This second paper is about the some of the features one has to work against if one wants to awaken.

In the second lecture off ‚The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution’ Ouspensky speaks about four harmful features toward self-knowledge and awakening. These are:

  • Talk
  • Imagination
  • Negative emotions
  • Lying

It is importent to observe and resist these features in ourselves. This is important daily – from moment to moment – ongoing work.

Read the text hieronder – and use the application we made


1. Lying

Life, as it is could not exist without lying but from the psychological side lying has a different meaning. It means speaking about things you do not know, and even cannot know, as though you know and can know. This is not from a moral point of view, but taken from what is useful and what is harmful to self-study and self-development. The more you think that you are free from lying, the more you are in it.

2. Imagination

The chief obstacle to observation is imagination. You wish to observe something, but instead of that, imagination starts in you on the same subject, and you forgets about observation. Do not make something fancy off imagination. See it for what it is, a destructive faculty, that you can never control it.  That it always carries you away from your more conscious decisions. Imagination is almost as bad as lying, it is, in fact, lying to yourself. You start to imagine something in order to please yourself, and very soon you begin to believe what you imagine, or at least some of it.

3. Negative emotions

Expressing negative emotions is dangerous for your development. That means all emotions of violence or depression: self-pity, anger, suspicion, fear, annoyance, boredom, mistrust, jealousy and so on. Do not accept them as natural or necessary. Do not sell it to yourself as ‚sincerity’. It is simply a sign of weakness in you, a sign of bad temper and incapacity to keep your grievances to yourself. Oppose it.

4. Talking

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 too 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 mechanically 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 does 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 these four manifestations – lying, imagination, the expression of negative emotions and 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.


Formuleer t.a.v. elk van de vier obstakels een klein doel. Dit doel moet niet gericht zijn op het doen van iets maar op het stoppen van iets.


Click here to open the worksheet

Formulate small aims

Example of a good aims:

  • This day I will not talk about myself.
  • This day I will not interrupt others.
  • This day I will not talk about the past.
  • This day I wil not express my likes and dislikes.
  • This day I wil stop my imagination about situation or person …… (fill in).
  • This day I wil not react negative when …… (fill in) does ….… (fill in) again.
  • This day I wil not talk as if I know what objective consciousness is.
  • This day I wil not talk as if I know what God looks like.

Select day’s

Next, vink bij elk doel aan op welke dagen je ermee gaat werken. Do not overdo it – one aim a day if taken seriously is already difficult to remember an often really confrontational for our imaginary picture of ourself.

Important notes

Remember, in the work everything can be used, all wrong functions can be used.

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, be mature.