S: Is there something like karma in the Consciousness Way?
G: Ok, first of all, let’s see what is karma. Well, in the Indian religion it is understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect: The philosophical explanation of karma can differ slightly between traditions, but the general concept is basically the same: Through the law of karma, the effects of all deeds actively create past, present, and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one’s own life, and the pain and joy it brings to him/her and others. The results or ‘fruits’ of actions are called karma-phala. In religions that incorporate reincarnation, karma extends through one’s present life and all past and future lives as well.
Now, please tell me what do you perceive by that word: “Karma”.
S: I thought that it means that there is a connection, like a relation with certain people and that this relation is heavy. That there is a path, it always goes in a certain way. And that it is very hard to break this rhythm.
G: Yes. In other words: what you did in the past is what caused your life today, and what you do today will create your life tomorrow.
S: Well, I know about the Indian Karma, that you get born with a certain baggage, luggage that you want to get out of you.
G: Ok. So you talk about a past which is shaping the present. But what are you asking me? Put it in simple words.
S: What does the word Karma mean to you?
G: Ok but before I give you the consciousness way view of karma, here is what the Fourth Way has got to say about it:
The Law of Karma
There are different orders of laws a man can be under, according to where a man is in himself. For example, a man operating from his false personality is under a great many laws, such as negative emotions, identification, etc.; he is under the Law of Accident.
The chart below shows other psychological aspects of man and the number and type of laws they are under.
Psychological Aspects, Orders and Types of Laws:
Psychological Aspect Orders of Laws Type of Laws Real I 12 Law of Will Essence 24 Law of Fate Personality 48 Law of Cause and Effect False Personality 96 Law of Accident
If a man is operating from his personality, he is under 48 laws, the Law of Cause and Effect. This is when the important events in a person’s life are the result of their previous actions. In other words, their actions are causes which have effects, in the form of events. For example, a man may work very hard and consequently be promoted. So in this case, the man has liberated himself to some extent from the Law of Accident, which is when two previously unconnected lines cross.
However, not all events under the law of cause and effect have a positive outcome. Frequently, many people make mistakes in life (causes) for which they pay (effects) for the rest of their lives. For example, a man may put off getting the house roof repaired until one day it finally collapses and does a lot of damage, that now has to be paid for.
It is often the mechanics of our psychology that set up bad cause and effect.
The aim in the work is to come under fewer laws, or at least create new causes which will produce results and therefore exclude accidents or negative cause and effect.
One way to achieve this is by developing a permanent centre of gravity. That means having more or less a permanent aim and seeing the relative importance of events in connection with this aim. For example, if self-remembering becomes so definite, so intense, it leaves no place for accidents.
Ok, and now let me tell you how I – or the Consciousness Way – see this issue.
Instead of the word “karma” I prefer the word “role”.
And first, here is what Gurdjieff has got to say about this subject of roles:
You must realize that each man has a definite repertoire of roles which he plays in ordinary circumstances. He has a role for every kind of circumstance in which he ordinarily finds himself in life; but put him into even only slightly different circumstances and he is unable to find a suitable role and for a short time he becomes himself. The study of the roles a man plays represents a very necessary part of self-knowledge. Each man’s repertoire is very limited. And if a man simply says ‘I’ and ‘Ivan Ivanich,’ he will not see the whole of himself because ‘Ivan Ivanich’ also is not one; a man has at least five or six of them. One or two for his family, one or two at his office (one for his subordinates and another for his superiors), one for friends in a restaurant, and perhaps one who is interested in exalted ideas and likes intellectual conversation. And at different times the man is fully identified with one of them and is unable to separate himself from it. To see the roles, to know one’s repertoire, particularly to know its limitedness, is to know a great deal. But the point is that, outside his repertoire, a man feels very uncomfortable should something push him if only temporarily out of his rut, and he tries his hardest to return to any one of his usual roles. Directly he falls back into the rut, everything at once goes smoothly again and the feeling of awkwardness and tension disappears. This is how it is in life; but in the work, in order to observe oneself, one must become reconciled to this awkwardness and tension and to the feeling of discomfort and helplessness. Only by experiencing this discomfort can a man really observe himself. And it is clear why this is so. When a man is not playing any of his usual roles, when he cannot find a suitable role in his repertoire, he feels that he is undressed. He is cold and ashamed and wants to run away from everybody. But the question arises: What does he want? A quiet life or to work on himself?
From: P. D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, New York: Harcourt Brace, 1949, p. 239–240.
Now, you are born into a specific role. A role is an external pattern that your life needs to conform to. It is a certain way to act to things. A way which is accepted in the normal social convention. And within this rigid frame, you are bound by the iron chain of cause and effect. The outer frame causes you to act out of conformity; this act will cause a result, which will chain you back to the original cause, and so on, a karmic loop. In other words, karma is not who you really are, but who you are forced to become, because of global-social influence.
The way out of this loop is by managing to build a detached observer, which means that the mind is not engaged in thinking, but just observes the thoughts. Actions in this neutral state do not create karma. Observation of self through the neutral vector is aimed at giving individuals the experience of being in this objective state. An individual who is constantly in the neutral state is said (in the Indian tradition) to have attained moksha, where his or her actions happen as a response to events and not because of thought process; such actions do not result in accumulation of karma as they have no karmic effect.
Freeing oneself from one’s karma will connect you to your soul and to your true potential and to your higher self. And the more you free yourself of this karmic, or role happening, the more you come to be connected to your true inner potential.
Now, there is a certain security in this pattern, in this karma, in this role, because when you are part of this pattern, you know in you, that there is a certain way you need to go and it takes care of you. But when you grow out of this pattern, you are standing in front of the unknown. And you don’t know what the next step will be. This can explain why people go back to a certain patterns, which they know are bad for them, but at least there is a certain scenario, there is a script. And if there is a scenario, and a script – there is a security.
S: And there is a repetition going on.
G: Yes, if you would like it: a loop.
S: Yes. So this step is about facing destiny in a soul way?
G: Yes. Basically, it is very comfortable to go back to the circle of how things used to be. And if you disconnect from it and you stand in front of the unknown, it is not written anywhere how you should act. There is no pattern, everything is possible, and all you have is your potential and your nature and the power you connect to. With all three of them; your nature, your potential, soul-potential and the power you connect to – with those three, you weave your path and you are standing in front of the unknown all the time, creating your life from raw material of what you meet with your nature and your potential.
S: It means that you don’t know what is going to happen.
G: Definitely not. And there is one more thing: the worst thing for a person is that there is no guarantee for anything. You are your own master and your mistakes cost you everything. You are responsible.
S: Yes, I understand, it goes beyond the training, because it is real. When you are in school, you can make mistakes, and you can make try outs and fail, but when in the real life with a bad tryout, you will have to pay for it.
G: What can make you understand further what I am saying is this book by Dr. Eric Berne called “Games People Play”. In there, there are patterns of the games that people play. And they are trapped within it and can’t get out of it. And what I am saying now: these games – people love them, because it gives the security, that at least there is a script and there are certain rules. And when it is completely unknown, they get lost. The unknown is the material, the building blocks of life and you shouldn’t be afraid of it.
S: Yes, I can see that the unknown is your raw material, and from that you start to work and you filter it out.
So, if I will conclude what you say, you say: I don’t believe in karma, karma is to be born with a certain pattern that you need to break. Karma, as a matter of fact, is a role that people grow into.
G: Well, as you grow up you fit into this role. Now how is this done? The best example I can give is when you water the garden, with a strong stream of water, it creates canals on the ground. Now if you water the garden again the water goes naturally in the same canals that were carved by the water before. That is the pattern of the roles that I am talking about.
S: Yes, I can see that very clear, and now it is the moment to break those role patterns and the games that belong to that, but when you do that, you face the unknown. And I very much like this trinity vehicle that you make with your nature, your soul potential and the power you are connected to.
G: It is difficult for a person to disconnect from his old patterns. He needs to have enough willpower. Or connect to an external power, like the will power of a teacher, or the collective power of the people which go in his direction.
But having power is not enough, a person in this life needs to be indifferent about what might happen, otherwise you cannot get out of the loop. And you can’t be indifferent and in stress at the time, then you can’t live. And you should say to yourself the sentence from an old movie – “The man who knew too much” – by Alfred Hitchcock: “Ce Sera Sera. What will be, will be”.
You can’t influence what will be. Most of what is going to be is already predetermined by a power stronger than you. If you try to do, you get caught in the old pattern. The way to do is not do do – just observe it and let it happen.
S: You spoke earlier about 3 factors of the free man: 1. Soul. 2. Inner potential and the third being external power. Can you tell me what this power is?
G: Well some people connect to the power of Judaism, religion. Actually, it is connecting to an energetic cloud.
S: And some connect to the power of the Consciousness Way.
Approved & edited extensively by Gabriel Raam on 24.7.2008.