November 2021 Lessons – A Student’s Perspective

One of the first concepts that was clear enough to gain knowledge and begin to understand in this Work was what Gurdjieff calls man’s ‘four enemies’: negative emotions, imagination, identification and lying. There is a lot of literature concerning the first three, and the last, ‘lying’, peppered here and there; and so, it didn’t take long to be able to begin observing negative emotions and imagination. They happen so blatantly that they draw one’s attention easily, if one works.

Identification, on the other hand, has been an enemy I have been focusing on for the last two years and only recently am I beginning to build an understanding of it. It is so subtle and so prevalent that it is difficult to observe. But it can be done.

I don’t know why identification happens, but what I have observed are some of the ways it happens, and have begun using an analogy that helps me understand it.

Identification is like glue, and the process of identifying with a thought, emotion or sensation, like being glued to it. Identification is an integral part of the human experience, and it would be dangerous to assume that I can avoid being glued to something, at least for now. Gluing myself to things is part of what I am, part of False Personality, part of living life mechanically. What self-observation has allowed me to see is how I become glued to things, and one of the main indicators lies in the reaction of different I’s.

Let’s take an example: I think I am an intelligent person.

I can find out how identified I am with it, by how many I’s react to this belief and how strong their rection is. If someone questions my intelligence, then I will have a strong negative reaction to that person. A surge of I’s will boil up and fight against the statement. My intellectual I’s will judge the person as not qualified to judge my own intelligence, judge them as stupid. My physical I’s will tense my body. My lips contract and my brow frown. My emotional I’s will be heavy with negativity, and I will feel a strong dislike towards this person. Or, on the other hand, if someone comments that I am an intelligent person, then my intellectual I’s will judge them favorably, my emotional I’s like and be pleased by them, my physical I’s feel a sense of pleasure towards them.

The intensity of my reaction to an idea or statement, whether positive or negative, is a direct consequence of how identified I am with the idea itself. One way to begin observing your own identification is to see how strongly you react. This is one of the indicators.

As of now, I don’t know if the process of identification can be shed, but what I am beginning to understand is that I can influence how much I identify with a thought, an emotion or a sensation, and how I can use the indicator of ‘reaction’ to observe it. A strong reaction is a clear sign that I am glued to that thought, emotion or sensation I am reacting to. It means I am identified with it.