According to Gurdjieff’s “The fourth way”; each action within our universe requires the interaction of three forces. These three forces impregnates all major and minor actions; from the creation of the universe to something as trivial as a cat hissing at someone for what may seem no apparent reason.
The first force is manifested as the official impulse to achieve something, the second force manifests itself as a resistance to the first force. One could assume life would be much easier without the opposing force; however life in its infinite wisdom understands the vital need for such force in our lives. The third force; also called the neutralizing force; combines the other two forces and provides the conditions for a result.
All three forces are necessary; if one is missing there will be no result. Gurdjieff called these three forces “affirmation, denial, and reconciliation.” He saw these forces as sacred. He saw “denial/negation” as particularly important; not to be considered bad. This force is a fundamental need in our lives, providing us the raw material for our efforts in awakening. In order to better help you understand Gurdjieff’s laws, I will provide you with the following example….
I would like to go with my friends to a party this weekend (first force, affirmation) but it’s a long road and it’s raining (second force, denial or negation) In spite of everything a friend offers to drive me there and back (third force, neutralization or reconciliation).
After making arrangements with my friend, my boss calls me to let me know that he needs me right away to take over an urgent project at work which will take most of my weekend (he is using his first force, affirmation) his request is a bit annoying for me since he knows I do not I like to work on weekends (second force, negation) after taking a moment to think about the situation, I decide that I like my job, my boss sees me as someone he can count on and so I choose to accept the challenge. By doing so, I am making sure to expand my value within the company; getting me one step closer to my goal (third force, neutralization)
My partner then lets me know that if I intend to work every weekend or to cancel plans every time my boss calls, then we will have to revaluate our relationship (he is using his affirmative force) his request is met with somewhat annoyance (second force, denial or negation) I then take the time to evaluate what my goals are, what matters most to me and make a decision to take my partner’s input into consideration; learning to balance my life in a way that fulfills me personally and professionally (third force, neutralization) Without these three forces at play I would not have learned valuable lessons which will serve me right in the future.
The above is an example of how life, God, the divine, always has our best interest, but we need to learn to take the time to evaluate and to take responsibility for our own actions or inactions.
According to Gurdjieff most of us go through life as drifting boats; we do not realize the three forces which take place in our lives. We try to force things (using a single law), then we complain about why everything goes wrong. In our ordinary condition we are only able to see the first and second forces; even then we tend to misunderstand the second force.
Normally when confronted with the law of negation, we react one of two ways: force our desire or think life is punishing us when it is simply giving us the time and opportunity to be introspective and grow as people. It gives us the opportunity to reflect before we use our free will. It gives us the opportunity to become conscious human beings; to become “Awake”…If you want to produce a certain effect but you lack one of the forces at play, you cannot get any results.
The third force is even more mysterious, it is usually invisible to superficial examination of a situation. According to Gurdjieff we are the third fixed force. A special kind of attention is required to notice this force; it requires a special ability in order to detect it and make use of it. This ability is not something which only some are born with; we all have it; but it requires work to awaken it. It is the ability to see positive opportunity or lesson within a given situation.
The study and understand how these three forces act and the order in which they need to interact to achieve a particular result are part of the teachings and traditions of “The fourth way”. A different order of interaction produces a different result. Our lack of understanding this is what lies behind many of our failures in life.
When we want to be more awake our mind is the first force that affirms our goal, the body with its distractions, laziness and wanting to please everyone, provides the denying force; this obstacle is often overlooked. Many speak about the beauty of the present, of being in the now, but we have to bear in mind that a large part of our beings rebels against being in the present. We will find excuses to continue being stuck in the past or excuses not to do the work to turn a dream into a reality. Excuses such as; I am tired, there is no time, this is not the right time, others tell me I should take this path instead, etc. Most people find any excuses to remain within their comfort level even if that comfort is detrimental.
I am not asking you to negate your wounds or traumas, what these laws do is help you find a neutral, more objective place from where to do the work. It will require work to heal but you don’t have to relive the pain again and again. As per those who live with too many voices around them trying to force them into the past, these laws are there to remind you to take a step back, to look at what you can learn from your past so as not to repeat the same mistakes in your present or future.
The past is gone, all you have is your present. Life will always provide you with various paths which will propel you to move forward; however if you pay too much attention to your fears or to the external voices, then chances are you will not be able to discern what life is offering you right here and right now. You do have free will but it’s up to you to learn to use it; such action will require for you to learn to take responsibility for your own life. Whether you want to break free of the lies others made you believe about yourself, or you want to change careers, paths, etc. It will be you who will need to take the proper steps towards your goals. No one else can do it for you; everything you need is already inside of you.
The roads to awakening, healing and evolving are not easy ones, but as you go along, as you keep giving it your best, as you keep working on it, all becomes much easier, until one day your goal becomes a reality! Thought+Action=Results.
“A man may be born, but in order to be born he must first die, and in order to die he must first awake”