‘The Fourth Way’ says human beings are machines, but these machines do not perform on its rightful level. Nature delivers us with all the basic functions we need to survive, but we need to make a conscious effort to get access to our hidden potential. In short, a human being is far more than it appears to be. In order to develop our hidden potentials, we need to be either very strongly repelled by our present state or very strongly attracted by a future state. This is the most fundamental condition for inner change.
Other vital conditions that must be present in order to do the necessary work is time, a school, and the right kind of social circumstances. Schools can not exist when times are too much out of balance by economic depression, natural disasters, or wars.
“Our time is particularly difficult in this respect. Schools in the East are disappearing very quickly. In many countries, they are absolutely impossible. For instance, no school can exist in Bolshevik Russia, or Hitler’s Germany, or in Mussolini’s Italy, or Kemal’s Turkey.”
It is not hard to verify this idea in present times. One may consider himself lucky when circumstances are favorable with respect to personal transformation and the possibilities of developing oneself beyond his basic natural, and mechanical, level. Lucky because one has very little to say over where one is born, what family or class one is born in or which century he is born. We all must try to find what we want in the period in which we are placed by fate. On the other hand, you do not want to ascribe – or excuse – your possibility to work solely to external circumstance. The main condition to be able to work remains your internal circumstance.
Man has to develop a strong desire based on the inclination that there must be more to life than what the ordinary influences of life have to offer. There must be another quality of life that is available not in life but somehow must exist outside life. This is what Ouspensky meant by the ‘miraculous,’ a level of awareness available in life but not accessible through ordinary life. One must be discontent with what he has gotten from life. He must feel that there must be more to life than what he has attained in life. This is a special kind of desire. It is not the desire to have more or be more in the ordinary sense of the word. It is a desire to fill the internal void that cannot be achieved by the influence of day-to-day life.
Your magnetic center forms this special desire. Magnetic center is in personality; it is simply a group of interests which, when they become sufficiently strong, serve, to a certain degree, as a guiding and controlling factor. Magnetic center turns one’s interests in a certain direction and helps to keep them there. At the same time, it cannot do much by itself. For real inner transformation, one needs a school. Magnetic center cannot replace a school, but it can help to realize the need for a school; it can help to begin to look for a school. Magnetic center can help to recognize a school.
“Possession of a magnetic center is the first, although quite unspoken, demand of a school. If a man without a magnetic center, or a small or a weak magnetic center, or with several contradictory magnetic centers; that is, interested in many incompatible things at the same time, meets a school, he does not become interested in it, or he becomes critical at once before he can know anything, or his interest disappears very quickly when he meets with the first difficulties of school work”