The Gurdjieff Foundation of Illinois


Writings On The Wall

The Gurdjieff Work is a living current. While its essence remains, its expression must respond to changing conditions. On this page you'll find frequently updated material from members of the Gurdjieff Foundation of Illinois attempting to speak in the present of their practice and experience.


The "third line of Work" * is often said to be difficult to understand or easily misunderstood. That may be so, but a mindset along those lines can, in effect, limit the evolutionary movement to only two lines when all three, simultaneously, are needed for the Work to proceed without deviation.

After all, we engage in our own work (first line) and work with others (second line) without requiring that they be "understood" beforehand. We understand or misunderstand the first two lines according to the quality of attention brought to bear during the moment of engagement. The same will be true of the third line provided we jump in first and accept that our understanding can only grow from immersive/attentive practice.

The essential character of the third line may then be found embedded in a useful task like mopping the floor in service to the school and may extend to the greatest cosmic scale, openness to reception and transformation of the high energies of the Sun and the worlds beyond. This may be the "Love of God" of monastic tradition.

Between those extremes is every scale of service beyond our own personal benefit including service to our fellows on this planet, individually or in the multitude.

As with the first and second lines, I see my incapacity or, at any rate, the feebleness of my effort. But this doesn't get me off the hook. There are, after all, times, short or longer, when the unmistakable connection is not only here but is absolutely simple, brilliant, clearly "right".

      * First line of work - Work  on oneself      Second line - Work with and for others     Third line - Work for the school, the teacher, humanity                         F.F.


I have asked myself for years: 

"Who Am I ?"

"Why Am I Here ?"

"What is My Purpose ?"

I have been fortunate to find some answers to these questions, as well as direction, in the teachings of The Fourth Way.   Mr. Gurdjieff has shone a light on my previous hidden existence.  Group work, as provided by the Gurdjieff Foundation of Illinois, has been essential in my lifelong journey to Know my Self and to sojourn with a Higher Consciousness.   C. B.

What drew me into this practice?  Why me?  Why not practically everyone else I know?  Why did I always find something lacking, something a little flat in other belief systems and daily pleasures that seem to “bless” others? 

When Gurdjieff said that I was a mad machine, not born with a soul but must struggle my entire life to develop one, that blasphemy rang true.  The formula “conscious labor and intentional suffering” does not repel me, but instead opens a world of possibilities.When Gurdjieff said that we can know the universal forces and the truth of the cosmos, not through blind faith but by striving endlessly to strip away the comfortable lies that blind us to self- knowledge, that also rang true. 

The phrase “as above, so below” continues to remind me that I can find the answers to everything real by seeing myself and those around me without prejudice, without deceit.      T.P.


After all this emotional archeology - this separating, holding up to the light; "what is this?", "where did it come from?", "is this part of me or did this come from someone else?" When all this work is done, what remains when the masks have been cataloged? How do I value what remains? What has been buried, bruised, beaten, devalued for years? How do I learn to honor that, take care of it, and help it grow? I am unfamiliar with this part of myself.
What would essence say if it had a voice? It has been stifled and suffocated by the voices of personality for all but a few brief moments in life. There is the possibility essence has some very powerful things to say, powerful ways in which it can act, but I don't know its language. Maybe it stutters sometimes. It’s unclear in meaning. It`s two things at once. Maybe it's angry after all these years of being beaten into submission. Maybe it’s still very much like a baby and it cries a lot.
I keep saying "it," but would it be a start to recognize that it is not “it," but me? How do “I” speak when the masks are off? What do “I” have to say now?
And then there's the question of living. How do I live in the loud, insensitive world when deep inside I feel so sensitive? I start to understand why Personality made it's appearance. Maybe there is a way to find a balance now...   Z.H.

This remarkble flow of living materiality through the abdominal region; why does it go entirely unnoticed almost all the time? The part of the mind that fears an open ended question tries to separate from the sensed flood but something more intelligent knows better than to let it. Patience. Stay in the river. Let it reveal something or not but don't flee.  A.F