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Question: What relation has beauty to the system?

Gurdjieff: Everything that is right is beautiful; but our sense of beauty depends on our taste and is relative. One person likes one thing, another likes another thing.

~ “Gurdjieff's Early Talks 1914-1931”



“I geev toast," [said Gurdjieff] “not idiot toast, first time in long time I geev such toast:

“Whom God (not your Jewish God, but God you not know about) and devil (not devil you know about but other devil) – Whom God and devil help, may he return with feeling, all body deserving. (Start of “journey” toast.)

“And these small ‘begin things’ that we do, make data, and we on our part have taken a vow, not to be average, not to be man in quotation marks, but be real man, one who can do ...and then can be what is.

“You like my formulation? Good formulation, don't you think? Look Canary, a writer, but all her life cannot think phrase like that.

“And so is Crocodile writer – different kind. Canary she write with delicatesse; Crocodile, she write with axe."

~ “Gurdjieff and the Women of the Rope”



‘A reel man is someone who ... is, er, when. . . .’ To this day I can recall that perturbed, unhappy face, and the way everyone else looked on, sympathetic but helpless.

‘Have you had a nice nap—hmm? Then why come to us here? And to think how you begged me to take you on! . . . What are you grinning at?’ snapped Gurdjieff, turning to another of the group. ‘Now you tell us what you heard and understood yesterday.’

But at this unlucky moment our host appeared, inviting us to go into the dining-room to take tea and refreshments. Gurdjieff turned on us with an explosion of wrath.

‘Now this beats everything!’ he roared. ‘Oh, Godseekers indeed! You want a fourth, eighth dimension, three are not enough for you. Mystics indeed! The best thing for you all would be to be put in jail, and perhaps after a little suffering and discomfort you might understand when to speak and what to say. It seems that taking tea is far more important for you than seeking the truth. Well, drink to your healths in it—by yourselves!’ And he swept out of the room, slamming the door behind him.

We all sat there as if paralysed. No one moved. Silently we remembered that often before he had threatened to leave us because of our laziness and lack of will to learn. Below, we heard the hall door bang.

Suddenly Ouspensky, as if shaking himself out of a dream, leapt to his feet and dashed down the stairs after Gurdjieff.

~ Anna Butkowsky “With Gurdjieff in St. Petersburg and Paris”



“How can we begin to destroy the habit patterns which have been acquired through our lifetime, and try to replace them with intentionally useful and harmonious habits. How do we become “dead to what has become for you your ordinary life”?

“It involves a kind of punishing effort that could almost be called brute force, and mercilessness. The despair that some people experience in the emptiness of their lives can only be altered by a discipline that is – in the proper sense of that word – ruthless. One exercise that may sound simple will serve as a good demonstration of the way our weaknesses can and do prevent us from ever beginning work:

“Make a program for yourself every day; make it thoughtfully, trying not to be overambitious and also avoiding the trap of not giving yourself enough to do for that day. Write it down, hour by hour, trying to estimate thoughtfully exactly what you will be able to accomplish in a given period of time. Depending upon one’s outer life circumstances, it is important to allow for whatever interruptions your life style or your profession may impose on you in any given period of time. A telephone call, for example, can disrupt an entire day, unless you are determined to be in control of the call (and the caller). It is a good idea to allow some “free time” to help with just such contingencies as the telephone, unexpected interruptions, and the like.

“At the end of the day, review in detail exactly what you did do as opposed to what you set out to do, and don’t be depressed by results. Depression is just another form of letting one’s emotions get the upper hand. But punish yourself for the things you did not accomplish, and then forget it. How punish yourself? Make the punishment fit the crime. If you are a smoker, do not allow yourself that cigarette with your coffee after dinner; if you drink skip the evening cocktail. But do these things consciously, in the knowledge that you are giving up these small but necessary pleasures because you have failed in something you set out to do. Punishing yourself this way may sound childish and even idiotic. But remember that what you are dealing with – the mechanism that is you – is like a child who has acquired messy habits and who behaves, in general, completely unconsciously. Children are (or at least should be) punished for infractions of the general rules of life which make life bearable among other human beings. In this case you are the child. The exercise can be boring and seem useless, and it is important not to expect results. Expect what you get and learn how difficult it is to discipline the machine. It may not sound very “esoteric” or “occult” to perform this sort of seemingly mundane exercise. But it will do a great deal more for the eventual discipline of the body (not to mention the emotions and the mind) than any amount of prayer or meditation.”

~ Fritz Peters “Balanced Man”



Question: In the simile of four rooms, when we arrive at the fourth room are we masters of our soul?

Gurdjieff: The three rooms can be taken as our three parts, instinctive, emotional and intellectual. Ways to acquire I are different, but the aim—‘I’—is always one and the same. An ordinary man has no ‘I’ at present we have many ‘I’s and they are always changing. You wish to have an ‘I’; you have seen that your ‘I’s are different and consider it best to have one ‘I’. You have seen that yesterday your ‘I’ wanted one thing, today another thing, now a third thing. You change all the time; you don’t know yourself what you want. You are like a room in an hotel: every hour someone comes and goes, Or you are like a taxicab changing passengers the whole time. No one is permanent. We must get a permanent master, a permanent ‘I’. When an intelligent master comes he will be able to give orders and everything will go as it should.

But first we must prepare and suitably furnish our three rooms. Everyone has the three rooms, but they must be developed so as to get a fourth room. The rooms are at present empty; they should he furnished—only then can the master come. So long as there is no furniture he cannot come. Everyone prepares their rooms in a different way—for each of them different furniture is needed. Furniture cannot be bought all at once—it is too expensive. It has to be bought gradually, at auction sales. But a man may know more about one or another kind of furniture.

A monk may accidentally buy one thing for the dining room and then continue to buy and collect for the dining room; when he has finished furnishing the dining room, he must begin from the very beginning collecting furniture for the first or the third room. Another man starts with the hall. It all depends on the fact that different furniture is sold in different parts of the town. A third begins with the third room because he buys furniture in a different place. But whatever way you start, whether with one isolated room or with all three at once, the final aim is the same for everyone, although they begin in different ways. This final aim is establishing a permanent master.

~ “Gurdjieff's Early Talks 1914-1931”

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