Quotations from Ouspensky’s “In Search of the Miraculous,” pp. 241-43; Ouspensky’s “The Fourth Way,” pp. 298-302; and Nicoll’s “Commentaries,” pp. 1456-1458
from Ouspensky’s “In Search of the Miraculous,” pp. 241-43:
“…you ought by now to have some understanding as to the nature of the system and its principal methods, and you ought to be able to pass these ideas on to others. You will remember that at the beginning I was against your talking about the ideas of the system outside the groups. On the contrary there was a definite rule that none of you, excepting those whom I specially instructed to do so, should talk to anyone either about the groups or the lectures or the ideas. And I explained then why this was necessary. You would not have been able to give a correct picture, a correct impression. Instead of giving people the possibility of coming to these ideas you would have repelled them for ever; you would have even deprived them of the possibility of coming to them at a later time. But now the situation is different. You have already heard enough. And if you really have made efforts to understand what you have heard, then you should be able to pass it on to others. Therefore I will give you a definite task.
“Try to lead conversations with your friends and acquaintances up to these subjects, try to prepare those who show interest and, if they ask you to, bring them to the meetings. But everyone must realize that this is his own task and not expect others to do it for him. The proper performance of this task by each of you will show first, that you have already assimilated something, understood something, and second, that you are able to appraise people, to understand with whom it is worth while talking and with whom it is not worth while, because the majority of people cannot take in any of these ideas and it is perfectly useless to talk to them. But at the same time there are people who are able to take in these ideas and with whom it is worth while talking.”
The next meeting after this was very interesting. Everyone was full of impressions of talks with friends; everyone had a great many questions; everyone was somewhat discouraged and disappointed.
It proved that friends and acquaintances asked very shrewd questions to which most of our people had no answers. They asked for instance what we had got from the work and openly expressed doubts as to our “remembering ourselves.” On the other hand others had themselves no doubt whatever that they “remembered themselves.” Others found the “ray of creation” and the “seven cosmoses” ridiculous and useless; … others asked who had seen the centers and how they could be seen; others found absurd the idea that we could not “do.” …
G. laughed when we recounted to him our conversations with our friends.
“This is nothing,” he said. “If you were to put together everything that people are able to say about this system, you would not believe in it yourselves. This system has a wonderful property: even a mere contact with it calls forth either the best or the worst in people. You may know a man all your life and think that he is not a bad fellow, that he is even rather intelligent. Try speaking to him about these ideas and you will see at once that he is an utter fool. Another man, on the other hand, might appear to have nothing in him, but speak to him on these subjects and you find that he thinks, and thinks very seriously.”
“How can we recognize people who are able to come to the work?” asked on of those present.
“How to recognize them is another question,” said G. “To do this it is necessary to a certain extent ‘to be.’ But before speaking of this we must establish what kind of people are able to come to the work and what kind are not able.
“You must understand that a man should have, first, a certain preparation, certain luggage. He should know what it is possible to know through ordinary channels about the ideas of esotericism, about hidden knowledge, about possibilities of the inner evolution of man, and so on. What I mean is that these ideas ought not to appear to him as something entirely new. Otherwise it is difficult to speak to him. It is useful also if he has at least some scientific or philosophical preparation. If a man has a good knowledge of religion, this can also be useful. But if he is tied to religious forms and has no understanding of their essence, he will find it very difficult. In general, if a man knows but little, has read but little, has thought but little, it is difficult to talk to him. If he has a good essence there is another way for him without any talks at all, but in this case he has to be obedient, he has to give up his will. And he has to come to this also in some way or other. It can be said that there is one general rule for everybody. In order to approach this system seriously, people must be disappointed, first of all in themselves, that is to say, in their powers, and secondly in all the old ways. A man cannot feel what is most valuable in the system unless he is disappointed in what he has been doing, disappointed in what he has been searching for. If he is a scientist he should be disappointed in his science. If he is a religious man he should be disappointed in his religion. If he is a politician he should be disappointed in politics. If he is a philosopher he should be disappointed in philosophy. If he is a theosophist he should be disappointed in theosophy. If he is an occultist he should be disappointed in occultism. And so on. But you must understand what this means. I say for instance that a religious man should be disappointed in religion. This does not mean that he should lose his faith. On the contrary, it means being ‘disappointed’ in the teaching and the methods only, realizing that the religious teaching he knows is not enough for him, can lead him nowhere. All religious teachings, excepting of course the completely degenerated religions of savages and the invented religions and sects of modern times, consist of two parts, the visible and the hidden. To be disappointed in religion means being disappointed in the visible, and to feel the necessity for finding the hidden and unknown part of religion. To be disappointed in science does not mean losing interest in knowledge. It means being convinced that the usual scientific methods are not only useless but lead to the construction of absurd and self-contradictory theories, and, having become convinced of this, to begin to search for others. To be disappointed in philosophy means being convinced that ordinary philosophy is merely–as it is said in the Russian proverb–pouring from one empty vessel into another, and that people do not even know what philosophy means although true philosophy also can and should exist. To be disappointed in occultism does not mean losing faith in the miraculous, it is merely being convinced that ordinary, accessible, and even advertised occultism, under whatever name it may pass, is simply charlatanism and self-deception and that, although somewhere something does exist, everything that man knows or is able to learn in the ordinary way is not what he needs.
“So that, no matter what he used to do before, no matter what used to interest him, if a man has arrived at this state of disappointment in ways that are possible and accessible, it is worth while speaking to him about our system and then he may come to the work. But if he continues to think that he is able to find anything on his former way, or that he has not as yet tried all the ways, or that he can, by himself, find anything or do anything, it means that he is not ready. I do not mean that he must throw up everything he used to do before. This is entirely unnecessary. On the contrary, it is often even better if he continues to do what he used to do. But he must realize that it is only a profession, or a habit, or a necessity. In this case it is another matter; he will then be able not to ‘identify.’
“There is only one thing incompatible with work and that is ‘professional occultism,’ in other words, professional charlatanism. All these spiritualists, healers, clairvoyants, and so on, or even people closely connected with them, are none of them any good to us. And you must always remember this and take care not to tell them much because everything they learn from you they might use for their own purposes, that is, to make fools of other people.
“There are still other categories which are no good but we will speak of them later. In the meantime remember one thing only: A man must be sufficiently disappointed in ordinary ways and he must at the same time think or be able to accept the idea that there may be something–somewhere. If you should speak to such a man, he might discern the flavor of truth in what you say no matter how clumsily you might speak. But if you should speak to a man who is convinced about something else, everything you say will sound absurd to him and he will never even listen to you seriously. It is not worth while wasting time on him. This system is for those who have already sought and have burned themselves. Those who have not sought and who are not seeking do not need it. And those who have not yet burned themselves do not need it either.”
“But this is not what people begin with,” said one of our company. “They ask: Do we admit the existence of the ether? Or how do we look on evolution? Or why do we not believe in progress? Or why do we not think that people can and should organize life on the basis of justice and the common good? And things of this sort.”
“All questions are good,” said G., “and you can begin from any question if only it is sincere. You understand that what I mean is that this very question about either or about progress or about the common good could be asked by a man simply in order to say something, or to repeat what someone else has said or what he has read in some book, and on the other hand he could ask it because this is the question with which he aches. If it is an aching question for him you can give him an answer and you can bring him to the system through any question whatever. But it is necessary for the question to be an aching one.”
from Ouspensky’s “The Fourth Way,” pp. 298-302
What is interesting in this connection, and what I would like to speak about, is the division of men from the point of view of the possibility of changing being. There is such a division.
It is particularly connected with the idea of the Path or Way. You remember it was said that from the moment one becomes connected with influence C a staircase begins and only when a man gets to the top of it is the Path or Way reached? A question was asked about who is able to come up to this staircase, climb it and reach the Way. Mr Gurdjieff answered by using a Russian word which can be translated as ‘Householder’. In Indian and Buddhist literature this is a very well-defined type of man and type of life which can bring one to change of being. ‘Snataka’ or ‘Householder’ simply means a man who leads an ordinary life. Such a man can have doubts about the value of ordinary things; he can have dreams about possibilities of development; he can come to a school, either after a long life or at the beginning of life, and he can work in a school. Only from among such men come people who are able to climb the staircase and reach the Path.
Other people he divided into two categories: first, ‘tramps’, and second, ‘lunatics’. Tramps do not necessarily mean poor people; they may be rich and may still be ‘tramps’ in their attitude to life. And a ‘lunatic’ does not mean a man deprived of ordinary mind; he may be a statesman or a professor.
These two categories are no good for a school and will not be interested in it; tramps because they are not really interested in anything; lunatics because they have false values. So if they attempt to climb up the staircase they only fall down and break their necks.
First it is necessary to understand these three categories from the point of view of the possibility of changing being, possibility of school-work. This division means only one thing–that people are not in exactly the same position in relation to possibilities of work. There are people for whom the possibility of changing their being exists; there are many people for whom it is practically impossible, because they brought their being to such a state that there is no starting-point in them; and there are people belonging to yet a fourth category who, by different means, have already destroyed all possibility of changing their being. This division is not parallel to any other division. Belonging to one of the first three categories is not permanent and can be changed, but one can come to the work only from the first category, not from the second or the third; the fourth category excludes all possibilities. So, though people may be born with the same rights, so to speak, they lose their rights very easily.
Q. What is it that determines which category a man belongs to?
A. A certain attitude to life, to people, and certain possibilities that one has. It is the same for all the three categories. The fourth category is separate.
About this fourth category, I will give you just a few definitions. In the system this category has a special name, consisting of two Turkish words. It is ‘Hasnamuss’. One of the first things about a ‘Hasnamuss’ is that he never hesitates to sacrifice people or to create an enormous amount of suffering, just for his own personal ambitions. How a ‘Hasnamuss’ is created is another question. It begins with formatory thinking, with being a tramp and a lunatic at the same time. Another definition of a ‘Hasnamuss’ is that he is crystalllized in the wrong hydrogens. This category cannot interest you practically, because you have nothing to do with such people; but you meet with the results of their existence.
As to the characteristics of a man in the first category, that is the householder–to begin with he is a practical man; he is not formatory; he must have a certain amount of discipline, otherwise he would not be what he is. So practical thinking and self-discipline are characteristics of the first category. Such a man has enough of these for ordinary life but not enough for work, so in the work these two characteristics must increase and grow. A householder is a normal man, and a normal man, given favorable conditions, has the possibility of development.
from Nicoll’s “Commentaries,” p. 1456-1457
Let us review again how the Work defines Man. As you know, the definition of Man takes various forms in the Work, such as Moving Centre Man, Emotional Man, and Intellectual Man. But to-day we will recall another way of looking at Man from the Work point of view. Man as he is on Earth is divided into Good Householder, Tramp, Lunatic and Hasnamous. You have heard many times that people must be at the level of Good Householder, if they are brought into this Work. I will give you some actual words of Mr. Ouspensky in this respect. He said: “Good Householder really means in the Work sense a man well orientated to life, who does not believe in life but sees the real value of things. Such a Good Householder has Magnetic Centre.” We see therefore from these definitions that Good Householder can be of two kinds. There is the householder who believes in life and can deal with his affairs reasonably and again there is the Householder in the Work sense who is well orientated to live and knows his job, but does not believe in life. That is, he does not believe that life will get him anywhere in the direction in which he wishes to go and has the feeling that life is not real although he continues to do his duty–that is, he sees the real value of things. In other words, he sees how false the aims of life are and how, in so many cases, nothing is attained.
Now we will talk about the next definition: Man as being a Tramp. This man is quite different from Good Householder, whether we think of Good Householder as a man who believes in life or as a man who does not believe in life, and yet in both cases does his job. Mr. Ouspensky said: “Amongst Tramps, you will find many artists and poets, etc., who despise Good Householder, but who are really at a much lower level and have no feeling of responsibility towards anything and do not understand what a fool is in themselves. We all have a fool in us.”
Now let us take the third definition–i.e. people who are called, from the Work point of view, Lunatics. “These”, said Mr. Ouspensky, on this particular occasion, “are like politicians, people who think they can do, people who think that they can change life by means of themselves, people who, if they put their theories into practice, create greater disorder because they do not calculate Second Force. This means that they think they can change everyone by some new enactment and do not realize that to change a person is a very difficult thing. These are the Lunatics, and again, they do not see the fool in themselves.” The fool in you is what does not calculate Second Force, or the force of resistance to what you want to attain.
Then lastly we have this strange word Hasnamous. A man who is Hasnamous (which is a word invented by Mr. G. based on some Persian or Turkish language) is a man who is clever enough to see that he can gain power by means of tricks over ordinary people. Mr. Ouspensky said: “Hasnamous men are people whose well-being depends on the non-well-being of other people.” At the time when G. was there he pointed out some dictators who were really Hasnamous people. On the other hand, he said that they have always existed–that is, people whose well-being depends on the ill-being of other people. Someone once said to Mr. Ouspensky: “Was Napoleon a Hasnamous man?” He smiled and said: “I did not know Napoleon personally.” So we have to think of the answer for ourselves. You remember that Voltaire once said that history is a history of crime, and I fancy if some of you read a little more history than you do, you would easily see what Hasnamous means historically. Of course you must understand that Hasnamous is built on a big scale or a small scale.
And so we have five definitions of Man from this Work point of view: Good Householder with Magnetic Centre, Good Householder without Magnetic Centre, Tramp, Lunatic and Hasnamous.
Now what happens to the Good Householder with Magnetic Centre who is well orientated to his Work in life but does not believe in life? What do you understand yourself by this strange definition and why do you think that such a man has a better being than all the rest mentioned so far? Mr. Ouspensky said in this connection at the time of which I am speaking: “He often disappears after having done his duty.” He said: “Such a man often vanishes. People do not hear of him. He may have gone into a monastery or he might have gone elsewhere to find out something different from life. Such a man, if he does this, may find something that makes it possible for him to develop.” On the other hand, he said in so many words, that we can take it like this–the Way of Good Householder is a very long way. It will take a very long time and many lives for him to separate from himself and develop himself in the way he should by creation. Now let us talk about this Good Householder and again remind ourselves that no one must come into this Work who is not in some degree Good Householder. This Work is not for Tramps or Lunatics. People who are no good at life, people who are mad in their theories about how life should be run and imagine that by rules and laws people can be changed, are not Good Householders and are not suitable for this Work. Lunatics do not come much into the Fourth Way Work because they are perfectly contented with their own ideas and theories, but unfortunately Tramps come in very often imagining that this Work will make everything easier for them. But the quality of such people is not right for the inner discipline of this Work. Immediately they find any difficulties they are like those people spoken of in the Parable of the Sower and the Seed who, sown on rocky ground, wither away, because they have no root.
Finally, may I point out to some of you that this place here, this Group that we are gradually forming, has nothing to do with a hospital or a charitable institution. I want people who are some good already and who know something about the difficulty of meeting Second Force and seeing that the fault is in themselves. The fool in us never sees Second Force and lives in phantasies and imagination.