Gurdjieff’s 48 Exercises

First and last: self-observation and non-identification.

1. The effort to realize: I have a body.

2. The effort to realize that I descended into and become attached to this organism (this animal) for the purpose of developing it.

3. The attempt to realize the organism’s mechanicality:
(a) Its habitual reaction to recurrent situations
(b) The magnetic relationship of the centers

4. Experiment of the part of the driver (intellect), in order that he may learn his business.

5. The formatory apparatus reporting the behavior of the organism to the “I.”

6. Formulation of observations concurrent with the act of observation.

7. Formulation of the ideas.

8. The attempt to understand the ideas.

9. The attempt to relate the ideas and understand the relationships.

10. The attempt to define terms in accordance with institute ideas.

11. The attempt to interpret life, human beings, etc., in terms of mechanicality, types, springs, centers, etc.

12. Describe experience; reflect on the ideas

13. Triangulate, that is, have a three-fold purpose for each act.

14. Assemble all you know of a given object at the moment of perceiving it.

15. Constructive imagination:
(a) Image the great octave.
(b) Attempt to realize man’s position in the universe.

16. Relate each object to its position in the scale. For instance a cigarette belongs to the vegetable kingdom (mi) of the organic scale. Trees belong to the vegetable kingdom. The gold of a watch to metals (do). Man (si). Etc. The whole natural kingdom is interposed between earth (mi) and planets (fa) of the great octave. Etc.

17. Attempt to realize the fact of six thousand million people.

18. Attempt to realize the fact of death.

19. Be aware of the weight of opinion.

20. Apply the law of the octave to one’s own behavior. Attempt to know when any given impulse has reached ‘mi.’

21. Peel the onion, that is, make notations of the various attitudes toward life, stripping off the superficial ones in an effort to reach the
fundamental attitude.

22. Note likes and dislikes. Find the essential wish.

23. Find the chief feature.

24. Make gratuitous efforts.

25. Cast a role for oneself.

26. Pursue an impossible task.

27. Go against inclination.

28. Push inclination beyond the limits of its natural desire.

29. If a man force you to go one mile, go with him twain.

30. Determine what it is you really want in any given situation. Deliberately get it, or deliberately oppose the “I” to this wish. AT any event, non-identify with the wish.

31. Practice mental gymnastics relative to time, space and motion.

32. Seek the concrete illustration and examples (in experience) of the ideas.

33. Try to perform, consciously, instructive, emotional, and intellectual work at the same time.

34. Try to keep in mind that at any given moment you are actualizing one of several possibles.

35. Try to keep in mind that when you talk these ideas to someone or to a group, human cells are at that moment instructing a group of monkey cells, within each brain.

36. Try to realize that man, oneself, is a cosmos. That this organism is the planet or globe of this “I.” That the organism contains cells
corresponding to the categories of nature.

37. Try to become aware of the operations of the subcenters: the emotional and moving sub-centers of the intellectual, the intellectual and instinctive of the emotional, the intellectual and emotional sub-centers of the instinctive.

38. Try to keep in mind and realize that we are constantly receiving influences from our entire universe.

39. Try to realize that this organism is, in reality, a mere bubble. That, in fact, the whole material or actualized universe is related the potential universe as shadows is to substance.

40. Give all five points the necessary activity.

41. The attempt to use the formatory apparatus as a muscle, directly and independent of sub-vocalizing (inner talk).

42. The attempt to repeat a poem and a series of numbers simultaneously, using formatory apparatus for the poem, the vocalizing apparatus for the numbers.

43. Unroll the film.

44. Evoke in pictures that the object to which ideas are related.

45. Supply the base, the third force, the neutralizer, in all and every situation. That is, improvise.

46. Cast spells.

47. Try to practice conscious morality.

48. Try to think of the reasonable thing to do or say in any given situation. Each event is potentially a complete circle. But circumstances usually distort it or, at best, supply only a curve. If this much is supplied: (U) try to determine just what is reasonably necessary to complete it. Supply it.

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