Return to the main site

Third Series: Life is Real Only Then, When I Am - Rebuttal of published book

© 2014 by Dylan Stephens

Here is what Gurdjieff says in the forward to Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson

Ten Books in Three Series: "FIRST SERIES:
Three books under the title of 'An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man,' or, 'Beelzebub's tales to his grandson.'
SECOND SERIES:
Three books under the common title of 'Meetings with Remarkable Men.'
THIRD SERIES:
Four books under the common title of 'Life is Real Only Then, When "I Am."'

All written according to entirely new principles of logical reasoning and strictly directed towards the solution of the following three cardinal problems:
FIRST SERIES: To destroy, mercilessly, without any compromises whatsoever, in the mentation and feelings of the reader, the beliefs and views, by centuries rooted in him, about everything existing in the world.
SECOND SERIES: To acquaint the reader with the material required for a new creation and to prove the soundness and good quality of it.
THIRD SERIES: To assist the arising, in the mentation and in the feelings of the reader, of a veritable, non- fantastic representation not of that illusory world which he now perceives, but of the world existing in reality."

Here is what Gurdjieff says in the last paragraph of Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson

"After the books of the first series have all been published, I intend for the spreading of the contents of the second series to organize in various large centers simultaneous public readings accessible to all.
And as regards the real, indubitably comprehensible, genuine objective truths which will be brought to light by me in the third series, I intend to make them accessible exclusively only to those from among the hearers of the second series of my writings who will be selected from specially prepared people according to my considered instructions."

The First and Second Series were completed, but the Third Series was not except for what appears to be an Introduction.

Here is the Forward to the book purported to be 'Life is Real Only Then, When "I Am."'

"Before he died, Gurdjieff sent for me to tell me how he saw the state of affairs and to give me certain instructions:
Publish as and when you are sure that the time has come. Publish the First and Second Series. But the essential thing, the first thing, is to prepare a nucleus of people capable of responding to the demand which will arise.
So long as there is no responsible nucleus, the action of the ideas will not go beyond a certain threshold. That will take time ... a lot of time, even.
To publish the Third Series is not necessary.
It was written for another purpose.
Nevertheless, if you believe you ought to do so one day, publish it.
The task became clear to me: as soon as the First Series had been published, it would be necessary to work without respite to form a nucleus capable, through its level of objectivity, devotion and the demands it would make on itself, of sustaining the current that had been created.
signed: Jeanne de Salzmann

Also in the Forward to the book purported to be 'Life is Real Only Then, When "I Am"'

Gurdjieff starts to write, "My last book, through which I wish to share with other creatures of our Common Father similar to myself, almost all the previously unknown mysteries of the inner world of man which I have accidentally learned."

Jeanne de Salzmann conjectures on the reasons, "Gurdjieff wrote these words on the 6th of November, 1934, and immediately started to work. For the next few months he devoted himself entirely to working out his ideas for this book. Then suddenly, on the 2nd of April, 1935, he completely stopped writing. One is bound to ask: why did he abandon the project at this point and never return to it again? Why did he leave this Third Series unfinished and apparently give up his intention to publish it?"

Also in the Prologue to the book purported to be 'Life is Real Only Then, When "I Am"', Gurdjieff writes:

"As I had the intention of publishing the first series of my writings the following year, I therefore decided, parallel with working on the books of the second series, to hold frequent public readings of the first series. I decided to do this in order, before finally sending them to press, to review them once more but this time in accordance with the impressions with which different fragments were received by people of different typicalities and different degrees of mental development. And in view of this aim, I began from then on to invite to my city apartment different persons of my acquaintance of corresponding individuality to hear the chapter proposed for correction, which was read aloud by somebody in their presence.

At that time I had my principal place of residence for my whole family as well as for myself at Fontainebleau, but because of my frequent visits to Paris I was obliged also to have an apartment there.

During these common readings, in the presence of listeners of many different typicalities, while simultaneously observing the audience and listening to my writing, now ready for publication, I for the first time very definitely established and clearly, without any doubt, understood the following:
The form of the exposition of my thoughts in these writings could be understood exclusively by those readers who, in one way or another, were already acquainted with the peculiar form of my mentation. But every other reader for whom, strictly speaking, I had goaded myself almost day and night during this time, would understand nearly nothing.

During this common reading, by the way, I enlightened myself for the first time with regard to the particular form in which it would be necessary to write in order that it might be accessible to the understanding of everyone. So, when I had clarified all this to myself, there just then appeared before me, in all its splendor and full majesty, the question of my health.

Above everything else, there then flowed in my consciousness the following thoughts:
If all this, which was written during three or four years of almost unceasing day and night work, were to be rewritten from the beginning in another form more accessible to the understanding of every reader, at least the same length of time would be required ... "

Here is the reason, in my opinion, that Gurdjieff did not continue writing the Third Series: No one could understand Beelzebub's Tales and the thought of rewriting it and in effect "dumbing it down", must have been shattering. After all, the purpose of the First Series was to tear down those beliefs that prevented people from seeing the esoteric truths. If these people could not understand that, how would they understand the truths presented in the Third Series.?"

Here is what Gurdjieff says in the rough draft of the Introduction to 'Life is Real Only Then, When "I Am"' dated November 6th, 1934 at Childs Restaurant, Columbus Circle, New York

"In this introductory book of the third series, I shall expose the 'quintessence' of five talks, four of which were delivered by me at the end of 1930 and the beginning of 1931, and one other at the end of 1931 or the beginning of 1932."

The important statement here is that it is an "introductory book"; not, as the words of Jeanne de Salzmann seem to imply in the Forward (quoted previously), an actual Third Series. In the published book are five talks and an unfinished writing that ends with a ":" in an unfinished sentence!

Here is what Gurdjieff promised to include in 'Life is Real Only Then, When "I Am"', Gurdjieff writes this words in the Second Series: Meetings with Remarkable Men

Chapter 8 - Ekim Bey:

"I will not record here, in this second series of my writings, what he then explained, considering it premature for serious readers and, as regards the correct sequential perception of all my writings, even harmful to the aim of genuine understanding. I have therefore decided, with a clear conscience, to expound the quintessence of these explanations only later, in a corresponding chapter of the third series of my writings, entitled 'The physical body of man, its needs according to law, and possibilities of manifestation'".

Chapter 9 - Karpenko:

"The words then spoken by this old ez-ezpounavouran I will also record, but only in the third series of my writings, in a chapter entitled 'The astral body of man, its needs and possibilities of manifestation according to law'. Here, I will merely touch upon the results of the healing by this venerable man, which I verified by inquiries over many years."

Chapter 10 - Professor Skridlov:

"I shall place them, as relating to the question of the Soul, that is, the third independently formed part of the common presence of a man, in the chapter entitled 'The divine body of man, and its needs and possible manifestations according to law', but only in the Third Series of my writings, as complementary to two chapters of the same series which I have already decided and promised to devote - one to the words of the venerable Persian dervish concerning the Body, that is, the first independently formed part in the common presence of a man, and the other to the elucidations of the old ez-ezounavouran concerning the second independently formed part of a man, namely, his Spirit."

And alas we will never know what Gurdjieff really intended for the Third Series because, and I must emphasize that the published 'Life is Real Only Then, When "I Am"' is NOT the Third Series

Next I will show how 'Life is Real Only Then, When "I Am"' is an empty shell of what Gurdjieff intended and that it needed to be revised and re-written.

The First Talk contains nothing of value having been covered in Beelzebub's Tales.

The Second Talk is a criticism of Orage, whom he sent to America in in 1924 where he taught Gurdjieff's philosophy for seven years. At the end of the talk Gurdjieff' dictated a pledge that all students would have to sign an oath that they would not communicate with Orage.

The Third Talk, referring to the last chapter of Beelzebub's Tales: From the Author, Gurdjieff' talks about three human impulses that can provide a basis for the Work: "I can", "I wish", and "the entire sensing of the whole of oneself". He then demonstrates an exercise, fourth in succession, involving three fingers and reveals that attention should be divided between the body ("I can") and the emotions ("I wish") and thought. (I would say that Gurdjieff has expressed this poorly because what he calls "the entire sensing of the whole of oneself" is actually the result of the three equal attentions, thus I would suggest that thought be called "I think" as opposed to "I daydream" (which resonates with the Fifth Talk of "I am" in the famous phrase: "I think therefore I am".)) Gurdjieff says that these three sensings are the first three of seven in possible in a human. (They are "do","re", "mi" and by means of the law three in equal amounts can obtain "consciousness". The physical body ("do") is energized by "I can" to prevent the normal tendency to remain immobilized. The mind ("re") is energized by "I think". The emotion center ("mi") is energized by "I wish". (The action of "do" and "re" create "mi", but "mi" can be thought of as having a vibration between "do" and "re", thus Gurdjieff places it second.))

The Fourth Talk brings up the Orage situation. Orage comes to see Gurdjieff and Gurdjieff requires him to sign the oath from the Second Talk. Orage signs it and Gurdjieff, pretending it was the cayenne pepper that he dumped into the meal he was preparing, bursts into tears. Gurdjieff then sets penalty payments from $3648 to $57 dollars and fees for talks that were missed. He makes $113,000 of which he keeps half! He then talks about the process of absorbing air by a human for evolutionary purposes rather than just involutionary. The talk ends with an unfinished sentence: "This particularity is that ..."

In the Fifth Talk Gurdjieff introduces two more exercises: the reciting of "I am", which is nothing more that a Westernization of "om", and the repeating of the phrase "I am," "I can," "I wish". (I think at this time I would request my $57 back as this seems like some sort of ridicule of American culture. Referring back to the Third Talk it might be an exercise of mind, body, emotion.)

The Last Chapter titled "The Outer and Inner World of Man" cites an ancient manuscript that tells of three separate stages of growth:
Stage 1: boys aged 0-11 and girls 0-7 collect involuntarily perceived outer impressions
Stage 2: boys from 9 years to maturity and girls from 4 years to maturity collect voluntary outer impressions (voluntary in the sense of being forced upon them). (The overlap is unexplained. Girls must start earlier because they are married off sooner, being declared matured earlier, I suppose, to protect their virginity, but then men are immature for longer.)
Stage 3: men from maturity to 60 years and women from maturity to 45 years must contemplate of these two type of impressions to create a third being within. (The reason for women only having until 45 must be because of their loss of beauty, I suppose!)
Then there are ages up until 300 years for men and 200 years for women. (I would assume that it is in their Kesdjanian bodies and the frail feminine ones last 100 years less!) (These quotes show that some ancient knowledge if as useful as a moth eaten coat i.e. a Wholy Bible!)
This section is perhaps close to what Gurdjieff promised in Meeting with Remarkable Men, but quite simplistic. Gurdjieff says that these three "totality of functions" correspond to the head (cerebrum), the spinal column (cerebellum), and the solar plexus (emotional center). Then he hears about the death of Orage and gives a tirade on those who express sympathy for his death.
Then Gurdjieff quotes an article in full from a Russian newspaper about old age! Then he asserts that a Soul does not come ready made inside, but requires work. He then compares a Soul to that third stage of contemplation saying that comes from the struggle of good and evil.
(This is a simplistic statement in that, yes, "Conscience" is the point where the Law of Three assists between 'sol' and 'la' (See Definition of the Second Conscious Shock), but merely the beginning of the development of a Soul. Since a Kesdjanian body, which according to Beezebub's Tales - The Holy Planet Purgatory, must be completed first before a Soul, would, when fully completed, possess also a fully formed Conscience. At this point, it would be the struggle between the Kesdjanian Body and the Physical Body that creates a Soul. The guidance to this struggle must by the Will of God. Since God is a human conception, this God is inevitably flawed and thus the need for "the Holy Planet Purgatory".) In any case this chapter ends abruptly with an unfinished sentence with a ":"



return to main page