Gurdjieff views on Awakening and Group work
"Only a man who
fully realizes the difficulty of awakening can understand the necessity of
long and hard work in order to awake.
"Speaking in general, what is necessary to awake a sleeping man? A good
shock is necessary. But when a man is fast asleep one shock is not enough. A
long period of continual shocks is needed. Consequently there must be
somebody to administer these shocks. I have said before that if a man wants
to awaken he must hire somebody who will keep on shaking him for a long
time. But whom can he hire if everyone is asleep? A man will hire somebody
to wake him up but this one also falls asleep. What is the use of such a
man? And a man who. can really keep awake will probably refuse to waste his
time in waking others up: he may have his own much more important work to
"There is also the possibility of being awakened by mechanical means. A man
may be awakened by an alarm clock. But the trouble is that a man gets
accustomed to the alarm clock far too quickly, he ceases to hear it. Many
alarm clocks are necessary and always new ones. Otherwise a man must
surround himself with alarm clocks which will prevent him sleeping. But here
again there are certain difficulties. Alarm clocks must be wound up; in
order to wind them up one must remember about them; in order to remember one
must wake up often. But what is still worse, a man gets used to all alarm
clocks and after a certain time he only sleeps the better for them.
Therefore alarm clocks must be constantly changed, new ones must be
continually invented. In the course of time this may help a man to awaken.
But there is very little chance of a man doing all the work of winding up,
inventing, and changing clocks all by himself, without outside help. It is
much more likely that he will begin this work and that it will afterwards
pass into sleep, and in sleep he will dream of inventing alarm clocks, of
winding them up and changing them, and simply sleep all the sounder for it.
"Therefore, in order to awaken, a combination of efforts is needed. It is
necessary that somebody should wake "the man up; it is necessary that
somebody should look after the man who wakes him; it is necessary to have
alarm clocks and it is also necessary continually to invent new alarm
"But in order to achieve all this and to obtain results a certain number of
people must work together.
"One man can do nothing.
"Before anything else he needs help. But help cannot come to one man alone.
Those who are able to help put a great value on their time. And, of course,
they would prefer to help, say, twenty or thirty people who want to awake
rather than one man. Moreover, as has been said earlier, one man can easily
deceive himself about his awakening and take for awakening simply a new
dream. If several people decide to struggle together against sleep, they
will wake each other. It may often happen that twenty of them will sleep but
the twenty-first will be awake and he will wake up the rest. It is exactly
the same thing with alarm clocks. One man will invent one alarm clock,
another man will invent another, afterwards they can make an exchange.
Altogether they can be of very great help one to another, and without this
help no one can attain anything.
"Therefore a man who wants to awake must look for other people who also want
to awake and work together with them. This, however, is easier said than
done because to start such work and to organize it requires a knowledge
which an ordinary man cannot possess. The work must be organized and it must
have a leader. Only then can it produce the results expected of it. Without
these conditions no efforts can result in anything whatever. Men may torture
themselves but these tortures will not make them awake. This is the most
difficult of all for certain people to understand. By themselves and on
their own initiative they may be capable of great efforts and great
sacrifices. But because their first effort and their first sacrifice ought
to be obedience nothing on earth will induce them to obey another. And they
do not want to reconcile themselves to the thought that all their efforts
and all their sacrifices are useless.
"Work must be organized. And it can be organized only by a man who knows its
problems and its aims, who knows its methods; by a man who has in his time
passed through such organized work himself.
"A man usually begins his studies in a small group. This group is generally
connected with a whole series of similar groups on different levels which,
taken together, constitute what may be called a 'preparatory school.'
"The first and most important feature of groups is the fact that groups are
not constituted according to the wish and choice of their members. Croups
are constituted by the teacher, who selects types which, from the point of
view of his aims, can be useful to one another.
"No work of groups is possible without a teacher. The work of groups with a
wrong teacher can produce only negative results.
"The next important feature of group work is that groups may be connected
with some aim of which those who are beginning work in them have no idea
whatever and which cannot even be explained to them until they understand
the essence and the principles of the work and the ideas connected with it.
But this aim towards which without knowing it they are going, and which they
are serving, is the necessary balancing principle in their own work. Their
first task is to understand this aim, that is, the aim of the teacher. When
they have understood this aim, although at first not fully, their own work
becomes more conscious and consequently can give better results. But, as I
have already said, it often happens that the aim of the teacher cannot be
explained at the beginning.
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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