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“You do not realize that one has to learn to speak the truth.”

Gurdjieff said “You do not realize that one has to learn to speak the truth.” Gurdjieff told his pupils that in order both to speak and to understand truth, it is first necessary to learn another language; that it is not worth while trying to converse in ordinary language because, in that language, it is impossible to understand one another.  “You will see that we use a special language and that, in order to talk with us, it is necessary to learn this language.”  

Unlike ordinary language which changes over time, this special language does not change, ever.  It is permanent.  Its form is unchanging.  From understanding this permanent language, Gurdjieff said, one can receive permanent ideas, which include the knowledge of good and evil. 

Truth is permanent and real and exists only for a permanent man.  To speak and to understand truth, one has to learn another language, the symbolic language afforded by the knowledge of real numbers, of pi and phi and square roots.  Gurdjieff is clear that, otherwise, it is not worthwhile trying to converse.  In ordinary language it is impossible to understand one another. 

Gurdjieff said that “only when a man has mastered this language, then, with its help, there can be transmitted and communicated to him a great deal of knowledge and information which cannot be transmitted in ordinary language even by using all possible scientific and philosophical terms”.
Gurdjieff also said that “the fundamental property of the new language is that all ideas in it are concentrated round one idea, that is, they are taken in their mutual relationship from the point of view of one idea”.
The first stage is to show the “seeker of Truth” that his very “quest” is a lie.  “Ivan” the “false personality” really doesn’t want to know the truth!  Learning the language of truth is essential for Objective Consciousness.  To learn the language of mathematics - the quadrivium of arithmetic and geometry and astronomy and music - is difficult: one must study a great deal and for a long time; the wish alone is not enough. 

In “From the Author,” found at the end of Beelzebub’s Tales, Gurdjieff makes the analogy of the four personalities existing within the common presence of man. 

"According to the already indicated seriously instituted experimental investigations carried on over many years, or even according merely to the sane and impartial reflection of even every contemporary man, the common presence of every man - particularly of one in whom for some reason or another there arises, so to say, the pretension to be not just an ordinary average man, but what is called ‘one of the intelligentsia’ in the genuine sense of the word - must inevitably consist not only of all the said four fully determined distinct personalities, but each of them must of necessity be exactly correspondingly developed, to ensure that in his general manifestations during the period of his responsible existence all the separate parts should harmonize with each other."

Immediately following this paragraph, Gurdjieff writes that these four formed personalities “are almost exactly comparable to that organization for conveying a passenger, which consists of a carriage, a horse, and a coachman.”  As Gurdjieff plainly states, these comparisons and parallels, while they are found in most systems, have forgotten the most important thing: that man is not born with the finer bodies, which can only be artificially cultivated under favorable conditions.  

The word personality, when taken literally, is “through (per) sound (sona).”  The sounding structure able to convey the passenger is the harmonic series.  In series, the harmonic ratios are what harmonize the four parts - cart-horse-driver-passenger - into one unified system, “unity consciousness.” 

The cart-and-horse-driver forms a three-term system.  On the Platonic symbol of the Divided Line, the three terms respectively are called “opinion” (eikasia) and “belief” (pistis) and “reason” (dianoia).  Reason, the third stage, is the human attribute spanning the bridge from subjective faith to objective knowledge.  Neither the cart nor the horse uses human reasoning. 


Gurdjieff refers to man as a "three brained being".  The first two brains correspond to the more primitive brains of reptiles and lower mammals; while the third is found in the higher mammalian species and primates, including man.  However, there is a fourth state of consciousness which is governed by a fourth brain.  Those who study the brain call this fourth brain the prefrontal cortex (or prefrontal lobes).  It debuts at birth, or shortly thereafter.  While the first three brains develop in utero, the development of the fourth brain occurs in the world beyond the confinement of the womb. 

Some researchers believe that the task of the prefontals is unification.  Rather than functioning as separate brains, the lower three systems are brought under the one jurisdiction of this “master controller.” 

Although rare at the present time, the evolutionary fourth brain gives hope that our stress-filled purgatorial world based on the incoherent energies of fear and anxiety and hate can evolve into a veritable paradise of love and compassion.  This new world order, by assembling the three separate brains into one whole system would bring about the birth of the New Man.  Unlike the Old Man whose dueling brain are in opposition, the two sides (sharps and flats) creating continual states of disharmony and chaos, the New Man will be able to function harmoniously; his systems resonating in synchronicity, forming coherent wave patterns.  Scientists call this “entrainment.” 

The problem is that the prefrontal brain cannot function until the other three brains are fully operational.  The three brains can be likened to the analogy of the cart, horse, and driver; while the fourth brain, the prefrontal cortex, is the passenger, or “master of carriage,” for whom the whole thing exists in the first place. 

Each brain system develops at its own rate.  Each new stage exhibits a growth of intelligence disproportionately greater than the increase of the prior stage (the proportions are likened to the Richter scale for measuring earthquakes).  The horse is magnitudes greater than the cart; the driver is magnitudes greater than the horse.  At maturity, the fourth brain, scientists say, will be of such magnitude that its functions will far surpass any presently known. 

In terms of proportional growth, however, not all human beings reach to the third or even second stage of brain development.  In fact, every succeeding higher level shows a significantly smaller percentage of humanity attaining that stage.  The model for human development shows a pyramidal structure, the majority of human beings remaining at the base level, or sensory-motor stage of a preschool aged child.  Proportionately few reach the second stage of emotional-cognitive maturation that should come during normal school education.  Fewer still attain to the third level, the mature conceptual reasoning learned in a higher secondary school.  Theoretically, the prefrontal lobes should open at the time of graduation.  What is most interesting to researchers, however, is that nothing much happens at this point.  At the age of adulthood, there is no “grand graduation ceremony,” as it were.  Instead of transcendence, one enters the “age of anxiety.”  Some believe this state of affairs is about to change. 


The three-brain system corresponds to the carriage, horse, and driver.  The fourth brain is the passenger, the master.  In Views From the Real World (p. 144), Gurdjieff says that “before our nature was spoiled, all four in this team - horse, cart, driver, master - were one; all the parts had a common understanding, all worked together, labored, rested, fed, at the same time.  But the language has been forgotten, each part has become separate and lives cut off from the rest.  Now, at times, it is necessary for them to work together, but it is impossible - one part wants one thing, another part something else..  The point is to reestablish what has been lost, not to acquire anything new.  This is the purpose of development.  For this one must learn to discriminate between essence and personality, and to separate them.  When you have learned to do this you will see what to change and how.  Meantime, you have only one possibility - to study.” 

Gurdjieff says that “our essence is the horse.”  The horse does not understand our logic.  To communicate with the horse we have only two words at our disposal: right and left.  Our symbolic logic operates according to a binary system: yes/no, plus/minus, good/bad.  This is what Gurdjieff means, I believe, when he states (p. 144) that “our personality has only one center, the formatory apparatus.”  He goes on to say that “personality is an accidental thing - upbringing, education, points of view - everything external.  It is like the clothes you wear, your artificial mask.” 

By mean of our accidentally-formed opinions, beliefs, and ideas the personality remains a slave, and can be made to change quickly, as for instance, by hypnosis.  That is because the “convictions” we hold are alien, accidentals, not our own, but merely like our clothes, which are put on and taken off according to whim.  In contrast, the essence does not change.  “Essence is I - it is our heredity, type, character, nature”   When we speak of development, of change, we speak of essence.  What we have in essence is our own.  Usually we consider in essence mechanically, not consciously.  We have the possibility to change; but for that, we must distinguish between “personality” and “essence.”  By what can we know that higher essential thing that Gurdjieff terms the “essence?”  I believe essence requires the higher knowledge whose measures are revealed by the study of harmonics. 

Archytus wrote: "Those who are concerned with the sciences seem to me to be men of excellent discernment, and it is not strange that they conceive particular things correctly, as they really are.  For since they exercised good discrimination about the nature of the wholes, they were likely also to get a good view of the way things really are taken part by part." 

The man of science begins with a question: "I see that I don’t know something".  This “unknowing” can lead in one of two directions.  Either I can ignore my state of ignorance and remain passively complacent, or I can choose to try to know.  Not caring to know is passive.  Trying to understand is active.  The natural first reaction, when confronting a new situation, is to recoil, backtrack, to become defensive.  I don’t want to look at something that is hard, or bewildering, or intimidating.  To be in front of a difficult challenge already puts me in front of my ordinary nature.  Even considering such a thing causes something within to revolt, rebel.  I cringe at knowing I don’t know: it is far easier to stay in the denying state of “I don’t know and I don’t care.” 

To realize I don’t know divides the line into yes/no, or positive/negative.  To “know” is +, to “not know” is –.  I can put the terms thus:

                I don’t know that I don’t know: minus/minus (– –)
                I know that I don’t know: plus/minus (+ –)

There is, however, a big difference between the ordinary man who goes with his ordinary reactions, and the scientist who does not.  The scientist is not content to remain in ignorance.  Ignorance is not bliss.  In fact, for the scientist, not knowing seems an affront to man’s very human being-ness.  To know is to be.  Not to know is not to be.  Real human beings, seeing that they don’t know something, feel the wish: I wish to know, which means: I wish to be. 

And thus, every man, if he is not just an ordinary man, that is, one who has never consciously “worked on himself,” has two worlds; and if he has worked on himself, and has become a so to say “candidate for another life,” he has even three worlds.

The third world is the world of science, where the driving force is reason.  The demand is for objective mathematical proofs, not subjective beliefs and opinions.  The driver is the one who finds the reasoned proofs, but has not yet determined the overarching meaning: “I don’t know that I know: plus/minus (– +). 

Unfortunately, as Gurdjieff says, our “sorry scientists” are rather disreputable examples of what a real “driver” should be.  As he expresses the current situation, the semi-literate cabbie who drives the cart “considers himself competent even in questions of religion, politics, and sociology; with his equals he likes to argue; those whom he regards as his inferiors, he likes to teach; his superiors he flatters, with them he is servile; before them, as is said, ‘he stands cap in hand’.  

In today’s technological society, the majority today are mechanics, not true scientists.  Laboring in their laboratories, they devise improved ways of extending the functioning of their machines so that they can see their mechanical world more clearly and function in it more efficiently.  I recalled the ludicrous caricature in Beelzebub’s Tales of the “tatterdemalion, half-sleepy, half-drunken coachman whose time designated by Mother Nature for self-perfection passes while he waits on a corner, fantastically daydreaming, for any old chance passenger.”   This coachman was dressed in a shabby cloak retrieved from the rubbish heap, on his head reposed a brand-new top hat, an exact replica of Rockefeller’s; and in his buttonhole there was displayed a giant chrysanthemum.   Gurdjieff says of these sleepy types that they are fully satisfied with this type of seeing, and “afterwards in conversation they can freely say with a ‘clear conscience’ that they were here, there, and everywhere, and all the other Americans will think that the speaker is not just the tail of a donkey, but that he also has been in Europe and has visited everything there and seen every ‘sight’ that every contemporary ‘educated’ person must see.”  

For today’s technocrats, the machine is all there is.  In comparison to Archytus’ reasoned men of excellent discernment, today’s scientists have become caricatures. 

I remembered what Ouspensky had said, that Gurdjieff was “obviously obliged to give some sort of outward form to his work having regard to outward conditions,” and this form was “somewhat in the nature of a caricature.”  The brochure proselytizing Gurdjieff’s Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man boasted of its operation in large cities around the world, and of “specialist teachers” associated with it.  There was instruction in the Movements as well as “exercises for the development of will, memory, attention, hearing, thinking, emotion, instinct, and so on.”  Was Ouspensky hinting that this “methodology” was merely for outward show, and was, in fact, only a caricature? 

Psychologically speaking, what drives a man is the ego, the consciousness of self, which indeed can be both a positive (holy) and negative (unholy) force in his life. 

At the culmination of Gurdjieff’s first series of writings - which, incidentally, is composed of three books - in the third book, the final chapter (“From the Author” p. 1191), he also writes about “rounded perfecting,” and connects the idea to the three separate brain systems at work in man.  However, he expands the idea.  Man potentially has three brains which are like animals - one or two or three brained creatures.  Each “animal” or animate brain (which he likens to worm, sheep, and man) can itself be considered a soul part.  For their “rounded perfecting,” he says, “a special corresponding correct education is indispensably necessary for each of these three parts, and not such a treatment as is given nowadays and also called education.”  Only then, attaining “rounded perfecting” can a man attain his own I.  There is the hint of a suggestion that “his own I” is not quite the same thing as the universal Self, the real I. 

Immediately following this paragraph, Gurdjieff writes about the “already indicated seriously instituted experimental investigations carried on over many years (Year being the second series of books in the Sefer Yetzirah), and about the four separate “personalities” in the common presence of a man which should “harmonize with each other.”  And just here he gives us the analogy of the cart, horse, and driver, which he likens to the personality of a contemporary man—his body, feelings, and thoughts.  What is missing from the picture is the “passenger,” the owner of the carriage, the fourth personality, the one called the Real I.  

The turning thoughts run like clockwork.  Man has no choice but to produce them.  It is his function and purpose.  The “predigested matter” (perhaps the more decadent, the better) serve as nourishment for the embryonic moon.  Gurdjieff refers to it as the food for the great common-cosmic Trogoautoegocrat.  The lot of man is that he must be born, suffer, and die in endless recurrence in order that the great cosmic Mouth will be fed. 

The truth of the situation is that men are held like penned up sheep, kept for their “wool,” and ultimately slaughtered for their “meat.”  Presumably there are three types of food: ordinary food, air, and impressions, which have their corresponding on the three series of harmonics.  The most important is the higher food of impressions.  No man can escape the terror of the situation.  Man’s sole purpose on earth, strange as it sounds, is to “feed the moon.” 

As Gurdjieff wrote “Although the real man who has already acquired his own “I” and also the man in quotation marks who has not, are equally slaves of the said ‘Greatness,’ yet the difference between them, as I have already said, consists in this, that since the attitude of the former to his slavery is conscious, he acquires the possibility, simultaneously with serving the all-universal Actualizing, of applying a part of his manifestations according to the providence of Great Nature for the purpose of acquiring for himself ‘imperishable Being,’ whereas the latter, not cognizing his slavery, serves during the flow of the entire process of his existence exclusively only as a thing, which when no longer needed, disappears forever.” 

The first thing is actualizing the food of “self-consciousness.”  Man becomes conscious of the fact that he is the “filling in the pie.”  Only then, from this attitude of conscious slavery, a man may stand a chance of escaping from prison.  He may acquire for himself “imperishable Being.” 
Further reading: 

The Canon in Three Parts
What is Being-Substance
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