The fourth way

Gurdjieff stated that one could either perish like a dog or die like a man; his teaching showed a way of doing the latter. If a man at death is only his three centres in varying degrees of balance, his essence and his ego, he is nothing – he is a dog. If he had made some struggle to balance his centres and quieten down the bad aspects of his ego and essence, then he would have developed his magnetic centre or even made a soul, so he would be a 'kind of man'. If he had balanced his three centres reasonably and made them passive and had died to his essence and soul, he would die like a man with a body kesdjan. 

There are several methods by which a man can find out the Truth from within himself and raise his conscience by work on himself. The way of the fakir is by bodily austerities, the way of the monk by prayer, and the way of the yogi by mental discipline. Anyone who exclusively and narrowly follows one of these ways may obtain a body kesdjan, but it will usually be unbalanced. 

The body kesdjan, the vessel of the spirit, starts at the level of infant and develops to adult. People who gain a body kesdjan while unbalanced in the three centres or name part will not progress beyond an infant body kesdjan, and will therefore still be bound to the Earth and have to return after their allotted span on one of the other planets, to try to get balance in a new life. 

Gurdjieff's way, the fourth way, aims specifically to balance the centres, and like the Sufi way must be accomplished in life, though for a time a person may go to a school or monastery or special teacher to get the benefit of someone else's experience in order to complete a part of what he happens to be working on in himself. In ordinary life he can belong to a group of people who are also working on themselves, and combine the study of esoteric knowledge with a busy career and normal family life. The fourth way endeavours to emphasise an attitude of common sense towards the esoteric search.