Peter Rhodes has led workshops on spiritual renewal based on the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff, P.D. Ouspensky, Maurice Nicoll and Emanuel Swedenborg for over twenty years. This guidebook for spiritual progress has been edited by Jody Perkins and Ruth Zuber. The result is one of the best overviews of "the Work" (Gurdjieff's method) that we have read. The various elements of this path are elucidated in chapters on Progressing in the Work, Our Effects on Others, Working on Different Kinds of Negatives, Developing Your Aim, Directing the Natural to Serve the Spiritual, Freedom from Natural Time, Space for a Spiritual Life, ' Remembering' Ourselves, Loving and Understanding the Neighbor, Removing Barriers, A Real Sense of Self, Shock Waves of Truth, Impressions Given and Received, and Establishing a New Viewpoint. There are so many epiphanies here that it's hard to know where to begin.
Rhodes reveals the ways in which we can steal good states from others: for instance, it is a spiritual theft when we stifle another person's joy or enthusiasm. We take ourselves away from the present moment in all its vitality when we leap aboard expectations and allow them to carry us away.
There is a long section in this paperback on the unhappiness that comes into our lives thanks to likes and dislikes. These can also bring discomfort to others: "Even though I have ornaments in my own pond and like them, I dislike other people's lawn ornaments. But now because I am in the Work, when I drive by other people's yards, I try to put my dislike aside and think what affection was active in the person who put the lawn ornaments there. What is it they are trying to share? They obviously like the ornaments and are trying to share that love with me. If I am busy disliking the ornaments, I can't appreciate what the person is trying to share with me." We also appreciate the many thoughtful quotations in the book such as this one on love:
"All real love is consciousness of another person's difficulties through finding the same difficulties in yourself."
Rhodes has done us all a real service by putting together this workbook on spiritual progress as something that must grow out of daily practice and concrete intention.