Gurdjieff views on stopping war and awakening
Ouspensky - "Let us take some event in the life of
humanity. For instance, war. There is a war going on at the present moment.
What does it signify? It signifies that several millions of sleeping people
are trying to destroy several millions of other sleeping people. They would
not do this, of course, if they were to wake up. Everything that takes place
is owing to this sleep.
"Both states of consciousness, sleep and the waking state, are equally
subjective. Only by beginning to remember himself does a man really awaken.
And then all surrounding life acquires for him a different aspect and a
different meaning. He sees that it is the life of sleeping people, a life in
sleep. All that men say, all that they do, they say and do in sleep. All
this can have no value whatever. Only awakening and what leads to awakening
has a value in reality.
"How many times have I been asked here whether wars can be stopped?
Certainly they can. For this it is only necessary that people should awaken.
It seems a small thing. It is, however, the most difficult thing there can
be because this sleep is induced and maintained by the whole of surrounding
life, by all surrounding conditions.
"How can one awaken? How can one escape this sleep? These questions are the
most important, the most vital that can ever confront a man. But before this
it is necessary to be convinced of the very fact of sleep. But it is
possible to be convinced of this only by trying to awaken. When a man
understands that he does not remember himself and that to remember himself
means to awaken to some extent, and when at the same time he sees by
experience how difficult it is to remember himself, he will understand that
he cannot awaken simply by having the desire to do so. It can be said still
more precisely that a man cannot awaken by himself.
But if, let us say, twenty people make an
agreement that whoever of them awakens first shall wake the rest, they
already have some chance. Even this, however, is insufficient because all
the twenty can go to sleep at the same time and dream that they are waking
up. Therefore more still is necessary. They must be looked after by a man
who is not asleep or who does not fall asleep as easily as they do, or who
goes to sleep consciously when this is possible, when it will do no harm
either to himself or to others. They must find such a man and hire him to
wake them and not allow them to fall asleep again. Without this it is
impossible to awaken. This is what must be understood.
"It is possible to think for a thousand years; it is possible to write whole
libraries of books, to create theories by the million, and all this in
sleep, without any possibility of awakening. On the contrary, these books
and these theories, written and created in sleep, will merely send other
people to sleep, and so on.
"There is nothing new in the idea of sleep. People have been told almost
since the creation of the world that they are asleep and that they must
awaken. How many times is this said in the Gospels, for instance? 'Awake,'
'watch,' 'sleep not.' Christ's disciples even slept when he was praying in
the Garden of Gethsemane for the last time. It is all there. But do men
understand it? Men take it simply as a form of speech, as an expression, as
a metaphor. They completely fail to understand that it must be taken
literally. And again it is easy to understand why. In order to understand
this literally it is necessary to awaken a little, or at least to try to
I tell you seriously that I have been
asked several times why nothing is said about sleep in the Gospels. Although
it is there spoken of almost on every page. This simply shows that people
read the Gospels in sleep. So long as a man sleeps profoundly and is wholly
immersed in dreams he cannot even think about the fact that he is asleep. If
he were to think that he was asleep, he would wake up. So everything goes
on. And men have not the slightest idea what they are losing because of this
As I have already said, as he is
organized, that is, being such as nature has created him, man can be a self
conscious being. Such he is created and such he is born. But he is born
among sleeping people, and, of course, he falls asleep among them just at
the very time when he should have begun to be conscious of himself.
Everything has a hand in this: the
involuntary imitation of older people on the part of the child, voluntary
and involuntary suggestion, and what is called 'education.' Every attempt to
awaken on the child's part is instantly stopped. This is inevitable. And a
great many efforts and a great deal of help are necessary in order to awaken
later when thousands of sleep compelling habits have been accumulated. And
this very seldom happens. In most cases, a man when still a child already
loses the possibility of awakening; he lives in sleep all his life and he
dies in sleep. Furthermore, many people die long before their physical
death. But of such cases we will speak later on.
Source - from
Ouspensky Book "In Search of Miraculous"
Note - Above article is taken from Ouspensky book where he is narrating
Gurdjieff views in his own words.
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