Choose Constructive Emotions (and don’t forget your greatest asset) (8)

“There is a great deal of unmapped country within us which would have to be
taken into account in an explanation of our gusts and storms.”

– George Eliot

“I’m not asking anything” she said. “I’m merely passing on the advice of a succession of shrewd old birds…Start by becoming aware of what you think you are. It’ll help you to become aware of what you are in fact.”

— Aldous Huxley, Island, 1962

Reading time: 20-25 mins

We’ve looked at the importance of positive emotions (and its dark side); fantasy over creativity; as well as an overview of male and female brain differences in processing emotions. We’ve also explored how constructive emotions are overall, an essential part of moral, psycho-spiritual identity.

In this final post on constructive emotions we’ll have a closer look at how they operate within a specific metaphysical/esoteric tradition with particular attention to the theory of chakras or centres. These ideas are present in much of the occult traditions but also in “esoteric science”, or the old, custodian forms of Eastern and Western traditions behind many of our religions.

This might appear to be a bit abstract, so those averse to too much theory on that score, hang in there, even it’s just theory at this point, it’ll give you a working knowledge as to how your “subtle energy” might be working in your system. Similarly, if this is just an interesting curiosity, the mere awareness of new possibilities is useful since it gives you further information to process within your personal open feedback system. Information can always be turned into practical knowledge if you test it against the whetstone of reality.

That said, a word to the wise: the following theories of esoteric work isn’t something to flirt with – a point I’ve made at various junctures on this blog. Better to just have that awareness than fully engage with what esotericists call “The Tradition” or “The Work” than only half engage. That’s as dangerous as entering a dense jungle in flip-flops, with  a plastic water bottle as your only means of survival. A paucity of sincerity and mere intellectual curiosity is not a good combination. ( know well of what I speak!) Beyond a certain point, to turn back from that Work will create a chaos you can barely imagine. As the Buddha mentioned:  “There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth: not going all the way and not starting.”

Cautionary warning dispensed with – onwards!

Fourth Way /The Centres/Chakras

There are three major influences that determine the personality and its trajectory:

  • Genetics
  • sociocultural programming
  • spiritual/religious beliefs

Our spiritual beliefs – occult or esoteric/metaphysical – have been directly or indirectly influenced by the ancient idea of chakras or subtle energy centres.

The chakra systems as we know them today have been put through the new age and occult grinder so it’s no surprise that the theory behind their functioning bares little resemblance to their original sources, be it from the yoga-tantra traditions or from esoteric Christianity filtered into the West.

The particular system I’ll focus on I believe retains the original template of the “subtle energy centres” which is the system of teaching called The Fourth Way delivered to the West by George Gurdjieff, P.D. Ouspensky and later Boris Mouravieff among others lesser known.

These men were messengers of a tradition often referred to by their adherents as “Esoteric Christianity” which appears to be a fusion of Sufism, eastern philosophy, gnosticism and original pre-Christian thought. It was very ancient indeed, fragments of which have managed to see the light of day. The Fourth Way teaching starts from the premise that man is essentially mechanical and free will and true freedom of consciousness are seldom realized possibilities. In the normal state man is subject to circumstance and passes his life in a state of sleep.

4th Way schools and various Gurdjieff groups still exist but they are a pale reflection of the original teachings. Acting as an anchor and focaliser, once the primary teacher/messenger departs the probability of corruption is high. Egos and beliefs tend to dilute any Truth.

The term “Fourth Way” describes a path of spiritual development which takes the best from three major traditions:

The Way of the Fakir, with its focus on mastering the physical body. Control of the body processes via biofeedback and belief.

The Way of the Monk, with its focus on mastering the emotions. Religious or mystical devotion dominates.

The Way of the Yogi, with its focus on mastering the mind. Control of the intellectual/thinking faculty and knowledge.

image by Karin Henseler from Pixabay

These spiritual streams of development correspond to the three types of man. The 4th Way differs to many other metaphysical schools in that it offers a framework to develop all three streams on one path leading to an applied knowledge called “The Way.” The idea is to incorporate elements of these separate traditions in everyday life – “to be in the world but not of it,” rather than embracing a separation from societies toward a retreat and/or a reclusive way of life.

According to the 4th Way, there are 3 types of man which correspond to these 3 spiritual streams and these are assigned a relationship to 3 basic centres in ordinary man. One is born as either man 1, 2 or 3 and generally onebcannot change one’s type. These centres are:

    • Intellectual centre
    • Emotional centre 
    • Moving/instinctive centre

The Sanskrit word chakra means “wheel” symbolising the structure and dynamic of what amounts to a vortex  of energy or “Chi” circulating in a specific direction according to its quality of function. In Eastern esoteric teachings, the human body has seven of these main energy centers or chakras, with many more sub-centres all over the body. Clusters of neuropeptide receptors are found in these areas along the spine.

The centres might be seen as the bridge between the spiritual dimension and the physiology of the endocrine and nervous systems. In the 4th Way work the centres are divided into 3 lower and 2 or 3 higher ones (which we’ll come to later).

The majority of humanity is called “exterior man” before they have reached a certain level or “threshold” as defined by a conscious self-development in the context of esoteric work. This means that we have within us three basic, lower centres, one of which will dominate and none of which infer superior qualities – they are just different centres of gravity i.e. personality.

The 4th Way Work is about providing a framework through which we seek to balance the usually chaotic condition of the body, our emotions and mental life. Over time and with will power, persistence and courage, one has the chance to create a “magnetic centre”  a “seat of discernment” functionally developed by honouring objective reality in comparison to the constant illusions propagated by Official Culture. This is the dynamic pattern or foundation upon which we have the potential to grow the soul and in so doing bring forth a “real ‘I'” – a primary focus of consciousness formed from an amalgamation of the usual shifting sands of “little ‘I’s which make up our subconscious and unconscious psychic complexes.

So, we can combine these concepts in the following way:

This is where the ideal of Man 4 comes in. S/he is someone who has attained a reasonable level of balance between the centres and the germination of a new seat of creative power within, a magnetic centre, where the healing, re-configuration/recalibration and integration of the lower centres has led to the establishing of ties with the higher centres of man. The promise – at least in potentia – is the higher intellectual and higher emotional centres working in unison. As the Work progresses the configuration and quality of the centres changes. This is not the final stage however:

Man No. 5 is a man who has acquired unity and self-consciousness. He is different from ordinary man, because, in him, one of the higher centres already works, and he has many functions and powers that an ordinary man, that is, man No. 1, 2 and 3 does not possess. Man No. 6 is a man who as acquired objective consciousness. Another higher centre works in him. He possesses many more new faculties and powers, beyond the understanding of an ordinary man. Man No. 7 is a man who has attained all that a man can attain. He has a permanent ‘I’ and free will. He can control all the states of consciousness in himself and he already cannot lose an ything he has acquired. According to another description, he is immortal within the limits of the solar system. [1]

Before this work, the lower centres reflect all our defence mechanisms, programming, thwarted desires, socially engineered trance states, unconscious issues and various other personality deformations. So, it’s no surprise that these centres generally work inefficiently, become energetically “blocked” or frequently interfere with each other’s proper functioning. Energy gets dissipated and drained away so that the higher centres of our being never become activated. Usually, the only thing that awakens that possibility is conscious work to that end and / or intense emotional suffering, hardship and shocks to the system.

Due to Official Culture our creative potential and spiritual connection to the Universal is seldom experienced. Most of us function in the lower centres in a state of hypnotic  trance, heavily influenced by desire, fear, stress and undiagnosed trauma. Ordinary consciousness is dialled down. We might say the lower centres are vibrating to a set of scrambled frequencies further exacerbating their misuse. Energy which should go into making contact with the higher centers gets dissipated and the higher centers remain disconnected from regular waking consciousness, except for exceptional moments, usually involving intense emotion or shock. Such states allow layers of programming to be stripped away, emotional blocks, hurts and trauma to be re-organised and transformed into energy made available to forge connections to and activation of the higher centres.

As the lower centres begin to adjust and improve, they naturally begin to align with their higher counterparts, which over time, begin to respond.  If the lower centres begin to work more efficiently then there is more energy left over to “feed” the higher centres awakening. The basic energy of the lower centres is subject to applied esoteric knowledge and eventually from the influence of this newly formed magnetic centre.

This is but one step among many as the aspirant climbs the staircase and as the lower emotional centre begins to merge with the higher emotional centre. Once achieved, the higher emotional centre is said to be the gateway through which the higher intellectual centre is activated and “fused” in way that symbolises the enthronement of one’s inner royalty and the union of King and Queen.

Below: Gnosis, Book One By Boris Mouraveiff (1989)

Again, it’s essentially an updated alchemical process of purifying and re-vivifying the centres so that the body-mind functions not like a machine prey to external influences, but a biological instrument that serves the higher impulses of the soul and Higher Self.

To access the higher centres we must first balance the lower centres. When balanced, the intellectual centre promotes thoughts which are moderate and constructive; the emotional centre allows feelings to generate emotions which are moderate and constructive and the instinctive centre regulates the body efficiently, without interference. 

Each of these centres can then be broken down into further polarities. For example, each centre is divided into two sectors of positive and negative, yin and yang etc. So, there will be a positive expression of intellectual energy or a negative expression. Within these two sectors are further “divisions” of three, which, in the case of the intellectual centre, we have: pure intellectual, emotional intellectual and moving intellectual. In other words, the intellectual can operate in its purest form, or with a dominance of emotional or moving/instinctive energy. These divisions apply to all the three centres in question and each have positive and negative qualities. (Gurdjieff, Ouspensky and Mouravieff all cover original ground regarding the centres but the latter authors provide the most detail.) *

To sum up:

Intellectual centre

    • pure intellectual
    • intellectual-emotional             positive and negative qualities for each
    • intellectual-moving

Emotional centre

    • pure emotional
    • emotional-intellectual            positive and negative qualities for each
    • emotional-moving

Moving/Instinctive centre

Positive part

    • pure instinctive
    • instinctive-intellectual
    • instinctive-emotional

Negative part

    • pure moving
    • moving-intellectual
    • moving-emotional

“Essence is what is born in man. Personality is what is acquired.”

— P.D. Ouspensky

P.D. Ouspensky was a Russian mathematician and student of Gurdjieff. Although he differed from his teacher on a number of points (mostly because he couldn’t quite go beyond his own cultural programming) he gave the world some extraordinary works on the centres, on behalf of Gurdjieff and as a prelude to Mouravieff’s work. He was big on the idea that psychology was essentially about self-study in order to awaken from our machine-like sleep. And although the majority of his writings were completed in the 1920s this proposition is no less relevant today.

Without self-study and self-observation we cannot hope to live a more harmonious life or extricate ourselves from a seductive consensus trance. Therefore, we cannot hope to alter our environment for the better. Good intentions and their ideologies will just be subsumed into the currently dominant mode of pathology. And like a machine that’s been used to operating with all the wrong things: incorrect oil, incorrect fuel, inadequate maintenance etc. we must become very well acquainted with our physiology as well as our personality.

Partially paraphrasing what Ouspensky says about the “functions” of the centres:

1) Intellectual or thinking centre – Mental processes: formation of impressions, representations, concepts, reasoning, comparison, affirmation, words, speech and imagination. registers, thinks, calculates, combines, researches.

2) Emotional or feeling centre – The feelings that give rise to emotions. It is the domain of refined senses and passions.  How do our emotions differ from our thoughts? Thoughts are wholly mixed with feelings and colour the outcome of those thoughts. Ouspensky reiterates the point that if we don’t know when emotion is hijacking our thought processes no progress can really be made in this type of Work.

3) Instinctive centre – The focus where all the inner workings of the body are governed. Ouspensky highlights the confusion of meaning between the words ‘instinct’ and ‘instinctive,’ He states: “… instincts are generally ascribed external functions which are in reality moving functions, and sometimes emotional. The instinctive function in man includes in itself four different classes of functions:

    • 1st: All the inner work of the organism, all physiology, so to speak; digestion and assimilation of food, breathing, circulation of the blood, all the work of inner organs, the building of new cells, the elimination of worked-out materials, the work of glands of inner secretion, and so on.
    • 2nd: The so called senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch; and all other senses of weight, of temperature, of dryness and moisture, and so on; that is, all indifferent sensations – sensations which by themselves are neither pleasant nor unpleasant.
    • 3rd: All physical emotions, that is, all physical sensations which are either pleasant or unpleasant. All kinds of pain or unpleasant feeling such as unpleasant taste or unpleasant smell, and all kinds of physical pleasure, such as pleasant taste, pleasant smell, and so on.
    • 4th: All reflexes, even the most complicated, such as laughter and yawning; all kinds of physical memory such as memory of taste, memory of smell, memory of pain, which are in reality inner reflexes. [2]

(The Instinctive Centre, is not connected with a ‘Higher Instinctive Center,’ and operates independently, yet still in accordance with other parts of nature).

4) Moving centre – The moving function includes in itself all external movements, such as walking, writing, speaking, eating, and memories of them. To the moving function also belong those movements which in ordinary language are called ‘instinctive,’ such as catching a falling object without thinking. [“…directs the five senses, accumulates energy in the organism through its instinctive functions, and with its motor functions governs the consumption of this energy.”]

The difference between the instinctive and the moving function is clear and can be easily understood if one simply remembers that all instinctive functions without exception are inherent and that there is no necessity to learn them in order to use them; whereas on the other hand, none of the moving functions are inherent and one has to learn them as a child learns to walk, or as one learns to write or draw. Besides these normal moving functions, there are also strange moving functions which represent useless work of the human machine not intended by nature, but which occupy a very large place in man’s life and use a great quantity of energy. These are: formation of dreams, imagination, daydreaming, talking with oneself, all talking for talking’s sake, and generally, all uncontrolled and uncontrollable manifestations. [3]

5) Sexual centre is the function of two principles, male and female, in all their manifestations. (In the 4th Way system the higher emotional and higher intellectual centres includes the right functioning of the sexual centre, also with higher properties. It is not divided into positive and negative halves, doesn’t have lower, “mechanical” emotional and intellectual aspects nor is it limited to sexual functions. The sex centre is the generator and storehouse of creative energy across the system.

6) Higher emotional centre (which appears in a state of self consciousness).

7) Higher Intellectual centre (which appears in a state of objective or ‘clear’ consciousness). **

Ouspensky tells us that we are not in a position to know these higher centres, their functions and higher states of consciousness “so we cannot study these functions or experiment with them, and we learn about them only indirectly from those who have attained or experienced them.” [4]  The sex centre and its function can only be studied later when the previous four centres are known, understand, working properly and fully balanced.

In Boris Mouravieff’s Gnosis Vol I we have further descriptions of the centres’ qualities: (Moving centre is referred to here as the “motor”).

The formation of the three mental centers in the Personality is not synchronous with this development.
The Motor center is already highly developed in the newborn. Its positive instinctive part grows and forms itself while still in the mother’s womb, beginning at conception, and continuing throughout pregnancy in such a way that at birth it functions in normal rhythm. After this it will no longer be subject to qualitative change. On the other hand, the negative motor part of this center is much less developed. It can be said that if the instinctive part of the newborn functions at around 75 percent of its normal output, the percentage for the motor part only reaches 25 percent and this is almost totally devoted to the internal processes of the body.
Throughout growth, before and after puberty, this part of the motor center not only develops quantitatively, but qualitatively. In addition, all the savoir-faire of the bodily ‘I’, from the time the infant takes his mother’s breast until he performs the most complex movements, must be complemented at every step by qualitative development. This development continues throughout life.
The Emotional center in the newborn is characterized by its purity. As long as the child has not learned how to lie, he retains the marvelous faculty–proper to this center–of spontaneously discerning the true from the false over a very wide range of experience. With time, education, and all that is instilled in the child, this center is deranged and this faculty lost, to be found again only much later as a result of esoteric work, special exercises, and sustained efforts. It must also be noted that the emotional center in the newborn is generally much less developed than the motor center, and that commonly during the life of man 1, 2, or 3, exterior man, it does not develop like the two other centers.
Although education is a major preoccupation of families and public authorities, the emotional development of the child is almost totally left to chance. In our contemporary civilization, this leads to an extraordinarily impoverishment of our affective lives. Even in the eighteenth century, the Abbe Prevost notes:
“There are few people who know the full force of the different movements of the heart. The vast majority of men are only sensitive to five or six passions, in the circle of which lives are passed and which define the boundaries of their imagination. Take away love and hate, pleasure and pain, hope and fear and they will feel nothing.”
He further added:
“But persons of nobler character can be moved in thousands of different ways. It seems that they can receive ideas and sensations which surpass the ordinary norms of nature.”
The development of the emotional center is the principle object of esoteric culture. We shall see later that it is only through this center that man can find the key which will open the door to give him access to a higher life.
The Intellectual center is in an embryonic state in the newborn. It goes through an intensive development which continues for the length of life, very often taking hypertrophied form in our civilization. Man’s shaping is almost exclusively the shaping of his intellectual center through instruction, personal experience, and analytical or constructive work, whether original or compilatory.
The intellectual center in the child is a tabula rasa. It can be compared to a system of gramophone discs which have not yet been recorded. The system is vast, well regulated, and provided with a mechanism–that of association–by which any disc arriving at its end automatically releases a second, the contents of which are related to the first. A record which turns as someone speaks can similarly provoke in us–again by association–the release of an equivalent record. In general this is how dialogue is born and sustained.
This procedure is mechanical. We can easily observe this in any conversation between a number of persons who know each other slightly. Such an interchange necessarily falls to an elementary level of the most banal interests: weather, political news, or the city. We hear these records being played, turning continually and passing from one person to another, each with their faces congealed in a grimace which–we commonly agree–gives evidence of an amiable attitude.
The recording continues practically forever, as the disc library is vast and the recording apparatus very sensitive. When a person speaks, it is generally easy to distinguish whether his recordings are played or whether he speaks from some deeper part of himself. In the later case, he uses a pictorial, rustic and sometimes awkward language; in the former he speaks in a singing tone of voice. It is important to make these observations upon ourselves, in order to be able to constate variations in speech. One moment it is ‘I’ who speaks then, unnoticed, it is no longer I; a recording from the past begins to play in me. A curious thing: once a record has been started, it is almost impossible to stop it before it has run through its content.
There are discs which we should carefully preserve, while others should be re-recorded. A special series of discs sometimes concerns the techniques of one’s work. Everyone in his everyday work unconsciously creates a collection of such discs, which he uses for the needs of his profession.
Interior observation of this phenomenon would reveal a whole repertoire of such records. A discovery like this would offer the opportunity of working to control the release of a particular type of recording, and so try to eliminate it completely.
For that, we must first start to distinguish these from useful discs which have some purpose. This is done by analysis of their contents, and by the characteristic inner ‘taste’ which causes them to be played, as well as by the charecteristic intonation that they give to the voice. Thereafter, we must try to catch the exact moment of their release. It is in that precise moment–we shall see later on why this is so–that it is possible to control these recordings and eliminate those which are useless. [5] [Bold Mine]

The Tradition, as explicated by French-born Mouravieff imparts the idea of how we must grow the soul/conscience by progressively moving toward integration and synthesis of the two higher centres of the intellect and emotions – the heart and head. Both these centres operate from very different realities which is why such an enterprise is so difficult and why a very sound foundation of experiential knowledge is necessary if we are not to be led astray.

Another controversial concept touched on by a handful of traditions is the idea that not every human being is souled. Some have higher centres others do not. It said that there is a proportion of human beings who act as a bridge between the animal kingdom and the incarnated human and haven’t sufficiently developed a quality of consciousness that designates the emergence of higher centres in this particular cosmic cycle. The Tradition calls these individuals “pre-Adamic” as opposed to “Adamic Man” since they are the psycho-spiritual blueprint of humanity prior to The Fall and the awakening of consciousness toward self-development. Pre-Adamic man, instead of creating a magnetic centre which acts as the generator and connector to Universal Energy, must take his fuel to sustain life from souled beings and in much the same way, that organic life as a whole is “food for the moon.”….

For all intents and purposes, there is little difference between souled and unsouled when it comes to tackling daily life. (Although it behooves us to avoid interacting with the souless…But that’s another story). The latter may have no inherent possibility to develop consciousness in this cycle but those with the capacity to do so, with higher centres functioning and awake, may be disconnected from the lower centers thus normal consciousness due to a lack of development and all kinds of life vicissitudes which distort and warp their proper functioning. For the vast majority of us, the Work is about developing the lower centres and their potential so that we have a suitable vessel in which the soul can grow. That’s all we can really hope for. There is no guarantee either way.

The key to advancing the mind and body in this context is healing the emotions, training the intellect, cold-blooded self-observation and attention to that which promotes integration i.e. objective reality. This might, incrementally, give rise to objective consciousness and the ability to SEE esoterically. i.e. seeing the unseen trough nuts and bolts objectivity as it relates to both discernment, discrimination in both the material and “subtle” realms of existence. (This might seem like a contradiction in terms but it’s quite the opposite).

If we take this as a working theory and set about applying it for the long-term we usually have no idea just how challenging such a possibility for transmutation really is. The process is intensely active but we may not see any sign of it at all externally. Quite apart from the fact that such a successful development is extremely rare and usually doesn’t bear fruit except over lifetimes. All we can do is our best this time around and hopefully pick up where we left off, if and when we find ourselves back in this time loop…

As you might imagine at this stage, the smarter you are the more likely the energy from the intellect can get in the way of attaining proper connections to the higher centres by usurping sexual energy for its own ends and to furnish more energy toward imagination fuelling purely selfish or egoistic desires. Self-importance, rationalisations and self-sabotage are mighty dragons which we must slay by stealth rather than through direct confrontation. Equally, attaining a state whereby higher centres are operational and utilising creative sexual energy is rare.

The Development of the Centres

The overriding idea of sacrifice, conscious suffering and almost mind-numbing powers of endurance needed to attend to the proper functioning of the centres usually means, at some point or another, a person may rue the day he ever made that leap into the unknown.

As Mouraveff states:

“As long as man has not reached the point of fusion, his life will be in effect a factitious existence, as he himself will change from moment to moment. Since these changes will occur as a result of external shocks which he can almost never foresee, it will also be impossible for him to predict in advance the exact way he will change internally. Thus he will live subject to events as they occur, always preoccupied by constantly ‘patching up’ (‘replastering’). He will in fact progress toward the unknown, at the mercy of chance. This state of things, named in the Tradition The Law of Chance, or The Law of Accident, is — for man as he is—the principal law under whose authority he leads his illusory existence. Esoteric science indicates the possibilities and the means of freeing oneself from this law. It helps us to begin a new and purposeful life; first to become logical with ourselves, and finally, to become our own master. [6]

To better understand the re-calibration, re-configuration and maintenance of the lower centres, Mouravieff offers a useful little allegory called The Parable of the Coach which he describes as follows:

“This image represents the characteristics of man by a coach. The physical body is represented by the coach itself; the horses represent sensations, feelings and passions; the coachman is the ensemble of the intellectual faculties including reason; the person sitting in the coach is the master.

In its normal state, the whole system is in a perfect state of operation: the coachman holds the reins firmly in his hands and drives the horses in the direction indicated by the master. This, however, is not how things hap- pen in the immense majority of cases. First of all, the master is absent. The coach must go and find him, and must then await his pleasure. All is in a bad state: the axles are not greased and they grate; the wheels are badly fixed; the shaft dangles dangerously; the horses, although of noble race, are dirty and ill-fed; the harness is worn and the reins are not strong.

The coachman is asleep: his hands have slipped to his knees and hardly hold the reins, which can fall from them at any moment.

The coach nevertheless continues to move forward, but does so in a way which presages no happiness. Abandoning the road, it is rolling down the slope in such a way that the coach is now pushing the horses, which are unable to hold it back. The coachman, fallen into a deep sleep, is swaying in his seat at risk of falling off. Obviously a sad fate awaits such a coach. This image provides a highly appropriate analogy for the condition of most men, and it is worth taking as an object of meditation.

Salvation may however present itself. Another coachman, this one quite awake, may pass by the same route and observe the coach in its sad situation. If he is not much in a hurry, he may perhaps stop to help the coach that is in distress. He will first help the horses hold back the coach from slipping down the slope. Then he will awaken the sleeping driver and together with him will try to bring the coach back to the road. He will lend fodder and money. He might also give advice on the care of the horses, the address of an inn and a coach repairer, and indicate the proper route to follow.

It will be up to the assisted coachman afterward to profit, by his own efforts, from the help and the information received. It will be incumbent on him from this point on to put all things in order and, open eyed, to follow the path he had abandoned.He will above all fight against sleep, for if he falls asleep again, and if the coach leaves the road again and again finds itself in the same danger, he cannot hope that chance will smile upon him a second time; that another coachman will pass at that moment and at that place and come to his aid once again. [7]

The interior life of man is characterised by suffering, shocks and constant inner change:

If we follow up this interior observation, this introspection, without prejudice, we will soon constate, not without surprise, that our T, of which we are so consistently proud, is not always the same self: the T changes. As this impression becomes more defined we begin to become more aware that it is not a single man who lives within us but several, each having his own tastes, his own aspirations, and each trying to attain his own ends. Suddenly we discover within us a whole world full of life and colours which until now we had almost entirely ignored. If we still proceed with this experience, we will soon be able to distinguish three currents within that perpetually moving life: that of the vegetative life of the instincts, so to speak; that of the animal life of the feelings; and lastly that of human life in the proper sense of the term, characterized by thought and speech. It is almost as if there were three men within us, all entangled together in an extraordinary way. So we come to appreciate the value of introspection as a method of practical work which permits us to know ourselves and enter into ourselves. As we gradually progress, we become more clearly aware of the real situation in which we find ourselves. The inner content of man is analogous to a vase full of iron filings in a state of mixture as a result of mechanical action. Every shock received by the vase causes displacement of the particles of iron filings. Thus real life remains hidden from the human being due to the constant changes occurring in his inner life

Even so, as we shall see later, this senseless and dangerous situation can be modified in a beneficial way. But this requires work; conscientious and sustained effort. Introspection carried out relentlessly results in enhanced internal sensibility. This improved sensibility in its turn intensifies the [a]mplitude and frequency of movement whenever the iron filings are disturbed. As a result, shocks that previously were not noticed will now provoke vivid reactions. These movements, because of their continuous implification, can create a friction between the particles of iron so intense that we may one day feel the interior fire igniting within us.

This fire must not remain a harmless flare-up. Nor is it enough that the [] smoulders dormant under the ashes. A live and ardent fire once lit must be carefully kept alight by the will to refine and cultivate sensitiveness. If it continues in this way, our state can change: the heat of the flame will start a process of fusion within us.

From this point on the inner content will no longer behave like a heap of iron filings: it will form a block. Then further shocks will no longer provoke interior change in man as they did previously. Having reached this point he will have acquired a firmness; he will remain himself in. the midst of the tempests to which life may expose him.This is the perspective before those who study esoteric science. But to reach the state which has already been described, we must from the beginning rid ourselves of all illusion about ourselves, no matter how dearly held; an illusion of this kind, if it is tolerated at the start, will grow en route, so that suffering and additional effort will be necessary in order to rid ourselves of it at a later date. [8]


So, you see, building constructive emotions is part of a universe of hidden principles. How far and by how much we want to engage with “The Work” depends a whole lot on how much you are willing to give to it. Paying all in advance is the agreed upon contract. Gaining access to that part of ourselves, that essence, may in turn, give us the will to persist in the face of all that which naturally goes counter to such an endeavour.

We have to decide which stream of life we want to inhabit and recognise before we do so, that we are largely unconscious, biochemical machines until we can take responsibility for our own development. And machines don’t really have a working conscience, only the mimicry of such. Which is why ancient and modern philosophers and esotericists harp on about the Oracle of Delphi’s injunction to “Know Thyself.” And that’s what having a proper functioning centre of emotion is really all about.

The metaphor of the machine is apt. We have to become good mechanics; to repair and maintain this biological instrument and wrest back some basic goodness. Otherwise we are continually exposed to our own unconscious forces and that of our culture. But self-observation takes a lot of practice beyond mere theory. Through personal experience articles of faith and will become strengthened through verification and open up the potential to free ourselves from all those corrosive and more subtle habits which drain the centres and the soul.

Those habits are insulated from constructive shock of change by “buffers” in 4th Way parlance. Buffers are taken from the analogy of train carriages used to cushion the connnectors between each. In the same way, buffers are the primitive defence mechanisms otherwise known as the Predator’s Mind. These are made up of highly sensitive ego strategies to protect the personality from harm. They divide the world into simplistic, black and white impressions of reality which are rooted in fear and inflexibility. They can produce a defence mechanism called “splitting” which divdes reality into black and white scenarios.

George Gurdjieff explained it in this way:

They are created, not by nature but by man himself, although involuntarily. The cause of their appearance is the existence in man of many contradictions; contradictions of opinions, feelings, sympathies, words, and actions. If a man throughout the whole of his life were to feel all the contradictions that are within him he could not live and act as calmly as he lives and acts now. He would have constant friction, constant unrest. We fail to see how contradictory and hostile the different I’s of our personality are to one another. If a man were to feel all these contradictions he would feel what he really is. He would feel that he is mad. It is not pleasant to anyone to feel that he is mad. Moreover, a thought such as this deprives a man of self-confidence, weakens his energy, deprives him of ‘self-respect.’ Somehow or other he must master this thought or banish it. He must either destroy contradictions or cease to see and to feel them. A man cannot destroy contradictions. But if ‘buffers’ are created in him he can cease to feel them and he will not feel the impact from the clash of contradictory views, contradictory emotions, contradictory words.

“‘Buffers’ are created slowly and gradually. Very many ‘buffers’ are created artificially through ‘education.’ Others are created under the hypnotic influence of all surrounding life. A man is surrounded by people who live, speak, think, and feel by means of ‘buffers.’ Imitating them in their opinions, actions, and words, a man involuntarily creates similar ‘buffers’ in himself. [9]

Our emotions are trapped in these reflexes laid down during our formative years and beyond. Denial at the behest of fear, self-importance, desire etc. are some of the greatest impediment to progress. Bureaucratic double-speak and group-think come into their own under such a state and project repressed emotional rage with sadistic relish through the authorirty of rules and regulations. (See Strive For Simplicity, Economise on Energy 2)

Boiling it down somewhat – to have an emotional centre that is capable of housing finer energies we need to recognise just how self-obsessed we are.

“Get over yourself” comes to mind.

If we focused the same amount of energy on sharing and assisting others as we do for ourselves then we might stand some chance in awakening real emotions rather than chemical straetegies to extract energy from others.

Ultimately, we can’t do this alone but by enacting a practice of self-observation, certain tools and teachings will guide us, as will people who appear to help (and hinder us) on that path. In making such a choice, a command decision, it sends a signal to the Universe that we wish to grow something more than our primal needs and wants, overlaid with a self-induced pantoptican of social and cultural binders.

These can be loosened consciously, slowly but surely. There are ways around them if we begin to seek. Deep questioning and deep experience are the methods through which we might begin to know.

There is much more that could be said on a host of related topics but this section on constructive emotions has already gone on too long. Before we even get to the centres and deeper work, we need to cultivate simplicity.

And its this quality we will turn to next.


* = See Gnosis: Study and Commentaries On The Esoteric Tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy Book One Exoteric Cycle (PDF) By Boris Mouravieff  | In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching and The Psychology Of Man’s Possible Evolution both By P.D. Ouspensky.
** According to the Cassiopaea Experiment the sexual centre is a higher centre of sexual energy. It is the “outbreath of God”or the pulsation of creative thought.  Free from the constraints of the intellectual and moving centre, the emotional centre “transduces” (converts into another form) energy from the sexual centre. During sleep the sexual centre is also more available to the higher centres. It is also posited that these lower and higher centres closely correspond to the material provided by Boris Mouravieff in particular. These communications offer the following:

The “sexual center” corresponds to the solar plexus.
Lower moving center – basal chakra
Lower emotional – sexual chakra
Lower intellectual – throat chakra
Higher emotional – heart chakra
Higher intellectual – crown chakra
The seat of the “union” of higher emotional and intellectual centres -third eye chakra

Note: There is an enormous amount of knowledge available at this website and forum which needs to be assimilated in context and with a certain amount of guidance. It is not within my abilities or scope to attempt to summarise since I wouldn’t be able to do it any kind of justice. Suffice to say, if you are looking for a genuine present day 4th Way school with a “Paleo-Christian” component – an extreme rarity these days – then at the very least, it’s worth a visit. Keep an open mind and read ALL the suggested material (available free) before coming to any premature conclusions.


[1] pp. 42-44; Ouspensky, P.D.; The Psychology Of Man’s Possible Evolution | PDF:  | Paperback:
[2] Ibid. p.21
[3] Ibid. p.22
[4] Ibid. p.19
[5] p.p.33-35; Mouravieff, Boris; Gnosis, Book One – The Exoteric Cycle, Study and Commentaries On The Esoteric Tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy (1989) | First published in 1966. Translated by S. A. Wissa, edited by Robin Amis. Published for Praxis Institute Press by Agora Books. See: | See also PDF version on this site:
[6] Ibid. p.6
[7] Ibid. pp.6-7
[8] Ibid. pp.4-6
[9] Ouspensky, P. D. In Search of the Miraculous BookMasters. Kindle Edition. Locations 3452-3476

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