Module 5
Beyond "The System"?



"Work out your own salvation with diligence." The Buddha

How can we free ourselves from the process represented by the enneagram?

The method of The Work consists of three major stages which must be accomplished in the proper order. The first, most basic, of these is self-observation. Self-observation itself encompasses three distinct levels - observation, participation, and experimentation. The goal of self-observation is to bring us out of our usual conscious state, called "waking sleep" in The Work, and to bring us into a more aware state, termed "Self-Remembering."

Beyond self-observation there are two further stages, Conscious Labor and Intentional Suffering.

Only the first level of the first stage is discussed in this primer. Even this first step is fraught with pitfalls, and one is almost certain to go astray unless one attempts it under the guidance of a person with experience in The Work.

Therefore, only a very brief description, meant only to provide you with a conceptual overview, is presented in this primer. THIS PRIMER IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO USE AS A BASIS FOR APPLYING THE METHOD IN YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE (i.e. actual Work on yourself).
Although there is no reason why one cannot try a few basic Work exercises* on one's own to obtain a sense of what is involved, some association with others in The Work is almost a necessity for actual results to be obtained.

(*Such as attempting to observe oneself at certain predetermined times during the day, or attempting to observe oneself performing some specific activity like tying one's shoes in the morning.)

Traditionally (that is before recent developments in communication technology such as the world wide web, which may be opening up new possibilities) it has been necessary to spend a considerable period of time in a Work Group - a group of people who are interested in The Work who meet face-to-face to support each other in their Work efforts and to share experiences in The Work, usually under the guidance of an experienced person.

Although some Group Work will almost certainly always be necessary, it has its own set of problems. Among these are:
1. Only a very small percentage of people usually become
interested in The Work, so there are relatively few Work
Groups and they are often located in large population
centers. This makes access difficult for many who do not
live close to an existing group.
2. Work Groups, like other groups one encounters in
everyday life, are subject to many potentially
dysfunctional "dynamics". These include misguided or
incompetent leadership, dominance by a subgroup and
apathy on the part of other members, composition of the
group inappropriate for the specific Work it is engaged
in, Work which is not useful for some members, who may
be at different stages in their personal Work, etc.
3. Other, more subtle, difficulties.

Although all of the above "dynamics" can provide useful energy for Work on Oneself, they can also result in serious, unproductive, "deviations" in one's progress in The Work.

It is possible that advances in communications technology could alleviate some of these problems by allowing relatively large numbers of people who are interested in The Work but who are geographically scattered to "become acquainted" via the world wide web. From this large group, smaller face-to-face groups with selected (possibly self-selected, possibly, in some cases, "by invitation") membership could be convened for specific Work activities. These groups might meet intensively for a relatively short time (perhaps a few days) for specific, focused Work activities useful to their members.


1. You must verify everything for yourself in your own experience. NO-ONE can do your Work for you.

2. You should not become dependent on any leader. Anyone who claims that your spiritual development depends on a special relationship with him or her is exploiting a deficiency in your development. Although it is not totally impossible that this is being done for your benefit, it is VERY likely that you are being used for a purpose unrelated to your actual spiritual needs.

3. Through your Work, you will gradually become more aware of characteristics in others that make them subject to certain forms of influence. Yielding to any temptation to use this knowledge for your personal gain or gratification, even if this seems to be for the highest motives, is very detrimental to your own spiritual development. It is invariably a "deviation." You should very carefully read Gurdjieff's Third Series, Life is Real only Then, When "I Am," particularly pages 24 and 25 in the Prologue.


It is the Sawmi's view that The Work is a viable means of spiritual development. However, "The System", based on the writings of Ouspensky, which is the source of the analogies used in this primer (the musical octave, the H48, H24, H12 notation for the different levels of conscious experience, etc.) has now become dated and somewhat simplistic for those who have grown up in the space and computer ages.

As has happened with the enneagram, the original meaning of these paradigms is rapidly being obscured. This is an inevitable process, analogous to the decay of a physical body once life has left it, which proceeds regardless of attempts made to halt it.

The purpose of the Sawmi's Work with the Lettuce Sutra is to break this pattern and move forward. The traditional descriptions of The Work, particularly Ouspensky's "System", have become dated and have picked up so much "baggage" over the years that, despite their basic underlying integrity, their usefulness has become severely limited.

This does not mean that the value of The Work itself as a method of spiritual development has been in any way reduced. The findings of The Work about our condition (summarized in the Enneagram) are real enough and can be verified by any person through self-observation. These findings are, in reality, independent of the paradigm used to explain them verbally.

The Sawmi asks the question, "Can the basic insights of The System be reformulated and updated to incorporate recent scientific advances in our understanding of brain function and the nature of physical reality?" We now have powerful new scientific paradigms that were not available to Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, which may permit a better understanding of our condition and the means to transcend it than those available to the pioneers of The Work.

Exploring these paradigms in the context of The Work is the current project of the Sawmi and the adepts of his very sacred Lettuce Sutra.

The Sawmi refuses to discuss the findings of this project with anyone who is not a Lettuce Sutra adept, although he says they may publish their results later "when they are good and ready." Meanwhile they have pushed the following "heiroglyph" (DIAGRAM 6) out the door of the ultra secure Lettuce Sutra Vault. The Sawmi characterizes it as a "reverse Trojan Horse."

Diagram 6 - Reconceptualizing H12, H24, & H48

Concerning DIAGRAM 6, the Sawmi will only say, "Who knows? Maybe somebody will see it and get interested. Did we make the word 'SEX' big enough? It seems it's the only thing that gets people's attention in these degenerate times."

Click graphic for full size.

[Back to Enneagram ] [Review Module Five] [Review Module Four]
[Review Module Three] [Review Module Two] [Review Module One]

FINAL Questions

Take a few minutes to answer the questions below.

Please answer these questions thoughtfully and seriously, and click on submit to compare your answers with the Sawmi's.

Question 1.What is the Lettuce Sutra, and why is it being kept
secret in the carefully guarded Lettuce Sutra Vault?

Question 2. Lettuce Sutra adepts? How does one become one?

Question 3. So where do I go from here?
A. Well, you have a number of options, including but not
necessarily limited to the following:
a) Forget the whole thing.
b) Think it over for a while.
d) Get involved with another Way more to your taste.

(If in doubt, the Sawmi always recommends answer "C"
on multiple choice tests.)


[Back to Enneagram ] [Review Module Five] [Review Module Four]
[Review Module Three] [Review Module Two] [Review Module One]

© The Starving Sawmi Press, August 1, 1998