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4th Way — Conscience References

  4th Way — Conscience References  
conscience 02 200

In Search of the Miraculous

(30) instances of Conscience in In Search of the Miraculous
Page No. # Instances Page No. # Instances
Page 162 10 Pages 274-275 2
Page 163 11 Pages 368-369 1
Pages 164-165 5 Page 373 1

The Fourth Way

(83) instances of Conscience in The Fourth Way
Page No. # Instances Page No. # Instances
Page 26 1 Page 165 12
Pages 27-28 5 Page 166 2
Page 158 12 Page 171 3
Page 159 12
Page 175 1
Page 160 5 Pages 317-318 1
Page 161 1 Page 356 2
Page 162 2 Page 441 1
Page 164 21 Pages 442-443 4

In Search of the Miraculous

Page 162

"'Buffers' are created slowly and gradually.

Very many 'buffers' are created artificially through 'education.'  Others are created under the hypnotic influence of all surrounding life.

A man is surrounded by people who live, speak, think, and feel by means of 'buffers. 'Imitating them in their opinions, actions, and words, a man involuntarily creates similar 'buffers' in himself.  'Buffers' make a man's life more easy.  It is very hard to live without 'buffers.'

But they keep man from the possibility of inner development because 'buffers' are made to lessen shocks and it is only shocks that can lead a man out of the state in which he lives, that is, waken him.

'Buffers' lull a man to sleep, give him the agreeable and peaceful sensation that all will be well, that no contradictions exist and that he can sleep in peace. 'Buffers' are appliances by means of which a man can always be in the right.

'Buffers' help a man not to feel his conscience.

'Conscience' is again a term that needs explanation.

In ordinary life the concept 'conscience' is taken too simply.  As if we had a conscience.

Actually the concept 'conscience' in the sphere of the emotions is equivalent to the concept 'consciousness' in the sphere of the intellect.  And as we have no consciousness we have no conscience.

"Consciousness is  a state in which a man knows all at once  everything that he in general knows and in which he can see how little he does know and how many contradictions there are in what he knows.

"Conscience is  a state in which a man feels all at once  everything that he in general feels, or can feel.  And as everyone has within him thousands of contradictory feelings which vary from a deeply hidden realization of his own nothingness and fears of all kinds to the most stupid kind of self-conceit, self-confidence, self-satisfaction, and self-praise, to feel all this together  would not only be painful but literally unbearable.

"If a man whose entire inner world is composed of contradictions were suddenly to feel all these contradictions simultaneously within himself, if he were to feel all at once that he loves everything he hates and hates everything he loves;  that he lies when he tells the truth and that he tells the truth when he lies;  and if he could feel the shame and horror of it all, this would be the state which is called 'conscience'.

A man cannot live in this state;  he must either destroy contradictions or destroy conscience.  He cannot destroy conscience, but if he cannot destroy it he can put it to sleep, that is, he can separate by impenetrable barriers one feeling of self from another, never see them together, never feel their incompatibility, the absurdity of one existing alongside another.

Page 163

"But fortunately for man, that is, for his peace and for his sleep, this state of conscience is very rare.

From early childhood 'buffers' begin to grow and strengthen in him, taking from him the possibility of seeing his inner contradictions and therefore, for him, there is no danger whatever of a sudden awakening.

Awakening is possible only for those who seek it and want it, for those who are ready to struggle with themselves and work on themselves for a very long time and very persistently in order to attain it.  For this it is necessary to destroy 'buffers,' that is, to go out to meet all those inner sufferings which are connected with the sensations of contradictions.  Moreover the destruction of 'buffers' in itself requires very long work and a man must agree to this work realizing that the result of his work will be every possible discomfort and suffering from the awakening of his conscience.

"But conscience is the fire which alone can fuse all the powders in the glass retort which was mentioned before and create the unity which a man lacks in that state in which he begins to study himself.

"The concept 'conscience' has nothing in common with the concept 'morality.'

"Conscience is a general and a permanent  phenomenon.

Conscience is the same for all men and conscience is possible only in the absence of 'buffers.'

From the point of view of understanding the different categories of man we may say that there exists the conscience of a man in whom there are no contradictions.

This conscience is not suffering; on the contrary it is joy of a totally new character which we are unable to understand. But even a momentary awakening of conscience in a man who has thousands of different I's is bound to involve suffering.

And if these moments of conscience become longer and if a man does not fear them but on the contrary cooperates with them and tries to keep and prolong them, an element of very subtle joy, a foretaste of the future 'clear consciousness' will gradually enter into these moments.

"There is nothing general in the concept of 'morality.'

Morality consists of buffers.  There is no general morality.  What is moral in China is immoral in Europe and what is moral in Europe is immoral in China.  What is moral in Petersburg is immoral in the Caucasus.  And what is moral in the Caucasus is immoral in Petersburg.

What is moral in one class of society is immoral in another and vice versa.

Morality is always and everywhere an artificial phenomenon.

It consists of various 'taboos,' that is, restrictions, and various demands, sometimes sensible in their basis and sometimes having lost all meaning or never even having had any meaning, and having been created on a false basis, on a soil of superstition and false fears.

Page 164-165

"Morality consists of 'buffers.'  And since 'buffers' are of various kinds, and as the conditions of life in different countries and in different ages or among different classes of society vary considerably, so the morality created by them is also very dissimilar and contradictory.

A morality common to all does not exist.

It is even impossible to say that there exists any general idea of morality, for instance, in Europe. It is said sometimes that the general morality for Europe is 'Christian morality.'  But first of all the idea of 'Christian morality' itself admits of very many different interpretations and many different crimes have been justified by 'Christian morality.'  And in the second place modern Europe has very little in common with 'Christian morality,' no matter how we understand this morality.

"In any case, if 'Christian morality' brought Europe to the war which is now going on, then it would be as well to be as far as possible from such morality,"

"Many people say that they do not understand the moral side of your teaching," said one of us.  "And others say that your teaching has no morality at all."

"Of course not," said G.  "People are very fond of talking about morality.  But morality is merely self-suggestion.

What is necessary is conscience.  We do not teach morality.  We teach how to find conscience.

People are not pleased when we say this.  They say that we have no love.  Simply because we do not encourage weakness and hypocrisy but, on the contrary, take off all masks.

He who desires the truth will not speak of love or of Christianity because he knows how far he is from these.  Christian teaching is for Christians.  And Christians are those who live, that is, who do everything, according to Christ's precepts.  Can they who talk of love and morality live according to Christ's precepts?  Of course they cannot;  but there will always be talk of this kind, there will always be people to whom words are more precious than anything else.  But this is a true sign!  He who speaks like this is an empty man;  it is not worth while wasting time on him.

"Morality and conscience are quite different things.

One conscience can never contradict another conscience.

One morality can always very easily contradict and completely deny another.

A man with 'buffers' may be very moral.  And 'buffers' can be very different, that is, two very moral men may consider each other very immoral.  As a rule it is almost inevitably so.  The more 'moral' a man is, the more 'immoral' does he think other moral people.

"The idea of morality is connected with the idea of good and evil conduct.  But the idea of good and evil is always different for different people, always subjective in man number one, number two, and number three, and is connected only with a given moment or a given situation.

A subjective man can have no general concept of good and evil.  For a subjective man evil is everything that is opposed to his desires or interests or to his conception of good.

One may say that evil does not exist for subjective man at all, that there exist only different conceptions of good.

Nobody ever does anything deliberately in the interests of evil, for the sake of evil.

Everybody acts in the interests of good, as he understands it.  But everybody understands it in a different way.  Consequently men drown, slay, and kill one another in the interests of good.  The reason is again just the same, men's ignorance and the deep sleep in which they live.

"This is so obvious that it even seems strange that people have never thought of it before.  However, the fact remains that they fail to understand this and everyone considers his good  as the only good and all the rest as evil.  It is naive and useless to hope that men will ever understand this and that they will evolve a general and identical idea of good."

Pages 274-275

The talk about impressions brought us once more to "inner" and "outward considering."

"There cannot be proper outward considering while a man is seated in his chief feature," said G.  "For instance  So-and-So"  (he named one of our party).  "His feature is that he is never at home.  How can he consider anything or anybody?"

I was astonished at the artistic finish of the feature that was represented by G. It was not psychology even, it was art.

"And psychology ought to be art," G. replied, "psychology can never be simply a science."

To another of our party he said on the question of feature that his feature was that he did not exist at all.

"You understand, I do not see you," said G. "It does not mean that you are always like that. But when you are like you are now, you do not exist at all."

He said to another that his chief feature was a tendency always to argue with everybody about everything.

"But then I never argue," the man very heatedly at once replied.

Nobody could help laughing.

G. told another of our party — it was the middle-aged man on whom he had carried out the experiment of dividing personality from essence and who asked for raspberry jam — that his feature was that he had no conscience.

The following day the man came and said that he had been in the public library and had looked through the encyclopedic dictionaries of four languages for the meaning of the word "conscience."

G. merely waved his hand.

To the other man, his companion in the experiment, G. said that he had no shame, and he at once cracked a rather amusing joke against himself.

Page 368-369

"But it is certainly wrong to say that unless a man enters one of these ways he has no more chances. 'Ways' are simply help; help given to people according to their type.

At the same time the 'ways' the accelerated ways, the ways of personal, individual evolution as distinct from general evolution, can precede it, can lead up to it, but in any case they are distinct from it.

"Whether general evolution is proceeding or not is again another question. It is enough for us to realize that it is possible, and therefore evoluion for people outside the 'ways' is possible.

Speaking more correctly there are two 'ways.'

One we will call the 'subjective way.' It includes all four ways of which we have spoken.

The other we will call the 'objective way.' This is the way of people in life. You must not take the names 'subjective' and 'objective' too literally. They express only one aspect. I take them only because there are no other words."

"Would it be possible to say 'individual' and 'general' ways?" asked someone.

"No," said G. "It would be more incorrect than 'subjective' and 'objective' because the subjective way is not individual in the general meaning of this word, because this way is a 'school way.'

From this point of view the 'objective way' is much more individual because it admits of many more individual peculiarities. No, it is better to leave these names — 'subjective' and 'objective.' They are not altogether suitable but we will take them conditionally.

"People of the objective way simply live in life. They are those whom we call good people. Particular systems and methods are not necessary for them; making use of ordinary religious or intellectual teachings and ordinary morality, they live at the same time according to conscience.

They do not of necessity do much good, but they do no evil.

Sometimes they happen to be quite uneducated, simple people but they understand life very well, they have a right valuation of things and a right outlook. And they are of course perfecting themselves and evolving. Only their way can be very long with many unnecessary repetitions."

Page 373

"Once there lived a wolf who slaughtered a great many sheep and reduced many people to tears.

"At length, I do not know why, he suddenly felt qualms of conscience and began to repent his life; so he decided to reform and to slaughter no more sheep.

"In order to do this seriously he went to a priest and asked him to hold a thanksgiving service.

"The priest began the service and the wolf stood weeping and praying in the church. The service was long. The wolf had slaughtered many of the priest's sheep, therefore the priest prayed earnestly that the wolf would indeed reform. Suddenly the wolf looked through a window and saw that sheep were being driven home. He began to fidget but the priest went on and on without end.

"At last the wolf could contain himself no longer and he shouted:

"'Finish it, priest! Or all the sheep will be driven home and I shall be left without supper!'

"This is a very good fairy tale because it describes man very well. He is ready to sacrifice everything, but after all today's dinner is a different matter.

"A man always wishes to begin with something big. But this is impossible; there can be no choice, we must begin with the things of today."

The Fourth Way

Page 26

One of the most important and most difficult illusions to conquer is our conviction that we can 'do'.  Try to understand what that means.

We think that we make a plan, decide, start and achieve what we want, but the system explains that man 1, 2 and 3 cannot 'do', cannot do anything, everything just happens to him.

That may sound strange, particularly now when everybody thinks they can do something.

But little by little you will understand that many things we are accustomed to say about man generally could only be true about men of higher level and do not apply to men of our low level.

If you say that man can 'do', that would be right about man No. 7 or No. 6.  Even man No. 5 can do something in comparison with us, but we can do nothing.

You might say, too, that you think man has consciousness.  That would be right in relation to man No. 5, 6 or 7, beginning at No. 5.

And if you were to say that man has conscience, that would be right in relation to man No. 4 but not in relation to man No. 1, 2 and 3.

We must learn to distinguish to which category of man things refer, because some things are right in relation to one category but wrong in relation to another.

Page 27-8

Another very important problem we must consider is the idea of good and evil in this system, because generally people's views are very confused on this subject and it is necessary to establish for yourself how to understand it.

From the viewpoint of the system there are only two things that can be compared or seen in man:

  • The manifestation of mechanical laws
  • The manifestation of consciousness

If you want to find examples of what you can call good or bad, to arrive at some standard:

  • you will see at once that what we call evil is always mechanical, it can never be conscious
  • and what we call good is always conscious, it cannot be mechanical

It will take a long time to see the reason for that, because these ideas of mechanical and conscious are mixed in our mind.  We never describe them in the right way, so this is the next point you must consider and study.

Further, in connection with the question of good and evil, we must try to understand the relative positions of morality and conscience.

What is morality and what is conscience?

We can say first of all that morality is not constant.  It is different in different countries, in different centuries, in different decades, in different classes, with people of different education, and so on.  What may be moral in the Caucasus may be immoral in Europe.  For instance, in some countries blood revenge is a most moral thing;  if a man refuses to kill somebody who killed his distant uncle, he would be considered most immoral.  But in Europe nobody would think that, in fact most people would think a man very immoral to kill anybody, even a relative of somebody who had killed his uncle.  So morality is always different, and it always changes.

But conscience never changes.  Conscience is a kind of emotional understanding of truth in certain definite relations, generally in relation to behaviour, to people and so on.  This is always the same; it cannot change and it cannot differ in one nation or another, in one country or another, in one person or another.

Try to connect in your mind what I said about the study of good and evil, mechanicalness and consciousness, morality and conscience, and then put the question, 'Is conscious evil possible?'  That will require study and observation, but from the point of view of the system there is a definite principle that conscious evil is impossible;  mechanicalness must be unconscious.

Pages 158-162

Page 158

Q. Do you think that in the course of time a new belief and morality can spring from this system?

A. From this system, no.  That is quite a different thing.  These ideas are not for the masses, not for the multitude.

You must remember that this is school teaching, and school teaching can exist only for schools.  In favourable circumstances perhaps schools can increase, but that is quite a different thing; it is not the same as the appearance and growth of a religion.

The aim of the system is to bring man to conscience.

Conscience is a certain faculty that exists in every normal man.

It is really a different expression of consciousness, only, consciousness works more on the intellectual side, and conscience more on the moral side:  it helps to realize what is good and what is bad in one's conduct.

Conscience is a state in which one cannot hide anything from oneself, and it must be developed in man.

This development is parallel and simultaneous with the development of consciousness.

We cannot say that we do not have it, so it does not mean a special development of something that does not exist in us, only in our life it is behind the scenes, buried very deep down in us and asleep.  It may awake for a moment in ordinary life, and when it does, particularly at first, it always brings suffering, for it is very unpleasant to face the truth about oneself.

Conscience in relation to emotions is the same as consciousness in relation to ideas.

It may be easier for you to understand what conscience is if you think of the etymological meaning of the words consciousness and conscience.

Consciousness means all knowledge connected together.

But we cannot speak of all knowledge, because it would be too high;  we can only speak of all knowledge we may have relating to the same subject.

It must be connected with self-awareness, so consciousness must be yourself, connected with all you know about some particular thing.

Conscience is the same thing, only in relation to emotions.

To have a moment of conscience is to feel at once all that you feel about somebody or something.

If you can feel all that you ever felt in relation to the same person, country, house, book or anything else together, this would be a moment of conscience and you will see how many contradictions there are in your emotions.  Unless you have had this experience, you cannot imagine how many different feelings you can have.  In a state of conscience we see them all at once.  This is why it is such an unpleasant state.

Conscience is not very far, only we have many methods of dealing with it to prevent ourselves feeling it, such as imagination, negative emotions, justifying and so on, for it is too uncomfortable.

Page 159

Q. You said that conscience is feeling all our emotions at the same time.  I cannot quite see how we can feel them all together.

A. No, I never said that.  I said that in a moment of conscience, whether you wish it or not, you will feel all your emotions on the same subject at once.  But it is not a definition of conscience.

Conscience can be defined as an emotional feeling of truth on a given subject.

As I said, conscience is the same thing as consciousness, only it looks different to us.  We are subjective, so we take things from a subjective point of view.  When we think about consciousness, we think about a certain force, a certain energy or state in connection with intellectual appreciation.  The same energy, the same force can manifest through emotions, and this may happen to quite ordinary men in ordinary conditions.

Sometimes people may have an emotional feeling of truth — some more, others less.  This is conscience.

Lack of consciousness, absence of self-remembering and many other things such as identification and imagination, shut us off from these moments of conscience which otherwise would be more possible.  Try to think about it in this way.

Seeing contradictions and conscience are connected, but they are not the same thing, and if you take them together you will never get anywhere.

Our consciousness, such as we can have in our state, cannot manifest through the intellectual centre, because the intellectual centre is too slow, since it works mostly only with the formatory part.  But it can at times manifest through the emotional centre, and then, as I said, it is called conscience.

Consciousness, to manifest, needs long preparation, intellectual capacities and things like that, but conscience works more often and more easily than full consciousness.

Full consciousness needs much knowledge connected with the realization of one's existence, but it must be a constant realization;  it is not enough to realize it today and forget tomorrow.

At first, when conscience manifests itself in us, it turns against us, and we begin to see all our inner contradictions.  Usually we cannot see them because we are always in one or another small compartment, but conscience can see from the top and show us that here we felt one thing, there another thing, and here again quite a different thing, all on the same subject.

Page 160

For instance, if we take the work, we must realize that at one moment we feel one thing about it, at another moment quite a different thing, at a third moment again a different thing.  And we never feel it all together.

If we could feel at the same time all that we ever felt about the work, we would have a great shock.  That would be conscience.

All our life, all our habitual ways of thinking, have only one aim — to avoid shocks, unpleasant feelings, unpleasant realizations about ourselves.

And this is the chief thing that keeps us asleep, because in order to awake we must not be afraid;  we must be brave enough to see the contradictions.

Even quite apart from the question of conscience, it is important to find in yourself that, when you have strong emotions (it does not refer to small emotions), when you feel strongly about some particular thing, you may be practically certain that at another moment you will have a different emotion about the same thing.

If you cannot see it in yourself, see it in other people.

When you realize the existence of these contradictory emotions, it will help you to understand your mechanicalness and your lack of understanding of yourself — lack of self-knowledge.

So long as we feel different emotions at different times, what are we like?  One moment we trust, another moment we are suspicious;  one moment we like, another moment we dislike.  So the aim is to bring those different emotions together, otherwise we will never know ourselves.  If we always feel only one emotion at a time and do not remember other emotions, we are identified with it.  When we have another emotion we forget the first;  when we have a third, we forget the first and the second.

Very early in life, by imitation and in different other ways, we learn to live in a kind of imaginary state to save ourselves from unpleasantness, so people develop in themselves this capacity to see only one emotion at a time.

Remember to work.  Remember yourself in one mood, then remember yourself in another mood.  Try to connect them together and you will see.

Q. If we have different compartments, do they express themselves?

A. As I just said, one at a time.

For instance, we love somebody one moment, and wish them dead the next.  Only we do not see it.

Yet sometimes moments come when we can feel all our emotions on the same subject together.  Only you must wait until you get a taste of such a moment, because without a taste of it you will never get any further in understanding what a moment of conscience means.

Conscience can be very strong and definite.  But in most cases it is asleep, because, since most people are asleep, everything in them is asleep.

So conscience must be awakened.  We must learn to understand truth emotionally in certain cases, and we can do this only by not being afraid to face contradictions in ourselves.

We have special appliances in us that prevent us from seeing these contradictions.  These appliances are called buffers.  Buffers are special arrangements, or a special growth if you like, which prevent us from seeing the truth about ourselves and about other things.  Buffers divide us into sort of thought-proof compartments.  We may have many contradictory desires, intentions, aims, and we do not see that they are contradictory because buffers stand between them and prevent us from looking from one compartment into another.  When you are in one compartment, you think it is the whole thing, then you pass into another compartment and you think that this is the whole thing.

These appliances are called buffers because, as in a railway carriage, they diminish shocks.  But in relation to the human machine they are even more: they make it impossible to see, so they are blinkers as well.

People with really strong buffers never see; but if they saw how contradictory they were, they would be unable to move, because they would not trust themselves.  That is why buffers are necessary in mechanical life.  Such extreme cases mean wrong development, but even in ordinary people, in one or another line there are always deeply hidden buffers.

Page 161

Q. When one recognizes a buffer in oneself, can one do anything to get rid of it?

A. First you must see it;  before you see it nothing can be done.

And whether you can do anything after you have seen it depends on the size of the buffer and on many other things.

Sometimes it is necessary to take a hammer and break it;  and sometimes it disappears if you throw light on it, for buffers do not like light.

When buffers begin to disappear and become less strong, conscience begins to manifest itself.  In ordinary life it is kept down by buffers.

Q. Could you explain a little more what you mean by buffers?

A. Buffers are very difficult to describe or define.

As I said, they are a kind of partitions in us that keep us from observing ourselves.

You may have different emotional attitudes (they always refer to emotional attitudes) towards the same thing in the morning, at midday, and in the evening, without noticing it.  Or in a certain set of circumstances you have one kind of opinions and in other circumstances another kind of opinions, and buffers are walls that stand between them.

Generally each buffer is based on some kind of wrong assumption about oneself, one's capacities, one's powers, inclinations, knowledge, being, consciousness and so on.  They differ from ordinary wrong ideas because they are permanent;  in given circumstances one always feels and sees the same thing;  and you must understand that in man 1, 2 and 3 nothing must be permanent.

The only chance he has of changing is that there is nothing permanent in him.

Opinions, prejudices, preconceived ideas are not buffers yet, but when they become very firm, and always the same, and always have the same trick of shutting things off from our sight, they become buffers.  If people have some kind of constant wrong attitude, based on wrong information, wrong work of centres, negative emotion, if they always use the same kind of excuse, they prepare buffers.  And when a buffer is established and becomes permanent, it stops all possible progress.

If buffers continue to develop, they become fixed ideas, and that is already insanity, or the beginning of insanity.

Page 162

Buffers can be very different.  For instance, I knew a man who had a very interesting buffer.  Every time he did something wrong, he said that he did it on purpose, as an experiment.  This is a very good example of a buffer.  Another man had a buffer that he was never late; so, with this buffer firmly established he was always late but never noticed it, and if his attention was drawn to it, he was always astonished and said,  'How can I be late?  I am never late!'

Q. When a buffer has gone down, and you see something that seems unbearable, what is the next step?

A. All the work is preparation for that.

If one does not work but only thinks that one works and a buffer suddenly disappears by some accident, one finds oneself in a very unpleasant situation, and one also sees that one only pretended to work.  Buffers help us to pretend instead of really working.

This is why people in the ordinary state cannot have conscience, because if conscience suddenly came, they would go mad.

Buffers are useful in this respect; they help to keep us asleep;  for if other sides are not developed, if everything is not brought into a certain balance, one would not be able to bear oneself, as one is.

So it is not even advisable to destroy buffers before one is ready.  One must be ready first. We can bear ourselves only because we do not know ourselves.  If we knew ourselves as we are, it would be unbearable.

Pages 164-166

Page 164

Q. Can conscience only be understood when we experience higher emotion?

A. No, as I said, conscience is a feeling possible for quite ordinary men without any school.  It is a kind of inner feeling of truth in connection with one particular thing, or another thing, or a third thing.  The connection may be wrong, but the feeling itself will be quite right.

Q. Surely conscience is more than awareness of all one's emotions at a particular time, because it may alter one's resulting action.  It seems to strengthen some emotions and weaken others.

A. That is because you see them.  This is the biggest of all possibilities, because when you see your different emotions about the same thing, and see them constantly, you will be horrified.

Q. Isn't what we call conscience sometimes one 'I' disapproving of another?

A. This is a very good observation of conscience in the ordinary sense of the word.  But what I call conscience is a certain state in which we can be later.

What is called conscience in ordinary life is simply certain associations.

We are accustomed to think and do things in a certain way, and if for some reason we act in a different way, we have an unpleasant feeling which we call conscience.

In reality conscience is a much deeper and stronger feeling, and when real conscience appears, you will see that it is not like anything you call conscience now.

Q. Then the feeling we call conscience is wrong?

A. Not necessarily wrong, but it is not the same thing.  It can be attached to quite trivial things which have no particular moral value.

Morality is always relative, conscience is absolute.

Conscience is a special positive emotion.

In our present state we have a very small trace of this emotion, sufficient to have a general feeling that something may be right and something else may be wrong, but insufficient to say definitely what is right and what is wrong.  This has to be developed.

At present the state of conscience we can have does not distinguish the big from the small, but later conscience may become quite a different method of cognition, an instrument of discrimination.

Before conscience can be opened fully, we must have will, we must be able to 'do', to act according to the dictates of our conscience, otherwise, if conscience awoke fully in man in his present state he would be a most miserable being; he would not be able to forget, not able to adapt to things, and not able to change anything.

Conscience destroys buffers, so that man finds himself defenceless against himself, and at the same time he has no will, so he cannot change, cannot do what he knows is right.  So first he must develop will, otherwise he will find himself in a very unpleasant situation, beyond his control When he acquires control, he may allow himself the luxury of conscience, but not before that.

Page 165

Q. What is the feeling of remorse which comes from having committed an action one feels is wrong?  Is it conscience?

A. No, conscience is different, more powerful, more all-embracing.  But even if one remembers moments of remorse, it is useful.  Only it is necessary to know on what the remorse is based.

Q. Is there a connection between essence and conscience?

A There is a big connection, for both consciousness and conscience come from essence, but not our essence.  Our essence is simply mechanical.

Q. I suppose self-remembering does not necessarily bring with it moral uplift?

A. It certainly brings another understanding, because when one becomes conscious, one understands the moral side of things better, for the opposite of morality is mechanicalness.  If one becomes more conscious, one will be able to control one's conduct.

Q. Can one's moral sense be useful or reliable in connection with one's conduct?

A. It is difficult to speak in general, but the more you study the system the more you will see yourself.  There are many things that you can think are quite right, but which from the point of view of the system are quite wrong.  There are many things we do not know.  We can do much harm to ourselves, thinking that we are quite moral — actual harm, and not only in a moral sense.

The system, particularly in the later stages, has a much stricter code of rules, and at the same time it is perhaps more free than anything else.  But, as I said, you can always begin from the point of view of what is mechanical and what is conscious.

Q. I am still not clear what the function of conscience is?

A. If the question is asked in this way, without adding anything else, all I can say is that if one does not have a definite aim, if one does not work for a certain definite purpose, the function of conscience is only to spoil life for a person who is unlucky enough to have it  But if he works for a definite purpose, then conscience helps him to attain his aim.

Q. Is it not possible that, by acquiring certain knowledge and power through selfremembering and other practices, man can use this power for evil purposes?

A. You see, an inevitable part of the process of self-development is the awakening of conscience, and the awakening of conscience will prevent any possibility of using new powers for any wrong aim or purpose.  This must be definitely understood from the very beginning, because conscience, when it awakes, will not allow one to do anything selfish or contrary to other people's interests, or harmful to anybody — nothing, in fact, that we may consider wrong or evil.

And conscience has to be awakened, because with unawakened conscience one will always make mistakes and will not see contradictions in oneself.

Page 166

Q. Does the following of a moral code in a sleeping state help us?

A. We are not always equally asleep, and at moments when we are less asleep we can make certain decisions;  and even in our sleeping state we can follow these decisions more or follow them less, or not follow them at all and be absolutely in the power of our sleeping state.  Besides, if one follows certain conscious ideas, by this very process one becomes more awake.

Q. When one is conscious, one can realize the contradictions.  Does not that, to a certain extent, annihilate them?

A. No, that would be too simple; you can see them and yet they will remain.  It is one thing to see and another thing to do something, one thing to know and another to alter.

Q. Is absolute truth only possible with objective consciousness?

A. Truth exists without us, but one can know truth only in objective consciousness.  Not 'absolute' truth, but simply truth, for truth does not need qualifications.  In our state we cannot know truth with the exception of very simple things, and even then we make mistakes.

Q. How can one recognize truth on our level?

A. By coming to simple things.  In simple things one can recognize truth;  one can recognize what is a door and what is a wall, and one can bring every difficult question to the same thing.

It means that you have to recognize a certain quality in quite simple principles and verify other things by these simple principles.  This is why philosophy — just discussion of possibilities or the meaning of words — is excluded from this system.  You must try to understand simple things, and you must learn to think in this way;  then you will be able to bring everything to simple things.

Take for instance self-remembering.  You are given all the material;  if you observe yourself, you will see that you did not remember yourself at that moment;  you will notice that at some moments you remember yourself more and at some moments less, and you will decide that it is better to remember yourself.

This means that you have found a door, that you see the difference between a door and a wall.

Q. How to prolong states of conscience?

A. First we must think not about how to prolong but how to create, because in our ordinary state we have not got it.  When we create or awake it, it is certainly useful to keep it longer, although it is very unpleasant.

But there are no direct methods for inducing it, so it is only by doing all that is possible that one can get this taste of conscience.

Generally, one of the first conditions is a great sincerity with oneself.  We are never sincere with ourselves.

Page 171

Q. Is Deputy Steward conscience?

A. Conscience takes part in forming the Deputy Steward, but you cannot say it is  Deputy Steward, because conscience is much bigger.

Page 175

. . . If one takes one thing and omits another thing — for instance, if one seriously works on self-remembering without knowing about the idea of the division of 'I's, so that one takes oneself as one (as a unity) from the beginning — then self-remembering will give wrong results and may even make development impossible.

There are schools, for instance, or systems which, although they do not formulate it in this way, are actually based on false personality and on struggle against conscience.

Such work must certainly produce wrong results.  At first it will create a certain kind of strength, but it will make the development of higher consciousness an impossibility.  False personality either destroys or distorts memory.

Pages 317-318

Q. It is very difficult to make sure that one is telling the truth to oneself.

A. Yes, that is why I said to see  oneself first, not to know.  We have many pictures of ourselves, we must see them, one after another, and then compare them.  But we cannot say at the first glance which is right.  It can only be verified by repeated experience.

This is what, in the first group in St Petersburg, was called taking mental snapshots of oneself in preparation for seeing oneself.

Q. Cannot repeated experience also be wrong?

A. Yes, we can deceive ourselves even in that.  But when the emotional element — conscience — enters, that will be verification.

Q. How does one take those mental snapshots?

A. Without a camera.  See how you look, how people see you in one or another set of circumstances.  You have to do it yourself, although sometimes it may be useful to ask other people about their impression of you, because everybody has a wrong picture of himself.

Everybody stands before a mirror and, instead of himself, sees somebody else.  If you do that you will get an idea of your roles.  Roles are often divided by buffers, so we cannot look from one role at another.

Page 356

Q. Is conscience what would help most to know oneself?

A. Yes, it is a necessary element;  one has to pass through it.  It is the most unpleasant thing in the world, because in the ordinary state we can hide things from ourselves.  If we do not want to see something, we just shut our eyes and do not see it.

But in the state of conscience our eyes will not shut.

Pages 441-443

Page 441

Q. You said a few minutes ago that one went on from where one left off in another life.  Does it mean that if you become man No. 4 in this life you will be born No. 4 in the next?

A. That I do not know.  I think it is better to say that it will be easier to become No. 4.  You see, with a big change of being like that of passing from one degree to another degree, one falls under many new laws.  How this works, I do not know.

We can speak only about our own situation because that  we know, and we can say that we can expect comparatively small changes — more knowledge, more consciousness and, with luck, a little more conscience or hunger.

But we cannot speak of big changes such as passing from one degree to another.  Still, even a slight change is a change, and it is better to think about small changes which we can measure.

You see, in connection with all these questions, it is very useful to realize what  we can know.  These questions are asked as though we could know the answers, but just five minutes of thinking would show that we cannot, because if we could, probably we would have had the answers long ago.  In order to answer these questions practically it is necessary to have a better instrument;  if we could use this instrument with a bigger range, perhaps we would have concrete answers, but not with the ordinary brain we have now.

Page 442-443

Q. You speak of dead people recurring, but I thought essence could not die?

A. It can die relatively, in the sense that it cannot develop.  Mechanically it may exist, but it cannot grow, it can only deteriorate with time.  Essence can die in many different ways.  It may die only for this life or it may die completely.  It can die completely only as a result of a long period of wrong actions, actions against conscience.  Killing essence means killing conscience.

Or it can die in this life and be born again, safe and sane, in the next.  For instance, one can fall on one's head and essence may die in the sense that it will not develop any further.  But in the next life it will live again.  So in speaking about death of essence we must know which case we mean, accidental or intentional.

In thinking about life, we forget that many people are dead and that sleeping people easily fall under the influence of dead people.

Q. Are most people dead?

A. This question was much discussed in our group in St Petersburg.  Some thought that most people were dead, but I was always against this.  Everybody is asleep, but even in life you find pleasant people who may not work through laziness, lack of opportunity, or something else.  But they are not dead.

Q. How can dead people influence sleeping people?

A. In comparison with sleeping people they are very strong, because they have no conscience and no shame.

What makes ordinary people weak?  Conscience and shame.

Besides, if people are asleep, anything can happen to them, they can be stolen out of their beds.

All people in life are asleep, but not all are dead — yet.

At the same time, if one cannot accept and use B influence at all, there is nothing to keep one from dying sooner or later.

B influences are sent to keep men from dying, even though they are asleep.

But if they reject them, there is nothing to prevent their dying.  People are not equal in relation to evolution.  Some can evolve, others cannot.  Either they lost the possibility of evolution or they have done nothing to deserve it.

Contents - 4th Way Reference