AFTER six years of work, merciless toward myself and with almost continuously tense mentation, I yesterday at last completed the setting down on paper, in a form, I think, accessible to everybody, the first of the three series of books I had previously thought out and six years ago begun – just those three series in which I planned to actualize by means of the totality of the ideas to be developed, at first in theory and afterwards in practice, also by a means I had foreseen and prepared, three essential tasks I had set myself: namely, by means of the first series, to destroy in people everything which, in their false representations, as it were, exists in reality, or in other words “to corrode without mercy all the rubbish accumulated during the ages in human mentation”; by means of the second series, to prepare so to say “new constructional material”; and by means of the third, “to build a new world.”
Having now finished the first series of books, and, following the practice already long ago established on the Earth – never to conclude any great, as is said, “undertaking” without what some call an epilogue, others an afterword, and still others “from the author,” and so on – I also now propose to write something of the same kind for them.
With this end in view I very attentively read over this morning the “preface” I wrote six years ago entitled “The Arousing of Thought” in order to take corresponding ideas from it for a corresponding so to say “logical fusion” of that beginning with this conclusion which I now intend to write.
[48. From the Author, p. 1185]
While I was reading that first chapter, which I wrote only six years ago, but which seems to me by my present sensing to have been written long long ago, a sensing which is now in my common presence obviously because during that time I had to think intensely and even as might be said, to “experience” all the suitable material required for eight thick volumes – not for nothing is it stated in that branch of genuine science entitled “the laws of association of human mentation,” which has come down from very ancient times and is known to only a few contemporary people, that the “sensing of the flow of time is directly proportional to the quality and quantity of the flow of thoughts” – well then, while I was reading just that first chapter, about which, as I said, I thought deeply from every aspect and which I experienced under the most exclusive action of my own willed self-mortification, in which, moreover, I wrote at a time when the functioning of my entire whole – a functioning which engenders in a man what is called “the-power-to-manifest-by-his-own-initiative” – was utterly disharmonized, that is to say, when I was still extremely ill owing to an accident that had not long before occurred to me, and which consisted of a “charge-and-crash” with my automobile at full speed into a tree standing silently, like an observer and reckoner of the passage of centuries at a disorderly tempo, on the historic road between the world capital of Paris and the town of Fontainebleau – a “charge” which according to any sane human understanding, should have put an end to my life – there arose in me from the reading of that chapter a quite definite decision.
Recalling my state during the period of the writing of that first chapter I cannot help adding here – owing to still another certain small weakness in me which consists of my always experiencing an inner satisfaction whenever I see appear on the faces of our estimable contemporary as they are called “representatives of exact science,” that very specific smile peculiar to them alone – that although my body after this accident was, as is said, “so battered and everything in it so mixed up” that for months it looked like a fragment of a general picture which might be described as “a bit of live meat in a clean bed,” nevertheless, and for all that, my correctly disciplined what is usually called “spirit,” even in that physical state of my body, was not in the least depressed, as it should have been according to their notions, but, on the contrary, its power was even intensified by the heightened excitation which had arisen in it just before the accident owing to my repeated disappointment in people, particularly in such people as are devoted, as they say to “science,” and also to my disappointment in those ideals which until then had been in me, and which had gradually been formed in my common presence, thanks chiefly to the commandment inculcated in me in my childhood, enjoining that “the highest aim and sense of human life is the striving to attain the welfare of one’s neighbor,” and that this is possible exclusively only by the conscious renunciation of one’s own.
[48. From the Author, p. 1186]
And so, after I had very attentively read over that opening chapter of the first series, which I had written in the said conditions, and when in my memory by association there had been recalled the texts of those many succeeding chapters, which, according to my conviction, ought to produce in the consciousness of the readers unusual impressions which in turn always, as is said, “engender substantial results,” I – or rather, this time, that dominant something in my common presence which now represents the sum of the results obtained from the data crystallized during my life, data which engender, among other things, in a man who has in general set himself the aim, so to say “to mentate actively impartially” during the process of responsible existence, the ability to penetrate and understand the psyche of people of various types – I decided, urged by the impulse called “love of kind” which simultaneously arose in me not to write in this conclusion anything additional and correspondent to the general aim of this first series, but to confine myself simply to appending the first of a considerable number of lectures copies of which now are in my possession and which were publicly read during the existence of the institution I had founded under the name of the Institute-for-the-Harmonious-Development-of-Man.
[48. From the Author, p. 1187]
That institution by the way no longer exists, and I find it both necessary and opportune, chiefly for the purpose of pacifying certain types from various countries, to make the categorical declaration here and now that I have liquidated it completely and forever.
I was constrained with an inexpressible impulse of grief and despondency to make this decision to liquidate this institution and everything organized and carefully prepared for the opening the following year of eighteen sections in different countries, in short, of everything I had previously created with almost superhuman labor, chiefly because, soon after the said accident occurred, that is, three months afterwards, when the former usual functioning of my mentation had been more or less re-established in me – I being still utterly powerless in body – I then reflected that the attempt to preserve the existence of this institution, would, in the absence of real people around me and owing to the impossibility of procuring without me the great material means required for it, inevitably lead to a catastrophe the result of which, among other things for me in my old age as well as for numerous others wholly dependent on me, would be, so to say, a “vegetation.”
The lecture which I propose to append as a conclusion to this first series was more than once read by my, as they were then called, “pupils of the first rank” during the existence of the mentioned institution. Certain of them, by the way, turned out subsequently, to my personal sincere regret, to have in their essence a predisposition to the speedy transformation of their psyche into the psyche called Hasnamussian – a predisposition which appeared and became fully visible and clearly sensible to all more or less normal persons around them, when, at the moment of desperate crisis for everything I had previously actualized, due to the said accident, they, as is said, “quaking for their skins,” that is to say, fearing to lose their personal welfare which, by the way, I had created for them, deserted the common work and with their tails between their legs took themselves off to their kennels, where, profiting by the crumbs fallen from my so to say “idea-table” they opened their, as I would say, “Shachermacher-workshop-booths,” and with a secret feeling of hope and perhaps even joy at their speedy and complete release from my vigilant control, began manufacturing out of various unfortunate naive people, “candidates for lunatic asylums.”
[48. From the Author, p. 1188]
I append just this particular lecture, in the first place, because, at the very beginning of the dissemination of the ideas I imported into life, it was specially prepared here on the continent of Europe to serve as the introduction or, as it were, threshold for the whole series of subsequent lectures, by no less than the whole sum of which was it possible both to make clear in a form accessible to everybody the necessity and even the inevitability of a practical actualization of the immutable truths I have elucidated and established in the course of half a century of day-and-night active work and also to prove the actual possibility of employing those truths for the welfare of people; and secondly I append it here, because, while it was last being publicly read, and I happened myself to be present at that numerous gathering, I made an addition which fully corresponds to the hidden thought introduced by Mr. Beelzebub himself into his, so to say, “concluding chord,” and which at the same time, illuminating once more this most great objective truth, will in my opinion make it possible for the reader properly to perceive and assimilate this truth as befits a being who claims to be an “image of God.”
[48. From the Author, p. 1189]
LECTURE NUMBER ONE
THE VARIETY, ACCORDING TO LAW, OF THE MANIFESTATIONS OF HUMAN INDIVIDUALITY
(Last read in New York in the Neighborhood Playhouse, January, 1924)
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 predesignation of his existence as a man and not merely as an animal – indispensably consist of four definite distinct personalities.
The first of these four independent personalities is nothing else than the totality of that automatic functioning which is proper to man as well as to all animals, the data for which are composed in them firstly of the sum total of the results of impressions previously perceived from all the surrounding reality as well as from everything intentionally artificially implanted in them from outside, and, secondly, from the result of the process also inherent in every animal called “daydreaming.” And this totality of automatic functioning most people ignorantly name “consciousness,” or, at best, “mentation.”
[48. From the Author, p. 1190]
The second of the four personalities, functioning in most cases independently of the first, consists of the sum of the results of the data deposited and fixed, which have been perceived by the common presence of every animal through its six organs called “receivers-of-the-varied-qualitied-vibrations,” which organs function in accordance with newly perceived impressions and the sensitiveness of which depends upon transmitted heredity and on the conditions of the preparatory formation of the given individual for responsible existence.
The third independent part of the whole being is the prime functioning of this organism as well as what are called the “motor-reflex-reciprocally-affecting-manifestations-proceeding-in-it,” and the quality of these manifestations also depends on those aforesaid results of heredity and of the circumstances during his preparatory formation.
And the fourth, which should also be a separate part of the whole individual, is none other than the manifestation of the totality of the results of the already automatized functioning of all the three enumerated personalities separately formed and independently educated in him, that is to say, it is that part which is called, in a being, “I.”
In the common presence of a man, and for the spiritualization and manifestation of each of the enumerated three separately formed parts of his entire whole, there is an independent, as it is called, “gravity-center-localization”; and each of these gravity-center-localizations, each with its own entire system, has, for its general actualization, its own peculiarities and predispositions inherent in it alone. In consequence of this, in order to make possible the rounded perfecting of a man, a special corresponding correct education is indispensably necessary for each of these three parts, and not such a treatment as is given nowadays and also called “education.”
[48. From the Author, p. 1191]
Only then can the “I” which should be in a man, be his own “I.”
According to the already indicated seriously instituted experimental investigations carried on over many years, or even according merely to the sane and impartial reflection of even every contemporary man, the common presence of every man – particularly of one in whom for some reason or another there arises, so to say, the pretension to be not just an ordinary average man, but what is called “one of the intelligentsia” in the genuine sense of the word – must inevitably consist not only of all the said four fully determined distinct personalities, but each of them must of necessity be exactly correspondingly developed, to ensure that in his general manifestations during the period of his responsible existence all the separate parts should harmonize with each other.
For a comprehensive and visible clarification to oneself of the varied sources of the arising and the varied qualities of the manifested personalities in the general organization of man, and also of the difference between what is called that “I” which should be in the common presence of a “man-without-quotation-marks,” that is, a real man; and, as it can be expressed, the pseudo “I” which people today mistake for it, an analogy can be very well made. Though this analogy, as is said, has been “worn threadbare” by contemporary what are called spiritualists, occultists, theosophists, and other specialists in “catching fish in muddy waters,” in their cackle about what are called the “mental,” “astral,” and still other such bodies which are supposed to be in man, nevertheless it is well adapted to throw light on the question we are now considering.
[48. From the Author, p. 1192]
A man as a whole with all his separately concentrated and functioning localizations, that is to say, his formed and independently educated “personalities,” is almost exactly comparable to that organization for conveying a passenger, which consists of a carriage, a horse, and a coachman.
It must first of all be remarked that the difference between a real man and a pseudo man, that is between one who has his own “I” and one who has not, is indicated in the analogy we have taken by the passenger sitting in the carriage. In the first case, that of the real man, the passenger is the owner of the carriage; and in the second case, he is simply the first chance passer-by who, like the fare in a “hackney carriage,” is continuously being changed.
The body of a man with all its motor reflex manifestations corresponds simply to the carriage itself; all the functionings and manifestations of feeling of a man correspond to the horse harnessed to the carriage and drawing it; the coachman sitting on the box and directing the horse corresponds to that in a man which people call consciousness or mentation; and finally, the passenger seated in the carriage and commanding the coachman is that which is called “I.”
The fundamental evil among contemporary people is chiefly that, owing to the rooted and widespread abnormal methods of education of the rising generation, this fourth personality which should be present in everybody on reaching responsible age is entirely missing in them; and almost all of them consist only of the three enumerated parts, which parts, moreover, are formed arbitrarily of themselves and anyhow. In other words, almost every contemporary man of responsible age consist of nothing more nor less than simply a “hackney carriage,” and one moreover, composed as follows: a broken down carriage “which has long ago seen its day,” a crock of a horse, and, on the box, a tatterdemalion, half-sleepy, half-drunken coachman whose time designated by Mother Nature for self-perfection passes while he waits on a corner, fantastically daydreaming, for any old chance passenger. The first passenger who happens along hires him and dismisses him just as he pleases, and not only him but also all the parts subordinate to him.
[48. From the Author, p. 1193]
Continuing this analogy between a typical contemporary man, with his thoughts, feelings, and body, and a hackney carriage, horse, and coachman, we can clearly see that in each of the parts composing both organizations there must have been formed and there must exist its own separate needs, habits, tastes, and so on, proper to it alone. From the varied nature of their arising, and the diverse conditions of their formation, and according to their varying possibilities in each of them there must inevitably have been formed, for instance, its own psyche, its own notions, its own subjective supports, its own viewpoints, and so on.
The whole totality of the manifestations of human mentation, with all the inherencies proper to this functioning and with all its specific particularities, corresponds almost exactly in every respect to the essence and manifestations of a typical hired coachman.
Like all hired coachmen in general, he is a type called “cabby.” He is not entirely illiterate because, owing to the regulations existing in his country for the “general compulsory teaching of the three R’s,” he was obliged in his childhood to put in an occasional attendance at what is called the “parish church school.”
[48. From the Author, p. 1194]
Although he himself is from the country and has remained as ignorant as his fellow rustics, yet rubbing shoulders, owing to his profession, with people of various positions and education, picking up from them, by bits here and bits there, a variety of expressions embodying various notions, he has now come to regard everything smacking of the country with superiority and contempt, indignantly dismissing it all as “ignorance.”
In short, this is a type to whom applies perfectly the definition “The crows he raced but by peacocks outpaced.”
He considers himself competent even in questions of religion, politics, and sociology; with his equals he likes to argue; those whom he regards as his inferiors, he likes to teach; his superiors he flatters, with them he is servile; before them, as is said, “he stands cap in hand.”
One of his chief weaknesses is to dangle after the neighboring cooks and housemaids, but, best of all, he likes a good hearty tuck-in, and to gulp down another glass or two, and then, fully satiated, drowsily to daydream.
To gratify these weaknesses of his, he always steals a part of the money given him by his employer to buy fodder for the horse.
Like every “cabby” he works as is said always “under the lash,” and if occasionally he does a job without being made, it is only in the hope of receiving tips.
The desire for tips has gradually taught him to be aware of certain weaknesses in the people with whom he has dealings, and to profit himself by them; he has automatically learned to be cunning, to flatter, so to say, to stroke people the right way, and, in general, to lie.
On every convenient occasion and at every free moment he slips into a saloon or to a bar, where over a glass of beer he daydreams for hours at a time, or talks with a type like himself, or just reads the paper.
[48. From the Author, p. 1195]
He tries to appear imposing, wears a beard, and if he is thin pads himself out to appear more important.
The totality of the manifestations of the feeling-localization in a man and the whole system of its functioning correspond perfectly to the horse of the hackney carriage in our analogy.
Incidentally, this comparison of the horse with the organization of human feeling will serve to show up particularly clearly the error and one-sidedness of the contemporary education of the rising generation.
The horse as a whole, owing to the negligence of those around it during its early years, and to its constant solitude, as if locked up within itself; that is to say, its so to say “inner life” is driven inside, and for external manifestations it has nothing but inertia.
Thanks to the abnormal conditions around it, the horse has never received any special education, but has been molded exclusively under the influence of constant thrashings and vile abuse.
It has always been kept tied up; and for food, instead of oats and hay, there is given to it merely straw which is utterly worthless for its real needs.
Never having seen in any of the manifestations towards it even the least love or friendliness, the horse is now ready to surrender itself completely to anybody who gives it the slightest caress.
The consequence of all this is that all the inclinations of the horse, deprived of all interests and aspirations, must inevitably be concentrated on food, drink, and the automatic yearning towards the opposite sex; hence it invariably veers in the direction where it can obtain any of these. If, for example, it caches sight of a place where even once or twice it gratified one of the enumerated needs, it waits the chance to run off in that direction.
[48. From the Author, p. 1196]
It must further be added that although the coachman has a very feeble understanding of his duties, he can nevertheless, even though only a little, think logically; and remembering tomorrow, he either from fear of losing his job or from the desire of receiving a reward, does occasionally evince an interest in doing something or other for his employer without being driven to it; but the horse – in consequence of there not having been formed in it at the proper time, owing to the absence of any special and corresponding education, any data at all for manifesting the aspirations requisite for responsible existence – of course fails to understand (and indeed it cannot be expected that it should understand) why in general it must do anything; its obligations are therefore carried out quite inertly and only from fear of further beatings.
As far as the carriage or cart is concerned, which stands in our analogy for the body without any of the other independently formed parts of the common presence of a man, the situation is even worse.
This cart, like most carts, is made of various materials, and furthermore is of a very complicated construction.
It was designed, as is evident to every sane-thinking man, to carry all kinds of burdens, and not for the purpose for which contemporary people employ it, that is, only for carrying passengers.
The chief cause of the various misunderstandings connected with it springs from the fact that those who made the system of this cart intended it for travel on the byroads, and certain inner details of its general construction were in consequence foreseeingly made to answer to this aim.
For example, the principle of its greasing, one of the chief needs of a construction of such different materials, was so devised that the grease should spread over all the metallic parts from the shaking received from the jolts inevitable on such roads, whereas now, this cart that was designed for traveling on the byroads finds itself stationed on a rank in the city and traveling on smooth, level, asphalted roads.
[48. From the Author, p. 1197]
In the absence of any shocks whatsoever while going along such roads, no uniform greasing of all its parts occurs, and some of them consequently must inevitably rust and cease to fulfill the action intended for them.
A cart goes easily as a rule if its moving parts are properly greased. With too little grease, these parts get heated and finally red-hot, and thus the other parts get spoiled; on the other hand, if in some part there is too much grease, the general movement of the cart is impaired, and in either case it becomes more difficult for the horse to draw it.
The contemporary coachman, our cabby neither knows nor has any suspicion of the necessity of greasing the cart, and even if he does grease it, he does so without proper knowledge, only on hearsay, blindly following the directions of the first comer.
That is why, when this cart, now adapted more or less for travel on smooth roads, has for some reason or other to go along a byroad, something always happens to it; either a nut gives way, or a bolt gets bent or something or other gets loose; and after these attempts at travelling along such roads, the journey rarely ends without more or less considerable repairs.
In any case, to make use of this cart for the purposes for which it was made is already impossible without risk. If repairs are begun, it is necessary to take the cart all to pieces, examine all its parts, and, as is done in such cases, “kerosene” them, clean them, and put them together again; and frequently it becomes clearly necessary immediately and without fail to change a part. This is all very well if it happens to be an inexpensive part, but it may turn out to be more costly than a new cart.
[48. From the Author, p. 1198]
And so, all that has been said about the separate parts of that organization of which, taken as a whole, a hackney carriage consists can be fully applied also to the general organization of the common presence of a man.
Owing to the absence among contemporary people of any knowledge and ability specially to prepare in a corresponding way the rising generation for responsible existence by educating all the separate parts composing their common presences, every person of today is a confused and extremely ludicrous something, that is to say, again using this example we have taken, a something resembling the following picture.
A carriage just out of the factory, made on the latest model, polished by genuine German craftsmen from the town of Barmen, and harnessed to the kind of horse which is called in the locality named Transcaucasia, a “Dglozidzi.” (“Dzi” is a horse; “Dgloz” is the name of a certain Armenian specialist in buying utterly worthless horses and skinning them).
On the box of this stylish carriage sits an unshaven, unkempt, sleepy coachman-cabby, dressed in a shabby cloak which he has retrieved from the rubbish heap where it had been thrown as utterly worthless by the kitchen-maid Maggie. On his head reposes a brand-new top hat, an exact replica of Rockefeller’s; and in his buttonhole there is displayed a giant chrysanthemum.
This picture, however ludicrous, of contemporary man, is an inevitable result, chiefly because from the first day of the arising and formation of a contemporary man, all these three parts formed in him – which parts, although diversely caused and with properties of diverse quality, should nevertheless, at the period of his responsible existence for pursuing a single aim, all together represent his entire whole – begin, so to say, to “live” and to become fixed in their specific manifestations separately one from another, never having been trained either to the requisite automatic reciprocal maintenance, reciprocal assistance, or to any, even though only approximate, reciprocal understanding; and thus, when afterward concerted manifestations are required, these concerted manifestations do not appear.
[48. From the Author, p. 1199]
Thanks to what is called the “system of education of the rising generation” which at the present time has already been completely fixed in the life of man and which consists singly and solely in training the pupils, by means of constant repetition to the point of “madness,” to sense various almost empty words and expressions and to recognize, only by the difference in their consonance, the reality supposed to be signified by these words and expressions, the coachman is still able to explain after a fashion the various desires arising in him, but only to types similar to his own outside of his common presence, and he is sometimes even able approximately to understand others.
This coachman-cabby of ours, gossiping with other coachmen while waiting for a fare, and sometimes, as is said, “flirting” at the gate with the neighbor’s maid, even learns various forms of what is called “amiability.”
He also, by the way, according to the external conditions of the life of coachmen in general, gradually automatizes himself to distinguish one street from the other and to calculate, for instance, during repairs in some street, how to get to the required street from another direction.
But as for the horse, although the maleficent invention of contemporary people which is called education does not extend over the horse’s formation, and in consequence its inherited possibilities are not atrophied, yet owing to the fact that this formation proceeds under the conditions of the abnormally established process of the ordinary existence of people, and that the horse grows up ignored like an orphan by everybody, and moreover an ill-treated orphan, it neither acquires anything corresponding to the established psyche of the coachman nor learns anything of what he knows, and hence is quite ignorant of all the forms of reciprocal relationship which have become usual for the coachman, and no contact is established between them for understanding each other.
[48. From the Author, p. 1200]
It is possible, however, that in its locked-in life the horse does nevertheless learn some form of relationship with the coachman and that even, perhaps, it is familiar with some “language”; but the trouble is, that the coachman does not know this and does not even suspect its possibility.
Apart from the fact that, owing to the said abnormal conditions, no data for even an approximate understanding of each other are formed between the horse and the coachman, there are also still other and numerous external causes, independent of them, which fail to give them the possibility of together actualizing that one purpose for which they were both destined.
The point is, that just as the separate independent parts of a “hackney” are connected – namely, the carriage to the horse by the shafts and the horse to the coachman by reins – so also are the separate parts of the general organization of man connected with each other; namely, the body is connected to the feeling-organization by the blood, and the feeling-organization is connected to the organization actualizing the functioning of mentation or consciousness by what is called Hanbledzoin, that is, by that substance which arises in the common presence of a man from all intentionally made being-efforts.
The wrong system of education existing at the present time has led to the coachman’s ceasing to have any effect whatever on his horse, unless we allow the fact that he is merely able by means of the reins to engender in the consciousness of the horse just three ideas – right, left, and stop.
[48. From the Author, p. 1201]
Strictly speaking he cannot always do even this, because the reins in general are made of materials that react to various atmospheric phenomena: for example, during a pouring rain they swell and contract; and in heat, the contrary; thereby changing their effect upon the horse’s automatized sensitiveness of perception.
The same proceeds in the general organization of the average man whenever from some impression or other the so to say “density and tempo” of the Hanbledzoin changes in him, when his thoughts entirely loose all possibility of affecting his feeling-organization.
And so, to resume all that has been said, one must willy-nilly acknowledge that every man should strive to have his own “I”; otherwise he will always represent a hackney carriage in which any fare can sit and which any fare can dispose of just as he pleases.
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.”
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. From the Author, p. 1202]
It was as follows:
“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.”
And indeed every more or less sane-thinking man who is able to be if only a little impartial, must admit that hitherto there has not been nor can there be a fuller and more exhaustive definition.
Even suppose that we provisionally accept this definition, the question inevitably arises – can a man who is a product of contemporary education and civilization do anything at all himself, consciously and by his own will?
No . . . we answer at the very beginning, to this question.
Why not? . . .
Solely because, as the Institute-for-the-Harmonious-Development-of-Man experimentally proves and from experiments categorically affirms, everything without exception from beginning to end does itself in contemporary man, and there is nothing which a contemporary man himself does.
In personal, family, and communal life, in politics, science, art, philosophy, and religion, in short, in everything entering into the process of the ordinary life of a contemporary man, everything from beginning to end does itself, and not a single one of these “victims of contemporary civilization” can “do” anything.
[48. From the Author, p. 1203]
This experimentally proved categorical affirmation of the Institute-for-the-Harmonious-Development-of-Man, namely, that the ordinary man can do nothing and that everything does itself in him and through him, coincides with what is said of man by contemporary “exact-positive-science.”
Contemporary “exact-positive-science” says that a man is a very complex organism developed by evolution from the simplest organisms, and who has now become capable of reacting in a very complex manner to external impressions. This capability of reacting in man is so complex, and the responsive movements can appear to be so far removed from the causes evoking them and conditioning them, that the actions of man, or at least a part of them, seem to naive observation quite spontaneous.
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.
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.
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.
Will is a certain combination obtained from the results of certain properties specially elaborated in themselves by people who can do.
[48. From the Author, p. 1204]
In the presences of average people what they call will is exclusively only the resultant of desires.
Real will is a sign of a very high degree of Being in comparison with the Being of the ordinary man. But only those people who possess such Being can do.
All other people are simply automatons, machines, or mechanical toys set in motion by external forces, acting just in so far as the “spring” placed in them by surrounding accidental conditions acts, and this spring can neither be lengthened or shortened, nor changed in any way on its own initiative.
And so, while admitting great possibilities in man, we deny him any value as an independent unit as long as he remains such as he is at the present time.
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.
Addressing those present, Mr. Gurdjieff then said:
“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.
“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.
“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. From the Author, p. 1205]
“In short, from every point of view, you are fully deserving of imitation, and a man to be envied.
“In the morning you wake up under the impression of some oppressive dream.
“Your slightly depressed state, that dispersed on awakening, has nevertheless left its mark.
“A certain languidness and hesitancy in your movements.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“The bright sunshine somewhat calms you, and a crowd which has collected at the corner attracts your attention.
“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. From the Author, p. 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.
“Ah, what a meringue that was!
“That servant of yours, forgetting your newspaper today, spoiled your morning coffee. Why not make up for it at once?
“Here is a fashionable cafe where you sometimes go with your friends.
“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.
“Look! There are two ladies at the next table. What a charming blonde!
“You hear her whispering to her companion, glancing at you: ‘Now he is the sort of man I like!’
“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’?
“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.
“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?
“You return home humming some air, and even the sight of the broken mirror only elicits a smile from you. 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. From the Author, p. 1207]
“You go to the phone and the girl connects you with the wrong number.
“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 . . .
“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.
“The letter is from a man you esteem and whose good opinion you value highly.
“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.
“I could continue this picture of your day – you free man!
“Perhaps you think I am overdrawing?
“No, it is a photographically exact snapshot from nature.”
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 our reasoning, “naive 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.
Mr. Gurdjieff said:
[48. From the Author, p. 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.
“And each and all claim immutability and infallibility for the methods they employ for grafting these branches on to the main trunk, called man’s personality.
“The sheet of paper gradually becomes dirty, and the dirtier it becomes, that is to say, the more a man is stuffed with ephemeral information and those notions of duty, honor, and so on which are dinned into him or suggested to him by others, the ‘cleverer’ and worthier is he considered by those around him.
“And seeing that people look upon his ‘dirt’ as a merit, he himself inevitably comes to regard this same dirtied sheet of paper in the same light.
“And so you have a model of what we call a man, to which frequently are added such words as ‘talent’ and ‘genius.’
“And the temper of our ‘talent’ when it wakes up in the morning, is spoiled for the whole day if it does not find its slippers beside the bed.
“The ordinary man is not free in his manifestations, in his life, in his moods.
“He cannot be what he would like to be; and what he considers himself to be, his is not that.
“Man – how mighty it sounds! The very name ‘man’ means ‘the acme of Creation’; but . . . how does his title fit contemporary man?
“At the same time, man should indeed be the acme of Creation, since he is formed with and has in himself all the possibilities for acquiring all the data exactly similar to the data in the actualizer of everything existing in the Whole of the Universe.”
[48. From the Author, p. 1209]
To possess the right to the name of “man,” one must be one.
And to be such, one must first of all, with an indefatigable persistence and an unquenchable impulse of desire, issuing from all the separate independent parts constituting one’s entire common presence, that is to say, with a desire issuing simultaneously from thought, feeling, and organic instinct, work on an all-round knowledge of oneself – at the same time struggling unceasingly with one’s subjective weaknesses – and then afterwards, taking one’s stand upon the results thus obtained by one’s consciousness alone, concerning the defects in one’s established subjectivity as well as the elucidated means for the possibility of combatting them, strive for their eradication without mercy towards oneself.
Speaking frankly, and wholly without partiality, contemporary man as we know him is nothing more nor less than merely a clockwork mechanism, though of a very complex construction.
About his mechanicality, a man must without fail think deeply from every aspect and with an entire absence of partiality and well understand it, in order fully to appreciate what significance that mechanicality and all its involved consequences and results may have both for his own further life as well as for the justification of the sense and aim of his arising and existence.
For one who desires to study human mechanicality in general and to make it clear to himself, the very best object of study is he himself with his own mechanicality; and to study this practically and to understand it sensibly, with all one’s being, and not “psychopathically,” that is, with only one part of one’s entire presence, is possible only as a result of correctly conducted self-observation.
[48. From the Author, p. 1210]
And as regards this possibility of correctly conducting self-observation and conducting it without the risk of incurring the maleficent consequences which have more than once been observed from people’s attempts to do this without proper knowledge, it is necessary that the warning must be given – in order to avoid the possibility of excessive zeal – that our experience, based on the vast exact information we have, has shown that this is not so simple a thing as at first glance it may appear. This is why we make the study of the mechanicality of contemporary man the groundwork of a correctly conducted self-observation.
Before beginning to study this mechanicality and all the principles for a correctly conducted self-observation, a man in the first place must decide, once and forever, that he will be sincere with himself unconditionally, will shut his eyes to nothing, shun no results wherever they may lead him, be afraid of no inferences, and be limited by no previous, self-imposed limits; and secondly, in order that the elucidation of these principles may be properly perceived and transubstantiated in the followers of this new teaching, it is necessary to establish a corresponding form of “language,” since we find the established form of language quite unsuitable for such elucidations.
As regards the first condition, it is necessary now at the very outset to give warning that a man unaccustomed to think and act along lines corresponding to the principles of self-observation must have great courage to accept sincerely the inferences obtained and not to lose heart; and submitting to them, to continue those principles further with the crescendo of persistence, obligatorily requisite for this.
These inferences may, as is said, “upset” all the convictions and beliefs previously deep-rooted in a man, as well as also the whole order of his ordinary mentation; and, in that event, he might be robbed, perhaps forever, of all the pleasant as is said “values dear to his heart,” which have hitherto made up his calm and serene life.
[48. From the Author, p. 1211]
Thanks to correctly conducted self-observation, a man will from the first days clearly grasp and indubitably establish his complete powerlessness and helplessness in the face of literally everything around him.
With the whole of his being he will be convinced that everything governs him, everything directs him. He neither governs nor directs anything at all.
He is attracted and repelled not only by everything animate which has in itself the capacity to influence the arising of some or other association in him, but even by entirely inert and inanimate things.
Without any self-imagination or self-calming – impulses which have become inseparable from contemporary men – he will cognize that his whole life is nothing but a blind reacting to the said attractions and repulsions.
He will clearly see how his what are called world-outlooks, views, character, taste, and so on are molded – in short, how his individuality was formed and under what influences its details are liable to change.
And as regards the second indispensable condition, that is, the establishment of a correct language; this is necessary because our still recently established language which has procured, so to say, “rights-of-citizenship,” and in which we speak, convey our knowledge and notions to others, and write books, has, in our opinion already become such as to be now quite worthless for any more or less exact exchange of opinions.
The words of which our contemporary language consists, convey, owing to the arbitrary thought people put into them, indefinite and relative notions, and are therefore perceived by average people “elastically.”
In obtaining just this abnormality in the life of man, a part was played in our opinion, by always that same established abnormal system of education of the rising generation.
[48. From the Author, p. 1212]
And it played a part because, based, as we have already said, chiefly on compelling the young to “learn by rote” as many words as possible differentiated one from the other only by the impression received from their consonance and not by the real pith of the meaning put into them, this system of education has resulted in the gradual loss in people of the capacity to ponder and reflect upon what they are talking about and upon what is being said to them.
As a result of the loss of this capacity and in view, at the same time, of the necessity to convey thoughts more or less exactly to others, they are obliged, in spite of the endless number of words already existing in all contemporary languages, either to borrow from other languages or to invent always more and more words; which has finally brought it about that when a contemporary man wishes to express an idea for which he knows many apparently suitable words and expresses this idea in a word which seems, according to his mental reflection, to be fitting, he still instinctively feels uncertain whether his choice is correct, and unconsciously gives this word his own subjective meaning.
Owing on the one hand to this already automatized usage, and on the other hand to the gradual disappearance of the capacity to concentrate his active attention for any length of time, the average man on uttering or hearing any word, involuntarily emphasizes and dwells upon this or that aspect of the notion conveyed by the word, invariably concentrating the whole meaning of the word upon one feature of the notion indicated by it; that is to say, the word signifies for him not all the implications of the given idea, but merely the first chance significance dependent upon the ideas formed in the link of automatic associations flowing in him. Hence every time that in the course of conversation, the contemporary man hears or speaks one and the same word, he gives it another meaning, at times quite contradictory to the sense conveyed by the given word.
[48. From the Author, p. 1213]
For any man who has become aware of this to some degree, and has learned more or less how to observe, this “tragicomic feast of sound” is particularly sharply constated and made evident when others join the conversation of two contemporary people.
Each of them puts his own subjective sense into all the words that have become gravity-center words in the said so to say “symphony of words without content,” and to the ear of this impartial observer it is all perceived only as what is called in the ancient Sinokooloopianian tales of The Thousand and One Nights, “cacophonous-fantastic-nonsense.”
Conversing in this fashion, contemporary people nevertheless imagine they understand one another and are certain that they are conveying their thoughts to each other.
We, on the other hand, relying upon a mass of indisputable data confirmed by psycho-physico-chemical experiments, categorically affirm that as long as contemporary people remain as they are, that is to say “average people,” they will never, whatever they may be talking about among themselves, and particularly if the subject be abstract, understand the same notions by the same words nor will they ever actually comprehend one another.
This is why in the contemporary average man, every inner experience and even every painful experience which engenders mentation and which has obtained logical results which might in other circumstances be very beneficent to those round about, is not manifested outwardly but is only transformed into so to say an “enslaving factor” for him himself.
[48. From the Author, p. 1214]
Thanks to this, even the isolation of the inner life of each individual man is increased, and as a consequence what is called the “mutual instruction” so necessary to people’s collective existence is always more and more destroyed.
Owing to the loss of the capacity to ponder and reflect, whenever the contemporary average man hears or employs in conversation any word with which he is familiar only by its consonance, he does not pause to think, nor does there even arise in him any question as to what exactly is meant by this word, he having already decided, once and for all, both that he knows it and that others know it too.
A question, perhaps, does sometimes arise in him when he hears an entirely unfamiliar word the first time; but in this case he is content merely to substitute for the unfamiliar word another suitable word of familiar consonance and then to imagine that he has understood it.
To bring home what has just been said, an excellent example is provided by the word so often used by every contemporary man – “world.”
If people knew how to grasp for themselves what passes in their thoughts when they hear or use the word “world,” then most of them would have to admit – if of course they intended to be sincere – that the word carries no exact notion whatever for them. Catching by ear simply the accustomed consonance, the meaning of which they assume that they know, it is as if they say to themselves “Ah, world, I know what this is,” and serenely go on thinking.
Should one deliberately arrest their attention on this word and know how to probe them to find just what they understand by it, they will at first be plainly as is said “embarrassed,” but quickly pulling themselves together, that is to say, quickly deceiving themselves, and recalling the first definition of the word that comes to mind, they will then offer it as their own, although, in fact, they had not thought of it before.
[48. From the Author, p. 1215]
If one has the requisite power and could compel a group of contemporary people, even from among these who have received so to say “a good education,” to state exactly how they each understand the word “world,” they would all so “beat about the bush” that involuntarily one would recall even castor oil with a certain tenderness. For instance, one of them who among other things had read up a few books on astronomy, would say that, the “world” is an enormous number of suns surrounded by planets situated at colossal distances from each other and together forming what we call the “Milky Way”; beyond which, at immeasurable distances and beyond the limits of spaces accessible to our investigation, are presumably other constellations and other worlds.
Another, interested in contemporary physics, would speak of the world as a systematic evolution of matter, beginning with the atom and winding up with the very largest aggregates such as planets and suns; perhaps he would refer to the theory of the similitude of the world of atoms and electrons and the world of suns and planets, and so on in the same strain.
One who, for some reason or other, had made a hobby of philosophy and read all the mishmash on that subject, would say that the world is only the product of our subjective picturings and imaginings, and that our Earth, for example, with its mountains and seas, its vegetable and animal kingdoms, is a world of appearances, an illusory world.
A man acquainted with the latest theories of poly-dimensional space would say that the world is usually looked upon as an infinite three-dimensional sphere, but that in reality a three-dimensional world as such cannot exist and is only an imagined cross section of another four-dimensional world out of which comes and into which goes everything proceeding around us.
[48. From the Author, p. 1216]
A man whose world view is founded on the dogmas of religion would say that the world is everything existing, visible and invisible, created by God and depending on His Will. Our life in the visible world is brief, but in the invisible world, where a man receives reward or punishment for all his acts during his sojourn in the visible world, life is eternal.
One bitten with spiritualism would say that, side by side with the visible world, there exists also another, a world of the “Beyond,” and that communication has already been established with the beings populating this world of the “Beyond.”
A fanatic of theosophy would go still further and say that seven worlds exist interpenetrating each other and composed of more and more rarefied matter, and so on.
In short, not a single contemporary man would be able to offer a single definite notion, exact for all acceptances, of the real meaning of the word “world.”
The whole psychic inner life of the average man is nothing but an “automatized contact” of two or three series of associations previously perceived by him of impressions fixed under the action of some impulse then arisen in him in all the three heterogeneous localizations or “brains” contained in him. When the associations begin to act anew, that is to say, when the repetition of corresponding impressions appears, they begin to constate, under the influence of some inner or outer accidental shock, that in another localization, the homogeneous impressions evoked by them begin to be repeated.
All the particularities of the world view of the ordinary man and the characteristic features of his individuality ensue, and depend on the sequence of the impulse proceeding in him at the moment of the perception of new impressions and also on the automatism established for the arising of the process of the repetition of those impressions.
[48. From the Author, p. 1217]
And it is this that explains the incongruity, always observed even by the average man during his passive state, in the several associations having nothing in common, which simultaneously flow within him.
The said impressions in the common presence of a man are perceived owing to the three, as it were, apparatuses in him – as there are apparatuses in general in the presences of all animals – acting as perceivers for all the seven what are called “planetary-gravity-center-vibrations.”
The structure of these perceptive apparatuses is the same in all the parts of the mechanism.
They consist in adaptations recalling clean wax phonograph disks; on these disks, or, as they might otherwise be called, “reels,” all the impressions received begin to be recorded from the first days after the appearance of a man in the world, and even before, during the period of his formation in his mother’s womb.
And the separate apparatuses constituting this general mechanism possess also a certain automatically acting adaptation, owing to which newly arriving impressions, in addition to being recorded alongside those previously perceived and similar to them, are also recorded alongside those impressions perceived simultaneously with these latter.
Thus every impression experienced is inscribed in several places and on several reels, and there, on these reels, it is preserved unchanged.
These impressed perceptions have such a property that from contact with homogeneous vibrations of the same quality, they, so to say, “rouse themselves,” and there is then repeated in them an action similar to the action which evoked their first arising.
[48. From the Author, p. 1218]
And it is this repetition of previously perceived impressions engendering what is called association, and the parts of this repetition which enter the field of a man’s attention, that together condition what is termed “memory.”
The memory of the average man, in comparison with the memory of a man harmoniously perfected, is a very very imperfect adaptation for his utilization, during his responsible life, of his previously perceived store of impressions.
With the aid of memory, the average man from among impressions previously perceived, can make use of and, so to say, keep track of, only a very small part of his whole store of impressions, whereas the memory proper to the real man keeps track of all his impressions without exception, whenever they may have been perceived.
Many experiments have been made, and it has been established with indubitable exactitude, that every man in definite states, as for example, in the state of a certain stage of hypnotism, can remember to the most minute particular everything that has ever happened to him; he can remember all the details of the surroundings and the faces and voices of the people around him even those of the first days of his life, when he was still, according to people’s notions, an unconscious being.
When a man is in one of these states, it is possible, artificially, to make even the reels hidden in the most obscure corners of the mechanism start working; but it often happens that these reels begin to unwind of themselves under the influence of some overt or hidden shock evoked by some experiencing, whereupon there suddenly rise up before the man long-forgotten scenes, picturings, faces, and so on.
[48. From the Author, p. 1219]
At this point, I interrupted the lecturer and considered it opportune to make the following addition:
Such is the ordinary average man – an unconscious slave of the whole entire service to all-universal purposes, which are alien to his own personal individuality.
He may live through all his years as he is, and as such be destroyed for ever.
But at the same time Great Nature has given him the possibility of being not merely a blind tool of the whole of the entire service to these all-universal objective purposes but, while serving Her and actualizing what is foreordained for him – which is the lot of every breathing creature – of working at the same time also for himself, for his own egoistic individuality.
This possibility was given also for service to the common purpose, owing to the fact that, for the equilibrium of these objective laws, such relatively liberated people are necessary.
Although the said liberation is possible, nevertheless whether any particular man has the chance to attain it – this is difficult to say.
There are a mass of reasons which may not permit it; and moreover which in most cases depend neither upon us personally nor upon great laws, but only upon the various accidental conditions of our arising and formation, of which the chief are heredity and the conditions under which the process of our “preparatory age” flows. It is just these uncontrollable conditions which may not permit this liberation.
The chief difficulty in the way of liberation from whole entire slavery consists in this, that it is necessary, with an intention issuing from one’s own initiative and persistence, and sustained by one’s own efforts, that is to say, not by another’s will but by one’s own, to obtain the eradication from one’s presence both of the already fixed consequences of certain properties of that something in our forefathers called the organ Kundabuffer, as well as of the predisposition to those consequences which might again arise.
[48. From the Author, p. 1220]
In order that you should have at least an approximate understanding of this strange organ with its properties, and also of the manifestations in ourselves of the consequences of these properties, we must dwell a little longer upon this question and speak about it in somewhat greater detail.
Great Nature, in Her foresight and for many important reasons (about which theoretical explanations will be given in later lectures), was constrained to place within the common presences of our remote ancestors just such an organ, thanks to the engendering properties of which they might be protected from the possibility of seeing and feeling anything as it proceeds in reality.
Although this organ was later “removed” also by Great Nature from their common presences, yet owing to a cosmic law expressed by the words “the assimilation of the results of oft-repeated acts” – according to which law, from the frequent repetition of one and the same act there arises in every “world concentration” under certain conditions a predisposition to produce similar results – this law-conformable pre-disposition which arose in our forefathers was transmitted by heredity from generation to generation, so that when their descendants in the process of their ordinary existence established numerous conditions which proved to be congenial for the said law-conformableness, from that time on the consequences of the various properties of this organ arose in them, and being assimilated owing to transmission by heredity from generation to generation, they ultimately acquired almost the same manifestations as those of their ancestors.
[48. From the Author, p. 1221]
An approximate understanding of the manifestations in ourselves of these consequences may be derived from a further fact, perfectly intelligible to our Reason and beyond any doubt whatever.
All of us, people, are mortal and every man may die at any moment.
Now the question arises, can a man really picture to himself and so to say “experience” in his consciousness, the process of his own death?
No! His own death and the experiencing of this process, a man can never, however he may wish, picture to himself.
A contemporary ordinary man can picture to himself the death of another, though even this, not fully.
He can picture to himself, for instance, that a certain Mr. Smith leaves the theater and crossing the street, falls beneath an automobile and is crushed to death.
Or that a signboard blown down by the wind falls on the head of Mr. Jones who happened to be passing and kills him on the spot.
Or that Mr. Brown, having eaten bad crayfish, gets poisoned and, no one being able to save him. dies the next day.
Anyone can easily picture all these. But can the average man contemplate the same possibility for himself, as he admits for Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones, and Mr. Brown, and feel and live through all the despair from the fact that those events may happen to him?
Think what would happen to a man who clearly pictured to himself and lives through the inevitability of his own death.
[48. From the Author, p. 1222]
If he seriously ponders and is really able to enter deeply into this and to cognize his own death, what could be more terrifying?
In ordinary life, particularly in recent times, over and above the depressing fact of the inevitability of death which must infallibly occur to them, there are indeed for people a large number of other similar facts, whose real picturing alone of the possibility of experiencing them must evoke in us feelings of inexpressible and intolerable anguish.
Suppose that such contemporary people as have already lost entirely all possibility of having any real objective hope for the future, that is to say, those of them who have never “sown” anything during their responsible life and who in consequence have nothing to “reap” in the future – suppose they should cognize the inevitability of their speedy death, then from only an experiencing in thought alone would they hang themselves.
“The particularity of the action of the consequences of the properties of the said organ on the common psyche of people consists just in this that, thanks to it, there does not arise among most contemporary people – these three-brained beings in whom were placed all the hopes and expectations of our CREATOR, as possible servers of higher purposes – the cognition of any of these genuine terrors, and also that it enables them peacefully to carry on their existence in unconscious fulfillment of what was foreordained, but in the service only of Nature’s nearest immediate aims, as they have meanwhile lost, on account of their unbecoming abnormal life, any possibility of serving higher purposes.
Thanks to these consequences, not only does the cognition of these terrors not arise in the psyche of these people, but also for the purpose of self-quieting they even invent all kinds of fantastic explanations plausible to their naive logic for what they really sense and also for what they do not sense at all.
[48. From the Author, p. 1223]
As, for instance, suppose that the solution of the question of our inability really to sense various possible genuine terrors, in particular the terror of one’s own death, should become, so to say, a “burning question of the day” – which occurs with certain questions in the contemporary life of people – then in all probability all contemporary people, ordinary mortals as well as those called the “learned,” would categorically offer a solution, which they would not doubt for a moment and, as is said, spluttering at the mouth, would set about to prove that what in fact saves people from being able to experience such terrors is just their own “will.”
But if this is admitted, then why does not this same presumed will protect us from all the little fears we experience at every step?
In order to sense and understand with your whole being what I am now saying, and not merely to understand with that so to say “mind-fornication” of yours, which to the misfortune of our descendants has become the dominant inherency of contemporary people, picture to yourself now merely the following.
Today, after the lecture, you return home, undress, and get into bed, but just as you are covering yourself with your blanket a mouse jumps out from under the pillow and scuttling across your body ducks into the folds of the blanket.
Admit candidly, does not a shiver actually already run through the whole of your body merely at the bare thought of such a possibility?
Is it not so?
Now please try to make an exception and without the participation of any of that, so to say, “subjective emotionalness,” whatsoever, which has become fixed in you, think with your mentation alone about such a possible occurrence to you, and you yourself will then be amazed that you react to this in this way.
[48. From the Author, p. 1224]
What is so terrifying in this?
It is only an ordinary house mouse, the most harmless and inoffensive of beasts.
Now I ask you, how can all that has been said be explained by that will, which is presumed to be in every man?
How is it possible to reconcile the fact that a man is terrified at a small timid mouse, the most frightened of all creatures, and of thousands of other similar trifles which might never even occur, and yet experiences no terror before the inevitability of his own death?
In any case, to explain such an obvious contradiction by the action of the famous human will – is impossible.
When this contradiction is considered openly, without any preconceptions, that is to say, without any of the ready-made notions derived from the wiseacring of various what are called “authorities,” who in most cases have become such thanks to the naivete and “herd instinct” of people, as well as from the results, depending on abnormal education, which arise in our mentation, then it becomes indubitably evident that all these terrors, from which in man there does not arise the impulse, as we said, to hang himself, are permitted by Nature Herself to the extent in which they are necessary for the process of our ordinary existence.
And indeed without them, without all these, in the objective sense, as is said, “fleabites,” but which appear to us as “unprecedented terrors,” there could not proceed in us any experiencings at all, either of joy, sorrow, hope, disappointment, and so on, nor could we have all those cares, stimuli, strivings, and, in general, all kinds of impulses, which constrain us to act, to attain to something, and to strive for some aim.
[48. From the Author, p. 1225]
It is just this totality of all these automatic, as they might be called, “childish experiencings” arising and flowing in the average man which on the one hand make up and sustain his life, and on the other hand give him neither the possibility nor the time to see and feel reality.
If the average contemporary man were given the possibility to sense or to remember, if only in his thought, that at a definite known date, for instance, tomorrow, a week, or a month, or even a year or two hence, he would die and die for certain, what would then remain, one asks, of all that had until then filled up and constituted his life?
Everything would lose its sense and significance for him. What would be the importance then of the decoration he received yesterday for long service and which had so delighted him, or that glance he recently noticed, so full of promise, from the woman who had long been the object of his constant and unrewarded longing, or the newspaper with his morning coffee, and that deferential greeting from the neighbor on the stairs, and the theater in the evening, and the rest and sleep, and all his favorite things – of what account would they all be?
They would no longer have that significance which had been given them before, even if a man knew that death would overtake him only in five or six years.
In short, to look his own death, as is said, “in the face” the average man cannot and must not – he would then, so to say, “get out of his depth” and before him, in clearcut form, the question would arise: “Why then should we live and toil and suffer?”
Precisely that such a question may not arise, Great Nature, having become convinced that in the common presences of most people there have already ceased to be any factors for meritorious manifestations proper to three-centered beings, had providentially wisely protected them by allowing the arising in them of various consequences of those nonmeritorious properties unbecoming to three-centered beings which, in the absence of a proper actualization, conduce to their not perceiving or sensing reality.
[48. From the Author, p. 1226]
And Great Nature was constrained to adapt Herself to such an, in the objective sense, abnormality, in consequence of the fact that thanks to the conditions of their ordinary life established by people themselves in the deteriorating quality of their radiations required for Higher Common Cosmic Purposes insistently demanded, for the maintenance of equilibrium, an increase of the quantity of the arisings and existings of these lives.
Whereupon it follows that life in general is given to people not for themselves, but that this life is necessary for the said Higher Cosmic Purposes, in consequence of which Great Nature watches over this life so that it may flow in a more or less tolerable form, and takes care that it should not prematurely cease.
Do not we, people, ourselves also feed, watch over, look after, and make the lives of our sheep and pigs as comfortable as possible?
Do we do all this because we value their lives for the sake of their lives?
No! We do all this in order to slaughter them one fine day and to obtain the meat we require, with as much fat as possible.
In the same way Nature takes all measures to ensure that we shall live without seeing the terror, and that we should not hang ourselves, but live long; and then, when we are required, She slaughters us.
Under the established conditions of the ordinary life of people, this has now already become an immutable law of Nature.
There is in our life a certain very great purpose and we must all serve this Great Common Purpose – in this lies the whole sense and predestination of our life.
[48. From the Author, p. 1227]
All people without exception are slaves of this “Greatness,” and all are compelled willy-nilly to submit, and to fulfill without condition or compromise, what has been predestined for each of us by his transmitted heredity and his acquired Being.
Now, after all that I have said, returning to the chief theme of the lecture read here today, I wish to refresh your memory about what has several times been referred to in defining man – the expressions “real man” and a “man in quotation marks,” and in conclusion, to say the following.
Although the real man who has already acquired his own “I” and also the man in quotation marks who has not, are equally slaves of the said “Greatness,” yet the difference between them, as I have already said, consists in this, that since the attitude of the former to his slavery is conscious, he acquires the possibility, simultaneously with serving the all-universal Actualizing, of applying a part of his manifestations according to the providence of Great Nature for the purpose of acquiring for himself “imperishable Being,” whereas the latter, not cognizing his slavery, serves during the flow of the entire process of his existence exclusively only as a thing, which when no longer needed, disappears forever.
In order to make what I have just said more comprehensible and concrete, it will be useful if we compare human life in general to a large river which rises from various sources and flows on the surface of our planet, and the life of any given man to one of the drops of water composing this river of life.
This river at first flows as a whole along a comparatively level valley, and at that place where Nature has particularly undergone what is called a “cataclysm not according to law,” it is divided into two separate streams, or, as it is also said, there occurs in this river a “dividing of the waters.”
[48. From the Author, p. 1228]
All the water of one stream, soon after passing this place, flows into a still more level valley, and with no surrounding what is called “majestic and picturesque” scenery to hinder it, ultimately flows into the vast ocean.
The second stream, continuing its flow over places formed by the consequences of the said “cataclysm not according to law,” ultimately falls into crevices in the earth, themselves also consequences of the same cataclysm, and seeps into the very depths of the earth.
Although after the branching of the waters the waters of both these streams flow further independently and no longer mingle, yet along the whole extent of their further course, they frequently approach so near each other that all the results engendered from the process of their flowing blend, and even at times during great atmospheric phenomena, such as storms, winds, and so on, splashes of water, or even separate drops pass from one stream into the other.
Individually the life of every man up to his reaching responsible age corresponds to a drop of water in the initial flow of the river, and the place where the dividing of the waters occurs corresponds to the time when he attains adulthood.
After this branching, any considerable subsequent movement, according to law, both of this river as well as of any of the small details of this movement for the actualization of the predetermined destination of the whole river, applies equally to every separate drop, just in so far as the given drop is in the general totality of this river.
For the drop itself, all its own displacements, directions, and states caused by the differences of its position, by its various accidentally arisen surrounding conditions, and by the accelerated or retarded tempo of its movement, have always a totally accidental character.
[48. From the Author, p. 1229]
For the drops, there is not a separate predetermination of their personal fate – a predetermined fate is for the whole river only.
At the beginning of the flow of the river, the lives of drops are here one moment, there the next moment, and a moment later they might not at all be as they are, but splashed out of the river and evaporated.
And so when, on account of the unbecoming life of people, Great Nature was constrained to engender the corresponding in their common presences, then from that time on it was so established for the purposes of the common actualizing of everything existing that human life in general on the Earth should flow in two streams; and Great Nature foresaw and gradually fixed in the details of Her common actualization such a corresponding law-conformableness, that in the drops of the water of the initial flow of the river of life, which have corresponding inner subjective what are called “struggles of one’s own self-denial,” there might arise or not arise that “something,” thanks to which certain properties are acquired giving the possibility, at the place of the branching of the waters of the river of life, of entering one or the other stream.
This something, which in the common presence of a drop of water is a factor actualizing in it the property corresponding to one or another of the streams, is in the common presence of each man who attains responsible age that “I,” which was referred to in today’s lecture.
A man who has in his common presence his own “I” enters one of the streams of the river of life; and the man who has not, enters the other.
The subsequent fate of any drop in the general river of life is determined at the dividing of the waters, according to the stream the drop happens to enter.
[48. From the Author, p. 1230]
And it is determined, as has already been said, by the fact that one of these two streams ultimately empties itself into the ocean, that is, into that sphere of general Nature which often has what is called repeated “reciprocal exchange of substances between various great cosmic concentrations” through the process of what is called “Pokhdalissdjancha,” a part of which process, by the way, contemporary people name “cyclone”: in consequence of which this drop of water has the possibility to evolve, as it is, to the next higher concentration.
And at the end of the flow of the other stream, as has already been said, into the crevices of the Earth’s “nether regions,” where it participates in the continuous process called “involutionary construction” which proceeds within the planet, it is transformed into steam and distributed into corresponding spheres of new arisings.
After the branching of the waters, great and small successive law-conformablenesses and details for the outer movement for the purpose of actualizing the predetermined destination of both streams also ensue from these same cosmic laws, but only the results ensuing from them are so to say “subjectivized” for both streams correspondingly; and although they begin to function independently, yet all the time they mutually assist and sustain each other. These subjectivized second-grade results, issuing from fundamental cosmic laws, sometimes function side by side, sometimes collide or cross, but never mix. The actions of these subjectivized second-grade results can sometimes under certain surrounding conditions spread also over the separate drops.
For us contemporary people, the chief evil is that we – thanks to the various conditions of our ordinary existence established by us ourselves, chiefly in consequence of the abnormal what is called “education” – attaining responsible age and acquiring presences which correspond only to that stream of the river of life which ultimately empties itself into the “nether regions,” enter it and are carried along where and whither it wills, and without pondering about the consequences, we remain passive, and submitting to the flow, drift on and on.
[48. From the Author, p. 1231]
As long as we remain passive, not only shall we have inevitably to serve solely as a means for Nature’s “involutionary and evolutionary construction,” but also for the rest of our lives we shall have to submit slavishly to every caprice of all sorts of blind events.
As most of the hearers present have already, as is said, “crossed over” into responsible age and frankly cognize that until now they have not acquired their own “I,” and at the same time, according to the substance of all I have said here, have not pictured for themselves any particularly agreeable perspectives, then, in order that you – just you who cognize this – should not be greatly, as is said, “disheartened” and should not fall into the usual what is called “pessimism” everywhere prevalent in the contemporary abnormal life of people, I say quite frankly, without any arrieere-pensee, that, according to my convictions which have been formed thanks to long years of investigations strengthened by numerous quite exceptionally conducted experiments on the results of which are based the “Institute-for-the-Harmonious-Development-of-Man” founded by me – even for you, it is not yet too late.
The point is that the said investigations and experiments showed me very clearly and very definitely that in everything under the care of Mother Nature the possibility is foreseen for beings to acquire the kernel of their essence, that is to say, their own “I,” even after the beginning of their responsible ago also.
The foresight of Just Mother Nature consists in the given case in this, that the possibility is given to us, in certain inner and outer conditions, to cross over from one stream into the other.
[48. From the Author, p. 1232]
The expression which has reached us from ancient times, “the first liberation of man,” refers to just this possibility of crossing from the stream which is predestined to disappear into the nether regions into the stream which empties itself into the vast spaces of the boundless ocean.
To cross into the other stream is not so easy – merely to wish and you cross. For this, it is first of all necessary consciously to crystallize in yourselves data for engendering in your common presences a constant unquenchable impulse of desire for such a crossing, and then, afterwards, a long corresponding preparation.
For this crossing it is necessary first of all to renounce all the what seem to you “blessings” – but which are, in reality, automatically and slavishly acquired habits – present in this stream of life.
In other words, it is necessary to become dead to what has become for you your ordinary life.
It is just this death that is spoken of in all religions.
It is defined in the saying which has reached us from remote antiquity, “Without death no resurrection,” that is to say, “If you do not die you will not be resurrected.”
The death referred to is not the death of the body, since for such a death there is no need of resurrection.
For if there is a soul, and moreover, an immortal soul, it can dispense with a resurrection of the body.
Nor is the necessity of resurrection our appearance before the awful Judgement of the Lord God, as we have been taught by the Fathers of the Church.
No! Even Jesus Christ and all the other prophets sent from Above spoke of the death which might occur even during life, that is to say, of the death of that “Tyrant” from whom proceeds our slavery in this life and solely from the liberation from which depends the first chief liberation of man.
[48. From the Author, p. 1233]
Summing up all that has been said, the thoughts set out in the lecture you have heard read, as well as what I have added today, that is about the two categories of contemporary people who in respect of inner content have nothing in common, and about that grievous fact which has been made clear to a certain degree thanks to the addition I have made, namely, that in the common presences of people in recent times, thanks to progressively deteriorating conditions of ordinary life established by us – particularly owing to the wrong system of education of the rising generation – the various consequences of the organ Kundabuffer have begun to arise much more intensely, I consider it necessary to say and even to emphasize still more that all misunderstandings without exception arising in the process of our collective life, particularly in the sense of reciprocal relationship, and all disagreements, disputes, settling-ups and hasty decisions – just these decisions, after the actualization of which, in practice, there arises in us the lingering process of “Remorse-of-Conscience” – and even such great events as wars, civil wars, and other similar misfortunes of a general character proceed simply on account of a property in the common presences of ordinary people who have never specially worked on themselves, which property I this time would call “the-reflecting-of-reality-in-one’s-attention-upside-down.”
Every man, if he can even a little seriously think, so to say “without being identified” with his passions, must agree with this if he takes into account merely one single fact often repeated in the process of our inner life, namely, that all our experiencings which at first, just at the moment they are still proceeding in us, seem to be stark terrors, appear, after the lapse of only an insignificant time and when these experiencings have been replaced by others and are recalled by chance, and when according to our logical reasoning we are already in another mood, not worth, as is said, “a brass farthing.”
[48. From the Author, p. 1234]
In the average man the results of his mentation and feelings often lead to this, that, as it might be expressed, “a fly becomes an elephant and an elephant a fly.”
The manifestations in the common presences of the said people of this maleficent property is particularly intensely actualized just during such events as wars, revolutions, civil wars, and so on.
Just during these events, the state, even constated by them, is particularly sharply manifested, under the action of which they all with few exceptions fall, and which they call “mass psychosis.”
The essence of this state consists in this, that average people receiving in their already feeble mentation, which at such times becomes still more feeble, shocks from the maleficent stories of some or another lunatic, and becoming in the full sense of the word victims of these malicious stories, manifest themselves completely automatically.
During the period when they find themselves under the action of such a scourge – a scourge which has already become for contemporary ordinary people their inalienable inherency – there already entirely ceases to exist in their common presences that sacred what is called “conscience,” the data for the possibility of the acquisition of which Great Nature endowed them with, as godlike beings in differentiation from mere animals.
Informed people sincerely regret just this inherency in contemporary people, because, according to historical data and also to experimental elucidations of numerous genuine learned beings of past epochs, Great Nature has already long ceased to have need for such a phenomenon as mass psychosis for Her equilibrium. Rather the contrary, such a periodically arising inherency in people compels Her always to new adaptations, as for instance increasing the birth rate, changing the what is called “tempo of the general psyche” and so on and so forth.
[48. From the Author, p. 1235]
After all I have said I consider it necessary to say and even to emphasize further that all the historical data which have reached contemporary people and which have chanced to become known also to me, namely, the historical data concerning what really did occur in the past in the life of people, and not just those data invented by contemporary what are called learned beings, chiefly from among the Germans – with which histories all the rising generation is stuffed almost everywhere on the Earth – clearly show that people of former epochs did not divide into two streams of life, but that all flowed along in a single river.
The general life of mankind has been divided into two streams since the time of what is called the “Tikliamishian civilization,” which directly preceded the Babylonian civilization.
It was just from then on that there gradually began to be and ultimately was finally established that organization of the life of mankind which, as every sane-thinking man ought to constate, can now flow more or less tolerably only if people are divided into masters and slaves.
Although to be either masters or slaves in a collective existence among children, like ourselves, of the COMMON FATHER, is unworthy of man, yet thanks at the present time to the conditions existing which have already been thoroughly fixed in the process of the collective life of people, the source of which lies in remote antiquity, we must be reconciled to it and accept a compromise that, according to impartial reasoning, should correspond both to our own personal welfare, and also at the same time not be contrary to the commandments specially issuing to us people from the “Prime-Source-Of-Everything-Existing.”
[48. From the Author, p. 1236]
Such a compromise, I think, is possible if certain people consciously set themselves, as the chief aim of their existence, to acquire in their presences all the corresponding data to become masters among those around them similar to themselves.
Proceeding from this and acting in accordance to the wise saying of ancient times affirming that “in order to be in reality a just and good altruist it is inevitably required first of all to be an out and out egoist,” and also profiting by the good sense given us by Great Nature, each one of us must set for his chief aim to become in the process of our collective life a master.
But not a master in that sense and meaning which this word conveys to contemporary people, namely, one who has many slaves and much money, handed down, in most cases, by inheritance, but in the sense that a given man, thanks to his, in the objective sense, devout acts towards those around him – that is to say, acts manifested by him according to the dictates of his pure Reason alone, without the participation of those impulses which in him as in all people are engendered from the mentioned consequences of the properties of the maleficent organ Kundabuffer – acquires in himself that something which of itself constrains all those about him to bow before him and with reverence carry out his orders.
I now consider this first series of my writings ended and ended in just such a form that satisfies even myself.
In any case, I give my word that from tomorrow I shall not waste even five minutes of my time on this first series.
And now, before beginning work on the second series of my writings, in order to put them, from my point of view, into a generally accessible form, I intend to rest for a whole month, to write positively nothing, and for a stimulus to my organism, fatigued to the extreme limit, s-l-o-w-l-y to drink the still remaining fifteen bottles of “super-most-super-heavenly-nectar” called at the present time on Earth “old Calvados.”
[48. From the Author, p. 1237]
This old Calvados, by the way, twenty-seven bottles of it, I was thought worthy to find, accidentally covered over with a mixture of lime, sand, and finely chopped straw, several years ago when I was digging a pit for preserving carrots for the winter in one of the cellars of my now chief dwelling place.
These bottles of this divine liquid were buried in all probability by monks who lived near by, far from worldly temptations, for the salvation of their souls.
It now seems to me for some reason or other that they buried these bottles there, not without some ulterior motive, and that, thanks to their what is called “intuitive perspicacity,” the data for which particularity of theirs, one must assume, was formed in them thanks to their pious lives, they foresaw that the buried divine liquid would fall into hands worthy of understanding the meaning of such things; and now indeed this liquid stimulates the owner of these hands praiseworthily to sustain and assist the better transmission to the next generation of the meaning of the ideas on which the co-operation of these monks was founded.
I wish during this rest of mine, which from any point of view I fully deserve, to drink this splendid liquid, which alone during recent years has given me the possibility of tolerating without suffering the beasts similar to myself around me, and to listen to new anecdotes, and sometimes, for lack of new ones, old ones – of course, if there happen to be competent raconteurs.
It is now still midday, and as I have given my word that I would not, beginning only from tomorrow, write anything further for this first series, I still have time and shall not be breaking my word, if I add with a clean conscience that a year or two ago, I had categorically decided to make only the first series of my published writings generally accessible, and as regards the second and third series, to make them not generally accessible, but to organize their distribution in order, among other things, to actualize through them one of the fundamental tasks I have set myself under essence-oath; a task which consists in this: ultimately also to prove, without fail, theoretically as well as practically, to all my contemporaries, the absurdity of all their inherent ideas concerning the suppositious existences of a certain “other world” with its famous and so beautiful “paradise” and its so repugnant a “hell”; and at the same time to prove theoretically and afterwards without fail to show practically, so that even every “complete victim” of contemporary education should understand without shuddering and know, that Hell and Paradise do indeed exist, but only not there “in that world” but here beside us on Earth.
[48. From the Author, p. 1238]
After the books of the first series have all been published, I intend for the spreading of the contents of the second series, to organize in various large centers simultaneous public readings accessible to all.
And as regards the real, indubitably comprehensible, genuine objective truths which will be brought to light by me in the third series, I intend to make them accessible exclusively only to those from among the hearers of the second series of my writings who will be selected from specially prepared people according to my considered instructions.