S4/E38: Gurdjieff’s path towards reaching the Higher

Published March 17th, 2022

S4/E38: Gurdjieff’s path towards reaching the Higher

Gurdjieff’s path towards reaching the Higher

In this podcast we share with you a dialogue between Russell and one of his students, who was on Gurdjieff’s path towards reaching the higher. In it, Russell will answer questions concerning the rudiments of Higher Feedback, the Third Response Exercise, Aphorism number 36, developing the Intellectual Center, finding Reason, the second death, self-consciousness versus functions, the domino effect, and Bennett’s pentads.


The Cards Diagram

Extra – Lengths-Speeds Diagram

Extra – Lengths-Speeds Diagram

Welcome to a series of talks about objective consciousness, an objective Universe, and an objective way to awaken, expanding upon the works of George I. Gurdjieff and Russell A. Smith.

In today’s podcast I will share with you a dialogue between Russell and one of his students, who was on Gurdjieff’s path towards reaching the higher. In it, Russell will answer questions concerning the rudiments of Higher Feedback, the Third Response Exercise, Aphorism number 36, developing the Intellectual Center, finding Reason, the second death, self-consciousness versus functions, the domino effect, and Bennett’s pentads.


Let’s begin:


Student:  Hello. 

Russell:  How are you tonight?


Student:  Good.

Russell:  Tell me what makes you good. That is, with all the depressing stuff that is taking place in the world today, how is it that you are good?


Student:  [sarcastically] I know, isn’t that terrible … gentle laughter.

But how could it be otherwise?

Russell:  There you go, that is the right answer, as you now have ‘choice,’ and as such, you can make life anyway you wish.


Student:  Right.

Russell:  You can either wallow in blindness or stay close to the light. The choice is yours.


Student:  Indeed it is.

Russell:  Have you done any other Higher Feedback?


Student:  Um, not really, I have some  reluctance, I have something, and I’m not sure what the word for it is.

Russell:  Hesitancy?


Student:  Um, that’s a good word, yeah, hesitancy.

Russell:  Okay, that’s alright, just keep working on the 3-fold attention exercise, the I-am exercise, and the others, and Higher Feedback will come when it’s ready.


Student:  Yeah, I mean, the thing is, it’s not that I don’t, hmmm … and this might not really get it, but, when you said not to ask about things I wanted answers to, I didn’t quite know how to take that. 

Russell:  I am sorry about that. I did not mean that you could not ask questions about the things you wanted to have answers to, but that you should not start with those things. That is, until after you have established a dialogue with your higher. 


Student:  Oh well, that's different. So even if I ask about something that I want to know about and don’t get a clear response, I guess I can always ask the same question later until I do.

Russell:  Yeah, you betcha, that’s the idea.


Student:  So, it’s okay to ask the same thing twice, right?

Russell:  Yes, of course. There is no penalty, I think the maximum is like, 8! [said with humor]


Student:  [laughter] Okay. When I did the one that I wrote you about, it seemed like the answer had something to do with my friend, and I don’t know if that is possible. However, the question didn’t really have much to do with him, but referred to him.

Russell:  Right, most likely because it contained his data and not yours. But, as you get better at it, you will learn how to ask better defined questions, predicated on your data. But initially, for practice, just ask about simple things, until you establish a dialogue. Just like when you learned how to play the violin, you sat down and started playing scales, not concertos, just scales.


Student:  So, is the reason that Steward doesn’t talk much because he is from the Higher Emotional Center?

Russell:  Sort of. His primary function is to see oneself and only say something if it is necessary, or to comment if you invite him to comment, which he will begin to do if you do the Third Response Exercise.


Student:  Okay.

Russell:  We’ve talked about how the Third Response Exercise invites Steward to respond, which he usually does not do because the place of hearing is occupied. For example: Here is how my day used to go. Are you ready?


Student:  Yeah.

Russell:  Okay.

“Today, I went down to my favorite shop and chatted with some friends; then I went over to another shop and chatted with some other friends; and, oh yeah, at the second shop, someone asked me a personal question, which I did not have time to answer, because I had to be someplace else.” 

I had no time to hear from my Steward because I was busy occupying the place with other things. But if I had just stopped and invited his response, then perhaps, I would have heard what he had to say.


Student:  That makes sense.

Russell:  Normally, every impression is quickly interpreted and responded to, and as such, all Steward can do is just sit there and watch. Unfortunately, no one looks into the carriage and asks him if he would like to say anything. So, the Third Response Exercise intentionally creates a pause, allowing him to speak. 

Okay. Have you been doing your I-am’s?


Student:  Yes. They bring me such peace.

Russell:  Terrific. 

Well, I’m ready for five aphorisms.


Student:  Is ten, okay?

Russell:  Is ten, okay? Ten is fantastic!


Student:  [perfectly recites the ten aphorisms, and then says]  

I don’t get Aphorism #36. “Hope, when bold, is strength. Hope, with doubt, is cowardice. Hope, with fear, is weakness.” Would you explain that one to me?

Russell:  Sure. 

“Hope when bold is strength,” concerns considering the possibilities and then moving towards them, which gives one strength. 

Next comes, “Hope with doubt is cowardice,” which is kind of like the woman whose husband abuses her, and she keeps hoping that he will change.


Student:  Oh, because she doesn’t want to admit that he probably won’t change.

Russell:  Correct, as well as the fact that she does not want to be the one who changes, and as such, she puts the onus on him to change, even though, secretly, she doubts that he ever will.

Next comes, hope with fear is weakness.


Student:  That’s the one I really don’t get.

Russell:  No problem. It is about having hope that is connected with unworthiness. For example: “I hope that I will make a good impression on my job interview; but, I am afraid that if I do, they will hire me, and if they hire me, I will have to work really hard to support that impression. And if I work really hard to support that impression, they will expect me to always work that hard, and I don’t know if I want to always work that hard, so I kind of hope that I do not make a very good impression. Thus, hope with fear is weakness.


Student:  Okay, that makes sense.

Russell:  Terrific. 

Moving on. Have you been doing some reading?


Student:  Yep.

Russell:  Great! What have you been reading?


Student:  Views. And I have been reading it in the chronological order that you suggested.

Russell:  Well, what do you think?


Student:  It’s great. It makes a lot of sense. I am about a quarter of the way through that order.

Russell:  Terrific. Congratulations. 

With the great work you have been doing, you deserve special things. Just remember that the efforts you make today, will change your tomorrow. That is, if you don't make efforts today, tomorrow will be the same as it has always been. 

This week, you memorized ten aphorisms, and read a quarter of the way through Views. What next?


Student:  I am going to finish Views of course, and then make sure that I can recite the aphorisms and DOGTALES by number. Is that good?

Russell:  That's better than good.  

I look forward to hearing your progress towards that aim. 


Student:  I did something else. I bought my own copy of your book.

Russell:  That is wonderful.


Student:  Indeed. I had been borrowing it. But soon I will have my own copy.

Russell:  Fantastic. 

Any questions on any of the material in Views?


Student:  In the chapter about the Formatory Apparatus, Gurdjieff makes it pretty clear that we have no contact with our Intellectual Center. Are we ever supposed to have contact with it?

Russell:  Oh, yes. We used to, that is before we fell asleep. And, when you awaken Master, you will discover that the Intellectual Center is the rudiments of reason. But before that, it becomes the task of your Steward to reach back into your Intellectual Center and purge it of its false beliefs, so that your Intellectual Center can move up and become the mechanical part of your Higher Mental Center, and as such, incite reason. 

In the Cards Diagram (See the Cards Diagram), the last nine small cards, in groups of three, are the Jack, Queen, and King of Spades, the Aces of Diamonds, Clubs, and Hearts, and the Ace of Spades, the Extra Joker, and the Joker. That is, the mechanical part of your Higher Mental Center is the Jack, Queen, and King of Spades, which, for the Higher Mental Center, represents reason. 


Student:  And is Steward part of Master too?

Russell:  Yes, Steward is part of Master too. It is his emotional part, represented by the Aces of Diamonds, Clubs, and Hearts. There, Steward gives the Master the ability to be impartial. 


Student:  I forgot that the Steward had to step down as well.

Russell:  That’s okay. It is hard to comprehend the second death without experiencing the first. 

There are two deaths. The first death occurs when the face cards of Diamonds, Clubs, and Hearts step down and allow us to awaken Steward. The second death occurs when the face cards of Spades, as well as the Steward steps down and allows us to awaken Master. If you look at the Cards Diagram, you will see that Spades come before Steward, that is, before the Higher Emotional Center, as well as, after it.


Student: Yeah.

Russell:  So, that is why after we awaken Steward, we have to reach back and develop our Spades, so that our Spades can go beyond Steward, which Gurdjieff indicates in his definition of the Sacred-Triamazikamno: “A new arising from the previously arisen through the ‘Harnel-miaznel,’ the process of which is actualized thus: the higher blends with the lower in order to actualize the middle and thus becomes either higher for the preceding lower, or lower for the succeeding higher; and as I already told you, this Sacred-Triamazikamno consists of three independent forces...” 

In this case, the lower becomes the succeeding higher.


Student:  Oh, so Steward is the higher for the preceding/succeeding lower of the Intellectual Center?

Russell:  That is correct!


Student:  Alright. I got it. It appears so fast and furious in the upper story.

Russell:  Yes, it is. That is because, we are just dealing with centers and their parts, and are no longer dealing with their parts-of-parts, and as such, much more important manifestations are created, as opposed to some little part-of-part’s concerns about its aching toe. 

So yes, it does have that appearance, good observation.


Student:  That has been happening to me a lot. It seems like now, things sort of pass through my mind, and although they are seen, my mind doesn’t label them like it used to; it just sees them.

Russell:  Yes. That happens because, before now, the observer constantly changed, and as such, he needed to quickly label things in hopes that they might be remembered by the next observer. However, now that you have a permanent observer, the constant labeling will cease, and true observation will begin. 


Student:  Oh, that is so true. I am seeing things just as they are, and not as them being positive or negative.

Russell:  Indeed. That is the beauty of self-consciousness. It is independent of functions, and functions are independent of it.


Student:  Yeah, I read that!! That made a real impact on me.

Russell:  Good. There can be functions without consciousness, and consciousness without functions. We think that consciousness is connected to functions, but it is not. Why? Because consciousness is not of itself a function, but rather, it is a state.


Student:  If it’s a state, what are functions?

Russell:  Sensing, moving, feeling, and labeling, which are done by our lower centers. 


Student:  So, Steward is a state?

Russell:  Well, almost. Steward is a function that takes place in the state of self-consciousness.


Student:  I read that you don’t have to have one in order to have the other. But then, how can Steward, a function, which takes place in the state of self-consciousness, appear without self-consciousness?

Russell:  You ask a good question. The answer to which is simple, you have had moments of self-consciousness all your life, but you did not have Steward, and you have had moments of self-remembering all your life, but most of them were not created by consciousness, but by circumstance. Fortunately, you found a way of unifying your lower centers, and as such, you were able to awaken your Higher Emotional Center, which did not happen by circumstance, but by proper efforts; and, by doing so, you achieved the third state of consciousness, self-consciousness.  

That being said, in the first state of consciousness, sleep, although sensations are present, we are oblivious to them. It takes the second state of consciousness, relative consciousness, for us to be able to recognize such things. Whereas, in the third state of consciousness, self-consciousness, when the Higher Emotional Center begins to function, Steward comes forth with the property of conscience. And, in the fourth state of consciousness, objective consciousness, when the Higher Mental Center begins to function, the Master appears with the powers of reason and impartiality.


Student:  So, I guess the difference is vibrancy?

Russell:  Correct.


Student:  So functions and states are different things.

Russell:  Yes.


Student:  Are there states that belong to the first two centers? And are there states that are independent or smaller than the centers themselves?

Russell:  Well, there are four states of consciousness, sleep, relative consciousness, self-consciousness, and objective consciousness. In addition, the three parts of every center work with different attention: mechanical parts work with automatic attention, emotional parts work with drawn attention, and intellectual parts work with controlled attention. Not to mention the fact that the different centers, parts, and part-of-parts, work at different speeds (See the Extra – Lengths-Speeds Diagram). Therefore, by working at different speeds, there is, if you will, a symmetry created between various parts and parts-of-parts that function at the same speed, which, if they function together, will produce different states of consciousness.

So, the centers and their parts can not only function in different states of consciousness, but with different attentions, and at varying speeds. That being said, sometimes, what appears to be a higher state of consciousness, is nothing other than a center that is working at a faster speed, or at a higher attention. 

I hope that answers your questions.


Student:  Yes, it does. It most certainly does.

Russell:  And let’s not call them states, because we don’t want to confuse them with states of consciousness. Let’s come up with some other terms like, moods, habitual responses, or the falling of certain levers.


Student:  Oh, I like that one.

Russell:  I call it the domino effect. An impulse comes in, like, if one of your clients says to you, “Oh, you didn’t give me a good enough massage, and as such, I am going to tell everyone I know not to ever come here.” Then, all of a sudden, your dominoes begin to fall, “How dare she say that, I did a really good job, it’s not my fault that she is so messed up that she can’t be helped.” Or, “If she does tell other people to not come, I can sue her for slander.” There goes your dominoes, do you see them: Boom, boom, boom, boom; one after the other. Automatically pushing the next one, to where you are compelled to tell your next client what she said. From there, it just goes on and on. The key therefore, is to learn to pull out some of the dominoes. Then, if they start to fall, one will be missing, and as such, the cascading effect will come to an end.


Student:  Okay, that sounds like an excellent way of doing it, which actually makes sense. 

I think I have done something like that in the past. You know, like when you don't point your finger at something, and thus it goes away. But pulling out some dominoes sounds like a much better solution.

Russell:  Terrific. 

Okay. What are you going to memorize after you memorize the Aphorisms and DOGTALES?


Student:  The 8 pentads, created by Bennett’s 12 essence classes.

Russell:  Wonderful. Have you read about them in his book, Making a New World?


Student:  Yes, I have; and, I have memorized them.

Russell:  Okay, let’s hear them.


Student:  1-Heat, 2-Simples, 3-Crystals, 4-Soil, 5-Plants, 6-Invertebrates, 7-Vertebrates, 8-Man, 9-Demiurge, 10-Cosmic Individuals, 11-Trogoautoegocrat, and 12-Endlessness. 

Russell:  Excellent. Bennett’s dissertation on pentads is quite good as well; like how things consume the essence class that is once removed.


Student:  Yes, that was pretty amazing. As well as, how the lowest two essence classes do not have anything to eat, and the highest two essence classes do not have anything to feed.

Russell:  That is correct. However, if you would like to make some further ponderings, or perhaps, stimulate good questions for higher feedback, make the bottom two essence classes, and the top two essence classes, that are not pentads, into pentads, by bending the list of essence classes into a circle.


Student:  Well, that makes sense! I was thinking about that. That is, what feeds them, and what do they feed? 

Russell:  Remember my example of how the Absolute represents both total unity and total dispersion?


Student:  Yes, I do.

Russell:  Well, if you bend the list of essence classes into a circle, then the Absolute will be below heat, and as such, it will become Heat, as well as feed the simples, which we could say, forms the structure.


Student:  Wow, that sounds really great. I will work on that.

Russell:  With 12 points, you can only have 8 pentads, because each  pentad needs 5 points, but if we use our brains and bend the list of essence classes into a circle, we can produce another 4. 


Student:  Wow, Russ, that is just awesome. 

Well, I think I am full for this week. What should I memorize after I memorize the pentads?

Russell:  I think that “The 19 Things I Saw When I Sought Reality” song would be a great thing to have in your repertoire.


Student:  I already memorized that.

Russell:  You have? Well, alright then, I will give you the week off. That is, if you can recite them for me.


Student:  Oh, okay, which end do you want me to start from?

Russell:  Oh, hey, you get an extra week off if you can say them from both ends!  


Student:  [laughter] Okay. 19-outer octaves, 18-fa’s transforming, 17-lines defining, 16-man’s remembering, 15-oscillating, 14-cards concealing, 13-octaves acting, 12-matters molding, 11-notes a needing, 10-lines aligning, 9-movements moving, 8-pentads purging, 7-centers serving, 6-leaks a leaking, 5-states of I, 4-seeker ways, 3-type men, 2-naturedness, a machine that’s a multiplicity. 

Russell:  Excellent. You get the week off, which I know you probably won’t take. That being said, finish reading about the pentads, because Bennett uses different terms for some of his essence classes, like 1-brained, 2-brained, and 3-brained beings, instead of invertebrates, vertebrates, and man. 


Student:  Okay, what else should I be doing during my week off?

Russell:  Well, pick any chapter in The Blueprint of Consciousness and make it your own. Doing so, will not only allow you to stay on Gurdjieff’s path towards reaching the Higher, but will better prepare you for awakening your Master, which I am sure you will soon do, as your 1,001 words of memory work is accumulating rapidly.


Student:  Okie, dokie.

Russell:  Super. Thanks for calling. Oh, and by the way call me sooner if you need anything. If not, I will talk to you again next Wednesday.

Have a great week off. 



Student:  Okay, and thank you too, Russ.



That completes today’s podcast.


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