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Writings in Progress:
Excerpts about Psychological Evolution and
the Fourth Way, Version 4.1
Copyright J.D. Chielli - Director of Summa Foundation - Philadelphia, PA
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Now at the beginning of a new millennium, with a perspective of more than two thousand of years of western civilization, it is time to rethink a fundamental dualism in the way human beings deal with reality. It seems that on the scale of civilizations down to the scale of the individual there appears to be a quasi philosophical struggle with reality that splits the orientation of the human psyche into two general modes of interaction with the world.
The human mind has the option of accepting reality, which involves trusting the experiences of the five senses within the context of what can be verified, or denying reality, which involves trusting the imagination to come up with a better version. Clearly there are degrees of acceptance and denial. Every civilization and every individual has a characteristic balance.
T.S. Eliot points out that ..."mankind cannot bear very much reality". It seems to me that the history of world religions attests to the veracity of Eliot's statement. Most religions seem to be based upon a foundation of denial.
I am especially interested in this dualism with respect to mankind's quest for "spiritual development" or what I shall call along with Mr. George Gurdjieff and others, the "psychological evolution" of mankind.
My aim here is to explore and contrast this mode of denial with the mode of acceptance, and to examine how a new methodology called "The Fourth Way Version 4.1" constitutes, for this moment in history, a suitable and unique approach to psychological evolution along the mode of acceptance.
To predict the future possibilities of humanity seems to require a careful consideration of these two general tendencies of psychological orientation diverging so dramatically at the interface of mind and reality.
I have called the mode of acceptance the High Road and the road of denial the Low Road. I use these terms to express my personal preference for acceptance and to also express something I have continually verified, that it is easier for most people to believe than to understand. In my opinion the road of denial, imagination, and belief is a more comfortable road to walk, hence the idea of the Low Road versus the High Road.
After a careful consideration of the two roads, the unique position of the Fourth Way Version 4.1 as a High Road to psychological evolution can be more readily grasped.
By "psychological evolution" I mean the gradual process of gaining more frequent access to sacred and exceptional experiences connected with understanding, with transcendent states of consciousness, illumination, and total enlightenment. These experiences create a completely different sense of identity and being, and transform, in a deeply satisfying way, one's relationship with the world. Psychological evolution should not be confused with the spiritualistic explanations and deistic constructs that may form as lingering afterthoughts to sacred and exceptional moments of experience.
In my opinion the sacred has been too long associated with religion and has become mired in religion's historic denial of reality. The Fourth Way and other high road approaches have the power to consecrate reality without belief, to deem holy the experience of the world through the five senses without the conceptual fabrications of religious teachings.
On the high road "sacredness" is about the profound experience of being fully aware of the present moment to a degree of oneness with reality by means of a greatly expanded sphere of attention. "Holy" is realized as all the techniques and actions that are connected with this coming into the present moment. In the Fourth Way Version 4.1 "Self-Remembering", a very special way of holding one's attention, is the most important technique.
The survival of the planet now seems to depend on a clear vision of where we are and what is really happening around us. We need the kind of solutions that come from decisions based in fact, not imagination. We also need to consecrate the world we live in, not by means of imaginary deities but by the sacred presence that comes from the conscious effort required for psychological evolution.
In the interest of clarity it seems helpful to consider what is meant here by the "act of believing". Believing is seen to be a mental process whereby an assumption which is difficult or impossible to verify hardens into an illusion of truth. The assumption in these cases tends to be derived out of a deeply felt psychological need or memory.
Assumptions can be difficult or impossible to verify for a variety of reasons, among them being the complexity of the proposition, mental laziness, or because the assumptions are not about the real world.
Our minds are assumption making machines. As we interact with reality we are constantly making assumptions based on the best information available to us through the senses.
The High Road approach is to hold assumptions lightly, even when you have to act on them, and watch for verification. The Low Road approach is to pour the concrete if the assumption feels good, create a rigid mental structure called a "belief", and circle the wagons to defend it against anyone who thinks differently.
If a certain impatience with religion becomes evident to the reader, I apologize. Sometimes it seems as though we are all sitting in a huge auditorium at the end of the millennium after a very long show. The lights go on. Imagine you and me and a handful of others get up and begin walking toward the exits ready to reaffirm the more conscious, reality based truth of our lives outside the theater. We notice that no one else in the audience has budged. They remain staring at the stage as though the performance were still taking place. We look more closely and realize they are asleep with their eyes open. The play was called "The Gods of Religion". By now the actors are home in bed making love. We laugh. We call out. We shout "fire!". No response. Maybe if we offer a refund...?
Do you ever wonder why so many people can still prefer the empty stage of world religions to the sacredness of world reality, shimmering beyond the exits in the present moment?
If you do wonder, you can contact Summa Foundation for the full text of this writing or to participate in the work going on there.