The Fourth Way

The Fourth Way

mural of man

The Fourth Way (also known as "The Work")

Many different paths are available, particularly in this time where the East has come to the West and perhaps even blended in. Some rely on meditation and the mind; some on devotion and transformation of emotion; some on work with the body. The Fourth Way, also called simply The Work, is a tradition brought by G. I. Gurdjieff that integrates work with the intellectual function and attention, emotion and feeling, the body as our home through which both our daily lives and possibly another, finer, something can be known.

G.I. Gurdjieff was a seeker, perhaps like you in some ways. Driven by a thirst to know why he was here and what was the deeper meaning of life, finding no final answers either in science or religion, he studied all major spiritual traditions but also medicine and other aspects of science. From all this he distilled practices that could help one balance the functions of mind, emotion, and the physical body, and access deeper, more direct knowing and participating in life. This is an approach which relies very much on functioning within a group—something that seems ironic to so many of us who have been lone wolves, marching to a different drum. Yet the opportunity to share this search with others who also feel this odd call, to get the support and accountability others offer, to blend the input and perspectives of various types of people, and to engage in ways one simply cannot do on one’s own—these and more are reasons it is a group approach. To say nothing of the fact that we live in communities, we are part of a world ecology, as is now well recognized.

The Fourth Way can be described to some extent in books and on the internet, but can only be fully experienced in the moment in group work. In these circumstances, something becomes possible to be tried, to be known, that cannot be understood any other way. It is the tradition and methodology going back to Gurdjieff himself and the wisdom and practices he gleaned from his own realization and his contact with ancient spiritual, cultural, and other influences that he encountered in his own search and distilled for us. Through a direct lineage practices and understandings have been passed on. In group work, circumstances are created in which individuals can possibly experience and find for themselves truths that cannot be grasped from books or video teachings.