An Open Letter to Fourth Way, World-Wide, 
Teachers and Students

There is a Gestalt principle that states that "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."  That being so, it is time for the planetary Work or Fourth Way communities to both remember our roots (the fundamental Fourth Way principles, written extensively by the first generation teachers, Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Nicoll, Bennett, Walker, Collins, Madame de Salzmann and de Ropp) as well as being able to incorporate the newest technological advances, such as the world-wide web, into our corporate, as well as collective good. 

As Gurdjieff once stated, "Intelligence is related to adaptation."  The more intelligent an individual, the better able s/he is able to adapt.  It's been my observation that the majority of Work groups fall into two major categories:  open and/or closed.  Some Fourth Way groups or individuals believe that Work knowledge should not be "wasted" on individuals who haven't the time nor the financial resources to be able "to do" the work in the first place.  After twenty long years of teaching, whoever appeared next, I too, have realized the absolute value of creating the right conditions under which Work transformation can occur.

Other Work groups believe in the Gurdjieffian admonishment, "Do not talk about the Work to people outside of the Work."  These groups, especially the various Gurdjieffian institutes are fully capable of managing their own forms of mechanical talking.  Besides these pair of opposites:  open or closed [silent], I have also observed a never-ending form of Fourth Way group paranoia.  It's as if every Work individual feels themselves to be in some form of collective competition with other individuals in the Work. 

More often than not, students of one teacher feel threatened by the presence of Work individuals who are not from their own group.  As far as I can observe, no two groups teach the Work in exactly the same way.  Some Fourth Way teachers are really rough, such as the Gurdjieff groups, while others appear to be much more mild mannered.  Sadly, many groups have fallen under the laws of entropy and remain  one-centered groups.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that there must be at least one thousand Work groups, world-wide,  each of which is being taught by a true Work teacher.  Let's also assume that each of these groups are achieving real objective forms of Work consciousness.  If we add to the fact that there must be at least a thousand objectively valid Work groups, world-wide, coupled with the fact that no two Work groups are being taught in the exact same manner, surely we must conclude that there must be many valid, varied ways to teach this Work.

Since there are many valid and various ways of being "in the Work" coupled with the wisdom of the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, then surely it would make sense to consider making a collective Work aim to choose to band together from our own individual and collective Work abundance, rather than to remain alone and apart through our own unexamined Fourth Way paranoia?  Surely the Work, as a spiritual discipline, contains enough wisdom and intelligence to be able to adapt itself to a variety of conditions and individuals.

No one, not even Gurdjieff, has the right to speak for the whole of the Work Itself.  Not one Work teacher world-wide, has the ability or authority to speak for, nor to represent the entire planetary forms of Work consciousness.  Given the above, I offer you my poor, beleaguered excerpts of my own relationship with the Work Itself. 

I've received two calls from the Work Itself, one when I was thirty and another when I was forty-two.  It was during my second call in 1992 that the Work stated the following:

"We want the planetary Work community to band together, in consciousness, while maintaining and preserving their own individual and/or group autonomy.  We released this Fourth Way knowledge in order to create an ark that will be able to withstand any future calamities that might befall it.

The "collective" form of consciousness is both higher and stronger than individual, group or communal forms of Work consciousness.  By banding together, you'll be able to create the internal and external ark required to survive any form of planetary chaos.

Haven't you ever wondered why We bothered to save you or your teacher or anyone else you know in the Work?  We've raised up hundreds of individuals, world-wide.  The irony here is that We can raise people up in Our sleep, but you almost never wake up on your own.  We've saved you as well as everyone else from the dawn of time for the same reason.  We saved you; so that you'll be able to help Us.

The Work, at It's essence, is nothing but a point of view.  We have a specific way of seeing people as well as the aims and purposes of life itself.  From Our point of view, people are nothing but raw material.  Some have what it takes to go on - most do not.

We want you to tell the Fourth Way teachers/students, world-wide, that now is the time to band together.  Now is the time to wake up and join together in consciousness."

I don't blame anyone who, upon reading this open letter, concludes that I must be nothing but a demented, deranged egotist, using some measure of Work knowledge towards my own advantage.  In my defense, I can only offer up the Real Objective Truth which is that mystics, as a form, have been around from the beginning of time.  Patriarchs, prophets, and priests, as well as mystics have frequently been used by "higher powers" to communicate Their knowledge to mankind.

 These celestial forms of intelligent consciousness are always trying to save mankind from useless forms of mechanical suffering.  As far as I am concerned, the Work, as a spiritual discipline, is a valid form of spiritual development among many other, equally valid forms of spiritual development.  In addition, let's not forget that Gurdjieff was also a Work mystic.  I don't blame anyone who genuinely mistrusts mystics, but just because a mystic might be delusional, doesn't mean that a mystic has to be delusional! 

I can only testify to my own subjective experience of the Work Itself.  It has been my observation that:  There is such a thing as the Work Itself and that the Work Itself has been around since the beginning of time.  One of the Work  aims has been to wake up as many of "It's own" before any form of planetary chaos begins.  The Work's primary aim is to save Their people, which "They" love!

I can only say that I am one among many other equally valid Work voices.  The Work Itself manifests Itself in a thousand valid and varied ways. Each form of the Work has Real Objective Value.  The way John Bennett taught the Work bears but a faint resemblance to the teachings of Nicoll or Rodney Collins.  Each first generation teacher taught the same fundamentals in their own particular way. 

The ideas about the Planetary Enneagrams have much in common with new age thinking, but they have a special message for those groups who are seeking to prepare themselves for the coming times of trouble. However differently these groups may view the situation and however conflicting their detailed allegiances may appear to be, they need to know one another, share as far as possible their experience and understanding. There is no exclusive way to the truth, not even one best way, though each of us may think so. The work, like nature, provides a vast multitude of seeds and scatters them abroad to insure that however many may fall by the wayside, the harvest at the time of reaping will come. We must nurture our own seeds but not for that, neglect those of others.
John G. Bennett 1974

While unity within diversity needs to be considered, it is also equally true that no matter what the ultimate Work form may be, all current Fourth Way forms must have their foundations firmly built upon the principles and practices as George Gurdjieff taught them.

In closing, am neither an expert on the Work Itself, nor am I an expert on mysticism as a Work form.  My experience of the Work Itself is that It is a "collective" form of Higher Consciousness.  As such, the Work Itself "sees" more and "is" infinitely more than I am.  This letter is merely my way of informing Work teachers and students, world-wide, of the aims and values of a Work consciousness infinitely "higher" than our own.

Shirra Meiklejohn-Wilson, M.A.R.

Anyone who has constructive comments and/or positive, intelligent suggestions, please feel free to contact David Fraser at Sojourner Institute, 828-859-9927

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