Lines of Work
In 4th Way schools, the Work is divided into three distinct lines. These are 1. the student's work on the self, 2. the work with other students and 3. work for the school.
The first line consists of activities like self-observation, self-remembering and various exercises, as may be individually appropriate. The student must provide the impetus and will, the school can provide guidance and a conceptual framework into which the student may place the observations made.
The work with other students is a catalyst for receiving new shocks. In working as a team with relative strangers not of one's own choosing, one experiences friction. This friction can be used as fuel for self-observation and transformation of negative emotions. One gets to practice external considering and internal non-considering.
The work for the school is again up to the student. The student must in time find an area of independent activity through which one can give back to the school. This must be of free will and generally correspond to some talent or capacity of the student. This may be physical work, teaching, creating art or research or many other things. The key idea is that it must come from the student and benefit the school.
All processes proceed according to the Law of Seven, according to the 4th Way. The Work is no exception. Octaves have two intervals or shocks which cannot be bridged without an external nudge or additional impulse. The work of the student on any of the three lines may reach a standstill or plateau. At such a point, work on another line may provide the impulse needed to bridge the gap. Thus the Work of the three lines forms an organic whole.
Gurdjieff emphasized in his five noble strivings the idea of "paying for one's arising." Giving back to the school can be seen as an instance of this and as such necessary. This comes through the fact that one-sided receiving, receiving without commensurate appreciation and effort and giving back is out of balance and leaves the learning at a superficial level. The Cassiopaeans have also pointed out that many people who find themselves stuck in their progress could move forward if they gave back to balance what they had received. .
Another precept of the 4th Way is the idea that one can only make progress if one trains another to take one's former place. Thus receiving and giving are inextricably linked in the Work.