#03. Psychology Of The Many I’s

Introductie in het gedachtegoed van 'De Vierde Weg'
op basis van fragmenten uit "Psychologie van Men's Mogelijke Evolutie"


Man does not know himself. In order to transform his life and his possibilities he has to embrace this unpleasant fact full heartedly. Keep in mind though that one can not transform unless one is prepared to be wrong and acknowledge it.

First of all, what man must acknowledge that he is not one; he is many. He has not one permanent and unchangeable ‘I’ or Ego. He is always different. One moment he is this, another moment he is another, the third moment he is a third, and so on, almost without an end. This is a very powerful illusion. Not very surprising considering that we have one body and one name. On the inside though we are a manyfold of opinions, feelings and moods that can change hats within seconds. One moment we say one thing like we really mean it and the next moment we contradict ourselves without hesitation. We plan to do X, but we wind up doing Y. One moment we promise to be loving and the next moment we have forgotten all about it.

This is the working of all the different little ‘I’s that our personality is made of. Because each of these little ‘I’s depend on the change in external circumstances, and on the change of impressions you come to understand why man can not do and why ‘the Fourth Way’ considers man as he is a stimulus-response-machine. Man is comprised of many little ‘I’ each of which represent a very small part of his ‘brain,’ ‘mind’, or ‘intelligence,’. But each of these little ‘I’’s means itself to represent the whole ‘I’. Man is saying ‘I’ as to every single little ‘I’ which accounts for all the many contradictions in his life.

So what can man do? Or, in other words, what kind of change is possible in man, and how and when does this change begin?

A man can start to remember himself. Start being aware of his manyfold and his inability to do. He can start to see that he is in fact a machine by becoming conscious of his ‘machineness’. But what is consciousness?

Ouspensky says

“Applied to the question of consciousness it means that only man himself can know if his consciousness exists at the moment or not. If man realises that up to the moment of this realisation he was not conscious, and then forgets this realisation—or even remembers it—this is not consciousness. It is only memory of a strong realisation”

The common notions about consciousness is that you are either conscious or not. Some modern schools of psychology even deny consciousness altogether. Other schools of thought confuse thoughts, feelings, moving impulses and sensations for states of consciousness, all the while mistaken consciousness for psychic functions. ‘The Fourth Way’ distinguishes quite visible and observable degrees of consciousness. Man is not conscious of himself. The illusion of his being conscious of himself is created by memory and thought processes.

For general description, man has the possibility of four states of consciousness. Sleep, waking state, subjective-consciousness and objective-consciousness. Man actually lives only in two states of consciousness. One part of his life passes in sleep, and the other part in what is called ‘waking state,’ though in reality his waking state differs very little from sleep. Sometimes man can be in that higher third state or subjective state of consciousness These glimpses of consciousness come in exceptional moments, in highly emotional states, in moments of danger, in very new and unexpected circumstances and situations.

Ouspensky says:

“ The question arises: Is it possible to acquire command over these fleeting moments of consciousness, to evoke them more often, and to keep them longer, or even make them permanent?  In other words, is it possible to become conscious?”

For with right methods and the right efforts man can acquire more control of consciousness, and can become conscious of himself with all that it implies. It all starts with observing one’s thought, feelings and actions. But not from an ordinary perspective. That would not give you any new results. ‘The Fourth Way’ is a system of concepts and ideas that one can use as lenses to observe one’s life. A new way of looking is the only way that might give you access to a new you and the possibility of the evolution of your consciousness.

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