.) There is no “learning” as such in the Instinctive Function, which means that this function has been part of the human machine since the dawning of life and is not subject to conscious external functions. The Motion Function develops through learning and through our upbringing (think, for example, of a baby learning to walk).

During self-observation it is very important to divide these four functions. Let's summarize them (by clicking on each coloured disk):

In normal life these centres are all mechanical, which means we are not aware of our breath (Instinctive Centre), of 95% of our gestures (Motion Centre), of our emotional reactions (Emotional Centre) and of our thoughts (Intellectual Centre).

It's easy to experience the mechanical and automatic nature of these centres. For example we seldom choose to sit correctly, and we are rarely able to avoid being transported by our intellectual or emotional imagination, not to mention our complete unawareness of our Instinctive Functions.


To experience the automatic nature of the Intellectual Centre, we simply need to decide to live in the present, aware of ourselves for the next half hour. Simply try to be present in everything we do without drifting off into our thoughts, doing the usual things not extraordinary things.

The results will be interesting... we will probably forget about this exercise or, at best, we will notice that mechanical thought (or imagination) will draw us away forcefully from the present and, without even realising it, we will end up far away in our minds from the place and things we are doing. When we repeat the exercise, making continuous efforts to come back to the "here and now", we will see how much time and effort it costs us to accomplish it.

Thus we will have experienced the slavery of the mental automatism to which we are subject.





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