Near hundred years ago G. I. Gurdjieff had stated an idea of the complexity of a concept “Man” as follows:
“Once again let us take the idea man. In the language of which I speak, instead of the word “man”, seven words are used, namely: man number one, man number two, man number three, man number four, man number five, man number six, and man number seven. With these seven ideas people are already able to understand one another when speaking of man.
Man number seven means a man who has reached the full development possible to man and who possesses everything a man can possess, that is, will, consciousness, permanent and unchangeable I, individuality, immortality, and many other properties which, in our blindness and ignorance, we ascribe to ourselves. It is only when to a certain extent we understand man number seven and his properties that we can under stand the gradual stages through which we can approach him, that is, understand the process of development possible for us.
Man number six stands very close to man number seven. He differs from man number seven only by the fact that some of his properties have not as yet become permanent.
Man number five is also for us an unattainable standard of man, for it is a man who has reached unity.
Man number four is an intermediate stage. I shall speak of him later.
Man number one, number two, and number three, these are people who constitute mechanical humanity on the same level on which they are born.
Man number one means man in whom the center of gravity of his psychic life lies in the moving center. This is the man of the physical body, the man with whom the moving and the instinctive functions constantly outweigh the emotional and the thinking functions.
Man number two means man on the same level of development, but man in whom the center of gravity of his psychic life lies in the emotional center, that is, man with whom the emotional functions outweigh all others; the man of feeling, the emotional man.
Man number three means man on the same level of development but man in whom the center of gravity of his psychic life lies in the intellectual center, that is, man with whom the thinking functions gain the upper hand over the moving, instinctive, and emotional functions; the man of reason, who goes into everything from theories, from mental considerations.
The division of man into seven categories, or seven numbers, explains thousands of things which otherwise cannot be understood. This division gives the first conception of relativity as applied to man. Things may be one thing or another thing according to the kind of man from whose point of view, or in relation to whom, they are taken.
In accordance with this, all the inner and all the outer manifestations of man, all that belongs to man, and all that is created by him, is also divided into seven categories.
It can now be said that there exists a knowledge number one, based upon imitation or upon instincts, or learned by heart, crammed or drilled into a man. Number one, if he is man number one in the full sense of the term, learns everything like a parrot or a monkey.
The knowledge of man number two is merely the knowledge of what he likes; what he does not like he does not know. Always and in everything he wants something pleasant. Or, if he is a sick man, he will, on the contrary, know only what he dislikes, what repels him and what evokes in him fear, horror, and loathing.
The knowledge of man number three is knowledge based upon subjectively logical thinking, upon words, upon literal understanding. It is the knowledge of bookworms, of scholastics. Men number three, for example, have counted how many times each letter of the Arabic alphabet is repeated in the Koran of Mohammed, and upon this have based a whole system of interpretation of the. Koran.
The knowledge of man number four is a very different kind of knowledge. It is knowledge which comes from man number five, who in turn receives it from man number six, who has received it from man number seven. But, of course, man number four assimilates of this knowledge only what is possible according to his powers. But, in comparison with man number one, man number two, and man number three, man number four has begun to get free from the subjective elements in his knowledge and to move along the path towards objective knowledge.
The knowledge of man number five is whole, indivisible knowledge. He has now one indivisible I and all his knowledge belongs to this I. He cannot have one I that knows something which another does not know. What he knows, the whole of him knows. His knowledge is nearer to objective knowledge than the knowledge of man number four.
The knowledge of man number six is the complete knowledge possible to man; but it can still be lost.
The knowledge of man number seven is his own knowledge, which cannot be taken away from him; it is the objective and completely practiced knowledge of All. "It is exactly the same with being. There is the being of man number one, that is, the being of a man living by his instincts and his sensations;
the being of man number two, that is to say, the being of the sentimental, the emotional man; the being of man number three, that is, the being of the rational, the theoretical man, and so on. It is quite clear why knowledge cannot be far away from being. Man number one, two, or three cannot, by reason of his being, possess the knowledge of man number four, man number five, and higher. Whatever you may give him, he may interpret it in his own way, he will reduce every idea to the level on which he is himself.
The same order of division into seven categories must be applied to everything relating to man. There is art number one, that is the art of man number one, imitative, copying art, or crudely primitive and sensuous art such as the dances and music of savage peoples. There is art number two, sentimental art; art number three, intellectual, invented art; and there must be art number four, number five, and so on.
In exactly the same way there exists the religion of man number one, that is to say, a religion consisting of rites, of external forms, of sacrifices and ceremonies of imposing splendor and brilliance, or, on the contrary, of a gloomy, cruel, and savage character, and so on. There is the religion of man number two; the religion of faith, love, adoration, impulse, enthusiasm, which soon becomes transformed into the religion of persecution, oppression, and extermination of “heretics” and “heathens”. There is the religion of man number three; the intellectual, theoretical religion of proofs and arguments, based upon logical deductions, considerations, and interpretations. Religions number one, number two, and number three are really the only ones we know; all known and existing religions and denominations in the world belong to one of these three categories. What the religion of man number four or the religion of man number five and so on is, we do not know, and we cannot know so long as we remain what we are.
If instead of religion in general we take Christianity, then again there exists a Christianity number one, that is to say, paganism in the guise of Christianity. Christianity number two is an emotional religion, sometimes very pure but without force, sometimes full of bloodshed and horror leading to the Inquisition, to religious wars. Christianity number three, instances of which are afforded by various forms of Protestantism, is based upon dialectic, argument, theories, and so forth. Then there is Christianity number four, of which men number one, number two, and number three have no conception whatever.
In actual fact Christianity number one, number two, and number three is simply external imitation. Only man number four strives to be a Christian and only man number five can actually be a Christian. For to be a Christian means to have the being of a Christian, that is, to live in accordance with Christ's precepts.
Man number one, number two, and number three cannot live in accordance with Christ's precepts because with them everything 'happens.' Today it is one thing and tomorrow it is quite another thing. Today they are ready to give away their last shirt and tomorrow to tear a man to pieces because he refuses to give up his shirt to them. They are swayed by every chance event. They are not masters of themselves and therefore they cannot decide to be Christians and really be Christians.
Science, philosophy, and all manifestations of man's life and activity can be divided in exactly the same way into seven categories. But the ordinary language in which people speak is very far from any such divisions, and this is why it is so difficult for people to understand one another.”
P. D. Ouspensky, “In Search of the Miraculous. Fragments of an Unknown Teaching.”