Charles T. Tart, PhD, is an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, as well as the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. He is a past-president of the Parapsychological Association. Books that he has authored include Psi: Scientific Studies in the Psychic Realm, States of Consciousness, The End of Materialism, Learning to Use Extrasensory Perception, On Being Stoned, Waking Up: Overcoming the Obstacles to Human Potential, and Open Mind – Discriminating Mind.
Here he discusses the career and work of the early twentieth-century mystical teacher, George Ivanovich Gurdjieff. He stresses Gurdjieff’s notion that human beings typically go through life in a mechanical state akin to sleep, and that such a life is not worth living. Various exercises help unify the divergent bodily, emotional, and intellectual centres of consciousness. He discusses the crucial importance of gaining consciousness of the ways that we respond automatically to various situations. This process involves real work and can be quite difficult.