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danger: work in progress


To undertake to follow the path of the Work involves many dangers. It is dangerous because you are risking what you are, to have the chance of becoming more than what you are at the moment.

Unless you are willing to change, unless you are willing to sacrifice something---you can make no progress on the way. To change your behaviour, your habits or your mind can be frightening and uncomfortable. So ask yourself---do you really want to change? Or are you content with how you are? If you are content, then that is fine. As Mr Gurdjieff put it---if you want to sleep, then it is better to sleep soundly.

The ideas of the Work are dangerous ideas. It is only because we live in a particularly critical period of history, that these ideas have become widely available, in books and so on. In the past such ideas would have been kept secret and passed by word of mouth only. So treat the ideas with respect and caution; it is very easy to get the `wrong end of the stick'---and rather than helping you wake up a `work' idea can make you sleep more deeply. The ideas of the Work are not fixed dogma---but living ideas whose `truth' is dependent on time and context. The likely misunderstanding of work ideas is one reason why it is necessary to find a school where you are more likely to come to a right understanding.

Schools themselves can be dangerous places. Is the school genuinely interested in you---or your money? Are you free to ask yourself and the others in the school `Is this a cult?' If you find yourself unable to ask that question, then you probably are in a form of mind control cult.

Once you have joined a school there is the danger of complacency. Instead of making genuine efforts to change yourself, you assume it is enough to be in a school and turn up at school functions. Students within a school turn a blind eye to their collective weaknesses and lack of sincere efforts to wake up. You know about the ideas of the Work, you are in a school, you think you are awake. No one is more deeply asleep than someone who thinks they have woken up.

These are dangerous ideas. If you do not use the Work to genuinely try to wake up---then the ideas will turn against you. You will be familiar with the ideas but you will become blind to the truth of them. You will assume you are following the Work, when in fact you are just spoiling your possibilities of inner development. This is another reason why it is best not to walk the path of the Work---unless you are serious. No time wasters please.

Whatever school you join---avoid the danger of spiritual pride. It is very unlikely your school is the `only true school'. Be aware that there are true spiritual seekers and teachers all over the globe. Have a sense of humour and read widely---be aware of what is going on elsewhere. Do not assume your school has the last word on every subject.

Beware the danger of becoming a perpetual student. In life, people go to school and later they graduate. An esoteric school should work just the same way. If people have been studying with a `teacher' or in a school for twenty or thirty years, and still have not `graduated', then something is going wrong. As a student of the Work, you have to take responsibility for yourself and your level of attainment. Take what you want: when you have got it---move on. The Work has very good leather to make some shoes that fit you. Once you have your shoes, it is time to walk with them.

Beware the danger of becoming a `fake' student. There is no point in constructing a shiny new Gurdjieffian self, that `follows the Work', if this new self has no connection with the living substance of who you really are. You must integrate the work with your whole being. You must make efforts from the deepest and finest part of yourself. This means efforts based on fear, imitation, the desire for approval or even to `please the teacher' are of no real value to you. The Work is not about being a `good' or a `bad' person, it is about behaving `consciously' rather than `mechanically'.

The final danger of the Work is that unlike other spiritual paths, it takes place in the midst of everyday life. This circumstance is a two edged sword. The stuff of life provides excellent material for accelerated spiritual development, if that stuff is handled correctly. However it also means that life can maintain its hypnotic grip upon you, so that your efforts in the Work don't go to feed your real spiritual self (your essence) but instead feed your life self (your false personality.) Human beings contain within them a `lamb' and a `wolf'. Your job is to feed the lamb, but at any moment the wolf will try to devour the lamb, and even assume the appearance of the lamb. Remember, a wolf in sheep's clothing looks like a sheep.

Good Luck! But remember to avoid wolves in sheep's' clothing in all their many forms.