Higher Knowledge: What Holds You Back?

After re-typing Eric Butterworth’s “Teacher’s Study Guide” that was written by him in the mid-70’s to assist someone who taught, Discover the Power Within You, as a 12-week course, I felt I had learned quite a bit. As I continued to explore some history (found on Mark Hicks’ TruthUnity web site) about Butterworth, I discovered that he was a student of G. I. Gurdjieff’s philosophical constructs, which came to be known as The Fourth Way. This tidbit led me to The New Man by Maurice Nicoll, a student of Carl Jung and also of Gurdjieff. I am fascinated by this esoteric material, pieces of which can be seen quite readily in the New Thought movement and specifically in early Unity writings. Some very basic information about The Fourth Way can be found in Wikipedia, and I urge you to take a stroll through that material.

In the meantime, as I near the end of The New Man, and begin to anticipate my next adventure on this amazing spiritual journey, I find this question posed by Nicoll: “What stands in the way of our seeking (or obtaining) higher knowledge?” Keep in mind that the term, higher knowledge, has a very specific definition and associated precept that can be discovered by reading the book. I found it to contain helpful psychological information that one can use to grow spiritually. Indeed, Nicoll says it is the only way to grow and if we are not doing this we are actually not doing much with our lives (his words, not mine!)

I had a long discussion recently with my fellow Truth seeker, Larry, about this question. Then we paused and asked ourselves how we would respond to Nicoll’s question before we read any further. I certainly encourage you to ask yourself (a very important thing to do, as in Fourth Way teachings self-reflection and self-discovery are one of the foundational principles and appear early in the teachings) what stands in YOUR way in your search for higher knowledge, assuming that you are on such a quest or you would not be reading this article.

Spoiler alert: Larry and I may have listed some of the ideas you come up with. No worries—they are all fabulous points to ponder. Here are the items we thought of, in no particular order

   • Holding on to lower knowledge (beliefs, attitudes, judgments, thoughts, other non-productive ideas we pick up along the way).
   • Thinking that I have THE ANSWER.
   • Retaining something in the lower or old thought that is comforting or comfortable and being unwilling to release it.
   • Keeping an old thought that might be invalid or that came from a sense orientation.
   • Resistance in its myriad forms. This is a huge one.
   • Sloth!
   • Disinterest.
   • Lack of focus.
   • Fear of the unknown.
   • Feelings of lack or inadequacy.
   • Not knowing the steps to take to move toward higher knowledge.
   • This one is specifically for a literalist or Bible fundamentalist: reading the Bible literally and/or remaining chained to dogma that leaves out infinite potential, imagination, or creativity.

So what did you come up with? What holds you back? I bet you can relate to some of the items on our list, and I know I can—in fact, more than one!!!

         Maurice Nicoll tells us his answer to this question. What holds us back is, in essence, lack of self-knowledge and insight.

There are so many techniques for honing our understanding of ourselves. The list is very long, but I think one of the most important ones is to listen, meditate, observe, stay focused, read, attend Unity services and classes regularly, contemplate deep spiritual ideas and begin to apply them, and do whatever it takes to maintain desire to learn and grow. Focus, focus, focus. Our fast-paced American way of life does not lend itself to these tactics easily and those of us on the path can so easily be drawn to one side or the other in a moment. But, what we do is get back on the path and continue walking the walk. At some point, you will see your progress, as your entire life will have changed. Even then we keep walking.