The Strange Life of P. D. Ouspensky
was right in feeling that he had discovered another source of strength within himself, the implication must be that Gurdjieff himself was not infallible; his psychological insight was limited, and there were things about Ouspensky that he discounted and failed to understand.
    Back in his own room, Gurdjieff again began to speak 'inside [Ouspensky's] chest', and they held a conversation while Gurdjieff was out on the veranda with others. Ouspensky is again reticent, but it is clear that Gurdjieff was trying to force him to make some promise, or to leave the Work. He gave Ouspensky a month to make up his mind.
    The next morning, at breakfast, Gurdjieff again read Ouspensky's mind, and advised him to stop thinking about a certain question. During the next few days, Ouspensky found himself in a strange emotional state, so that he remarked to Gurdjieff: 'How can this be got rid of? I cannot bear it any more.' Gurdjieff's reply was that this was what Ouspensky had been asking for. He was now awake. Ouspensky comments that he is not certain that this was entirely true.
    Back in Petrograd, Ouspensky not only continued to converse with Gurdjieff - who was on the train going to Moscow - but to actually see him.
    At this time, he says, he also began seeing 'sleeping people'. As he walked along the street, he would see that people were actually asleep, surrounded by their dreams in the form of clouds. When this impression began to fade, he found he could renew it by efforts of self-remembering.
    All this convinced Ouspensky that 'paranormal' powers are a by-product of higher states of awareness, and that therefore they cannot be studied 'objectively', as if in a laboratory. The mind needs to be 'awake' first.
    In fact, as we have seen, Ouspensky had already made the same discovery during his nitrous oxide experiments. He had 'heard voices' which were sometimes able to reply accurately to his questions, and had also correctly foreseen the precise events that would cause the trip to Moscow to be cancelled. Ouspensky adds that this higher state of awareness also made him see, with great clarity, why violence is always bound to be counter-productive. This recognition, he says, was not 'ethical', but practical.
    Soon after this, Gurdjieff announced to the group that they all had to make a choice: now they must decide whether they wanted to wake up, or remain asleep. 'In future I shall work only with those who can be useful to me in attaining my aim.' Two people dropped out of the group. It seems clear that what Gurdjieff was demanding of Ouspensky in Finland was total commitment - perhaps to devote his life to spreading the idea of the Work. Ouspensky seems to have agreed.
    It may have been Gurdjieff's recognition of what was happening in Russia that caused him to make these demands. The war was going badly; troops were fighting without weapons and without proper clothing. In an offensive that ran out of steam, the Russians lost a million men. The army was demoralized. Many people believed the Tsarina - who was of German birth - wanted the Germans to win. At the end of 1916, the Tsar's eminence grise Rasputin was assassinated by Prince Felix Yussupov; he had foretold that if he was killed by a member of the aristocracy, the Russian monarchy would come to an end. In March 1917, riots and strikes broke out in Petrograd, and there was a general mutiny of troops. The Tsar abdicated, and a provisional government took control, while the royal family was placed under arrest. In April, Lenin arrived from Switzerland, sent by the Germans to undermine Russia. In July, the Bolsheviks made their first attempt to seize power.
    In February, Gurdjieff had made his last visit to Petrograd; when he took his leave of his followers at the station, Ouspensky felt that something unusual had taken place. On the platform, Gurdjieff had seemed 'an ordinary man, like anyone else'. Moments later, when he came to the window of the train, he seemed quite different, 'a

Similar Books

The Bride's Baby

Liz Fielding

Sidney Sheldon's Angel of the Dark

Sidney Sheldon, Tilly Bagshawe

Hollywood

Charles Bukowski

Pure Joy

Danielle Steel

A Gate at the Stairs

Lorrie Moore

The Font

Tracy St. John

Breed to Come

Andre Norton