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Nottingham, Rebecca
Fourth Way Practices: Self-Observation
Entering the Work

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Nottingham, Rebecca
Rebecca Nottingham has written many articles on the Fourth Way on her own and together with her husband Theodore J. Nottingham.

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Fourth Way Practices: Self-Observation

The Work begins with dividing one's attention. If you have had no experience in this practice, try the following: While being aware of your external experience become concurrently aware of your inner state. This internal awareness is the beginning of self-observation. Self-observation is the foundation effort in this process, its value cannot be overestimated, and all development proceeds from that point. You must intentionally turn a portion of your attention inward in order to observe yourself. It is essential not to judge or criticize what one observes in oneself. These emotions will distort what one observes and inhibit progress.


Try to disassociate with your justifying and observe the feeling objectively. Keep tracking back to find the source of this unpleasant experience. Continued self-observation will give you knowledge, understanding, and the possibility of detachment and liberation from this recurring state in you.

As you observed, the angst subsided when "it" was observed. All wrong work loses force when it is seen through self-observation. Use the recognition of this unpleasant experience as your "reminding factor" and third force to not identify. You are then using the problem to solve the problem.

What you are encountering is negative imagination. This is a major interference with the process of self-development and drains us of a great deal of energy. As you noted, we most often discover that events turn out quite different than our imagination led us to believe. Negative imagination is a classic type of unnecessary suffering which the Work teaches to get rid of mercilessly.

Negative imagination not only steals force, it is a complete waste of one's attention, energy and time. Half an hour of negative imagination results in a lost half-hour of your life.

You have also observed how even a small amount of attention will eventually "dissipate" the imaginings. This reveals the power of attention, something we take so much for granted but which is meant to be used as a primary tool for our conscious evolution. The light of observation will indeed dissolve the hold of identification and imagination. But don't be satisfied with letting your imaginings merely dissipate. Choose to use them as fuel for transformation. If awareness of negative imagination can trigger the practice inner separation, it will give you a new force for achieving higher consciousness in the moment.


Before pursuing self-remembering, you must develop the skill of self-observation. There is a vast difference between self-observation and self-remembering. The latter is the result of a stage of growth in the Work and it cannot be forced. The basis of the Work is self- observation, not self-remembering. This is the only way to make progress in the Work, namely through this persistent effort of seeing what you are and why you function the way you do.

You cannot get to self-remembering without going through the path of self-observation except for rare circumstances that you cannot control. You have to create something in yourself through the practice of the Work (namely, self-observation) that is capable of experiencing self-remembering, that can generate the psychological conditions for that experience.

There is indeed a difference between thinking about self-remembering and experiencing it. The synonym for this term is the "third state of consciousness" and places us temporarily in an unmistakable (for those who are becoming sensitive to such things) higher state. As you know from the Work books, it is not an unfamiliar experience in our lives -- moments of intense gratitude, joy, peace, insight, etc -- but is also characterized by the sense that the experience is a "gift" or "moment of grace" rather than the direct result of our efforts.

Paradoxically, we need to make the relentless efforts that are possible in order to "clear the ground" for more frequent and longer-lasting experiences of self-remembering.

So deal with the possible and the simple. Observe your inner states and separate from them in order to begin to free yourself from identification. As long as there is no inner separation and we remain stimulus-response machines, we are powerless and imprisoned in our mechanics. Remember that self-observation must always be non-critical. You are not what you observe.


To do it correctly, one part of your attention is focused on your external circumstances and the other part is directed inward -- in order to observe your internal states and reactions.

You see yourself interacting in the world as an objective observer might. And your changing inner states. Note contradictions. With your divided attention, observe yourself, not something else.

In self-observation, you are a silent witness to the activity within you which reveals to you your stimulus-response nature, personality distortions, imbalance of centers, and leads toward knowing what you must work on.


The keeping of a journal is not necessary and can lead into formatory relation with these efforts. Self-observation needs to be free-wheeling and spontaneous. Your observations will lead to a catalog of insights about yourself which will then give you a truer picture of what you have to work with. A journal might help keep track of these perceptions. But the heart of the effort is in the liberation from the prison of sleep.

Keeping a journal might create a "space" in which you are temporarily focused on the Work efforts and removed from the grind of daily identification. But the same could be accomplished in silent meditation, intentional reading, and other forms of removing oneself from "A influence".

Keep the Work efforts more internal.


You are confusing self-remembering with self-observation. self- remembering is a state of higher mind uncontaminated with anything negative. What you have been able to "observe" in your efforts to self- remember is the artifice of false personality. Once false personality has been observed, it ceases to function smoothly or at all. Sometimes we are left without the faculties to interact with the world. This state is part of the evolution in the Work and it can feel like "psychological vertigo" but it is temporary.

Practice self-observation uncritically. Do not become identified with what you observe. Try to separate psychologically from all negative thoughts, states, and feelings. Release anxiety, let personality be passive, and observe, observe, observe.


There is no doubt that honest self-observation hurts. It is painful to see in a more objective way the artifice, immaturity, selfishness, absurdities and uncontrolled tendencies of one's behavior. Most people will do anything to avoid seeing themselves for what they are or have become. That is why this Work is not popular, will never sell well next to the feel good teachings in the New Age category, and will cause upheavals in those who encounter it.

Merely reaching the point of seeing ourselves as others see us requires a level of dedication to this Work which can endure severe necessary suffering. This Work is not for the fainthearted, the amateur seeker, the gatherer of eclectic information. It can be devastating and brutal when you come face to face with realizations about yourself. But then it becomes profoundly liberating and inspiring.

It is true that we need to be "merciless" with ourselves in seeing things for what they are (namely, internal reactions, attitudes, states). But this mysterious practice of self-observation is about creating a new quality of awareness within yourself, and clearing the ground for a new sense of identity. Ultimately, it leads to a development of being that is characterized by great compassion, even for the mechanical and chaotic aspects of yourself.

Higher consciousness allows one to see the impartial and larger picture and this can only lead to an understanding that does not condemn.

You must not take yourself as you are (identified with mechanics of personality) into that "place" from which the observing is done. That is the reason for the constant emphasis on "uncritical" self-observation. These words do not convey what is at stake: you are in the process of rediscovering yourself and to do this you must shed the old skin that has been the only feeling of self you have known (except for rare glimpses and early essence memories).

The old self, therefore, must not be what is doing the observing. Otherwise you are lost in a labyrinth that leads to dead ends. Something new is being created -- a directed attention that is purified of the filters, illusions, attitudes we take as our identity.

This delicate development is a birthing process of sorts. Discernment is indeed a key word here -- detecting different qualities and "tastes" of energies. Recognizing what is toxic and what is of a higher order.

The effort of self-observation not only gives you new information, reveals ways of seeing that were unknown before, but most especially paves the way for a new, deeper, Self to be born. This watchfulness or vigilance -- as long as it remains independent of features, moods, etc -- will generate a recovery of your essential nature which is buried beneath acquired personality. Further, it will lead to the conscious presence of your spiritual nature.

As long as you take the bullish martial into the observing space with you, you will never manage to control or transform him. So this is imperative: do not judge what you see, just see it. The more you see it, the more you will want to change it and the more opportunities will arise to do so.

Remember that this is not the way of self-denial, but of understanding. As you know, understanding is defined in the Work as the result of knowledge and being. Self-observation gives you knowledge on how to create being.


First of all, there is something to be learned about negativity and its power over us that you can verify in your recent experience. It does not matter how often you find yourself in sleep, only that you recognize it. The principal exercise is uncritical self-observation. Forget about transforming. Self-observation is your aim. Fill your environment and your schedule with reminding factors to observe yourself.

Your repeated efforts at self-observation will build a Work memory that will in turn remind you to do the Work.

All anyone can do for a very long time is practice self-observation. Observing negativity is one of the most informative ways to gain understanding about oneself and about the nature of sleep. You can use the feeling of negativity to remind yourself to observe: How are you negative? What is the source of your negativity? Anger, pain, fear? Make a practice of observing your negativity and separating some observing I's from it. Don't identify with it, become passive to it. If it continues to take place, let it but try not to give it your attention.



We have noticed that several persons in this group are making the fundamental error of trying to practice self-remembering instead of practicing self-observation. Self-remembering is a rare state of higher consciousness in which one is both undifferentiated from Creation and entirely unique. It happens only in rare moments and seldom when we are actively seeking it. It comes to us with a sense of selfhood, serenity, acceptance, and compassion.

The best efforts we can make toward achieving this state are the ones which "clear the ground", i.e. remove what inhibits the receptivity and accessibility of that state. The basis for achieving this goal is self-observation.

Self-observation is the primary psycho-transformational exercise given to us in the Work. All progress in the Work depends on diligent, uncritical, long-term self-observation. It is only through the experiential practice of this idea that one can gain the knowledge and understanding necessary for growth and change.

It is possible through self-observation to eventually gain control over your mechanics, to be liberated from unnecessary suffering, to find authentic personality, to be able to be intentional in your actions and form a body of Work I's that have a permanent Work perspective in you. This Work is about personal internal purification. All the transforming knowledge in the Teaching is aimed at this goal of purifying the emotional center. Self-observation is necessary to shine the light of consciousness into the dark unconscious of our own psychology.

We are hearing from some of you about the "psychological vertigo" accompanying this process which begins with the deconstruction of our false personality. This vertigo is being expressed in a sense of panic, a feeling of emptiness, a feeling of fear or anxiety, or sometime the sense of being a fraud. The best way to deal with it is to try to practice inner separation in relation to those feelings and realize that this is a natural, temporary response in the process of the Work. The way to eliminate that negative experience is by building something real internally which will act consciously in the world. The way to build that in yourself begins with and relies upon self-observation.

When the mind is filled with the constant babble of inner considering and the heart is motivated by the self-interest of inner considering, the potential of receptivity to a higher state is lost. That is why all practical Work is focused on self-change or self-transcendence. The possibility of intentional, psychological self-generated evolution lies in this process of purification. The means is self-observation.


Regarding your statement on "surrendering my will": Practicing the exercise of self-observation is not the same as surrendering your will. Self-observation is the only source of information that will inform you about what you need to surrender and what you need to keep. So leave the surrendering of your will out of self-observation. Simply observe yourself non-critically and especially observe negativity.

Self-observation is an effort in which one observes the machine as a whole. Dividing one's attention is for the purpose of self-observation. One part of your attention is directed at uncritically observing yourself in life. Another part of your attention is not caught up in the external flow of events. It sees one's internal psychological condition.

The aim here is to se the psychological origins and motivations for our actions in the world . We have to start by seeing in ourselves what the Work tells us to observe.

We must make many observations over a long period of time before we can even begin to get a picture of what we have to work on. Remember that the aim of the Work is psycho-transformation.

Self-Remembering is not an exercise. It is a state. Sometimes one unexpectedly finds the state of Self-Remembering as a result of self-observation and inner separation. Sometimes this happens when you are observing yourself and you see that your outward manifestations are all driven by false personality and you have a moment of not knowing what you are besides that artificial personality. A sense of serenity and self undefined may be experienced in that moment. You may encounter something more authentic than what you are observing.

Real divided attention requires intentional effort for the specific purpose of self-observation. Trying to practice self-remembering while looking at an external object is a meaningless mind game. In order to remember oneself, it is first necessary to have observed oneself and created enough real Self to know what to remember. Therefore, in order to self-remember, you must first observe.


The awareness that is intentionally separated out in order to practice self-observation is not thought. It is not intellectual, though it is 'intelligent seeing'. If you are thinking about the exercise, then be aware that there are such I's circulating within you.

The Work I's within you need to "fuse" into an actual doing of the Work, which then becomes a matter of consciousness rather than merely thought process. Attention placed on your reaction to something, and informed by Work knowledge, leads to real self-observation. This 'place' of awareness needs to be able to recognize what is occurring and know what it is: "This is inner considering", "this is vanity", "this is fear".

This is a practice that evolves over time, although breakthroughs can take place suddenly and give you a whole new sense of what this Work is about. It begins with catching things in hindsight, as you mentioned, i.e. thinking back on an incident and disliking your reaction. With applied effort and commitment, that time lag will shift to the moment of occurrence. It is your very dislike for your behavior that will compel you to make more efforts. Some day, or in some moment, you will be able to have a choice rather than simply see what is going on within you. But first you must acquire knowledge and numerous occasions of self-observation.

You ask whether one can "become better at recognizing and naming what one observes..?" The answer is most certainly yes. That is the very purpose of being on this path. Results do manifest. Verifications confirm the value of the efforts. In fact, the more you value what you are gaining from these ideas and their application, the more you make efforts and the more you receive.

You ask "is it always by taste?" The knowledge accumulated with the guidance of the Work, and of persons experienced in these matters, leads to a power of discernment in relation to states and energies. It is one thing to recognize the obvious manifestation of negativity. It is another to detect the subtle 'flavor' or 'taste' at the beginning of identification or a descending momentum and choose not to allow it to steal one's life and energy.

First comes knowledge -- knowing what to look for. Then comes the looking and accumulation of information about yourself. Then the beginning of a new will can come into being, and choices can be made that lead to a new quality of existence. Then higher consciousness can take root in the moments of your life.


Try to disassociate with your justifying and observe the feeling objectively. Keep tracking back to find the source of this unpleasant experience. Continued self-observation will give you knowledge, understanding, and the possibility of detachment and liberation from this recurring state in you.

As you observed, the angst subsided when "it" was observed. All wrong work loses force when it is seen through self-observation. Use the recognition of this unpleasant experience as your "reminding factor" and third force to not identify. You are then using the problem to solve the problem.

You may want to experiment with a "cleansing practice" to assist you in being free from this wrong work. Simple meditation can instill an organic peace within you that will make many things clearer.


Self-observation establishes a point of awareness that is not lost or hypnotized by the usual identifications. It is not nothingness. It is the beginning of a new presence. Its non-judgmental perspective does not merely provide less prejudiced and distorted information about how we function, but also "mimics" a characteristic of another state of consciousness.

This point of awareness where self-observation occurs is nourished and strengthened by the I's within us which come to value the Work ideas as they are applied and bear fruit. For instance, an I from the intellect that comprehends the idea of scale and relativity can become a trigger both for remembering to practice self-observation and for expanding the breadth of the observing awareness to include this bit of knowledge as it sees our inner workings.

"A new person constructed from scratch" is not the result. Our essential nature, our higher self, already exist. They must be unburied from beneath the rubble of illusions and misguided pictures of ourselves that have accumulated over the years. We are seeking to recover something strangely familiar. Most of our work is to remove the artificial.

This place of observation becomes the catalyst to the rediscovery of essence as it "melts away" the covering of false personality through attention informed by knowledge.


In doing the Work, beginning with self-observation, little by little we disempower those tyrannical I's. We create in ourselves a place of knowledge, perspective, and empowerment from which we can act intentionally. As self-centered I's lose power under the effect of the Work (through the force of self-observation) we cease to have so many requirements of the world. We become free of constantly needing what we don't have, or constantly being unhappy with what we do have. We recognize that our attitudes and opinions are relative and our likes and dislikes are irrelevant to reality. So it is essential to see yourself objectively or you will not recognize what it is you must work on. Remember that this Work is psychological and internal, requiring real and continued effort.


When one begins the sincere practice of self-observation, "moments of observation" are all that is possible for a very long time. Every effort you make increases the strength of the person who "knows that I am not present."

The reason that self-observation needs to be spontaneous is because you can only do it when it occurs to you, whenever and whatever the circumstances. The observing I will give you better information if it is unencumbered by schedule or contrivance.

Self-observation needs to be integrated into the moments of your life in such a way that it becomes as natural (though intentional and conscious) as breathing. Consequently, it needs to be spontaneous.


You seem to have a misunderstanding about what self-observation is aimed at. What you mention here sounds like an expansion of consciousness, whereas self-observation is a direction of consciousness aimed inward at one's psychology and outward at the world and one's manifestations. If you observe which foot you put out of bed first in the morning, etc., what growth in understanding does that serve?

What you need to be observing is what state you are in -- Are you confused? Are you anxious? Are you in negative imagination? Are you inner considering? Are you being critical of what you observe?

Do you notice when you are insincere? Do you see yourself lying, pretending to know, care, understand, be sympathetic, etc.? Can you feel identification when you are in it? Do you see changing I's? Contradictions between I's? Buffers?

Do you see vanity? The need to be right? Insisting on having your own way? Being disappointed that you don't have what you want? Do you notice how much of your behavior is based on what you like or don't like?

The point of all this observation is to build Real I which is not polluted by any of the wrong work mentioned above. It takes intentional efforts, real desire for change, willingness to see oneself honestly, and time. This Work is a process that begins with the first I of self-observation and can grow to the point where there is a permanent presence in one's psychology, a source of understanding formed by Work, knowledge and experience.

You say you forget constantly and ask if it is just a matter of will. It is a matter of building will. If you have an aim to observe yourself, your aim has force -- use it. Fill your life and your schedule with reminding factors, for example: put your wristwatch on the opposite wrist to remind yourself to observe every time you look at the wrong wrist. Put notes on mirrors and refrigerators, change patterns of activities to knock you out of your habitual routines.

The desire for change and the valuation for this Work provide the real force to remember to observe yourself.


[STUDENT: I too feel that there should be some kind of general scourging. Is this achieved by recognizing the little bastards by name?, or rather by beholding the other Work "I's," when they do come, and making a place of honor for them in my heart. After all, these are the "I's" that have the promise of coalescing into something real, or at least more real.]

Purifying the emotional center, "cleansing the cup", is the purpose of the Work and its results. This is achieved by diligent, humble efforts to see and detach from what is false, negative, and selfish in ourselves. "Seeing the little bastards" is the wrong emotional attitude in self-observation. The negative and judgmental attitude will distort the seeing and keep you from the objective reality available only in non-identification.

Discernment between the I's (those with Work knowledge and those without) is obviously critical. This is where the ability to make choices begins.


[STUDENT: It is possible to feel quite bad about "I" because the negative "I's are running many departments of the piece of chicanery known as Myself.]

In practicing self-observation, self-loathing is difficult to avoid. However, being a negative emotion, it is necessary to avoid this in order to grow in the Work properly. To observe uncritically is so important in this process because it is through detachment (non- identification) that we are liberated. It is a waste of energy and wrong work of the emotional center to loathe what is only the manifestations of acquired personality.

Objective self-observation leads to self-realization. This is the way to consciousness.


Everyone comes into the Work with their personality, whatever type it is, in full force. It is a condition sleeping humanity lives in. The work of self-observation, which is foundational in the process, requires intentional effort. Included in this intentionality is the practice of being uncritical about what one observes. If your observing I responds with hating what it sees, then that is where you will be stuck, in a constant war between the observer and the observed.

The whole point of self-observation is to give one an objective view of what one is really like. Without objectivity, you are not going to see anything. Keep observing I passive. That effort is part of making the effort to observe.

When you have the psychological space that objectivity requires, you have a toe-hold on inner separation. Then you can observe personality in all of its manifestations without going insane. This type of self- observation will, after a long period of time, will show you much about yourself.

The aim of the Work is to transform the acquired, automatic behavior into enlightened, intentional action. In this process, the ego (false personality) made up of only self-interest, must be displaced gradually with a more evolved self. Purifying the emotional center, purifying the psychology of self-interest, is the substance of the Work.

We suggest that everyone "in the Work" reflect upon their motives for making these efforts. If one's motives have something to do with gaining personal power, that self-interest will effectively block any kind of real development.

Before you can even begin to do the Work correctly, you must be at the level of good householder. At this level of being, you need to be stable, sane, responsible both to yourself and the life around you. This is simple compared to doing the Work. There is no room in good householder for perversion, criminality, mental instability.


[STUDENT: Court proceedings resulted in the most unjust, draconian solution imaginable for a client. During the proceeding, I sought to observe myself, remember myself. Things have changed inside. It does not seem like the end of the world. The clients are apoplectic. Life is school.]

You can also observe (in the case to which you refer that "your being attracts your life"), that the energy of life driving everything is negativity, the "law of accident," mechanics producing predictable responses, everyone's total identification with every event, and therefore complete lack of relativity (sleep). Injustice exists because of sleep.

There is another level of being that includes an increased perspective and understanding born of effort and experience in the Work. It includes relativity, compassion, and acceptance. Its nature is not that of self-interest and consequently it is liberated and can be objective, clear and unidentified seeing. Such seeing is not emotionally dead or repressed, but serene and wise.

This is what is created through doing this inner Work. The psychological practices and ideas gradually clear away all the wrong work of mechanical psychology (the lies and dirt of negativity in all its forms, self-interest, vanity, inner considering, pictures of oneself, lying, pride and everything else the Work tells us to observe). This process strips the personality (ego)and leaves one feeling vulnerable and rather without a "real personality" to replace the dying false personality. One does become withdrawn.

This is a critical stage in the Work. What this emptiness should create in you is humility. Not self-condemnation, but self-transcendence and real self-remembering. Humility expands understanding which begets meaning.

A new Self is born with observing "I". It is the Real Self and will grow stronger and become more present with the continued practice of self-observation. With practical work and verifying experience, one's awareness expands. Continuing sincere efforts can expand one's consciousness permanently, but what you sacrifice to reach this point is all that you believe yourself to be and all interest in seeking personal gratification. Not everyone is willing to pay such a high price.

Those who are courageous enough to continue will find valuation of the Work to be the only third force needed. Therefore, the new faculty in one's psychology (that of developing consciousness) is fed by the power of right valuation.

The path of evolution is upward toward illumination, through the sight of understanding, toward finer and finer energies that cannot support the weight of violence. This path leads away from the automatic animal level of being toward enlightened intentionality.


[STUDENT: I seem to experience self-remembering more than I do self- observation. There are very frequent moments when I am painfully aware of myself, but do not know what to make of any of it.]

Being painfully aware of yourself is neither self-remembering nor self-observation. It is the natural condition of every human being's psychology. It is inner considering. It is due to the wrong work of the emotional center that is concerned with "appearances" and other people's feelings toward you.

You are at the point where you are AWARE of being "painfully aware". This is a step above merely BEING "painfully aware". The next step is to simply be aware.

Just being "aware" is the first crack in the false personality. The Work starts here. Self-observation comes first. It is an intentional effort. It is done uncritically. Eventually, Observing I gains enough power to direct behavior. But for a long time you cannot do anything but observe.

We suggest that you study Maurice Nicoll's "Psychological Commentaries" for in-depth, specific details, especially in reference to what makes up inner considering. This will also help you understand the Work vocabulary that we use and whose understanding we need to have in common in order to communicate properly.


This Work on seeing the distortions of our psychological behavior and reactions is one central way to open toward real transformation and development. That is why our first and foremost effort must be observation, seeing and seeing again until we begin to catch glimpses of ourselves in objective, non-judgmental ways. These efforts allow us to free ourselves from the power of a particular facet of our personality. Otherwise we are under the spell of this false identity, tossed about and hopelessly victimized by its stimulus-response behavior.


False personality judges, criticizes, justifies, feels offended, gets angry, has likes and dislikes, attitudes, opinions, feels ashamed and insecure.

When you practice self-observation, if you fijd any of these elements in the Observing I then you are identified with what you are observing. That is a trap that leads to insanity.

Observing I MUST be made objective, uncritical of what is being observed, yet seeing it clearly for what it is.

For example, let's say you observe yourself being irritable. Since the Work teaches us that we must transcend rather than express negativity, an identified Observing I may immediately feel shamed or angry about the inability to do that.

Can you see that these identifications distort what is observed and what one can learn from objective observation? Think of observing as taking photos, registering, passively seeing.

What can you observe objectively about being irritable? Is it an unpleasant feeling or do you picture yourself as a "lovable grouch"? (There is no such thing, by the way). Are there any I's that secretly enjoy the zing of negative energy? What I's are irritable? The ones that want something that they don't have, the ones that have to do something that they don't want to do, the ones that are feeling inadequate, unsatisfied, unsure? We could go on and on, but the point is that all of the above and more belong to inner considering, to acquired attitudes, likes and dislikes, etc. That is ALL that the Work tells us that we must separate from.

Knowing this can give you the force to become detached and in that state of non-identification see clearly what intentional right action is. Then you lose all motivations and justifications for being irritable.

So, how do you know if you are observing yourself through a filter of false personality? If Observing I is objective, non-identified, then false personality CANNOT be present. One must work at this also, making Observing I not react with identification. This is difficult work as well, but it leads to liberation, to that escape from the prison of sleep that we seek.

Ouspensky was right about needing help. We need the help of knowing a way out and the help of someone who knows also that "way" from experience and can assist you through the difficulties and help you avoid the traps. Someone who really knows the way can help you to verify for yourself the ideas of the Work and their transformative power.

To be absolutely sure that your work is progressing in the proper direction is easy. Follow goodness. Seek to act with unself-interested intentionality. Every normally formed human being has the innate knowledge (faculty of recognition) of what GOODNESS is. The Truth in it resounds in your soul with recognition.


The Work progresses in this way: we learn to divide our attention, we begin to practice self-observation, only to discover immediately that we have no power over our mechanicalness. "It" goes on doing what it always has done, regardless of one's will to change it. We observe negativity as a prime example of this phenomenon. No matter how resolved we are not to become negative, we find ourselves in that condition over and over again, sometimes without even knowing how we got there.

If one continues to practice self-observation uncritically, two things will happen: the first is that you will discover in your own inability to not behave mechanically a compassion for and forgiveness of those in your life who also cannot help but behave mechanically. The second thing that happens is that every Work I that you verify through observation builds a stronger, more present Observing I.

For example, if you observe insincerity in yourself when dealing with a certain person or situation, and your desire is to be authentic, you will find through repeated observations that manifestation of insincerity keeps appearing. Eventually enough photographs will make it easy to recognize the beginning of the manifestation. If the force of your will to do the Work is strong enough, and you have enough knowledge and experience to have a group of Work I's with some power, then your behavior can be intentional, directed by a higher state of awareness rather than responding automatically as it usually does.

Under the continued illumination that the Work brings to one's psychology, manifestations of wrong work lose their power and cease to exist. Permanent change in areas of wrong work is absolutely possible as long as growth continues.

This is the growth of something in you. It consists of knowledge, psychological effort, and understanding. Eventually, what has begun to grow within the context of Work efforts has the power to act intentionally rather than mechanically. Continued expansion of consciousness further releases us from identification with multiplicity, personality, imagination and brings a new sensitivity to the subtle perceptions of the higher centers. New degrees of insight, liberation from the lower self, and deepened understanding bring new meaning and purpose to one's existence.


[STUDENT: Please relate the interconnection and difference among divided attention, self-observation, and self-remembering.]

The beginning of divided attention is realizing that your attention goes in one direction only -- outward -- and that you live only in response to external stimuli. The "I" that can recognize this is the first "I" of divided attention. The point of the effort is that through realization and practice you can now have more than one perspective.

For instance, the practice of seeing a tree and seeing yourself seeing a tree is useful only in so far as it confirms that one CAN have divided attention. The aim is to take part of the attention that is normally directed outward, engaging in life, and turn that attention inward to see your behavior and the psychology that generates it from an objective perspective.

If you can do this, then you are using divided attention in order to practice self-observation. The aim of self-observation is to uncritically observe your psychology and your behavior in relation to Work knowledge. The Work tells us our behavior is governed by mechanics, that we are all asleep and furthermore that we do not know that we are asleep. The overall purpose of self-observation is awakening. In awakening we see what motivates our behavior, we learn how to become intentional, self-transcendent, and authentic.

The process of self-observation requires intentional, repeated efforts over a long period of time, and it is often genuinely painful work. We learn that we spend most of our time in some kind of negative state and from an objective point of view we see the unnecessary suffering of it, the wrong work of it, the interference of it and the loss of energy that it costs us. These ideas are strong motivations for change. We see our own automatic behavior which may shock and humiliate us and we are helpless to do anything about it at first. We recognize that every action is motivated by self-interest. We see in ourselves lying, justifying, manipulating, attention-seeking, competitiveness, vanity, the falsehood of pictures we have about ourselves, the multiplicity of acquired personality, even the corruption of merit seeking in our good works.

When the light of self-observation begins to reveal our inner states and psychological condition, the Observing I is still too weak to change anything it observes. However, repeated observations steal power from identifying with our mechanics, help us to separate from them and form a stronger Observing I which eventually does have the power to affect change.

This is a process of purification which removes the obstacles that cut us off from the state of self-remembering. Self-remembering is a level of higher consciousness. In self-remembering, we know our authentic worth, relative value and our connectedness to all things. Although this state is achievable, or rather is given to us in rare experiences, it is not something we can evoke or control with a level of consciousness that is beneath it. Because Observing I is connected to higher consciousness, creating a stronger Observing I brings us closer to that state and makes us more available for moments of self- remembering.

The goal is the formation of a permanent Real I which is the manifestation of the state of self-remembering. Self-observation, founded on divided attention, creates the link between self-remembering and the development of Real I.


It is a very real thing to find "denying force" against the Work. It comes from within, it is usually the part of you that doesn't want to change, that doesn't want to Work, that doesn't want to sacrifice the ego or self-interest. Part of it is being afraid because one cannot see where one is going in the beginning of the Work. Part comes from the insecurity experienced when one begins to practice real self- observation. Part is the futility that one feels in not being able to change anything. Real courage is required to persist in making Work efforts under these conditions. But more than that, the right motivation needs to be present. Otherwise, the Work cannot change you.

It is difficult to define accurately all of what denying force is, or if it is the same for everyone. So you need to contemplate for yourself what that obstacle is and what your motivation is for doing the Work. Until you have accurately identified these elements, you will be unable to change anything. Perhaps your motivation isn't strong enough, perhaps your focus is too broad, perhaps the willfulness of self-justification has you by the throat. These are all common experiences in the Work at one time or another.

From the point of view of the Work, the only thing that matters is that you persevere in making genuine basic efforts that begin, and for a long time consist mostly of self-observation only. Don't expect that you are going to be transformed without tremendous efforts. As a matter of fact, you will be transformed in direct proportion to the efforts you make.

In the Work, you have to make the effort ahead of time, you have to pay with your effort in order to receive the results that the Work can create. And you have to be willing to do that up front.

If your motivation is self-interested in any way, including needing to feel "energized", then your aim is off the mark. You have to be able to do this Work when you don't want to, when it's too hard, when you're too tired, when you are ill, when you are ANYTHING that life can throw at you.

The Fourth Way is in life and requires that we deal with our circumstances, whatever they are, from the angle of doing the Work. If you feel lost, confused, empty, in darkness -- 1)recognize these as negative states that exist in you 2)remember that negative states lie because they aren't the whole picture with scale and relativity 3)don't try to do anything about your negative feelings other than observe them uncritically

If you are not successful, keep trying, keep doing the Work. Earnest efforts will gradually create a stronger Real I in you.

If you can recognize that your negative states are caused by the requirements you have (of the world, of people, of your life) in order to feel satisfied, then you will know that these requirements are based in false personality and inner considering.

We Work against these by making personality passive, by inner separation, by non-identification, by recognizing that inner considering is only self-interest, by sacrificing your need to be gratified.


A person attempting to awaken by way of the Work will be able to have some small part of their mind SEE identification happening in themselves. These I's that can see identification are not themselves identified. Consequently, the force of identification is lessened by the I's that can see it and refuse to give their energy to it. This is a powerful incentive to practice self-observation and inner separation.

The accumulated I's of observation and verification and understanding eventually have enough force to stop automatic emotions and reactions. The aim here being to consciously chose right action.

Identification is especially hard to work on because we get our sense of who we are by way of identifying, i.e. what you care about, what you love, hate, need, want, etc. It fills you with energy and a sense of meaning when it is really only stealing your life and your force. Since we "feel" like we are defined by what moves us the most ("I'm a Republican, a victim, a freedom fighter, a feminist, a devout person), it is very difficult to see a level of relativity that denies one's sense of self and purpose. This is the stripping of the ego. It is painful and hard to let go of long-held convictions (identifications), to see with relativity that your attitudes, opinions, presumptions, and passions all have been acquired throughout your life. Therefore, they are subjective. They are changeable. They contain not the whole truth of a thing, only that which satisfies the false personality. They are not you.

Only inner separation, another difficult practice, can work at first against identification. Eventually, when the emotional center has been cleansed of the self-interest that builds identifications, action from a higher, more objective level is possible. You will be able to choose consciously what to give your energy to and how. But this is very far down the road. Be patient while Working. Results are usually a long time in coming, but growth is every step of the way.

Observe identification. See the strength of the grip that it has on you. See the same grip it has on others. See how it fills you with energy, how you get a little thrill from the jolt of it. See how it is full of justification. See that the agenda that fires your identification is self-serving and so is the next person's, and the next, though the identifications may oppose one another.

This is where to make personality passive. The "why" is so that you can see through the false personality and all its obstructions to a higher level of scale and relativity which can free you from identification.

Exercises to work on identification:

--self-observation --register identification --try to observe where it originates in you --try to see its motivation --practice inner separation --practice the stop exercise --make personality passive --give no attention to justifying I's --remember scale and relativity --remember objective truth --remember your Self


[STUDENT: We have given ourselves a task where we sense our body (our right hand)while we listen or talk with another. Or even just while we do our job. We find we can have an overall "awakened" sense with this divided attention but, it quickly turns into a time when attention begins to switch back and forth between hand and subject. Are these mini identifications? Would this be time to stop the task and come back or try to work through it?]

The purpose of these exercises in divided attention is to prove that divided attention exists. It is possible. It is actually a big accomplishment to verify divided attention, even if it happens only in small doses. And it will come in small doses for a very long time. The ability to divide your attention for longer periods of time comes with practice.

However, you have already proved that you CAN divide your attention. You no longer need to waste this effort on any pointless activity. Now you need to direct one part of your attention not toward your body or any other external thing, but inward toward observing your own psychology while the other part stays engaged in the world.

When you first direct your attention inward, try only to observe what is going on, to register negative states, incongruities, inner considering, vanity, inner talking, insincerity, etc. Try not to react, criticize or judge what you observe.

This is the beginning of psychological transformation, to see your own psychology in action, to "know thyself". Read and study what the Work teaches about sleep, multiplicity, mechanicalness and all else one must observe and verify internally. Each observation is a step in the growth of Real I, so don't waste the effort of dividing your attention on externals. Observe YOURSELF with your divided attention.


The process of awakening in the Work leads to True Personality. Through the process of self-observation, inner separation, non-identification, we learn to see that our automatic behavior does not reflect our true Self. The efforts undertaken reveal to us the malformation of our psychology. The accumulated I's of observation gain strength enough eventually so that one may act intentionally rather than mechanically. This intentionality issues from True Personality. It is not based on self-interest, but rather on objective consciousness. Long-term self-observation will strip away or melt away or burn away the wrong work of False Personality bit by bit.

Although the process is painful, to be rid of unnecessary suffering and have the clarity of mind and strength of will to act intentionally is liberation from the chains of mechanicalness that bind us in sleep. Psychological freedom brings new life based on True Personality.

True Personality still contains essence, types and different centers of gravity. But they are all at the service of higher consciousness. This means that you are more honestly yourself than you can ever achieve through any avenue of False personality.

A person developed in the Work -- to the degree that they are relatively free from the power of False personality -- can interact with life and people with a clearer perspective on reality. The obstructions of inner considering, mechanical momentum, feature and identification lose power as True Personality evolves.


On the other hand, if you understand the idea of esoteric as being "inner" -- not secret, not exclusive, not superior, not external -- you can suddenly see the meaning beneath the surface interpretation of any valid teaching. That being so, what you will immediately recognize in the Fourth Way is the transcendent potential that is the heart of the Teaching.

The aim of the Fourth Way is conscious evolution, growth in being, and authentic Selfhood. These are not achieved by any means other than the hard, personal inner work of self-transformation. You may have a great deal of knowledge of the Fourth Way ideas, but how have these ideas changed you? If you have not practiced the inner psycho- transformational exercises that the Work teaches, if you have not applied them to your daily life, if you do not conscientiously practice self-observation, inner separation, non-identification, external considering, then your knowledge cannot be transformed into Understanding, Being or Higher Consciousness. These come from real psychological efforts and sacrifices. Knowledge alone cannot change you and if you are not interested in self-change, then you are only dallying in the Work, entertaining the intellectual center, putting a "high- dinky-doo" hat on yourself.

The Work is called the "Work" because it is WORK. The efforts that you have to make are, for a very long time, only internal. You must gain Understanding before you can DO anything. Knowledge that has grown into Understanding (organic cognition through practice and experience) raises one's level of Being and Consciousness. This is the aim of the Work. The aim is not to form an exclusive organization or to produce personal power, except in the realm of one's own psychology. The aim is to create change in an individual and that change comes from the application of the psychological practices to oneself.


It is only natural in the developmental process of the Work that in the beginning the power of your personality is much stronger than your will or ability to remain conscious or internally aware. At first, when you try to practice self-observation, you can only get glimpses of the external reality and the internal reality at the same time. You may find it helpful to reflect upon any effort of self-observation after the fact, picturing it from an objective, external point of view where you can see the event, where you are cognizant of your own inner state and detached from both (or not identified with either). These glimpses and reflections form photographs for you. They give you information that you can verify through further observations. The attention that is directed toward your psychology becomes Observing I. Observing I grows with every photograph and every verification of Work knowledge. Eventually, Observing I has the will to remain conscious.

When in the presence of other people, let your effort be only to register what feelings you have (alienation, fear, insecurity, superiority, etc.). Try to make an effort to make your personality passive. This can help you see more clearly. Later reflection will reveal that the obstruction you are experiencing in social situations probably has a lot to do with all of the issues of inner considering. Knowing this, observing this, verifying this will free you from it.


The Work asks you to note your state. This indeed requires great effort. That's why it is called Work. But it is possible to do it (practice self-observation in this manner) and you don't have to take my word for it. You can verify it for yourself through your own experience. Of course, you have to make the effort of self-observation repeatedly in order to build something strong enough inside you to observe yourself as a regular activity. This will take much work and a long time. So evaluate your aim in undertaking the Work.

If you decide to do this Work, your efforts will create a response that enlightens you.

Note: Identification is not an attention issue. It is the wrong work of the emotional center.


Nevertheless, you have made some valid observations. Even a moment of seeing clearly the difference between Real I and all the other aspects of self is valuable. Just as is any moment of awareness of mechanicality.

I must point out that Self-Observation is a specific psychological exercise that is unique to the Work. It is not practice of the present moment or paying attention to anything other than your own psychological processes and states.

What you are seeing when you experience yourself as "simply a bundle of tape recordings and reactions responding from these" is False Personality. It is relevant because it makes up your present reality. You do have a True Self which doing the Work will lead you to discover. The process of discovery begins with relentless practice of self-observation. It is imperative that one is uncritical of what is observed.

You are not only programs and mechanics. There is something in you that is authentic, unique behind all of these things. That Real I, True Self begins to gain strength or surface with the first observation of False Personality. Since you know already that there is something in you that isn't only mechanical, the I that knows this is the I of self-observation. That I is the beginning of who you are (Real I). And although at some level we are all one, we are also each completely unique.

Once you have observed in yourself (verified) that Sleep and Mechanicalness and False Personality exist not only in you but also in everyone else, it becomes easier to forgive BECAUSE you understand the nature and the power of Sleep. This helps to reinforce Real I which will then give you more power to forgive and understand.

What the Work desires to accomplish in you is a transformation from Mechanicality to an authentic Self of Intentionality which consists of External Considering. External Considering is the unself-interested state of being in which everyone else's welfare becomes more important to you than your own. That is self-transcendent Work. This involves the death of False Personality (ego). It is a process that requires efforts, sometimes painful, sometimes frightening, but always enlightening and if you do the Work correctly they lead you to your True Self.


In this Work, we practice Self-Observation in order to get objective views of our reality. These glimpses form pictures that can inform us. Part of working with a group in the Fourth Way is accepting photographs, pictures, that others give to you about yourself from their perspective. Please understand that photographs given to you from a real Teacher are not aimed at hurting you. The Teacher's objective is to enlighten you so that you may be able to see even more clearly.

Keeping this in mind, photograph Negativity as the Wrong Work of the Emotional Center and recognize from your Work knowledge that negative states lie.

Understand that the desire to be seen, noticed, have importance, be accepted, feel appreciated, are all natural strivings that arise from the brain stem urges that seek the security and connectedness of social relationships. So these emotions are not only a natural function of the human personality, but they are the same in everyone, regardless of whether the person has developed a personality that manifests those urges differently.

Now for the photograph: All of the emotions that you describe belong to Inner Considering and most specifically to Vanity. In this Work, we try to evolve beyond brain stem urges governing our actions in the world and forming our psychology.


When you first begin to practice Self-Observation, you will probably begin with seeing yourself as if from a distance. In other words, you will see yourself constantly touching your hair or shoving your fists deep into your pockets, or flirting, or not looking someone in the eye, or posturing in any of the different ways we all do. Or you may first notice that a particular state is always created by the same and repeated circumstances; as soon as you get in the car you become tense, anticipating the drive ahead, or having a particular activity interrupted you notice that you always become irritated. Or receiving mail, e or otherwise, gives you a little thrill, a compliment makes you feel validated, happy. But all of this is only half the picture, the external half.

The other part of this practice is to begin to see your internal states and psychology as well, and in conjunction with your external observances. It may begin as only an awareness, for instance you "see" yourself acting very self-confidently while you are actually feeling insecure. Or you observe yourself in conversation nodding apparently in agreement or understanding, when you actually have no idea what the other person is talking about.

Self-Observation does take effort and it requires long-term, often repeated efforts. Sometimes you will see something very clearly, sometimes your efforts produce nothing or something vague, or only later will you become cognizant of what was observed earlier.

But when you begin to make sincere and repeated efforts to observe yourself, you will probably experience what your fellow student did. You will have a spontaneous experience of Self-Observation that will feel clearer to you because there is only seeing, without trying. This happens because what practices Self-Observation in you is Observing I and it is growing in presence with every experience of Self-Observation. Eventually, after long-term authentic Work, Self-Observation becomes a sort of faculty in your psychology that functions on its own. It creates Observing I which becomes Real I which has access to Objective Consciousness.

What effort is too great to make for this?


Divided Attention precedes and is necessary for Self-Observation, but it is not Self-Observation. You cannot observe yourself without dividing your attention but Self-Observation is a specific practice in and of itself.

When I speak of Self-Observation, I am not referring to Self- Remembering. These are two distinct and very different experiences and practices. Self-Observation is psychological exercise of seeing objectively both our inner state and our outer reality at the same time. It is an exercise that over a long period of time and a large accumulation of observations leads to a degree of self knowledge and objectivity (non-identification). Under these conditions, Self-Remembering can take place.

An experience of Self-Remembering is an authentic awareness of your True Self in higher consciousness with scale and relativity.

Continuing to practice exercises of divided attention without using that divided attention to observe yourself is a wasted effort. Once you can divide your attention, then turn that part of it to psychological Work practices that can get you somewhere beyond dividing your attention. No matter what other Work efforts you make, if you are not practicing the psychological exercises regularly of true Self-Observation, Inner Separation, Non-Identification, the Stop exercise, External Considering, then no growth can happen.


Of course I did not intend that you find yourself in the way that you suggest. Ironically, what is required in Work against Inner Considering is that you lose yourself. So through the efforts that you've made so far, you have verified the existence of Multiplicity, Sleep, an absence of Real I, and how difficult it is to keep your attention focused for any length of time on any pursuit. All this without the discipline of School or preparatory Work. I should think that would be enough motivation to send you seeking after Work knowledge voraciously.

External rules, external disciplines will not help you. This Work is purely inner, psychological, transformational Work. Even if you were in a School full of rules and disciplines, you would find the energy of Observation dissipates rapidly and that is a natural occurrence.

Recognizing Inner Considering becomes one of the easiest aspects to observe after you have studied and understood what constitutes Inner Considering (refer to archives or Nicoll}. These states become glaringly obvious and are very easy to see, not rare, with the effort of Self-Observation. If you observe Inner Considering, probably the most you can do and the best thing you can do is to make your personality passive. External Considering is a long way down the road of knowledge in this Work. But making your personality passive (not identifying with your Inner Considering) has to be accomplished before one can get to true External Considering. Luck plays no part in this process. Knowledge comes first, effort and practice comes after knowledge, and the result can be the creation of Real I. What you need to serve as Third Force or "reminding force" is a strong desire for change and a good deal more knowledge of the Fourth Way Work.

Indeed Vanity can attach itself to anything, but the issue here has to do with the Work idea that thoughts come into you from all different sources -- some you can recognize, some you can't -- but any thought ("aren't I something!!") is just a passing I. You can credit it or not, you can identify with it or not, or you can ignore it. Ask yourself if this is a Real feeling that you have? Probably not, but if it is and you persevere in the Work, you'll lose that one fast.


Knowledge in the Fourth Way means understanding the Work ideas. That requires "pondering" AND practical Work. Increase your efforts to gain all the intellectual information you want or need, and reflect upon it. Then begin the initial practices of Self-Observation and not expressing Negativity. That is the process for Awakening. And that's a long one. If you are just beginning in the Work, you could not possibly know what your Center of Gravity or Chief Feature is. Presume nothing. Verify everything. Read, read, read and practice Self-Observation, and we will help you with any questions or difficulties you have along the way.


When you are practicing Self-Observation and that which you are trying to observe disappears, there are a couple of possible explanations. In the beginning, although it may seem hard to grasp, the ego will oppose Work efforts. It does not want to change and it certainly doesn't want to be seen. So perhaps some particular I's are hiding from observation. Sometimes when you practice Self-Observation that which is observed simply ceases to exist under the light of observation. For instance, if you are angry and you observe your anger in the context of Work knowledge and you see the self-interest, the lie, the machinations, the childishness in the anger, it can die on the spot. It isn't a should or shouldn't situation. This is just one of the things that occurs during Self-Observation.

You have a very important opportunity in what you have been experiencing. You say "the emotional feeling is separated from the thoughts that have aroused these feelings". The thoughts are only I's and separating them from the emotional feeling that they evoke is what we work very hard to be able to do. To have experienced this spontaneously is an insight and maybe an organic understanding of that condition of inner separation that can help to know what you are aiming at. It is freedom from Identification.

To remain objective during Observation takes practice. It may help you to separate the Observing I from your personality's manifestations by referring to them in your observations as "it" rather than taking them as yourself. For instance, "it" (meaning the mechanical, automatic personality that you call "self") is irritable. It feels successful. It is tired. It doesn't like...It thinks that people should...Some people find this exercise helpful.

You could try, while being externally aware, to have Observing I passively registering what it sees, maybe only subconsciously sensing the inner state. In other words, you see yourself talking to someone and your Observing I just notes that you are uncomfortable. Let it go. Reflect on it later. Remember that what you are observing, the manifestations of your False Personality, is not you. It is the acquired attitudes, opinions, likes, dislikes, pictures and imaginations, habitual behaviors, habitual thought processes that were laid down in you without your conscious participation. All of these things are not what is real in you. When you know this, it becomes easy for Observing I to be objective. It is not the real you that is being observed. What is behind the Observer is the Real you. It is through Self-Observation that Real I comes into existence and gains Consciousness and Will.

Buffers are not what is at work here. Buffers are the psychological vacuums between contradictory I's which keep them from recognizing the incongruities between them and the lack of unity in one's being. They allow the sort of behavior where a person can think of themselves as being a kind individual even though they hit their dog with a rolled-up newspaper or gripe at their spouse or ignore their children.


Real External Considering is advanced Work but it is something a student can DO, at least outwardly. Most other Work practices are about not doing, i.e. not expressing negativity, not being mechanical, or are about inner Work.

External Considering is essential to the development of Being. It is both a by-product of progress in the Work and an essential element in a developed person in the Work.

It isn't a practice of being "nice" to others and affecting a pleasant persona, beatific smile etc., but it and all Work practices are firmly planted in Objective Morality. In the natural progression of the Work, having created an effective Observing I, one begins to see all of the wrong work of Inner Considering. With long term observation, you begin to see that all of your actions in the world are motivated by self-interest, even the outwardly charitable ones are subconsciously, mechanically seeking merit, appreciation, rewards. When you begin to feel the insubstantiality and immaturity that comprise all of the aspects of Internal Considering and if your aim is development of Being, these manifestations begin to fall away. At that point, you can no longer walk into a room of people feeling insecure about yourself without being aware that such behavior is mechanical and infested with features based solely on Inner Considering. It will feel beneath you to be functioning psychologically at the level of Sleep, like everyone else in the room seeking self-gratification. The dissolution of those I's of Inner Considering raises you to another level of consciousness. It takes you out of the stream of social momentum and mechanicalness.

So one begins by observing passively, externally and internally, and one begins to see the contradictions between external behavior and internal states and notices that the internal state is always some variation of self-interest; the need to be noticed, appreciated, treated well, the desire to be understood, to possess abilities that others value, the need to be right, the feeling of embarrassment and insecurity when these needs and desires aren't met; the bragging and preening of Vanity; the insincere salaciousness of flirting; lying overtly and lying covertly by pretending to be interested, pretending to know when you don't, pretending to care when you don't, pretending to listen when in reality your mind is on something else entirely; manipulations and the inauthentic actions of all varieties. Inner Considering is always concerned with how it appears. This is only sometimes Vanity. External appearances, position, appropriate deference, merit, status, valuation are all core emotions in Inner Considering.

It is only by observing, verifying and working against Inner Considering that one can begin to get to the point where one's every thought and action is not motivated by self-interest. This is where real External Considering can begin to happen. It doesn't happen by focusing "EXCLUSIVELY" on the thoughts and opinions of others. It happens because being divested of self-interest leaves room in one's psychology for seeing clearly and being able to act consciously in the moment.

Whatever actions constitute External Considering, none require being appreciated or even recognized

Those needs belong to Inner Considering. External Considering has nothing to do with getting anything, even acknowledgment, understanding, appreciation, merit or reward for oneself. That is why real External Considering is the opposite of weakness. There is nothing weak in being able to act consciously, unselfishly in the world. Indeed it takes great strength to not be constantly obsessed with yourself. It takes courage and the acceptance of Necessary Suffering, and freeing oneself from Unnecessary Suffering to fight your way through the psychological obstacles of Inner Considering. If you are successful, you have raised your level of Being.

If you are practicing real External Considering, no one can take advantage of you, nor mock you to any effect. Vanity, Fear, Power features do not exist in External Considering and therefore cannot be assailed. You will have gained a measure of independence from the external world and from the tyranny of the wrong work of your psychology.

The motive behind doing a favor for a friend in External Considering is the friend's need. If that friend doesn't appreciate your favor or outwardly rejects it, it is no reflection on your authentic motive and will not be an insult. To use your own example, cooking your wife her favorite dinner may seem like an exercise in External Considering. But if her need is not for dinner but for your attention instead of the hours you spent shopping and cooking, this is not real External Considering. You gave her what you wanted to give her instead of what she needed. Instead of making you angry, it should have motivated you to find out what she needs and to give her that with no expectation of any particular results. External Considering has no consideration for one's own needs. As a matter of fact, one has no needs in External Considering. The needs of others are the only consideration, which is a manifestation of Higher Consciousness.

Contrary to your idea of examining External Considering from a "selfish point of view from the point of view of first line work", it must be said that the first line of Work is ALL ABOUT divesting oneself of selfishness. It is not "an attempt when in the domain of false focus exclusively on the thoughts and opinions of others." To begin with, False Personality and External Considering cannot co-exist. And the focus of External Considering is not on the thoughts and opinions of others, but on their needs. If the others show no appreciation or even acknowledgment, you cannot deduce that you have failed, because you have no requirements of them. To deduce that you are not Externally Considering them because you have not given them what they need may be partially correct. External Considering would know what they need before acting and even if its actions are ineffective, there is no failure because the motivation is genuine.

So in the Work we are taught to practice External Considering even when we don't know how, just like we are asked to practice Self-Observation which also has to be learned. But to get from Self-Observation to real External Considering is a long, difficult process of cleansing yourself of the wrong work of the mechanics of Sleep. In the meantime, any exercise of External Considering will enlighten you and you will begin to see how very far away that level of Being is.


[STUDENT: How can I instill in myself a preference for Work I's that have the all the appearance of being the interlopers in my being?]

These feelings are natural in the beginning of the Work. Observing I has no power except to observe and one begins to lose the familiar sense of self before anything else has been created to replace it. The "ways that are familiar and comfortable" to you are mechanical and asleep. Is this the self you wish to be? It feels wrong to "shun" this familiar self because you are identified with yourself. You only know yourself as you always have been.

To feel a resistance to doing the Work is a common experience. The sense of loss that you feel is real. There is real loss, loss of ego and personality and your familiar sense of self. But this is necessary in order to build True Self on a new, authentic basis.

Work I's oppose what you have always known as "yourself" but they come from you, they are in you, and even dormant they are more You than any imitation or pretense. The aim in the Work is to change. Is this your aim? Then you must change your "cherished sense of yourself". If you want to DO the Work, then you must continue to practice. Be passive to the resistance of False Personality. Expect it and just observe. Observe how Personality doesn't want to change, doesn't want to make any efforts, especially ones that eliminate its existence.

Through the long process of Self-Observation, Work I's accumulate. You will gain a sense of authentic Self (versus imitation and pretense) gradually.

So this is part of Necessary Suffering, that is, sacrificing False Personality, which is always painful in some way in order to gain a real Self that is more truly you and in which there is no pretense.


[STUDENT: How can I start to work again in a consistent manner? I am not connected to a group, though I had been at one time.]

Begin by evaluating your Aim. If your Aim is to change yourself, psychological evolution, then you will find the tools for these efforts in the psychological practices of the Work, best expressed in Nicoll's Commentaries. Contemplate the cosmology if you must, but focus your attention on Self-Observation. Every advancement in the Work begins with Self-Observation. Refer to our archives on the subjects of Divided Attention and Self-Observation.

If you must, use simple reminders to observe yourself such as putting your watch on the opposite wrist, etc. If you need more Third Force, make it a regular practice to be in touch with creativespirit. We are here to assist you in these efforts. Make a daily aim of reading from the Commentaries. Refer your questions to us.

Rodney Collin reminds us to "know what we know." Remember what you have verified.


You can fully understand how to divide your attention, how to observe yourself, or any other Work exercise and not know what you will learn or how that knowledge will affect you. One may practice Self-Observation and observe Vanity of a particular kind, which leaves you feeling small and shallow, embarrassed, paranoid about being revealed, humiliated; then justification jumps in and if you retain a degree of observing you will see that as only more wrong work and suddenly you recognize that none of these changing I's are real...So who Are You? What is real and what is not real? You cannot see this ahead and it will be a somewhat different experience for each person.

I do fully believe that in order to do the Work rightly, you need to know what you are aiming at and understand what it will require of you. I do also believe that a student must understand the purpose of the practice he is given to do. This does not contradict the reality of multi-faceted experience whose depth cannot be perceived from afar.

Do not underestimate the admonition to "know thyself", the whole aim there being to discern the real from the false. All progress in the Work is based on this self-knowledge.

Observing I creates what the Work calls Deputy Steward. Observing I gains clarity of vision with repeated practice and verifies the Work ideas. These verifications create a psychological faculty, an organ of perception that is a permanent vantage point from which you see everything through Work-verified Understanding.

Certainly, no student is expected to be working at the same level as any other student. This is very personal, idiosyncratic experience. However, if I give the exercise of, say, noticing lying, then all students will respond to that exercise with the degree of Understanding and Being they currently have. For some, it may be with a range of responses from "I never lie", "I can't do this exercise" to "I have observed that I lie constantly, exaggerating and manipulating words to flatter myself, to feed the pictures I have of myself; I constantly am outwardly friendly even though almost everything makes me mad; I pretend to like people I don't like; I pretend to understand things so that no one will know that I actually don't; and this knowledge has shattered the illusions of False Personality and liberated me."

Sometimes the Work is a gradual development. Sometimes it's a mind-altering experience. If it proceeds, there is not usually any consistency in the way it proceeds, up until a certain point.. However, the Fourth Way consists of very specific knowledge, exercises, and precise information, not hints and clues.

I think the term "psychological integrity" is a perfect expression of what the Aim is.

We do not encourage you to focus on only one aspect of the Work at a time with no context or understanding of the Aim. But if you already know that psychological integrity is the Aim, what more motivation do you need?

However, there is a beginning point in the Work and it is Self-Observation which is the bedrock of all further development. It is a practice that will continue indefinitely and doing it right is essential. It requires practice and repetition, and it must be ongoing during the whole process of the Work. While we are continually practicing Self-Observation, which must be learned, we will also be discussing other Work ideas, other Work practices and related subjects. With development in the Work, you begin to see differently, your vantage point changes and new perspectives, new levels of Understanding become available. This cannot be antecedent. It must be worked for.


[STUDENT: Can you explain a little more in detail about the idea of changing what you observe. I don't quite understand this.]

The aim of Self-Observation is to enlighten you about how your own psychology works. If you are practicing Self-Observation and you begin to "see" wrong work in yourself, you will want to change this; however, for a very long time, all you can do is observe. You will see Sleep, Mechanics, Features, Inner Considering in all its facets, Multiplicity, Lying, Justifying, Vanity, Imagination, Pictures, etc.

It is frustrating to see all of this, or any of it, and not be able to do anything to change what wrong work you observe. But Observing I's accumulate. They gain clarity and strength, and eventually give you the determination to change your own wrong work.

Sometimes just seeing repeatedly the same manifestations of the wrong work of False Personality diminishes their strength. After all, the I's of Self-Observation are not identified with what is observed. As they accumulate, they draw force from Identification, weakening its hold on you, eventually giving you enough Will to disengage from wrong work.

Sometimes you may observe some wrong work in yourself that so shocks you the power and depth of your enlightenment annihilates its existence. It vanishes, falls away, crumbles to dust, ceases to exist only because you have seen it clearly and know it IS NOT YOU.

This, however, is rare. More often, the task of ridding yourself of the wrong work of your psychology requires deliberate and repeated efforts to do so. These are Super Efforts and they are a long way own the road of authentic, objective Self-Observation. It would be too soon to try at this point in your Work. You must learn more (knowledge)and gain more understanding through study and practice before you have the right tools to apply in making Super Efforts.


Under Self-Observation notice: -- that you have many I's, many contradictory -- notice habitual behavior, posture, tics, attitudes, sayings -- verify Sleep -- verify mechanicalness -- notice negative I's especially. Note their frequency: anger, irritation, criticizing, depression, frustration, boredom, impatience, exasperation, grumpiness, competitiveness, negative inner talk, slander, self-deprecation, despair, hopelessness, violence -- Note their frequency -- Trace them to their roots in your psychology -- Notice habitual I's that say the same things over and over -- Recognize your own Multiplicity. -- Recognize that what can see that in you is a separate you -- Try to realize from the beginning that this separate " you" is NOT one of the multiplicity -- Observing I must keep observing all that the Work teaches -- Try to keep Personality passive -- Practice Inner Separation -- Speak less -- Remember your Aim -- Remember the Work every day

On Inner Considering, observe:

-- Justifying, always putting your self in the right -- the need for attention -- the desire for appreciation -- worry about what others think of you -- feeling excited when you're a social success -- feeling disappointment if you are not -- thinking always how hard you have it -- feeling superior, feeling inferior -- being nervous -- resenting not getting the notice or valuation you want -- being insincere -- feeling rejected -- feeling insecure -- worry

The Work tells you also to notice: Lying -- outright dishonesty, giving people a wrong impression of yourself that is usually flattering, pretending to listen when you are not, pretending to understand when you do not; pretending interest or care because it serves you, lying about your status, your knowledge, your merit, manipulating the truth to put yourself in a better light, exaggerating. Identification False Personality Pictures and Imagination Vanity -- physical vanity, intellectual vanity, vanity about money, position, power, experience, sexual attractiveness, accomplishment, merit, importance, having some special privilege or secret knowledge, feeling superior to others in some way. Self- deprecation is the flip side of the coin of vanity. It is made up of the same thing. Self-Remembering Impressions Violence

When you have seen all of these things in yourself, for yourself, you will begin to wake up. When these moments happen, you will see the state of Sleep and mechanicalness that rules everyone, including you. During this period of observation, there is not much you can do to change what you observe. This is a frustrating stage and it passes slowly. The more you observe, the more presence and strength Observing I will have. As you see and verify more often and more clearly, you will not want to continue to manifest from Sleep and mechanicalness. Your will to be conscious and intentional and act with integrity will be the primary force to help you get rid of the wrong work in your psychology. Once the Emotional Center is purified of its wrong work, growth in Consciousness is possible.


Subject: Seeing

I photographed Impatience once while I was waiting in a long line at a store. Being in the Work, I recognized Impatience as a Negative Emotion, but who wouldn't be impatient standing, by necessity, in a long, slow moving line when I was in a hurry. Luckily I had to stand in line so long that I was able to observe some things about Impatience. First, as I said, I saw it as a Negative Emotion. I know that Negative Emotions are the wrong work of the Emotional Center, but I can't help but see how the negativity spreads into thinking negative thoughts, no matter the subject, and an agitated, irritated Instinctive Center -- sighing, shifting weight from side to side, foot taping, eyebrow raising, irregular breathing, grimaces, shoulder and neck flexing and more. Soon, even though I was able to return again and again to the position of Observing I, I was fully infected with negative everything and the line was moving slower!

Suddenly, and with crystal clarity, I saw -- that is, Observing I saw -- what a ridiculous useless waste of energy and attention this toxic state of Impatience was. And further, how pointless. My impatience certainly didn't make the line move faster. It only made my internal and external experience of waiting miserable. And I saw that I was behaving like a spoiled child who was having a temper because I couldn't have my way. I "felt" the bitter taste of Negativity and didn't like it. I saw that I had let this Negative Emotional I of Impatience go unchecked and infect not only my state, but other people's as well by "complaining" verbally and non-verbally. This is something that Real I did not want to do. I saw and felt the wrongness (wrong work) of it. I saw the silly, shallow, useless impotence of it. I saw the lie that there was justification for it and accepted responsibility. This was painful to the False Personality which felt humiliated. That Impatience died in the light of that realization. I felt like a transformed person, a taste of Real I.And then suddenly, again, I saw something that my ordinary state couldn't see. I saw all the elements of my day, my week, the season, the weather and the unexpected that had fallen into place so to put me here (in line, waiting) now. I saw that it had taken hundreds of elements in just my own day and my own agenda to put me "here, now". Then I saw that each person had their own elements to live in order to put them "here and now"...and in front of me. A burst of illuminated insight of what it would require of the Universe, all of the thousands of connected elements in the world and in time, to coordinate circumstances to suit my convenience. I saw the utter absurdity of having such requirements. And I was humbled to see that I thought myself so important that I was expecting the whole world to arrange itself so as not to inconvenience me or even to accommodate me.

Thankfully, this experience, the verification I received in it, the Understanding made a permanent change in me. I haven't been impatient while waiting for anything since then (more than fifteen years now). I experience no negativity and I find some productive way to use the time, or I just wait patiently. Imagine now the weight of one little Negative I of Impatience, the power and influence it has and the Unnecessary Suffering it causes. Now imagine being free of that oppression. It is sweet liberty.


If you credit this idea and attempt to divide your attention and observe yourself, you find that there is something in you that can SEE (Observe). With practice, Self-Observation creates the presence of Observing I. Observing I has a Work Memory that becomes filled with verifications of Work ideas, pictures you have of yourself, photographs of Imagination, False Personality and Wrong Work.

Observing I becomes the seat of "Steward" -- a permanent faculty that receives the impressions from life, internal and external, through a level of Understanding informed by the Work ideas.

Observing I has also been informing Real I, which grows from this Understanding and gains strength through practice and definition in contrast to Imaginary I. This Real I forms at the expense of or through the elimination of acquired Personality (False Personality), that is, your ego.

Real I seeks to exert control over Personality in order to be authentic, in order to replace Wrong Work with Right Work. As False Personality is observed and studied and worked against, it loses power, refuses to function, and eventually dissolves, vanishes to be replaced by your True Self, awakened, intentional, internally free, authentic, unique, purified of the labyrinth of Wrong Work, self-interest, and the Negative Emotions connected to them.

Real I can know, is connected to Higher Consciousness, Objective Conscience. It has perfect integrity and contains the meaning and fulfillment of your existence.


[STUDENT: Sometimes when practicing self-observation, I feel that I am thinking about myself too much. Is there any danger of self-observation becoming self-absorption?]

Yes, there is a danger if Self-Observation is not done uncritically. You can become endlessly fascinated by what you observe without ever moving beyond that point.

To quote Nicoll, in response to the question "don't you think this Work makes one very self-centered?" Nicoll: "Exactly the opposite. It shifts you from this self-satisfied, self-centered view of yourself. It makes you really think you are nothing like what you thought."


[STUDENT: There is much talk in the system of struggle, suffering, work, and bearing inner and outer unpleasantness. Is there any place for joy during our journey through the work?

This experience we are speaking about is what happens when real Self-Observation begins. All you can do is observe without the power to change or affect what you observe. This is a frustrating stage. You cannot progress without going through it.

Certainly there is joy in this Work. Unfortunately, you have to work to get it. When you begin to have some detachment from your mechanics and can affect to some extent change in you have observed,you will experience a liberation that is joyous.


Being critical is negative emotion in action. Don't believe it, just observe it. It's too soon for you to know where these I's come from. The only way to find out and be free of them is through Self-Observation. Uncritical, objective Self-Observation.


After practicing Self-Observation for a period of time and verifying for myself my Body Type, my features, my Alchemy, I had a lot to laugh at. It does become easier to do so with the kind of detachment experienced through Inner Separation.


Start with one thing. The best thing would be to start with this Work at the beginning with Self-Observation. This process will show you how to be responsible, first to your own Aim. As you are able to observe more, your desire to be responsible will increase. Set small aims in the beginning. At some point in the appropriate development of the Work, you will find you have developed a distaste for being irresponsible and the consequences that issue from that condition.


Objective Observation will inform you about the nature and source of being irresponsible. Learning to use the Emotional Center correctly will give you the ability to not be irresponsible. This is a long process. Be patient.


The following is a response to a message from a student regarding his observations:

I would like you to consider the possibility that you are a Solar- Mercury, maybe a Solar-Venus-Mercury. The combined nature of multiple I's and speed of energy in Mercury plus the hyper energy of Solar may be combining so that your I's are moving too quickly for you to grasp individual I's and hold onto them long enough to be able to observe them accurately. I would also like you to consider the possibility that you are dealing as well with a Fear Feature. Remember, that making Personality passive may require a passive type to become active. Self-deprecation is just the flip side of Vanity. Also it can be an excuse to not make real efforts. There is no real observing in self- deprecation.

Along with the "normal" wrong work of every machine, if you are dealing with a Fear Feature that could account for more emotional dysfunction and the feelings of being alone since Fear will not take emotional risks and therefore is cut off from authentic emotional relationship. It may also feed your need for reassurance in order to feel comfortably yourself.

You are seeing a lot already. You have identified Vanity I's and laziness. The more you photograph them, the less you will want to suffer the pain and the wrong work they create.

You are very perceptive to notice the element of self-interest (seeking appreciation) in your complimenting of the guard. On closer examination, though, I think you will find that the I of self-interest was not the real I of motivation. I imagine you really were grateful and it was externally considerate to express that. The other I that felt self- important was probably only the automatic I of your own self-deprecating False Personality, an acquired habit of thinking of yourself in particular terms.

Work on Emotional Center first by refusing to identify with every Negative Emotion that appears in you. You call yourself lazy and yet you worked hard to become a lawyer and continue to work if not hard, at least consistently. This does not negate the possibility of Tramp Feature, but I think it is too soon in your development for you to be Body Typing yourself and ascribing Features to yourself.

If you feel that you are starving emotionally, you must consider that you are cut off from a functional Emotional Center. Even ordinary people not in the Work have some sort of emotional life that is nurturing to them.

What nurtures you? Not your Vanity Feature. Your heart. What do you find to be sweet in life: animals, plants, children, music, nature, close personal relationships? If you feel this Emotional Center starvation, FEED YOURSELF POSITIVE EMOTIONAL IMPRESSIONS. Please do not chastise yourself. It is only further identification with yourself. OBSERVE. Practice Inner Separation. If you are feeling the "terror" of the conditions you are observing, you are stuck fast in Identification and have no way out. If you can observe the condition of your psychology at present and say to it "this is just my mechanics at work", "my Vanity Feature is asserting itself", "my Tramp Feature is avoiding having to work", "my Fear Feature needs reassurance", then you can begin to separate from the Negative Emotions the observations are attached to.

When you observe objectively an aspect of your psychology such as Vanity, when you observe it repeatedly in all its manifestations you will begin to know that these actions are not YOU. They do not express the truth of your Real I. You will see the futility and indignity of seeking your self-worth outside of yourself through the fickle flattery and appreciation of others. You will grow to dislike this immature dependence upon others' opinions of you. The Real I that is taking form through Self-Observation will begin to assert itself in place of Vanity or Trampishness. That which "knows that it knows" in you will not need external verifications.

I suggest that you attempt to make your internal I's passive and quiet as much as possible so that you can see. If I's and glimpses of states are still moving too quickly for accurate observation, try to grab onto one particular observed I and hold it, letting everything else pass while you examine it to the extent that you can.

Remember that Vanity in Latin is "vanitas" and it means "empty". You are not empty. You are at least seeing some things of value, therefore you can apply the Work to the material you have. "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." (Goethe)

The I's of Vanity and Inner Considering (needing to feel attractive) are only part of the wrong work which you observed in relationship to "pretty women". This is also a distortion of sex energy called Infrasex. In the case of a newlywed, I find this activity a little more surprising, however it is very common as you well know. It will ruin the possibility of a good marriage and corrupt your work efforts.


This is also my view and I believe further that working with Divided Attention not specifically related to Self-Observation is a waste of time. It can be a subject of fascination for the psychology and many people will prefer to remain at this kindergarten stage of practice rather than apply what has been learned to themselves.


[STUDENT: In practicing self-observation, I still see the object of my observation as entirely "myself", that is, the person I consider to be the real me. I can approach some dispassion or uncriticality in my observation, but no strong sense of "inner separation". There is really no sense of a new observing self. Do I err?]

You perceive the object of your observation as yourself because your Observing I has not developed a strong enough presence. This happens incrementally. Inner Separation is key and difficult in the Work process. It has to be worked at. If there is no sense of a new Observing Self, what is observing? Is it the same self that is being observed?


A quote from the reading: "When a man is totally asleep he is identified with every thought that comes to him automatically and every mood that arises in him automatically, and every feeling. He takes all this as his life and, in fact, more than this, he takes it as his necessary life. In the work of self-observation we are told in what direction to observe ourselves and the reason for this is to be able to separate ourselves very gradually from all these unnecessary forms of identifying with transient thoughts, moods and feelings. We then begin to have something that stands behind us. We then begin to see ourselves, as it were, on the stage in front of us. We begin to see all sorts of different 'I's in us, saying this and thinking that, and behaving like that and holding forth like that, as something unreal, something that is not oneself, something that has nothing to do with Real 'I'. In other words, we begin to see our mechanicalness. All this is a very great step to take and once a person has taken it he or she can never be the same person again."

Beginning to see your mechanicalness is a definite and important stage in the Work. Indeed, once you have verified it, you will never be the same. At this point you must proceed intentionally and from valuation of the Work or you must stop if you are unable to sustain this shock and stay sane.


[STUDENT: Nicoll in the assigned reading spoke of the absence of struggle in the process of self-observation. This is something with which I struggle myself. I have a feeling this is important. Please elaborate.]

I think this means more about being passive in your observations rather than in tension trying to make the observation happen. As Nicoll said, I think that in the very beginning, it is wise to be inconspicuous in your observing, beginning with the just the sensing and then noticing of states.


You get out of bed tomorrow, looking forward to weekend recreation, and feeling positive anticipation. It storms and blows your house down instead. Are you lost then to the winds of external circumstances? If you can face these kinds of extremes and maintain a position detached from Negative Emotions and Unnecessary Suffering, this would be an example of successful Self-Observation. I will address this more later.


[STUDENT: Doesn't the process of self-observation quell the states observed? People say I seem pensive. I suppose it is because I am new to it.]

Yes. But sometimes it takes long-term observation and sometimes it happens immediately that the light of observation puts an abrupt halt to that which can only take place in the dark. Pensive has posture to it, has habitual body language and stance. Sometimes intentionally getting out of the physical manifestation helps you to separate from the emotional associative state.


[STUDENT: Related to Andrews point - Should one not be able to manifest externally in any way that is appropriate while internally remaining separate (G. calls it playing a 'role'). But I find that, for example, I must slow down when walking in order to observe myself for any period of time. There seems to be no reason that I ought not be able to sustain observation while hurrying, going about my daily business. I think what Gurdjieff refers to as 'not blending the inner with the outer.]

You can certainly observe yourself while hurrying going about your daily business, but what you should be observing in this is the wrong work of the Emotional Center which creates hurry in the Moving Center. If you continue to observe eventually you will get to a point where Understanding will take the place of mechanical responses. I don't particularly like the idea of "playing a role" unless it is necessary. I believe that through impartial observation the wrong work begins to diminish.


In the beginning Observing I identifies with everything. If you find it in identification with the Work, this is a good hing. It is when you begin to see and feel that you are not one I that you will discover that you can choose which I is real.


Which would you most like to be free of? Identification, Imagination, or Inner Considering? They are all equally wrong work. Sometimes observations descend into any one of these aspects of wrong work. If you recognize it to be Inner Considering, are you more able to separate from it than if it has fallen into Identification? Would knowing this help you to raise that I back to the level of Observation? These kinds of discriminations are not significant work practices. You need to focus on re-establishing Observing I, then let it see where it has been. You are the only person who can determine which weakness most affects you. If it helps you to understand this then again, raise your Observing I and see where the wrong work came from.


Observing states and identifications is much more important work and is essential for building a right foundation.

Observing functions, for instance, the Intellectual Center doing a crossword puzzle or the Moving Center at the gym, doesn't give you enough information or context to be of great value in the beginning of this Work.

Now you can identify an I by the state it produces in you. Knowing what center is functioning is much less important than seeing mechanics, verifying Multiplicity, and practicing Inner Separation.


If you observe in yourself for instance an I that wants to speak, to have its say, to be heard, understood, recognized, appreciated, and you know from Work Knowledge that this emotional disposition is Inner Considering and wrong work of the Emotional Center you then have reason to become detached from that I.

Most of the time you can trace an I back to a motivation that has self- interest at its heart.


Observing that your Instinctive Center is hungry carries no weight. When you note that the Instinctive Center creates negative emotions when it isn't satisfied would be stronger observation. Note the strength of the Instinctive Center. How it tyrannizes all the other centers until it gets its way. Most often, it is best to humor the Instinctive Center by giving it what it wants so that it doesn't impede your Work.


[STUDENT: Tearing down what is false without taking care to build what is genuine seems to court disaster.

It is not courting, it is creating disaster. The process of tearing down what is false should happen gradually along with the growth of Understanding which should take the place of what was false and is no longer a part of you. But it's like reining in a wild team of horses. Everyone wants results and particular results and right away. All seem to need external, tangible evidence that this Work is actually working. It is important to study different aspects of these transformational ideas. At the same time, trying to apply them to a psychology in the chaos of wrong work won't have healthy results. I reiterate and ask you all to continue the fundamental practice of Self-Observation with PATIENCE. You have each had some experiences of raised consciousness or deep insight. Let these inspire you to work without requirements knowing that you will receive what you particularly need in order to proceed.


[STUDENT: I understand that one purpose for Self-Observation is information gathering. We are uncritically observing attitudes, reactions, and motivations. But we are also observing "wrong work". The very words "wrong work of centers" suggest a need to correct or "make right" this wrong work. For example: I often experience wrong work of centers when I become wrapped up in some intellectual activity, like research or writing or discussion. I then sometimes experience some unaccountable hyper-activity or nervousness in the moving center, as if I've had too much coffee; I may have a shortness of breath and I may even begin to sweat for no physical reason. This is an observation of wrong work. Should I require a cessation of this wrong work or simply observe with the attitude that this material will be useful later?]

This particular wrong work is the Emotional Center affecting the Intellectual Center creating intellectual identification. The wrong work that is happening is anxiety, nervousness, both Inner Considering. You can try to require that this wrong work stop. That probably won't have much effect. Observe, let go of your need to force this behavior to stop. Observing it is the quickest route to eliminating wrong work. You have to eventually be able to trace the path of wrong work back to its origin, its motivation. Seeing where it comes from, knowing that it functions in contradiction to your aim and your will and understanding that it is wasted self-interest becomes great inspiration for change.

[TN] These observations lead to right use of energy, which is both much more efficient and provides fuel for the work of transformation.


Negative I's are easier to observe and create more damage, which is partly why we concentrate on observing them in the beginning. If you refer to today's messages on creativespirit, you will find a long list that I wrote of things to observe in doing the Work.

I didn't intend to suggest that only negativity be observed. Everything is to be observed. You will find much more negativity present than you expect. Another reason for observing negativity is that it is always the wrong work of the Emotional Center which is particularly what must be Worked on. The more you see it, the better you will be able to work with it.


Death is always impending and for most of us, we can never know when our time here will end. Imagine what a waste it would be if you spent the next twenty-four hours trying to cram all of the Work ideas into your mind to form a whole that you can understand. Only to be hit by a bus the next day. Part of doing the Work in the beginning, starting with Self-Observation, is about being intentional. This implies doing the right thing at the right time. The future is imagination. What you have is Now and what you can do, Now, to make a path to where you want to be. Paradoxically, Higher States of Consciousness exist in you now, above your current level of existence but are accessible in the moment.


It is my opinion that in the beginning movements towards Self-Observation, Self-Remembering can confuse the issue. Later, once you have established a functioning Observing I, Self-Remembering simultaneously will give you another dimension of insight and a taste of Real I.

[TN] Nicoll: "The first form of self-remembering is the realization of one's mechanicalness." This means that some degree of more objective self-knowledge is necessary. Without this process of Inner Separation and Seeing within, Self-Remembering remains vague and uncontrollable. Remember Ouspensky's dilemma: how to make Self-Remembering last longer and be more frequent. Answer: continued inner work.


I have observed in myself being carried along in the momentum of negative associations in conversation with friends. My observation put a stop to my mechanical reactions and I became quiet. I noticed that no one missed my biting wit as much as I did. I noticed that perhaps I had even offended someone unintentionally. I have observed myself trying to impress someone of importance, seeking their exalted approval or appreciation, even notice. Seeing this as immature, petty gratification-seeking produced by Inner Considering and Vanity was in such contradiction to the dignity of Real I that all Inner Considering stopped and my center shifted away from needing external validation. I have observed myself complaining when Scale and Relativity are not present. When they become present, complaining dies of embarrassment.


Don't get discouraged. Part of the reason we observe negativity is to experience the power it has in our psychology. This you have to gleen for yourself through applied practice.


No, it is not necessarily better to observe oneself here or there. Observe yourself when you remember to. Both life situations and Work environment give you every opportunity you need to apply the practices. Making super efforts happens inside of you and has nothing to do with where you are or who you are talking to. For an extended exercise, try to observe groups of I's. Associative I's. I's that create particular states with what they say to you.


Observing I will be able to see everything clearly in time. It may be years before you can have a satisfactory effect on observed behavior. But what you are seeing is not only Vanity. It is also imitation, Inner Considering, and False Personality. These things diminish under the light of Self-Observation and a more conscious action takes their place.


What is to be observed here is how a set group of I's are put into motion and through paths of association lead in a particular psychological direction and wind up in a familiar place. For instance: excitement over a new something creates the I "this will be great", "I'm going to like this", "I can't wait to get started", "why can't I start now", "if I start now I'll progress faster", "I'll get done sooner and can go to the next something".


Groups of I's have set patterns that result in definite changes of state. Most of these are Negative I's that lead to negative states. If you observe a repeated pattern of negative behavior associated to particular circumstances, you will find a group of I's back stage, directing.

Habit is such a powerful force to be expressed in such benign terms. Look behind habitual I's to find out what created them, what their source is, and what psychological phenomena are produced by them.


What you are observing is False Personality and you are probably seeing more falsehood in it than ever before. Keep trying to see yourself objectively. Practice at observation creates a better quality of Observation. Falsehood is impossible to deal with psychologically. There is no ground beneath it. It is uncomfortable and frustrating.


The easiest aspect of the Emotional Center to observe is Negative Emotions However, since we were just speaking about it, hurry, irritation, worry and anger are very simple to observe in yourself as well as in other people.


The emotional part of a center, wiether it is the dominant center of gravity in a person, governs most people's behavior. This is not wrong work. The wrong work that I am referring to is the activity of self- interested motives governing people's behavior. The center is working the wrong way either because the Emotional Center has not evolved or the energy of negativity in the Emotional Center has infected another part or center. False Personality is what you have acquired since birth and it is based on the wrong work of the Emotional Center.

The first thing to be done is to practice Self-Observation. You must have an honest, clear picture of yourself and your Negative Emotions and their causes in order to deal with them. The object is to be rid of them. The process varies. The Work teaches the way to do this. Observing Negative Emotions at once gives you some distance. Observing them repeatedly in the light of the Work will gradually diminish their power and influence and you will have other options and be able to make choices.

[TN] Ultimately, the energy saved from being wasted in negative reactions becomes fuel for conscious presence and evolution.


This is everyone's condition with the exception of those in the Work who occasionally WAKE UP and realize that they are ASLEEP. This should not be alarming in the Work. Seeing this is to be celebrated and reflected upon. This experience shows you not only the condition of Sleep and the power of Imagination and the chaos of responding randomly to external influences, that is mechanically, and more. Keep looking deeper into this experience, behind your observations to the source of the wrong work.


You're obviously very bright and you are actually practicing and experiencing Work insights. I have heard you be painfully honest about what you observe in yourself inside and in your behavior especially. What I have noticed is that you seem to have no sense of differentiation in the things you observe. The negative, the selfish, petty, identified mechanics don't seem to make any more impact on your psyche than your I's about yourself that are positive. It seems to me that you are seeing something but only seeing without discerning, without objective relativity. I think this has to do with the wrong work of the Emotional Center that is seeking gratification outside of real emotional experience.


When I hear you say that you cannot find your "wish" and cannot see beyond the petty "wants and needs" and cannot tell the difference between suffering and joy, the only conclusion that can be made is that your Emotional Center is not functioning right or it would give you this information. Or you are completely cut off from it. You say you want to "need" the Work more. I believe this is also an indication of disconnection with Emotional Center. You can't feel your need. The only way I can tell you to increase your valuation of the Work and your need for it is to continue in it, practicing Self- Observation in earnest without expectation of results.


Observe all of your emotions, positive and negative. Just watch them as they change and march through your day i do as often as I can. Notice that your opinions and attitudes are full of emotions.

If you "purify" your opinions and attitudes, they will be from objective perspective and, yes, that would be a great help to the right functioning of the Emotional Center, which will increase the connection.

Beginning with Observation, progressing to Inner Separation and Non-Identification will disconnect you from the wrong work of the Emotional Center which essentially purifies it. This is a long process in the Work, and I do mean years, and it begins, and for a very long time remains, mostly Self-Observation. All of the Understanding that you will gain in the process of doing the Work will come initially from Self-Observation.


First you would have to know that it was an imaginary or false I. This you can only know through long-term Self-Observation in the light of Work ideas. During the process of doing this Work, you will develop a taste for what is authentic and what is false and you will develop a perspective that can see what reality is and what is Sleep. If you were to proceed and develop in the Work, you would eventually be able to discern between right work and wrong work and you would be able to choose which to manifest.


There is the fact that this effort [Self Observation] evolves as well. What is difficult and obscure becomes compelling and enlightening as it grows. There is a possibility that a person can evolve to the point where Self-Observation is unnecessary because one has crystallized in Higher Consciousness where such awareness is inconsequential.


The importance of being uncritical about what you observe is so that you are not in a Negative State, Identified with your emotional reaction to what you have observed. This condition will leave you blind and unable to Work successfully. As we have said before, there is the danger of becoming too impartial where you don't see the right work or wrong work differentiated and all the information you receive is taken in without discernment.


The purpose in this particular observation is that you are many I's, currently asleep and indiscriminant. Through the process of Self-Observation you will determine what I's are false and harmful and you will "feel" what I's are true and right.


Discernment between the quality and nature of I's being observed is another step in advancing the process. All I's should be observed. It will not be possible if you are working correctly to separate from I's that originate in Objective Conscience. Real I, which will give you glimpses of this, has the innate discretion of knowing true and right from false and wrong. There is a difference and you will begin to notice it as Conscience awakens.


Nicoll: "I wish once more to speak about what Non-Identifying means because I think that many of you get so far and then stick completely in understanding what it is necessary to do. So once more I will say to you that when you are trying to observe yourself you must not put the feeling of I into what you observe. You are observing 'it', a machinery of emotions and thoughts which is self-running and never still. You will only get into a state of complete confusion if you think that you are one I and think in some way that this I can observe this one I. If we suppose that there is only one thing that acts in a man then it will be impossible - for one thing to command, another to obey."

In the Fourth Way you must accept up front that this is a long term process and you should work without the expectation of results. It will take years literally of observations to inform you adequately about what you need to change in yourself.


[STUDENT: I have many selfish I's. I observe them in various roles. They stem from my instinctive center and perhaps from the way my personality was formed. That is a common observation that I make, that I am thinking about myself, worrying only about myself, etc. False personality is strong in this area and it seems hard to step ahead of it - so to speak. Can you suggest how to work on this.]

G. called the Instinctive Center "the Boss". It will tyrannize all other centers until it is satisfied. For instance, if your Instinctive Center is exhausted your Intellectual Center will not work. Your Emotional Center won't care about anything except satisfying the Instinctive Center's need. You have to work with it intentionally, making compromises and rewarding it for cooperating. As for selfishness, it is the normal state of a sleeping machine. Self-interest is behind almost every word and deed. It requires a great deal of long-term observation and dedication to change to become unselfish. And it is worth it. Keep working for it.


Well, to be existential, this moment is all we have. I'm glad you're willing to do the Work now. I hope you will develop a commitment to doing the Work because of the results you get and the valuation of those results. Nicoll: "Through Self-Observation light enters and it is this light that begins to separate us. Esoteric teaching is lilght, but only when it is understood, valued and applied. You will get no light without this valuation. We cannot understand the Work ideas unless we work on ourselves. Your being will not change if you are completely identified with yourself. If there is no change of being then there can be no change in your understanding of the Work. Self-Observation lets in a ray of light. This light is called in the Work Consciousness. The object of this Work is to increase Consciousness."

To extend the practices we have been doing, try to observe Multiplicity, that is, the Many I's in you all claiming to be you in their turn. Just observe how one I takes the place of another instigated by an event, external or internal. Eventually, Unity is possible and Intentionality takes the place of Multiplicity. The important point to notice is that you are not one I. When you know this, you will begin to be able to choose which I's honestly speak for you.


Try to understand what this condition means to the validity of your psychological condition. And be aware that recognizing that one is not one I but many, Multiplicity, is the first taste of real Self-Remembering. When you see the hordes of mechanical I's taking charge and acting without your authority, you get a better sense of what Real I might be.

If you have not observed this string of successive I's, it is only because you have not observed rightly and long enough. This is a fact of the Work which can be verified through observation.


You seem to be stuck in the first movement of Self-Observation which is Divided Attention. This has no value except in application to the observation of your internal state. This Work is about your internal mental world. It requires that you place your attention there. In doing this, you are not in imagination, you are just beginning to observe.


[STUDENT:I notice that I tend to think about Self-Observation rather than do it. But at the same time - this feels like an observation. As though I were observing the thought of Self-Observation.]

The awareness that is intentionally separated out in order to practice Self-Observation is not thought. It is not intellectual, though it is "intelligent seeing". If you are thinking about the exercise, then be aware that there are such I's circulating within you.

[STUDENT: Also, I find it difficult to `name` the observed emotion in the moment. I can only recognize it as `dislike` when thinking back. Does this (can this) change?]

The Work I's within you need to "fuse" into an actual doing of the Work, which then becomes a matter of consciousness rather than merely thought process. Attention placed on your reaction to something, and informed by Work knowledge, leads to real Self-Observation. This 'place' of awareness needs to be able to recognize what is occurring and know what it is: "This is inner considering", "this is vanity", "this is fear". This is a practice that evolves over time, although breakthroughs can take place suddenly and give you a whole new sense of what this Work is about. It begins with catching things in hindsight, as you mentioned, i.e. thinking back on an incident and disliking your reaction. With applied effort and commitment, that time lag will shift to the moment of occurrence. It is your very dislike for your behavior that will compel you to make more efforts. Some day, or in some moment, you will be able to have a choice rather than simply see what is going on within you. But first you must acquire knowledge and numerous occasions of Self- Observation.

[STUDENT: In other words, does one become better at recognizing and naming what one observes? Or is it always by taste?]

The answer is most certainly yes. That is the very purpose of being on this path. Results do manifest. Verifications confirm the value of the efforts. In fact, the more you value what you are gaining from these ideas and their application, the more you make efforts and the more you receive.

You ask "is it always by taste?" The knowledge accumulated with the guidance of the Work, and of persons experienced in these matters, leads to a power of discernment in relation to states and energies. It is one thing to recognize the obvious manifestation of negativity. It is another to detect the subtle 'flavor' or 'taste' at the beginning of identification or a descending momentum and choose not to allow it to steal one's life and energy.

First comes knowledge -- knowing what to look for. Then comes the looking and accumulation of information about yourself. Then the beginning of a new will can come into being, and choices can be made that lead to a new quality of existence. Then higher consciousness can take root in the moments of your life.


[STUDENT: Cannot one observe that one is identified at the very time it is happening. I believe that this happened for much of the past several days.}

Absolutely. This is the condition you will find when you start observing, that you are identified and observing it and remaining identified. A further question?

[STUDENT: It has been quite unmistakable. I was in a whorl of identification with several matters and still caught up in it. It was a very new experience and I just sat there and let the negativity flow through like a current. I am unsure if I could have stemmed it with effort. Was the process correct in just letting it happen and observe?]

When you were letting the negativity flow through you, were you experiencing Negative Emotions yourself?

[STUDENT: Not entirely. It was a completely new thing to fell negative but not to be negative, if you can see what I mean. feel I was emotionally on an even keel, but I felt the onslaught.]

This is a new stage. The difference between your feeling negative and not being negative is Inner Separation, the beginning of Non- Identification, and the growth of Observing I.

[STUDENT: It is a definite new state for me. Very new.]

Try to remember the taste of Identification so that you can recall it when you experience it again. The letting things go by or through you without snagging your Emotional Center while you are observing is a new level of clarity.


[STUDENT: This is connected with the distinction between the "active" [ME]whose I's are in operation with the psychological absorption attending them, and the Observing I that must passively and helplessly watch on. I have made some efforts along these lines and have found that it is useful in some cases to allow the I's to continue expressing themselves and elicit Observing I in a passive mode, even having a helpless feeling with it. Notice, express the "I", and watch. The immediate urge to somehow change the "I" seems to me to be False Personalities attempt to clean up what you are observing. This way False Personality thinks it has improved matters and one can now stop observing because everything is better now. This can muddy real observation.]

This is a subtle and important perception. It is very common to find False Personality trying to imitate what it believes is a WorK personality for anyone's benefit, including your own. I am so glad that you continued reading about Internal and External Considering. This area of study in the Work is profoundly enlightening and gives you a good sense of where you are going.


[STUDENT: I saw myself today. And I saw a buffer quickly interceding to protect an apparent inner contradiction. While on the telephone, I made a comment that was out of alignment with my Work demeanor; in fact, it was a clear mis-statement. I had said that "I had complained" about something the other day when this was not really the case -- I had actually only brought attention to the subject out of concern. My statement was called into question by my friend and I had to admit that I did not mean to say that I had "complained" about it at all. I was only being flippant and unnecessarily severe in my comment. At this moment, I saw myself. I could see that I was operating from a set of I's associated with my friend on the telephone and not the I's that I often operate from when alone or with someone else. These were clearly a separate set of I's and the sudden observation of them was jarring. Also, at this moment, I felt the imposition of a buffer whose intent was to protect me from this observation. I was able to refuse the buffer and alter the set of I's. I felt the need to physically change my posture, sit down, and operate from more sober and less flippant Work- related I's. My tone of voice changed and I began to express myself in a more sincere and genuine way through them rest of the phone call. After the phone call, I found myself struggling to keep this impression before my mind, wishing to keep this observation vivid. By doing this, I could see better what artificiality in myself means and I could then see new I's coming in to follow up behind the earlier ones and quietly take me on to the next state.]

You caught a glimpse also of False Personality which is what generated the exaggeration. That you were able to pull yourself up out of the momentum of False Personality and the I's particularly related to this person required intentional effort. I'm sure you consider it worth it. To be functioning rightly according to Work knowledge at any time is a real foundational movement of your psychology in the right direction.

[STUDENT: The "intentional effort" you mentioned is exactly right. This was a pivotal moment and could have been missed.]

You are on target so you can expect to be able to have this experience repeatedly in the future.

[STUDENT: I have to add that this was disturbing to me.]

The more you experience yourself in this more authentic state because of your Work, the more you will recognize Real I and the more presence it will have.

How was it disturbing to you?

[STUDENT: Because of the sudden and clear awareness of artificiality.]

Yes, that's always disturbing. And only being able to become genuine can counteract the power of artificial personality.

[STUDENT: You said "recognize Real I". I have reconciled myself to the aim of sensing Observing I.]

This is the appropriate aim for now. Observing I has to develop in order for Real I to gain definition and presence. However, you will get a taste of what Real I might be, even at this early stage.

[STUDENT: I can see a way to find it, but this seems inaccessible to me now.]

[TN] The experience of "remorse" when seeing artificiality comes from a deeper place (Essence) and is inspiration for "Metanoia".


[STUDENT: In this group , is the body-type info of use?]

Yes, I certainly consider it valuable, possibly premature for some of you. Ask any questions you'd like on this subject. There is a wealth of material in Body Type knowledge to help in Self-Observation. I consider the most important contribution of this whole body of knowledge to be a most valuable objective point of view about your type's manifestations. This knowledge gives you a certain distance (Inner Separation) from identification with your mechanics when you observe it in action.


There is a great deal that you can observe about your mechanics without assigning a type to yourself at this point. I would suggest that you continue to gather observations about positive, negative, active, passive and features to accumulate a Work memory photograph of yourself.


If there is only one "I" then there is no observing and the "I" perceived is identified, probably with itself. Nicoll says that until a person divides themselves into two sides, there can be no observing, therefore no Work.

[STUDENT: And this is a permanent effort is it not? One does not "arrive", as it were?]

One certainly does not arrive at this condition of inner attention without effort, a lot of effort. There is a point in the Work where it is no longer an effort, nor is it necessary when one has become Unified.

[STUDENT: I take that on faith. For I cannot visualize.]

RESPONSE: But you will be able to verify everything along the way.

[TN] Observation is only the beginning. Its purpose is to lead to change. So one does "arrive" through continued transformation.

[STUDENT: I have observed many times over that observing makes me more quiet. But I have also noticed of late an ability to ease up on my Martial self a bit. And actually enjoy myself. Something I don't do much.]

This is good to hear. Talking is often just the automatic expression of False Personality. Observing it makes you want to be more quiet, less noise from False Personality. This gives you the opportunity to be more real.

[STUDENT: True personality requires me to talk a bit, yes?]

Yes, True Personality talks quite easily without Inner Considering. But it doesn't require you to talk, life does.

[TN] The issue is not about talking but about inner calm and freedom from wrong work.


[STUDENT: I think I wrote to Rebecca and ted a while ago about this subject. I had noticed that revenge I's are often coupled with negative future imagination so that one undoes a wrong in ones imagination. What I found astonishing was that I could remember slights from decades ago which today mean nothing to me and get so worked up and identified that I begin to imagine revenge. This is incomprehensible to me. I could say much more about this topic as well since I have recently observed revenge I's in me. (ironically 'revenge' comes from the Latin 'vindicare' which means 'set free'!)]

Revenge is an extreme form of account making which belongs to Inner Considering which belongs to Identification. This long stream of wrong work that begins with Negativity created by Inner Considering can lead all the way to violence. If revenge I's are abundant in you, this suggests a serious state of insecurity and no attention being given to making Negativity inactive in you.

[STUDENT: May I give an example of a strong revenge I in me because I do not see the inner considering? I would like your analysis of the example.]

You did stumble upon a phenomenon. As long as the wrong work of your Emotional Center is in place you can return to any painful memory and become totally identified all over again even if it is now irrelevant. This is one of the reasons why we in the Work try not to give Negative Emotions our energy or identification. You can live in painful Negativity permanently if you choose to let your mind wander among the various difficulties in your past. Or you can start new NOW.

[STUDENT: A few weeks ago my wife took some valuable property of ours to a store for framing. The next day she had second thoughts and wanted to get the property back because the price charged was very high. The owner of the store refused to give the property back causing anxiety and distress in my wife. I was concerned for her because she is pregnant. The store owner was very rude, condescending and concluding the telephone call with "deal with my lawyer" and promptly hung up on me and my wife. In other words he harmed my wife and because of this, me as well. We did not know what he might do to our property and I did everything in my power to try to recover it I became more and more agitated and could not rest until I "got back at him". I thought of nothing but how to hurt him back, and get revenge. Eventually I did by pulling strings and having him charged with criminal offences. This rectified the wrong and 'set me free" (root of revenge) and I could rest again. Although when I saw him in court, saw a real person attending court, I felt bad for him as well and had the charges withdrawn. Question-where is the wrong work and specifically where is the inner considering?]

First of all, Ghandi said "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind". I would not call this a situation caused by Inner Considering. Undoubtedly you were dealt with badly. This does not excuse nor permit your own bad behavior (wrong work). In this particular case, it was appropriate to do what was necessary to regain your possession if possible. The phrase "do what was necessary" does not include trumped up charges, pulling strings, and essentially scaring the man half to death.Did this really make you feel better? Even if the Latin root of revenge means "to be set free", that's just etymology and has nothing to do the Work, In the Work, we set someone free as well as ourselves by forgiving them. Forgiving can't happen in the presence of wrong work. They are antithetical. Negativity is always wrong work. Revenge is only self-perpetuated Negative Emotions. Should he retaliate, will you then need no have revenge again?]

There is no real freedom in revenge regardless of what your emotions feel. If Emotional Center was awake it would not be possible to act in a violent or negative way toward another person. This is our Aim. This is true freedom. If you felt freed by this response from humiliation or self-torment, you have it backwards. You should feel genuine remorse at your own wrong work and at understanding that you caused another harm. If he caused you harm first, it doesn't matter. You are only concerned with your own wrong work and inner state, not his.


[STUDENT: I notice that the ascendancy of certain of the many "I's" can correspond to Moving Center habits and attitudes. When I slump in my chair, my attitude changes. When I keep a toothpick in my mouth, my attitude changes. Can Moving Center be employed to elicit Work "I's"?]

Absolutely. Habitual postures generate habitual emotional states. For instance, if your reflective stance or body language is a bowed head, perhaps stroking your face or crossing your arms, pacing -- all of these things, if they are habits associated to particular states, in this case let's say brooding, then you can have an impact on that negative state by changing the habitual posture that unconsciously associates to it. You'll find in a general sense that when you still yourself and your mind, take a deep breath and relax your muscles that other influences can enter.

[STUDENT: I have observed in relation to 'moving center' a ridiculous form of inner considering that almost all people engage in. May I share this?]

It is a good practice to do this physical exercise and put yourself in the presence of the Work ideas at the same time.


Yes, external factors can create certain I's. If you are asleep, this is all that will happen. What happens in the Work that has an impact is the transformative power of the psychological practices. The physical phenomenon that you've referred to "happens" all the time -- sensations create emotion. There should be enough Self- Observation going on to do more than "sense" through the body. Much greater effort is called for than sensing or being aware of your body. This focus is too narrow and a side issue.


Did anyone observe positive states over the weekend?

[STUDENT: Yes, profound serenity.]

Wonderful. Did you create the circumstances?

[STUDENT: Partially, I took advantage of the exquisite weather and the fact that many were out of town which created more quiet. Also, I can see moments where I am less identified and this has an impact on my state. Also, I have been reading some material from the early Fathers and this has inspired feelings of inner reverence.]

Profound serenity is a permanent condition in a developed person in the Work. Imagine feeling like that every day. That is where the Work can take you.

[TN] Inner serenity is one of the results of overcoming the wrong work that we see in the efforts of Self-Observation.


When you begin to make real progress in Self-Observation, it is common to feel like you are getting worse because you are seeing more. Don't let this confuse you.


[STUDENT: As I practice Self-Observation and see better my own weaknesses and falsity, I become more aware of these things in others as well. How can I work to avoid using these insights about others in a wrong way?]

Try dealing with these insights without Identification. Observe others and their sleeping mechanics and you will find empathy with that position. This will allow you to forgive them for their wrong work (for they know not what they do).


The following is my list of the important points in observing Inner Talk. The most important of all is that when you are talking, you are not hearing what may be available. Associative thinking; psychological attitudes and dispositions that recur; patterns of connected I's, the taste of your inner state, where your attention is, the power of Imagination.Almost all Inner Talk is imagination. The constant reinforcement of attitudes and opinions through indiscriminate thought processes, identifications and justifications. Another important point -- there is no silence. Did any of you observe any of these things? If not, what did you observe about Inner Talking?


[STUDENT: Sometimes I think that if I have observed a thing once in myself that I can then move on to something else. Should I not strive to make continued and repeated observations of the same things?]

If you make continued and repeated observations you will begin to see the same things. There is a point to this. The point being that at this stage the "same things" keep happening whether you want them to or not or whether you observe them or not.

Repeated observations of the same phenomenon will gradually deplete its force and eventually Observing I will overcome it.


Can you not Taste Imagination? This is not what the Work is about. It is about making efforts in the moment to observe, to separate, to be passive to your own False Personality urges and act rightly in that moment. For an ethereal Intellectual type, this will be hard. But you must keep your focus on the beam of illumination trying to break through. You see so much but you seem to take it all with too much a place for discernment in this process. It would be good for you to use it now. Keep vigilant about the basic Work practices. Only with this inner structure can anything external happen rightly.


[STUDENT: I begin to sometimes see "sub-personalities", where I have a distinct attitude or outlook that arises and operates for a brief time and then changes subtly into another set of attitudes -- these may be "groups of I's" or "habitual sets of I's". It is as if I could give them their own names. These sub-personalities seem to arise unannounced and leave the same way. Observing them seems to help me see them as not "me", but some sub-personalities seem more artificial and some not so artificial and I would like to operate less from the artificial sub- personalities. If I am not able to control their coming and going, what Work approach should I use in this connection?]

These sub-personalities are groups of I's. Probably all habitual. Observing them, as you have verified, helps you to separate to a degree. This dilemma is addressed in the Commentary on "The Selection of Thoughts". Nicoll: "Eventually, then, I realized that although we cannot stop our thoughts, we can select our thoughts. I mean we can select which thoughts we go with and dislike thoughts that we know quite well by observation always lead to the worst slums in our psychology....We always have some power of selection in our interior world."

[STUDENT: In that Commentary, Nicoll speaks of preparing a Work aim that will "save you from going to Soho in yourself." What does this mean?]

It means that you have recognized a group of habitual I's that take you to the slums of your psychology and you make a Work Aim to refuse to go with them. It's a matter of cultivating the better I's in yourself and turning your attention in another direction.


In our ordinary state of consciousness, thoughts come from all around us -- inside and out, without discretion or reason. Noticing what thoughts we have, especially repeated sets of I's that have their own Personality and agenda, is a critical first step in choosing what we give our attention to. If we let our flow of thoughts go unobserved, unchecked, then we remain under their power and completely asleep. You need to recognize what thoughts are helpful to the Work and the right functioning of your psychology, and what thoughts are harmful to the Work and to your Self. Then you try to select what the Work teaches you to select.


Not all I's are from False Personality. That is why we have to Observe and identify them in order to Separate from what is false and nurture what is genuine.


[STUDENT: I was wondering as we explored the experience of silence how is this related to the "pause" or "space" between the time an impression first hits and then is absorbed by centers as mentioned by Dr Nicoll.]

No, this is not the idea we are discussing. What we are talking about is the silencing of the Personality as it comes under Observation. And the fact that this leads often to a retreat into quiet.


[STUDENT: First, I practically tried to examine what is "observing I" in me. As recently as a few minutes ago. The question is crucial and unavoidable in my opinion for anyone involved in the Work. I take is seriously. Having said that, I must tell you that I do not know what Observing I is. I must study, reflect, struggle with this for a long time. It is the classic question asked of the Seeker: "Who am I"? I can tell you that I am not the functions of the machine. I can tell you that I am accessible only when I am separated from the functions. Second, more theoretically, I think that Observing I is related to Conscience.]

The object of defining what it is that is Observing in you is to increase its presence to sense the taste of it. This part of you that is Observing is not one of the many I's. It has a different quality that is detached, it has a different perspective, and it feels more like something authentic in you that is you, but not Imaginary I.

Observing I is related to Buried Conscience. Buried Conscience emerges during the process the Work.

[STUDENT: I kept asking myself the question, "what is it that is Observing?". As I tried to ponder this question seriously, I noticed that 'what was observing' gained force. At first I concluded that the answer was "Consciousness". Then I concluded that it is Gurdjieff's "embryo". "Woe to him who has it in embryo."]

Observing I gaining force and definition is the point of the exercise of examining it. I would not call it "Consciousness". It is something more like a place in you where Real I begins to grow. Actually, it is more spiritual than psychological in nature. Something akin to your Spirit, your Soul.

[STUDENT: Could it be defined as a place of Emptiness (as opposed to the emptiness that is a "lacking" in something)?]

No, this is not a place of emptiness. It is active and has characteristics and qualities that can be identified and developed.

[STUDENT: Could you call "it" the eternal child?]

No, that would be more like Essence. Observing I is more than Essence. The point I wanted everyone to get is that the part that is Observing in you is not one of the I's of False Personality but a completely separate entity that exists in you.


The first big example I can think of is the Fear of commitment that I see you have. This is so prevalent that it is hardly considered emotionally dysfunctional. It partly comes from brain stem urges for self- preservation. In Nature, the animal that is vulnerable is the one that doesn't survive. But we are aiming here for a level above that of animal and brain stem urges. Also, you have expressed your Fear of Being invisible, of being insignificant or unnoticed among other things. These come from Vanity. You are right that it will take Observing from many angles over a period of time to verify this idea if it is true. Whenever you experience the uncomfortable feeling associated with Fear, try to discern its origin.


[STUDENT: Robert Burns wrote: "Oh wad some power the giftie gie us, To see oursel's as others see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us, And foolish notion." People will hear this and think "aha, how clever" and then forget about it. Through Observation I believe I can see various aspects of my psychology. How then can I more aggressively confront my psychology? -- that is, how can I bring more pressure to bear to expose difficulties and overcome them? Should I Work more aggressively? -- or just take opportunities as they arise?

Take the opportunities as they arise. You will recall Nicoll saying that you cannot Work in an Identified way, anxious and trying to force results. I don't want you to aggressively confront your psychology. I want you to passively Observe it and try to define what is Real I in it and what is acquired Personality and inauthentic to your Being. The most aggressive you should be with yourself is in repressing False Personality and making it passive. This is the beginning of Inner Separation which is the long, hard Work of cleansing the Emotional Center. Are you having any problems with a particular idea, such as knowing that your psychology is a separate entity from your physical body. Your present psychology which is mostly made up of False Personality is full of the attitudes and opinions, likes and dislikes, and multiple I's that you have acquired. These I's that you have observed verify for you that your Personality is full of them. They need to be made passive so that the Work can be active.


You have to find the place in yourself that is free of all of the aspects of Inner Considering in order to get to the stage where you no longer seek or need external validation. I can't give that to you and neither can anyone else. It is a matter of your evolution in the Work which depends on continued Observation.


[STUDENT: "I say this -- that only one man is truly without fear, that is, the man who works on himself and knows that he is doing whatever is in his power to accomplish that task that is in front of him." [Bennett, "Making a Soul", 67]

The contributions you have made here on behalf of all of us and the Work, and the fact that your life is devoted to this most valuable enterprise should give you enough valuation of yourself to not be completely under the power of Inner Considering. This is where you may Observe Tramp Feature. Don' t let it ruin your efforts. And don't let it rob you of what you have already verified.

[TN] I like Robin Amis' phrase: "Freedom from psychological captivity>"

Take one aspect of Inner Considering and focus your attention on it. Observe it, try to be passive to it, try to separate from it, and keep trying. One thing at a time. It leads incrementally to Real I.


Ouspensky said to Nicoll "Why are you sad?" Nicoll said "I didn't realize that I was." O. said: "It is a habit with you". Recognize that disgruntled-ness has unmet requirements. Recognize habitual emotional states. It is correct that you cannot not be False Personality when you are in it. You can however still Observe it. When you do, make it be quiet.

The silence is the space where Observing can happen. The power to stop False Personality grows there. A slight amendment -- Making False Personality quiet involves the effort of stopping its manifestations. Whether this is successful or not, a degree of inner quiet is a choice I believe you can make now.

[TN] There comes a time when your distaste for False Personality is so strong that you will begin to want to make choices that weaken it.


[STUDENT: I can sometimes curtail outer manifestations of False Personality but I can still feel it inwardly. Is there a difference, from a Work point of view, between inner manifestations of False Personality and external expressions? What is the specific quality of 'making Personality passive'?]

Yes, there is a difference between inner and outer expressions of False Personality. But the Work teaches you to Observe and Separate from both. It is the quality of detachment that defines making Personality passive. It is the exercise of not responding to any I that comes from False Personality, having no emotional attachment to it.


[STUDENT: I highlighted as a significant idea contained in the Commentary. "In the Work, the enjoyment of negative states must be observed sincerely, especially the secret enjoyment of them. You cannot separate yourself from what you have a secret affection for." This seems connected to the idea of "deeper Self-Observation" and moving it to the level of seeing motivations.

This is exactly right. Observing that you secretly enjoy a negative state is one step deeper than Observing that you are in a negative state.

This process continues to deepen until you can see motivations.

[TN] It is a deeper level of honesty with oneself.


Nicoll: "The whole of the Work starts from a Man beginning to observe himself."

The idea that Self-Observation is active, intentional, directed attention, whereas knowing and thinking are passive is a way to discern whether your practice is rightly aligned.


[STUDENT: During quiet reflection I can look back on my past actions and see moments of Justification...Can I observe myself in retrospect and bring my past into Work-Memory?]

When you Observe yourself in retrospect, you can in a sense heal the Wrong Work in your past through having an objective understanding of it and forgiving yourself in the Work sense. What you can verify about your past in relation to Work ideas and new Understanding will bring those moments into your Work Memory. This gives you a perspective on the activity and effect of False Personality and its features.


Wrong Work atrophies under the influence of the light of Self-Observation and through the denial of Identification with it. Other elements come into play like thought selection and Inner Separation but a good deal of power exists in the light of Observing I.

Very often Self-Observation leads to a kind of Inner Silence but it is an entirely different kind than the intentional exercise of creating Inner Silence in relation to a specific issue.


The idea of Nothingness is closely connected to Humility. Being critical or severe with yourself will not bring you realization of this fact. Only Objective Self-Observation over a long period of time will reveal to you through Scale and Relativity and the artifice of False Personality your condition of Nothingness. You can't force yourself to feel this. It is more in the nature of an epiphany.


Through Self-Observation, which is meant to have 360 degree vision . Observing Negativity is easy and extremely important throughout the Work life. But it is only one aspect of your condition that you must Observe. There are plenty of neutral aspects in everyone's Personality, even pleasant aspects. These are I's of mechanical goodness. They are definitely easier to live with but they are nonetheless mechanical. So Observe them. You will learn from them also. There are alsoauthentic I's of real goodness and these are to be valued and protected. If "being polite to a fault" makes you feel like an impostor, then it is Wrong Work. Being polite is right Work when it comes from the right Emotions.


Letting the light shine in this sense comes after making efforts. The light of Self-Observation illuminates Being. It is this illuminated Being that acts with goodness as a result.


Well, you did a good job anyway. This is a perfectly natural experience in the Work. That you are able to Observe and even prevent the expression of old Negative I's is an accomplishment even if you are inconsistent at it. But you have said it yourself: These very strong Identifications are convinced they are right and are firmly entrenched. That is the definition of Identification. It is consequently understandable that when you usurp an entrenched characteristic it leaves a vacuum and something that you felt very attached to disappears, leaving you with that feeling of no bearings. If you continue to practice as you have been, you will get to a point where you are so free from old Identifications and Pictures and Imagination about yourself that there will be no False Personality to quibble with. You can be and if you continue earnestly as you have been, you will be free of all of the Wrong Work that stands between where you are now and your full potential.


[STUDENT: My question is whether at the point I notice these things and feelings to simply continue to observe the chain of events/feelings as they go, or do I try to direct at this point?]

At this point in your practice, you must definitely continue to Observe and you are ready to try and direct thoughts and feelings as well.


I struggle with this issue intensely because my entry into the Work was an explosive event. My False Personality was virtually pulverized out of existence in a very short time, long before I had any idea of how to function without it. This you all recognize is a very painful condition. It took intensive Self-Observation and a long reconstructive process and that would be building up Real I through intensive study and practice. I was quite silent and passive for a number of years. During that time, the Work continued deepening. My suffering stimulated Buried Conscience. I got to the point of being stripped psychologically and receptive emotionally. And I stayed there, empty and waiting, for a long time. This darkness and silence also instructed me. I began to see and taste what was genuinely connected to Higher Emotional Center. I was intuitively enlightened.


[STUDENT: Upon observing something negative, for example fear or anger , there is a sort of "pain" which often results and as a result of the "pain" , observation ceases and "I"'s come like : "Oh no!" or "I am having a bad day" ..etc. as if they are buffering the pain. How can this be overcome?]

When you are practicing Self-Observation, you must try to keep all emotional reactions to what you Observe silent. If you are experiencing pain as the result of Observation, no development can result. You must Observe impartially, uncritically without Identification. When I's in response to what is being Observed begin to appear, you must not let them speak. Observe also your responses to Self-Observation and the I's generated by it. If you are successful at being uncritical in your Observations, you will be shown the direction of further Work.


As Gurdjieff says, "Self-observation is the function of the Master." So in the real sense, it of course has nothing to do with 'beginning exercises'. It is the fully formed, pre-existent quality of real seeing.
And even more basically, aren't you forgetting Gurdjieff's admonishments to his early students in 'Fragments'? "In order really to observe oneself one must first of all remember oneself." (Ch. 7) Exactly the opposite of what you are proposing.

E Dillin, United States
added 2011-02-06

Quit wiseacering start working.

ANON, Canada
added 2011-03-12

self-observation and self-remembering
The state of self-remembering is different from the act of self-remembering. The latter must be taught from the very beginning of stepping on the Fourth Way path.

In time. the state of self-remembering will permeate the seeker, a few seconds at first, but then, for longer periods.

The effort to be present is the heart of this work.

"Remember yourself always and everywhere."

Looking at the Grand Canyon creates a beautiful state...However, thinking about how the Grand Canyon was created interferes with state.

, United States
added 2013-12-13

Hi Rebecca, I have been a group" fourth way" since 2001. My teacher is Tony and Tony has been applying the fourth system for 30 years of more. This article is good and practical. The group is reading your article a little every week and understanding the self-observation experience as you explain each step from your point of view. thank-you. Do you have any more articles on the fourth way you would like to share with your group. Newport richey florida.

june stout, United States
added 2015-06-27

Very nice and practical article. Also its very good for beginners to have some clarity.

Prashant, India
added 2015-11-10

Beautifully done!
Many colleagues confuse SO with SR.

added 2016-11-29

Fourth Way and Self-Observation
"Sometimes it seems to me that the pill which the sly man swallowed, and gained at once what the others worked for, for years, was 'things as they are, myself as I am'. " - Rodney Collin
Fourth Way School

, United States
added 2016-12-24

Thank You!
Hello Mrs. Nottingham, I have been practicing the Fourth Way Teaching on my own for about 3 1/2 years and I am totally astonished at my inner transformation! I began at the bottom of the bottom, a beaten down depressed drunken alcoholic with no desire to go on living, totally and completely out of ideas as to how to stop the deadly and destructive path i had lived for more than 50 years. I came across your book after attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and in the reading it spoke about 4th dimension living and when I typed in what does 4th dimension living meant, God showed me your book and my life has never been the same! I know a peace today that I never thought could be possible let alone exist. I read your books over and over and over again and each time I grow wiser and stronger and more peace filled. I finally understand the amazing Love of Jesus and His plan for my life and I've only grasped the tip of the iceberg! The greatest work began with my ego deflation which I was totally unaware of. I am eternally grateful to you and to the Spirit of God I know dwells in you. Thank you does not express my gratitude for these teachings. I will continue on this path and try to show others this way.

joyce Ackerman , United States
added 2017-03-07

Self observation and self remembering
I agree with others who have commented that there needs to be at least a small degree of self-remembering in order to self-observe. The two live and grow together, in my experience. The terms are not the act.

, United Kingdom
added 2018-03-13

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