My Philosophy

For around thirty-five years I have been somewhere trundling along what Gurdjieff & Ouspensky called The Fourth Way. Since whenever it learns something for itself it there’s an ‘I’ that inevitably tries to figure out a way of teaching whatever it might be (Being-a-teacher-I), it has taken Fourth Way concepts and made them into practical exercises in Enneagram Studies, in NLP-related courses, in Life Coaching and in creative pursuits. In doing this Being-a-teacher-I has always followed Gurdjieff’s principle that  NOTHING SHOULD BE PRESENTED IN A READY-MADE FORM
Anything that is presented as cut & dried, too neatly and tidily, prevents true seekers from being determined to make sense of things for themselves. Obviously, there is an optimum…
So what are the other three ways? The 1st Way is that of the Fakir who goes apart from the world to find enlightenment via physical excesses; the 2nd Way is that of the Monk who retreats to a monastery to adopt an emotional approach to reality; the 3rd Way is the Yogi’s way which is to meditate in a darkened room in order to sort things out on an intellectual basis. The 4th Waycombines these three approaches but crucially depends not on withdrawal from the world but on self-study during the process of everyday life, going about one’s normal routines.

Publications

There was a time when Reducing-things-to-order-I had every intention of writing a book systematising my understanding, such as it was, of The Fourth Way—a kind of Gurdjieff & Ouspensky Made Easy (God forbid!). Indeed, my notes for this project still exist in a computer file called ‘TMBSMTLTT’—There Must Be Something More to Life Than This (Ouspensky)—which was to have been the title of my book. Then I began to take very seriously JGBennett’s dictum Anything too well organised sows the seeds of its own destruction… Any dumbing down in whatever context does this. Seekers must be prepared to Work for Understanding, which may be defined as the product of Knowledge tested on the anvil of Being—the KUB model, as I call it.

Somebody with huge Knowledge but not a lot of practical Being has a slim amount of Understanding; likewise a person with much meditative & saintly Being but not much Knowledge of the ways of the world has a flattened out Understanding; those who combine Knowledge and thoughtful Being are likely to possess an expanded version of Understanding…

 

Without thinking about it too much, I hit upon a light-hearted solution. In a continuing attempt to come to terms with the huge sprawling fragmentary unsystem known as ‘The Fourth Way’ I embarked on what’s turned into a series of books called  ‘ROOM’. Rooms One Two Three Four and Five are already published by Hub Editions (£7 including postage in UK). Each book, or philosophical farrago, consists of romps around my library with frequent visits to my versions of the writings of Mr G & Mr O, as Maurice Nicoll used to call Gurdjieff & Ouspensky, relating their ideas to world events, literature and philosophy in general. Maurice Nicoll’s compendious Commentaries (gold-mine of suggestions for practical exploration) are also often referred to.

The 4th Way and NLP

I qualified as a Master Practitioner of NLP in 1993. As I became more and more familiar with the art & science of NLP I began to realise that much of the underpinning concepts were familiar to me from other contexts I had studied.

It struck me that, back in the 1920’s & 30’s, Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Nicoll, & Bennett were already developing techniques that could now be classified as being within the eclectic way of working known as NLP.

When practitioners of NLP find an example of a person performing with a degree of ‘excellence’ in some way they are trained to ‘model’ on specific factors that make for excellence in a person’s behaviour—long ago Mr G had advised groups to make a record of their lives for modelling purposes.

When successful NLP practitioners work with other people they use ‘Artful Vagueness’ to encourage learners to make sense of things for themselves—Ouspensky noted that Mr G resisted sharing everything and G himself noted:  ‘…I had become more adroit in the art of concealing serious thoughts in an enticing, easily grasped, outer form…’ (Meetings with Remarkable Men p7) Bennett stresses that the development of ‘meaning’ requires consistent efforts of ‘Progressive Approximation’.

Expert NLP practitioners work hard to conceal the fact that they seek to establish rapport with those they work with by, for instance, picking up the words, phrases and images they use and feeding them into subtly back so that there’s joint  recognition of a coming together. This enables the practitioner to pace the seeker’s state of being (manifested in the words they use) and to lead them into a different one. Ouspensky realised that G’s voice intonation changed subtly when he was attempting to explain those things and this enabled him to detect similar voice intonations in others. (In Search of the Miraculous p248) Talking to Mr G, O felt ‘as though he were deliberately trying from time to time to throw me a word that would interest me and make me think in a definite direction…’ ISOTM p16. These are simple examples of establishing rapport and pacing and leading.

Many exercises in NLP rely upon the presupposition that there are different parts of our being that we can go to to establish a different point of view: likewise in the 4th Way discipline we learn, for instance, to step deliberately between Intellectual, Emotional and Moving Centres, to ‘move the brain at least once a day’, as Mr G says, into a different way of being instead of just being stuck in the Centre that’s habitual and comfortable for us. This also illustrates the NLP fundamental concept

SEPARATION PRECEDES INTEGRATION

In Gurdjieff’s ballet The Struggle of the Magicians, ‘…the same performers would have to act and dance in the ‘White Magician’ scene and in the ‘Black Magician’ scene;… they themselves and their movements had to be attractive and beautiful in the first scene and ugly and discordant in the second…; … in this way they will see and study all sides of themselves…’ In the NLP process known as meta-mirror, you learn to identify and disidentify with another person by deliberately moving from 1st to 2nd Position and then into Observer-I and Decision-making-I (3rd & 4th Positions) (In Search of the Miraculous p17)

Self Remembering

The fundamental discipline in 4th Way studies is to learn to remember yourself, to enter into real consciousness rather than fester in the sham activity that we call ‘consciousness’ which we kid ourselves that we’re in during so-called waking life. G: ‘When you really remember yourself you understand that others are machines just like you are. And you will enter into their position, you will put yourself in their place (External Considering) and be able to understand and feel what others think and feel… Approach somebody else with your requirements and nothing except new internal considering [mind-reading] can ever be obtained…’ (In Search of the Miraculous p153)

The 4th Way with Accelerated Learning

Towards the end of his life, J.G.Bennett who was valued by Mr G as a person who would carry on his work, had it in mind to think up ways of accelerating the learning of the 4th Way System. Under the general banner of Accelerated Learning, I have devised exercises that have the effect of getting people quickly into the discipline of the Pendulum as a way of reconciling negative & positive, of getting to Essence by blasting through the things of the personality. Gurdjieff’s idea of Multiple-I’s is now a simple and profound tool for Life Coaching and self-analysis.

The 4th Way and Found Poems

One way that I have found useful to keep myself on the track of the 4th Way is to construct Found Poems from the writings of others on the journey, especially from the huge Commentaries of Maurice Nicoll.

I ask you again as so often

what work have you done
on yourself today?
have you noticed yourself
being very identified?
have you noticed yourself
being negative?
have you noticed yourself
laying up a lot of accounts
against others by criticising them?
seeming superior to them?
thinking they are fools?

have you noticed yourself making up
stories in a wild attempt to fix
the forever flexible nature of things?
have you been full of self-pity?
have you been gloomy and depressed
and useless to others?
have you spoken things mechanically
when you might have said things
more consciously?

has the day defeated you
or have you defeated the day?
have you leaked Force
or built up your energy-stock?
have you gone to the day
or has the day succeeded
in frog-marching you to it?

whatever you do is what you do
and can be used constructively
for the purpose of thinking

Maurice Nicoll at Quaremead 30.6.45

Blogging

I hate the word! Like I hate most things in the e-world. I will not join the Twits twittering… Things that are worth saying are worth saying at length…

But now I’ve heaved myself into Globbing (as I like to call it)…

In another corner of my e-world, somebody asked why people ‘blog’. Questions are always useful!

I thought for a bit and then posted:-

The great advantage of creating a space where you can safely post stuff that suits you is, for me, about having somewhere as a neat repository for regular pieces of organised writing. Thus, in colinblundell.wordpress.com, I have a growing number of different sections that reflect separate but inevitably connected bits of my being. There is a weekly slot for practical/philosophical ramblings – anything up to 10,000 words. And slots for poems and haiku. And so on. I have made a self-commitment to doing this, knowing that when I have been going some time, I will automatically have material for another book of ramblings, another book of poetry, another book of haiku and so on – the words mount up. I self-publish. I hand-make paperback books but I don’t advertise this much because I don’t want to be inundated.

I’ve been going with WordPress since September 2011. Previously I did not have this sense of regular commitment – things were all over the place, difficult to keep track of – but now I feel it like one of those icing bags my mother used but I squeeze out words instead of icing.

I’ve also merged a Website into the WordPress site – one which I can manage myself. The old one brought me around six pieces of work in ten years and I had to pay for a manager! I do not expect this one to be much different but it satisfies me to have everything in one place. It gives me a sense of order!

Whether the world notices my ‘expertise’ is of not much consequence to me. I have all the work I need through networking. I can see that with 50 million + people doing blogs nobody much is going to notice me. A hundred people are supposed to be ‘following’ me but I don’t get a sense of people milling around behind me. There is now just too much ‘stuff’ on the Internet for anybody to make sense of much of it unless it somehow hooks them. But there are 3 people to my knowledge who follow me with some enthusiasm – that’s good enough for me…

So,  for me, it’s offering a sense of order. If others care to comment on things I write, that’s great.

For me, it’s not much of a marketing tool. I don’t have any frustrations to vent anywhere, and 99.999% of the world is totally indifferent to my expertise such as it is.

I hope this might just answer the question somewhat! It’s great for providing a sense of personal order and commitment.

20 thoughts on “My Philosophy

    1. Nicoll I’ve lived with for thirty years or so. He was with Gurdjieff in Fontainebleu, having given up his Jungian (? I think) practice to throw in his lot with the 4th Way. He is so sane and so full of ideas and his Commentaries continually cycle round the same ideas presented in slightly different ways so you get a sense of a huge pattern of thought. Miraculous.

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    1. Hello Peter

      Really great to hear from you. Be nice to interact from time to time re my Globs – I call them that because, of course, I can’t do with being identified with what they should be called!

      I aim for a long post a week + a haiku a day on FB. Both will shortly make a proper book each – been going for a year now. That’s my purpose (or End in Mind, as we used to say – maybe still do…)

      Colin

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  1. Hi Colin
    I started off on the Gurdjieff path in my twenties. I’m sure you’re familiar with Colin Wilson – I havent read all your posts so forgive me if you mention him. I’ve got a sort of tribute poem to him on my blog.

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      1. Wow, that was a quick response! You know he died last year I suppose? He was some guy but I never met him. Please read and comment on my poem if you have time.
        (I’ve just started blogging and havent had any replies yet!)

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  2. Hi Colin,

    Thanks to the comments you and Erik have just exchanged, I’ve had the pleasure of reading this old post of yours, apparently written just a few months before I joined the WordPress community and discovered your blog. Your view of a blog as “a neat repository for regular pieces of organised writing” perfectly captures the usefulness that blogging has afforded me since I’ve embarked on this activity. And the Maurice Nicoll poem you included above is as perfect a statement of intention for my daily sitting meditation as anything I’ve ever read. Nice to encounter and savor some “vintage Blundell” after following your blog posts over the past two years!

    Tom

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      1. It wouldn’t open last time because I inadvertently posted it before it was complete. I was attempting to check some formatting in “preview” mode, but selected the “publish” command by accident. Even though I immediately deleted the post, email notifications went out to all my followers. Sorry!

        Tom

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  3. Hi Colin,

    I’ve been following your site/blog from time to time and always have found it a pleasure to read your thoughts, ideas and philosophy in relation to The Fourth Way and NLP.

    Keep producing and communicating. I’ve gleaned significant things from Nicholls in particular and in my learning and application of NLP. We live in a very different time to the authors I follow and yet human nature, being what it appears to be, patterns endlessly repeat. For me there is an integrity to what and how you write and it helps to cut a path through so much of the nonsense that can pass as wisdom in this digital age.

    The Fourth Way, Kabbalah, NLP, Alexander Technique have enriched me considerably and rightly or wrongly there is a persistent need to cohesively relate to these ideas, approaches and practices. This is where I find your site such a help and pleasure.

    Martin

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    1. Dear Martin – Thanks for your comment!

      I do think that Mr G was an unwitting forerunner of NLP. My main idea of crossover is the relationship between Multiple-I’s & Parts Work; it’s not just the two or three parts as in 6 Step Reframe but millions of I’s. This has huge practical ramifications.

      I wonder what you think NLP & 4W have in common.

      I know of Alexander but have no experience of Kabbalah.

      Colin

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  4. Although I’ve not formalised my thinking on such crossovers Colin, I would hope the specifics lend weight to my concerns of recognising the meta patterns/deeper structures implicit in personal experience and the teachings of 4W, Kabbalah and Alexander. Framing is certainly inherent in these approaches, but framing within the context of de-hypnotising (attention) and what can come from this.

    One of the crossovers is the natural happening of a developmental psychology that arises through engaging in the ‘work’ (I class all such approaches/disciplines as being the ‘work’). For me NLP brings us back to the moment by seeing the patterns of behaviour (the evident why, what, where and how of ourselves) and to help make changes in logical levels that are congruent and germane to alignment.

    I wonder if NLP/Alexander technique is a means whereby the horizontal plain is known and the 4W/Kabbalah is the means whereby the vertical plain is experienced.

    In practical terms, there are core principles of NLP self-application… Internal representation, time-based awareness, ‘learnings’ that complete emotional experience and future pace responses, and reframing lends itself to broadening and deepening understanding. Kabbalah’s emphasis is on awakening to relationship and the interaction of all things at all levels; energy is produced through effort (work), this energy actualises connections with deeper/higher levels and the tree of knowledge leads to gnosis of the tree of life.

    I think where I come from is helped by the more grounded and defined approach you take, I don’t know, but it’s what I sense.

    I’ll always be happy to say more as time permits, although this is probably enough for most people.

    Martin

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  5. Martin – It seems to me that one of the hallmarks of a person running what might be called an ‘NLP program’, in the best possible way, is that they successfully put a gap between stimulus and response (Stephen Covey’s First Habit – yet another overlap). This enables them to avoid the expression of negative emotion, resist engaging in mind-reading (or Internal Considering) and set up the meta-mirror process in real life situations to get to Position 3 (a relatively ‘objective’ state of Consciousness) where detached (non-identified) judgements may be made.

    When I first got the NLP bug 22 years ago everything seemed so familiar and when I finally realised that it was the 4W ideas (already in my Being for 20 years then) were what made it so I set about engaging in NLP ‘Contrastive Analysis’. One of the things that really concerned me as a mainstream teacher was how to make all the techniques and concepts stick, how to ensure that the learning got into the muscle as Robert Dilts says. The conclusion I came to was that Gurdjieff’s STOP! exercise was perhaps the master-key to everything. When you can shout STOP! at yourself you get into the moment in the ideal state of Nothingness and then you’re able to make distinctions. ‘Separate in order to integrate’ was a mantra presented to us on the very first day of Practitioner Training and it’s well & truly in my muscle.

    So, for example, “STOP! I need to do a reframe, look at this from a different point of view!” (or as G said, following his dying grandmother, look at things OTHERWISE).

    Or “STOP! I need to be operating on a different Logical Level – to move from Identity to what I’m Doing or what I Could Do…” (= moving into a different one of my Multiple-I’s)

    Or “STOP! This is me being me in the here & now and in this state of Nothingness, poised between one state and another, I can make an evenly-considered choice of behaviour…” (= self-remembering) In a state of Nothingness one can cease having ‘requirements’, STOP! regarding oneself as the centre of the universe, become disidentified – for me, the most practical and most challenging realisation in 4W.

    Or “STOP! I In this moment of negativity I need to get to Position 3 in the metamirror scheme where I can see things in the cold light of day.” (= from a position of relatively Objective Consciousness, Observer-I status or what I call Meta-I – beyond the Everyday-I).

    I find your idea of NLP being the horizontal plane and 4W the vertical interesting. I’m reminded of Maurice Nicoll’s analysis of the Cross. Certainly the 4W notion of ‘going up a level’ is something that doesn’t easily sit with NLP so that NLP is practice through-time while 4W gives us, in-time, the Ray of Creation. However the process of ‘chunking up and down’ in NLP does accomplish level work. And the 6-step reframing process does get you to a different place in your being. Whether that’s up a level I don’t know.

    What has always been needed in 4W studies for me is the practical workout that NLP offers. It’s not at all clear, for instance, how G used the Enneagram which I construct as a gigantic system for organising Multiple-I’s.

    Teaching NLP in the intervening 20 years I’ve NLP-ised many of the 4W ideas and fleshed out many NLP processes with 4W concepts especially Multiple-I’s which I see as a vast expansion of ‘Parts Work’.

    Onward!

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  6. Hello Colin … as always a very comprehensive read. Is your attraction to Gurdjieff a result of looking for a spiritual source? There is a great deal of formal philosophy which seeks the same answers to be found in the history of metaphysics.

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    1. Dear Lyn – I well remember walking round my father’s garden at the age of 4-ish asking G’s question WHAT AM I DOING HERE? In the mid-1970’s when I first really came across Mr G etc and found he asked that very question I was a confirmed G-addict. My search for whatever-it-is has included all the usual suspects from Plato to Sartre and beyond. When I was 20 I became obsessed by Whitehead’s ‘Adventures of Ideas’…

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