„The Work says that everything you do mechanically is lost to you. And what does the Work say about talking? Does it not say that here we forget ourselves most of all?”

Maurice Nicoll

In the second lecture from ‘The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution’ Peter Ouspensky speaks about four harmful features toward self-knowledge and awakening.

  1. Talk
  2. Imagination
  3. Negative emotions
  4. Lying

Unnecessary talk

In this article we will look at how to work with the problem of unnecessary talk. According to Ouspensky there is no harm in talking by itself. But with some people, especially with those who notice it least, it really becomes a vice. They talk all the time, everywhere they happen to be, while working, while traveling, even while sleeping. They never stop talking to someone if there is someone to talk to, and if there is no one, they talk to themselves. This feature must not only be observed, but resisted as much as possible. With unresisted talking one cannot observe anything, and all the results of a man’s observations will immediately evaporate in talking.

Observation of harmful features needs resistance

Soon you realize that in relation to mechanical manifestations it is not enough to observe them, it is necessary to resist them, because without resisting them you cannot observe them. They happen so quickly, so habitually and so imperceptibly, that you cannot notice them if you do not make sufficient efforts to create obstacles for them.

Measure of harm

Starting in this way, you very soon learn to discover signs by which you can know harmful manifestations in yourself. You discover that the more you can control a manifestation, the less harmful it can be, and that the less you can control it, that is, the more mechanical it is, the more harmful it can become. 

Falling asleep

The difficulties you have in observing unnecessary talking – will show you your utter mechanicalness, and the impossibility even of struggling against this mechanicalness without help, that is, without new knowledge and without actual assistance. For even if you have received certain material, you forget to use it, forget to observe yourself; in other words, you fall asleep again and must always be awakened.


It is relatively easy to observe unnecessary talk in others but to see it in yourself is difficult. To be able to really see it in yourself you need to find ways to resist it. A good way to do this is to formulate a small aim to resist one of your favorite topics. Some people cannot help talking about themselves, others constantly talk about the past, etc. These things need to be worked upon if you want to awaken from your state of waking sleep.

Examples of useful small aims are:

  • Today I will not talk about myself.
  • Today I will not speak about the past.
  • Today I will not talk bad about others.
  • Today I will not speak during dinner.
  • Today during our walk in the forest I will be silent.
  • Today I will not talk about politics.

To work in a practical and consistent way with this knowledge I designed a worksheet.

Click here to open the Worksheet

Do not overdo it

One aim a day is enough. One aim a day, if taken seriously, is already difficult to remember and often really confrontational for your imaginary picture of yourself.

Place the worksheet in your agenda

Integrate your work into your agenda or bullet journal. It will then also appear in your field of attention at moments it is normally forgotten.

Print the worksheet. Fold it double and make holes in it. And formulate a small aim.

worksheet-in-agenda v2

One last thing

If you can keep the small aim, it is too easy, better take a more difficult one.

Please, do not put on a show, the only one you will be fooling is yourself. Keep your inner work inner – keep it invisible to others. Be wise and mature. And remember, in the Work everything can be used, all wrong functions can be used.

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