In a previous post, Gurdjieff And Circles I wrote about my abject thrill at Gurdjieff's teachings about the deep, underlying, true meaning of the ancient adage that everything in life is a circle, recorded in the book In Search of the Miraculous by P.D. Ouspensky, a student and long-time friend of Gurdjieff, whom he referred to as G. And in another post, Gurdjieff - Appealing and Appalling, I wrote about my roller coaster, "I" opening, experience of reading G's Meetings with Remarkable Men and (speaking of circles) coming full circle of getting-over-myself-already, to the essence of his teaching of "know thyself" through self-observation. What precipitated this post was having read (more accurately having waded, slogged, mucked, and crawled through with mixed fascination, admiration, and mild confusion) a Gurdjieff-writing obfuscation, "The Arousing of Thought", the first chapter of Gurdjieff's "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson (All and Everything/First)". "Beelzebub" is the first book of a three-part series , followed by Meetings with Remarkable Men and then, what was to be his final writing, Life Is Real Only Then, When "I Am."
I had awaited in eager anticipation my Amazon order of "Beelzebub" and was mildly shocked when it arrived; 2 3/8" thick (I measured it) and 1,238 pages long! Now, I love to read and learn, so my enthusiasm was ramped by the prospect of this colossal tome. Last night, I snuggled into my sofa and began "Beelzebub"; my initial effervescent joy slowly dissolving, or perhaps evolving, into an oscillation between glassy-eyed stupefaction and sublime wonder. Although Gurdjieff's writing is substantive, evocative, and, oftentimes provocative, it is not pithy. Terse he is not. I can relate. I like words.
Within the first couple of pages, G relates that he had no wish to write and was self-admittedly, not a writer, but felt bidden by, perhaps accidentally or perhaps created intentionally by extraneous forces - he did not know which - circumstances in his life that he must write not just a "so-so" book, but a "weighty and bulky tome." The problem... he did not know how to begin. Pondering how to launch into this untraveled territory of writing created what he described as an "exceedingly unpleasant and highly strange sensation" of what he formulated in words as "the-fear-of-drowning-in-the-overflow-of-my-own-thoughts." He particularly struggled with what language in which to write. He spoke many languages and knew that many words did not translate well between languages. How did one express the nuances in Russian, Greek, Armenian, English and so on? How did one describe, in words, experiences and ideas that are ineffable, sacred, subjective?
Eventually, after, as he said, putting it off 'til tomorrow as many of us do when we wish not to do something, G did begin his book - with a Warning. He warned that the lives of the majority of readers in reading his writings would change, irrevocably. Their perceptions, beliefs, "wealth" and "naive dreams" about the past, the present, and the prospects of the future would be altered. So, he forewarned readers not to waste their time or money on his writings unless they were committed, called to, summoned in some way by a yearning to find true meaning in their lives. He warns that it is not easy. It requires work, effort, diligence.
At times in our lives we each feel summoned or called toward living life in more meaningful, truthful, authentic ways. We yearn to "be." Like Gurdjieff, how often have we put off 'til tomorrow what is in our heart to begin today? Like Gurdjieff, we have so much to offer. Like Gurdjieff, we must move out of our comfort zone and begin. Now.