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Osho on Gurdjieff’s Strange Methods

Osho - Gurdjieff was born near the Caucasus in Russia ― still there are nomads, wandering tribes. Even sixty years of communist torture has not been able to settle those nomads, because they consider wandering to be man's birthright, and perhaps they are right. He started moving from one group to another. He learned many languages of the nomads, he learned many arts of the nomads. He learned many exercises that are not available to civilized people any more, but nomads need them.

For example; it may be very cold and the snow is falling, and to live in a tent.... Nomads know certain exercises of breathing that change the rhythm of the breath, the temperature of your body increases. Or if it is too hot, if you are passing through a desert, then change again to a different rhythm...and your body has an automatic, inbuilt, air-conditioning system.

Gurdjieff learned his first lessons in hypnosis with these nomadic groups. If the wife and the husband are both going to sell some things in the market, in the village, what to do with the children, the small children? These nomads have used hypnotism for centuries. They will just draw a circle around the child and tell him, "Till we return you cannot get out of this circle."

Now, this has been told for centuries to every child. From the moment he could understand, he has heard it. He is hypnotized by it. The moment it is uttered, the moment he sees the line being drawn around him, he simply relaxes inside: there is no way to get out, he can't get out. Gurdjieff was very puzzled, because he was ten or twelve years old then: And what nonsense is this? And each child in every nomad camp is just surrounded by a line, and that's all.

The father and mother disappear for the whole day to work in the town. By the evening when they come the child is still inside the circle. Gurdjieff started wondering how it happened, why it happened, and soon he was able to figure out that it is just a question of your unconscious accepting the idea. Once your unconscious accepts the idea, then your body and your conscious mind have no power to go against it.

In his own exercises that he developed later on when he became a master, Gurdjieff used all these nomad techniques that he had learned from those strange people ― uncivilized, with no language, no written alphabet, but who knew very primitive methods. And he was surprised to see that hypnotism works not only on children but on grown men, because those children become young adults; then too it works.

Then they become old, then too it works. It does not change with age. Gurdjieff used to play with the old people, drawing a circle around them, and the old person would shout, "Don't do that, don't do that," and before the circle was complete he would jump out. If the circle was complete then it was impossible, you were caught. And this boy ― who could know whether he would be coming back again or not? When the circle was half completed, something was open: you could escape.

Then you were saved, otherwise you were caught in it. And many times Gurdjieff succeeded in making the circle complete. Then even the old man would simply sit down, just like a small child, and would pray to him, "Break your circle." Gurdjieff used that technique in many ways ― and many other techniques that he learned from those people. He used to have an exercise called the "stop exercise," and he exhibited it all over the world, particularly in America and Europe.

He would teach dances, strange dances, because nobody knew those dances that the Caucasian nomads dance... strange instruments and strange dances. They had strange foods that Gurdjieff learned to make. His ashram near Paris was something just absolutely out of this world. His kitchen was full of strange things, strange spices that nobody had ever heard of, and he himself would prepare outlandish foods.

He had learned it all from those nomads. And those foods had a certain effect. Certain foods have certain effects; certain dances have certain effects; certain drums, instruments, have certain effects. Gurdjieff had seen that if a certain music is played and people are dancing a particular dance, then it is possible for them to dance on red-hot, burning coals and still not be burned.

The dance is creating a certain kind of energy in them so that they can escape the law of fire ― which is a lower law. Certainly, if consciousness knows something higher it can escape from lower laws. All the stories about miracles are nothing but stories about people who have come to know certain higher laws; naturally, then the lower laws don't function. Gurdjieff had seen all these things, he had experienced them when he was a child, and children are very curious.

There was no father, no mother to prevent him from doing anything, so he was experimenting with everything, in every possible way. And once he was finished with one nomad group, he would simply move to another because from other groups he had other things to learn. He developed all his exercises from these nomadic people. The stop exercise was tremendously significant, perhaps one of the greatest contributions to the modern world ― and the modern world is not even aware of it.

Gurdjieff would tell his disciples to be engaged in all kinds of activities: somebody is digging in the garden, somebody is cutting wood, somebody is preparing food, somebody is cleaning the floor. All kinds of activities are going on, with the one condition that when he says "Stop!" then wherever you are, in whatsoever posture you are, you stop dead. You are not to be cunning, because then the whole point of the exercise is lost.

For example, if your mouth is open and you see that Gurdjieff is not there to notice, and you just close your mouth and rest, you have missed the point. One of your legs was up ― you were just moving ― and one leg was down; now suddenly the "Stop!" call comes. You have to stop, knowing perfectly well that soon you will fall down; you cannot stand on one foot for long. But that is the whole point of the exercise: whatever the consequence you simply stop as you are, you just become a statue.

You will be surprised that such a simple exercise gives you so much release of awareness. Neither Buddha, nor Patanjali, nor Mahavira was aware of it, that such a simple exercise...it is not complex at all. When you become just a statue, you are not even allowed to blink an eye; you stay exactly as you are at the moment you hear the word "Stop!" It simply means stop and nothing else.

You will be surprised that you suddenly become a frozen statue ― and in that state you can see yourself transparently. You are constantly engaged in activity ― and with the activity of the body, the mind's activity is associated. You cannot separate them, so when the body completely stops, of course, immediately the mind also stops then and there.

You can see the body, frozen, as if it is somebody else's body; you can see the mind, suddenly unmoving, because it has lost its association with the body in movement. It is a simple psychological law of association that was discovered by another Russian, Pavlov. Gurdjieff knew it long before Pavlov, but he was not interested in psychology so he never worked it out that way.

Pavlov also got the idea from the same nomads, but he moved in a different direction ― he was a psychologist. He started working on the lines of the law of association. Pavlov would give food to his dog, and while he was giving the food, he would just go on ringing a bell. Now the bell and the bread had nothing to do with each other, but to the dog they were becoming associated. Whenever Pavlov gave the dog some bread, he would ring the bell too.

After fifteen days he would simply ring the bell and the dog's tongue would start hanging out ready for the bread. Now, somewhere in the dog's mind, the bell and the bread were no longer two separate things. Gurdjieff was doing far higher work. He found a simple way of stopping the mind. In the East people have been trying for centuries to concentrate the mind, to visualize it, to stop it ― and Gurdjieff found a way through physiology.

But it was not his discovery, he had just found what those nomads had been doing all along. Gurdjieff would shout "Stop!" and everybody would freeze. And when the body suddenly freezes, the mind feels a little weird: What happened? ― because the mind has no association with the frozen body, it is just shocked. They are in cooperation, in a deep harmony, moving together. Now the body has completely frozen, what is the mind supposed to do? Where can it go?

For a moment there is a complete silence; and even a single moment of complete silence is enough to give you the taste of meditation. Gurdjieff had developed dances, and during those dances suddenly he would say "Stop!" Now, while dancing you never know in what posture you are going to be. People would simply fall on the floor. But even if you fall, the exercise continues.

If your hand is in an uncomfortable position under your body, you are not to make it comfortable because that means you have not given a chance for the mind to stop. You are still listening to the mind. The mind says, "It is uncomfortable, make it comfortable." No, you are not to do anything.

In New York when he was giving his demonstration of the dance, Gurdjieff chose a very strange situation. All the dancers were standing in a line, and at a certain stage in the dance when they came dancing forwards and were just standing in a queue with the first person just at the edge of the stage, Gurdjieff said "Stop!" The first person fell, the second fell, the third fell ― the whole line fell on each other. But there was dead silence, no movement.

One man in the audience just seeing this got his first experience of meditation. He was not doing it, he was just seeing it. But seeing so many people suddenly stop and then fall, but falling as if frozen, with no effort on their own to change their position or anything.... It was as if suddenly they had all become paralyzed. The man was just sitting in the front row, and without knowing he just stopped, froze in the position he was in: his eyes stopped blinking, his breath had stopped.

Seeing this scene ― he had come to see the dance, but what kind of dance was this? ― suddenly he felt a new kind of energy arising within him. And it was so silent and he was so full of awareness, that he became a disciple. That very night he reached Gurdjieff and said, "I can't wait." It was very difficult to be a disciple of Gurdjieff; he made it almost impossible. And he was really a hard taskmaster.

And one can tolerate things if one can see some meaning in them, but with Gurdjieff the problem was that there was no obvious meaning. This man's name was Nicoll. Gurdjieff said, "It is not so easy to become my disciple." Nicoll said, "It is not so easy to refuse me either. I have come to become a disciple, and I will become a disciple. You may be a hard Master, I know; I am a hard disciple!"

Both men looked into each other's eyes and understood that they belonged to the same tribe. This man was not going to leave. Nicoll said, "I am not going. I will be just sitting here my whole life until you accept me as a disciple" and Nicoll's case is the only case in which Gurdjieff accepted him without bitching; otherwise, he used to be so difficult. Even for a man like P.D. Ouspensky, who made Gurdjieff world-famous ― even with him Gurdjieff was difficult.

Ouspensky remembers that they were traveling from New York to San Francisco in a train, and Gurdjieff started making a nuisance of himself in the middle of the night. He was not drunk, he had not even drunk water, but he was behaving like a drunkard ― moving from one compartment to another compartment, waking people and throwing people's things about. And Ouspensky, just following him, said, "What are you doing?" but Gurdjieff wouldn't listen.

Somebody pulled the train's emergency chain, "This man seems to be mad!" ― so the ticket-checker came in and the guard came in. Ouspensky apologized and said, "He is not mad and he is not drunk, but what to do? It is very difficult for me to explain what he is doing because I don't know myself." And right in front of the guard and ticket-checker, Gurdjieff threw somebody's suitcase out of the window."

The guard and the ticket-checker said, "This is too much. Keep him in your compartment and we will give you the key. Lock it from within, otherwise we will have to throw you both out at the next station." Naturally Ouspensky was feeling embarrassed on the one hand and enraged on the other hand that this man was creating such a nuisance. He thought, "I know he is not mad, I know he is not drunk, but." Gurdjieff was behaving wildly, shouting in Russian, screaming in Russian, Caucasian he knew so many languages and the moment the door was locked, he sat silently and smiled.

He said to Ouspensky, "How are you?"

Ouspensky said, "You are asking me, 'How are you?'! You would have forced them to put you in jail, and me too because I couldn't leave you in such a condition. What was the purpose of all this?"

Gurdjieff said, "That is for you to understand. I am doing everything for you, and you are asking me the purpose? The purpose is not to react, not to be embarrassed, not to be enraged. What is the point of feeling embarrassed? What are you going to get out of it? You are simply losing your cool and gaining nothing."

"But," Ouspensky said, "You threw that suitcase out of the window. Now what about the man whose suitcase it is?"

Gurdjieff said, "Don't be worried it was yours!"

Ouspensky looked down and saw that his was missing. What to do with this master! Ouspensky writes: "l felt like getting down at the next station and going back to Europe... because what else would Gurdjieff do?"

And Gurdjieff said, "I know what you are thinking you are thinking of getting down at the next station. Keep cool!"

"But," Ouspensky said, "how can I keep cool now that my suitcase is gone and my clothes are gone?"

Gurdjieff said, "Don't be worried your suitcase was empty. Your clothes I've put in my suitcase. Now just cool down."

But later, when he was in the Caucasus and Ouspensky was in London, Gurdjieff sent Ouspensky a telegram: "Come immediately!" ― and when Gurdjieff says "Immediately," it means immediately! Ouspensky was involved in some work, but he had to leave his job, pack immediately, finish everything and go to the Caucasus. And in those days, when Russia was in revolution, to go to the Caucasus was dangerous, absolutely dangerous.

People were rushing out of Russia to save their lives, so to enter Russia and for a well-known person like Ouspensky, well-known as a mathematician, world famous.... It was also well-known that he was anti-communist, and he was not for the revolution. Now, to call him back into Russia, and that too, to the faraway Caucasus.... He would have to pass through the whole of Russia to reach to Gurdjieff who was in a small place, Tiflis, but if Gurdjieff calls.... Ouspensky went.

When he arrived there he was really boiling, because he had passed by burning trains, stations, butchered people and corpses on the platforms. And how he had managed ― he himself could not believe that he was going to reach Gurdjieff, but somehow he managed to. And what did Gurdjieff say? He said, "You have come, now you can go: the purpose is fulfilled. I will see you later on in London."

Now this kind of man.... He has his purpose ― there is no doubt about it ― but has strange ways of working. Ouspensky, even Ouspensky, missed. He got so angry that he dropped all his connections with Gurdjieff after this incident, because this man had pulled him into the very mouth of death for nothing! But Ouspensky missed the point. If he had gone back as silently as he had come, he may have become enlightened by the time he reached London ― but he missed the point.

A man like Gurdjieff ― may not always do something that is apparently meaningful, but it is always meaningful. Nicoll became his disciple, and he had to make it through so many strange tasks, strange in every possible way. No Master before Gurdjieff had tried such strange ways. For example, he would force you to eat, to go on eating; he would go on forcing you, "Eat!" ― and you could not say no to the Master. While tears were coming to you he was saying "Eat!"... and those spices, Caucasian spices ― Indian spices are nothing!

Your whole throat was burning, you could feel the fire even in your stomach, in your intestines, and he was saying "Eat! Go on eating until I say stop." But he had some hidden meaning in it. There is a point for the body.... I said just the other day to you that a point comes for the body, if you fast, when after five days it changes its system. That is, the body starts absorbing its own fat, and then there is no more hunger.

That is one method that has been used. This is also a similar method ― in the opposite direction. There is a point beyond which you cannot eat, but the master says, "Go on." He is trying to bring you to the brink of the capacity of your whole physiology, and you have never touched that. We are always in the middle. Neither are we fasting, nor are we feasting like Gurdjieff; we are always in the middle.

The body is in a settled routine; hence, the mind is also settled in its way of movement. Fasting destroys that. That's why fasting became so important in all religions. It brings you to a moment after fifteen days when you simply start forgetting thoughts. Bigger gaps start appearing: for hours there is not a single thought, and after twenty-one days your mind is empty. It's strange that when the stomach is totally empty it creates a synchronicity in the mind ― the mind becomes totally empty.

Fasting is not a goal in itself. Only idiots have followed it as a goal in itself It is simply a technique to bring you to a stage where you can experience a state of no-mind. Once that is experienced, you can go back to food. Then there is no problem, you know the track. And then, eating normally also you can go into that state any time you want. Gurdjieff was doing just the opposite because that's what he had learned from the nomads.

Those are a totally different kind of people. They don't have any scriptures. They don't have any people like Buddha, Mahavira, or any others, but they have passed on by word of mouth, from generation to generation, certain techniques that were given by the father to the son. This technique Gurdjieff learned from those nomads. They eat too much, and go on eating, and go on eating, and go on eating.

A moment comes when it is not possible to eat anymore ― and that is the point when Gurdjieff would force you to eat. If you say yes even then, suddenly there is an immediate state of no-mind because you have broken the whole rhythm of body and mind.  Now it is inconceivable for the mind to grasp what is happening. It cannot work any longer in this situation. It has not known it before because ― always remember ― mind is exactly like a computer.

It is a bio-computer, it functions according to its program. You may be aware of it, you may not be aware of it, but it functions according to a program. Break the program somewhere.... And you can break the program only at the ends, only at the boundary, where you are facing an abyss. Gurdjieff would force people to drink so much alcohol ― and all kinds of alcoholic beverages ― that they would go almost crazy; so drunk that they would forget completely who they were.

And he would go on giving it to them. If they fell he would shake them, sit them up and pour them some more, because there is a moment when the person has come to a point where his whole body, his whole consciousness is completely overtaken by the intoxicant. In that moment his unconscious starts speaking. Freud took three years, four years, five years of psychoanalysis to do this.

Gurdjieff did it in a single night! Your unconscious would start speaking, would give all the clues about you of which you have not even been aware. And you would not know that you had given those clues to Gurdjieff ― but he would know. And then he would work according to those clues: what exercises would be right for you, what dances would be suitable for you, what music was needed for you.

All the clues have been given by your unconscious. You were not aware of it because you were completely intoxicated. You were not present when he worked on the unconscious and persuaded it to give all the clues about you. Those were the secrets about you ― then he had the keys in his hands. So if somebody refused, "Now I cannot drink any more," he would throw him out. He would say, "Then this is not the place for you."  - Osho

Related Links
Osho - Gurdjieff Sacred Dances
Osho - Gurdjieff early Childhood
Osho - Gurdjieff and His disciple Nicoll
Osho - Gurdjieff Meditation to Disciples
Osho - Gurdjieff on Need of Master Help
Osho - Gurdjieff and His disciple Ouspensky
Osho - Gurdjieff and His disciple De Hartmann
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Gurdjieff has divided art into two categories
Gurdjieff Free Books Download
Osho - Gurdjieff Wife Enlightenment
Gurdjieff Sacred Dance youtube Video

Osho on Gurdjieff System and Gurdjieff Car Accident

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