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For the Week of April 21 - 27: Law of Three: Reconciling Force 

April 2022 Aim, The Church of Conscious Harmony

Rather, living the truth in love, 
we should grow in every way into one who is the head, Christ, 
from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, 
brings about the body's growth and builds itself up in love.

- Ephesians 4:15-16

And so, we begin Part 3: Relating Body of our curriculum where we will explore dimensions of the Law of Three in the context of full three-centered embodiment. As a starting point, you are encouraged to read and ponder once again this description of one of what the Work calls two universal laws applicable to ourselves, all aspects of everyday life, the workings of the entire universe and all its details. Now perhaps it is easy to grasp this intellectually in words but it is quite another to live from its understanding. J. G. Bennett attests: "At the very start we all suffer from a tremendous drawback: the working of our centers is dominated by polarity, so that everything we look at, everything we think and feel and sense is experienced in terms of two forces and not three. For us, three forces are higher-dimensional, and Gurdjieff expressed this by saying that 'Man is third force blind'" (Deeper Man, p. 119). What this means is that we see, divide, compare and label everything in terms of Yes and No, agreement and disagreement, acceptance and rejection, compare and contrast. In other words: polarities and dualities. Bennett goes on to explain: "In all the ordinary working of our centers, it is very rarely that we experience the opposites at the same time. Usually, our experience is dominated by only one of the two forces. This leads, as we shall see, to a fundamental misunderstanding of what affirmation and denial mean. … In World 48 [the level of personality], we are like mechanisms, seeking for pleasure, wanting to be with people that we like, attracted to ideas we agree with, and all these things we believe to be 'good.' What is painful for us – the people we do not like, the ideas we disagree with, and the rest – are all the things we believe to be 'bad.' … However incoherent or blind it all is, we live in a world where there are 'yes' things for us and 'no' things for us. We believe them to be quite separate, and that it is possible to have the one without the other" (Ibid, p. 120). 

Perhaps we do not have too much trouble forming some idea of the affirming force, but most of us have little or no understanding of the cosmic and personal role of the denying force, and characterize it as negative. In reality, the denying force is equal in stature and importance to the affirming force. The difference is that they play different roles – equally necessary for completion of any manifestation.

Bennett asserts that one-force living is the realm of World 48. In World 24 through what he calls the "freeing of the sensitivity," one can experience two forces at the same time. While we are experiencing one state, we can also call into our awareness its opposite; while we are agreeing with an idea, we can also experience disagreement with it. Unless we can do this, it is not possible to understand the lawful, indispensable workings of resistance, the second force, the denying force. A useful Work exercise when making plans for a new undertaking is to "anticipate second force." That is, where is second force – push back – likely to arise? How can I anticipate it? Thus, we factor it into our plans and intended creations.

Reconciling Force: A Complete Manifestation

Transubstantiate in me
For my Being.

-Mr. Gurdjieff's prayer for fully embodied three-centered manifestation

As Mr. Gurdjieff so astutely observed, we are third-force blind. What does this mean? Cynthia Bourgeault provides one answer, quoting P. D. Ouspensky: "'If we observe a stoppage in anything, or an endless hesitation at the same point, it is because third force is missing [from our awareness]'" (The Holy Trinity and The Law of Three, p. 51).  She goes on to say: "From what we have seen already about the Law of Three, this point should now be obvious, since the third, or neutralizing, force is what brings the other two into relationship. No third force, no action. It is worth reemphasizing the consequences of this principle in terms of orienting oneself toward enlightened action: it does no good whatsoever simply to align oneself with one of the two opposing forces in an attempt to overcome the other; a solution will appear only when third force enters" (Ibid, pp. 51-52). Thus, possessing three dynamic qualities, each phenomenon has the potential for change, for evolution, the potential for a fourth "something." In other words, a new creation. Or not.

Now, a stoppage in any new unfolding, endless hesitation or stalemate may indicate that third force is missing; more likely is that solutions to impasses generally come by learning how to spot and mediate third force, which is actually present in every situation but generally hidden from our view. Third force is not readily accessible to the ordinary mind and understanding. It is a common misunderstanding to say that there is no third force – meaning that there is no recognized third force – but there is always third force in any interaction, encounter, or the undertaking of anything new. Now third force can be that of life (World 48), or it can be as Bennett attests: "The understanding [and the work] of all three forces properly belongs to World 12, in which it is possible to see things as they really are. There we are able to see that there is something apart from both affirmation and denial which is a source of freedom and that it is through this third force that wholeness comes" (Bennet, op. cit., p. 11). 

What is the wholeness, the highest possibilities for the activation of third force? Bennett gives us an example in prayer: "Ultimately, what we are after is expressed in a prayer that is quoted by Gurdjieff in Beelzebub's Tales 'Sources of Divine Rejoicings, Revolts and Sufferings, direct your action upon us.' This prayer is addressed to the formation of the higher bodies in ourselves. The seed of our spiritual body is in us, or is in our 'I.' This is the source of rejoicing. In the course of our transformation, our physical body is the source of revolt. … When we pray like this, we can become aware that all of us, all of what we are, is nothing but denial. We can begin to understand that our ideas of the meaning of affirmation have been based on the experiences of self-will and self-assertion [personality]. Freedom comes when we can deny ourselves before some hidden obligation. This is the way of what Gurdjieff called 'intentional suffering.' … 

"It is no easier to understand the cosmic working of the three forces than it is to understand the prayer. … To get understanding, we have to be able to feel the content … and enter inside it. That requires of us something that is very hard; that we should be able to bring real experience before us, and see it for what it is. This means that we have to arrest our habit of 'thinking about' experience, which wastes experience and prevents us from being realistic about our lives. We have to put away all this 'thinking about,' all this associating and 'formatting,' and see" (Bennet, op. cit., pp. 122-123).

The Work Triad

We can now briefly talk about the three forces in the Work triad wherein we recall that we come into the world as essence under 24 orders of laws and then personality manifests itself in the growing child under 48 orders of laws. Most often, the many "I's" of personality and its life dominate the essence which remains undeveloped. The object of the Work is to reverse this state and cause essence to become active and personality passive.

Maurice Nicoll explains: "It is only when the Work becomes neutralizing force that a reversal can take place and essence become active and personality passive. … Such a configuration or relation is not necessary for a man to get along in life and certainly is not inevitable. It does not happen.  It is not mechanically brought about. To attain it at least two things are needed. The first is to find a teaching designed precisely to lead to this state in which a new neutralizing force exists. The second is to live this teaching in oneself and so do all it teaches. Such a teaching will be against life: because life has produced the first triad [personality<life>essence] and cannot produce the second triad [essence<the Work>personality]. That is why it is said that the Work, not life, must become neutralizing or third force for configuration of the second triad to take place. … Life can provide the food for the development of personality but not the food necessary for the development of essence. The secret is that personality and essence need different foods for their respective development. … If a man, imbued with a knowledge of this Work (whose origin is the Conscious Circle of Humanity, which in the Gospels is called the Kingdom of Heaven) continually steeps his mind in its Truths and thinks and thinks again from them and perceives their depth and acknowledges them and applies them to his inner states, essence will begin to grow.  … The will of the outer personality obeys the will of the inner essence. It is content to say: 'Not my will but thine be done.' Having made the personality passive from doing the Truth of the Work, which is stronger than life, the man has now attained the secret end and hidden meaning of his creation … he is now a complete Man" (Commentaries, "A Review of Essence and Personality," August 16, 1952, Vol. 5, pp. 1611-1614). 

We conclude with two Work koans to ponder: 

"Among the sayings of Christ not included in the Gospels are the following:

"When the Lord was asked by a certain man, when should his kingdom come, he saith unto him: 'When two shall be one, and the without as the within, and the male with the female, neither male nor female' – i.e., active and passive are replaced by third force [of the Work].

"And again:

"If ye make not the below into the above and the above into the below, the right into the left and the left into the right, the before into the behind (and the behind into the before) ye shall not enter the kingdom of God." 
- Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, "On Thinking for Oneself," March 4, 1950, Vol. 4, p. 1375 



  • "Select something you want to study. You have material, new ideas and so on, but at the same time you have a resistance to this study, because some 'I's' want it and some other 'I's' do not want it. They represent active and passive forces. Suppose that this study produces some kind of emotion in you; this emotion works as a neutralizing force, and then you can study. If emotion does not come, those 'I's' that want it and those that don't want it will continue to argue and nothing will happen" (P. D. Ouspensky, The Fourth Way, p. 190).  Simply observe this.

  • Each day this week, observe how you get up in the morning: All sorts of unpleasant "I's" may start talking about their troubles and taking a certain view of the day. Others may begin to argue with them. But, what do you want for the day? Third force answers the question of why we do a thing.

April Practice: Listening Deeply

Self-observe while in a conversation with someone or in a group conversation. Notice your level of attention and attunement. Are you drifting? Are you planning on what you are going to say? One of the most important aspects of increasing our ability to listen deeply is reflecting back to the other what we have heard them say. Practice using phrases such as, thank you for saying that, what I hear you saying is that you feel, think. Reflecting back what you have heard before launching into what you want to say is a way of validating to another that you are listening to them not just thinking about yourself. Reflecting and validating are practical ways of external considering in the specific human experience of embodied listening and speaking.  

Attend The Journey School Thursday Class Tonight: All are encouraged and welcome to attend tonight's class for a review of these teachings and, importantly, to produce a container of beings seeking to be more conscious and whose efforts assist one another:  7:00 pm Central Time via Zoom only.

  1. Click on this link and Zoom should open automatically on your laptop or tablet:, or

  2. Open Zoom, click on Join Meeting and enter this meeting ID: 996-101-9778, passcode: CCH

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