Ten States of Consciousness Within Man
Gurdjieff stated in his teachings that four levels of consciousness are available to a man: ordinary sleep, the ordinary waking state, self-consciousness and objective consciousness. Although potentially all levels are available for contact for each man and woman, time spent (both in duration and frequency) within each state differs among people. The majority of people live their entire lives trapped within the lowest two states of being. Esoteric schools exist in order to transmit methods for contacting and residing within the higher states of consciousness.
The first state is passive, existing primarily as a time for bodily regeneration (though see below). People generally spend over a third of their lives asleep. We spend more time in sleep than we should since we sleep inefficiently. Rather than spending time in stage 4, deep sleep, we oscillate throughout the night between lighter stages of sleep.3 That such sleep is not restorative is evidenced by the common feeling of tiredness occurring after a night full of worrisome dreams.
Gurdjieff wrote, “Deep sleep is a state when we have no dreams or sensations [a special kind of dreaming does occur in deep sleep]. If people have dreams [REM state] it means that one of their connections is not broken, since memory, observation and sensation is nothing more than one center observing another”.
In true, stage 4 sleep, there is complete disengagement of the connections between the center. Gurdjieff wrote, “a man’s sleep does nothing else than interrupt connections between centers. a man’s centers never sleep. Since associations are their life, their movement, they never cease, they never stop. a stoppage of associations mean death. The movement of associations never stops for an instant in any center, they flow on even in deepest sleep”.
Our normal waking state is quite similar to sleep except that the mechanical part of the intellectual center, the formatory apparatus, is reconnected with the other centers. The role of the formatory apparatus is to link together and coordinate the impressions received by the other lower centers. All the other characteristics of sleep remain; the higher centers remain disconnected.
Gurdjieff taught that the third level of consciousness is the state of presence called self-consciousness. In this state a man sees himself as he really is, his positives and his negatives; he sees himself objectively without coloration by the false personality. He is a true individual with a true will. Ordinarily, we only have short flashes of this state during times of great shock or stress.
The fourth state of presence is objective consciousness. In this state a man is in contact with the real essence underlying the Creation. He or she sees Creation and its manifestation as it actually is.
Having reviewed Gurdjieff’s position, we will continue with a somewhat deeper presentation, also taken from, VAULT OF THE ADEPTI.