Selections from

Views from the Real World

Compiled by students of G.I. Gurdjieff

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G.I. Gurdjieff

Chapter 9

Constitution, and How to Think

Prieuré, January 17, 1923

Esta página en español: Constitución, y Como Pensar

Every animal works according to its constitution. One animal works more, another less, but all work each as much as is natural to it. We also work; among us, one is more capable for work, another less. Whoever works like an ox is worthless and whoever does not work is also worthless. The value of work is not in quantity but in quality. Unfortunately I must say that all our people do not work too well as regards quality. However, let the work which they have done so far serve as a source of remorse. If it will serve as a cause for remorse, it will be of use; if not, it is good for nothing.

Every animal, as already said, works according to what animal it is. One animal—say, a worm—works quite mechanically; one cannot expect anything else from it. It has no other brain but a mechanical one. Another animal works and moves solely by feeling—such is the structure of its brain. A third animal perceives movement, which is called work, only through intellect, and one cannot demand from it anything else as it has no other brain; nothing else can be expected as nature created it with this kind of brain.

Thus the quality of work depends on what brain there is. When we consider different kinds of animals, we find that there are one-brained, two-brained and three-brained animals.

Man is a three-brained animal. But it often happens that he who has three brains must work, say, five times more than he who has two brains. Man is so created that more work is demanded from him than he can produce according to his constitution. It is not man's fault, but the fault of nature. Work will be of value only when man gives as much as is the limit of possibility. Normally in man's work the participation of feeling and thought is necessary. If one of these functions is absent, the quality of the man's work will be on the level of work done by one who works with two brains. If man wants to work like a man he must learn to work like a man. This is easy to determine—just as easy as to distinguish between animal and man—and we shall soon learn to see it. Until then, you have to take my word for it. All you need is to discriminate with your mind.

I say that until now you have not been working like men; but there is a possibility to learn to work like men. Working like a man means that a man feels what he is doing and thinks why and for what he does it, how he is doing it now, how it had to be done yesterday and how today, how he would have to do it tomorrow, and how it is generally best to get it done —whether there is a better way. If man works rightly, he will succeed in doing better and better work. But when a two-brained creature works, there is no difference between its work yesterday, today or tomorrow.

During our work, not a single man worked like a man. But for the Institute it is essential to work differently. Each must work for himself, for others can do nothing for him. If you can make, say, a cigarette like a man, you already know how to make a carpet. All the necessary apparatus is given to man for doing everything. Every man can do whatever others can do. If one man can, everyone can. Genius, talent, is all nonsense. The secret is simple, to do things like a man. Who can think and do things like a man can at once do a thing as well as another who has been doing it all his life but not like a man. What had to be learned by this one in ten years, the other learns in two or three days and he then does it better than the one who spent his life doing it. I have met people who, before learning, worked all their lives not like men, but when they had learned, they could easily do the finest work as well as the roughest, work they had never even seen before. The secret is small and very easy—one must learn to work like a man. And that is when a man does a thing and at the same time he thinks about what he is doing and studies how the work should be done, and while doing it forgets all—his grandmother and grandfather and his dinner.

In the beginning it is very difficult. I will give you theoretical indications as to how to work, the rest will depend on each individual man. But I warn you that I shall say only as much as you put into practice. The more there is put into practice, the more I shall say. Even if people do so only for an hour, I shall talk to them as long as is necessary, twenty-four hours if need be. But to those who will continue to work as before—to the devil!

As I said, the essence of correct man's work is in the working together of the three centers—moving, emotional and thinking. When all three work together and produce an action, this is the work of a man. There is a thousand times more value even in polishing the floor as it should be done than in writing twenty-five books. But before starting to work with all centers and concentrating them on the work, it is necessary to prepare each center separately so that each could concentrate. It is necessary to train the moving center to work with the others. And one must remember that each center consists of three.

Our moving center is more or less adapted.

The second center, as difficulties go, is the thinking center and the most difficult, the emotional. We already begin to succeed in small things with our moving center. But neither the thinking nor the emotional center can concentrate at all. To succeed in collecting thoughts in a desired direction is not what is wanted. When we succeed in this, it is mechanical concentration which everybody can have—it is not the concentration of a man. It is important to know how not to depend on associations, and we shall therefore begin with the thinking center. We shall exercise the moving center by continuing the same exercises we have done so far.

Before going any further, it would be useful to learn to think according to a definite order. Let everyone take some object. Let each of you ask himself questions relating to the object and answer these according to his knowledge and material: [1]

1) Its origin

2) The cause of its origin

3) Its history

4) Its qualities and attributes

5) Objects connected with it and related to it

6) Its use and application

7) Its results and effects

8) What it explains and proves

9) Its end or its future

10) Your opinion, the cause and motives of this opinion.


[1. An extended version of this list was published in Practial Memory Training (1916) by 'Theron Q. DuMont', a pen name used by William Walker Atkinson. See Lesson 22, "Efficient Association."  /new-thought/dumont-memory/lesson-22-efficient-association.htm#higher-analysis ]


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