This means, simply put, that any one of the three individual minds in man can be more or less conscious, and that it can in fact either be "awake" or "asleep" within the context of ordinary life.
Speaking in the broadest terms, if any one of the three minds is under the influence of one of the first three notes in the octave —re, mi, or fa — it is under a mechanical, or unconscious influence. It is identified with either its material circumstances, its desires, or the power (motive force, or compulsion) that drives it. In most cases, all three of these unconscious or mechanical forces dominate the expression of the particular mind. We are, in other words, generally dominated by the inertia, impulses, or momentum of our parts.
Only if the individual part rises above this to the level of the note sol does it acquire Being.
A mind that has acquired Being can be said to be conscious, or awake. Admittedly, this is only the first stage of three progressive levels, but it represents a level of freedom from identification with the material forces that dominate us. There is, in other words, a degree of objectivity. And it's important to remember that this degree of objectivity can be acquired in any one of the three minds, or all three of them. If any one of the three minds has acquired a degree of objectivity, its chances for recruiting the other two to raise their level is much higher.
Gurdjieff's ideas are, on the whole, meant to try and raise the intellectual octave to the degree of objectivity. His movements are meant to try and raise the physical octave to the degree of objectivity; and his inner exercises — most of which are not recorded for review by the general public — are meant to try and raise the emotional octave to the degree of objectivity. By working on all three of these pieces of territory at the same time, the chances of the centers supporting one another is much greater.
I believe it's important to understand this so that one sees that the system has a deep integrity and structure to it. The overall context and the exact aim can be clearly stated in this manner. It eliminates much of the vague and insubstantial commentary on how the system works, why we have three minds, and where the failing of their relationship lies. The situation is specific; it requires specific explanations.
In what may seem to be a reflexive exercise, it should be noted that even the force of consciousness itself is subject to the law of octaves, and moves through an iteration of levels until it reaches Being, which is what we would call, perhaps paradoxically, "conscious consciousness." This is another point of inquiry that deserves a great deal more exploration.
Understanding that our various parts are under the direct influences of the forces of materiality, desire, and compulsion may help us to see more clearly where our motivations lie and why we have them. Most of the manifestations we have emanate from these relatively coarse substances — and, make no mistake about it, forces are substantial, not ephemeral. They not only arrive in substantial form (electromagnetic waves); they express themselves in the gross actions of the substantive world, which, as we all know, produce material reality, our lives, and everything that goes rightly or wrongly with them. It is all connected. The temptation may be to separate the microcosmos from the macrocosmos and pretend that they are not directly related; but they are indubitably directly related, and any psychological or spiritual exercise, no matter how coarse or refined, is actually an attempt to affect not only the macroscopic manifestations of our life — objects, events, circumstances, and conditions— but also an attempt to affect the molecular basis of these events, since all of our thoughts, attitudes, and so on are ultimately molecular in nature.
It may seem strange to imply that having one thought or another influences the way that the molecules in our body work, but that is a physical fact.
There can be intended or unintended consequences in this regard; and the question of intentionality in relationship to the consciousness of our minds is an important one.
May your soul be filled with light.