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Entering the Work
Before you begin practicing the psychological Work of the Fourth Way, you must first have a strong desire to change the kind of human being you are; a reaching out metaphysically, seeking meaning and authenticity and growth into what you were born to become. This kind of dissatisfaction with yourself as you are is a prerequisite because the Work can then use the energy of that desire to fuel the real change it is aimed at. Since the Work is a path devoted to concrete change so must the student be seeking actual change. Each student must be willing to undertake the efforts necessary due to a sincere longing for personal development.
The Work must be done willingly and this is a most critical point. First, you must understand what you are doing and why you are doing it before you can do it willingly. If you try to engage in the Work practices in an uninformed or casual way, or out of curiosity, or if you are simply following the directions given you by your Teacher, in a legalistic manner, you will find that you have bitten off more than you can chew and the Work will become hazardous to you. Again, if you are generally satisfied with yourself the Work will only offend you. Or if you imagine that you can gain the kind of self-mastery which will give you the power to fulfill your dreams and desires and thus be satisfied, you will be in for a rude shock. None of these approaches will get you anywhere in the Work. From the outset, you must willingly be seeking sincere self-change in order for the Work to work in you. If you understand this clearly and you have the right attitude, which is Conscience toward the Work, then you begin with acquiring knowledge.
Gaining knowledge is the first effort in the Work because you cannot get the right results until you understand how and why and what you must do. Since the Work is esoteric knowledge it is of a special quality which requires thinking. You cannot learn about the ideas and exercises intellectually, by rote using your ordinary memory, and get any results. The ideas of this system need to be assimilated into your consciousness by way of understanding which is not the same thing as knowing. This requires personal Work, thought and reflection and a flexible mind which doesnít presume it understands everything already.
You can spend your lifetime studying the knowledge of the Fourth Way, becoming a technical expert, and never actually be in the path of the Work. Knowledge comes first but it goes nowhere until you apply it to yourself, to your Being. No amount of knowledge alone creates change, but when you begin to practice what you have learned you receive light and gradually the ideas become organic understanding by way of the personal experience you have in practicing them.
Studying this esoteric teaching will give you small shocks of awakening if you reflect on the ideas. The idea that humanity is asleep is a shock only slightly less alarming than the idea that you are asleep. The idea of self-evolution and different levels of consciousness is a shock. And the idea of Multiplicity and mechanicalness can leave you reeling. You can find momentary mind expansion but not permanent personal transformation in the knowledge of this teaching. Transformation, which clearly indicates change, happens in and through your individual effort to apply this knowledge to yourself by way of practicing its teaching. Too many students confuse knowing about the ideas of the System with understanding that only comes with the enlightenment gained in practical efforts. You may know that you do not remember yourself, but that knowing doesnít mean you are remembering yourself. You have to make the efforts to actually remember yourself in order to understand what it means that you donít remember yourself. You may know quite well that you must observe yourself but never get beyond merely noticing this or that randomly, or you may have a very clear grasp of the idea of mechanicalness without ever having observed your own. You cannot have the perspective of the Third State of Consciousness unless you reach up into it in a practical way through your effort.
Getting into the Third State of Consciousness -- awakening -- is made possible mostly by way of making your personality passive; by going against the mechanical momentum of sleep which is always asserting your personality. Remember that the Third State is available to you at all times, above your ordinary state, accessible by the means of practicing Self-Remembering and Self-Observation and Non-Identification which are conditions of consciousness in the Third State. You can create these conditions yourself by doing the Work yourself. That is what self-evolution means.
This is an incredible idea -- that you can raise yourself up into higher levels of Being and Consciousness within yourself by doing the Work, and in doing so, you can receive enlightenment. The magnitude of this gift of opportunity exceeds words, yet it is verifiable and true. Your valuation of the Work will deepen and grow as you learn to appreciate the significance of this gift. If you find this esoteric path, you may consider yourself blessed.