Study of Beelzebub's Tales

Chapter.Page

Gurdjieff

 

1 The Arousing of Thought

1.50

He who in childhood was called “Tatakh”; in early youth “Darky”; later the “Black Greek”; in middle age, the “Tiger of Turkestan”; and now, not just anybody, but the genuine “Monsieur” or “Mister” Gurdjieff, or the nephew of “Prince Mukransky,” or finally, simply a “Teacher of Dancing.”

 

48 From the Author

48.1189

According to the investigations of many scientists of past ages and according to the data obtained at the present time by means of the quite exceptionally conducted researches of the Institute-for-the-Harmonious-Development-of-Man according to the system of Mr. Gurdjieff, the whole individuality of every man—according to laws and conditions of the process of life of people which have from the very beginning become established and gradually fixed on the Earth—of whatever heredity he is the result, and whatever be the accidental surrounding conditions in which he arose and developed, must already at the beginning of his responsible life—as a condition of responding in reality to the sense and predestination of his existence as a man and not merely as an animal—indispensably consist of four definite distinct personalities.

48.1201

And here it will not be superfluous to point out that the Institute-for-the-Harmonious-Development-of-Man, organized on the system of Mr. Gurdjieff, has, among its fundamental tasks, also the task of on the one hand correspondingly educating in its pupils each of the enumerated independent personalities separately as well as in their general reciprocal relationship; and on the other hand of begetting and fostering in each of its pupils what every bearer of the name of “man without quotation marks” should have—his own “I.”

48.1201-2

For a more exact, so to say, scientific definition of the difference between a genuine man, that is, man as he ought to be, and a man whom we have called “man in quotation marks,” that is, such men as almost all contemporary people have become, it is fitting to repeat what was said about this by Mr. Gurdjieff himself in one of his personal “lecture talks.”

48.1202

It was as follows:

48.1202

“For the definition of man, considered from our point of view, neither anatomical, nor physiological, nor psychological contemporary knowledge of his symptoms can assist us, since they are inherent in one degree or another in every man and consequently apply equally to all. Hence they do not enable us to establish the exact difference which we wish to establish between people. This difference can only be formulated in the following terms: ‘Man is a being who can do,’ and ‘to do’ means to act consciously and by one’s own initiative.”

48.1203

But according to the ideas of Mr. Gurdjieff, the average man is indeed incapable of the single smallest independent or spontaneous action or word. All of him is only the result of external effect. Man is a transforming machine, a kind of transmitting station of forces.

48.1203

Thus from the point of view of the totality of Mr. Gurdjieff’s ideas and also according to contemporary “exact-positive-science,” man differs from the animals only by the greater complexity of his reactions to external impressions, and by having a more complex construction for perceiving and reacting to them.

48.1203

And as to that which is attributed to man and named “will,” Mr. Gurdjieff completely denies the possibility of its being in the common presence of the average man.

48.1203

Will is a certain combination obtained from the results of certain properties specially elaborated in themselves by people who can do.

48.1204

For the purpose of confirming the complete absence in the average man of any will whatsoever, I will add here a passage from another of Mr. Gurdjieff’s personal lectures, in which the manifestations of this famous assumed will in man are picturesquely described.

48.1204

Addressing those present, Mr. Gurdjieff then said:

48.1204

“You have plenty of money, luxurious conditions of existence, and universal esteem and respect. At the head of your well-established concerns are people absolutely reliable and devoted to you; in a word, your life is a bed of roses.

48.1204

“You dispose of your time as you please, you are a patron of the arts, you settle world questions over a cup of coffee, and you are even interested in the development of the latent spiritual forces of man. You are not unfamiliar with the needs of the spirit, and are well versed in philosophical matters. You are well educated and widely read. Having a great deal of learning on all kinds of questions, you are reputed to be a clever man, being at home in a variety of fields. You are a model of culture.

48.1204-5

“All who know you regard you as a man of great will, and most of them even attribute all your advantages to the results of the manifestations of this will of yours.

48.1205

“In short, from every point of view, you are fully deserving of imitation, and a man to be envied.

48.1205

“In the morning you wake up under the impression of some oppressive dream.

48.1205

“Your slightly depressed state, that dispersed on awakening, has nevertheless left its mark.

“A certain languidness and hesitancy in your movements.

48.1205

“You go to the mirror to comb your hair and carelessly drop the brush; you have only just picked it up, when you drop it again. You then pick it up with a shade of impatience, and, in consequence, you drop it a third time; you try to catch it as it is falling, but… from an unlucky blow of your hand, the brush makes for the mirror; in vain you rush to save it, crack… there is a star of cracks on that antique mirror of which you were so proud.

48.1205

“Damn! Devil take it! And you experience a need to vent your fresh annoyance on some one or other, and not finding the newspaper beside your morning coffee, the servant having forgotten to put it there, the cup of your patience overflows and you decide that you cannot stand the fellow any longer in the house.

48.1205

“It is time for you to go out. The weather being pleasant, and not having far to go, you decide to walk. Behind you glides your new automobile of the latest model.

48.1205

“The bright sunshine somewhat calms you, and a crowd which has collected at the corner attracts your attention.

48.1205

“You go nearer, and in the middle of the crowd you see a man lying unconscious on the pavement. A policeman, with the help of some of the, as they are called, ‘idlers’ who have collected, puts the man into a ‘taxi’ to take him to the hospital.

48.1206

“Thanks merely to the likeness, which has just struck you, between the face of the chauffeur and the face of the drunkard you bumped into last year when you were returning somewhat tipsy yourself from a rowdy birthday party, you notice that the accident on the street-corner is unaccountably connected in your associations with a meringue you ate at that party.

48.1206

“Ah, what a meringue that was!

48.1206

“That servant of yours, forgetting your newspaper today, spoiled your morning coffee. Why not make up for it at once?

48.1206

“Here is a fashionable cafe where you sometimes go with your friends.

48.1206

“But why did you recall the servant? Had you not almost entirely forgotten the morning’s annoyances? But now… how very good this meringue tastes with the coffee.

48.1206

“Look! There are two ladies at the next table. What a charming blonde!

48.1206

“You hear her whispering to her companion, glancing at you: ‘Now he is the sort of man I like!’

48.1206

“Do you deny that from these words about you, accidentally overheard and perhaps intentionally said aloud, the whole of you, as is said, ‘inwardly rejoices’?

48.1206

“Suppose that at this moment you were asked whether it had been worth while getting fussed and losing your temper over the morning’s annoyances, you would of course answer in the negative and promise yourself that nothing of the kind should ever occur again.

48.1206

“Need you be told how your mood was transformed while you were making the acquaintance of the blonde in whom you were interested and who was interested in you, and its state during all the time you spent with her?

48.1206-7

“You return home humming some air, and even the sight of the broken mirror only elicits a smile from you.

48.1207

But how about the business on which you had gone out this morning…. You only just remember it. Clever… well, never mind, you can telephone.

48.1207

“You go to the phone and the girl connects you with the wrong number.

48.1207

“You ring again, and get the same number. Some man informs you that you are bothering him, you tell him it is not your fault, and what with one word and another, you learn to your surprise that you are a scoundrel and an idiot and that if you ring him up again… then…

48.1207

“A rug slipping under your feet provokes a storm of indignation, and you should hear the tone of voice in which you rebuke the servant who is handing you a letter.

48.1207

“The letter is from a man you esteem and whose good opinion you value highly.

48.1207

“The contents of the letter are so flattering to you, that as you read, your irritation gradually passes and changes to the ‘pleasant embarrassment’ of a man listening to a eulogy of himself. You finish reading the letter in the happiest of moods.

48.1207

“I could continue this picture of your day—you free man!

48.1207

“Perhaps you think I am overdrawing?

48.1207

“No, it is a photographically exact snapshot from nature.”

48.1207

While speaking of the will of man and of the various aspects of its supposedly self-initiated manifestations, which for contemporary what are called “enquiring minds”—but according to our reasoning, “na├»ve minds”—are matters for wiseacring and self-adulation, it will do no harm to quote what was said by Mr. Gurdjieff in another “conversational lecture,” because the totality of what he then said may well throw light on the illusoriness of that will which every man supposedly has.

48.1208

Mr. Gurdjieff said:

48.1208

“A man comes into the world like a clean sheet of paper, which immediately all around him begin vying with each other to dirty and fill up with education, morality, the information we call knowledge, and with all kinds of feelings of duty, honor, conscience, and so on and so forth.