These lectures were intended by Ouspensky as introductory material for people interested in the work in England.
This material is still unmatched as a brief statement of the work's psychological ideas.
Designed to be read aloud at weekly meetings of small groups of people interested in the work, they are almost a basic primer of Gurdjieff's psychological ideas on consciousness and spiritual development. They were constantly revised as new groups came into existence and took their final form only after Ouspensky moved from London to New York, where he continued to teach from 1941 to 1947.
The psychology Ouspensky sets forth in these introductory lectures has existed in one form or another for thousands of years and, unlike modern psychology, studies man from the point of view of what he may become. Once a man realizes how little control he has over his reactions to external circumstances and internal stimuli, he may wish to find a way to become free of this mechanical way of living. Ouspensky describes how a man must work simultaneously on his knowledge and his being to find inner unity and why although his development depends on his own efforts, this is very difficult to achieve without guidance from a school.