20th Century Thinker and Author

Rodney Collin (26 April 1909–3 May 1956) was a writer and thinker connected with the Fourth Way tradition, taught to him by his beloved teacher and mentor, the late P.D. Ouspensky. Before finding the Work, Collin grew up in Brighton, England and attended the London School of Economics. He worked for the British Census Office and wrote for various other publications. The scope of his thoughts and understanding was monumental and synthetic. He arrived at a picture of the sequence of civilizations within world history that included both technological and moral development in humankind. His unique understandings of time and interpretations of ancient mythology and art are also noteworthy.

Video Credits: Camera Man for Rome footage: Ollie Green | Camera Man for Brazil footage: Israel Menezes

Rodney Collin did much to materialize the aim of his teacher to integrate modern science with ancient wisdom, a process he correlated with the difference and relationship between laws and facts or deductive and inductive reasoning. Rodney Collin passed away in Cuzco, Peru where he and some students had traveled to work on publishing, theatre, and establishing a school on a continent that they believed would be the birthplace of a new spiritual civilization. His legacy continues in his classic and intellectually generous books The Theory of Celestial Influence, The Theory of Eternal Life, and The Theory of Conscious Harmony, published posthumously from the author’s notes and letters.

Rodney Collin on the Triad of Self-Remembering

Mr. Collin shared the practical and utilitarian spirit of his instructors in the Fourth Way. Although a brilliant thinker and adept in areas of theory and philosophy, he faithfully connected each aspect of information presented, whether in science, mathematics, etc., with work on oneself. A significant contribution in this connection made by Rodney Collin to the Fourth Way canon was the idea of the triad of self-remembering. In the teaching given by Gudjieff there were two universal laws: three and seven. Each phenomenon, in order to exist, must abide by these two laws. In the case of the law of three, this means that everything in the universe must consist of at least three forces: active, passive, and neutral. Because the state of self-remembering, which is the core practice of this teaching, exists as a definite and measurable psychological condition, it must similarly consist of three parts, although these had not subsequently been formulated. Collin determined that if self-remembering was defined by divided attention, keeping a ratio of one’s attention between oneself and the environment, there must be a third force overseeing these two; this he called God and symbolized by the sun. He likened this to the Holy Trinity, as he delicately and articulately connected many ideas from the system of the Work, along with Dr. Nicoll, to Judeo Christian teaching, catalyzed by the particular religious tradition of the West and by Mr. Gurdjieff’s auxiliary definition of the Fourth Way as esoteric Christianity.

Collin on the Enneagram

A symbol introduced by Gurdjieff to the modern West called the Enneagram or nine pointed star (ennea=nine, gramma=written) arranges the digits 1 -10 along a circle while indicating the inner relationships and progressions among these numbers using shapes that represent the laws of three and seven. The law of three states that each event is a combination of three different forces and the law of seven or law of octaves determines the progression of each event in time. The law of seven contains the idea that all phenomena vibrate internally with a certain music that can ascend or descend with exact knowledge of “chords” that produce harmony. Plato also mentioned this musical idea in reference to the planets and also to the human soul. It is likely that the musical scale itself was originally a formulaic representation of observed planetary movement.
Gurdjieff claimed that a deep understanding of this figure would unlock the secrets of the universe and that all knowledge could be stored along its lines and points. Rodney Collin, as Ouspensky, used the enneagram to plot and explain numerous phenomena in nature such as growth in man, the development of human civilization, planetary and solar rotations, and the essence of time itself. He believed that the connections revealed by the internal depths of the numerical relationships on this symbol accounted for and could be used to logistical gaps and processes hitherto deemed mysterious by modern scientific understanding. Essentially, Collin attempted to illustrate the various invisible chords linking events in time and space that either appear to be disparate or conversely seem strangely connected. In this way, he provided a manner of understanding relativity or the view of things in the world from a higher or fourth dimensional perspective.

Collin on the Logarithmic Scale

Additionally, Collin anticipated trends in using logarithmic or exponential calculation to understand speeds in development of organic and inorganic processes and to predict their outcome. He diligently plotted the stages of physical and cognitive growth in humans along a logarithmic scale and sought to alter natural intuition about the linearity of one’s lifetime. Processes begun with great speed gradually become slower and slower and are gradually replaced by evolutionary emphasis upon subtler and more intelligent functions. Each step or stage is built upon the last and is dependant upon it successful completion and release of force or energy. Retardations or arrestments in lower functioning due to trauma or insufficient nourishment will cancel possibilities in higher functioning like a damaged seed that cannot bear fruit or an intellect that is too noisy or contradicted to perceive stillness or acquire peace. He arranged the relationships between these separate time scales upon a three dimensional figure consisting of two infinity symbols linked at their midpoints. Each circle represented the complete time of its antecedent contained within one unit of its own progression. Once the passage from one cycle to the next was accomplished, activity in the previous circle was locked and fixed like the form of water when crystallized into ice at the exact temperature where liquid becomes solid.

Rodney Collin on Mineral, Cellular, Molecular & Electronic Worlds

For the purpose of achieving a meaningful synthetic link with scientific nomenclature Collin assigned these various time scales the terms mineral, cellular, molecular, electronic by virtue of their speed and length of lifetime. Physical processes in man he corresponded with mineral and cellular growth whereas cognitive and spiritual unfolding with that of the molecular and electronic worlds. In a mood of scientific and religious valency that characterizes Collin’s writings, an analogy between these different material distinctions and the judgement of the soul after death and its journey into the realms of paradise, heaven, and hell was made. As microcosmic man, we technically have access to all these places and levels of density within ourselves and Mr. Collin, as Mr. Ouspensky, always stressed the value of practical methods of developing consciousness in the more rarefied reaches of our internal atmosphere and ecosystem.

Collin on the Six Processes

Derived from Ouspensky’s six dimensional model of the universe and the laws of the Ray of Creation, Collin describes six fundamental processes contained within each complete cosmos. In specific relation to our particular situation as humans, he organizes each process as a different arrangement of the sun, planets, and earth, or life, form, and matter. Mr. Ouspensky, at the end of his life began to explain these six kinds of activity into which every action can be classified, but Collin carried this metaphor much further, looking in detail about what each process means and giving many nuanced examples.

Collin on Glands and Planetary Types

Collin, inspired by medieval alchemy and medicine and also the work of Dr. Berman, linked each gland in the human endocrine system with the influence of a particular planet. By assigning dominant centers of gravity of different people in distinct glandular manefestations, he arrived at six central planetary types and variable subdivisions thereof. This teaching can be quite useful in the task oriented group dynamics that characterize the Fourth Way schools and was developed even more completely in Mr. Burton’s teaching.

Rodney Collin on the Fourth Way

“Schools of the fourth way have existed and exist, just as schools of the three traditional ways existed and exist. But they are much more difficult to detect, because – unlike the others – they cannot be recognized by any one practice, one method, one task, or one name. They are always inventing new methods, new practices, suitable to the time and conditions in which they exist, and when they have achieved one task which was set them they pass on to another, often changing their name and whole appearance in the process.”
“Schools of the fourth way were undoubtedly behind the designing and construction of the great Gothic cathedrals, though they had no special name and adapted themselves to the religious organization of the time. For a time the Cluniacs sheltered them, for a time the Freemasons. In the seventeenth century, similar schools were responsible for much of the new scientific and medical research, sometimes under one name and sometimes under another. In the eighteenth century again, fourth way schools borrowed many of the discoveries of Greek and Egyptian archeology to clothe their ideas and their organization, while some of their leaders – in order to penetrate the luxury-loving and sophisticated circles where they had work to do – might even appear in the guise of fashionable magicians or mesmerists.”
“In the fourth way, respect for sex and a positive attitude towards it are fundamentally necessary. Ouspensky insisted that nothing negative, either in thought or emotion, should be allowed to touch it; that all higher development began with sexual normality.”
“In the Fourth Way people have to be disillusioned at home, to go out bravely into the world to find truth, to be illumined there, and then bring light home again.”
“No one who has really begun to work on the Fourth Way can leave it. They may stop on the way for a short or long time, but they can’t leave it. Because it is the most complete truth. And our training in the Fourth Way enables us to go straight to the deepest side of religion. The Fourth Way is the way of harmonising all sides of life, reconciling all truths. If it shows us how to bring conscious understanding to psychology, science, art and all the problems of practical and personal life, does it not show us how to come to religion, which is the highest aspiration of the human mind?”
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Continue Reading:

George Gurdjieff

Part I:

Gurdjieff on the Three Brains

Part II:

Gurdjieff on the Three Brains

Part III:

Gurdjieff on the Three Brains

Part IV:

Esotericism shown in a Tibetan Mandala

Part V:
Fourth Way