EnneagramFourth Way Gurdjieff Ouspensky School Education Concerning the Work Teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff, P. D. Ouspensky, Maurice Nicoll, and their students.
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Wet Paint NASA Hoags object

Tell a man that there are 300,000,000,000 stars in the galaxy, and he will believe you. Tell him that a bench has wet paint on it, and he will have to touch it to be sure.

Lying, in the work sense, is slightly different from lying as the word is usually used, a little more subtle perhaps. Perhaps we might think it is less damaging than what we normally consider as lying, but it is actually more damaging to one personally, as that without working to eliminate it, one can not expect one's personal work on oneself to go far.

Lying in the usual sense, is generally connected with a feeling of guilt and concealment. One knows one is doing wrong by telling something untrue. Lying in the work sense is often associated with a feeling of vanity, and it's easier to buffer that no harm is done by it.

By lying, in the work sense, I mean primarily talking about things one does not know, as though one does. Lying is associated with vanity, and also verification --- verification being a possible cure. Lying comes from false personality, and the more you lie, the more you strengthen your false personality. Not lying can involve accepting humiliation, admitting one does not know everything, and thus opening the way to beginning to know things properly, especially oneself.

For example, when I was learning Japanese, I was talking about it to a friend who had studied Chinese. He said how knowing some Chinese helped him when he visited Japan.

For instance, he could guess the sign for Kyoto when he was trying to get on the right train in Tokyo to go to Kyoto, since one of the characters in Kyoto is the same as one of the characters in Beijing, and means `Capital', and Kyoto was the ancient capital of Japan. I immediately jumped to a superior position: `Oh, I've studied those characters in my class, the characters in Tokyo and Kyoto are the same, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference', with a `How stupid you are, how clever I am' in the back of my mind. False personality took the opportunity to bolster it`s position.

Later, I checked what I'd said, and found that I was wrong, only one of the characters in Kyoto and Tokyo are the same, not both. False personality was loath to even mention it to the other person, to apologize for `living'. (To apologize, for me, was an example of voluntary suffering).

Another example, I heard someone ask another person `At confession, does the Catholic priest say “I forgive you your sins?”' The reply was `No, the priest says “Go and say ten `Hail Mary's' and ten `Our Father's', and your sins will be forgiven.”' I wondered if this was an example of lying, from the certainty with which the reply was given, as if from an expert. I can't say. It also could be an example of not verifying on the part of the questioner. The question may have been from the mechanical part of the intellectual centre, from some association with the previous topic of conversation. It could have been unnecessary talking.

If it was something the person really wanted to know about, the best way would be to find out by verification, for example, go to confession and listen to the priest, or go and find a priest who will discuss the matter of what confession and absolution of sins involves.

Here's another example. Someone was asking about the work of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, from a position of assuming it makes claims without proving them (making this assumption is lying, if you have not seen it to be true). He was saying `There are people who claim that there are three old women who are hundreds of years old, who live in a cave in India, and I don't believe that sort of thing…'. The answer `Well, you can go and look in the cave, see if they do or not, if you want to find out, and verify'.

The person was not interested in verification, he was lying, in a sense, even though common sense might indicate that it is unlikely there are no such old women. He was lying because he was talking from the point of view that he knew the truth, though he had not verified. Here, false personality is clearly evident, since really, the existence of such old women is neither here nor there, it was not really relevant to asking about this work, and would have probably no effect on this person's life or well-being.

Or recently, I was with a group of people, myself being the only native English speaker. Someone wanted to insist that the English used the word `cheese' as a farewell word, when saying goodbye. This was really quite obvious lying to a native speaker, `He doesn't know what he's talking about', think I. But to the others, what he said might have been an interesting piece of information for their false personalities to take in, and go home and tell to other friends. Vanity would display how clever it is. However, in this case, his statement was questioned, and finally we worked out he meant that Germans say `Tschuess'. He was talking about something he did not really know about, pretending that he did.

This is lying to oneself, believing one is an expert, when one is not. It can prevent one from listening to people who really do know something, and can prevent one from learning, since one already believes one knows.

Lying to oneself can be a little different again from the above examples, that involved other people. In lying to oneself, one may believe, for instance, that one is always on time, when in fact one is always late. Buffers will prevent the truth from being seen, for instance, telling oneself that `This occasion is quite exceptional'. `I'm always on time, so this is excusable to be late for once.' `It's all the fault of so-and-so, if it wasn't for them this would never have happened.' One may even call to mind some occasion when one was on time, and take that as the example one mentally refers to.

Lying such as this is difficult to deal with. One does not want to see one's faults (again, vanity would like to believe we had none). If one persists in lying to oneself, one will not see one's true position, and if you can't see your current position, you can't change. Through being invariably late, one may miss many opportunities. But if one does not even know that one is late, one will not work to change things.

How can things become visible that we are blind to? How can we stop lying? In the case of lying to ourselves, we need to be open to other people pointing out our faults to us. If your friend is annoyed --- `You're late again', rather than start justifying, buffering, and disagreeing, one could ask oneself `Is she right?'

We need to be willing to accept that we may not be perfect. Similarly in lying to others, one must be willing to admit to oneself that one does not know. To know, one must verify.

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