The Origin of Systematics in Gurdjieff's Talks

from In Search of the Miraculous by P.D. Ouspensky: CHAPTER 14

THERE were certain points to which G. invariably used to return in all his talks with us after the formal lectures, to which outside people were admitted, were over. The first was the question of self-remembering and the necessity of constant work on oneself in order to attain this, and the second was the question of the imperfection of our language and of the difficulty of conveying "objective truths" in our words.

As I have already mentioned before, G. used the expressions "objective" and "subjective" in a special sense, taking as a basis the divisions of "subjective" and "objective" states of consciousness. All our ordinary knowledge which is based on ordinary methods of observation and verifi­cation of observations, all scientific theories deduced from the observation of facts accessible to us in subjective states of consciousness, he called subjective. Knowledge based upon ancient methods and principles of observation, knowledge of things in themselves, knowledge accompany­ing "an objective state of consciousness," knowledge of the All, was for him objective knowledge.

I will try to convey what followed as far as I remember it, making use partly of notes made by some of G.'s Moscow pupils and partly of notes of my own on the Petersburg talks.

"One of the most central of the ideas of objective knowledge," said G., "is the idea of the unity of everything, of unity in diversity. From ancient times people who have understood the content and the meaning of this idea, and have seen in it the basis of objective knowledge, have endeavored to find a way of transmitting this idea in a form compre­hensible to others. The successive transmission of the ideas of objective knowledge has always been a part of the task of those possessing this knowledge. In such cases the idea of the unity of everything, as the funda­mental and central idea of this knowledge, had to be transmitted first and transmitted with adequate completeness and exactitude. And to do this the idea had to be put into such forms as would insure its proper perception by others and avoid in its transmission the possibility of distortion and corruption. For this purpose the people to whom the idea was being transmitted were required to undergo a proper preparation, and the idea itself was put either into a logical form, as for instance in philosophical systems which endeavored to give a definition of the 'funda­mental principle' or arche from which everything else was derived, or into religious teachings which endeavored to create an element of faith and to evoke a wave of emotion carrying people up to the level of 'objective consciousness.' The attempts of both the one and the other, sometimes more sometimes less successful, run through the whole history of man­kind from the most ancient times up to our own time and they have taken the form of religious and philosophical creeds which have remained like monuments on the paths of these attempts to unite the thought of mankind and esoteric thought.

"But objective knowledge, the idea of unity included, belongs to ob­jective consciousness. The forms which express this knowledge when perceived by subjective consciousness are inevitably distorted and, instead of truth, they create more and more delusions. With objective conscious­ness it is possible to see and feel the unity of everything. But for subjective consciousness the world is split up into millions of separate and uncon­nected phenomena. Attempts to connect these phenomena into some sort of system in a scientific or a philosophical way lead to nothing because man cannot reconstruct the idea of the whole starting from separate facts and they cannot divine the principles of the division of the whole without knowing the laws upon which this division is based.

"None the less the idea of the unity of everything exists also in intel­lectual thought but in its exact relation to diversity it can never be clearly expressed in words or in logical forms. There remains always the insur­mountable difficulty of language. A language which has been constructed through expressing impressions of plurality and diversity in subjective states of consciousness can never transmit with sufficient completeness and clarity the idea of unity which is intelligible and obvious for the objective state of consciousness.

"Realizing the imperfection and weakness of ordinary language the people who have possessed objective knowledge have tried to express the idea of unity in 'myths,' in 'symbols,' and in particular 'verbal formulas' which, having been transmitted without alteration, have carried on the idea from one school to another, often from one epoch to another.

"It has already been said that the higher psychic centers work in man's higher states of consciousness: the 'higher emotional' and the 'higher mental.' The aim of 'myths' and 'symbols' was to reach man's higher centers, to transmit to him ideas inaccessible to the intellect and to transmit them in such forms as would exclude the possibility of false in­terpretations. 'Myths' were destined for the higher emotional center; 'symbols' for the higher thinking center. By virtue of this all attempts to understand or explain 'myths' and 'symbols' with the mind, or the formulas and the expressions which give a summary of their content, are doomed beforehand to failure. It is always possible to understand any­thing but only with the appropriate center. But the preparation for re­ceiving ideas belonging to objective knowledge has to proceed by way of the mind, for only a mind properly prepared can transmit these ideas to the higher centers without introducing elements foreign to them.

"The symbols that were used to transmit ideas belonging to objective knowledge included diagrams of the fundamental laws of the universe and they not only transmitted the knowledge itself but showed also the way to it. The study of symbols, their construction and meaning, formed a very important part of the preparation for receiving objective knowl­edge and it was in itself a test because a literal or formal understanding of symbols at once made it impossible to receive any further knowledge.

"Symbols were divided into the fundamental and the subordinate; the first included the principles of separate domains of knowledge; the second expressed the essential nature of phenomena in their relation to unity.

"Among the formulas giving a summary of the content of many sym­bols there was one which had a particular significance, namely the formula 'As above, so below' from the 'Emerald Tablets of Hermes Trismegistus.' This formula stated that all the laws of the cosmos could be found in the atom or in any other phenomenon which exists as something com­pleted according to certain laws. This same meaning was contained in the analogy drawn between the microcosm—man, and the macrocosm— the universe. The fundamental laws of triads and octaves penetrate every­thing and should be studied simultaneously both in the world and in man. But in relation to himself man is a nearer and a more accessible object of study and knowledge than the world of phenomena outside him. Therefore, in striving towards a knowledge of the universe, man should begin with the study of himself and with the realization of the funda­mental laws within him.

"From this point of view another formula, Know thyself, is full of particularly deep meaning and is one of the symbols leading to the knowl­edge of truth. The study of the world and the study of man will assist one another. In studying the world and its laws a man studies himself, and in studying himself he studies the world. In this sense every symbol teaches us something about ourselves.

"The understanding of symbols can be approached in the following way: In studying the world of phenomena a man first of all sees in everything the manifestation of two principles, one opposed to the other, which, in conjunction or in opposition, give one result or another, that is, reflect the essential nature of the principles which have created them. This manifestation of the great laws of duality and trinity man sees simultaneously in the cosmos and in himself. But in relation to the cosmos he is merely a spectator and moreover one who sees only the surface of phenomena which are moving in various directions though seeming to him to move in one direction. But in relation to himself his understand­ing of the laws of duality and trinity can express itself in a practical form, namely, having understood these laws in himself, he can, so to speak, confine the manifestation of the laws of duality and trinity to the per­manent line of struggle with himself on the way to self-knowledge. In this way he will introduce the line of will first into the circle of time and afterwards into the cycle of eternity, the accomplishing of which will create in him the great symbol known by the name of the Seal of Solo­mon.

"The transmission of the meaning of symbols to a man who has not reached an understanding of them in himself is impossible. This sounds like a paradox, but the meaning of a symbol and the disclosure of its essence can only be given to, and can only be understood by, one who, so to speak, already knows what is comprised in this symbol. And then a symbol becomes for him a synthesis of his knowledge and serves him for the expression and transmission of his knowledge just as it served the man who constructed it.

"The more simple symbols:







or the numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, which express them, possess a definite mean­ing in relation to the inner development of man; they show different stages on the path of man's self-perfection and of the growth of his being.

"Man, in the normal state natural to him, is taken as a duality. He consists entirely of dualities or 'pairs of opposites.' All man's sensations, impressions, feelings, thoughts, are divided into positive and negative, useful and harmful, necessary and unnecessary, good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant. The work of centers proceeds under the sign of this division. Thoughts oppose feelings. Moving impulses oppose instinctive craving for quiet. This is the duality in which proceed all the perceptions, all the reactions, the whole life of man. Any man who observes himself, however little, can see this duality in himself.

"But this duality would seem to alternate; what is victor today is the vanquished tomorrow; what guides us today becomes secondary and sub­ordinate tomorrow. And everything is equally mechanical, equally inde­pendent of will, and leads equally to no aim of any kind. The understanding of duality in oneself begins with the realization of mechanicalness and the realization of the difference between what is mechanical and what is conscious. This understanding must be preceded by the destruction of the self-deceit in which a man lives who considers even his most mechani­cal actions to be volitional and conscious and himself to be single and whole.

"When self-deceit is destroyed and a man begins to see the difference between the mechanical and the conscious in himself, there begins a struggle for the realization of consciousness in life and for the subordina­tion of the mechanical to the conscious. For this purpose a man begins with endeavors to set a definite decision, coming from conscious motives, against mechanical processes proceeding according to the laws of duality. The creation of a permanent third principle is for man the transforma­tion of the duality into the trinity.

"Strengthening this decision and bringing it constantly and infallibly into all those events where formerly accidental neutralizing 'shocks' used to act and give accidental results, gives a permanent line of results in time and is the transformation of trinity into quaternity. The next stage, the transformation of quaternity into quinternity and the construction of the pentagram has not one but many different meanings even in rela­tion to man. And of these is learned, first of all, one, which is the most beyond doubt, relating to the work of centers.

"The development of the human machine and the enrichment of being begins with a new and unaccustomed functioning of this machine. We know that a man has five centers: the thinking, the emotional, the mov­ing, the instinctive, and the sex. The predominant development of any one center at the expense of the others produces an extremely one-sided type of man, incapable of further development. But if a man brings the work of the five centers within him into harmonious accord, he then 'locks the pentagram within him' and becomes a finished type of the physically perfect man. The full and proper functioning of five centers brings them into union with the higher centers which introduce the miss­ing principle and put man into direct and permanent connection with objective consciousness and objective knowledge.

"And then man becomes the six-pointed star, that is, by becoming locked within a circle of life independent and complete in itself, he be­comes isolated from foreign influences or accidental shocks; he embodies in himself the Seal of Solomon.

"In the present instance the series of symbols given—2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 —is interpreted as applicable to one process. But even this interpretation is incomplete, because a symbol can never be fully interpreted. It can only be experienced, in the same way, for instance, as the idea of self-knowledge must be experienced.

"This same process of the harmonious development of man can be examined from the point of view of the law of octaves. The law of octaves gives another system of symbols. In the sense of the law of octaves every completed process is a transition of the note do through a series of successive tones to the do of the next octave. The seven fundamental tones of the octave express the law of seven. The addition to it of the do of the next octave, that is to say, the crowning of the process, gives the eighth step. The seven fundamental tones together with the two 'intervals' and 'additional shocks' give nine steps. By incorporating in it the do of the next octave we have ten steps. The last, the tenth, step is the end of the preceding and the beginning of the next cycle. In this way the law of octaves and the process of development it expresses, in­clude the numbers 1 to 10. At this point we come to what may be termed the symbolism of numbers. The symbolism of numbers cannot be under­stood without the law of octaves or without a clear conception of how octaves are expressed in the decimal system and vice versa.

"In Western systems of occultism there is a method known by the name of 'theosophical addition,' that is, the definition of numbers con­sisting of two or more digits by the sum of those digits. To people who do not understand the symbolism of numbers this method of synthesiz­ing numbers seems to be absolutely arbitrary and to lead nowhere. But for a man who understands the unity of everything existing and who has the key to this unity the method of theosophical addition has a profound meaning, for it resolves all diversity into the fundamental laws which govern it and which are expressed in the numbers 1 to 10.

"As was mentioned earlier, in symbology, as represented, numbers are connected with definite geometrical figures, and are mutually comple­mentary one to another. In the Cabala a symbology of letters is also used and in combination with the symbology of letters a symbology of words. A combination of the four methods of symbolism by numbers, geometrical figures, letters, and words, gives a complicated but more perfect method.

"Then there exists also a symbology of magic, a symbology of alchemy, and a symbology of astrology as well as the system of the symbols of the Tarot which unites them into one whole.

"Each one of these systems can serve as a means for transmitting the idea of unity. But in the hands of the incompetent and the ignorant, however full of good intentions, the same symbol becomes an 'instrument of delusion.' The reason for this consists in the fact that a symbol can never be taken in a final and definite meaning. In expressing the laws of the unity of endless diversity a symbol itself possesses an endless number of aspects from which it can be examined and it demands from a man approaching it the ability to see it simultaneously from different points of view. Symbols which are transposed into the words of ordinary language become rigid in them, they grow dim and very easily become 'their own opposites,' confining the meaning within narrow dogmatic frames, with­out giving it even the very relative freedom of a logical examination of a subject. The cause of this is in the literal understanding of symbols, in attributing to a symbol a single meaning. The truth is again veiled by an outer covering of lies and to discover it requires immense efforts of nega­tion in which the idea of the symbol itself is lost. It is well known what delusions have arisen from the symbols of religion, of alchemy, and par­ticularly of magic, in those who have taken them literally and only in one meaning.

"At the same time the right understanding of symbols cannot lead to dispute. It deepens knowledge, and it cannot remain theoretical because it intensifies the striving towards real results, towards the union of knowl­edge and being, that is, to Great Doing. Pure knowledge cannot be trans­mitted, but by being expressed in symbols it is covered by them as by a veil, although at the same time for those who desire and who know how to look this veil becomes transparent.

"And in this sense it is possible to speak of the symbolism of speech although this symbolism is not understood by everyone. To understand the inner meaning of what is said is possible only on a certain level of de­velopment and when accompanied by the corresponding efforts and state of the listener. But on hearing things which are new for him, instead of making efforts to understand them, a man begins to dispute them, or refute them, maintaining against them an opinion which he considers to be right and which as a rule has no relation whatever to them. In this way he loses all chance of acquiring anything new. To be able to under­stand speech when it becomes symbolical it is essential to have learned before and to know already how to listen. Any attempt to understand literally, where speech deals with objective knowledge and with the union of diversity and unity, is doomed to failure beforehand and leads in most cases to further delusions.

"It is necessary to dwell upon this because the intellectualism of con­temporary education imbues people with a propensity and a tendency to look for logical definitions and for logical arguments against everything they hear and, without noticing it, people unconsciously fetter them­selves with their desire, as it were, for exactitude in those spheres where exact definitions, by their very nature, imply inexactitude in meaning.

"Therefore, because of the tendency referred to in our thinking, it often happens that exact knowledge concerning details, communicated to a man before he has acquired an understanding of the essential nature of a thing, makes it difficult for him to understand this essential nature. This does not mean that exact definitions do not exist on the way of true knowledge, on the contrary, only there do they exist; but they differ very greatly from what we usually think them to be. And if anyone sup­poses that he can go along the way of self-knowledge guided by an exact knowledge of all details, and it he expects to have such knowledge without first having given himself the trouble to assimilate the indications he has received concerning his own work, then he should first of all under­stand that he will not attain knowledge until he makes the necessary efforts and that only of himself and only by his own efforts can he attain what he seeks. No one can ever give him what he did not possess before; no one can do for him the work he should do for himself. All that an­other can do for him is to give him the impetus to work and from this point of view symbolism, properly perceived, plays the part of an impetus of this kind for our knowledge.

"We have spoken earlier of the law of octaves, of the fact that every process, no matter upon what scale it takes place, is completely deter­mined in its gradual development by the law of the structure of the seven-tone scale. In connection with this it has been pointed out that every note, every tone, if taken on another scale is again a whole octave. The 'intervals' between mi and fa and between si and do which cannot be filled by the intensity of the energy of the process in operation, and which require an outside 'shock,' outside help so to speak, connect by this very fact one process with other processes. From this it follows that the law of octaves connects all processes of the universe and, to one who knows the scales of the passage and the laws of the structure of the octave, it presents the possibility of an exact cognition of everything and every phenomenon in its essential nature and of all its interrelations with phenomena and things connected with it.

"For uniting into one whole all knowledge connected with the law of the structure of the octave there is a certain symbol which takes the form of a circle divided into nine parts with lines connecting the nine points on the circumference in a certain order.

"Before passing on to the study of the symbol itself it is essential to understand certain aspects of the teaching which makes use of this symbol, as well as the relation of this teaching to other systems which make use of symbolical methods for the transmission of knowledge.

"In order to understand the interrelation of these teachings it must always be remembered that the ways which lead to the cognition of unity approach it like the radii of a circle moving towards the center; the closer they come to the center, the closer they approach one another.

"As a result of this the theoretical statements which form the basis of one line can sometimes be explained from the point of view of statements of another line and vice versa. For this reason it is sometimes possible to form a certain intermediate line between two adjacent lines. But in the absence of a complete knowledge and understanding of the fundamental lines, such intermediate ways may easily lead to a mixing of lines, to confusion and error.

"Of the principal lines, more or less known, four can be named:

1)       The Hebraic

2)       The Egyptian

3)       The Persian

4)       The Hindu

"Moreover of the last we know only its philosophy, and of the first three, parts of their theory.

"In addition to these there are two lines known in Europe, namely theosophy and so-called Western occultism, which have resulted from a mixture of the fundamental lines. Both lines bear in themselves grains of truth, but neither of them possesses full knowledge and therefore attempts to bring them to practical realization give only negative results.

"The teaching whose theory is here being set out is completely self-supporting and independent of other lines and it has been completely unknown up to the present time. Like other lines it makes use of the symbolical method and one of its principal symbols is the figure which has been mentioned, that is, the circle divided into nine parts:

"This symbol takes the following form:












On the subjectivity of verbal mentation

For an exact study, an exact language is needed. But our ordi­nary language in which we speak, set forth what we know and understand, and write books in ordinary life, does not do for even a small amount of exact speech. An inexact speech can­not serve an exact knowledge. The words composing our lan­guage are too wide, too foggy and indefinite, while the mean­ing put into them is too arbitrary and variable. Every man who pronounces any word always attaches this or that shade of meaning to it by his imagination, exaggerates or puts for­ward this or that side of it, sometimes concentrating all the significance of the word on a single feature of the object, that is, designating by this word not all the attributes but those chance external ones which first spring to his notice. Another man speaking with the first attaches to the same word another shade of meaning, takes this word in another sense, which is often exactly the opposite. If a third man joins the conversa­tion, he again puts into the same word his own meaning. And if ten people speak, every one of them once more gives his own meaning, and the same word has ten meanings. And men speaking in this way think that they can understand each other, that they can transfer their thoughts one to another. It can be said with full confidence that the language in which contemporary men speak is so imperfect that whatever they speak about, especially on scientific matters, they can never be sure that they call the same ideas by the same words.

On the contrary, one can say almost certainly that they un­derstand every word differently and, while appearing to speak about the same subject, in practice speak about quite different things. Moreover, for every man the meaning of his own words and the meaning which he puts into them changes in accor­dance with his own thoughts and humors, with the images which he associates at the moment with the words, as well as with what and how his interlocutor speaks, for by an involun­tary imitation or contradiction he can involuntarily change the meaning of his words. In addition, nobody is able to define ex­actly what he means by this or that word, or whether this meaning is constant or subject to change, how, why and for what reason.

If several men speak, everyone speaks in his own way, and no one of them understands another. A professor reads a lec­ture, a scholar writes a book, and their audience and readers listen to, and read, not them but combinations of the authors' words and their own thoughts, notions, humors and emotions of the given moment.

The people of today are, to a certain degree, conscious of the instability of their language. Among the diverse branches of science every one of them works out its own terminology, its own nomenclature and language. In philosophy attempts are made, before using any word, to make clear in what sense it is taken; but however much people nowadays try to estab­lish a constant meaning of words, they have failed in it so far. Every writer fixes his own terminology, changes the terminol­ogy of his predecessors, contradicts his own terminology; in short, everyone contributes his share to the general confusion.

This teaching points out the cause of this. Our words have not and cannot have any constant meaning, and to indicate at every word the meaning and the particular shade which we at­tach to this word, that is, the relations in which it is taken by us, we have in the first place no means; and secondly we do not aim at this; on the contrary, we invariably wish to estab­lish our constant meaning for a word and to take it always in that sense, which is obviously impossible, as one and the same word used at different times and in various relations has differ­ent meanings.

Our wrong use of words and the qualities of the words themselves have made them unreliable instruments of an exact speech and an exact knowledge, not to mention the fact that for many notions accessible to our reason we have neither words nor expressions.

Summary points

  • Words cannot have constant meaning
  • Problem of indicating meaning and shade of meaning at every use of a word
  • We have no means of doing so
  • We do not aim to do so
  • Instead we wish for what is impossible
  • We also lack words for many ideas

He goes on to speak of number as exact but difficult to relate to qualities.

The language of numbers alone can serve for an exact ex­pression of thought and knowledge; but the language of num­bers can be applied only to designate and compare quantities. But things do not differ only in size, and their definition from the point of view of quantities is not sufficient for an exact knowledge and analysis. We do not know how to apply the language of numbers to the attributes of things. If we knew how to do it and could designate all the qualities of things by numbers in relation to some immutable number, this would be an exact language.

He claims that his teaching can approximate to this ideal

The teaching whose principles we are going to expound here has as one of its tasks the bringing of our thinking nearer to an exact mathematical designation of things and events and the giving to men of the possibility of understanding them­selves and each other.

He illustrates his view of the confused use of words by the example of ‘world’ (as in Beelzebub)

If we take any of the most commonly used words and try to see what a varied meaning these words have according to who uses them and in what connection, we shall see why men have no power of expressing their thoughts exactly and why every­thing men say and think is so unstable and contradictory. Apart from the variety of meanings which every word can have, this confusion and contradiction are caused by the fact that men never render any account to themselves of the sense in which they take this or that word and only wonder why others do not understand it although it is so clear to them­selves. For example, if we say the word “world” in front of ten hearers, every one of them will understand the word in his own way. If men knew how to catch and write down their thoughts themselves, they would see that they had no ideas connected with the word “world” but that merely a well-known word and an accustomed sound was uttered, the signif­icance of which is supposed to be known. It is as if everybody hearing this word said to himself: “Ah, the ‘world,’ I know what it is.” As a matter of fact he does not really know at all. But the word is familiar, and therefore no such question and answer occur to him. They are only understood. A question comes only in respect of new unknown words and then the man tends to substitute for the unknown word a known one. He calls this “understanding.”

If we now ask the man what he understands by the word “world,” he will be perplexed by such a question. Usually, when he hears or uses the word “world” in conversation, he does not think at all about what it means, having decided once and for all that he knows and that everybody knows. Now for the first time he sees that he does not know and that he has never thought about it; but he will not be able to and will not know how to rest with the thought of his ignorance. Men are not capable enough of observing and not sufficiently sincere with themselves to do so. He will soon recover himself, that is, he will very quickly deceive himself; and remembering or com­posing in haste a definition of the word “world” from some fa­miliar source of knowledge or thought, or the first definition of someone else’s which enters his head, he will express it as his own understanding of the meaning of the word, though in fact he has never thought about the word “world” in this way and does not know how he has thought.

After various descriptions he goes on to postulate a kind of total all-round meaning that would incorporate all the diverse understandings.

All these definitions of the word "world" have their merits and defects: their chief defect consists in that each of them ex­cludes its opposite, while all picture one side of the world and examine it only from one point of view. A correct definition will be such as would combine all the separate understand­ings, showing the place of each and at the same time giving, in each case, the possibility of stating about which side of the world the man speaks, from which point of view and in which relation.

This teaching says that if the question of what the world is were approached in the right way, we could establish quite ac­curately what we understand by this word. And this definition of a right understanding would include in itself all views upon the world and all approaches to the question. Having thus agreed on such a definition, men would be able to understand one another when speaking about the world. Only starting from such a definition can one speak about the world.

This is the beginning of systematics


This extract provides context for the model of three centres and speaks of work on thinking. I see it as an example of practical systematics.

I say that until now you have not been working like men; but there is a possibility to learn to work like men. Working like a man means that a man feels what he is doing and thinks why and for what he does it, how he is doing it now, how it had to be done yesterday and how today, how he would have to do it tomorrow, and how it is generally best to get it done — whether there is a better way. If man works rightly, he will succeed in doing better and better work. But when a two-brained creature works, there is no difference between its work yesterday, today or tomorrow.

During our work, not a single man worked like a man. But for the Institute it is essential to work differently. Each must work for himself, for others can do nothing for him. If you can make, say, a cigarette like a man, you already know how to make a carpet. All the necessary apparatus is given to man for doing everything. Every man can do whatever others can do. If one man can, everyone can. Genius, talent, is all nonsense. The secret is simple, to do things like a man. Who can think and do things like a man can at once do a thing as well as another who has been doing it all his life but not like a man. What had to be learned by this one in ten years, the other learns in two or three days and he then does it better than the one who spent his life doing it. I have met people who, before learning, worked all their lives not like men, but when they had learned, they could easily do the finest work as well as the roughest, work they had never even seen before. The secret is small and very easy—one must learn to work like a man. And that is when a man does a thing and at the same time he thinks about what he is doing and studies how the work should be done, and while doing it forgets all—his grand­mother and grandfather and his dinner.

In the beginning it is very difficult. I will give you theoreti­cal indications as to how to work, the rest will depend on each individual man. But I warn you that I shall say only as much as you put into practice. The more there is put into practice, the more I shall say. Even if people do so only for an hour, I shall talk to them as long as is necessary, twenty-four hours if need be. But to those who will continue to work as before—to the devil!

As I said, the essence of correct man's work is in the work­ing together of the three centers—moving, emotional and thinking. When all three work together and produce an action, this is the work of a man. There is a thousand times more value even in polishing the floor as it should be done than in writing twenty-five books. But before starting to work with all centers and concentrating them on the work, it is necessary to prepare each center separately so that each could concentrate. It is necessary to train the moving center to work with the oth­ers. And one must remember that each center consists of three.

Our moving center is more or less adapted.

The second center, as difficulties go, is the thinking center and the most difficult, the emotional. We already begin to suc­ceed in small things with our moving center. But neither the thinking nor the emotional center can concentrate at all. To succeed in collecting thoughts in a desired direction is not what is wanted. When we succeed in this, it is mechanical concentration which everybody can have—it is not the concen­tration of a man. It is important to know how not to depend on associations, and we shall therefore begin with the thinking center. We shall exercise the moving center by continuing the same exercises we have done so far.

Before going any further, it would be useful to learn to think according to a definite order. Let everyone take some ob­ject. Let each of you ask himself questions relating to the ob­ject and answer these according to his knowledge and material:

  1. Its origin
  2. The cause of its origin
  3. Its history
  4. Its qualities and attributes
  5. Objects connected with it and related to it
  6. Its use and application
  7. Its results and effects
  8. What it explains and proves
  9. Its end or its future
  10. Your opinion, the cause and motives of this opinion

The guidelines on thinking I find apposite to thinking about systematics. It would of course be valuable if time were spent working on such questions.


In this passage, G uses number as quantity to speak of a ‘measure’ of a complete man. This gives a clear perspective on ‘making a whole’. It points to a way of thinking about a complete system in a practical way.

Suppose in a given case we represent essence as 3 units: 3 represents the number of postures. In the case of this man's body the number is 4. The head is represented by 6. Thus, when we speak of 6 we do not refer to the whole man. We must evaluate him by 13, for 13 is his manifestations, his per­ception. When it is the head alone, it would be 6. The impor­tant thing is not to evaluate him by only 6 but by 13. The total is what defines him. A man should be able to give a total of 30 for everything taken together. This figure can be obtained only if each center can give a certain corresponding number—for instance, 12 + 10 + 8. Let us suppose that this figure 30 rep­resents the manifestation of a man, a householder. If we find that one center must necessarily give 12, it must contain cer­tain corresponding postures which would produce 12. If one unit is missing and it gives only 11, 30 cannot be obtained. If there is a total of only 29 it is not a man, if we call a man one whose sum-total is 30.

- Anthony Blake; October 2005