The Fourth Way
The 'Fourth Way' is the name given to the philosophy introduced to the West by G.I. Gurdjieff. It was first taught in England in the 1920s by P.D. Ouspensky, who had studied with Gurdjieff in Russia. Ouspensky wrote an account of this period of study which was published after his death as In Search of the Miraculous.
The Teaching — as PDO described it — was a series of 'fragments' of knowledge about man's psychology and possible development on the one hand and about the laws of the universe, cosmology, on the other. Ouspensky assembled these fragments into what he termed the 'System', and this he taught in England and the USA until his death in 1947.
He was very much a thinker in his own right, and continued to develop his own ideas particularly about the nature of time, recurrence and higher dimensions, (his books Tertium Organum and A New Model of the Universe, and his novel, The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin, all express these ideas).
A Living Tradition
Ouspensky insisted that in order to survive as a living tradition the System must be continuously developed and reconstructed by practical experience — and with knowledge of the contemporary scientific understanding of human consciousness. But he also became convinced the 'System' lacked a simple accessible method — one that it must surely once have had. He charged one of his closest pupils, Dr Francis Roles, to continue the search until he should rediscover such a method.
In 1960, Dr Roles found a form of meditation he recognised unmistakably as the missing element in Ouspensky's teaching. In 1962 he established a lifelong connection with the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, in North India, H.H. Shantanand Saraswati.
Dr Roles reached a deeper understanding of the System as a result of his study of the Shankaracharya's teaching of the non-dual tradition of the Advaita Vedanta, which declares the essential oneness of the individual with the universe.
Our teaching of the Fourth Way is based on our inherited approach, that is, as a living, oral tradition. Material for study and discussion is provided as a response to the developing needs of each group.
During the course all the main points of P.D. Ouspensky's system of knowledge are explained and discussed. Where appropriate, this knowledge will be presented both in the light of modern views of consciousness and with reference to the non-dual teaching of H.H. Shantanand Saraswati.
Students have the opportunity to learn and take part in the other disciplines and activities provided by the Society in order to further their progress and understanding in line with the principles of the Fourth Way.