Foundation – John Walz

John Walz, California
Gurdjieff - Transformation
Colossal Sculpture of Vishnu - Angkor Wat, 12th c. AD

The first Fourth Way organization I worked with utilized wholistic health as part of the form. After joining the organization, most of the members were trained in Asian style massage or Chinese Medicine. We learned and taught Tai Chi, Yoga and martial arts. Nutrition was an essential aspect of what was learned and practiced by the members, and then taught to patients at the health center. There was a general diet plan of foods considered healthy, as well as those foods to be expressly avoided such as sugar, dairy products, refined white flour, and alcohol. In addition, patients and members of the Fourth Way organization were given individual food recommendations that could benefit their specific health issues. I followed these practices diligently myself for about ten years.

Although the outer shell of this organization continues to exist in the form of a college of acupuncture, Chinese medicine and massage therapy, the inner Work ended there with the death of the teacher. My search for a new Fourth Way organization brought me to the current school that I work with now.

After verifying for myself through some initial open meetings that it was a real Fourth Way school, I joined, and then encountered a form that was radically different than my previous experience.

At my first event, I was greeted with a kiss, a glass of champagne, and a delicate hors d’oeuvre at the door. Members were dressed in elegant dresses and suits. After the initial reception, other members played a classical chamber music concert. This was all quite different from the other organization in which we would wear all white at meetings and members would play classical Indian music with chanting. After the concert that night, there was a candlelight dinner on an ornately decorated table with a creamy soup for a starter and beef bourguignon with a red wine as a main course. How could it be that both of these organizations were real schools of the Fourth Way?

Because, whether one is drinking a carrot juice with wheat grass or a glass of fine Bordeaux wine, one could do either in sleep, or, with divided attention and tasting with presence. It depends on your aim.

The patients coming to the wholistic heath center, by and large, did not have an aim to awaken. They had the aim to improve or maintain their health. However, as a member of that Fourth Way organization, I was eating in the same manner to set up the struggle between ‘yes’ and ‘no’, I was confronting the wrong work of the emotional and instinctive centers that often takes place with eating. Without divided attention, I may have had a healthier body, but I would not have had a higher state. In eating in a very refined and dignified manner in the current school, I was also doing what the more instinctive aspects of the body did not want to do around food, which is dividing attention and slowly tasting each bite with presence while having emotional interaction with friends, with an aim of supporting a higher state of consciousness in one another. Both organizations had non-expression of negative emotions as a principle effort. Both offered opportunities to listen with divided attention whether the music was Indian or European. Both organizations offered opportunities to externally consider (serving others with the aim to reduce their suffering, promote consciousness in them if possible, with the aim of consciousness in oneself)

Most importantly, both organizations had as their foundation self-remembering. All activities and practices engaged in by the members in both organizations were done with a transcendental aim to divide attention, experience a higher state of consciousness, and build being.

One must accustom oneself to self-remembering consciously. You will not succeed unless you make a task of remembering yourself with your whole presence. – George Gurdjieff