1 February 1976 pm in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
[A visitor says that he was at John Bennett’s school in England, where they did Gurdjieffian exercises: Actually I left there quite confused – I suppose there’s no way out of that. I never had much ability to do any of the exercises or things like that.]
It may not have suited you because Gurdjieff’s work is for a particular type, the will type – people who can work hard and very persistently, almost madly… because the whole thing depends on a very deep crystallisation of the ego. Once the ego is crystallised then further steps can be taken. But the whole Gurdjieffian system depends on you having a centre, a self.
Ordinarily you don’t have a centre. In fact Gurdjieff says you don’t have a soul – that is only a possibility; you may die without attaining it. What he calls the soul is nothing but a crystallised self, and crystallised so much so that it takes the position of being sovereign, enthroned, in the crowd of your many selves.
Ordinarily you have many egos, not one, and a conflict continuously going on. Sometimes one is in power, sometimes another is in power; a sort of democracy. A political head is not permanent; so much politics goes on within. So much politics and so much chaos goes on within that you never know where you are, who you are, what you are. Sometimes you have the feeling that you are this, but by the time you realise it that self is gone, is no more m power.
When you have a permanent self then Gurdjieff’s system really starts functioning. To attain that permanent self, one has to do tremendous work, in fact absurd work. Just out of too much work crystallisation happens; the work functions out of a chemical opportunity. For example in many sufi schools from where Gurdjieff got the point, you have to remain alert for the whole night – for months. The only process to be done is not to allow yourself to fall asleep; it is very difficult. After a few days it becomes almost impossible, but if you can go on and on and on suddenly you realise one day that you are tired no more, that you are no longer feeling sleepy. You are as fresh as if you have been sleeping all the time – a deeper layer of energy has been broken.
We have three layers of energy. One is day to day, routine; you need it for eating, digesting, working, moving. It is finished in twenty-four hours and the next day you create it again. And there is a second layer of energy which is deeper; it becomes available only in emergencies.
Suddenly the house is on fire. You were tired and were falling to sleep, but now you feel that much energy is available. You are running and doing things and for hours you are in hard work. Not for a single moment do you remember that you are tired or that you would like to fall asleep. This is an emergency level available only in dangerous times. Gurdjieff used to create many situations for this purpose – just to bring this emergency level into functioning.
And then there is a third layer that comes only when you are touching the point of death; not only emergency but a death situation. He himself did the last of his experiments, which was to go through a very dangerous car accident. It was managed, it was not an accident; he did it with everything planned. Even doctors could not believe how a man could survive after such a crash. It was impossible – but he survived. The whole body was broken, all the bones were broken, but he survived. The whole effort was to come to a point where death touches you; you were almost going to die – and then the third layer becomes available to you. If in that moment you can remain alert, then you have touched the very rock bottom of your being – call it God. So the first layer is only of the ego, the second layer is of the soul, and the third layer is that of God.
But the whole work of Gurdjieff is hard, work of the will, and I don’t see that you are the type. To you something more like Zen will be helpful. It moves from the very opposite pole: no effort, nothing to be done but relaxing and surrendering. It is not a question of work on your part. The only thing that you are expected to do is to accept non-doing and relax into it. That is totally different; not only different, but just the opposite polarity of the same thing.
And these are the two types – call them male and female, yin and yang, or whatsoever you like.
But you are the feminine type, and this is the problem and has to be understood: that all feminine types are attracted to a male type. So if you were attracted towards Bennet or Gurdjieff or that type of work, it’s natural. The male type is attracted to the feminine paths of surrender. That’s where confusion arises – the opposite is always attractive.
So try Zen – something in which you have just to sit, just to walk, just to be, as if nothing is to be done. Gurdjieff says you have not soul, it has to be created. Zen says you have everything – just relax and enjoy it; it is there.
Man is standing just in the middle of these two polarities. Move to any extreme and realisation is possible, because the jump is possible only from the extreme ends. You cannot jump from the middle of the road; you have to move to an extreme, and jump from there. So either move to the extreme of work, will – or move to the other extreme of surrender, no effort, passivity.
The whole of the East, particularly the Far East, has developed no-effort methods; and the Middle East, the Sufis particularly, have developed the path of will. So if you have been doing things just following the path of will, I will suggest to you that you move to the other extreme. Suddenly the key may fit….
Mm mm, we are doing here some Buddhist meditations – Vipassana. It will be very good if you can do one ten day course and see. It is just sitting….
Because if you can relax and be passive – and it will be very easy for you – all confusion will disappear. Confusion arises only when you are doing something which is not in tune with your type.
Once something is in tune with your type, all confusion disappears. Confusion is simply indicative, symptomatic, that you are doing something that doesn’t suit you. You may go on doing it and it does not suit you, you go on doing it and it does not suit you, and the mind will say that you are not doing hard enough and that is why there is confusion – and more and more confusion will come. Once something fits… it is just as when the shoe fits – suddenly you forget the shoe. Whenever a method fits, you simply forget about it and everything falls in line. Only the right key and the lock opens. Try to remember what I am saying. Your type is the feminine type. You are not an aggressive being; you are very non-violent. Not very out-going, not intrusive in any way; you would like to be within yourself. But this work, whatsoever you have been doing, can be helpful; at least it can show you that this is not your type.
You be here and try Vipassana.
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