Friday, September 14, 2012

Ouspensky's "The Fourth Way" and Negative Emotions

Recently, I read back over some of my favorite passages from "The Fourth Way" by P.D. Ouspensky, and there were several important points that he made in the book and in his later works on negative emotions, our attachments to them, and the way to move from our addiction to negative expression. Yes, many of us are addicted to negative emotions, in spite of all of our affirming that we want to be happy, positive people.

In his book, he notes that "there is not a single useful negative emotion, useful in any sense. Negative emotions are all a sign of weakness." Many will say that we need to be able to express when things are bad or dangerous or we are hurt, and in the moment, this is true. However, many of us dwell on the negative far past the time when it is relevant, allowing it to diminish the joy of the present. In politics, in jobs, in personal life, we take great liberties in imposing our negative emotions on others, and we often derive a great deal of pleasure from it. Ouspensky points out that "almost all of our personal negative emotions are based on accusations, somebody else is guilty," but if we realize "we are the cause of all that happens to us, that changes things..." He goes on to say that "You do not realize how much you lose by these spontaneous manifestations of negative character. They make so many things impossible."

Ouspensky suggests that one of the cures for negative emotions is to confront our struggle with identification. We like to think that there are circumstances that create negative emotions, when in reality, "all negative emotions are in us, inside us." We are so quick to proclaim that things are out of our control, but we are each given the freedom to decide if we will succumb to negativity when faced with adversity, or rise above it, staying present, and holding fast to what is in fact, our true positive reality. In the "Power of Now," Eckhart Tolle speaks of a mentor who would raise his index finger and ask "What, in this moment, is missing?" basically stating that "The past has no power over the present moment" unless we grant it to the power to do so.

The next time you feel compelled to sit down with a friend to languish over your trials, stop and think "What, in this moment, is missing? Am I identifying with circumstances that will manifest more negativity, rather than eradicating it?" As you see that kind face across from you, loving you, being there for you, reconsider whether remembering and reliving the negative is worthwhile, or if you can find the strength to let go of your need for negative expression and instead find positivity and bliss in each moment.


  1. Replies
    1. Aww, thank you Jay. Let's plan lunch soon.

  2. I'm glad I'm rereading this today…timely.