4th Way - Generally, the term refers to a body of teaching on the possible spiritual development of man, introduced to the Western culture by George Gurdjieff in the first half of the 20th century. P. D. Ouspensky, a contemporary and student of Gurdjieff, has brought many aspects of the teaching to a condensed form in the book 'In Search of the Miraculous.' Within the 4th Way teaching, the term 4th Way is a path of spiritual development set apart from the 3 traditional ways, these being the Way of the Fakir, emphasizing the mastery of the physical body, the Way of the Monk, emphasizing mastery of emotions, and the Way of the Yogi, which emphasizes discipline of the mind. These different ways or approaches to spiritual development generally correspond to the three types of man, see 'Man'
The 4th Way differs from these in that it seeks to simultaneously develop all three sides and to do so in the environment of ordinary life, whereas the three first ways all require from the beginning a complete abandoning of daily life and a seclusion into a monastic environment. The 4th Way is sometimes therefore called the way of the 'sly man.' All the 4 ways may lead to the same understandings and may bring their practitioner from the 'outer circle' of humanity to the 'exoteric' and later 'mesoteric' and 'esoteric' circles .
The 4th Way teaching starts from the premise that man is essentially mechanical and free will and true consciousness and freedom are only seldom realized possibilities. In the normal state man is subject to circumstance and passes his life in a state of sleep.
Central concepts of the 4th Way include: Little I's, Doing, Being, Identification, Self-Remembering, Centers, Man 1, 2, and 3, Fusion (of 'Iron filings'), Worlds, Hydrogens, Food for the Moon.
While the form of the 3 first Ways is relatively constant, the 4th Way and 4th Way schools appear and disappear according to need, in a form appropriate to the time. The 4th Way work appears for accomplishing a specific esoteric task, as times may require.
Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous is probably the most concise and structured presentation of the background and precepts of the 4th Way. Gurdjieff's Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson, Meetings with Remarkable Men and Life is Only Real then when I Am are the main works of Gurdjieff himself.
The QFS sees Gurdjieff as a teacher of central importance in recent times and often refers to his work. Gurdjieff is seen as a trailblazer who was far ahead of his time but who had to hide behind allegory many things of which the QFS speaks directly. This is specially true of the concept of 'food for the moon,' i.e. the manner in which hyperdimensional entities manage humankind as a farmer would manage sheep. Gurdjieff's concepts of cosmology, mankind's sleep , need for awakening of consciousness etc are generally compatible with the Cassiopaea material although the terminology differs.