Gurdjieff’s “Human Factory”#4: Conclusion

What had been briefly revealed in this series of posts is what we can define as our “inner alchemy”, mainly, what had been symbolically described as the transmutation of raw metals into precious metal. But this process of alchemy is inside of us, not outside.

Now, making some observation, first of all, we must understand that the three octaves described in the previous posts have different potentials.

For example, the force of the octave-food will give some results or effects that can be measured; it’s a mechanical process. If the organism of the ordinary human being doesn’t work on itself and doesn’t try to change its state of consciousness, it will function according to this mechanical pattern.

The octave-air represents a small amount of hydrogens (although the matter taken from this nourishment plays an important role); the octave-impressions is huge and powerful, and can play a key role in relation with what we call “remembering ourselves”, to the states of consciousness, emotions, etc…

The hero of myth is not a hero because he is born as so, or because he decides to become a hero, but simply because the incidental situation in which he finds himself pushes him to perform a heroic action (just remember the example of the mother who saves her child).

Above all theories and mere philosophies, the key factor lies in how we perceive the impressions. If we perceive them in negative terms, the result will be a loss of energy (and possibilities); perceived in positive terms (for example, but just as example, “if I can’t do it for myself, I’ll do it for someone else”), it will become a source of strength, an additional shock which will allow us to refine our energy and to overcome obstacles that seem apparently insuperable.

When a seeker finds himself in the face of a problem, instead of falling into self-pity or desistence, he asks himself: “if I found a new obstacle, this means that I am facing something I never knew before; now, through facing it, I have an opportunity to strengthen myself.”

A seeker transforms anger, rage, frustration, depression, and self-pity into “food to grow”, refined energy which will lead him beyond what he considered his limits.

As Sri Aurobindo had said, “when I am in trouble, I am happy, because the divine gives me a possibility to grow.”




So, to recap: the relation between the three octaves is not the same: they have more or fewer substances, so it’s important to learn to use and increase those which are useful for the work on self. An example is the octave-air that can be enhanced through the science of breath (the techniques of pranayama); the octave-impressions can be enhanced through the exercise of observation.

The conscious shocks related to the diagram-food must be our action, and as “our action”, I mean intentional and aimed action. It’s necessary to know the exact moment when to provoke those shocks and, of course, to remember to provoke them. Such shocks must be provoked with accuracy, because only the right quality of shock will help in those particular octaves.

The first conscious shock is to remember ourselves, observe what is happening (self- observation), non- identification, etc. All those actions require an intentional effort.

The second conscious shock is exactly what we cannot do alone, or it’s very difficult to perform by ourselves (at least in the beginning), mainly, the transformation of negative emotions into positive. This second shock is possible only after a long work on remembering ourselves, when we’ll be able to remain lucid and present for longer times, and when the higher emotional center will begin to be active.

In Gurdjieff’s terms, the MI 12, combined with a special effort, will produce a positive emotion (and we’ve already spoken about this).



However, what can be said is that the student can produce a long-lasting positive emotion, a sort of “virus”, able to “contaminate” the negative emotions through the support of a mentor, a guide.

This is what had been mentioned several times on this blog, and what in Zen is called Ishin-Den-Shin (from heart to heart), namely, the openness of the pupil towards the guide who can allow him to overcome in a short time, every difficulty related to the negative emotions.

It’s a glimpse, a magnetization which can suddenly transform the negative emotions of the student into positive emotions, and allows him to travel the path in an unexpected velocity (with the assumption the guide is genuine and not a self-proclaimed guru). If such a glimpse doesn’t happen, the student will experience more difficulties, everything will cost a huge effort; indeed, a guide is an accelerator of transformation, a mean able to refine and push the energies through continuous shocks.

But beware; I am not speaking here about abnegation, a passive surrendering to a guru or another; it’s a process of linking a heart (of the guide) with a mind (of the pupil), able to understand and put into practice what is understood and felt: in other words – a passion.



Now, a few more words about impressions. First of all, we have to remember that we can’t enhance the food, because it’s only what we have at our disposal; we can’t change the air, because it’s the only type of air that we can breathe, but we can enhance the impressions, and this is the only possibility we have at our disposal on a work on self.

How can we perform such an enhancement? Simply through trying to wake up, namely, remembering our purpose (such as in the example of Istanbul).

An impression is the minor unity of thought, emotion, and feeling. To acquire an impression means that a certain energy is absorbed into ourselves with this impression.

All the energy we receive can be defined as “food”. The food we eat is “raw matter”, the air is more subtle, and the impressions are the subtlest food we have at disposal – the most powerful active principle.


A human being can’t live a moment without impressions; impressions are acquired even when he is totally unconscious.

However, although many impressions reach us in states of unawareness or sleep of consciousness, such impressions are subjective; namely, billions of impressions reach our senses, but we select what attracts us more or, to see it in an honest way, what scares us least, and we reject all which doesn’t attract us. Some impressions attract us more, others less, and all this is material for our work of observation.

Some impressions go to the intellectual center, others to the emotional, the instinctive and the motor centers.

Every center has its own apparatus to receive impressions, but what usually happens is a mess: for example, it’s not a rarity that the intellectual center tries to acquire impressions intended for another center, and the same thing happens with the other centers. But, every center is designed to acquire separate impressions. For example, a smell can’t be acquired by the intellectual center because it’s something that belongs to the instinctive field.


Impressions are relatively easy to examine and evaluate through the processes of observation, comparison, and even through conversations with other persons. We can understand what kind of impressions belong to higher and which to the lower levels.

If we become able to make a distinction between impressions, we become able to decide what to accept and what to reject. This can happen if we remain awake; if we “sleep”, we can’t do it. But when we are present, we can isolate ourselves from unnecessary impressions; maybe not from the beginning, because even this requires a training.


“One who contemplates simultaneously on the void of the back and the void of the root becomes completely free of all thought constructs by that energy which is independent of the body.

By steady contemplation on the void of the back, the void of the root and the void of the heart simultaneously, there arises the state of nirvikalpa, which is free from thought constructs.

O gazelle-eyed one, concentrate upon all the constituents of the body pervaded by space, so that the thought becomes steady.

One should contemplate on the skin of the body as a mere wall or partition with nothing inside it. By meditating thus, he becomes like the void, which cannot be meditated upon.

When the mind is dissolved in dwadashanta by steady awareness and steady practice, the true nature or essence of the goal manifests everywhere in one’s body.”

Vigyan Bhairav Tantra (44-49)


We can’t completely stop impressions, but we can keep away impressions that are not useful for us, and attract impressions that are harmonious and balanced. It must be clear that if we wish to develop, we must stop nourishing ourselves with deleterious emotions. This is of paramount importance.

There are many destructive impressions that can literally destroy the life of an individual if he accepts them for a long enough time, or if he has developed the habit of seeking such impressions.

The most common example is the morosity provoked from the crime news, or simply continuing to have a dull, harmful lifestyle after one has realized that it is so. Or spend time and again in sick environments (sick in terms of mood, “vibration”), attend the football match to unleash suppressed aggression, etc…

Those subject to such kinds of dynamics constantly increase harmful impressions: scandals, passion for gossip, judgment, seeing something wrong in everything – all which are poisoning impressions for our system. This must be understood and realized.

We don’t have to think so much to choose “right impressions” as to make a distance from the harmful impressions. Only through such a distancing can we achieve a certain control. If we would try to choose “right” impressions, the only thing we would do would be to cheat ourselves. We can learn to recognise the deleterious impressions, then control them by simply “isolating” ourselves from them. Such an isolation doesn’t mean so much to take a physical distance, to isolate ourselves physically, but to perform an “inner detachment”, namely to not accept the influences produced from such impressions.

In order to control such a process, we must wake up and practice, and train ourselves to do it so, because if we are already accustomed to “eat” impressions that are harmful for us (and this situation in such a society is not a rarity), the whole process of recognising them and making the necessary distances, will take a bit of practice. An “I” will know that it’s necessary to take the distances, but maybe another 20 “I’s” will madly love such impressions.

At the cost of becoming boring through constantly repeating the same thing, I’ll say once more that impressions enter constantly, every second of our life, into our system. Some of those impressions change mechanically, but the major part of them remain unchanged; it can be changed by our attempt to become more aware, more present.

While approaching the end of this post, a thought comes to my mind: perhaps, this could be an interesting topic on which to begin an online conversation – an interactive conversation to elucidate some concepts which may seem unclear in written format.




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Gurdjieff’s “Human Factory”#3: The “The Second Conscious Shock”

And, finally, we come to the third phase of the process which shows what happens when a conscious shock is given in the right way and right time.

In the path of the octave-impressions, the first interval happens in the MI 12. At the same degree, the interval SI 12 in the octave-food is also present. And this is a great glitch.

The second conscious shock comes into charge when the MI 12 (octave-impressions) and the SI 12 (octave-food) stop in their development and can’t continue by themselves.

Even if the organism contains hydrogens that could help to overcome such a deadlock, they are too far in the octave and can’t reach the place where they should provoke the shock; thus, another effort is needed.


If we know what kind of solicitation to produce, then we’ll be able to provoke the second conscious shock. Once the arrest is overcome, MI 12 will develop in FA 6 and SI 12 in DO 6, reaching the LA 6 already produced in the octave-air. So, we’ll produce higher matter which contains more energy.

So, let’s apply this process on the example of the previous post: the trip from Rovinj to Istanbul. The travel is almost ended, and they are at the doors of Istanbul.

Believe it or not, even here at this point, there happen several difficulties: the traffic is at a standstill, it’s raining and when they ask about which road to take, they receive discordant information.

Everyone is really sick and tired, nervous, and the friends bicker because everyone has their own opinion about what to do: seen that it’s almost impossible to enter the city, someone would like to get back home, one other chooses another destination, and someone else wishes simply to remain where they are. Even the small weaknesses which are usually tolerated because of the friendship, becomes unbearable. Now, friendship is no longer enough, namely, a shock inside the system (the group of friends) is not enough: a stimulus is necessary from the external.

Fortunately, a miracle happens: someone remembers that other friends who didn’t have the possibility to undertake the trip, had remained at home. They also spent much time in helping the friends to organize this trip and lent the car: in exchange, as a sign of gratitude, they asked for some souvenirs from Istanbul. These friends would be very disappointed if this trip failed, at least this is what was deeply perceived between the travelers.

So, they come to an agreement: “A failure mustn’t happen: we wish to arrive at Istanbul. We’ll do it for our friends, who did so much for this trip!

For the first time they use the verb “I wish“: they made this decision because they wanted to be remembered by the friends who remained home, to have their consideration, etc…

Without the thought of being able to tell one day, the story of this travel, they wouldn’t have had enough strength to perform this last effort which overcomes every exhaustion, demotivation and accident: for the first time, what is performed is no longer an effort such as for the first shock, but a super effort.

Ok, at this degree of such a trivial example, we can find the second conscious shock – the reason which allows the impossible to become possible. It’s the same source of energy that makes a mother find the strength to lift up a car to save her child, or what allows a mariner during a storm to undertake an impossible maneuver to save his life and, often the life of others in the same boat. Or the example of the Greek messenger Pheidippides, running to Athens with news of the victory after the battle of Marathon to show to others, his valor.

This is what gives the possibility to overcome the second block, or “interval” of the octave- food, and the first of the octave-impressions.

It’s a shock that comes from the outside – something external which produces a strong positive emotional charge able to pulverize any negative emotion which keep us at a standstill.

Such an effort must begin from MI 12, so we have to understand what MI 12 represents psychologically for us. We can define the charge of this effort as the strong emotions we can ordinarily experience.

Every time our emotions achieve a certain degree of intensity, they are filled by MI 12. The problem is that, in our ordinary state, the positive emotions remain on a value of hydrogen 24, while the negative emotions achieve values that can be compared to MI 12. This doesn’t mean that negative emotions are really MI 12, but that they are based on it and they need it in order to be produced.

Between the repertoire of negative emotions lies also the “appearance” – a category which is so deep-rooted in our society that it passes practically unnoticed. This attitude produces a discrepancy between the objective reality experienced by the individual and what he tells himself about what he experienced.

The world of appearances. To keep this mask alive is an effort which requires a remarkable effort, unfortunately not constructive in terms of self- development.

It’s not only the manner of people who attend gyms or beauty centers, dress uncomfortably with trendy clothes, or subject themselves to every kind of surgery to change their physical image. Even in the field of “spirituality” we can witness every kind of mask: the peaceful meditator who shares love but goes crazy if someone doesn’t reciprocate, the Yoga practitioners who dress as an Indian even if they are born in Paris, London or New York, the tantric with exotic initiation names, and so on. We could really make neverending examples.

What’s important to understand is that even such kind of very expensive emotion is driven by the necessity of being considered by others. However, there’s a difference: this second case doesn’t intend “I am ‘that’ and this is what I wish to represent in my life”, but rather, “Since I wish to make-believe that I am what I am not, I’ll do all that is possible to realize this.”

The “work” on MI 12 is the example of the friends who decide to go to Istanbul, and at the end they state, “We wish to go to Istanbul”: in such a state, an individual reaches states of euphoria, a state which can almost be described as “omnipotence” (but don’t take this word in its negative meaning), which will allow him to overcome every obstacle in order to reach the aim.

It’s what happens to an adolescent when he cultivates a passion, or to the runner who has already reached the goal before the start. What happens is that we put ourselves in a sort of “void”, an empty space inside of us in which there are no obstacles, in a vibratory state that is so high as to contain even the aim.

In Zen terms, “the shooter becomes the target”.

The result of such a condition is what is called, “the work on negative emotions”, namely the transmutation of a negative emotion into a positive one which is able to overcome everything, negative emotions included.



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Gurdjieff’s “Human Factory”#2: The First Conscious Shock”

Let us take a look at the “human machine” such as a three-storied factory – head, chest, and lower part of the body. The food enters from the “top floor” (head) and passes to the lower floors as Hydrogen 768 (the DO of the food octave).

Such food interacts in the body, according to the Law of Three, with other elements and becomes hydrogen 384, namely the RE key, and, successively, through further interactions, is transformed into hydrogen 192.

What is of interest here, is to observe that the mechanical, natural process of the food transformation comes to a stalemate, just at the point that corresponds with the key MI. Indeed, it’s just here that, in the musical scale there’s an interval between the MI and FA; it’s a critical point in which the food-octave can’t develop further by itself. Such a point can be overcome only with an additional help, an energy, an event that we’ll define as shock.

Here enters, to take charge, the second food, namely the air that, as hydrogen 192 (its note at this degree is DO) provokes a shock to the MI 192 in the octave-food, allowing it to become FA 96.

We’ll avoid specific passages because they would give an overly complicated explanation; so we’ll say that this process in the food-octave can continue until FA 12, and here it stops.

There would be needed another shock produced from the third food – the impressions, but these that enter the human system as DO 48 can’t develop further. Why? Because, when they should enter in, there is no carbon – the active force, which could allow the process of transformation to continue.

The natural process of transformation doesn’t supply the necessary quantity of carbon to produce an adequate effort. So, without such transformation, the octave-food stops at SI 12.

Mainly, nature brings human development until a specific level. After this level, a human must develop by himself, intentionally. So to say, nature gives the possibility to a human to develop, but this process doesn’t happen in a mechanical way, by itself. Nature gives mechanical transformations so that a human being could survive. In order to develop, what is needed is an intentional effort.

To summarize: what has been said about the food diagram, represents the first part of the process of transmutation which shows how the digestion (transformation of food) occurs in an ordinary man. In such an automatic part of the process, the octave-food begins from DO 768 to SI 12. During this process, three notes of the octave-air and one note of the octave- impressions, intervenes. The octave-air produces the mechanical shock which allows the system to overcome the first interval.

But, if we wish to develop further, we must increase the production of “higher materials”, and we need to know how to do it, not only theoretically, but in the concreteness of every action. We need much time to learn how to use such knowing and how to make the right efforts.


The first intentional Shock

We have examined the octave-food, specifically, the first part of the process of transformation. Now, let’s take a look at what happens in the second part, when the octave-air which has already entered the body, reaches the MI 48. But, it can proceed further.

Of course, even in this case, a shock is needed, but this one can’t, and it doesn’t happen in a natural way: indeed, it’s no longer a fact of natural survival, but of evolution in the real meaning of the term. Such evolution needs an individual conscious will. A conscious shock.




What performs this second, intentional step, are the impressions which, as we have seen, enter the human system as DO 48 and, in its further passages will be transformed into RE 24. So, the octave-air receive a shock from the octave-impressions, and MI 48 is transformed into FA 24, SOL 12 and, even produces a small amount of LA 6.

The air is saturated by higher hydrogens – what is commonly known as energy and, in the Eastern traditions, prana. In determined situations, such substance can be preserved in the organism during the process of breathing.

However, the amount of higher hydrogens we can obtain from the air is really insufficient. The work with the first conscious shock is needed just because of that: it gives the possibility to use the higher hydrogen obtained through the process of breathing.


Let’s make a very simple, practical example about the Law of Seven, which drives the whole process of transmutation.

Let’s suppose that some friends decide to travel to Istanbul by car. Once the journey begins, through the third part of the trip, a “block” occurs – the first difficulty, namely the first “interval”: near Belgrade (Serbia). One of the friends is hungry and wishes to take a break from the trip. The fuel is almost exhausted, and most of the friends are tired from the travel.

It’s an obstacle, maybe a little one; however, it could deviate from the intent to reach Istanbul.

At such a point, one of the friends says,”Don’t you remember what you promised me? I wanted to see Istanbul and you promised to bring me there!”

Such an event corresponds to the additional shock: because of the respect, the friendship, and the honor toward each other, the group of friends decide to continue the travel together. Something inside of them remembers that the decision taken in the beginning, was to go to Istanbul and not stop in Belgrade.

So, here’s how the first interval could manifest itself in a normal event (through fatigue, loss of intent, etc.), and what could be the first additional shock – friendship, the need to keep the word, the honor, gives the “subtlest” energy (a more refined hydrogen) that allows one to overcome the deadlock and continue the travel.

In the next post we’ll continue the story and see how the second shock happens.


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Gurdjieff’s “Human Factory” #1: The “Transformation” and the “Hydrogens”

The last post was a quick introduction to the topic on the increase of energy and its transmutation, as taught by Gurdjieff. However, before taking into consideration how to “increase the energy”, we should first study the whole system in terms of its useless expenditure of energy, since our psychophysical machine suffers several “declines” – namely, we waste energy.

If we don’t arrest such waste of energy in our system, most of the energy produced will feed only such “declines”.

Imagine a boat full of leaks – it would have difficulties to float; and, in order to make it float, instead of trying to empty it of water, it would be more efficient to repair the leaks. That’s an obvious thing.

In the human system, the “leaks” through which we lose our energy, are the negative emotions. We had already spoken about emotions and the dichotomy of the emotional center in previous posts. However, I would like to specify that we don’t speak here about “bad luck”, the objective event, but about the interpretation we give to the events and on the subjective interpretation we give to these occurrences.


As an example, we could imagine this situation:

A guy went to a bar, and the waitress serves him with a huge smile. Such a smile triggers a series of considerations which produces a sort of film about the event, an interpretation according to his subjective perception about what is happening. Perhaps he feels that he had an effect on the woman, that he was not half-bad and that probably tomorrow, he’ll make an attempt to approach this woman.

In reality, the waitress smiled only because she woke up with a positive mood, perhaps because her boyfriend surprised her with an engagement ring. She feels good and she doesn’t, in actuality, notice him.

However, he built an entire illusionary story about this event. The next day, he returns to the same bar with great expectations, but what he will find there, is the waitress with her boyfriend. His expectant hopes collapse.


This simple and ordinary event exposes the fact that an objective reality exists, but we aren’t able to perceive it. We live a subjective reality – an interpretation.

This interpretation is what makes us experience negative emotions such as self-pity, everyday fears, guilt, indecision, judgment, laziness, apathy, self-protection, greed, etc. regarding a situation and, of course, the subjective way with which we interpret the situation.

If we could be more sincere with ourselves, we would quietly admit that such mechanisms are the content of the great part of our day.

In order to perform a proficuous Work on ourselves, we must intervene on the negative emotions: first of all, we should learn to recognize them, then try to limit them and, finally, to transform them into positive emotions (and this will be a topic in further posts). What should not be done, is to repress such emotions because we cannot live without them.


After this necessary digression on the negative emotions, we can continue with learning how to increase the “nutritive value” of the foods, mainly, how to increase the quality of energy in our “human factory”.

It’s a complicated process in which intervenes, the kinds of food we mentioned in the previous post – food, air and impressions. In order to not transform this post into a biology treatise, we’ll say that every one of these three foods is elaborated by the body in a mechanical way to a certain degree. After this mechanical process, the intervention of a more “subtle” nourishment which could produce a shock, able to trigger the process of refining, is required to produce an eventual transmutation.

Once more, let’s clarify with an example:

Ordinarily, every process of refining needs a supply of energy. If the energy used for this process is produced from the material that has to be refined, it’s obvious that part of the energy gained will be spent as fuel in the process of elaboration. This is what occurs with the physical food where elaboration is self-nourished with the energy produced from the reaction itself.

So, when a piece of meat is transformed in the stomach, a good part of the energy produced is used in the process of digestion. This, of course, happens for all the physical foods, not only for meat. When the remaining substances (fat and proteins) reach the intestine, they can be transferred to the blood; however, they would be of little usefulness if they couldn’t be further transformed into a different form which could be used from the cells.

But now, the products which have been extracted from the piece of meat can’t use its own energy for this transformation: the residual energy isn’t sufficient to perform this.

So, the intervention of an external energy is required – a substance which could allow the cells to use the proteins of this food, instead of the proteins which are already in the organism.

At this point, the product of the second food, the oxygen, enters to take charge, producing a series of chemical reactions. Without the oxygen present in the blood, a further transformation of the proteins cannot occur, the cells would not accept the new proteins, and the whole process would end here.

So, at a certain point, the energy that comes from the physical food needs the energy that comes from the air to continue the process. Namely, in order to be used for further purposes, the first nourishment (the physical food) needs a sudden transformation – a shock produced from an external force, in this case, the products of the second food – the oxygen.

Such a process follows the exact outline of the musical scale explained in the previous post: during the digestive process, it passes from do to re and then to mi, and here it finds the impasse (that in the musical scale is represented by the missing middle tone between mi and fa), and from here, it cannot proceed without the intervention – a shock – of the air.


The Hydrogens

Now, before we continue, we need an interlude in order to introduce the concept of hydrogens. As you had probably noticed, this topic (the transmutation of energy) covers the whole teaching as presented by Gurdjieff. So, in order to make it as clear as possible, such interludes are more than necessary; what is required from the reader is a little patience and attention.

We’ll begin with the Ray of Creation. Such Ray comes from the Absolute. During its descent towards what Gurdjieff called lower worlds, this energy – the Ray, follows a descending octave. As it progressively descends, its vibration diminishes and its density of matter increases. All the elements we know and many of which we ignore its existence, depends on and originates from this process.

At every transition from one world to a lower one, the vibration and the density, which act in an inversely proportional way, are modified according to the Laws that influence them. In other words, as the Ray descends progressively into a lower world, the density of matter increases, and this increase corresponds to an increasing number of Laws that produces such density. This concerns not only every element that composes the world in which we live and can observe with our senses, but also to our inner and psychological world, namely, emotions, thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Indeed, they are also composed from matter, even if more subtle than what we can touch and see.

The different worlds influence each other according to the principles of the Law of Three: in this case, the active force is represented by the carbon, the conservative force by the nitrogen and the neutral or unifying force, by the oxygen. Such interaction of these different forces on matter which is present at a determined point in the universe, generates the raw matter of a determined world (or cosmos), and such matter is represented by the hydrogen.


What should be specified is, that in spite of the fact that many people who follow Gurdjieff’s system, consider these elements as the chemical elements ordinarily known under this name, that they are symbols such as the elements in the Alchemical Tradition. Indeed, agree or not with the following statement, most of the specific language used by Gurdjieff (and glorified by Ouspensky), is of an alchemical nature, and everyone who had studied Alchemy more in-depth, will surely agree with this statement.

So, simplifying the value of the energy as much as possible, depends on the interaction of the three forces in charge (the forces of the Law of Three). We give to this value the name of hydrogen. To summarize, the Absolute has the minimum density, namely, the value of hydrogen 1, while the maximum density corresponds to hydrogen 12.288. Just to make further examples, the food we eat is represented from the hydrogen 768; the hydrogen 384 is the water; the hydrogen 192 is the air we breathe; the hydrogen 96 is the value of fire and the rarefied gasses.

From the density of hydrogen 48, we begin to deal with matters that are not intended as in the ordinary usage by physics and chemistry, but we begin to speak about matters that have a subtle or psychological value, and it’s represented by different types of impressions.


Once more, this is an extreme simplification, but it is useful in giving a clear and consequential idea about the topic of these posts.


In the next post, we’ll see what happens in the human system.



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An Introduction to Gurdjieff’s “Human Factory”: The “Scale of Matter” and the “Three Foods”

Possibly, the most interesting and challenging topic in the teaching of Gurdjieff, is what is commonly known as the “transmutation of energy”. Here, I would like to introduce the first of a series of posts which will be devoted to this argument in a way that is, as best as it can be, understandable, accessible, and without too many complicated and abstract terms, as this is a topic which is perhaps, one of the most cryptic that Gurdjieff had revealed.

In an earlier series of posts, I wrote about the use of the Triads in order to better understand what an action is, and how it is possible to achieve a determined result using the appropriate triad. I will begin from where this series of posts had ended, and continue with the following statement: In order to make any type of conscious action, we need also, the necessary energy to be used. First of all, is the energy that we can absorb into our system, which we can transform in order to make it appropriate for a determined intentional action.

So, let’s try to clarify this argument, beginning with some hints regarding the “scale of matter” related to a human being and his psychophysical system.


Everything that exists possesses a certain degree of density of matter which corresponds to a determined level of vibration. This is related not only to what we can touch with our hands. Thoughts and emotions have also a density and vibration, though certainly a lower density and a higher vibrational level than a stone.

Thus, we can delineate a scale of values on which peak is the lowest possible density of matter and the highest possible vibrational degree. Descending the scale, the vibrations gradually lower, and the density of matter gradually and proportionally increases.


So, to make an example: a piece of lead – a material that is known for its density, will be placed in the lower part on this scale, while an emotion will be placed on a higher part of the same. Of course, this is a simplification to give an idea about what we are going to introduce.

Now, let’s give some values to this scale in order to understand how it’s possible to transform and refine the matter along this scale.


In order to do so, we’ll use the same measure that Gurdjieff had used – the musical scale.

Such as we can notice on the keyboard of a piano, there is a series of frets that represent the musical scale (do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si) and every seven notes, the sequence is repeated again in the same way. Such series of notes is known as an “octave” to indicate the repetition of the sequence beginning from the eighth note. This musical sequence represents a specific universal principle known as the law of seven, of which we had already mentioned several times on this blog.

The Human Foods

A human being is also composed from many “materials” of different frequency and density; dependent on the energy he receives, a human being functions as a “chemical factory”, which has the tools for elaborating, combining and refining the rough materials it has at disposal. In other words, a human being is able to absorb rough materials and refine them inside of himself. In such a way, the vibratory frequency of these materials increases.

The raw material is the energy that is assimilated by a human being through three means: the food he eats, the air he breathes, and the impressions he receives from the senses.

As it’s known, the food is introduced to the body through the mouth, and digested in the lower part of the body (stomach and intestines). Through the process of digestion, the density of the food is transformed, refined, lowered and filtered in the blood.

The air is absorbed through the nostrils and elaborated in the middle part of the body (the lungs). The oxygen is separated from the air and filtered in the blood such as the food, but this time, the process is much faster, since the air is less dense than the food.

The impressions come from all the sense organs, and are elaborated from the brain. Even here, something more “dense” (sensory stimuli) is refined into something more “subtle” (the emotional responses).

Thus, there are three different types of materials, each of which is elaborated in a different part of the body, which Gurdjieff used to refer to, as a “machine”.

In an ordinary state, such a “machine” is designed exclusively to conserve its own life, but as a “chemical factory” is ineffective because it consumes all that it produces. It’s unable to store or export anything for other purposes than to maintain its life. The possibility for the inner development of an individual depends on the storing of “subtle”, more refined matter produced from its “machine”. So, we must find a solution to enable us to increase the production of energy. A system exists, which is able to allow us, to overcome this insufficiency.

To be continued….


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“It Is What It Is As It Is”

5408_3d_space_scene_hd_wallpapersThe quality, the intensity and the depth of our existence depends on the interpretation we give to reality; indeed, every one of us keeps with himself and in himself his own convictions during the course of his whole existence. Seen from a sober point of view, there’s nothing wrong in having an interpretation of what we perceive, but if we miss it, if this interpretation is wrong, then we’ll gain results that could often be deleterious and dangerous. And this could be more than a simple problem.
Through millennia, ancient teachings in different cultures took into consideration the possibility to grasp the Truth, namely, not the truth we give through a subjective interpretation but the objective field of life itself.
Now, we could ask ourselves what this so claimed “objective” could be, and this term has been faced sometimes on posts on this blog. Objective is “what it is, how it is, as it is”, beyond our thoughts, points of view, experiences, convictions, beliefs. I have never found a better description of what objective is – an uncontroversial reality that cannot be denied or changed by our will and thought.
We can fight, debate, philosophize about it, and the result of all these intellectual and emotional “speculations” would remain a cram of points of view, unable to change what “objective” is. Indeed, how can we change something which codes are more ancient than our existence, the existence of humanity on this earth, the existence of this earth, of this Solar System and the Universe itself?
It’s a thing to ponder on, seen that objective is the primal and ultimate meaning of life, of our life such as the basis of every sentient being in this Universe.
I have often been asked if it is possible to notice the degree of awareness and consciousness of an individual- a very demanding question. I don’t consider myself as the most qualified person to give this answer, but I can answer that what is surely possible is to determine the degree of inner development of an individual from his comprehension of the existence of an objective reality.
The same thing could be said for a culture – the more a society focuses its interests and efforts to know, and understand this reality. Oppositely, a society that does not base its basis of cohabitation and organization on the seeking for the objective reality can be seen as “primitive”: indeed, in such a social environment, people live primarily for themselves, for personal pleasure and the supremacy over others. Unfortunately, this is the condition of the society in which we live.

Everything depends on the objective – this statement would seem incomprehensible to someone whose aim is not focused on inner development. Indeed, Reality itself is objective, and if our aim is to discover, realize, experience and live this reality, we have to live it as it is, not as we think it is- so, in an objective way.
We can affirm that we are objective when we perceive reality as it is and, at the opposite, we are subjective when we believe in a non-existent reality in which existence is possible only in our mind.
There’s also a third possibility, and this is the most common among the representatives of the society we live in: don’t question whether we are subjective or objective, totally ignoring the possibility of the existence of an objective reality. This is the condition of the average person in our society.

We can ignore the objective even as a mere, theoretical word, living in a totally unconscious, superficial and distracted way, claiming our subjective degree of civilization and the technological development achieved, living the illusion of being in a “safe place”, while the objective – reality itself, will not cease to exist, not giving a damn to us, such as we don’t give a damn to the microbes that inhabit our environment and even our body.
We can live, rejoice, suffer, fall sick or die… and reality will continue to exist, ignoring us such as we usually ignore it.
Truth doesn’t change its form to assume the appearances that we wish it has, and this, for our illusions, is a tragedy, but it’s also a great hope. Indeed, there exists something immutable, objective and stable to which we can rely upon once we have achieved a determined degree of inner maturity.
And, once we realize that all that we perceived until now is unstable, impermanent, and an illusion, it is very consoling to realize as experience that there is a Truth, a Reality that we’ll always find in the same form, that has been immutable and unchanged through eras and eras and lasted until now in the same form, uncontaminated from every kind of subjectivity; a safe place in which our being can “take refuge”.
Where do we find something really objective in a world that seems to have nothing stable and permanent? We find it in Nature itself.
Humans in their ordinary state have almost nothing objective, and the only field where the objective expresses itself lies in the natural laws that govern our physical structure that is also part of nature.
All the rest in a human being is subjective, unconscious, unintentional and conditioned, in one word… limited.
Egoism, violence, assumption, arrogance, fearfulness, slave of emotions and incapacity to control its own thoughts: that’s the contemporary man and woman. They usually ignore the existence of a Reality, a Truth and neither do they know what it really means to realize themselves, a true nature that could be pure in its emotions, thoughts and intents. It is a precarious situation.
But, humans have demonstrated and still demonstrate in many situations, aspects of generosity, courage and sacrifice, an enlightened aspect capable to express itself through helping others. These qualities are the best and highest a human can express from the beginning, and these same qualities can be developed despite all the false, egoistic and illusory that lie in themselves.
How to perform such a step? Through putting more attention on “what it is, as it is”, because it’s not only around us, it’s not only external nature, it’s also in us – beings with physical bodies that are also part of this same nature. Jesus once said that “the Kingdom of God Is Within us”, and that’s the direction where we also have to take a look, so that we can realize that the objective, impermanent field in us resonates with the laws that govern our universe. In this way, we’ll finally return home. We’ll realize our True Self. What we really are.

Presentazione Fb7

CLICK HERE for Audio Practices from “The Book of Little Things”


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CLICK HERE and check out my new book “The Meaning and Practice of Action”



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You, Yourself are the Eye of the Storm

Natural awareness means simply living in the Now without any expedient. Simply being in the moment. Neither before, nor after. Only when we are in the moment can we focus our attention and our mind with intention, like a laser.

If our mind is colored with concerns, things we had forgotten to do, what we have to do or what we haven’t done, we can’t focus upon a task at hand. The idea is to develop the ability to concentrate our attention on the Here and Now, – the total focus upon what we do at every moment of the day.

There’s a wise Zen Koan which explains this:

“The moon’s reflection upon the surface of the water moves incessantly.

Yet the Moon shines and goes nowhere; it stays but it moves”


If we want to be more aware, our attention must be like the Moon of this zen Koan – a still, peaceful attention like the eye of the storm.

If you wash the dishes, then, be there and wash the dishes. If you are writing on the PC, then be there and write, do what you are doing fully, without worries about the past, the future, what happened and what will never happen.

That’s all. If you want to improve your life, then don’t waste your time with daydreaming about impossible things, putting your mind in a sort of automatic pilot.

To develop such skills, begin with monitoring your thoughts. Indeed, they are the barrier which doesn’t allow us to live the present moment. At first, we’ll forget to do it regularly, but with some practice, it becomes almost “natural”, hence the meaning of “natural awareness”. Remember that you can’t change what you don’t recognize, and if you don’t recognize the quality of thoughts which passes through your mind, then you can’t change them.

Wake up and step out of the daydreams and illusions and live the life. If something is wrong, most likely the problem is with our view in life. But people swoon with dreaming each day during their whole lives, without seeing that what they are searching for – the oasis of peace and knowledge, which is staring them in the face.

Presentazione Fb7

CLICK HERE for Audio Practices from “The Book of Little Things”


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CLICK HERE and check out my new book “The Meaning and Practice of Action”

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Three exercises from “The Book of Little Things” plus an extra exercise from the Gurdjieff teaching in Audio Format

Presentazione Fb7A year has passed since I wrote “The Book of Little Things”, and I can say that, since it had been released, it met with success. However, no one work is perfect, and many readers had confided in me of their difficulties in memorizing the sequence of some of the exercises. It’s a normal thing, seen that there are many people who try to work on themselves without the assistance of a guide. Indeed, not everyone has the possibility to make contact with a competent group. On the other hand, exercises related to such a line of practicing, mainly, Gurdjieff-like systems, are practically unavailable or, even if some can be found through Youtube, they are already incomplete, or if not, let’s be sincere – totally misleading. Thus, I decided to make an audio recording of three main exercises presented in the book. Of course, the audio version of the exercises is more accurate than a sketch about how to perform them. In addition to those exercises, I also made an audio of a Gurdjieff exercise which has never been released in such a format (audio), even if, as I know, it’s still taught in some older groups.

About The Audios

This series of practices is designed as a companion set of exercises to complement “The Book of Little Things”. However, they are not a mere repetition of what is written in the book, as the practices are deepened and extended. 

The “Basic Self-Remembering Practice”

This exercise belongs to Gurdjieff’s basic practices and it is intended to help the practitioner to divide his attention – mainly, to experience what happens here and now, inside and outside of himself, simultaneously.  In an ordinary state of awareness, a person is in a constant trance-like state. Using Gurdjieff’s terminology, he is absent, perpetually identified, “asleep”. Continue reading…..

 Presentazione Fb7

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Leting Go – a further and deeper meaning

velo_mayaLetting go is a term that can be interpreted from many points of view, and new meanings could always be discovered which are useful to our “living” in this world – useful to find the so desired and much pursued “inner peace”, which is another term that is usually subjected to many interpretations, which do not always match with its true meaning.

The term “letting go”, in etymological terms, could have the meaning of “releasing an object from our grasp”. It would not be difficult when speaking about releasing an object that we physically keep in our hand; but what about something that is not material – an emotion, a compulsive desire, a habit? This is precisely one of the “secrets” a seeker has to discover and conquer – The Art of Letting Go.

Why is this so important? Because one of the main reasons and causes of human suffering lies in the attachment (identification) to things, objects, ideas, emotions, situations and people. Since we, as humans, have the habit to identify-attach ourselves with all and everything, we become targets of the process of suffering.

Life, by its own nature, is all but static – it’s in perpetual change, in transformation – a flow that can’t be stopped. Trying to hold something or someone in our pocket is the equivalent to signing a contract to suffer, because that something (or someone) one day, will inevitably be gone. We’ll lose it.

We need to STOP and clarify something: this doesn’t mean that we mustn’t love objects, ideas, people etc., but we must recognize that they are transient, as we ourselves are. We must not feel and act as though we are owners of someone or something, nor are we the owner of our life in the deepest of meanings. Life passes and expresses itself through us.

Such realization and conquest (not in a conceptual way, but as an experiential realization), leads to an enormous sense of freedom – freedom of movement, of thought, of unconditioned action.

Many old and ancient teachings state, that the absence of freedom is the main cause of suffering at an emotional, psychological and physical level.

Every “block” or obstacle we resist can only make us suffer, because it denies us to flow. This doesn’t mean that fighting for noble reasons is futile; neither does it mean that we have to think only for ourselves or do only the things that please us egoistically – this would only be a hypocritical excuse.

To release ourselves from attachment/identification is quite another matter.

As an aficionado of etymological meanings (it is part of my profession), I would like to end this short post with a further, more ancient and deeper meaning of the term “letting go”: “to abandon something”, “to abandon the offering to Abba”.

What does Abba mean? It was the term which the Teacher Jesus used to address the Celestial Father, the Common Father (not to be confused with the term God in a religious meaning, it’s a wrong translation).

Seen that we exist and move in the “Father”, to let go means, “allowing the return to the Father, what has always been his”.

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Happiness- That “Mystery”

There is a huge difference between experiencing a moment of happiness and being happy. A permanent and complete happiness is exclusively a result of the understanding of ourselves, of the freedom to express what we are, and of the capacity to give a helping hand to those who are not happy – because, a lonely happiness is only a passing illusion.

Some days ago, I spoke with a person and she stated: “Happiness doesn’t exist, it’s only an illusion. One can be happy only for few, limited moments, and the most we can hope is a condition of serenity.”

She was so convinced about what she was stating, that she was astonished that someone could assert the opposite. Actually, it’s very difficult for a person to affirm with real conviction, to being happy.

But what is happiness? We often use many terms without understanding their meaning; our language is so superficial and it’s not rare to make entire debates about arguments that basically aren’t clear to anyone.

The etymology of happiness cross-refers to a sense of fulfillment. Happy is a person who fulfills his desires. The more we seek for more precise meanings of this term, it seems that we are unable to find any. Fulfillment is happiness; the cornucopia of desires fulfilled, makes one happy.

It’s not so much, is it? However, it’s a bit difficult to realize a condition that is generally so unclear. If happiness is just the fulfillment of a desire, then the above mentioned person who stated “Happiness is only an illusion”, is correct. It’s impossible to be happy in a permanent way.

St. Augustine, one the early church fathers, stated that happiness is to desire something which we already have. Isn’t this astonishing? Most people normally consider they’ll be happy once they achieve something they yet don’t have, and St. Augustine overturns this point of view; and, his perception of happiness is probably closest to the real. It’s still not convincing, because it speaks about “something” we already “have”.

Let’s make a similar statement in a more modern, and hopefully, more comprehensive way: happiness is the result of the cohesion with our intimate self. Namely, we are happy when we have realized who/what we are.

As most people don’t have a practical idea about their intimate self, let’s make a supposition that every one of us is born with specific potentials and abilities for something – the so called “innate talents”. If we are able to find a profession or an activity which will allow the expression of such innate talents, then we’ll not only be fulfilled, but also consequently, happy.

Our happiness will not only be relegated to limited and short moments, but it will be our basic condition, regardless of the moments of major or minor pleasure, or those of major or minor sadness, which are determined by life situations. So, happiness will be a state of being, and not a result of having obtained something.

Now, the idea that someone is born to be a writer, an artist or a postman, is really much too simplistic, but it’s only an example. Reality has many aspects.

However, the concept is similar enough: every one of us has an innate essential direction. Realizing such direction toward a personal Path and making it concrete, makes us fulfilled.

In such a way, happiness is “simply” the realization of what we really are and the meaning of our existence (if you prefer, you can use the term “life mission”, but it’s the same thing). The more we are distant from our real nature, the more we’ll be unhappy.

This is the underlying reason why so many people who had achieved success in life, which is surrounded by pleasure that a “mere mortal” could only dream about, continues to remain unhappy, feeling an immense emptiness within. On the opposite, a person who has realized, at least partially, his essential nature, is happy independently from what he possesses and what he is able to obtain in material terms.

In most cases, almost everyone is bound by cultural habits and conventional education, to paths which are not related with our essence, our true nature; no one has ever taught us that the most important thing is to understand ourselves and our innate talents; in such a way, we have grown more and more unhappy, with an increasing sense of non-fulfillment.

So, here’s a possible answer to the question “What is Happiness?”: begin a study of ourselves in order to realize deeply and concretely who we really are. Only in such a way we’ll understand what can make us fulfilled. This, at least holds true for the writer of these words, that this is the higher and definitive success in life.

Everyone seeks money, prestige, pleasure, social power, etc. in order to feel fulfilled; everyone does this according to his own acquired, imposed and conditioned tendencies. Everyone seeks and needs happiness, but they chase it desperately in the only place they’ll never find it: outside of themselves.   I understand that this has already been stated, but is it truthful? Let’s consider this: if happiness would depend only and exclusively from what we can achieve from the outside, then it would be impossible to be happy. Happiness would be a fantasy, a chimera. Not because we couldn’t achieve what we desire, but because what we already have we can lose. We can lose what nature had given to us and what we had already conquered living our daily life.

There is a way to realize a concrete and lasting happiness: become aware of the infinite possibilities and potentials hidden within every one of us- and of which we are almost totally unaware. And, through such new awareness, taste, touch, see, hear in a new way, all that life can offer to us – namely, to rebirth to a new life.

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