Module Three
"Deviations" and some Notes on Work Terminology

Diagram 3


The idea of a "deviation" in our direction at certain stages of the process as we attempt to experience higher levels of consciousness is a key idea in The Work (It may help to reread "USING THE MUSICAL ANALOGY" in Module Two, right before the MODULE TWO QUIZ) . These deviations are actual events that occur in our experience, and they can be studied through self-observation. Remember that DIAGRAM 3 is only a "visual aid," to help you conceptualize this process.


Deviations take many forms, some of which are very subtle. One not so subtle common example of a deviation that is experienced by almost everyone at some time or another is "getting your buttons pushed." Most of us have automatic, predictable response patterns in certain situations. When these situations occur, which can be as simple as just hearing a certain word, whatever we are doing is interrupted and the automatic response pattern takes over. One of our buttons is pushed. Our line of action has "deviated," we have been "sidetracked" and it may be quite difficult to return to whatever we were doing.

In our usual state of "waking sleep" we are almost always unaware of these events at the moment they occur, although we often realize what happened later. Through self-observation we can become consciously aware at the moment these events occur, and we can observe the process. Although there is no attempt to change the process during self-observation, gradually one accumulates enough observations that it becomes possible to not respond, or to respond in a different way.

This active effort to change our behavior is a higher stage in The Work, labelled "PARTICIPATION" and "EXPERIMENTATION" in DIAGRAM 1.

Self-observation makes the energy that would usually go into the automatic response available for experiencing a higher state of consciousness referred to in The Work as Self-Remembering.

In our ordinary state of "waking sleep" our life becomes one deviation after another until the process eventually brings us around in a full circle. This process is illustrated in DIAGRAM 3 above and DIAGRAM 4 (In Module Four). Have you ever had the feeling that you were spending your life going in circles?


Be here now!

Self-observation is simply an attempt to observe one's physical body and/or it's activities in an objective, impartial, and simultaneous (i.e. "in the moment") way. I use the word "attempt" because it is not as easy as it sounds. Often one's first attempts either are or appear to be successful. Many times the person has the impression that the exercise is trivial and that we are "naturally" always aware of our physical body. Although it may be true in very rare cases that an individual naturally functions in this state of higher awareness, in the vast majority of cases continued practice of the self-observation exercise reveals that this sense that you already experiences continuous awareness of your presence in your body is an illusion.

The true situation is analogous to what occurs when one falls asleep in the ordinary sense. One wakes up without the sense of elapsed time between the moment of falling asleep and the moment of waking up. The events that occurred while we were asleep are simply lost to us as if they never occurred. We usually have no sense of a "gap" in our experience, because we have no awareness of time when we are asleep. So, if we did not notice any change in our internal state or difference in our surroundings when we awoke we might easily believe that we were constantly awake, and had not slept at all.

The relationship between our usual state of "waking sleep" and the higher state of consciousness that results from successful self-observation is similar to that between ordinary sleep and waking sleep. The main difference is that one can be in the state of waking sleep for a much longer time. Still, if one does spontaneously experience a state of higher awareness, it can produce an illusion that whatever time one spent in waking sleep did not exist, and that one has always been in the state of higher awareness.


Participation and Experimentation are higher stages in The Work, and should only be attempted under the guidance of an experienced person. It is very easy to go astray (to experience more subtle deviations that you are unfamiliar with) if one is not first thoroughly grounded in self-observation.

One common way to be introduced to experimentation and/or participation in The Work is to be given a "task" by an experienced person in a Work Group. A task is tailored to the needs of the person receiving it, who reports their experience with it to the person giving the task.


Self-Remembering is the state of consciousness above our ordinary state of "waking sleep." There are also other states of consciousness above Self-Remembering, but experiencing Self-Remembering is the first goal of The Work.

The difference between Self-Remembering and our usual state of waking sleep is unmistakable when experienced, but difficult to express in ordinary language, which is constructed to express experiences in waking sleep.

Experiencing Self-Remembering is not the same as experiencing the higher levels of awareness that we have labeled H24 and H12. It is more accurate to say that experiencing Self-Remembering requires higher energies that come from H24 and H12. Experiencing the higher energy states (H24 and H12) does not guarantee that one will experience Self-Remembering, but experiencing Self-Remembering does require contact with higher energies.

Three descriptions of Self-Remembering from recognized teachers in The Work are quoted below.

Self Remembering

When I observe something, my attention is directed towards what I observe- a line with one arrowhead:
I ---> The Observed Phenomenon
When at the same time, I try to remember myself, my attention is directed both towards the object observed and towards myself. A second arrowhead appears on the line.
I <---> The Observed Phenomenon

From In Search of the Miraculous, p. 119
by P.D. Ouspensky

Miss D: Then there is but little differance between self observation and self remembering?

Mr. Nyland: We spoke of it last time. I will repeat. Self observation is the "I", or better to say, the many little "I's" that want to become one "I". it works through the head. Self-remembering is "IT", it works through the body. Self awareness is the relationship between "I" and "IT". It is the product of the process. Is it clear?

FromGurdjieff Group Work with Willem Nyland
by Irmis Popoff

"Not only must a man know and observe, but he must remember himself. And he must do this because only in that state of consciousness called the state of Self-Remembering can influences reach him that can act on his Being, for without help a man can do practically nothing, or he will only effect one thing at the expense of another....
To remember yourself simply as you are now is not Self-Remembering. Self-Remembering comes down from above and full Self-Remembering is a state of consciousness in which the Personality and all its pretences almost cease to exist and you are, so to speak, nobody, and yet the fullness of this state, which is really bliss, makes you, for the first time, somebody."

(from Psychological Commentaries On the Teaching of
G. I. Gurdjieff and P. D. Ouspensky
by Maurice Nicoll)

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MODULE 3 Questions

Take a few minutes to answer the questions below.This should help you with Module Four, where the Sawmi derives the Enneagram - an important symbol of The Work.

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

Question 1. According to DIAGRAM 3 we experience "deviations" and
need "help" at certain points in the process when we
attempt to move to higher levels of
awareness. Why is this? Why can't we just do it on
our own?

Question 2. Are higher levels of awareness the same as higher
levels of consciousness?


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© The Starving Sawmi Press, August 1, 1998