Maurice Nicoll (1884 – 1953) was a Scottish psychiatrist and author. He studied science at Cambridge University before going to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and then to Vienna, Berlin and Zurich where he became a colleague of Carl Jung. After his Army Medical Service during the first World War, in Gallipoli and Mesopotamia, he returned to England to become a psychiatrist. He was first a pupil of G. I. Gurdjieff, and then of P. D. Ouspensky, before getting permission to start his own study groups in 1931. He is best known for his Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, a multi-volume collection of talks he gave to his study groups, but he also authored several other books and stories, including The Mark, The New Man and Living Time.
Quotes by Maurice Nicoll…
Every further stage of ourselves is within us, above us. Below us lies what we are already, what we have done before. Below us, behind us, is the passive surrender to things, the inertia of the past, the habits of years, and the passive, sensual mind — the mind of the senses — with its sole belief in appearances and passing time. At any point in our lives we are thus between two opposing forces: the force of the realized and the force of the unrealized, what we are and have been, and what we may be. And what we may be is already there, as unhappy feeling, as incompleteness.
A man must relate himself to new forces, coming from that which he has not realized, through seeing things differently, through touching ideas that have transforming power and that can only be proved by his own experience of them and never evidentially by an appeal to the outer world of the sense.
The mystic ocean of existence is not to be crossed as something outside ourselves. It is in oneself.
Whatever forms Christianity assumed in later times, however distorted it became, it must be remembered that its introduction was heralded by John the Baptist preaching change of mind as the first step towards “eternal” life. And this change of mind was connected by him with the teaching on the Kingdom of Heaven — an idea so difficult to grasp and so contrary to all sense-thinking and external evidence that it remains a new idea for all time.
We have no right to believe that our ordinary level of consciousness is the highest form of consciousness, or the sole mode of experience possible to man. We cannot say that the range of the internal experience of oneself is necessarily limited either to dream-states or to ordinary consciousness. We have to consider the possibility, not only that there is a level above our ordinary level of consciousness, to which we are only occasionally awakened, but that our ordinary consciousness becomes integrated into a larger system when this happens.
Everything is wrong in the world, everything in a state of confusion, because man has not this truth, and so remains unfinished.
I imagined that unity of being could be reached within the customary state of consciousness. I believed, in other words, that a radical change of being could take place as one was, merely through some adjustments. This is probably what most of us think, for we do not realize that in order to change anything in ourselves everything else must change, lest by trying to change one thing we create wrong results in other directions. Change of being is not a patchwork process. All sorts of minor modifications are no doubt possible in people without necessarily harmful results.
The beauty lies in realizing that you have a right not to be negative, and without that realization you cannot remember yourself. All Self-Remembering has to do with the fact that you came down to this earth, and life here does not correspond with what you came down from, and something in you knows it — that is, has not forgotten it, and that means remembers it.
The creation of a permanent ‘I’ must take place somewhere beyond the sphere of self-love. It must be brought into existence through a series of acts which cannot be initiated by self-love and so cannot start from the admiration of oneself. And for this reason many things are necessary before such acts can be self-initiated. The whole standpoint must change. The standpoint of materialism or sensualism cannot provide the right basis from which to start. Only the recognition that there are higher degrees of reality, and the emotions that such a recognition can rouse, can begin to give the right starting point. For such emotions do not lie in the sphere of the self-love.
Man cannot understand more because he is in a state of inner disorganization. The quality of his consciousness is too separative and coarse. Yet he starts out in his investigations of the universe without any idea that he will be unable to penetrate beyond a certain point because he himself is an unsuitable instrument for this purpose.