Study and Commentaries on the Esoteric Tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy
Boris Mouravieff was an enigmatic ‘third man’, known to Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, who found and learned to practise what he clearly believed to be the complete system of which only fragtments had been previously published in Ouspensky’s works. Many of his discoveries are described in this trilogy, which contains the fundamental components of the Christian esoteric teachings revealed by Gurdjieff through Ouspensky.
Three books online: HolyBooks.com
From Chapter II:
Simple ideas are the most difficult to grasp. They escape us because the extreme complexity of our minds makes us complicate everything. It is only simple ideas and formula: that matter in life. Let us now consider the relation between these notions: to know, and to understand.We can know without understanding, but we cannot understand without knowing. It therefore follows that understanding is knowing to which something imponderable is added. We are touching on a problem which is simple but at the same time can raise great difficulties.
We pass from knowing to understanding to the measure that we assimilate knowledge. The capacity for assimilation has its limits: man's capacity to contain understanding differs from person to person. This problem concerns what we call the being of a person. It is one of the basic notions of esoteric science. It has several facets. In the terms that concern us here, being is demonstrated by a person's capacity for assimilation. Knowledge is widespread everywhere. However, it is external to us. Understanding is within us. If we pour the contents of a bottle into a glass, the latter can only contain an amount equal to its capacity. Any more will overflow. That is exactly what happens with us. We are only capable of understanding within the limits of our capacity to contain understanding within our being. Jesus said to His disciples: 'I have yet many things to say unto you but ye cannot contain them now.' To be able to evolve, in the esoteric sense of the term, we must above everything else constantly seek to enhance our being, to raise its level.
The Gospels do not use specialized terminology. That is one of the reasons for their popularity: they are accessible to all. The Christian Esoteric Tradition follows their example and tries to avoid specialized vocabulary: this would cause additional difficulty in following a path which is already difficult enough. The scriptures start from the principle that if we take the trouble to ponder them deeply, everything can be expressed without having to refer to neologisms. Nevertheless, it is necessary to define clearly the meanings of the words used.
In the first place, we must specify what the Tradition means by Consciousness and its derivatives. In modern language as well as in philosophical literature we attribute varied meanings to the word consciousness; it is sometimes qualified by additional attributes. We rind, for example, expressions such as 'super-consciousness', 'cosmic consciousness', etc.
In esoteric science we attach maximum significance to the term Consciousness: that which touches the divine plane. Bishop Theophan the Recluse, one of the most fully authorized commentators, said: 'The way to perfection is the way to Consciousness.' He therefore does not attribute the current meaning to the word 'Consciousness'. We do not possess Consciousness. What we call consciousness is only one of its derivatives, but it is all that is accessible to man as he is born of woman.
All in all there are four levels of consciousness: Consciousness — called "absolute' — and its three derivatives:
- Absolute Consciousness
- Consciousness of the Real I
- Waking Consciousness