May 2013

Fellowship of Friends

Deepening our Work, the Static Triad

In The Fourth Way, Ouspensky describes a “static triad” of the interplay of forces that represent our inner being. Our body and essence play a consistent neutralizing force, while the active or passive forces in us change according to our sense of identity.

Who are we, really?

“What perishes is not real.” Rumi

Our inner being—and our most true identity—change as we develop in this work. We begin with the false personality active, but for those who develop a magnetic center (a center of gravity devoted to the quest to awaken), false personality may start to become more passive. This represents the first step in a new life: something new within us, searching for a meaning to the madness of ordinary life, and for a way to escape the unnecessary laws we are under, begins to guide our direction.

Later, when we apply school methods and techniques, and after much hard work and experimentation, a deputy steward may arise from this magnetic center. The deputy steward and later the steward (a further degree of work on oneself), play the role of ordering the many ‘I’s within us, and creating and keeping a place open for higher states. Our steward begins to set our house in order, and the many ‘I’s become servants to this aim, preparing for the arrival of the master.

“If magnetic centre is formed in a man, he may meet a school, and
when he begins to work he must work against false personality.

Magnetic centre may be transformed into Deputy Steward, and
when Deputy Steward acquires control of false personality it transfers
all the unnecessary things to the side of false personality, and only
the necessary things remain on the side of 'I'. Then, at a still further
stage, it may be that permanent 'I' will come on the side of the 'I' side
with all that belongs to it. Then many 'I's will be on the false personality
side, but we cannot say much about that now.”
P. D. Ouspensky, The Fourth Way

Each shift of identity is a death. The likes and dislikes of the many ‘I’s and magnetic center are immaterial to the level of work of the steward. Justifications and expressions of chief weaknesses within us are obstacles to the orderly house we seek to maintain. Even the quiet and competent steward must finally withdraw to give the master ample room to himself.

For Real ‘I’ is the master of the house, and ultimately replaces the steward as head of the household. This state, strangely familiar, appears briefly at first, then for longer periods as our work deepens. Now the steward retires, but remains available when called to serve the needs of this highest part of us. At this point we know ourselves: we are at last the lords and owners of our faces, heir to the estate.

“Think about it: what is really your own?” Epictetus

Our true identity shifts, as shown in these triads, from that which is curious about awakening, to that which learns and applies methods to remain relatively ordered and attentive, to that which is awake and free. Freedom is our right. But what false personality considers freedom is not the freedom of the awakened state. The awakened man fully inhabits the present moment, freed of subjective and internal preoccupations, and capable of responding to the will of that moment, as necessity presents itself, and as he sees a way to serve it.

“First, he suffered from the troubles of the thorn, but in the end,
everything turned into a rose for him.” Rumi

Rowena L.

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