Struggle of the Magicians






A radio feature written by

VOYEN KOREIS


 
 


The Characters: ( as they appear )

Gurdjieff
Kathy
Ouspensky
Collin
Lady customer
Zakharoff
Dr Stoernval
De Salzmann
Master of the Ceremonies
Toomer



 
 ( Knocks on the door, a voice from the inside )

Gurdjieff: I'm coming, I'm coming!  ( the door opens )  Oh, it's you, Kathy, come in! Welcome to Paris, did you have a nice journey?
Kathy: Thank you, the channel crossing was a bit rough, but it nearly always is.
Gurdjieff: Let's go to the kitchen, I'm going to fix you up with some tea.
 ( they are obviously moving about the flat )
Kathy: You know, this kitchen's my favourite place. The most interesting discussions always seem to happen here!
Gurdjieff: So why don't you sit right down and tell me what's new in London.
Kathy: Well, what is to say? It's slow to get back to normal, after the war. Of course, the big news is that Ouspensky's come back from America.
Gurdjieff: So Piotr Demianovitch is back! How is he, did you speak to him?
Kathy: I saw him, but I didn't speak to him. He called a meeting of his society at Colet Gardens, so I naturally went there.
Gurdjieff: So he is lecturing again, exposing the System, my system...
Kathy: Well, I wouldn't exactly call it lecturing.
Gurdjieff: What was it, then?
Kathy: More of a disaster, really. He was asked some questions, but he always managed to dodge them.
Gurdjieff: Did he? That must have been disappointing to the audience. How many were there?
Kathy: There must have been at least three hundred people in the hall, a lot of his prewar students amongst them. They came to see the old Ouspensky with his enthusiasm for the Work...
Gurdjieff: ... and he let them down. I'm sorry to hear that, but what was the problem with him?
Kathy: He looked old, he looked tired and he appeared to be in a highly irritable mood. He arrived late with Rodney Collin...
Gurdjieff: Who's Rodney Collin? I never heard of him.
Kathy: Apparently he's his newest disciple. I heard that he met him in the States, and after that, Collin apparently would never leave Ouspensky's side. But I couldn't help feeling sorry for the man!
Gurdjieff: Why should you, isn't it a blessing to have the opportunity to dwell at the feet of one's spiritual master?
Kathy: Come on, Grigory Ivanovitch, you yourself have had many disciples, did you ever hit any of them with a walking stick?
Gurdjieff: Infrequently, and never in public. Did he attack this poor man in front of three hundred people?
Kathy: Well it wasn't quite so bad.
Gurdjieff: So whose side you're on?
Kathy: This is what happened. Collin tried to help Ouspensky onto the platform and he wouldn't have any of it, so he went after him with that stick. He was so determined to do it without any help, really, it was
rather moving...
Gurdjieff: So he opened his performance by thrashing his favourite student with a walking stick, in front of the full house. I like that. What was the subject of his lecture? Human relationships?
Kathy: There was no lecture at all, Ouspensky immediately asked the audience if there were any questions.
Gurdjieff: And there were many...
Kathy: Quite a lot.
Gurdjieff: What sort of questions?
Kathy: Oh, the usual kind. Mostly about the Work.
Gurdjieff: Yes, the Work. And the esoteric schools?
Kathy: How did you know?
Gurdjieff: Seekers of mysterious wisdom always want to know about esoteric schools.
Kathy: As a matter of fact, the first question from the audience was about the work of esoteric schools.
Gurdjieff: And Ouspensky?
Kathy: He was quite blunt. He denied that his society had ever been an esoteric school.
Gurdjieff: Oh! That doesn't sound like Piotr Demianovitch at all! What else did he say?
Kathy: A lady stood up and talked at length about esoteric schools teaching normally inaccessible subjects to selected individuals, and so on.
Gurdjieff: That should have been a music to his ears.
Kathy: Apparently not. He told her that it is a waste of time inventing definitions while we keep doing nothing.
Gurdjieff: Well, that's what I was telling him thirty years ago. It seemed a waste of time then. What else did he say?
Kathy: That a real gain comes only from our own original ideas, and if we don't have any, no hypothetical esoteric school would take any notice of us anyway.
Gurdjieff: Bang HO!
Kathy: Then there was this psychologist, he wanted to know about the mechanized human personality, as Ouspensky taught his pupils before the war.
Gurdjieff: Another of my theories...
Kathy: He asked him if he thought of himself as an automaton. The man said that sometimes he would be tempted to agree. Ouspensky asked if he was sure. The man said he wasn't sure, that's why he came to ask
him, Ouspensky. Ouspensky asked, if he told him that he was a machine, would he believe him?
Gurdjieff: And the man shut up?
Kathy: Exactly. Somebody wanted to know about the hidden laws of harmony, Ouspensky said that he was asking the same question his whole life.
Gurdjieff: Right, so did I...
Kathy: The next question, what does the word "harmony" mean to him? He said: It's a musical term, nothing else.
Gurdjieff: Ha, ha, ha.
Kathy: Then came the real bomb. It must have been one of his prewar students who stood up. He talked about the System that Ouspensky taught them. Then he asked him directly: have you abandoned your
System?
Gurdjieff: And Piotr Demianovitch?
Kathy: He said: I don't know what you're talking about. There is no system!
Gurdjieff: Did he really tell them that, that there is no System? After years and years of publicly exposing it?
Kathy: That's what he said.
Gurdjieff: That must have been quite a shock to many of them. How did they take it?
Kathy: Badly. At least his former devotees did, the others were simply confused.
Gurdjieff: ( more to himself ) So Piotr Demianovitch finally did it.
Kathy: What did he do?
Gurdjieff: Oh, nothing.
Kathy: Please.
Gurdjieff: All right. Ouspensky did something that every good teacher should do at least once in his life, that is to drive his disciples away, most of them, anyway.  I thought that he would never be able to do it, that
he's too weak, that he wouldn't have enough courage for that. But he proved me wrong.
Kathy: You did the same thing to your own pupils, didn't you? But why did you have to do it?
Gurdjieff: It's very complex.
Kathy: Please, I would really like to know.
Gurdjieff: All right, you caught me in a soft mood, so I'll tell you. Partially, because you are not my disciple and therefore it's not likely to happen to you, but mainly because you are a woman.
Kathy: What does being a woman have to do with it?
 Gurdjieff: Women understand these things better.
Kathy: Why should women understand you better?
Gurdjieff: Because they are more prone to suffering.
Kathy: Is that what it's all about, suffering?
Gurdjieff: Yes, the really important things in life can only be grasped through conscious suffering. When everything's a plenty, when all is going well and smooth, the progress becomes retarded and we stop learning.
Any good teacher knows this and therefore he tries to make things more difficult, for his students and even for himself. And believe me, it's not easy...
Kathy: How would you do it?
Gurdjieff: One has to play tricks, make oneself inaccessible, be rude to one's friends, do anything that would eventually chase away these friends, who have no idea why one has to do it and that it is really breaking
one's heart.
Kathy: Is this what you did to Ouspensky?
Gurdjieff: Piotr Demianovitch was different, he was, and he is, a friend, but he  never really was my disciple, more like a partner...
Kathy: But the two of you have split...
Gurdjieff: We've parted because his was a different way. We could work together for some time, but we both knew very early on, that eventually we will have to part, even during the time of our St.Petersburg group's
meetings.
Kathy: Have you both planned to come to the West?
Gurdjieff: I think that it was always meant to happen the way it did, for Piotr Demianovitch to go to England, and for me ending up here, in Paris.
Kathy: Yes, the Russian revolution.
Gurdjieff: And it was good for both of us. He found his intellectual followers in London, and my guinea-pigs came to me here.
Kathy: Is that what you call your devotees, guinea-pigs? That's not very nice!
Gurdjieff: It may not be, but it is true.
Kathy: You wanted to experiment with people?
Gurdjieff: I made up my mind very early, perhaps at twenty, that if I wanted to get somewhere, I had to experiment with people. The trouble was that at the time I was mainly mixing up with the Asians, and they were
not at all suited to experimentations.
Kathy: Why do you say that?
Gurdjieff: The Asian people are too tranquil, they never rush anywhere and I'd had to hurry, I'd had so little time! Later, in the main Russian cities, it was a little better, but never as good as here, with people coming
from England and mainly America.
Kathy: What is it that makes us, Anglo-Saxons, such good guinea-pigs?
Gurdjieff: Probably the remnants of your puritanism. It helps you to understand that what is good for you must necessarily be painful and difficult. To you, I can tell the truth about the situation you, and the rest of
humanity, are facing.
Kathy: Is there only one truth?
Gurdjieff: There is only one truth, but there are many ways that lead to it.
 

                                                                   DIVIDE.
 

Ouspensky: I must have annoyed at least half the audience, what do you think, Rodney?
Collin: To say all of them would be more precise. Those who used to come before the war were probably offended, the others must have felt that they had wasted their time coming. Why did you do it?
Ouspensky: I don't know myself. Perhaps I've had enough of all this lecturing because it doesn't get us anywhere. Why, not one of them could tell me what it is that they really want from me! When I climbed onto the
platform, by the way, I'm sorry for getting so angry with you, you meant well...
Collin: That's all right.
Ouspensky: It's just that I wanted to prove to myself that I can still do it on my own.
Collin: I should have known better.
Ouspensky: Anyway, when I found myself on the platform, I began to wonder what am I doing there? Why did these people come and what do I know that I can teach them?
Collin: We all want to know the one and the only thing. The reason for our existence, who are we and where are we going. . ?
Ouspensky: I'm afraid that I cannot help here. Once, I thought that perhaps I could, that's when I was much younger, when I became convinced that I finally did find the way.
Collin: When you met...
Ouspensky: Why don't you say it? I know, I once declared that I didn't want to hear the name Gurdjieff pronounced in my presence. But since I've alienated most of my pupils anyway, it doesn't matter. You see, I just
said it myself. Gurdjieff!  Grigory Ivanovitch! He used to mean a lot to me, you know. He still does.
Collin: Was it the turning point in your life, when you met him?
Ouspensky: Yes, but there were other moments when I thought that illumination had finally come to me.
Collin: Tell me about the first one.
Ouspensky: ( laughs ) That came very early, I was about thirteen. There are fragments of our lives we never forget, this is one of them, it feels as if we must  keep on reliving these instants, perhaps from one life to
another.
Collin: The Nietzchean "eternal recurrence"?
Ouspensky: Perhaps. It is still so vivid! I'm in my old Moscow grammar school. I'm sitting at the school desk and everything around me is so familiar, the yellow cupboards lining the wall, the kerosene lamps with large
shades, the other boys in those linen shirts stained with ink. You know, ink was ever present in that building, everything there was stained with ink, the walls, the floors, even the teacher's desk.
 Our teacher. We called him Longstride, because of the way he walked. He dwelled behind his ink stained desk, from there he would give us our assignments and then he would read a book, occasionally
glancing our way. Of course, only a few square individuals would work on their assignments, the rest of us would read a Dumas' novel or such, under our desks.
Collin: I can hardly picture you, reading a novel by Dumas!
Ouspensky: On that day I didn't, I was reading a school book, a book of physics, I had borrowed it from someone in a higher grade and I was hungrily and passionately devouring it. The strange thing was that I didn't feel
as though I was learning all those mysteries from it, it was rather like rediscovering the world that I already knew. As if it had once again emerged out of the Chaos and re-formed itself into a harmonious
Whole. It was the chapter about levers and as I read it, suddenly everything fell into its proper place, all that I was so far able to perceive only separately. Suddenly I knew that the pole pushed under the
stone, the shovel, the swing, the pencil sharpener, that this is just one single thing, they are all levers! Such a thought! Isn't something disturbingly mysterious there, something terrifying?
Collin: That’s pure metaphysics.
 Longstride had no understanding for metaphysics and he took the book away from me. He had no idea that I understood perfectly everything about levers. Better than he could ever understand it. This
particular scene seems to have occurred only yesterday and not only that, it feels as if it had happened many times before that. I keep wondering if it's going to happen again. The same goes for the Hague
Peace Conference.
Collin: What about the Hague conference?
Ouspensky: It was no business of mine, but I was a journalist at the time and I had to write an article about it.
Collin: When was that?
Ouspensky: Oh, about 1907, I guess. I was nearly thirty and I was stuck in this insipid position and I felt that it was high time for me to do something, if only I knew what to do. Meanwhile, there was this article waiting
to be written. I had to somehow extract it from the pile of foreign newspapers, and when I thumbed through them, all I could see were phrases, phrases and more phrases, in Russian, in French, in English.
Collin: I know, I gave up reading political commentaries a long time ago.
Ouspensky: But I had to read them, it was my job. Some were critical, others ironical, loud, pompous, mendacious, but all they had one thing in common, they were completely mechanical, all had been used a thousand
times before.
Collin: And all will be used again!
Ouspensky: I can see myself now, pushing all those useless papers off my desk and taking up a book of mysteries, it was "The Occult Life", I think. I had filled my drawer with such books not long before that, and I read
it, and I sent the article to the devil.
Collin: So you never finished it?
Ouspensky: I may have done, a day or so later, one had to earn one's living. If I had not written something, I would have probably got the sack. But had I written what I truly thought about the Hague conference at the
moment, and if it somehow got printed, I would have been on the next train to Siberia, together with the editor in chief. What counted was that glorious moment of freedom I had given myself, to read
something that finally had the flavour of truth in it.
Collin: The flavour of truth! Somehow we seem to know when something is true, don't we?
Ouspensky: Yes, we do. At the time I had resolved to discover the hidden meaning of old myths and fairy tales, I had begun to sense a mysterious life all around me, I had begun to look for miracles.
Collin: Where would you look for miracles?
Ouspensky: First I went to some ancient monasteries, Russia is full of them, and it is full of tales about miracles that were supposed to have happened in such places.
Collin: Did you find anything miraculous?
Ouspensky: If I had, I would have probably stayed there for good. But I was not deterred, I went to other places, to India, to Ceylon, to Egypt. I looked for esoteric schools that according to the books I had read were
supposed to be there, but I didn't find any. Paradoxically, all this was waiting for me on my doorstep, in Russia.
 

                                                              DIVIDE.
 

Kathy: When did you begin your search for truth?
Gurdjieff: As a young boy. There is this very old and strange religious sect in the Caucasian region, the Yezidi. They have a reputation of being the devil worshippers, amongst other things. Interestingly, when you
draw a circle around a single Yezidi, you entrap him in there, he simply cannot get out on his own. Everybody knew about it, but no one could explain why it happens. Boys in our town used to amuse
themselves by catching some young Yezidi, drawing a circle around him and then watching him carry on for hours, crying and raging, because he was trapped there.
Kathy: That's ghastly!
Gurdjieff: It is, and when I first saw it, I had erased a part of the circle, to let the poor sod out, and collected a few punches from my mates, for spoiling the fun. But it vexed me, I wanted to know how and why it
happens.
Kathy: And that's when you had begun to experiment with your human guinea-pigs!
Gurdjieff: Don't judge me too harshly, I was no worse then the other boys, after all.
Kathy: Let me guess, you caught another Yezidi boy and put him into a circle?
Gurdjieff: I did. I wanted to see the limits, you know, how far it would go. I had tried to pull him out by force, but that didn’t work. Several of us dragged him, but as soon as he was out of the circle, he fell
unconscious, into a sort of cataleptic state and we could not wake him up. Eventually someone called a Yezidi priest, he came and chased us away. He then made some passes over the boy's head and said
some prayers and then he took him to his home.
Kathy: Such things don't happen in Paris or London, it's the taste of the Orient!
Gurdjieff: You are quite wrong my dear, it happens all over the world. People fall into cataleptic states for many different reasons. It's only that in the West you insist on treating it as physical disorders.
Kathy: While it is really a magic, is that what you mean?
Gurdjieff: If you wish. Anyway, I knew even then that it couldn’t be just the circle that keeps the Yezidi trapped, that it must be in the poor fellow's mind, deeply buried. As I pondered over it, it occurred to me that
perhaps we all might be so enchanted, only that the circles around us are invisible. I resolved that when I got older, I was going to have a good look at these things.
Kathy: And you did. Where did you go?
Gurdjieff: Oh, here and there, everywhere. Central Asia, Tibet, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt.  Finally I had settled in Russia.
Kathy: That's where you had met with Ouspensky.
Gurdjieff: In Moscow, he looked me up in a cafe. He was a strange fellow, he obviously read a lot of books, he wrote some himself, but he was all mixed up, like many of us, he was looking for something, but in all
the wrong places.
 
 

                                                                  DIVIDE.
 

Ouspensky: What do you think, is it worth going back to India? I feel as if I had missed something when I was there.
Gurdjieff: If you need a vacation, it would be a nice place to go. That you’re looking for can just as well be found here.
Ouspensky: But the mystical tradition is there, schools built on the real tradition must surely be better!
Gurdjieff: Suppose that you found one of your "schools", take my warning, you’d be disappointed. You're not looking for philosophical schools.
Ouspensky: Is that all there is to be found in India, schools of philosophy?
Gurdjieff: That's how it was once and for all divided, a long time ago: philosophy in India, theory in Egypt, practice in Persia and Turkestan.
Ouspensky: Have you been to all of these places?
Gurdjieff: Yes, I was.
Ouspensky: Where did you stay the longest?
Gurdjieff: I didn't stay long anywhere.
Ouspensky: But which discipline have you concentrated on?
Gurdjieff: I studied all of them.
Ouspensky: How could you manage?
Gurdjieff: I wasn't alone. There were others and there were specialists among us. Each of us would take up one subject and when we met, we would bring together all that we found and we would try to make some
sense of it.
Ouspensky: That's what I call the esoteric school!
Gurdjieff: If you insist.
Ouspensky: Where are your colleagues now?
Gurdjieff: Some died, some are still working, others went into seclusion.
Ouspensky: So I don't have to go back to India to look for schools there?
Gurdjieff: You see, when you went there before, some articles about you and about your journey appeared in the newspaper. I saw them and I instructed some of my pupils to read all your books, so that we can find
out who you are and how you think. On that basis it was easy for us to figure out what you were capable of finding in India. We knew that you will find very little, even before you got there.
 

                                                                   DIVIDE.
 

Collin: That was rather blunt, even cruel of him, I must say.
Ouspensky: It was simply the vintage Gurdjieff. If you wanted to learn something from him, sometimes you had to swallow some tough morsels.  What he had to say to people was mostly true, if you allowed it to sink
in.
Collin: Did you have to swallow a lot?
Ouspensky: Especially in the beginning. The hardest thing was to make up my mind if I should trust him, whether I should have anything to do with him at all. But I had sensed an opportunity of a lifetime and I didn't
want to waste it. Still, that rankling worm of doubts was always there...
Collin:                Have you doubted his seriousness?
Ouspensky: When I first saw him in that Moscow joint, he created the impression of a badly disguised detective. He looked completely out of the place, under that boiler hat, with a dark coat and a silk collar. He had the
reputation of an original thinker and a teacher, but I didn't know how to behave towards him, whether to pretend that everything was normal, or what...
Collin: Did he dress so outrageously?
Ouspensky: It wasn't just the way he was dressed, it was how he treated people. Later I realized that this was his way of sorting them out and that he would always do his damn best to repel them, particularly early on.
Collin: But why did he do it?
Ouspensky: He simply didn't want his teachings to be too easily accessible, so he made himself look boorish and waited for people's reactions.
Collin: Did he become more open if they passed this test?
Ouspensky: I couldn't say that, he became even more difficult, if anything. He did not only pretend and boast, he kept choosing the most impossible places and times for meetings and lectures. He used to say that people
do not value anything that is obtained too easily. And he always arrived late to meetings. But most annoying was his constant bragging.
Collin: You are painting a very dark picture of him.
Ouspensky: I'm sorry, but that's the way I saw him then. He never stopped parading his grandiose schemes, though I have to admit that at least some of them he managed to realize, but much later and never in Russia.
Like that ballet of his...
Collin: Struggle of the Magicians.
Ouspensky: When I first heard him talk about it, I was left with the impression that it must be in the latest stages of rehearsals. He kept dropping names of some of the best dancers and choreographers, but when I drilled
him on it a bit, it gradually came out that he didn't even speak to any of them.
Collin: So far as I know, in Paris he used a cast of his own students and they even successfully toured America with this ballet.
Ouspensky: But I couldn't know that, when I heard all those fibs in Russia nearly ten years earlier, could I? This, and other reservations I had, made me think twice about joining his group.
 

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Ouspensky: There is one problem to be resolved, before I commit myself to your group. I don't know whether you enforce a code of silence on your pupils, but I cannot give you any such promise.
Gurdjieff: Why do you tell me this?
Ouspensky: Because twice before I could have become a member of certain organizations that interested me very much. But I would have had  to swear that I would not betray any of their secrets, and on both occasions
this forced me to decline the offer. Above all, I am a writer, and I want to maintain my freedom of decision of what I should or shouldn't write.
Gurdjieff: Surely you must realize that there have to be certain conditions imposed on the pupils, if true knowledge is to be passed on to them?
Ouspensky: I realize this and therefore I would accept such conditions, but only temporarily. It would be ridiculous even to attempt to write anything, before I could understand the whole system of your teachings. But if
you basically do not want to hide anything, if you only want to prevent your teachings from being distorted, then I'm prepared to undertake a temporary vow of silence.
Gurdjieff: You put it very nicely, indeed. If we agree to follow this rule, there is no need to talk about it anymore.
Ouspensky: Are there any other conditions? Would, for instance, the members of your group be in any way bound to you or to the other members? Do they have the freedom to leave the group if they want to, and how
would you deal with any dropouts?
Gurdjieff: There are no such conditions and when you have advanced a little on the path, you will know why there cannot be any. Our point of departure is that man doesn't know himself, that he is not what he could
be, what he should be. As such, he has no competence to make any firm agreements or to take on any obligations. How could we expect him to fulfil his promises, when he is not even sure of himself, when
he is one person today and another person tomorrow? If he decides to go along a different path, how could we possibly stop him?
Ouspensky: So, no obligations whatever?
Gurdjieff: I didn't say that. There may be some, but only as a test. Most people don't pass such tests anyway and they leave, but this always happens long before they've had the opportunity to learn any important
secrets, so it doesn't really matter.
Ouspensky: When would a man merit a complete trust?
Gurdjieff: Hardly ever. You see, this is how it goes: One of the man's personalities promises to keep a secret and it genuinely believes that it can keep the promise. But tomorrow, another person in him takes over and
it starts talking about it to his wife or to his friends in a pub. Or someone cleverly extracts the secret from him. No, Piotr Demianovitch, if you want to preserve a secret, you must first know yourself, you
have to learn TO BE. Most people are far from that.
 

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Collin: So you did join the Gurdjieff group...
Ouspensky: Only tentatively. I couldn't stay in Moscow long anyway, my duties tied me to St. Petersburg. Eventually I had to go and I didn't see Gurdjieff for several months. Then, suddenly, he arrived to St.Petersburg.
I organized a group of interested people and Grigori Ivanovitch started to come regularly from Moscow, to give us lectures.
Collin: That must have been costly for him, it's quite a long distance.
Ouspensky: It certainly wasn't cheap, but with his resourcefulness he soon turned it into a useful business venture. He always had some money making schemes, some of them a bit ambiguous.
Collin: Such as?
Ouspensky: Well, let's not forget that he was born in Georgia, and of a Greek extraction, so business certainly was in his blood. I'm not sure if this is entirely true, he probably garnished it a little, but he told me how he
once worked as an interpreter for a team of surveyors who lined up the railroad from Tbilisi to Kars. He would go to the local big shots indicating to them that for a small bribe he would make sure that the
rail line went through their town. He collected a lot of money and, of course, he easily kept his promises, because he already knew where the line was planned to go.
Collin: ( laughs ) I heard about such cons, but I always thought that it was the Yanks who invented them. What tricks did he save for St.Petersburg?
Ouspensky: No tricks, he just pursued the ancient craft of a carpet dealer.
Collin: Oh, thay say that he's been doing that even lately in Paris.
Ouspensky: Then he must be in some financial trouble. He'd always sold carpets when he needed quick money. In St.Petersburg, on his first visit, he scented the air and saw that the prices were higher than in Moscow,
so on his next trip he turned up with a load of carpets and rented some premises.
Collin: I imagine that he must be a very good salesman.
Ouspensky: Not just that. Watching  him deal with his customers was always a lot of fun!
 

                                                                   DIVIDE.
 

The lady:   How much do you ask for this carpet?
Gurdjieff: Seven hundred roubles.
The lady: That's far too much!
Gurdjieff: It's a genuine Persian carpet. You can load on it the other carpets you had already selected, and it will fly you home.
The lady: ( giggles ) You are kidding!
Gurdjieff: You don't believe in flying carpets? Piotr Demianovitch, would you be so kind and open the window? I'm going to demonstrate how this carpet flies. All you have to do, Madame, is sit on it and tell it where
you want to go.
The lady: You want me to sit on this carpet?
Gurdjieff: Of course.
The lady: I won't do it.
Gurdjieff: We can fly together...
The lady: No. And what if it really flies? It's too high!
Gurdjieff: Only two stories.
The lady: I believe you, the carpet can fly! I like it, but seven hundred roubles is too much.
Gurdjieff: Six hundred and fifty roubles.
The lady: Two hundred.
Gurdjieff: Six hundred.
The lady: Two fifty, and not a copeck more!
Gurdjieff: Five hundred is my last word!
The lady: How much did you say you wanted for those three other large carpets, the four smaller ones and the two runners?
Gurdjieff: Fourteen hundred roubles, all told.
The lady: And if I took all of them, and the Persian carpet?
Gurdjieff: Two thousand.
the lady: Why, you'd just said that the flying carpet was five hundred roubles. Fourteen hundred and five hundred makes nineteen hundred.
Gurdjieff: There is the delivery charge, of course...
The lady:  ( laughs ) Hundred roubles? I can order a cart for a few roubles. Anyway, you just said that the Persian carpet will fly the other carpets and me home!
Gurdjieff: All right, in that case I'd have to charge you hundred roubles for the flying instructions!
The lady: Now, let's be serious. Twelve hundred for the lot.
Gurdjieff: Three thousand.
The lady: I said, be serious. How many carpets do you have in this room?
Gurdjieff: About three dozen.
The lady: What if I wanted to buy all of them, how much would that be?
Gurdjieff: Fifteen hundred.
The lady: ( takes a loud breath )
Ouspensky: ( whispers ) Grigori Ivanovitch, are you mad?
Gurdjieff: ( whispers ) Shush. Just wait what she's going to say as soon as she regains her breath.
The lady: I'll take all your carpets, for a thousand.
Gurdjieff: ( whispers ) See? ( aloud ) Fifteen hundred.
The lady: Twelve hundred.
Gurdjieff: Will you let me sleep on that?
The lady: Till when?
Gurdjieff: Tomorrow afternoon?
The lady: That's fine with me. I'll be back tomorrow afternoon. Good bye and think about it, please.
Gurdjieff: I certainly will, it's been a pleasure, good bye,  see you soon...
 ( the door closes )
 ( both men wait a couple of seconds, then start laughing )
Ouspensky: I see, Grigori Ivanovitch.  Your train is leaving in the morning.
Gurdjieff: By the time she comes, I will be half way to Moscow. If she comes at all...
Ouspensky: But you're a gambler! She could have jumped onto your last offer and you would have been in trouble.  Would you have sold all your carpets for so little? You wouldn't have made any profits!
Gurdjieff: I would have probably lost quite a bit of money. But I knew that she would start bargaining again as soon as she had recovered, so I wasn't risking much.
Ouspensky: That's aplied psychology!
Gurdjieff: Psychology? Not at all. As the name implies, psychology  concerns the human psyche. But the present man is more of a machine. The knowledge of human mechanics is what we need when we deal with
such ladies.
Ouspensky: Is it possible to stop being a machine?
Gurdjieff: Now, that's the right question! If you keep asking such questions, we might even be getting somewhere. Yes, it is possible to cease being a machine, but first we have to know that machine really well. The
real machine cannot know itself, when it does, it's no longer a machine. It becomes responsible for itself and for its deeds.
Ouspensky: According to you, man isn't responsible for what he does?
Gurdjieff: Man is. Machine isn't.
Ouspensky: What is the best preparation for the study of your method? For example, is it useful to read mystical literature?
Gurdjieff: One can learn much from reading, I used to read a lot myself. But there comes a time when you realize that mere reading doesn't get you far enough.
Ouspensky: I may have reached that stage.
Gurdjieff: It is so because you have finally been able to take a critical look at yourself and see that you would have known much more if you knew how to read. If you had really understood everything you have read
so far, you would have already found all that you are still seeking. If you understood properly all you wrote yourself in that book of yours, ...Tercium Organon?
Ouspensky: Tertium Organum.
Gurdjieff: ... I would come to you, prostrate myself in front of you and beg you to accept me as your pupil. As it is, you don't even understand what the word "understand" means. Reading and writing can only benefit
you when you know what you read and write about!
Ouspensky: Then, what is the best preparation?
Gurdjieff: Best prepared is he who already knows how to do something. But he must be able to do it really well. Bring me someone who can make a good cup of coffee, or even better, a good pair of shoes. I would
love to talk to him. The trouble is that nobody can do anything really well, that everybody does things only so and so, just to keep themselves occupied.
 

         DIVIDE.
 

Collin: Weren't you offended when he talked to you like this, when he trashed your book? Why, he couldn't even properly pronounce its title! And it's such a good book, it justly made you famous here and in
America!
Ouspensky: Well, it was a useful book. The royalties I received from it helped me to settle in England, after the revolution. But I couldn't know that then, when it was still only published in Russia. I had to take a few
slaps, I had to be patient, I had to develop the skin of a rhino. I wanted to stay with Gurdjieff and learn something from him. It wasn't easy, he would drive us all mad with some of his offensive remarks and
with his complicated ways of doing things.
Collin: Why would he be doing that?
Ouspensky: To jolt us from our complacency. Or to prove to us how simple everything really is. Or to teach us to be patient. And he was right, I was impatient, I wanted to do things, but I didn't know what to do.
 

      DIVIDE.
 

Gurdjieff: What to do? Always that same stupid question. Do nothing! Nothing can be done. This is the first thing you must understand!
Ouspensky: But, I want to...
Gurdjieff: Look, man has thousands of false ideas and images, particularly regarding his own personality and what it would like to do. These ideas must be thrown away, before new ones can take their place.
Otherwise he would be building on the wrong foundations and with disastrous results.
Ouspensky: To lose such false ideas, what does one have to do?
Gurdjieff: Do, do, and do again! The greatest mistake is to think that something can be done. People never stop thinking of what they are going to do, and always ask what they should do. In reality no one ever does
anything and no one can do anything, please get this once and for all into your head!
Ouspensky: It sounds so hopeless...
Gurdjieff: It is hopeless. While man is a machine, things only happen to him. Everything that goes on in and around him, happens. All that he supposedly does, happens. Even when he thinks that he has originated
something, it simply happened while he wasn't looking.
Ouspensky: But how does it happen?
Gurdjieff: When there is a change of temperature in the upper atmosphere, it happens to rain. When the temperature drops down, it snows. Snow begins to thaw when the sun shines on it. That's how things happen.
Ouspensky: Don't we have any influence at all on what we are doing? What about our creative work, what about art?
Gurdjieff: Don't hold any illusions about man's creativity. The mechanical man is born, he lives, he procreates, he even writes books, but not because he would want it that way, only because it happens to him.
Everything happens, his love, his desire, his anger, his hate.
Ouspensky: I refuse to believe that!
Gurdjieff: You see? When told the truth, he won't believe it. It is the most disagreeable and offensive thing you can tell to anybody, because it is the truth and no one wants to know the truth!
Ouspensky: All right, let's say that you've made that point. What comes next? Are we now able to change things, can we do something about it?
Gurdjieff: People fail to understand that once anything was done in a certain way, it cannot be undone or overdone. For instance, everybody talks about this war we are having, they all have their theories, they all think
that only they know how it should be resolved, that the polititians and the generals got it all wrong...
Ouspensky: ... while they couldn't do anything else, because things just happened to them?
Gurdjieff: That's right, everything happened in the one and the only possible way. If one tiny incident was left out, everything would be different. Maybe the war would not have happened, who knows? But everything
depends on everything else, all is joined into a network, nothing can exist outside of it, everything happens the only way it can happen.
Ouspensky: So you say that there is absolutely nothing that anyone can do? But I know you well enough. Now comes that big BUT...
Gurdjieff: To do something, it takes someone who has learned to BE.
Ouspensky: To be?
Gurdjieff: Wait, in the language of our group, this word means something different. It is to BE, as opposed to "exist". And if you want to BE, you have to learn to speak the TRUTH.
Ouspensky: But...
Gurdjieff: I know, it sounds so easy to you. It seems that you only have to make the resolution to always speak the truth. And I tell you that people seldom lie deliberately. They are genuinely convinced that they are
telling the truth. But they lie, whether they want to lie or not, they lie to others, to themselves. The hardest thing in life is to be truthful. That has to be learnt for a long time, it takes a lot of self observation,
to be able to consistently speak the truth. A mere wish to do so is not enough, we have to know the truth and be able to separate it from a lie. Only then we can be truthful!
 

                                                              DIVIDE.
 

Collin: Truth cannot only be wished, it must be learnt. I agree that most people would have trouble accepting this great truth. Where did Gurdjieff gain his knowledge? He must have traveled a lot.
Ouspensky: As far as his early life, he was always vague about it. I'm sure that he had travelled, that he had been to at least most of the places he claimed to have visited. Some knowledge certainly came from his father.
Collin: His father! Did you know him?
Ouspensky: I never met him, but I know that he was what in the Caucasian region is traditionally called "aschokh", a bard, a folk poet, perhaps one of the last, in the line that goes back to the ancient times.
Collin: What about the rumours that he stayed in a Tibetan monastery?
Ouspensky: For all I know, it may be true. He never talked much about these things. My theory is that he didn't want to lie, but that some of the myths that floated around about his person suited his purposes. So he
neither confirmed them nor denied them. I'm also certain that somehow he was able to draw from the pool of ancient knowledge, which is not accessible to most of us.
Collin: Originally I had found this idea of a hidden knowledge quite repulsive. I felt that it would not be fair and just, if some people possesed it, while to others the access would be denied.
Ouspensky: I know, I used to feel the same way. But Grigori Ivanovitch explained to me  rather nicely why there is no injustice in this.
 

      DIVIDE.
 

Gurdjieff: Firstly: no one hides any knowledge. Secondly: all knowledge is not suited for general distribution, some must remain hidden. Still, it is more accessible then you might think, but only to those who genuinely
seek it and are able to absorb it.
Ouspensky: Isn't it the general idea that the way to knowledge should be open to all, that all people have the right to be educated?
Gurdjieff: So far as the general education is concerned, I cannot agree more. But you must understand that the real knowledge cannot be the property of all, not even of many. This is the fundamental law, the law of
materiality that relates to everything in this world, including knowledge.
Ouspensky: But knowledge has nothing to do with materiality!
Gurdjieff: In the world of matter everything is limited. At any given moment there is an indeterminable, nevertheless exact, number of grains of sand in a desert. There's a certain potentially measurable volume of water
in a lake. And so on. It's the same with knowledge. It, too, is limited.
Ouspensky: Are you saying that humanity, in a span of, say, a century, has only a limited amount of knowledge that it can get?
Gurdjieff: That's exactly it. We take knowledge in the same way as we take food. Even more precisely, we take it as a rare medicine. The effectiveness of such a remedy depends on the dose we have taken. So long as
the dose is large enough, it can be beneficial to a person or to a small group of people. If too many people wanted it,  each one would be getting so little that the effects would be negligible. It would make no
difference to their lives. The knowledge would simply be dissipated, wasted.
Ouspensky: Is it in any way advantageous that only a small number of people receive the available portion of knowledge?
Gurdjieff: Of course it is. Imagine that you have six ounces of gold and that you want to guild something. First of all you have to calculate how much your gold can cover, otherwise the surface would be patchy, it
won't look good, in fact you would lose your gold. When distributing knowledge, you cannot give it to everybody, because you would be giving them nothing.
Ouspensky: To whom do you give it, then?
Gurdjieff: Simply to those who ask for it. The majority of mankind have no desire for knowledge and they would leave their rations unclaimed anyway. Because of that, there is a lot of knowledge around that can be
found and claimed by those who can appreciate its value.
Ouspensky: But are they its rightful owners, then? Shouldn’t they be obliged to offer it back to those who, perhaps carelessly, passed it by?
Gurdjieff: What makes you think that this doesn't happen? No one is hiding anything, on the contrary, those who have picked up this knowledge, usually do everything they can, to pass it on. But it isn't easy. To pass
and to receive knowledge takes a lot effort, both from those who want to give it and those who are to receive it.
Ouspensky: I understand, one cannot force-feed people with knowledge, it would be like condemning them to a lifetime of hard labour. One can only give it to those who search for it and who are ready to receive it.
What forms such "readiness"?
Gurdjieff: The ancient schools of wisdom always stressed one fundamental rule: "Know thyself!"
 

      DIVIDE.
 

Collin: Those are the words of Socrates.
Ouspensky: Yes. Gurdjieff taught us that the fist step is to become self conscious. For instance, I had to learn to be conscious of the fact that it is MYSELF who is just talking, MYSELF who is walking along the
Nevsky Prospect, MYSELF who is trying to remain self conscious. While doing it, it struck me that my first life remembrances, those images that became embedded in my mind, were actually involuntary
attempts at such self consciousness. That's why they can be so lively.
Collin: Our memories are so poor! We forget almost everything and almost immediately. It is a part of the obscene absurdity of our existence that we live through so much, only to forget it again. I feel so humiliated
by this fact. Sometimes I intensely experience something, I say to myself: this I cannot possibly ever forget, yet a year or two later I have only a nebulous recollection of it or nothing at all.
Ouspensky: It only proves that Gurdjieff was right, that we are too preoccupied with our roles, that we have roles for every occasion, for our family, our superiors, our subordinates, our friends, and that we slip into these
roles because they are comfortable and they make us feel secure. Practicing self consciousness is a way of forcing us out of these grooves.
Collin: How long did you do it?
Ouspensky: With the St. Petersburg group for about two years. None of the latter groups I have worked with had ever reached half the intensity of that original one. Something was hanging in the air, this spurred us on.
Collin: The Bolshevik revolution was soon to come, wasn't it?
Ouspensky: You know that the political situation barely touched us in those days? I, for one, was waiting for some breakthrough, for some miracle that had eluded me in India and in other places. And when something
finally came, it happened on a "dacha" near St. Petersburg.
Collin: You say, a miracle?
Ouspensky: To me it was a miracle.
Collin: Would you describe it?
Ouspensky: It's so hard to describe the undescribable. I’ve read books of several authors who claimed to have experienced something fantastic, but who failed to outline it in a substantial way. In my eyes then, they had
lost their credibility, but now I can understand them better, having had a similar experience and knowing that it is impossible to express it in mere words.
Collin: So, you cannot tell me what happened to you...
Ouspensky: I'll do all I can. Before we went to that dacha, I prepared myself thoroughly by fasting, meditating and by doing some breathing exercises Gurdjieff had taught us. I must have given a fair shock to my
organism and a bigger shock was to come. Grigory Ivanovitch was at his best or rather at his worst. He was provocative and sarcastic towards all  of us, but it was I who really caught the brunt of it. I told
him, confidentially as I believed, what I thought about Dr Stoernval, but he then repeated my words in front of everybody.
Collin: That wasn't nice, why did he do it?
Ouspensky: To embarrass and to humiliate me, no doubt. I was the one who always condemned intriguing and gossiping and he had caught me red handed. I felt like running away and crawling into some hole, but he
acted as if nothing happened and asked me, the poor doctor and Zakharoff to go into the adjoining room to show us some more exercises. And that's when it happened...
Collin: It sounds like a part of a thrilling novel! Please, continue.
Ouspensky: The four of us sat on the floor in the Turkish fashion, with Grigori Ivanovitch talking to us. He talked about our inability to perceive the truth and I found his words so disturbing! It appeared to me that
behind the words he was saying aloud to us all, there were also thoughts that were directed only at me. Then I caught one of these thoughts, I answered him aloud and he nodded his head and stopped talking.
He sat silently for a while and then I heard his voice inside me, as if it were in my chest, near the heart.
 

      DIVIDE.
 

Gurdjieff: ( silent voice, enhanced with an echo )  Why didn't you go?            (  a short pause )
Ouspensky: I wanted to, but something stopped me.
Gurdjieff: ( aloud ) Why did he say this? Did I ask him any question?
Zakharoff: What question, I didn't hear you say anything.
Gurdjieff: ( silent voice ) You can hear me?
Ouspensky: I can hear you perfectly.
Stoernval: What can you hear, Piotr Demianovitch?
Ouspensky: Never mind.
Gurdjieff: ( silent voice ) You will have to rethink your position in this group, if you want to stay!
Ouspensky: I already thought about it, and I do want to stay.
Gurdjieff: ( silent voice ) Don't rush it, take a month to think about it properly.
Ouspensky: I don't need a month to think about it.
Zakharoff: What's going on? What are the two of you up to?
Gurdjieff: ( aloud ) Piotr Demianovitch and I are having a conversation. Please don't interrupt us. ( silent voice ) If you want to continue with the group, you must accept my authority.
Ouspensky: You told me once that there were no such obligations.
Gurdjieff: ( silent voice ) We've gone past that stage. I also told you that there may be temporary conditions. If you are to stay, I need your assurance that there will be no disturbances on your part.
Ouspensky: All right, I give you my word.
Gurdjieff: ( silent voice ) Between you and me, there will always be irremovable differences, we were both made from a special dough. Now, when you've finally become alive, I need this assurance from you, it is
vital, if this group is to stay together. You want to have your own group and you will have it.
Ouspensky:  When will I have it?
Gurdjieff: ( silent voice ) When the inevitable clash of our personalities finally forces us apart. In the meantime we must both try to delay it as much as we can, so try to be patient and restrain your ambitions. You feel
as if you are on the verge of a great discovery.
Ouspensky: I do, indeed.
Gurdjieff: ( silent voice ) It will be your own discovery, your own system, you must develop it on your own, but in its own time.
Ouspensky: I understand.
 

      DIVIDE.
 

Ouspensky: I understood. It was then that an idea came to me. I knew that I cannot tell him anything about it, because he would not comprehend it at all.
Collin: What was it?
Ouspensky: I'm afraid that I cannot tell you, but maybe that you would be able to deduce it.
Collin: How?
Ouspensky: From my later relationship with Gurdjieff, from my life and from my death.
Collin: Please, don't mention death!
Ouspensky: Why shouldn't I? It's not a forbidden subject. Death is our ally, it is in fact the only worthwhile ally we'll ever have. You are much younger than I and young people don't think much about death. When they
do, they see it as an enemy. When eventually faced with death, people submit to it as they would submit to a victorious enemy. Instead they should recognise that this is their opportunity to make a great
ally!
Collin: Don't we all have to accept that we have to die?
Ouspensky: It's in the way the human machine succumbs to death. How would you define death?
Collin: Very hard question. Some might say it's the end of everything, others that it's the beginning of something else.
Ouspensky: But no one can deny that it is an escape from this existence, whether it be into a void, or into another existence.
Collin: I have to agree with that.
Ouspensky: Let's put aside the possibility that death is an end. We both believe that at least part of the human personality survives death. If this were indeed so, it would somehow have to be incorporated into the
repetitive cycle of Nature.
Collin: I see, you are talking about reincarnation, the idea of living a series of lives.
Ouspensky: This idea, so widespread in India and elsewhere, had occupied my mind for a time. But to me it is too simplistic and idyllic. I find the Nietzschean concept of "eternal recurrence" far more appealing, in the
general sense. But Nietzsche's Superman is quite happy with his lot of having to relive his pleasant life over and over again. I find it disturbing.
Collin: I think that I know why you do. The human machine.
Ouspensky: I'm sure that the closest I ever came to pulling myself out of this mechanical existence was on that dacha. My organism was prepared by fasting and exercising, Gurdjieff provided the psychological shock
that was needed. You know, I think that this is his main mission in life.
Collin: To shock people? How long did this state of your mind last?
Ouspensky: My ability to receive his telepathic messages? Several days. I maintained some telepathic contact with Grigory Ivanovitch even after he left, I was able to hear his words and at the same time I had the mental
image of him in my mind.
Collin: And, after his departure, how quickly did you get back into the so called normal condition?
Ouspensky: It happened gradually. The telepathic connection didn't last more then a few hours, but there were some echoes that persisted for another three weeks or so. For instance: I found myself wandering through the
streets of St.Petersburg and it seemed to me that everyone around me was asleep, while I was the only person fully awake. This condition of mind lasted for several hours.
Collin: Before this, did you ever have any experience with telepathy?
Ouspensky: None at all! And imagine that all this was caused only by a relatively small shock!
Collin: I see where you are leading to. That idea you had must have been connected with death! Death is the greatest shock we can ever expect to receive.
Ouspensky: Yes, but all depends on our capacity to benefit from this revelation. If we simply die an automated death, which is the lot of the average human machine, what can we expect? With the impact further blunted
by pain killing drugs prescribed to us by the well-meaning doctors, how can we gain anything? But, if we could experience death while fully conscious, it might be precisely that decisive moment when we
could manage to escape from the wheel of eternal recurrence.
Collin: You ... You want to...
Ouspensky: Yes, you've guessed it.
 

      DIVIDE.
 
 

Gurdjieff: ( lecturing ) The last time I spoke to you, I said that there were three known ways leading to immortality. We may call them the way of the fakir, the way of the monk and the way of the yogi.
 The fakir struggles with his body, in an attempt to develop the power of the will. To achieve it, he has to go through some incredibly difficult exercises. He may have to remain motionless in one position for
hours, days, months, even years, in the sun, rain or snow. But even if he succeeded in gaining a great power of will, there would still be a problem. His emotional and his intellectual sides were neglected and
they have remained undeveloped.
 The path of the monk is leading through the fields of emotions, faith, religious feelings and sacrifices. The monk's attention is focussed on his emotional body, to the detriment of the other two, the physical
and the mental.
 The yogi improves his mind, his knowledge. He may lack some of the strength of the will of the fakir and some of the discipline of the monk, but he will probably get further on the path than either of them,
thanks to his acquired knowledge that will tell him what he is missing and what he has to do.
 Our prospects of advancement as the human race would be negligible, if it were not for the possibility of the fourth way that is basically a combination of the previous three. Its advantages are that it does

Struggle of the Magicians






A radio feature written by

VOYEN KOREIS


 
 


The Characters: ( as they appear )

Gurdjieff
Kathy
Ouspensky
Collin
Lady customer
Zakharoff
Dr Stoernval
De Salzmann
Master of the Ceremonies
Toomer



 
 ( Knocks on the door, a voice from the inside )

Gurdjieff: I'm coming, I'm coming!  ( the door opens )  Oh, it's you, Kathy, come in! Welcome to Paris, did you have a nice journey?
Kathy: Thank you, the channel crossing was a bit rough, but it nearly always is.
Gurdjieff: Let's go to the kitchen, I'm going to fix you up with some tea.
 ( they are obviously moving about the flat )
Kathy: You know, this kitchen's my favourite place. The most interesting discussions always seem to happen here!
Gurdjieff: So why don't you sit right down and tell me what's new in London.
Kathy: Well, what is to say? It's slow to get back to normal, after the war. Of course, the big news is that Ouspensky's come back from America.
Gurdjieff: So Piotr Demianovitch is back! How is he, did you speak to him?
Kathy: I saw him, but I didn't speak to him. He called a meeting of his society at Colet Gardens, so I naturally went there.
Gurdjieff: So he is lecturing again, exposing the System, my system...
Kathy: Well, I wouldn't exactly call it lecturing.
Gurdjieff: What was it, then?
Kathy: More of a disaster, really. He was asked some questions, but he always managed to dodge them.
Gurdjieff: Did he? That must have been disappointing to the audience. How many were there?
Kathy: There must have been at least three hundred people in the hall, a lot of his prewar students amongst them. They came to see the old Ouspensky with his enthusiasm for the Work...
Gurdjieff: ... and he let them down. I'm sorry to hear that, but what was the problem with him?
Kathy: He looked old, he looked tired and he appeared to be in a highly irritable mood. He arrived late with Rodney Collin...
Gurdjieff: Who's Rodney Collin? I never heard of him.
Kathy: Apparently he's his newest disciple. I heard that he met him in the States, and after that, Collin apparently would never leave Ouspensky's side. But I couldn't help feeling sorry for the man!
Gurdjieff: Why should you, isn't it a blessing to have the opportunity to dwell at the feet of one's spiritual master?
Kathy: Come on, Grigory Ivanovitch, you yourself have had many disciples, did you ever hit any of them with a walking stick?
Gurdjieff: Infrequently, and never in public. Did he attack this poor man in front of three hundred people?
Kathy: Well it wasn't quite so bad.
Gurdjieff: So whose side you're on?
Kathy: This is what happened. Collin tried to help Ouspensky onto the platform and he wouldn't have any of it, so he went after him with that stick. He was so determined to do it without any help, really, it was
rather moving...
Gurdjieff: So he opened his performance by thrashing his favourite student with a walking stick, in front of the full house. I like that. What was the subject of his lecture? Human relationships?
Kathy: There was no lecture at all, Ouspensky immediately asked the audience if there were any questions.
Gurdjieff: And there were many...
Kathy: Quite a lot.
Gurdjieff: What sort of questions?
Kathy: Oh, the usual kind. Mostly about the Work.
Gurdjieff: Yes, the Work. And the esoteric schools?
Kathy: How did you know?
Gurdjieff: Seekers of mysterious wisdom always want to know about esoteric schools.
Kathy: As a matter of fact, the first question from the audience was about the work of esoteric schools.
Gurdjieff: And Ouspensky?
Kathy: He was quite blunt. He denied that his society had ever been an esoteric school.
Gurdjieff: Oh! That doesn't sound like Piotr Demianovitch at all! What else did he say?
Kathy: A lady stood up and talked at length about esoteric schools teaching normally inaccessible subjects to selected individuals, and so on.
Gurdjieff: That should have been a music to his ears.
Kathy: Apparently not. He told her that it is a waste of time inventing definitions while we keep doing nothing.
Gurdjieff: Well, that's what I was telling him thirty years ago. It seemed a waste of time then. What else did he say?
Kathy: That a real gain comes only from our own original ideas, and if we don't have any, no hypothetical esoteric school would take any notice of us anyway.
Gurdjieff: Bang HO!
Kathy: Then there was this psychologist, he wanted to know about the mechanized human personality, as Ouspensky taught his pupils before the war.
Gurdjieff: Another of my theories...
Kathy: He asked him if he thought of himself as an automaton. The man said that sometimes he would be tempted to agree. Ouspensky asked if he was sure. The man said he wasn't sure, that's why he came to ask
him, Ouspensky. Ouspensky asked, if he told him that he was a machine, would he believe him?
Gurdjieff: And the man shut up?
Kathy: Exactly. Somebody wanted to know about the hidden laws of harmony, Ouspensky said that he was asking the same question his whole life.
Gurdjieff: Right, so did I...
Kathy: The next question, what does the word "harmony" mean to him? He said: It's a musical term, nothing else.
Gurdjieff: Ha, ha, ha.
Kathy: Then came the real bomb. It must have been one of his prewar students who stood up. He talked about the System that Ouspensky taught them. Then he asked him directly: have you abandoned your
System?
Gurdjieff: And Piotr Demianovitch?
Kathy: He said: I don't know what you're talking about. There is no system!
Gurdjieff: Did he really tell them that, that there is no System? After years and years of publicly exposing it?
Kathy: That's what he said.
Gurdjieff: That must have been quite a shock to many of them. How did they take it?
Kathy: Badly. At least his former devotees did, the others were simply confused.
Gurdjieff: ( more to himself ) So Piotr Demianovitch finally did it.
Kathy: What did he do?
Gurdjieff: Oh, nothing.
Kathy: Please.
Gurdjieff: All right. Ouspensky did something that every good teacher should do at least once in his life, that is to drive his disciples away, most of them, anyway.  I thought that he would never be able to do it, that
he's too weak, that he wouldn't have enough courage for that. But he proved me wrong.
Kathy: You did the same thing to your own pupils, didn't you? But why did you have to do it?
Gurdjieff: It's very complex.
Kathy: Please, I would really like to know.
Gurdjieff: All right, you caught me in a soft mood, so I'll tell you. Partially, because you are not my disciple and therefore it's not likely to happen to you, but mainly because you are a woman.
Kathy: What does being a woman have to do with it?
 Gurdjieff: Women understand these things better.
Kathy: Why should women understand you better?
Gurdjieff: Because they are more prone to suffering.
Kathy: Is that what it's all about, suffering?
Gurdjieff: Yes, the really important things in life can only be grasped through conscious suffering. When everything's a plenty, when all is going well and smooth, the progress becomes retarded and we stop learning.
Any good teacher knows this and therefore he tries to make things more difficult, for his students and even for himself. And believe me, it's not easy...
Kathy: How would you do it?
Gurdjieff: One has to play tricks, make oneself inaccessible, be rude to one's friends, do anything that would eventually chase away these friends, who have no idea why one has to do it and that it is really breaking
one's heart.
Kathy: Is this what you did to Ouspensky?
Gurdjieff: Piotr Demianovitch was different, he was, and he is, a friend, but he  never really was my disciple, more like a partner...
Kathy: But the two of you have split...
Gurdjieff: We've parted because his was a different way. We could work together for some time, but we both knew very early on, that eventually we will have to part, even during the time of our St.Petersburg group's
meetings.
Kathy: Have you both planned to come to the West?
Gurdjieff: I think that it was always meant to happen the way it did, for Piotr Demianovitch to go to England, and for me ending up here, in Paris.
Kathy: Yes, the Russian revolution.
Gurdjieff: And it was good for both of us. He found his intellectual followers in London, and my guinea-pigs came to me here.
Kathy: Is that what you call your devotees, guinea-pigs? That's not very nice!
Gurdjieff: It may not be, but it is true.
Kathy: You wanted to experiment with people?
Gurdjieff: I made up my mind very early, perhaps at twenty, that if I wanted to get somewhere, I had to experiment with people. The trouble was that at the time I was mainly mixing up with the Asians, and they were
not at all suited to experimentations.
Kathy: Why do you say that?
Gurdjieff: The Asian people are too tranquil, they never rush anywhere and I'd had to hurry, I'd had so little time! Later, in the main Russian cities, it was a little better, but never as good as here, with people coming
from England and mainly America.
Kathy: What is it that makes us, Anglo-Saxons, such good guinea-pigs?
Gurdjieff: Probably the remnants of your puritanism. It helps you to understand that what is good for you must necessarily be painful and difficult. To you, I can tell the truth about the situation you, and the rest of
humanity, are facing.
Kathy: Is there only one truth?
Gurdjieff: There is only one truth, but there are many ways that lead to it.
 

                                                                   DIVIDE.
 

Ouspensky: I must have annoyed at least half the audience, what do you think, Rodney?
Collin: To say all of them would be more precise. Those who used to come before the war were probably offended, the others must have felt that they had wasted their time coming. Why did you do it?
Ouspensky: I don't know myself. Perhaps I've had enough of all this lecturing because it doesn't get us anywhere. Why, not one of them could tell me what it is that they really want from me! When I climbed onto the
platform, by the way, I'm sorry for getting so angry with you, you meant well...
Collin: That's all right.
Ouspensky: It's just that I wanted to prove to myself that I can still do it on my own.
Collin: I should have known better.
Ouspensky: Anyway, when I found myself on the platform, I began to wonder what am I doing there? Why did these people come and what do I know that I can teach them?
Collin: We all want to know the one and the only thing. The reason for our existence, who are we and where are we going. . ?
Ouspensky: I'm afraid that I cannot help here. Once, I thought that perhaps I could, that's when I was much younger, when I became convinced that I finally did find the way.
Collin: When you met...
Ouspensky: Why don't you say it? I know, I once declared that I didn't want to hear the name Gurdjieff pronounced in my presence. But since I've alienated most of my pupils anyway, it doesn't matter. You see, I just
said it myself. Gurdjieff!  Grigory Ivanovitch! He used to mean a lot to me, you know. He still does.
Collin: Was it the turning point in your life, when you met him?
Ouspensky: Yes, but there were other moments when I thought that illumination had finally come to me.
Collin: Tell me about the first one.
Ouspensky: ( laughs ) That came very early, I was about thirteen. There are fragments of our lives we never forget, this is one of them, it feels as if we must  keep on reliving these instants, perhaps from one life to
another.
Collin: The Nietzchean "eternal recurrence"?
Ouspensky: Perhaps. It is still so vivid! I'm in my old Moscow grammar school. I'm sitting at the school desk and everything around me is so familiar, the yellow cupboards lining the wall, the kerosene lamps with large
shades, the other boys in those linen shirts stained with ink. You know, ink was ever present in that building, everything there was stained with ink, the walls, the floors, even the teacher's desk.
 Our teacher. We called him Longstride, because of the way he walked. He dwelled behind his ink stained desk, from there he would give us our assignments and then he would read a book, occasionally
glancing our way. Of course, only a few square individuals would work on their assignments, the rest of us would read a Dumas' novel or such, under our desks.
Collin: I can hardly picture you, reading a novel by Dumas!
Ouspensky: On that day I didn't, I was reading a school book, a book of physics, I had borrowed it from someone in a higher grade and I was hungrily and passionately devouring it. The strange thing was that I didn't feel
as though I was learning all those mysteries from it, it was rather like rediscovering the world that I already knew. As if it had once again emerged out of the Chaos and re-formed itself into a harmonious
Whole. It was the chapter about levers and as I read it, suddenly everything fell into its proper place, all that I was so far able to perceive only separately. Suddenly I knew that the pole pushed under the
stone, the shovel, the swing, the pencil sharpener, that this is just one single thing, they are all levers! Such a thought! Isn't something disturbingly mysterious there, something terrifying?
Collin: That’s pure metaphysics.
 Longstride had no understanding for metaphysics and he took the book away from me. He had no idea that I understood perfectly everything about levers. Better than he could ever understand it. This
particular scene seems to have occurred only yesterday and not only that, it feels as if it had happened many times before that. I keep wondering if it's going to happen again. The same goes for the Hague
Peace Conference.
Collin: What about the Hague conference?
Ouspensky: It was no business of mine, but I was a journalist at the time and I had to write an article about it.
Collin: When was that?
Ouspensky: Oh, about 1907, I guess. I was nearly thirty and I was stuck in this insipid position and I felt that it was high time for me to do something, if only I knew what to do. Meanwhile, there was this article waiting
to be written. I had to somehow extract it from the pile of foreign newspapers, and when I thumbed through them, all I could see were phrases, phrases and more phrases, in Russian, in French, in English.
Collin: I know, I gave up reading political commentaries a long time ago.
Ouspensky: But I had to read them, it was my job. Some were critical, others ironical, loud, pompous, mendacious, but all they had one thing in common, they were completely mechanical, all had been used a thousand
times before.
Collin: And all will be used again!
Ouspensky: I can see myself now, pushing all those useless papers off my desk and taking up a book of mysteries, it was "The Occult Life", I think. I had filled my drawer with such books not long before that, and I read
it, and I sent the article to the devil.
Collin: So you never finished it?
Ouspensky: I may have done, a day or so later, one had to earn one's living. If I had not written something, I would have probably got the sack. But had I written what I truly thought about the Hague conference at the
moment, and if it somehow got printed, I would have been on the next train to Siberia, together with the editor in chief. What counted was that glorious moment of freedom I had given myself, to read
something that finally had the flavour of truth in it.
Collin: The flavour of truth! Somehow we seem to know when something is true, don't we?
Ouspensky: Yes, we do. At the time I had resolved to discover the hidden meaning of old myths and fairy tales, I had begun to sense a mysterious life all around me, I had begun to look for miracles.
Collin: Where would you look for miracles?
Ouspensky: First I went to some ancient monasteries, Russia is full of them, and it is full of tales about miracles that were supposed to have happened in such places.
Collin: Did you find anything miraculous?
Ouspensky: If I had, I would have probably stayed there for good. But I was not deterred, I went to other places, to India, to Ceylon, to Egypt. I looked for esoteric schools that according to the books I had read were
supposed to be there, but I didn't find any. Paradoxically, all this was waiting for me on my doorstep, in Russia.
 

                                                              DIVIDE.
 

Kathy: When did you begin your search for truth?
Gurdjieff: As a young boy. There is this very old and strange religious sect in the Caucasian region, the Yezidi. They have a reputation of being the devil worshippers, amongst other things. Interestingly, when you
draw a circle around a single Yezidi, you entrap him in there, he simply cannot get out on his own. Everybody knew about it, but no one could explain why it happens. Boys in our town used to amuse
themselves by catching some young Yezidi, drawing a circle around him and then watching him carry on for hours, crying and raging, because he was trapped there.
Kathy: That's ghastly!
Gurdjieff: It is, and when I first saw it, I had erased a part of the circle, to let the poor sod out, and collected a few punches from my mates, for spoiling the fun. But it vexed me, I wanted to know how and why it
happens.
Kathy: And that's when you had begun to experiment with your human guinea-pigs!
Gurdjieff: Don't judge me too harshly, I was no worse then the other boys, after all.
Kathy: Let me guess, you caught another Yezidi boy and put him into a circle?
Gurdjieff: I did. I wanted to see the limits, you know, how far it would go. I had tried to pull him out by force, but that didn’t work. Several of us dragged him, but as soon as he was out of the circle, he fell
unconscious, into a sort of cataleptic state and we could not wake him up. Eventually someone called a Yezidi priest, he came and chased us away. He then made some passes over the boy's head and said
some prayers and then he took him to his home.
Kathy: Such things don't happen in Paris or London, it's the taste of the Orient!
Gurdjieff: You are quite wrong my dear, it happens all over the world. People fall into cataleptic states for many different reasons. It's only that in the West you insist on treating it as physical disorders.
Kathy: While it is really a magic, is that what you mean?
Gurdjieff: If you wish. Anyway, I knew even then that it couldn’t be just the circle that keeps the Yezidi trapped, that it must be in the poor fellow's mind, deeply buried. As I pondered over it, it occurred to me that
perhaps we all might be so enchanted, only that the circles around us are invisible. I resolved that when I got older, I was going to have a good look at these things.
Kathy: And you did. Where did you go?
Gurdjieff: Oh, here and there, everywhere. Central Asia, Tibet, India, Mesopotamia, Egypt.  Finally I had settled in Russia.
Kathy: That's where you had met with Ouspensky.
Gurdjieff: In Moscow, he looked me up in a cafe. He was a strange fellow, he obviously read a lot of books, he wrote some himself, but he was all mixed up, like many of us, he was looking for something, but in all
the wrong places.
 
 

                                                                  DIVIDE.
 

Ouspensky: What do you think, is it worth going back to India? I feel as if I had missed something when I was there.
Gurdjieff: If you need a vacation, it would be a nice place to go. That you’re looking for can just as well be found here.
Ouspensky: But the mystical tradition is there, schools built on the real tradition must surely be better!
Gurdjieff: Suppose that you found one of your "schools", take my warning, you’d be disappointed. You're not looking for philosophical schools.
Ouspensky: Is that all there is to be found in India, schools of philosophy?
Gurdjieff: That's how it was once and for all divided, a long time ago: philosophy in India, theory in Egypt, practice in Persia and Turkestan.
Ouspensky: Have you been to all of these places?
Gurdjieff: Yes, I was.
Ouspensky: Where did you stay the longest?
Gurdjieff: I didn't stay long anywhere.
Ouspensky: But which discipline have you concentrated on?
Gurdjieff: I studied all of them.
Ouspensky: How could you manage?
Gurdjieff: I wasn't alone. There were others and there were specialists among us. Each of us would take up one subject and when we met, we would bring together all that we found and we would try to make some
sense of it.
Ouspensky: That's what I call the esoteric school!
Gurdjieff: If you insist.
Ouspensky: Where are your colleagues now?
Gurdjieff: Some died, some are still working, others went into seclusion.
Ouspensky: So I don't have to go back to India to look for schools there?
Gurdjieff: You see, when you went there before, some articles about you and about your journey appeared in the newspaper. I saw them and I instructed some of my pupils to read all your books, so that we can find
out who you are and how you think. On that basis it was easy for us to figure out what you were capable of finding in India. We knew that you will find very little, even before you got there.
 

                                                                   DIVIDE.
 

Collin: That was rather blunt, even cruel of him, I must say.
Ouspensky: It was simply the vintage Gurdjieff. If you wanted to learn something from him, sometimes you had to swallow some tough morsels.  What he had to say to people was mostly true, if you allowed it to sink
in.
Collin: Did you have to swallow a lot?
Ouspensky: Especially in the beginning. The hardest thing was to make up my mind if I should trust him, whether I should have anything to do with him at all. But I had sensed an opportunity of a lifetime and I didn't
want to waste it. Still, that rankling worm of doubts was always there...
Collin:                Have you doubted his seriousness?
Ouspensky: When I first saw him in that Moscow joint, he created the impression of a badly disguised detective. He looked completely out of the place, under that boiler hat, with a dark coat and a silk collar. He had the
reputation of an original thinker and a teacher, but I didn't know how to behave towards him, whether to pretend that everything was normal, or what...
Collin: Did he dress so outrageously?
Ouspensky: It wasn't just the way he was dressed, it was how he treated people. Later I realized that this was his way of sorting them out and that he would always do his damn best to repel them, particularly early on.
Collin: But why did he do it?
Ouspensky: He simply didn't want his teachings to be too easily accessible, so he made himself look boorish and waited for people's reactions.
Collin: Did he become more open if they passed this test?
Ouspensky: I couldn't say that, he became even more difficult, if anything. He did not only pretend and boast, he kept choosing the most impossible places and times for meetings and lectures. He used to say that people
do not value anything that is obtained too easily. And he always arrived late to meetings. But most annoying was his constant bragging.
Collin: You are painting a very dark picture of him.
Ouspensky: I'm sorry, but that's the way I saw him then. He never stopped parading his grandiose schemes, though I have to admit that at least some of them he managed to realize, but much later and never in Russia.
Like that ballet of his...
Collin: Struggle of the Magicians.
Ouspensky: When I first heard him talk about it, I was left with the impression that it must be in the latest stages of rehearsals. He kept dropping names of some of the best dancers and choreographers, but when I drilled
him on it a bit, it gradually came out that he didn't even speak to any of them.
Collin: So far as I know, in Paris he used a cast of his own students and they even successfully toured America with this ballet.
Ouspensky: But I couldn't know that, when I heard all those fibs in Russia nearly ten years earlier, could I? This, and other reservations I had, made me think twice about joining his group.
 

                                                                   DIVIDE.
 

Ouspensky: There is one problem to be resolved, before I commit myself to your group. I don't know whether you enforce a code of silence on your pupils, but I cannot give you any such promise.
Gurdjieff: Why do you tell me this?
Ouspensky: Because twice before I could have become a member of certain organizations that interested me very much. But I would have had  to swear that I would not betray any of their secrets, and on both occasions
this forced me to decline the offer. Above all, I am a writer, and I want to maintain my freedom of decision of what I should or shouldn't write.
Gurdjieff: Surely you must realize that there have to be certain conditions imposed on the pupils, if true knowledge is to be passed on to them?
Ouspensky: I realize this and therefore I would accept such conditions, but only temporarily. It would be ridiculous even to attempt to write anything, before I could understand the whole system of your teachings. But if
you basically do not want to hide anything, if you only want to prevent your teachings from being distorted, then I'm prepared to undertake a temporary vow of silence.
Gurdjieff: You put it very nicely, indeed. If we agree to follow this rule, there is no need to talk about it anymore.
Ouspensky: Are there any other conditions? Would, for instance, the members of your group be in any way bound to you or to the other members? Do they have the freedom to leave the group if they want to, and how
would you deal with any dropouts?
Gurdjieff: There are no such conditions and when you have advanced a little on the path, you will know why there cannot be any. Our point of departure is that man doesn't know himself, that he is not what he could
be, what he should be. As such, he has no competence to make any firm agreements or to take on any obligations. How could we expect him to fulfil his promises, when he is not even sure of himself, when
he is one person today and another person tomorrow? If he decides to go along a different path, how could we possibly stop him?
Ouspensky: So, no obligations whatever?
Gurdjieff: I didn't say that. There may be some, but only as a test. Most people don't pass such tests anyway and they leave, but this always happens long before they've had the opportunity to learn any important
secrets, so it doesn't really matter.
Ouspensky: When would a man merit a complete trust?
Gurdjieff: Hardly ever. You see, this is how it goes: One of the man's personalities promises to keep a secret and it genuinely believes that it can keep the promise. But tomorrow, another person in him takes over and
it starts talking about it to his wife or to his friends in a pub. Or someone cleverly extracts the secret from him. No, Piotr Demianovitch, if you want to preserve a secret, you must first know yourself, you
have to learn TO BE. Most people are far from that.
 

                                                                   DIVIDE.
 

Collin: So you did join the Gurdjieff group...
Ouspensky: Only tentatively. I couldn't stay in Moscow long anyway, my duties tied me to St. Petersburg. Eventually I had to go and I didn't see Gurdjieff for several months. Then, suddenly, he arrived to St.Petersburg.
I organized a group of interested people and Grigori Ivanovitch started to come regularly from Moscow, to give us lectures.
Collin: That must have been costly for him, it's quite a long distance.
Ouspensky: It certainly wasn't cheap, but with his resourcefulness he soon turned it into a useful business venture. He always had some money making schemes, some of them a bit ambiguous.
Collin: Such as?
Ouspensky: Well, let's not forget that he was born in Georgia, and of a Greek extraction, so business certainly was in his blood. I'm not sure if this is entirely true, he probably garnished it a little, but he told me how he
once worked as an interpreter for a team of surveyors who lined up the railroad from Tbilisi to Kars. He would go to the local big shots indicating to them that for a small bribe he would make sure that the
rail line went through their town. He collected a lot of money and, of course, he easily kept his promises, because he already knew where the line was planned to go.
Collin: ( laughs ) I heard about such cons, but I always thought that it was the Yanks who invented them. What tricks did he save for St.Petersburg?
Ouspensky: No tricks, he just pursued the ancient craft of a carpet dealer.
Collin: Oh, thay say that he's been doing that even lately in Paris.
Ouspensky: Then he must be in some financial trouble. He'd always sold carpets when he needed quick money. In St.Petersburg, on his first visit, he scented the air and saw that the prices were higher than in Moscow,
so on his next trip he turned up with a load of carpets and rented some premises.
Collin: I imagine that he must be a very good salesman.
Ouspensky: Not just that. Watching  him deal with his customers was always a lot of fun!
 

                                                                   DIVIDE.
 

The lady:   How much do you ask for this carpet?
Gurdjieff: Seven hundred roubles.
The lady: That's far too much!
Gurdjieff: It's a genuine Persian carpet. You can load on it the other carpets you had already selected, and it will fly you home.
The lady: ( giggles ) You are kidding!
Gurdjieff: You don't believe in flying carpets? Piotr Demianovitch, would you be so kind and open the window? I'm going to demonstrate how this carpet flies. All you have to do, Madame, is sit on it and tell it where
you want to go.
The lady: You want me to sit on this carpet?
Gurdjieff: Of course.
The lady: I won't do it.
Gurdjieff: We can fly together...
The lady: No. And what if it really flies? It's too high!
Gurdjieff: Only two stories.
The lady: I believe you, the carpet can fly! I like it, but seven hundred roubles is too much.
Gurdjieff: Six hundred and fifty roubles.
The lady: Two hundred.
Gurdjieff: Six hundred.
The lady: Two fifty, and not a copeck more!
Gurdjieff: Five hundred is my last word!
The lady: How much did you say you wanted for those three other large carpets, the four smaller ones and the two runners?
Gurdjieff: Fourteen hundred roubles, all told.
The lady: And if I took all of them, and the Persian carpet?
Gurdjieff: Two thousand.
the lady: Why, you'd just said that the flying carpet was five hundred roubles. Fourteen hundred and five hundred makes nineteen hundred.
Gurdjieff: There is the delivery charge, of course...
The lady:  ( laughs ) Hundred roubles? I can order a cart for a few roubles. Anyway, you just said that the Persian carpet will fly the other carpets and me home!
Gurdjieff: All right, in that case I'd have to charge you hundred roubles for the flying instructions!
The lady: Now, let's be serious. Twelve hundred for the lot.
Gurdjieff: Three thousand.
The lady: I said, be serious. How many carpets do you have in this room?
Gurdjieff: About three dozen.
The lady: What if I wanted to buy all of them, how much would that be?
Gurdjieff: Fifteen hundred.
The lady: ( takes a loud breath )
Ouspensky: ( whispers ) Grigori Ivanovitch, are you mad?
Gurdjieff: ( whispers ) Shush. Just wait what she's going to say as soon as she regains her breath.
The lady: I'll take all your carpets, for a thousand.
Gurdjieff: ( whispers ) See? ( aloud ) Fifteen hundred.
The lady: Twelve hundred.
Gurdjieff: Will you let me sleep on that?
The lady: Till when?
Gurdjieff: Tomorrow afternoon?
The lady: That's fine with me. I'll be back tomorrow afternoon. Good bye and think about it, please.
Gurdjieff: I certainly will, it's been a pleasure, good bye,  see you soon...
 ( the door closes )
 ( both men wait a couple of seconds, then start laughing )
Ouspensky: I see, Grigori Ivanovitch.  Your train is leaving in the morning.
Gurdjieff: By the time she comes, I will be half way to Moscow. If she comes at all...
Ouspensky: But you're a gambler! She could have jumped onto your last offer and you would have been in trouble.  Would you have sold all your carpets for so little? You wouldn't have made any profits!
Gurdjieff: I would have probably lost quite a bit of money. But I knew that she would start bargaining again as soon as she had recovered, so I wasn't risking much.
Ouspensky: That's aplied psychology!
Gurdjieff: Psychology? Not at all. As the name implies, psychology  concerns the human psyche. But the present man is more of a machine. The knowledge of human mechanics is what we need when we deal with
such ladies.
Ouspensky: Is it possible to stop being a machine?
Gurdjieff: Now, that's the right question! If you keep asking such questions, we might even be getting somewhere. Yes, it is possible to cease being a machine, but first we have to know that machine really well. The
real machine cannot know itself, when it does, it's no longer a machine. It becomes responsible for itself and for its deeds.
Ouspensky: According to you, man isn't responsible for what he does?
Gurdjieff: Man is. Machine isn't.
Ouspensky: What is the best preparation for the study of your method? For example, is it useful to read mystical literature?
Gurdjieff: One can learn much from reading, I used to read a lot myself. But there comes a time when you realize that mere reading doesn't get you far enough.
Ouspensky: I may have reached that stage.
Gurdjieff: It is so because you have finally been able to take a critical look at yourself and see that you would have known much more if you knew how to read. If you had really understood everything you have read
so far, you would have already found all that you are still seeking. If you understood properly all you wrote yourself in that book of yours, ...Tercium Organon?
Ouspensky: Tertium Organum.
Gurdjieff: ... I would come to you, prostrate myself in front of you and beg you to accept me as your pupil. As it is, you don't even understand what the word "understand" means. Reading and writing can only benefit
you when you know what you read and write about!
Ouspensky: Then, what is the best preparation?
Gurdjieff: Best prepared is he who already knows how to do something. But he must be able to do it really well. Bring me someone who can make a good cup of coffee, or even better, a good pair of shoes. I would
love to talk to him. The trouble is that nobody can do anything really well, that everybody does things only so and so, just to keep themselves occupied.
 

         DIVIDE.
 

Collin: Weren't you offended when he talked to you like this, when he trashed your book? Why, he couldn't even properly pronounce its title! And it's such a good book, it justly made you famous here and in
America!
Ouspensky: Well, it was a useful book. The royalties I received from it helped me to settle in England, after the revolution. But I couldn't know that then, when it was still only published in Russia. I had to take a few
slaps, I had to be patient, I had to develop the skin of a rhino. I wanted to stay with Gurdjieff and learn something from him. It wasn't easy, he would drive us all mad with some of his offensive remarks and
with his complicated ways of doing things.
Collin: Why would he be doing that?
Ouspensky: To jolt us from our complacency. Or to prove to us how simple everything really is. Or to teach us to be patient. And he was right, I was impatient, I wanted to do things, but I didn't know what to do.
 

      DIVIDE.
 

Gurdjieff: What to do? Always that same stupid question. Do nothing! Nothing can be done. This is the first thing you must understand!
Ouspensky: But, I want to...
Gurdjieff: Look, man has thousands of false ideas and images, particularly regarding his own personality and what it would like to do. These ideas must be thrown away, before new ones can take their place.
Otherwise he would be building on the wrong foundations and with disastrous results.
Ouspensky: To lose such false ideas, what does one have to do?
Gurdjieff: Do, do, and do again! The greatest mistake is to think that something can be done. People never stop thinking of what they are going to do, and always ask what they should do. In reality no one ever does
anything and no one can do anything, please get this once and for all into your head!
Ouspensky: It sounds so hopeless...
Gurdjieff: It is hopeless. While man is a machine, things only happen to him. Everything that goes on in and around him, happens. All that he supposedly does, happens. Even when he thinks that he has originated
something, it simply happened while he wasn't looking.
Ouspensky: But how does it happen?
Gurdjieff: When there is a change of temperature in the upper atmosphere, it happens to rain. When the temperature drops down, it snows. Snow begins to thaw when the sun shines on it. That's how things happen.
Ouspensky: Don't we have any influence at all on what we are doing? What about our creative work, what about art?
Gurdjieff: Don't hold any illusions about man's creativity. The mechanical man is born, he lives, he procreates, he even writes books, but not because he would want it that way, only because it happens to him.
Everything happens, his love, his desire, his anger, his hate.
Ouspensky: I refuse to believe that!
Gurdjieff: You see? When told the truth, he won't believe it. It is the most disagreeable and offensive thing you can tell to anybody, because it is the truth and no one wants to know the truth!
Ouspensky: All right, let's say that you've made that point. What comes next? Are we now able to change things, can we do something about it?
Gurdjieff: People fail to understand that once anything was done in a certain way, it cannot be undone or overdone. For instance, everybody talks about this war we are having, they all have their theories, they all think
that only they know how it should be resolved, that the polititians and the generals got it all wrong...
Ouspensky: ... while they couldn't do anything else, because things just happened to them?
Gurdjieff: That's right, everything happened in the one and the only possible way. If one tiny incident was left out, everything would be different. Maybe the war would not have happened, who knows? But everything
depends on everything else, all is joined into a network, nothing can exist outside of it, everything happens the only way it can happen.
Ouspensky: So you say that there is absolutely nothing that anyone can do? But I know you well enough. Now comes that big BUT...
Gurdjieff: To do something, it takes someone who has learned to BE.
Ouspensky: To be?
Gurdjieff: Wait, in the language of our group, this word means something different. It is to BE, as opposed to "exist". And if you want to BE, you have to learn to speak the TRUTH.
Ouspensky: But...
Gurdjieff: I know, it sounds so easy to you. It seems that you only have to make the resolution to always speak the truth. And I tell you that people seldom lie deliberately. They are genuinely convinced that they are
telling the truth. But they lie, whether they want to lie or not, they lie to others, to themselves. The hardest thing in life is to be truthful. That has to be learnt for a long time, it takes a lot of self observation,
to be able to consistently speak the truth. A mere wish to do so is not enough, we have to know the truth and be able to separate it from a lie. Only then we can be truthful!
 

                                                              DIVIDE.
 

Collin: Truth cannot only be wished, it must be learnt. I agree that most people would have trouble accepting this great truth. Where did Gurdjieff gain his knowledge? He must have traveled a lot.
Ouspensky: As far as his early life, he was always vague about it. I'm sure that he had travelled, that he had been to at least most of the places he claimed to have visited. Some knowledge certainly came from his father.
Collin: His father! Did you know him?
Ouspensky: I never met him, but I know that he was what in the Caucasian region is traditionally called "aschokh", a bard, a folk poet, perhaps one of the last, in the line that goes back to the ancient times.
Collin: What about the rumours that he stayed in a Tibetan monastery?
Ouspensky: For all I know, it may be true. He never talked much about these things. My theory is that he didn't want to lie, but that some of the myths that floated around about his person suited his purposes. So he
neither confirmed them nor denied them. I'm also certain that somehow he was able to draw from the pool of ancient knowledge, which is not accessible to most of us.
Collin: Originally I had found this idea of a hidden knowledge quite repulsive. I felt that it would not be fair and just, if some people possesed it, while to others the access would be denied.
Ouspensky: I know, I used to feel the same way. But Grigori Ivanovitch explained to me  rather nicely why there is no injustice in this.
 

      DIVIDE.
 

Gurdjieff: Firstly: no one hides any knowledge. Secondly: all knowledge is not suited for general distribution, some must remain hidden. Still, it is more accessible then you might think, but only to those who genuinely
seek it and are able to absorb it.
Ouspensky: Isn't it the general idea that the way to knowledge should be open to all, that all people have the right to be educated?
Gurdjieff: So far as the general education is concerned, I cannot agree more. But you must understand that the real knowledge cannot be the property of all, not even of many. This is the fundamental law, the law of
materiality that relates to everything in this world, including knowledge.
Ouspensky: But knowledge has nothing to do with materiality!
Gurdjieff: In the world of matter everything is limited. At any given moment there is an indeterminable, nevertheless exact, number of grains of sand in a desert. There's a certain potentially measurable volume of water
in a lake. And so on. It's the same with knowledge. It, too, is limited.
Ouspensky: Are you saying that humanity, in a span of, say, a century, has only a limited amount of knowledge that it can get?
Gurdjieff: That's exactly it. We take knowledge in the same way as we take food. Even more precisely, we take it as a rare medicine. The effectiveness of such a remedy depends on the dose we have taken. So long as
the dose is large enough, it can be beneficial to a person or to a small group of people. If too many people wanted it,  each one would be getting so little that the effects would be negligible. It would make no
difference to their lives. The knowledge would simply be dissipated, wasted.
Ouspensky: Is it in any way advantageous that only a small number of people receive the available portion of knowledge?
Gurdjieff: Of course it is. Imagine that you have six ounces of gold and that you want to guild something. First of all you have to calculate how much your gold can cover, otherwise the surface would be patchy, it
won't look good, in fact you would lose your gold. When distributing knowledge, you cannot give it to everybody, because you would be giving them nothing.
Ouspensky: To whom do you give it, then?
Gurdjieff: Simply to those who ask for it. The majority of mankind have no desire for knowledge and they would leave their rations unclaimed anyway. Because of that, there is a lot of knowledge around that can be
found and claimed by those who can appreciate its value.
Ouspensky: But are they its rightful owners, then? Shouldn’t they be obliged to offer it back to those who, perhaps carelessly, passed it by?
Gurdjieff: What makes you think that this doesn't happen? No one is hiding anything, on the contrary, those who have picked up this knowledge, usually do everything they can, to pass it on. But it isn't easy. To pass
and to receive knowledge takes a lot effort, both from those who want to give it and those who are to receive it.
Ouspensky: I understand, one cannot force-feed people with knowledge, it would be like condemning them to a lifetime of hard labour. One can only give it to those who search for it and who are ready to receive it.
What forms such "readiness"?
Gurdjieff: The ancient schools of wisdom always stressed one fundamental rule: "Know thyself!"
 

      DIVIDE.
 

Collin: Those are the words of Socrates.
Ouspensky: Yes. Gurdjieff taught us that the fist step is to become self conscious. For instance, I had to learn to be conscious of the fact that it is MYSELF who is just talking, MYSELF who is walking along the
Nevsky Prospect, MYSELF who is trying to remain self conscious. While doing it, it struck me that my first life remembrances, those images that became embedded in my mind, were actually involuntary
attempts at such self consciousness. That's why they can be so lively.
Collin: Our memories are so poor! We forget almost everything and almost immediately. It is a part of the obscene absurdity of our existence that we live through so much, only to forget it again. I feel so humiliated
by this fact. Sometimes I intensely experience something, I say to myself: this I cannot possibly ever forget, yet a year or two later I have only a nebulous recollection of it or nothing at all.
Ouspensky: It only proves that Gurdjieff was right, that we are too preoccupied with our roles, that we have roles for every occasion, for our family, our superiors, our subordinates, our friends, and that we slip into these
roles because they are comfortable and they make us feel secure. Practicing self consciousness is a way of forcing us out of these grooves.
Collin: How long did you do it?
Ouspensky: With the St. Petersburg group for about two years. None of the latter groups I have worked with had ever reached half the intensity of that original one. Something was hanging in the air, this spurred us on.
Collin: The Bolshevik revolution was soon to come, wasn't it?
Ouspensky: You know that the political situation barely touched us in those days? I, for one, was waiting for some breakthrough, for some miracle that had eluded me in India and in other places. And when something
finally came, it happened on a "dacha" near St. Petersburg.
Collin: You say, a miracle?
Ouspensky: To me it was a miracle.
Collin: Would you describe it?
Ouspensky: It's so hard to describe the undescribable. I’ve read books of several authors who claimed to have experienced something fantastic, but who failed to outline it in a substantial way. In my eyes then, they had
lost their credibility, but now I can understand them better, having had a similar experience and knowing that it is impossible to express it in mere words.
Collin: So, you cannot tell me what happened to you...
Ouspensky: I'll do all I can. Before we went to that dacha, I prepared myself thoroughly by fasting, meditating and by doing some breathing exercises Gurdjieff had taught us. I must have given a fair shock to my
organism and a bigger shock was to come. Grigory Ivanovitch was at his best or rather at his worst. He was provocative and sarcastic towards all  of us, but it was I who really caught the brunt of it. I told
him, confidentially as I believed, what I thought about Dr Stoernval, but he then repeated my words in front of everybody.
Collin: That wasn't nice, why did he do it?
Ouspensky: To embarrass and to humiliate me, no doubt. I was the one who always condemned intriguing and gossiping and he had caught me red handed. I felt like running away and crawling into some hole, but he
acted as if nothing happened and asked me, the poor doctor and Zakharoff to go into the adjoining room to show us some more exercises. And that's when it happened...
Collin: It sounds like a part of a thrilling novel! Please, continue.
Ouspensky: The four of us sat on the floor in the Turkish fashion, with Grigori Ivanovitch talking to us. He talked about our inability to perceive the truth and I found his words so disturbing! It appeared to me that
behind the words he was saying aloud to us all, there were also thoughts that were directed only at me. Then I caught one of these thoughts, I answered him aloud and he nodded his head and stopped talking.
He sat silently for a while and then I heard his voice inside me, as if it were in my chest, near the heart.
 

      DIVIDE.
 

Gurdjieff: ( silent voice, enhanced with an echo )  Why didn't you go?            (  a short pause )
Ouspensky: I wanted to, but something stopped me.
Gurdjieff: ( aloud ) Why did he say this? Did I ask him any question?
Zakharoff: What question, I didn't hear you say anything.
Gurdjieff: ( silent voice ) You can hear me?
Ouspensky: I can hear you perfectly.
Stoernval: What can you hear, Piotr Demianovitch?
Ouspensky: Never mind.
Gurdjieff: ( silent voice ) You will have to rethink your position in this group, if you want to stay!
Ouspensky: I already thought about it, and I do want to stay.
Gurdjieff: ( silent voice ) Don't rush it, take a month to think about it properly.
Ouspensky: I don't need a month to think about it.
Zakharoff: What's going on? What are the two of you up to?
Gurdjieff: ( aloud ) Piotr Demianovitch and I are having a conversation. Please don't interrupt us. ( silent voice ) If you want to continue with the group, you must accept my authority.
Ouspensky: You told me once that there were no such obligations.
Gurdjieff: ( silent voice ) We've gone past that stage. I also told you that there may be temporary conditions. If you are to stay, I need your assurance that there will be no disturbances on your part.
Ouspensky: All right, I give you my word.
Gurdjieff: ( silent voice ) Between you and me, there will always be irremovable differences, we were both made from a special dough. Now, when you've finally become alive, I need this assurance from you, it is
vital, if this group is to stay together. You want to have your own group and you will have it.
Ouspensky:  When will I have it?
Gurdjieff: ( silent voice ) When the inevitable clash of our personalities finally forces us apart. In the meantime we must both try to delay it as much as we can, so try to be patient and restrain your ambitions. You feel
as if you are on the verge of a great discovery.
Ouspensky: I do, indeed.
Gurdjieff: ( silent voice ) It will be your own discovery, your own system, you must develop it on your own, but in its own time.
Ouspensky: I understand.
 

      DIVIDE.
 

Ouspensky: I understood. It was then that an idea came to me. I knew that I cannot tell him anything about it, because he would not comprehend it at all.
Collin: What was it?
Ouspensky: I'm afraid that I cannot tell you, but maybe that you would be able to deduce it.
Collin: How?
Ouspensky: From my later relationship with Gurdjieff, from my life and from my death.
Collin: Please, don't mention death!
Ouspensky: Why shouldn't I? It's not a forbidden subject. Death is our ally, it is in fact the only worthwhile ally we'll ever have. You are much younger than I and young people don't think much about death. When they
do, they see it as an enemy. When eventually faced with death, people submit to it as they would submit to a victorious enemy. Instead they should recognise that this is their opportunity to make a great
ally!
Collin: Don't we all have to accept that we have to die?
Ouspensky: It's in the way the human machine succumbs to death. How would you define death?
Collin: Very hard question. Some might say it's the end of everything, others that it's the beginning of something else.
Ouspensky: But no one can deny that it is an escape from this existence, whether it be into a void, or into another existence.
Collin: I have to agree with that.
Ouspensky: Let's put aside the possibility that death is an end. We both believe that at least part of the human personality survives death. If this were indeed so, it would somehow have to be incorporated into the
repetitive cycle of Nature.
Collin: I see, you are talking about reincarnation, the idea of living a series of lives.
Ouspensky: This idea, so widespread in India and elsewhere, had occupied my mind for a time. But to me it is too simplistic and idyllic. I find the Nietzschean concept of "eternal recurrence" far more appealing, in the
general sense. But Nietzsche's Superman is quite happy with his lot of having to relive his pleasant life over and over again. I find it disturbing.
Collin: I think that I know why you do. The human machine.
Ouspensky: I'm sure that the closest I ever came to pulling myself out of this mechanical existence was on that dacha. My organism was prepared by fasting and exercising, Gurdjieff provided the psychological shock
that was needed. You know, I think that this is his main mission in life.
Collin: To shock people? How long did this state of your mind last?
Ouspensky: My ability to receive his telepathic messages? Several days. I maintained some telepathic contact with Grigory Ivanovitch even after he left, I was able to hear his words and at the same time I had the mental
image of him in my mind.
Collin: And, after his departure, how quickly did you get back into the so called normal condition?
Ouspensky: It happened gradually. The telepathic connection didn't last more then a few hours, but there were some echoes that persisted for another three weeks or so. For instance: I found myself wandering through the
streets of St.Petersburg and it seemed to me that everyone around me was asleep, while I was the only person fully awake. This condition of mind lasted for several hours.
Collin: Before this, did you ever have any experience with telepathy?
Ouspensky: None at all! And imagine that all this was caused only by a relatively small shock!
Collin: I see where you are leading to. That idea you had must have been connected with death! Death is the greatest shock we can ever expect to receive.
Ouspensky: Yes, but all depends on our capacity to benefit from this revelation. If we simply die an automated death, which is the lot of the average human machine, what can we expect? With the impact further blunted
by pain killing drugs prescribed to us by the well-meaning doctors, how can we gain anything? But, if we could experience death while fully conscious, it might be precisely that decisive moment when we
could manage to escape from the wheel of eternal recurrence.
Collin: You ... You want to...
Ouspensky: Yes, you've guessed it.
 

      DIVIDE.
 
 

Gurdjieff: ( lecturing ) The last time I spoke to you, I said that there were three known ways leading to immortality. We may call them the way of the fakir, the way of the monk and the way of the yogi.
 The fakir struggles with his body, in an attempt to develop the power of the will. To achieve it, he has to go through some incredibly difficult exercises. He may have to remain motionless in one position for
hours, days, months, even years, in the sun, rain or snow. But even if he succeeded in gaining a great power of will, there would still be a problem. His emotional and his intellectual sides were neglected and
they have remained undeveloped.
 The path of the monk is leading through the fields of emotions, faith, religious feelings and sacrifices. The monk's attention is focussed on his emotional body, to the detriment of the other two, the physical
and the mental.
 The yogi improves his mind, his knowledge. He may lack some of the strength of the will of the fakir and some of the discipline of the monk, but he will probably get further on the path than either of them,
thanks to his acquired knowledge that will tell him what he is missing and what he has to do.
 Our prospects of advancement as the human race would be negligible, if it were not for the possibility of the fourth way that is basically a combination of the previous three. Its advantages are that it does not
require a great deal of renouncement, no contortions of the body, nor years of life in a monastery.
 One can move along this path while retaining his normal life conditions, his friends and so on. Above all, the fourth way demands understanding. One mustn't do anything without knowing what he is doing
and why he must do it, one mustn't believe anything that he has not personally verified.
 The fourth way is the way of the sly man who has discovered the secret that  fakirs, monks or yogis could never find. No one knows where and how he has learnt his secret. Perhaps he found it in some old
books, perhaps he inherited it, perhaps he bought it from someone, perhaps he even stole it, it is insignificant how he came to possess the secret. The important thing is that he can rule over his body, his
emotions and his mind and that he can help others to achieve the same. He has gained the full control over his life and has eliminated from his life all that is chancy and accidental.
 

      DIVIDE.
 ( ended by the loud sound of a car skidding out of control and crushing )

Collin: When did Gurdjieff have that accident?
Ouspensky: In the summer of twenty four.
Collin: How did it happen?
Ouspensky: No one really knows. He drove alone from Paris to that chateau of his at Fontainebleau, he probably went too fast and hit a tree. He was found as he lay unconscious near his car. That accident really scared
me.
Collin: Was he badly wounded?
Ouspensky: It seems that he must have come very close to death. He remained unconscious for several days, with a severe concussion. But it wasn't just that, the fact that he had such a bad accident contradicted
everything he had taught us for so many years. That's what terrified me the most!
Collin: When does a man move past the realm of the accidental?
Ouspensky: Theoretically, when he develops personal will. It doesn't happen overnight, there are various stages. Basically, accidents happen to us when we leave a space for them into which they can fit. If we fill our
inner space through the power of our will and our decisive actions, there can be no accidents. It's as simple as that.
Collin: Did you sever your connection with Gurdjieff because of the doubts raised by that accident?
Ouspensky: I had my doubts before, and this had proved some of them, but I couldn't be sure whether it was really an accident. He might have arranged it to look like an accident.
Collin: And fake being unconscious and everything? Why would he do that?
Ouspensky: I don't know. He may have grown tired of that "Institute for Harmonious Development of Man", as he so bombastically called it. At the time, Gurdjieff was "in", the chateau was always besieged by all kinds
of snobs. The fact is that he closed the Institute as soon as he recovered, which left many of his genuine disciples stranded. Quite a few of them afterwards moved to England and came to me.
Collin: But why would he work so hard on establishing his institute for several years, only to close it when he finally got it going?
Ouspensky: With Grigori Ivanovitch, anything is possible. At any rate, he decided to become an author and started writing his "Beelzebub Tales". He could only write in Armenian, so he employed a small army of
translators and correctors. He couldn't stay still, so they all had to fit into that Fiat car and he drove them through the French countryside.
Collin: The accident didn't put him off driving?
Ouspensky: Not in the least, on the contrary, he always insisted on driving.
Collin: That must have been a nerve-racking experience, with his driving history.
Ouspensky: He was the worst driver I have ever known. His driving style closely resembled the Cossacks' way of riding horses. But that's not all they had to put up with. Knowing him, I guess that he always managed to
create some havoc.
 

                        DIVIDE.

 
 ( the sound of a moving car )
Stoernval: Grigori Ivanovitch, you are going too fast again. Look, there is a sharp bend coming!
Gurdjieff: We have brakes, don't we? ( sounds of skidding wheels with locked brakes ) See, we've made it.
De Salzmann:  You'll wear out the tyres even more. The rear ones are quite bold already, they can blow up at any time.
Stoernval: And we carry no spare!
Gurdjieff: So what? Who wants to carry a spare tyre, there isn't enough room here for people. We are concerned with people, not with some dead rubber!
De Salzmann:   We just went past a petrol station, we should have taken some fuel.
Gurdjieff: Why would we want  fuel? The car's still going.
De Salzmann:    It won't go for long.
Gurdjieff: See that gouge? It's there to show us how much fuel we have. It says that we still have plenty.
De Salzmann:  You know that it never works properly, it only moves up when we are going downhill.
Gurdjieff: It does no such thing. Just watch it when we start climbing that long hill ahead. ( a pause, sounds of bad gear shifting )
Stoernval: I must say that it's coming down and rather rapidly!
Gurdjieff: All right, we have little fuel. We'll take some at the next petrol station.
De Salzmann:    I don't think that there will be any for several miles.
 ( the car makes several hiccups and stops )
Stoernval: There you are, we've run out of fuel!
Gurdjieff: Someone will have to walk back with the canister.
De Salzmann: It seems to me that we have another problem, that left rear tyre's come down.
Gurdjieff: See, we would have had to stop anyway, to repair the tyre. Actually, it was well timed to run out of fuel at the same time. You won't need me now, I'm going to sit under that tree there and do some writing.
Try to get that car going again.
 

       DIVIDE.

 ( A dining room full of people. All goes quiet after several taps on a wine glass are heard )

Gurdjieff: Having just completed the first series of my writings, I now intend to take a rest for a whole month. I will be resting actively and for the well-being of my tired organism I will slowly and gently drink down
the fifteen remaining bottles of this super-most-super-heavenly nectar known to the experts as "Old Calvados". I was thought worthy of being the designated finder of this Calvados, by the way originally
there were twenty-seven bottles of it, in the cellar of my dwelling place where I was digging a pit to preserve some carrots. These bottles of the divine nectar were probably buried there by the monks who
once inhabited this place and whose desire for salvation of their souls proved stronger then the worldly temptation. I have no doubt that in their 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 mellifluous substance will eventually fall into the deserving hands of one who understands the meaning of
such things.
 I will now devote myself to drinking this magnificent beverage, which alone will bestow on me the ability of tolerating, without undue suffering, the presence of idiots similar to myself in my propinquity. As
I could hardly expect to reach self fulfilment with the contents of a mere fifteen bottles of nectar, however sublime, I will have to combine its contents with the contents of no less imposing libation named
Old Armagnac, enchanting even to look upon, of which I have assembled another two hundred bottles. This cosmic substance should suffice not only to me but also to the whole tribe of those who have in the
recent years become my valued assistants, chiefly during these sacred ceremonies of ours.
 With this, I now invite you to join in the toasts our venerable Master of the Ceremonies shall call!
Master of C: Gentlemen, kindly charge your glasses! As the better educated amongst us will no doubt know, in its original Greek form, the word "idiot" described "a private person". The well known Hermetic axiom
declares: As above, so below! The Greeks had their pantheon of gods where a strict hierarchy ruled, which was then reflected onto the earthly conditions. Every one of us stands on his appointed level of
idiocy, each of us, through a conscientious and concentrated effort, has the opportunity to ascend to greater heights and, who knows, perhaps even to the very Olympus of Idiocy!
 The first toast I shall now call, is to those whose journey is still long and treacherous, to those whose numbers are the greatest, to all Universal Idiots!
All: ( ringing of glasses ) To the Universal Idiots!
Master of C: The Universal Idiot remains oblivious to his blessings. However, there comes the time when he hears the distant calling, the calling of his inner voice, that eventually will lead him to the company of
Conscious Idiots, to whom we will now pay our tribute!
All: To the Conscious Idiots!
Gurdjieff: ( rings on a glass ) May I have your attention, please! In the bosom of our company tonight, we have a distinguished guest, all the way from the other side of the Atlantic, Mr. Toomer, one of the recently
aroused Idiots. I heartily welcome him and I move that we bestow on him the honorary title of the Candidate for Idiocy!
Stoernval: I second the motion!
Master of C: Are there any objections to the proposal? No objections. I therefore declare Mr Toomer the Candidate for Idiocy. I invite all present to drink to Mr Toomer's honour!
All: To the Candidate for Idiocy, to Mr Toomer. Speech, speech! (etc. )
Master of C: Let the newly appointed Candidate respond.
Toomer: I would like to express my gratitude for the honour that has been heaped upon me so unexpectedly. I am deeply moved and I promise that as a Candidate for Idiocy I will do my best to prove deserving of the
confidence you have in me, and that I will strive to reach even higher peaks, so that I can become one of the pillars of world Idiocy!
All: ( applauding, etc. )
Master of C: Because this is the special night, we have to work our way to the highest echelons of idiocy which normally, due to the intoxicating effects of our toasts, we can seldom hope to reach. I shall therefore call the
remaining toasts in a quick succession. To our resident Superidiot, Mr Orage!
All: To Mr Orage, the Resident Superidiot!
Master of C: To our honourable Archidiot, Dr Stoernval!
All: To Dr Stoernval, the Archidiot!
Master of C: To the Hopeless Idiot, Mr. de Hartmann!
All: To Mr de Hartmann, the Hopeless Idiot!
Master of C: To our Compassionate Idiot, Mr. de Salzmann!
All: To Mr. de Salzmann, the Compassionate Idiot!
Master of C: Gentlemen! In this place, our tradition calls for one important toast. To all absent Idiots, to the Idiots of all ranks and degrees, to the Idiots Sublime, Senile, past and future, Squirming Idiots and Resigned
Idiots, Amiable Idiots, to the Idiots Harmonious and Cacophonous, to the Round, Square and Oblong Idiots! Let them all revel in their own singular form of Idiocy!
All: To the absent Idiots!
Master of C: Gentlemen, please recharge your glasses! To the health of our beloved Master, the Unique Idiot, Grigori Ivanovitch Gurdjieff!
 

      DIVIDE.
 

Ouspensky: You know, Rodney, our human needs are so small. And the less we indulge, the less we carry, the easier we can move and the better our minds can work.
Collin: Were you ever totally destitute?
Ouspensky: Oh, yes! Especially during the civil war. It wasn't just the famine, at one point, on the run from Russia, I was convinced that I remain alive only because my shoes, my trousers and my coat were still holding
together. Especially my shoes, they seemed to be more important then anything else, and they held on only just. Something kept telling me that if they were to leave this world, I would soon follow.
Collin: Are you offering this as an antithesis to Gurdjieff's excesses?
Ouspensky: Partially, I am. Although the money that supported him and his projects, came largely from those people I send to him myself. I cannot really hold it against him that he was making up for the indigence we
both experienced in Russia. But somewhere along the line, it must have got out of his hands, I had to draw away from him, or he would have sent me away himself, as he did nearly all his pupils.
Collin: Why did he do it?
Ouspensky: It was necessary, for their sake and for his.
Collin: Is that why you now do the same to your own pupils?
Ouspensky: Yes.
Collin: But why?
Ouspensky: Because I have to try to get out of this vicious circle of eternal recurrence myself.
Collin: What has it to do with your pupils? Should I too prepare myself for such a rebuff?
Ouspensky: You, Rodney, you are more of a family. That's why I'm going to tell you something I wouldn't tell anyone else. Unfortunately, I have built some reputation as an author and teacher and this makes my position
more difficult.
Collin: You are being looked upon as an authority, there's nothing wrong with that.
Ouspensky: We live in a fortress built of our ever recurring lives. The world itself is like a much larger, gigantic construction. In it, some of us are like important corner blocks, others are only insignificant pebbles.
When such a small pebble falls out, it may pass without much notice. The more substantial blocks have to be guarded, so that the whole structure wouldn't collapse.
Collin: You no longer want to be one of the large blocks...
Ouspensky: For what I want to do, I have to stay away from the area of the greatest surveillance. Time is also important, there isn't much of it left to me.
Collin: Don't say that again!
Ouspensky: No, I'm not talking about death, though when it comes, I'll have to be prepared for it. There is this great secret and those who somehow guessed it, set a clock on the wall and they can hear it ticking. They
cannot know how much time there is left to them, but they sense that there is a limit in which they must either succeed in freeing themselves or that they will be left to degenerate in the middle of the turning
wheel.
Collin: I suppose that I'm not to know the secret?
Ouspensky: Not from my mouth. Firstly: my hypothesis could be wrong. Secondly: there may be other ways and you are perhaps meant to discover another secret. Thirdly: I have no right to set that clock ticking for you.
Together we have been winding it up for some time, but you are the only one who can start it.
Collin: At least, let me hypothesize, too. You want to change something, and you want to change it in such a way so as to secure new opportunities for yourself in the next cycle. The decisive moment will come at
the time of your death. When it comes, you want to make sure that you are fully conscious, because only then you could influence things.
 ( a long pause )
 I know this for a certainty: I must be with you when you die!
Ouspensky: You are right.
 

      DIVIDE.
 

Kathy: Why did you split with Ouspensky, did you have a quarrel? So many people say so many different things.
Gurdjieff: What do they say?
Kathy: Some say that Ouspensky renounced you in front of his pupils, others that the two of you had continued to meet in secret for years, that it was all just a bit of a show, a theatre.
Gurdjieff: Which do you think is the truth?
Kathy:  I simply don't know.
Gurdjieff: Life is a theatre. All people wear masks like the characters in a Greek drama.
Kathy: Do they never discard them, does the play never end?
Gurdjieff: Yes, sometimes they lose them for a moment or two, usually when they receive some shock. If you want to teach people something, you must subject them to a shock treatment. Still, they usually recover
rather quickly, and when they do, they fast slip on another mask.
Kathy: I wonder, could there be a form of a shock, that would force us to remain forever without a mask?
Gurdjieff: There is one, and from what you've told me about Piotr Demianovitch's recent behaviour, I'm beginning to suspect that he may have found out something about it.
 

      DIVIDE.
 

Collin: My friend and teacher, Piotr Demianovitch Ouspensky died on the dawn of  2. October 1947. Grigori Ivanovitch Gurdjieff outlived him by two years.
 I was with Ouspensky till the last moment and I can thus affirm that he, indeed, had died while fully conscious, just as he wished it. I beheld the enormous struggle that preceded it.
 The closer to death he came, the greater was his effort to keep himself alert. Despite his grave illness, despite the pains he constantly suffered, he never allowed himself to be treated, and he never took any
drugs. No one could keep him in bed, every morning he insisted on putting on his clothes without anyone's help and he stayed up till late at night.
 Accompanied by a few friends and even by his two cats, he went on long car trips over southern England, always wanting to visit places he knew from his previous stays. I gained the impression that he was
desperately trying to imprint into his memory as much as he could and I had my suspicions, as to why he was doing it. I had to keep forcing myself not to offer him any help. I knew that he would have
rejected it, but it was very hard for me, as he suffered so visibly.
 Was it all worth anything, would it in any way have helped him to advance?
 I don't know. Only Piotr Demianovitch may know.
 Minutes before his death, having stayed up the whole night while struggling with his dying body, willing it to stay erect and even forcing it to walk over the room, he said to me:

Ouspensky: You see, Rodney, it takes a real effort when we want to do something. Even when we are trying to die. Yet Grigori Ivanovitch always insisted that, to a man, everything simply happens...
 

      THE END

not
require a great deal of renouncement, no contortions of the body, nor years of life in a monastery.
 One can move along this path while retaining his normal life conditions, his friends and so on. Above all, the fourth way demands understanding. One mustn't do anything without knowing what he is doing
and why he must do it, one mustn't believe anything that he has not personally verified.
 The fourth way is the way of the sly man who has discovered the secret that  fakirs, monks or yogis could never find. No one knows where and how he has learnt his secret. Perhaps he found it in some old
books, perhaps he inherited it, perhaps he bought it from someone, perhaps he even stole it, it is insignificant how he came to possess the secret. The important thing is that he can rule over his body, his
emotions and his mind and that he can help others to achieve the same. He has gained the full control over his life and has eliminated from his life all that is chancy and accidental.
 

      DIVIDE.
 ( ended by the loud sound of a car skidding out of control and crushing )

Collin: When did Gurdjieff have that accident?
Ouspensky: In the summer of twenty four.
Collin: How did it happen?
Ouspensky: No one really knows. He drove alone from Paris to that chateau of his at Fontainebleau, he probably went too fast and hit a tree. He was found as he lay unconscious near his car. That accident really scared
me.
Collin: Was he badly wounded?
Ouspensky: It seems that he must have come very close to death. He remained unconscious for several days, with a severe concussion. But it wasn't just that, the fact that he had such a bad accident contradicted
everything he had taught us for so many years. That's what terrified me the most!
Collin: When does a man move past the realm of the accidental?
Ouspensky: Theoretically, when he develops personal will. It doesn't happen overnight, there are various stages. Basically, accidents happen to us when we leave a space for them into which they can fit. If we fill our
inner space through the power of our will and our decisive actions, there can be no accidents. It's as simple as that.
Collin: Did you sever your connection with Gurdjieff because of the doubts raised by that accident?
Ouspensky: I had my doubts before, and this had proved some of them, but I couldn't be sure whether it was really an accident. He might have arranged it to look like an accident.
Collin: And fake being unconscious and everything? Why would he do that?
Ouspensky: I don't know. He may have grown tired of that "Institute for Harmonious Development of Man", as he so bombastically called it. At the time, Gurdjieff was "in", the chateau was always besieged by all kinds
of snobs. The fact is that he closed the Institute as soon as he recovered, which left many of his genuine disciples stranded. Quite a few of them afterwards moved to England and came to me.
Collin: But why would he work so hard on establishing his institute for several years, only to close it when he finally got it going?
Ouspensky: With Grigori Ivanovitch, anything is possible. At any rate, he decided to become an author and started writing his "Beelzebub Tales". He could only write in Armenian, so he employed a small army of
translators and correctors. He couldn't stay still, so they all had to fit into that Fiat car and he drove them through the French countryside.
Collin: The accident didn't put him off driving?
Ouspensky: Not in the least, on the contrary, he always insisted on driving.
Collin: That must have been a nerve-racking experience, with his driving history.
Ouspensky: He was the worst driver I have ever known. His driving style closely resembled the Cossacks' way of riding horses. But that's not all they had to put up with. Knowing him, I guess that he always managed to
create some havoc.
 

                        DIVIDE.

 
 ( the sound of a moving car )
Stoernval: Grigori Ivanovitch, you are going too fast again. Look, there is a sharp bend coming!
Gurdjieff: We have brakes, don't we? ( sounds of skidding wheels with locked brakes ) See, we've made it.
De Salzmann:  You'll wear out the tyres even more. The rear ones are quite bold already, they can blow up at any time.
Stoernval: And we carry no spare!
Gurdjieff: So what? Who wants to carry a spare tyre, there isn't enough room here for people. We are concerned with people, not with some dead rubber!
De Salzmann:   We just went past a petrol station, we should have taken some fuel.
Gurdjieff: Why would we want  fuel? The car's still going.
De Salzmann:    It won't go for long.
Gurdjieff: See that gouge? It's there to show us how much fuel we have. It says that we still have plenty.
De Salzmann:  You know that it never works properly, it only moves up when we are going downhill.
Gurdjieff: It does no such thing. Just watch it when we start climbing that long hill ahead. ( a pause, sounds of bad gear shifting )
Stoernval: I must say that it's coming down and rather rapidly!
Gurdjieff: All right, we have little fuel. We'll take some at the next petrol station.
De Salzmann:    I don't think that there will be any for several miles.
 ( the car makes several hiccups and stops )
Stoernval: There you are, we've run out of fuel!
Gurdjieff: Someone will have to walk back with the canister.
De Salzmann: It seems to me that we have another problem, that left rear tyre's come down.
Gurdjieff: See, we would have had to stop anyway, to repair the tyre. Actually, it was well timed to run out of fuel at the same time. You won't need me now, I'm going to sit under that tree there and do some writing.
Try to get that car going again.
 

       DIVIDE.

 ( A dining room full of people. All goes quiet after several taps on a wine glass are heard )

Gurdjieff: Having just completed the first series of my writings, I now intend to take a rest for a whole month. I will be resting actively and for the well-being of my tired organism I will slowly and gently drink down
the fifteen remaining bottles of this super-most-super-heavenly nectar known to the experts as "Old Calvados". I was thought worthy of being the designated finder of this Calvados, by the way originally
there were twenty-seven bottles of it, in the cellar of my dwelling place where I was digging a pit to preserve some carrots. These bottles of the divine nectar were probably buried there by the monks who
once inhabited this place and whose desire for salvation of their souls proved stronger then the worldly temptation. I have no doubt that in their 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 mellifluous substance will eventually fall into the deserving hands of one who understands the meaning of
such things.
 I will now devote myself to drinking this magnificent beverage, which alone will bestow on me the ability of tolerating, without undue suffering, the presence of idiots similar to myself in my propinquity. As
I could hardly expect to reach self fulfilment with the contents of a mere fifteen bottles of nectar, however sublime, I will have to combine its contents with the contents of no less imposing libation named
Old Armagnac, enchanting even to look upon, of which I have assembled another two hundred bottles. This cosmic substance should suffice not only to me but also to the whole tribe of those who have in the
recent years become my valued assistants, chiefly during these sacred ceremonies of ours.
 With this, I now invite you to join in the toasts our venerable Master of the Ceremonies shall call!
Master of C: Gentlemen, kindly charge your glasses! As the better educated amongst us will no doubt know, in its original Greek form, the word "idiot" described "a private person". The well known Hermetic axiom
declares: As above, so below! The Greeks had their pantheon of gods where a strict hierarchy ruled, which was then reflected onto the earthly conditions. Every one of us stands on his appointed level of
idiocy, each of us, through a conscientious and concentrated effort, has the opportunity to ascend to greater heights and, who knows, perhaps even to the very Olympus of Idiocy!
 The first toast I shall now call, is to those whose journey is still long and treacherous, to those whose numbers are the greatest, to all Universal Idiots!
All: ( ringing of glasses ) To the Universal Idiots!
Master of C: The Universal Idiot remains oblivious to his blessings. However, there comes the time when he hears the distant calling, the calling of his inner voice, that eventually will lead him to the company of
Conscious Idiots, to whom we will now pay our tribute!
All: To the Conscious Idiots!
Gurdjieff: ( rings on a glass ) May I have your attention, please! In the bosom of our company tonight, we have a distinguished guest, all the way from the other side of the Atlantic, Mr. Toomer, one of the recently
aroused Idiots. I heartily welcome him and I move that we bestow on him the honorary title of the Candidate for Idiocy!
Stoernval: I second the motion!
Master of C: Are there any objections to the proposal? No objections. I therefore declare Mr Toomer the Candidate for Idiocy. I invite all present to drink to Mr Toomer's honour!
All: To the Candidate for Idiocy, to Mr Toomer. Speech, speech! (etc. )
Master of C: Let the newly appointed Candidate respond.
Toomer: I would like to express my gratitude for the honour that has been heaped upon me so unexpectedly. I am deeply moved and I promise that as a Candidate for Idiocy I will do my best to prove deserving of the
confidence you have in me, and that I will strive to reach even higher peaks, so that I can become one of the pillars of world Idiocy!
All: ( applauding, etc. )
Master of C: Because this is the special night, we have to work our way to the highest echelons of idiocy which normally, due to the intoxicating effects of our toasts, we can seldom hope to reach. I shall therefore call the
remaining toasts in a quick succession. To our resident Superidiot, Mr Orage!
All: To Mr Orage, the Resident Superidiot!
Master of C: To our honourable Archidiot, Dr Stoernval!
All: To Dr Stoernval, the Archidiot!
Master of C: To the Hopeless Idiot, Mr. de Hartmann!
All: To Mr de Hartmann, the Hopeless Idiot!
Master of C: To our Compassionate Idiot, Mr. de Salzmann!
All: To Mr. de Salzmann, the Compassionate Idiot!
Master of C: Gentlemen! In this place, our tradition calls for one important toast. To all absent Idiots, to the Idiots of all ranks and degrees, to the Idiots Sublime, Senile, past and future, Squirming Idiots and Resigned
Idiots, Amiable Idiots, to the Idiots Harmonious and Cacophonous, to the Round, Square and Oblong Idiots! Let them all revel in their own singular form of Idiocy!
All: To the absent Idiots!
Master of C: Gentlemen, please recharge your glasses! To the health of our beloved Master, the Unique Idiot, Grigori Ivanovitch Gurdjieff!
 

      DIVIDE.
 

Ouspensky: You know, Rodney, our human needs are so small. And the less we indulge, the less we carry, the easier we can move and the better our minds can work.
Collin: Were you ever totally destitute?
Ouspensky: Oh, yes! Especially during the civil war. It wasn't just the famine, at one point, on the run from Russia, I was convinced that I remain alive only because my shoes, my trousers and my coat were still holding
together. Especially my shoes, they seemed to be more important then anything else, and they held on only just. Something kept telling me that if they were to leave this world, I would soon follow.
Collin: Are you offering this as an antithesis to Gurdjieff's excesses?
Ouspensky: Partially, I am. Although the money that supported him and his projects, came largely from those people I send to him myself. I cannot really hold it against him that he was making up for the indigence we
both experienced in Russia. But somewhere along the line, it must have got out of his hands, I had to draw away from him, or he would have sent me away himself, as he did nearly all his pupils.
Collin: Why did he do it?
Ouspensky: It was necessary, for their sake and for his.
Collin: Is that why you now do the same to your own pupils?
Ouspensky: Yes.
Collin: But why?
Ouspensky: Because I have to try to get out of this vicious circle of eternal recurrence myself.
Collin: What has it to do with your pupils? Should I too prepare myself for such a rebuff?
Ouspensky: You, Rodney, you are more of a family. That's why I'm going to tell you something I wouldn't tell anyone else. Unfortunately, I have built some reputation as an author and teacher and this makes my position
more difficult.
Collin: You are being looked upon as an authority, there's nothing wrong with that.
Ouspensky: We live in a fortress built of our ever recurring lives. The world itself is like a much larger, gigantic construction. In it, some of us are like important corner blocks, others are only insignificant pebbles.
When such a small pebble falls out, it may pass without much notice. The more substantial blocks have to be guarded, so that the whole structure wouldn't collapse.
Collin: You no longer want to be one of the large blocks...
Ouspensky: For what I want to do, I have to stay away from the area of the greatest surveillance. Time is also important, there isn't much of it left to me.
Collin: Don't say that again!
Ouspensky: No, I'm not talking about death, though when it comes, I'll have to be prepared for it. There is this great secret and those who somehow guessed it, set a clock on the wall and they can hear it ticking. They
cannot know how much time there is left to them, but they sense that there is a limit in which they must either succeed in freeing themselves or that they will be left to degenerate in the middle of the turning
wheel.
Collin: I suppose that I'm not to know the secret?
Ouspensky: Not from my mouth. Firstly: my hypothesis could be wrong. Secondly: there may be other ways and you are perhaps meant to discover another secret. Thirdly: I have no right to set that clock ticking for you.
Together we have been winding it up for some time, but you are the only one who can start it.
Collin: At least, let me hypothesize, too. You want to change something, and you want to change it in such a way so as to secure new opportunities for yourself in the next cycle. The decisive moment will come at
the time of your death. When it comes, you want to make sure that you are fully conscious, because only then you could influence things.
 ( a long pause )
 I know this for a certainty: I must be with you when you die!
Ouspensky: You are right.
 

      DIVIDE.
 

Kathy: Why did you split with Ouspensky, did you have a quarrel? So many people say so many different things.
Gurdjieff: What do they say?
Kathy: Some say that Ouspensky renounced you in front of his pupils, others that the two of you had continued to meet in secret for years, that it was all just a bit of a show, a theatre.
Gurdjieff: Which do you think is the truth?
Kathy:  I simply don't know.
Gurdjieff: Life is a theatre. All people wear masks like the characters in a Greek drama.
Kathy: Do they never discard them, does the play never end?
Gurdjieff: Yes, sometimes they lose them for a moment or two, usually when they receive some shock. If you want to teach people something, you must subject them to a shock treatment. Still, they usually recover
rather quickly, and when they do, they fast slip on another mask.
Kathy: I wonder, could there be a form of a shock, that would force us to remain forever without a mask?
Gurdjieff: There is one, and from what you've told me about Piotr Demianovitch's recent behaviour, I'm beginning to suspect that he may have found out something about it.
 

      DIVIDE.
 

Collin: My friend and teacher, Piotr Demianovitch Ouspensky died on the dawn of  2. October 1947. Grigori Ivanovitch Gurdjieff outlived him by two years.
 I was with Ouspensky till the last moment and I can thus affirm that he, indeed, had died while fully conscious, just as he wished it. I beheld the enormous struggle that preceded it.
 The closer to death he came, the greater was his effort to keep himself alert. Despite his grave illness, despite the pains he constantly suffered, he never allowed himself to be treated, and he never took any
drugs. No one could keep him in bed, every morning he insisted on putting on his clothes without anyone's help and he stayed up till late at night.
 Accompanied by a few friends and even by his two cats, he went on long car trips over southern England, always wanting to visit places he knew from his previous stays. I gained the impression that he was
desperately trying to imprint into his memory as much as he could and I had my suspicions, as to why he was doing it. I had to keep forcing myself not to offer him any help. I knew that he would have
rejected it, but it was very hard for me, as he suffered so visibly.
 Was it all worth anything, would it in any way have helped him to advance?
 I don't know. Only Piotr Demianovitch may know.
 Minutes before his death, having stayed up the whole night while struggling with his dying body, willing it to stay erect and even forcing it to walk over the room, he said to me:

Ouspensky: You see, Rodney, it takes a real effort when we want to do something. Even when we are trying to die. Yet Grigori Ivanovitch always insisted that, to a man, everything simply happens...
 

      THE END