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Observations placeholder

Gurdjieff - Ouspensky learns about the destructive effect of negative emotions



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

The Fourth Way – P D Ouspensky [from the oral teachings of G I Gurdjieff]

The first step is to try not to express  negative emotions;  - fear, anger, jealousy, possessiveness, pride and so on; the second step is the study of these negative emotions themselves, making lists of them, finding their connections ….. and trying to understand that they are quite useless.

Question In some cases the negative emotion of fear seems useful, otherwise people would cross the road at any time without looking

You speak about instinctive fear, emotional fear is different, it is based on our imaginings of what might happen

Question: are there no negative emotions that have a use?

It sounds strange, but it is very important to understand that all negative emotions are all absolutely useless; they do not serve any useful purpose; they do not make us acquainted with new things or bring us nearer to new things; they do not give us energy; they only waste energy and create unpleasant illusions.

They can even destroy physical health.

...They belong to an artificial centre in us, which we create in childhood by imitating people with negative emotions by whom we are surrounded.  People even teach children to express negative emotions!  Then children learn still more by imitation; they imitate older children, they imitate grown-up people and so at a very early age they become 'professors of negative emotions'.

It is a great liberation when we begin to understand that there are no obligatory negative emotions.  We are born without them ..but for some unknown reason we teach ourselves how to use them......

They are generally based on some kind of weakness, because at the basis of negative emotions there generally lies a kind of self indulgence – one allows oneself.  And if one does not allow oneself fears, one allows anger, and if one does not allow anger, one allows self pity.

Negative emotions are always based on some kind of permission

QuestionMy experience is that suppressing the expression of a negative emotion makes one tired

You can become tired if you only suppress the expression.  But I never said 'suppress', I said 'Do not express, find reasons for not expressing'.  Suppression can never help, because sooner or later the negative emotion will jump out.  If you merely suppress, you keep the identification [attachment to and absorption in the cause] and only shut off the external expression.  It is a question of finding reasons, of thinking rightly, because expression of negative emotion is always based on some kind of wrong thinking.

Question: surely there are circumstances that simply induce one to have negative emotions?

This is one of the worst illusions we have.  We think that negative emotions are produced by circumstances, whereas all negative emotions are in us, inside us.  This is a very important point.  We always think that our negative emotions are produced by the fault of other people or by the fault of circumstances.  We always  think that.  Our negative emotions are in ourselves and are produced by ourselves.  There is absolutely not a single unavoidable reason why somebody else's action or some circumstance should produce a negative emotion in me.  It is only my weakness.  No negative emotion can be produced by external causes if we do not want it.  We have negative emotions because we permit them, justify them, explain them by external causes and in this way we do not struggle with them.

Almost all personal negative emotions are based on accusation; somebody else is guilty.  If, by persistent thinking, we realise that nobody can be guilty against us, that we are the cause of all that happens to us, that changes things, not at once certainly, because many times this realisation will come too late.  But after some time this right thinking, this creating of right attitude or point of view can become a permanent process.

The source of the experience

Gurdjieff, George Ivanovich

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