The fourth way has much to say about sex, but it comes later, chiefly because the sex function assumes its final form later in life than our other functions, so it is necessarily affected by the formation of the other functions, which are therefore studied first.
Pornography as such is little spoken of, although Ouspensky does discuss "infrasex" in his New Model of the Universe and he quotes Gurdjieff on the "abuse of sex" in In Search of the Miraculous. We have to tread carefully when dealing with sex in general because sex energy is a refined and powerful energy (technically, it is si 12), hence explosive if mishandled. For example, both those that defend pornography ("freedom of speech", etc.) and those that attack it ("filth", and so on) may be equally unbalanced due to a misuse of sex energy. In its wrong place:
The energy of the sex center in the work of the thinking, emotional, and moving centers can be recognized by a particular 'taste', by a particular fervor, by a vehemence which the nature of the affair does not call for.
G. I. Gurdjieff
In order to better discuss what pornography is, we need to see what sex is, and that is a tall order—our ability to see our finer energies is profoundly limited by our normal state of being, and so we must increase in being to see sex for what it is.
Rodney Collin referred to the sex function as one that "seeks perfection". That is, for example, one which seeks our other half, our missing complement (to draw on Plato), to form a more perfect union (and now Lincoln). But it manifests similarly in many ways, from the trivial to the profound. A proper balance of sex energy, for example, aids in healing a wound, or saying the right thing to someone offended. But it has also been associated for as long as we know with attempts at human transcendence, in many cases with resisting sex yet, in some cases, pursuing it. But it cannot be ignored on any way, and on the fourth way we seek to harmonize all functions.
So, herein lies the question: How can we have a right relationship with sex? One which does not deny it or abuse it, but integrates its higher possibilities into our everyday lives? Certainly the denial, the suppression, of sex won't help us—witness the deranged preachers or extreme moralists of our or any other time. But incessant satisfaction of every sexual impulse leads nowhere as well (although, within limits, that is a lot less dangerous for all concerned.)
A genuinely healthy relationship with sex is a very big thing, because it means right work of a center with Hydrogen 12, the same level as higher emotional center. Our work on the non-expression of negative emotions is an indirect and productive way to prepare for right functioning of the sex center. Like the higher centers, the sex center is said to have no negative half. So, as O. said, "Never let anything negative touch sex."
I am a heterosexual male, and there is a certain sexuality possible for me. It is no doubt more and larger than I have experienced, but that does not mean that it is "all-inclusive", that it can ever have the same ultimate unfolding as the sexuality of any other person, whether male or female, gay or straight. Sexuality is very deeply connected with who we are, as it explicitly involves our essence signature, our DNA.
To get to the point, my sexuality, even fully realized, whatever that may mean, is not the same as your sexuality, fully realized, whatever that may mean. As we are different, so is our complement different. Our sexuality is our relationship to our complement. How do we deal with the "other"?
Through hard experience we learn we have to "listen". We learn we have to suspend our own judgment, if only for a moment, to let another in. We learn our view of things is not so all-encompassing, and we may have to suffer tremendously to come to allow for another. Sex, true sex, cannot compromise because it is real. Dangerous compromises are made in people's lives, dangerous because the achievement of these compromises is sleep ('"love" is blind'), their failure a rude awakening.
Because most, if not all, relationships are not perfect complementarities. Not that they should be, or can they be. But it must be recognized.
So what then is pornography?
In our sleep, in our somewhat perverse craftiness, we have learned certain psychological manipulations that please certain parts of ourselves. Lacking any real psychological knowledge, we could not say, for example, "Oh!, I am feeding one 'I' at the expense of another." And this is what pornography does—we shift, we redirect, a certain vivifying energy into duller channels, and so experience something even through our sleep which, if not convincing, is at least distracting. An opiate.
Pornography, and I speak with male sexuality in mind now (and female pornography is rare), literally charges our blood. We rather easily, almost irresistibly, introduce hydrogen Si 12 into our bloodstream—it is a "rush".
It is especially important here to talk in parallel—pornography and sex: in bed and aroused with my love, as opposed to sex-starved and with "literature" designed to sexually excite. In either case, I may find "release": the use or abuse of si 12 which diminishes the uncomfortable experience of si 12 looking for an expression. What is the difference?
Things are not simple. And I am talking about people in the work, of course. We must see "who" in us is doing "what". There is a sex which leads to regeneration, a sex which leads to generation, and a sex which leads to degeneration. A sex which leads to Life, a sex which leads to life, and a sex which leads to death.
This may be a good time to discuss the idea of ascending and descending octaves. Ascending or descending is not a value judgment, but simply a way of stating whether the result of a process has a higher or lower energy level than the start of the process. For example, the ray of creation, which creates this beautiful world we live in, is a descending octave. It starts in perfect unity and absolute energy, and by the time it comes to Earth is relatively lifeless, moribund. This is the same (albeit at a much lower level) as human creativity in the sense it is most commonly used—Andy Warhol was creative, Madonna creative, and so on. Some sort of "inspiration" is changed into something they can express and market.
True art, on the other hand, objective art, is an ascending octave. From lifeless pigments, a Rembrandt creates an image that will shake people for centuries (if they "get it"). From the common tongue, a Whitman arranges the words to acquire a life of their own. Properly speaking, this is not creation, but regeneration. (For a discussion of the processes of creation, regeneration, and the other processes, see The Six Processes.)
In the case of creation, we have a descending octave—one which moves toward "more density of matter, less density of vibration" to use an old phrase. In regeneration, we have the opposite movement, and from something practically inert see arise something practically alive.
It is in this sense we can judge our sexuality. There is a sexuality of release—it is a descending octave in that we have less energy afterwards, and that release of energy may be very welcome. There is also a sexuality of regeneration, in which proper restraint (what G. elsewhere called "celibacy in all centers"), or even proper experience, can lead to an increase in energy. An energy that we can use for regeneration. Or rather, an energy that is regeneration.