#04. Psychology of Centres


#4. Psychology of Centres

As we have learned so far that man is a machine who is not aware of him being a machine. Man does not know himself and ascribes all kind of functions to himself that in reality he does not posses. His ability to act, feel and think on his own account is an illusion. Man is governed largely by the impressions of his surroundings and can do only very small things within the limitations of these surroundings. What a mechanical man can do however is complain, object and produce mechanical emotional reactions, all functions of the many different little ‘I’’s that of which his inner world is made of.

Therefore man’s possible evolution has to start with observing himself and acknowledge these basic facts. Here lies another major difference with the more traditional views of psychology. We must understand now that the study of the psychology of man’s possible evolution really means self-study. One cannot study psychology of man’s possible evolution as one can study astronomy; that is, apart from oneself.

Another angle to observe oneself from, is the concept of functions or centres. ’The Fourth Way’ tells us that the human machine is made up of four separate machines, also referred at as the four centres. The centres being: Intellectual Centre, Emotional Centre, Moving Centre, Instinctive Centre

The intellectual centre’s main function is to think, reason and work with abstractions. The emotional centre takes care of feelings, ethics and valuations. The functions of the moving centre and the instinctive centre are not always very clearly distinguished. The instinctive centre regulates all inner work of the organism where as the moving centre is concerned by all the outer work of the organism, movement in space, walking, writing, speaking, eating and memories of them. One way of distinguishing the functions of these two centres is by asking yourself if the function was present at birth or that it had to be learned. Some motions are present at birth but most of the moving functions are inherent and one has to learn them all as a child learns to walk, or as one learns to write or to draw.

Besides these four main centres there are two more functions for which we have no name in ordinary language and which appear only in higher states of consciousness; one—higher emotional function, which appears in the state of self-consciousness, and the other, higher mental function, which appears in the state of objective consciousness. These are the combined conscious workings of the so called ‘higher parts’ of the intellectual and emotional centre, which are all present and active in man but where man has, due to his mechanicalness, no access to.

Ouspensky says

“ In the religious and philosophical literature of different nations there are many allusions to the higher states of consciousness and to higher functions. As we are very rarely in these states of consciousness we cannot study these functions or experiment with them, and we learn about them only indirectly from those who have attained or experienced them.”

Although much of man’s behaviour and actions is the result of the workings of a combination of different centres and parts of centres, selfstudy has to start by observing your own actions and see how each separate centre plays its distinctive part. Sometimes we mix thought and feelings in our ordinary thinking and speaking. The words 'instinct,' 'instinctive' are also often used in the wrong way. The sex centre is yet another centre altogether and the instinctive function includes by itself yet another four different classes of functions of it own: physiology, the five senses, basic physical emotions and reflexes.

Ouspensky says:

“The Fourth Way is a rich body of lenses which enables you to zoom into your own behaviour at a very precise level. Self observation has to start however from the observation of the basic manifestations of the four functions of the intellectual, emotional, instinctive and moving centre. They first have to be understood in all their manifestations and later they must be observed in oneself. Such self-observation, that is, observation on the right basis, with a preliminary understanding of the states of consciousness and of different functions, constitutes the basis of self-study; that is, the beginning of psychology of man’s possible evolution.”


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