From beginning to end the teaching of Gurdjieff is practical, it deals with the concrete situation of our immediate existence, and what we make of it.
"Man -he says- is not living his true human potential and is satisfied with a mare animal existence, living day to day the possibilities of his own illusion witch is totally disconnected from reality". This produces in us a sensation of emptiness which uncomfortably we try to replace with fame, riches, and social recognition, at the same time it creates a greater abyss between the internal and the external world. This great abyss most be overcome by individual work and conscious effort. The human automatism can not be modified through the intellect or by a simple wish, -an intentional struggle is necessary to keep us awake, to leave in the present-.
Gurdjieff spend many years investigating,- he took different aspects of religions philosophies, and systems of self development mainly from the Orient, and he transform this ideas in a way that could be practical for the west. He did not leave written records of the origin of his ideas; - through some of the books of his disciples it is obvious that G. had contact with many teachers and religious orders that were connected with ancient knowledge-. For example, according to Bennett, Gurdjieff talked several times about a lengthy stay in Cappadocia where he apparently made a special study of the origins of the Christian liturgy as it was developed by St. Basil the Great and others who built a bridge between the Christian religion an the ancient knowledge. He thought this liturgy was a true 'legominism'.
Other cultures present in his teachings are, the Egyptian, Assyrian, Essene, Persian and Sufi.
Gurdjieff says that immortality is not a property with which the human being is born. And all the ways that lead to that immortality can be divided in three categories:
The way of the Fakir, which is the way of the struggle against the physical body;
The way of the Monk, which is the way of faith, of religious sentiment and sacrifices;
The way of the yogi, which is the way of knowledge based on the intellect.
All this three ways have a common starting point. They all begin with what is most difficult, they propose a change of life, a renunciation to every thing that belongs to this world. A man or a woman that have a home, a family, a job, most abandon them and renounce all the pleasures, attachments, family duties and retire to a dessert, a monastery, or school.
In the ordinary condition of civilize life a man looking for knowledge and spiritual growth have no possibilities of doing anything that resemble something like that. And the religions of the west have degenerated so much that since long time back, there is nothing alive in any of them.
The Fourth way includes techniques from all the other ways that when combined produced a state of accelerated transformation, and at the same time creating a harmonious state of being by balancing the three centers.
The practitioner of The Fourth way is able to attain a three center balance state which begins to manifest in his every day life with more and more frequency, providing him with an unmistakable taste of reality that begins to make his essence more active and his personality more passive