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Chapter 1, The Ideas of G.I. Gurdjieff of On Attention by Christopher Fremantle, Denville 1 ! C. Fremantle was a direct pupil of Gurdjieff.

The notes he made about his work with G. are collected in this book. "our prin#ipal mista$e, Gurdjieff said in an early tal$ %ith &uspens$y, #onsists in thin$in' that you al%ays have #ons#iousness. In reality #ons#iousness is a property %hi#h is #ontinually #han'in'. (o% it is present, no% it is not present. )nd there are different de'rees and levels of #ons#iousness... *e have only the possibility of #ons#iousness and rare flashes of it. Gurdjieff divided #ons#iousness into four levels+ sleep, %a$in', the self,#ons#iousness state and obje#tive #ons#iousness , that is, a fully a%a$ened state. &rdinary man lives only in the first t%o and may be #ompared, he said, to a man livin' in a ri#hly furnished house %ho lives in only t%o rooms in the basement. These t%o rooms are sleep and the %a$in' state in %hi#h %e spend our lives, ma$e %ar, #ommit #rimes, and try to solve the problems for %hi#h this state itself is responsible. The real a%a$enin' is e-perien#ed in the upper rooms, the third and fourth states of #ons#iousness. .a#h level or state of #ons#iousness is e-perien#ed a##ordin' to the de'ree of inner #onne#tedness at the time of e-perien#e. )ll the psy#hi# e/uipment ne#essary for e-perien#in' full #ons#iousness already e-ists in every man, but some or all of the #onne#tions ne#essary are missin'. The de'ree of #ons#iousness depends on the /uality of the brain system a bein' possesses and on its #oheren#e or #onne#tedness. &bje#tively spea$in', Gurdjieff insisted, man has not one but several brains, ea#h #orrespondin' to and #ontrollin' a definite fun#tion+ thou'ht, emotion, motor, instin#tive and se- fun#tions, ea#h possessin' its o%n separate and distin#t intelli'en#e that 'overns its a#tion. *hat present,day s#ientifi# thou'ht #alls the sub#ons#ious, Gurdjieff re'arded as #omposed partly of the a#tion, outside the 'eneral a%areness, of the five mentioned fun#tions, and partly of the a#tion of the t%o hi'her fa#ulties , hi'her emotional and hi'her intelle#tual , %hi#h, on a##ount of their speed and breadth of vision, lie beyond the 'eneral a%areness. These t%o hi'her fa#ulties, or #enters, are responsible for the third and fourth states of #ons#iousness, #alled by Gurdjieff self,#ons#iousness and obje#tive #ons#iousness, and for psy#hi# phenomena %hi#h e-tend far beyond the ordinary. These states, re#o'ni0ed in all the 'reat reli'ious traditions, are referred to in the *est by su#h names as illumination, #osmi# #ons#iousness, union and e#stasy, and in the .ast by su#h names as nirvana, samadhi, satori, and so on. 1u#h e-perien#es #an only be fleetin'ly e-perien#ed and partially remembered by ordinary thou'ht be#ause their speed and universality is beyond the ran'e of its operation, %ords and #on#epts. Throu'hout the #enturies e-perien#es %ith dru's have also been asso#iated %ith supernormal states of #ons#iousness, and modern developments in bio#hemistry have thro%n li'ht on the material or #hemi#al aspe#ts of different dru',indu#ed states. The fa#t that they are artifi#ially indu#ed and not voluntary , that is, not or'ani# and inte'ral , ma$es them useless for a#/uirin' e-a#t $no%led'e or #ontrol of the transition from one state of #ons#iousness to another.

Gurdjieff2s stru#tured idea, #omprisin' the four above,mentioned states of #ons#iousness and five fun#tional #enters , those of thou'ht, emotion, movement, instin#t and se- , %ith t%o hi'her fun#tions beyond the ran'e of normal a%areness, provides a frame%or$ %hi#h allo%s the %hole ran'e of human e-perien#e, in all its #omple-ity, to be #onne#ted to'ether in an orderly %hole. *ithout su#h a frame%or$, effe#tive self,study proves almost impossible. .ven %ith its help, self,observation is inevitably subje#tive and needs #areful verifi#ation in 'roup or s#hool #onditions to eliminate the ris$ of fantasy and to a#hieve obje#tivity. For Gurdjieff, e-perien#e of the above four states of #ons#iousness and their variations depends on the de'ree of inner #onne#tedness bet%een the brains or #enters #ontrollin' the fun#tions. Deep sleep he re'arded as a state in %hi#h ea#h #enter, %hile #ontinuin' to fun#tion independently, is entirely disso#iated from all the others. The as#endin' de'rees of a%areness, from automati# dreams to the hi'hest obje#tive #ons#iousness, are e-perien#ed in the measure of the lin$a'e of ea#h #enter %ith the others. Those fine psy#hi# materials %hi#h are able to lin$ man2s ordinary %a$in' #ons#iousness %ith the hi'her #enters are not present in ade/uate /uantities in normal fun#tionin'3 if a##identally present they do not remain lon' enou'h to allo% an ordered study of transition to hi'her states. The aim of s#hool methods and %or$ in#ludes $no%led'e of #onditions favorin' the produ#tion of these fine materials in the or'anism, and so of the la%s 'overnin' voluntary transitions from one state of #ons#iousness to another. )s#eti# pra#ti#es, periods of fasts or spe#ial observan#es, rituals or sa#red dan#es, and the use of musi# and in#ense %ere ori'inally #onne#ted %ith establishin' #onditions for study of the produ#tion of materials in the or'anism leadin' to intentional #han'es of state. *hile reli'ious tradition has preserved many su#h an#ient forms, almost all of their essential #ontent has been lost. 1elf,study is the means of a#/uirin' a spe#ial inner attention %hi#h parti#ipates in the inner state of #onne#tedness, and also serves for a#/uirin' e-a#t $no%led'e of #onditions leadin' to hi'her states of #ons#iousness , those in %hi#h $no%led'e has a universality and timelessness far beyond that of ordinary subje#tive $no%led'e. .-amples e-ist in sa#red literature, ar#hite#ture, art and musi# %hi#h testify to these /ualities and to the e-isten#e of su#h $no%led'e. Gurdjieff emphasi0ed that the $ey to #han'es of #ons#iousness is in the attention. &nly throu'h #orre#tly understood and ade/uately developed po%ers of attention #an self, observation be#ome deep enou'h to reveal the $no%led'e #alled, for this very reason, the se#ret do#trine. )ll e-er#ises of #on#entration, posture or breathin', as 1ri 4amana 5aharshi on#e remar$ed, are for the sole purpose of 'ainin' #ontrol of the attention3 %hen the attention is #ontrolled su#h e-er#ises are not ne#essary. In this #onne#tion, Gurdjieff , %ho had made a profound study of the pra#ti#es of every tradition , pointed out that the %asta'e of fine or psy#hi# material in the ordinary man is so 'reat that development of an ade/uate de'ree of attention #annot ta$e pla#e dire#tly. The #haoti# state of the #enters results in a distra#ted and dispersed attention %hi#h has not the ne#essary po%er. The main #auses of dispersal are asso#iative movements of thou'ht, #onfli#ts and ne'ative states in the emotions, and mus#ular bodily tensions, all of %hi#h #onsume 'reat /uantities of very fine ener'ies unprodu#tively.

*ithout prior %or$ on su#h ne'ative features, traditional %ays of brin'in' ne% levels of attention, in#ludin' pra#ti#es #onne#ted %ith meditation, prayer, and physi#al postures or rites, #annot be e-pe#ted to yield results of the desired order. ) parti#ularly interestin' aspe#t of Gurdjieff2s ideas is that ri'htly dire#ted attention is #reative or #atalyti#3 that is, promotes the produ#tion of the spe#ifi# materials ne#essary to fully #onne#t the #enters, and it has a #ru#ial a#tion in allo%in' impressions re#eived throu'h the senses 6also a sour#e of fine materials7 to be absorbed on an ade/uate s#ale. The parti#ular forms of attention re/uired , those in %hi#h the field of attention in#ludes both the outer sense per#eptions and the inner a%areness of movements of thou'ht, feelin' and bodily ener'ies , %ere $no%n in all periods and des#ribed by su#h names as re#olle#tion, #ontemplation, sativichare, and so on. Gurdjieff #oined a %ord to rene% the #on#ept of this pra#ti#e in #ontemporary terms , self,rememberin' %as the e-pression he used. This #ontrolled attention never o##urs automati#ally and is the very antithesis of the over, involved attention #hara#teristi#ally found in everyday livin', in %hi#h the attention is hypnoti#ally dra%n to the outer %orld, so that almost no inner movements are e-perien#ed and no obje#tive $no%led'e of them #an arise. 8nless the form of attention is #han'ed and a spe#ial inner a%areness is #ultivated, e-a#t $no%led'e of the inner #onditions %hi#h 'overn voluntary #han'es of state is impossible. It is to #reate the possibility of a#/uirin' and transmittin' $no%led'e of this $ind that esoteri# s#hools e-ist.