There now comes a very important point to be considered. It has already been suggested that the function of the Schools headed by Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Dr Roles and Leon MacLaren was to allow an impulse into the creation. But the other question to consider is whether or not these schools are synonymous with self realization. Although interrelated, the two are quite separate matters and should not be confused.
Before proceeding any further with a consideration of these two matters, it is necessary to understand the position of these schools in the scheme of things. In the Fourth Way Teaching, the levels of Man are explained according to the Octave, with Man 7 as the Fully Realised Man. The Schools under discussion were preliminary or preparatory schools whose function, was to help a man cross the interval between Man 2 and Man 3. Once across that interval, he may enter a Fourth Way School proper, which is of a different order, and that takes him to Man 4 which is known as “The product of School”. It is then said that he is at the “Straight Gate”. He is at the threshold between the inner and outer circles of mankind. The function of Man 4 is to allow the impulse from the inner circle to the outer circle of mankind.
His Holiness Sri Shantanand Saraswati set out briefly the seven levels of Man in the Nyaya System of the Advaita Vedanta Philosophy. In the Nyaya System, Man 1 is about the equivalent of Man 4 in the Fourth Way System. It would be rare for a man in one of these Preparatory Schools to get to this level. These are vast steps and little understood in the West. This is where he starts his work in the Nyaya System
Leon MacLaren stated with respect to the nature of these preparatory Schools:
Man number one is wholly dominated by his own machine and the influences falling upon it. What is more, he is ruled by the active powers in him, a powerful combination of sex, movement and instinct. His ordinary emotional powers are little used, but, are usurped by the active powers which dominate him.
What can be done for him is to awaken in him the emotional powers, by awakening in him loyalty, devotion, endurance and the like under which authority his animal appetites are in some measure subdued. If this be well done, then in his next embodiment he may take the place of man number two.
Man number two is in an altogether better position. He is not wholly dominated by his cravings and aversions. In him the ordinary emotional powers hold sway and give direction to his life. He has possibility of development through the use of his emotional powers. This comes through religion, devotion to some teacher or master who professes Truth, or by some other discipline of this kind.
The ways available to man number two have however an inherent limitation. From the very nature of the ordinary emotional powers, they preserve the illusion which holds him in bondage. It is always a case of me and God, Me and my Teacher, and so on. Yet these devotional ways have power to cleanse and raise the man and prepare him for the way of liberation. After a number of lives, he has to face the non dual-nature of reality, and this he can only do when his intellectual powers are awakened and have strength enough to rule his emotions.
The significant message of this octave for us is the interval between man two and man three, the special shock of energy which opens the way of liberation to man. It is the realization of the unity of creation, and the firm resolve from henceforth to destroy the False “I” by the power of Atman.
Man number three is governed by intellectual powers, he has use of all three, intellectual, emotional and moving powers, but is ruled by the intellectual powers. The Way of Liberation through knowledge is available to him.
But it takes a special shock of energy to raise a man so that he is ready in his mind to admit the non dual nature of reality, the unity of Truth and the utter illusion of separation. He sets his mind against ignorance, and seeks that knowledge in experience which will dissolve ignorance.
It is the function of a School of Liberation to provide this shock of energy so that man may appreciate the unity of Truth and work for that knowledge which dispels ignorance.
It can be seen then that the function of these preparatory schools is to provide the shock of energy to help people cross the interval from Man 2 to Man 3. Indeed Leon MacLaren always maintained the School of Economic Science, which he headed, was only a preparatory school. He was at pains to state this was so.
The practical business of a preparatory school is to produce a man to hold the straight gate.
The existence of a group is related to function. A group has a specific function and its members are selected accordingly. Once born, a group will go out of existence when its work -or the work of the School – is completed and there is no further need for it.
He also stated with respect to the starting of a preparatory School:
A group is born and school manifests when Man No.4. holds the straight gate. At this moment, it is important that the mind rest occasionally on the position of Man No.4, with such understanding as may by grace be given. He sees in two directions. Under the pull of Truth, his eyes are turned, as it were, to the single purpose of his artificial existence. Seeing causes as he may, he looks towards his function in relation to the outer circle. Restrained by caution, which guards the mind, he admits of no impediments to the universal care which may flow through him.
A Man number 4 does not necessarily found a preparatory school, that depends on the nature of the work he himself needs to do, and also the needs in society at the time. It is for that reason you get comments such as Gurdjieff who is quoted on page 312 of In Search of the Miraculous,
The fourth way differs from the old and the new ways by the fact that it is never a permanent way. It has no definite forms and there are no institutions connected with it. It appears and disappears governed by some particular laws of its own.
Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching states,
The Way that can be spoken of is not the constant Way.
The Work can be separated into aspects. The first aspect is the great movements in creation. One sees the rise of great teachers and from those movements religions arise. It has been said many times that these great teachers do not start religions, it is their followers who do so. Between these great teachers, there are also impulses that are put into the creation at different times. It is suggested that the movements started by the people above were from such an impulse. For these impulses to take effect, it is firstly necessary that there be someone of sufficient order to be in touch with the impulse, i.e., a person at Man 4 who was connected with the inner circle of Mankind. Blavatsky, Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Dr Roles and MacLaren were probably such people. The function of the schools these people headed was very specific. It was to allow an impulse into the creation. This was not done by intellectual discussion, but by real practical work.
If the statement from The Heart of the Eastern Mystical Teaching is considered, then the primary function of these organizations was to provide a conduit for the Advaita Vedanta philosophy to be made available in the West. More specifically that can only take place to the extent it (the West) “lives according to the Law which the Lord gave her nearly 2,000 years ago” and also overcomes the tendency to “optimism and activity, ambition and love of power (which) have stifled the growth of the spirit of the West”.
Now this notion of allowing an impulse into creation has to be understood. When a rocket is hurtling through space and needs to change course, the booster rocket is fired. But this does not stay on for long. Likewise when an ocean liner needs to change course, the rudder is turned for a time and then it is centered again. So it is with the impulse that came through these organizations.
In a general sense it can be seen quite clearly that an organization is only as good as the man at the top. It is the man who heads an organization who sets the tenor and tone of the organization. If the man is mediocre, the organization will be mediocre. If he is exceptional, the potential is there for the organization to be exceptional. Companies try to get the best man for the job.
The spiritual work is no different. The people who are required to allow an impulse to manifest in creation are special. They are people who have a connection at a higher level. They are generally people at the level of man 4 though not necessarily. A little reason will show this must be so. Indeed Leon MacLaren himself spoke of the impulse in this way.
These things that float into the mind of the man whose mind is open, are the gifts of the wise. It is said that they set an idea in the atmosphere which is appropriate to the time and wait for some open heart to pick it up.
People normally lead habitual mechanical lives. To change this and allow a new impulse to enter requires someone who has this connection to the impulse from the inner circle, and has the qualities, energy and understanding to be able to shake people out of their habitual ways of working to allow this impulse to operate through them and those around them. Gurdjieff stated that people did not understand the point of a school and refused to be drawn on it. He also stated that a school is not fixed with a particular framework. How could it be? It needs to have the flexibility to adapt to the needs of the moment. Much of what Gurdjieff did was to get people out of their habitual ways of working. Mr MacLaren in the SES did the same. But even in these organizations the resistance to change is enormous because it goes against the grain. Even for people who purport to want to change, there are limits to which they are prepared to let go the habitual ideas and thoughts. It therefore needs a connection to a special energy or impulse by the person heading the group.
For these groups, when was the work done? Remember that just as with the rocket going through space, the booster only fires for a short period. Likewise with the ocean liner, the rudder is turned only for a period. When this happens, there is the energy and pull as this takes place, but once it has been fired (as with the booster rocket), it has done its work and so it is turned off.
If you take an iron poker and put it in the fire, it will take the quality of heat from the fire. It becomes hot. But take it away from the fire and the quality of heat from the fire leaves it. It simply cools down. So too with this special energy that powers a Preparatory School at the level we are talking about. When the energy rises at the start of the impulse, this is experienced and people in the organization think it is from them. This is a mistake. The people in the organization merely take on the quality in the same way the poker takes on the quality of heat from the fire. What makes it “special” is the nature of the man heading the organization who is of an order to allow the energy to operate through him and thereby through the people in the organization. That is his work. When the work is finished, the energy stops and people feel a sense of barrenness or lack of nourishment. The School goes from being a living organism to being an organization. They generally become subject to the very forces of “optimism and activity, ambition and love of power” that the Rishis warned against. This takes place gradually just as the poker which is taken out of the fire cools down gradually. The leadership moves to thinking the Organization is important. You can be sure that when this stage is reached, the organization has lost its connection and has gone back to being mechanical and asleep.
If one looks at the nature of the schools headed by say Madam Blavatsky, Gurdjieff, Leon MacLaren and others, what stands out is that they started off with a vibrancy, but this changed after their founder passed away. This is hardly surprising given that these were people of a different order. These groups, it seems, had a flowering with their founder, and then carried on as institutions rather than with the potency of their beginnings.
Krishnamurti dissolved the Order of the Star on 3rd August 1929, in front of Annie Besant and several thousand members. In his speech, he stated amongst other things:
“You may remember the story of how the devil and a friend of his were walking down the street, when they saw ahead of them a man stoop down and pick up something from the ground, look at it, and put it away in his pocket. The friend said to the devil, ‘What did that man pick up?’ ‘He picked up a piece of the truth,’ said the devil. ‘That is a very bad business for you, then,’ said his friend. ‘Oh, not at all,’ the devil replied, ‘I am going to help him organize it.’ I maintain that truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or coerce people along a particular path.”
Gurdjieff did not appoint a successor. He suggested to Mrs Jeanne de Saltzmann that she commence with a small group. But he did not formally appoint a successor. Ouspensky renounced “the system” at the end of his life. There is conjecture that he believed the energy from his work was running down so he did it to create a conscious shock in order to revitalize the work. Ouspensky instructed Dr Francis Roles and others to dismantle the Teaching and reconstruct it. He told Dr Roles to seek for the source of the Teaching. Leon MacLaren always maintained he would not consider appointing a successor. Almost two years before his death and under great pressure he relented. Shortly before his death he was admitted to hospital and was advised he had an inoperable tumor. He announced to his assistant in front of a small group including his successor that “the leadership is now ended”.
Indeed Mr MacLaren sometimes quoted his Teacher Shantanand Saraswati who said:
The moment importance is switched to the organizational work of the institution, the real work for truth will be compromised. Organization is necessary and those who help to do that are equally necessary, but they should never be allowed to dominate the real work. In fact, it is so common for this to happen. Therefore great care must always be taken that spiritual work remains paramount and all material and organizational work remains secondary.
The time for these schools is now over. The purpose for which they came into being has run its course. Krishnamurti dissolved the Order of the Star. Gurdjieff regularly dissolved groups. Ouspensky dissolved the system he taught at the end of his life. In the case of Leon MacLaren, his own Teacher gave an undertaking to see the school to perfection through the agency of Leon MacLaren. Mr MacLaren himself stated in a meeting in Wellington in New Zealand in July 1992, that this had been achieved. He said that this meant that a few people had reached the point of seeking liberation. With that they would go on to the next step. So the function of the school he headed had been fulfilled.