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16. A Way To Work

Where do you place the feeling of 'I' or the feeling of who you are? Someone can say, "I know I'm angry," but that's not Self- observation, that just means they know they are angry. Your awareness of anger is not Self-observation. In order to make it Self- observation you have to divide yourself in two, the observed side and the observing side, and start to put the feeling of 'I' or who you are, into the observing side.

In a previous class we did some practicing of Self- remembering and you were aware that not only were you here looking at something, but you were aware of yourself being here looking at something, and that took a certain amount of attention. So, in order to be aware right now that you are here, you have to put attention to that. And that is somewhat putting your feeling of 'I' into the observing side. So, let's say the side that you're observing is angry or irritated. That side is very active, that mind is racing, that mind is justifying and rationalizing and carrying on like crazy; it wants to talk, it wants to argue. It takes effort to take the feeling of 'I' out of that and observe it. If you don't take your feeling of 'I' out of that part, you just know you're angry and that's of no value. Everybody else knows you're angry too. So, it takes work and effort to pull the feeling of 'I' out of you. To the degree that you do that you are not identified and to the degree you do that, you will find you don't have to justify and rationalize. You find yourself in a place where you don't care, because the part that you're observing is not you. I've never been able to feel a discrete break, which they say is possible ('IT' is angry, 'IT' is upset) but I have felt like an elongated egg - a big rubber band being pulled back. You really want to slide back into it, but the more effort you can put into not sliding back into the negative state, the more distance you can put between you and it, the more 'I' you can place in the observing side. It might seem that we are doing this only for ourselves, but really it is for others. For a long time, because I knew I was angry or impatient, I thought that knowledge was observing. It is not. Knowledge is just knowing.

Nicoll writes:

In life people are always trying to improve one another, always finding fault with one another. This is quite useless and leads to all endless strife in life. Making oneself passive to a person, and working on oneself to be passive, requires constant inner work on yourself and this, I assure you, can effect change in the other person also, because your work makes room for him to alter. (Nicoll, Com. Vol.I)

In talking about raising children, they need a certain amount of input and if you are just working on yourself it feels like you aren't doing your job. In a lot of degrees if you are working on yourself the impact you have on the child is not visible. But it is there. If you are capable of observing what it would be like if you were responding from your negative emotions, you will see that when working you are providing something different to those people, whether they are family, a friend or a client.

To continue from Nicoll:

You may often say that you are to blame for something, but if someone agrees with you, it is startling! You will feel offended. Yes, we all pretend that we are wrong, but to see it directly and unmistakably, this will cause you pain.

Man must never forget what he is doing in the Work. He must, as Gurdjicff once said, reach a state such that in whatever direction he is twisted or turned, or however badly he is treated, he never forgets the Work and never acts save through the medium of the Work. (Ibid)

There comes a point where you keep wishing that you never heard of the Work, or that the Work would go away. There is not much hope of that. You know you don't want to sense, and you don't want to remember, and you want to just give free reign to these negative states but the Work 'I's that are there get strong enough so that they are not going to let you forget. They may not be active, but there's part of you that will be aware of the need to work. That part will be watching what's going on. And for a long time that's all that can be done. What you want to do is gather the Work 'I's together. They will be observing for a long time, observing the non-Work Ts, and the personality, but once you get the strong- enough Work 'I's together, you are just going to have to Work!

Everything in the Work relates to love of the Lord, but we can only identify it in regard to love of the neighbor. The Lord wants us to love Him through love of the neighbor. So we start to use the neighbor as the standard upon which we judge between Work 'I's and non-Work 'I's. We have good associate spirits and we have bad associate spirits. And it is not as easy as some people think to judge which are which, because what we think is good is often evil, and what we think is true is often false, until we start getting clarification through regeneration.

One way you can start to judge between a Work 'I' and a non-Work 'I' (good spirits and bad spirits) is in relation to your neighbor. You know the quote, "Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you." You could even say, "Do unto others as you would have those others like you to do unto them." If you start to become aware of the thoughts you are having in relation to your neighbor, start to think of whether that neighbor would want you to be having those thoughts. If you start to have feelings in relation to another person, think, would that person want me to be having those feelings? Or, would I want that person to be having those thoughts or feelings about me? If the answer is "no" then you can with fair assuredness say this is not a Work 'I.' This means it is time to work! And the Work will be in relation to those feelings about the neighbor. So we are beginning to come away from a place called love of self and love of the world and starting the journey toward that place called love of the neighbor. That is the point of this trip.

Once you have identified that you are not in love of the neighbor then you can know that you are in need of doing work to start the journey toward being there. Once we wake up and discover that we are still in the slums of Philadelphia, we can begin to pack our bags and get ready to go to Tibet. But we must wake up. It does us no good to be dreaming that we are already there.

So I just identified eight different things in some order, which can aid us in the journey: (1) Self-observation, (2) Non-identification, (3) Non-expression of negative emotions, (4) Sacrificing your Suffering and Self-importance, (5) Becoming passive to one's Self, (6) Making Self nothing, (7) Sacrificing Internal Consideration, (8) Using External Consideration and moving toward love of the neighbor.

I put them in order as if that was the order that you would do them. You may find that you do them in a different order. You may find that you add stages, you may find that certain stages are too similar or you don't need them and that it's not important. What you will find is that all those things will play a part somewhere along the line in your journey from love of self to love of the neighbor, from being active in personality to being active in your essence and your personality being passive. Let's take a more careful look at these aids for the journey:

  1. Self-observation. Self-observation is actually observing your thoughts and feelings, and then it's also taking the feeling of 'I' into the observing part.
  2. Non-identification. If you successfully use this tool you are not identified with your personality. You realize this is an associate spirit, or an associate society, this is not me and the Lord is capable of making me new and different. I'm capable of becoming something other than this. This is just flowing into me. And to the degree you don't identify with it, to that degree you can start to understand the falsities. You will hear things said and you'll see the evil for what it is rather than needing to justify it.

    The overall thing that you are not identifying with is your self and all the things that relate to love of self. That's what you don't identify with - love of the world and love of the self. They bumped your car, they got in your way. They sat in front of you. Everything will relate to you, your self, or your proprium. But you are not your proprium. You have a proprium. The hells operate through a proprium, but you are not your proprium. So someone may say, "Well, of course you are your proprium." In a way, yes, you are, but the Lord has already said He is capable of making you something brand new. You can be born again so that your proprium becomes passive and He implants a new love. He is building a new will in you, giving you a heart of flesh. So, when I say you're not your proprium what I mean is that you are capable of becoming something other than your proprium. So, when you start to not identify you start to become the Real You.

  3. Non-expression of negative emotions. Now you could say that practicing the Non-expression of negative emotions or negative thoughts comes first. Perhaps you are identified like crazy, but you refuse to express it. You feel them, you have a hard time observing them, but the one thing you can do is desist yelling at that kid. Or it might come the other way; you're able to not identify and for the first time you are able to not express it. Sometimes you just can't not express it, and you express it while you are identified. Which comes first for you? It will change in relation to different things, because there are temptations of will and there are temptations of thought. In the Work they call it being identified with the intellectual center, and being identified with the emotional center. To not identify with the intellectual center is easier. It is easier to say, "These thoughts are not me," than to say, "These feelings aren't me." That is tough. People really think they are their feelings. If they are depressed, they're depressed. We find it hard to say, 'IT's depressed." So, when you get to Non-identification there will be that difference and you may find that the Non-expression comes first or second depending on which you are not identifying with, thoughts or emotions.
  4. Sacrificing your Suffering and Self-importance. And of course you get to the point where you want or need to sacrifice your Suffering and your Self-importance. We all have our sad songs to sing. They claim most people will sing their sad song anytime you ask, other people do it when you give them a little wine. And the phrase usually goes, "If you only knew the trouble I've seen." So that's our suffering and tied up with that is our Self-importance. To sacrifice these is very difficult.
  5. Becoming passive to one's self. To sacrifice Suffering and Self-importance you have to start to become passive to them. They are there - you have those thoughts and you have the Self- importance, the "Do you know who you're talking to?" attitude and so forth. But there is a part of you drawing the feeling of 'I' into observation. You are starting to draw the feeling of who you are away from those things. You are drawing back into the interior man. They are still there in the exterior man. But as the Work says, "You can have a thought, but don't dare think it!" You cannot stop a thought from coming into your mind, but you can stop thinking it. The Writings talk about not dwelling on it or wallowing in it, or embellishing it or acting on it.

    The same thing is true of Self-importance. You can feel self- important, but don't believe it. And you start to not believe those things that the proprium puts out. Just become passive to it.

  6. Making Self nothing. Then, after you have given up your Self-importance, you come to the possibility of making one's Self nothing. It says a rich man cannot enter heaven. You must become nothing. Those who are greatest must become the least, and so on. And really becoming nothing is not the kind of suffering that says, "Oh, I'm no good, etc. I'm hopeless." It's not that. It's that we're starting to become, or wish to become, passive to negative influence, so you are nothing. You are emptying the vessel so that something really important can flow through. So you can really become something. But you don't become something, you become something. So, a change is going on.
  7. Sacrificing Internal Consideration. Stop all your internal negative thoughts in regard to the neighbor, all your internal judgments and evaluations, and feeling that the neighbor owes you. You no longer feel they should do this, and I know better than they do etc. There is a tendency in each of us to try to get our neighbor to improve. Well, give it up - your neighbor doesn't need it. You don't need to think that. There are a lot better things you can do with your time. Besides, you want to come to a point where you can actually love your neighbor, not improve him!
  8. External Considering. That is attempting to put yourself in the neighbor's place; imagining what life is like from his situation, upbringing, or problem. We also try to think of a time when something in our behavior or attitude was similar to that of the neighbor we have a negative attitude toward, and this often brings an understanding, forgiveness, or compassion toward the neighbor.

The Gospel talks about emptying the cup, and not putting new wine in old bottles, and so forth. If we don't do something to change ourselves, if all this negative proprial love is going on, how do you expect to have love for your neighbor? Where is it going to fit? It can't be there. You have to start to empty yourself. That is when loving the neighbor becomes a possibility; when you start to become nothing, when you empty yourself. Then you start to have a brand new feeling and a brand new influx.

So, I put some of the steps in that order and the trip from love of self and love of the world can take these steps that we are talking about. But first is waking up, realizing you're in the slums of Philadelphia rather than being in the slums of Philadelphia dreaming about being in Tibet! And when you wake up you start that whole process of making the trip.


Observe 'IT' (your proprium) lying in the following ways:

  1. Saying or thinking what is not true.
  2. Talking with authority about something you know little or nothing about (i.e. the Federal Budget).
  3. When setting yourself a simple goal in the physical world, like exercising, eating less, or reading the Word, notice the excuses your proprium gives for not doing it as planned.

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