All & Everything Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson Chapter 26.360-361 |
"So, my boy, when, as I have already told you, early in my last descent in person onto the surface of your planet, I first became acquainted in detail with this Legominism which I have just repeated, and had at once become interested in the deductions of this later Most High Very Saintly Common Cosmic Individual Ashiata Shiemash, there existed neither any other Legominisms nor any other sources of information concerning His further Very Saintly Activities among those favorites of yours, so I then decided to investigate in detail and without fail to make clear to myself which were the measures He took and how He subsequently actualized them, in order to help these unfortunates to deliver themselves from the consequences of the properties of the organ Kundabuffer which had passed to them by heredity and were so maleficent for them.
"And so, as one of my chief tasks during this last sojourn of mine in person there, on the surface of your planet, I made a detailed investigation and elucidation of the whole of the further Very Saintly Activities there among your favorites of that Great Essence-loving now Most High Very Saintly Common Cosmic Individual Ashiata Shiemash.
"And as regards that ‘marble tablet’ which has by chance survived since the time of the Very Saintly Activities of the Great Ashiata Shiemash, and is now there the principal sacred relic of the brotherhood of the initiated beings called the Brotherhood-Olbogmek, I happened to see and read the contents engraved on it during this last sojourn of mine there.
"During my subsequent elucidations it turned out that later on, when this Very Saintly Ashiata Shiemash had established there the particular conditions of ordinary being-existence which He had planned, several of these tablets were, on His advice and initiative, set up in corresponding places of many of the large towns, and there were engraved upon them all kinds of sayings and counsels for corresponding existence.
"But when their big wars later on again began, all these tablets were also destroyed by these strange beings themselves, and only one of them, namely, that one now with these brethren, somehow survived, as I have already told you, and is now the property of this Brotherhood.
"On this still surviving marble were inscriptions concerning the sacred being-impulses called
Faith, Love, and Hope, namely:
Faith of consciousness is freedom
Faith of feeling is weakness
Faith of body is stupidity
Love of consciousness evokes the same in response
Love of feeling evokes the opposite
Love of body depends on type and polarity
Hope of consciousness is strength
Hope of feeling is slavery
Hope of body is disease"
It is easy to think that this marble tablet containing the aphorism of "Faith-Love-Hope" must somehow represent the essence of Gurdjieff's teaching. Perhaps like me, you might even have taken a magic marker to write it in large letters on your wall. My mother commented, "You are lost now!" I was twenty-one at the time having returned to the family home after gaining a BS in Physics from Georgetown University. Then when Mr. Nyland dissolved his New York City groups, my teacher in tears turned to this chapter with this marble tablet to console us.
Now fifty-five years later, I have begun to wonder if this aphorism is really as deep as it seems. The glaring problem here is why use Faith, Love, and Hope in an aphorism in the first place when Ashiata Shiemash determined that "the factors for engendering in the presences of beings of this planet the sacred being-impulses of Faith, Hope, and Love are already quite degenerated in them"? (BT Chapter 26.359). Beelzebub goes on at length to discuss the distortion of these impulses. Even today Faith merely stands for what religion one belongs to, Love has been reduced to the required fake sex scene in every movie, and Hope for the planet is rapidly disappearing with the fixation of the day: climate change. Then, why make a marble tablet for these three failed being-impulses in he first place?
Clearly, this tablet is saying is that to obtain 'consciousness' is the goal, but perhaps there was a more useful way to express this? It certainly does not explain what 'consciousness' is or for that matter what 'feeling' is. When examining these chapters 25-28 of Beelzebub's Tales, one has to wonder is Gurdjieff is just messing with our minds? After all, his stated goal in this First Series is "to mercilessly destroy the beliefs and views about everything existing in the world"? Is this aphorism just a carrot and a stick to us donkeys to make us look for a more meaningful explanation of 'The Work'?
These chapters of Beelzebub's Tales are a real roller-coaster of events. After being tantalized with the discoveries of the amazing Most Saintly Ashiata Shiemash spelled out in his Legominism titled "The Terror of the Situation" and reading of his exponential success in spreading the truth, we cannot help but wish to find that secret group! (It used to be alot harder.) But then we are hit with the real Terror of the Situation: the horrible destruction of Ashiata Shiemash groups when an egotistical person named Lentrohamsanin (Gurdjieffism of Lenin-Trotsky-Stalin)1)
convinced the masses that 'freedom' was more important. It is interesting that Gurdjieff invented hell in order to send this person there who had destroyed all his own attempts to gain initiates. (Perhaps, he also had in mind another person O. who studied under him and abandoned him!)
Many have proposed that this saintly person Ashiata Shiemash was meant to stand for Gurdjieff himself since there are no records of such a person in history. The proof of this is the slip-up of Beelzebub in the Legominism:
"All the sacred Individuals here before me, specially and intentionally actualized from Above, have always endeavored while striving for the same aim to accomplish the task laid upon them through one or other of those three sacred ways for self-perfecting, foreordained by OUR ENDLESS CREATOR HIMSELF, namely, through the sacred ways based on the being-impulses called Faith, Hope, and Love." (BT Chapter 26.353).
Who were these Sacred individuals? Babylon existed from 1895-539 BC (Hammurabi who codified their laws was 1810-1750 BC), thus Ashiata Shiemash would have preceded all the major religions that occurred during the Period of Religions at around 550 BC give or take 50 years on each side. This would include Lao-Tzu, Krishna (Mahabharata), Buddha, and Zoroaster. And this is even true of the Abrahamic Jewish religion which has Moses' Exodus dated to be after Akhenaten in 1336 BC, yet has the so-called Books of Moses which are now believed to have been composed during their exile under Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon in 587 BC. (This is due to its similarity of Genesis to Sumerian Seven Tablets of Creation.)
Of course, Jesus (0 AD) and Muhammad (600 AD) were much later and these appear to be the only ones that used the three concepts of Faith, Love, and Hope.
Thus, these two modern religions must be those that Gurdjieff (not Asiata Shiemash) is referring to!
(As to Islam, many doubt that the Quran, which they believe was derived from Syriac Christian hymns, can promote universal love given that the jihadists who promote killing unbelievers for the faith are promised entry into heaven to frolic with 72 virgins (corrected translated from Aramaic is 'grapes').
Perhaps, the marble tablet existed in the Sarmoung Brotherhood to which Gurdjieff was invited to in his Second Series: 'Meetings with Remarkable Men'. Thus the legend of Ashiata Shiemash might have been known by them. According to Major Martin's account (Wiki2) "the motto of the Sarmouni is said to be 'Work produces a Sweet Essence'". This reminds me of what a dear friend of mine, an expert on Gurdjieffisms, pointed out to me that for many years that he had translated the name: Ashiata Shiemash as:
'As ye ought; as ye must';
but now, after understanding Gurdjieff's personality, he believes its deeper meaning may be the humorous:
'As I shit; as ye mash'.
As crazy or disappointing as this may feel, this new take on Gurdjieff's intent is actually supported by the destruction of Ashiata Shiemash groups and Gurdjieff's many groups culminating in the Prieuré in Fontainebleau. The moral of the story is that all internal positive change attempted in society inevitably turns to shit.
Now on to the main purpose of this paper, or shall I say the task that Gurdjieff set us to study, to parse the significance of the aphorism Faith-Love-Hope. First, to define Faith, Love, and Hope and then to define each when applied to 'consciousness', 'feeling', and 'body':
Definition of "Faith"|
| Strong's Concordance Greek pístis (from peithô, "persuade, be persuaded") – properly, persuasion (be persuaded, come to trust); faith. It has been co-opted by the Church as being synonymous with religion itself. It it is really a contract between you and God: for instance you promise to keep God's commandments and God shows favor to you and accepts you into heaven.|
Jesus never defines faith, but says it is the most important thing to have:Jesus said to them, "I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain,
‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you."(Matthew 17:20).
Joses Barnabas, Jesus' younger brother, says, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."(Hebrews 11:1)
In Meetings with Remarkable Men, Gurdjieff's friend Abram Yelov (Chapter 6) describes faith as conscience which is linked to a person's religion only in childhood:
"It is not a question of to whom a man prays, but a question of his
faith. Faith is conscience, the foundation of which is laid in childhood.
If a man changes his religion, he loses his conscience, and conscience is
the most valuable thing in a man. I respect his conscience, and since his
conscience is sustained by his faith and his faith by his religion,
therefore I respect his religion; and for me it would be a great sin if I
should begin to judge his religion or to disillusion him about it, and thus
destroy his conscience which can only be acquired in childhood."
Also in Meetings with Remarkable Men (Professor Skridlov Chapter 10), Father Giovanni of the 'World Brotherhood'
equates faith with understanding: 'Faith cannot be given to man. Faith arises in a man and increases in its
action in him not as the result of automatic learning, that is, not from any
automatic ascertainment of height, breadth, thickness, form and weight, or
from the perception of anything by sight, hearing, touch, smell, or taste, but
from understanding. Understanding is the essence obtained from information intentionally
learned and from all kinds of experiences personally experienced."
St Paul (1 Corinthians 13:11-12) has a similar analogy that could apply to Father Giovanni's definition of faith:
"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.
(In the ancient metallic mirror we see an indistinct image (reflection),
but to get an accurate picture (reflection) we need to look from several different angles ("standpoints").
Now, I partook of gnosis, but then obtain gnosis, even as I have been in gnosis."
(This similar to Simon Magus' expression: 'He who stood, stands, and will stand.')
Definition of "Love"|
|Strong's Concordance Greek phileo: love (of friendship), regard with affection, cherish. kiss; Jesus' agapáō ("to love") means actively doing what the Lord prefers, with Him (by His power and direction). 1 John 4:8,16,17 for example convey how loving ("preferring agapáō) is Christ living His life through the believer.|
Ashiata Shiemash defines agape love: "' Never do beings-men here love with genuine, impartial and nonegoistic love.'" (BT Chapter 26.358)
Jesus teaches Peter about the difference of types of love (John 21 15-17 ) where Jesus tries to teach Peter about agape love, but Peter still thinks filia love is the same so on the third try Jesus gives up:
"When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
"Simon, son of John, do you agape love me more than these?"
He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I phileo love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."
A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you agape love me?"
He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I phileo love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."
He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you phileo love me?"
Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you phileo love me?"
And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I phileo love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep."
St Paul's Definition of Agape Love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8):
Agape Love is patient, it is kind, it does not envy, it does not brag, it is not puffed up,
it does not behave inappropriately, it does not seek its own way, it is not provoked, it keeps no account of wrong,
it does not rejoice over injustice but rejoices in the truth;
it bears all things, it believes all things, it Hopes all things, it endures all things.
Agape Love never fails.
But where there are prophecies, they will cease;
where there is speech, it will be stilled; where there is Knowledge, it will pass away.
Definition of "Hope"|
| Strong's Concordance Greek elpís (from elpō, "to anticipate, welcome") – properly, future expectation of what is sure (certain); hope for (salvation, mercy, resurrection)|
The Jews and especially the Essenes had always hoped for the Restoration of the Temple as quoted in Daniel 9:24,25 (where weeks were symbolic of hundreds of years): "Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. Know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks."
When John the Baptist and Jesus were killed and the Temple was destroyed by the Romans, many became Christians with Hope now turned to Resurrection through Jesus and now, in these times, the expectation of an Apocalypse. Thus Hope does not have a good history of fulfillment.
St. Paul states that problem of expecting Hope to be manifested in the present is a mistake because Hope transcends the present:
"If only for this life we have Hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied." (1 Corinthians 15:19)
Gurdjieff goes on a tirade against Hope, calling it the biggest stumbling block:
BT Chapter 26.363 "Thanks to the disease ‘tomorrow,’ the three-brained beings there, particularly the contemporary ones,
almost always put off till ‘later’ everything that needs to be done at the moment, being convinced that ‘later’ they will do better and more."
Of "Faith, Hope, and Love"; the greatest is Love|
For the Christian Church, St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:2,3 gives the most complete and poetic explanation of Faith, Love, and Hope while declaring that agape love is the most important:
"If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have agape love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my Body to hardship that I may boast,
but do not have agape love, I gain nothing."
"And now these three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love. But the greatest of these is agape love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Gurdjieff through Ashiata Shiemash's Legominism sees the solution to the restoration of Faith, Hope, and Love to be through "Objective-Conscience, which is not yet atrophied in them, but remains in their presences almost in its primordial state" (BT Chapter 26.359)
Having defined Faith, Love, and Hope; we are better able to evaluate Gurdjieff's aphorism.
The analysis will show how 'Faith', 'Love', and 'Hope' apply first to 'Consciousness', then to 'Feeling', and then to 'Body'.
Since there are three, it is implied that they represent the three bodies of man/woman: Soul, Spirit, and Body:
|Consciousness is of the mind and thus the Soul|
"Faith of consciousness is freedom": This appears to be the intended winning combination, but is it?|
There also is a problem of definition because Gurdjieff defined "Objective Conscience" to be the solution when manifested in Consciousness, thus it must be assumed that the word 'Consciousness' used here implies "being-Partkdolg-duty" or in Ouspensky terminology "observing oneself impartially" then to have Faith in it is good. However, as we have seen here, Faith tends to be passive and thus Consciousness might just become a statement of membership in the Gurdjieff/Ouspensky club.
Worse than the confusing definition of Consciousness is the word 'Freedom'. This is unfortunate word as Gurdjieff has shown in Chapter 28 "The Chief Culprit in the Destruction of All the Very Saintly Labors of Ashiata Shiemash" that the concept of 'Freedom' destroyed all the good works of Ashiata Shiemash when he convinced others that:
"Man’s greatest happiness consists in not being dependent on any other personality whatsoever, and in being free from the influence of any other person, whoever he may be!" (BT Chapter 28.395)
Rather than 'Freedom', Consciousness should create 'Sorrow' as stated in Ashiata Shiemash organization: "the factors for the being-impulse conscience arise in the presences of the three-brained beings from the localization of the particles of the “emanations-of-the-sorrow” of our OMNI-LOVING AND LONG-SUFFERING-ENDLESS-CREATOR; that is why the source of the manifestation of genuine conscience in three-centered beings is sometimes called the REPRESENTATIVE OF THE CREATOR. And this sorrow is formed in our ALL-MAINTAINING COMMON FATHER from the struggle constantly proceeding in the Universe between joy and sorrow." (BT Chapter 27.372)
"And so, only he, who consciously assists the process of this inner struggle and consciously assists the “nondesires” to predominate over the desires, behaves just in accordance with the essence of our COMMON FATHER CREATOR HIMSELF; whereas he who with his consciousness assists the contrary, only increases HIS sorrow." (BT Chapter 27.373)
"Love of consciousness evokes the same in response": This might an analogy to St. Paul's mirror in the discussion of Faith, but the invoking of emotion is contrary to the creation of 'consciousness'. 'Consciousness' is freedom from emotion, thus the need to be 'impartial'. Self-love can be as destructive as self-criticism.
"Hope of consciousness is strength": How can the concept of tomorrow contribute to strength in "the Work"? Consciousness must exist in the present.
|Feeling is of the heart and thus of the Kesdjan Body or Spirit|
"Faith of feeling is weakness" Certainly there are gradations of 'feeling' from a needle prick, to lamenting a lost love, to the experiencing one's death. Of course, to have faith in 'feeling' is would be weakness because 'feeling' can be misled; just as thought can also be misled. |
However, if it is 'emotion' from the heart then it would be aligned with 'conscience' which would be a strength as Ashiata Shiemash discovered, as told in his Legominism: "Terror of the Situation".
"Love of feeling evokes the opposite" The opposite of love is hate. It seems that love can neither evoke hate than hate to evoke love. Perhaps one might say that the Christian concept of 'agape love' is the opposite of 'filia love' where the latter has no permanence as it is tainted by ego and sexual desire, but 'filia love' cannot evoke 'agape love' because it is selfless.
"Hope of feeling is slavery" To be ruled by feelings would be slavery indeed, but to apply 'agape love' towards your relationships according to the Golden Rule would achieve the greatest hope to achieve a Kesdjan Body or Spirit and to reach Heaven. However, hope in Heaven could be 'slavery' if it prevented to obtaining of the higher goal of Soul.
|Body is the physical body|
"Faith of body is stupidity" If one believes in 'faith healing' then that is "stupidity." The body is an amazing piece of machinery and it can often repair itself as long as one applies the proper healing methods. Obviously, if "faith of the body" means to indulge in the pleasures of the body by drugs and other means, it is shortsighted. |
"Love of body depends on type and polarity" Yes, there are many combinations in the human genome and the YX and XX chromosomes are male and female. However, to mistake hormones for love is only relevant to continue the human species.
"Hope of body is disease" One should not denigrate one's body by calling it disease, but rather to have 'hope' that this vehicle will survive long enough to build Spirit and Soul within. Of course, we must always remember that the body dies and that it is only here for a short span and so one should not waste one's lifetime with bodily pleasures.
In conclusion, as has been shown, this aphorism itself of "Faith, Love, and Hope" is a disappointment and could have been expressed better. As a whole it seems to be nothing but "shiemash".
A proposed rewriting of the aphorism:
Rather than end on a discouraging note, I will try using sections of the Chapter 26 to construct a more useful aphorism:
(BT Chapter 26.359) In the words of Ashiata Shiemash aka Gurdjieff, "During the period of my year of special observations on all of their manifestations and perceptions, I made it categorically clear to myself that although the factors for engendering in their presences the sacred being-impulses of Faith, Hope, and Love are already quite degenerated in the beings of this planet, nevertheless, the factor which ought to engender that being-impulse on which the whole psyche of beings of a three-brained system is in general based, and which impulse exists under the name of Objective-Conscience, is not yet atrophied in them, but remains in their presences almost in its primordial state." "I decided to consecrate the whole of myself from that time on to the creation here of such conditions that the functioning of the Sacred-Conscience” still surviving in their subconsciousness might gradually pass into the functioning of their ordinary consciousness."(BT Chapter 26.360) Then for it "to participate without fail in the functioning of that consciousness of theirs, under the direction of which their daily-waking existence flows, and furthermore if this being-impulse were to be manifested over a long period through every aspect of this consciousness of theirs."(BT Chapter 26.365)
I believe that the greatest stumbling block of 'The Work' comes from the mistake of jumping straight into trying to achieve (Objective) Consciousness which creates the Soul without first building a foundation for it with (Objective) Conscience which creates the Spirit. It is 'that grain of mustard seed' of (Objective) Conscience within the emotional center that knows the right or wrong of an action. It is too easy to rationalize bad actions mentally.Thus the growth of (Objective) Conscience must begin with agape love which was the true Christian principle set out by Jesus and St Paul.
Consciousness of the frontal brain is the growth of Soul
Consciousness of the rear brain is repetition
Consciousness of the midbrain is sleep
Emotion of the heart is conscience which is Spirit
Emotion of the senses is transitory
Emotion of the sexual center is reproduction
Action of the Body aids consciousness
Pain of the Body awakens emotion
Hunger of the Body feeds the body
1. Gurdjieffism (Gurdjieff's made-up word with a "hidden voice")
JR Colombo reviews an astonishing Russian television program of RTR Planeta:
"Stalin quickly deciphered the first part of the word "Lentrohamsanin. as Lenin-Trotsky
… but who is Hamsanin? The master of the Kremlin quickly lifted the telephone receiver.
"Find Georgi Gurdjieff!" The invisible signals and orders flew ahead.
A telephone rang in Stalin's office. A familiar voice slavishly said,
"Be at ease, Koba. Gurdjieff died last year in France in the American Hospital in Neuilly."
"Did he say anything before he died?" asked Stalin grimly.
"Yes. He said, 'I leave you in a difficult situation.'"
2. Wikipedia: Martin, Major Desmond R., "Account of the Sarmoun Brotherhood",
Documents on Contemporary Dervish Communities, a symposium collected, edited and
arranged by Roy Weaver Davidson, Octagon Press 1966, 1982. ISBN 0863040152.