Mr. Nyland

“I don’t believe in the continuation of a group remaining dependent on a person who happens to teach a little bit about esoteric knowledge… It has to become more and more your own… And I’ve said before that what takes place in the digesting, and what you have as an experience of truth, will become your teacher. And thank God you can take that with you. That is the main point: so that you are not dependent, neither on books, nor atmosphere, … nor on any one person in particular.”
Mr. Nyland, October 27, 1974

Work on Oneself

Mr. Gurdjieff wrote at length about our condition and drew a compelling portrait of the mechanical nature of the human race. At the same time, he taught that, with certain kinds of efforts, individual human evolution is possible. So, from the beginning the message he brings to us is a message of hope, a message of a real possibility of development. Gurdjieff provided specific methods for this development, and he referred to these methods as Work on oneself.

Mr. Nyland spoke with great clarity about the methods of Work on oneself. He stressed the importance of simplicity in approaching Work and taught his groups to apply these methods in the conditions of our ordinary life. Mr. Nyland also continually emphasized that we do not know ourselves, that we have no true measure of ourselves, and that with the proper application of Work it is possible to bring objectivity into our lives. He insisted that we must focus on our own Work and must do so with a singular clarity of aim and of method. “Don’t believe me,” he often said. “Find out for yourself. Work! You must work to see what it gives you.”

Mr. Nyland said that our Work must also include interaction with a group of diverse types—who by their very diversity can remind us of the aim and gravity of what we are attempting. He taught group members to discuss our efforts with each other, and to be honest about what we experience and what we learn. He was also emphatic about the importance of using the material that Mr. Gurdjieff himself left for us, in particular the reading and study of All and Everything, undiluted by secondary or tertiary interpretation.

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