“Centuries ago a rich merchant lived on the edge of a desert. That man had became so rich that he had begun to worry about how to protect his assets.
After having pondered about this for a long time, he decided to build a fortress in the desert where he would lodge with his courtesans, wives, children and servants. In that fortress, he would safeguard his vast riches.
So, he immediately began to work on this project, calling the most famous architect to build a fortress with walls of a never before seen, height and depth.
The work resulted in being more lengthy and costly than expected. After several years, the construction of the fortress was completed. He found himself without money, and a huge number of women and children and servants to feed, but believed that this fortress was unconquerable.
During these years, his jobs had a bad turn because he hadn’t more money to invest and was unable to trade. So, the only thing that remained was for him to live in that immense fortress; which was empty of gold, money, jewels – nothing at all, except women he was unable to satisfy, many children and servants. It was a precarious situation, seen that there was not even anything to eat.
One day, the boss of a group of plunderers, having heard about this immense fortress in the desert, thought that if someone had built it, it had surely something very precious to hide and defend: money, riches and who knows whatever else. So, he decided to attack and conquer the fortress and the treasures hidden inside.
So the plundererss found the fortress and begun the siege but, even after several months, they were unable to conquer it. Despite the impossibility to access the fortress, after having spent money, efforts and time, they decided to continue the siege to the end. They had to conquer it at any cost.
The chief of the plunderers had constantly in mind that, once entered these huge walls, he would recover all the economic losses suffered because of the long siege.
Finally, the fortress was conquered, and the plunderers killed the merchant, took the wives, children and servants, but they didn’t find money or gold. Nothing.”
I heard this story from the man that, at that time, accepted to become my new mentor. Indeed, this story was the answer to the question I had asked him, and it was something like this: “Please, can you help me to understand who I am, and what is the meaning of life?”
It was a demanding question, but this was what I had asked, and I was totally unable to relate the answer to this story.
So, I asked him for additional explanations.
“You have to know”, said the mentor, “that a theoretical explanation is far from enough to understand deeply what you are asking me. You need years of study, practice and experience, especially life experience.”
But, of course, this answer wasn’t enough for me. So, I insisted.
He reflected silently to what I was saying. He was very different in approach and explanations from my first mentor, who was direct.
Then, he spoke such as he didn’t hear what I was asking him.
“It’s useless to tell you that, because of the certainty to find who knows what kind of riches, this fortress was sieged several times through years; and, every time it was conquered, the owners were killed and the new, found themselves poor, because they spent all the money in the siege. There were no o material riches”
I was really fed up, because I felt duped, in some way.
Before any further questions or comments from me, he added:
“Haven’t you yet grasped the meaning? The same thing described in this story happens in our life: the fortress is just the world in which we live – our body, what we consider to possess. All these things ultimately, are empty or in some way sooner or later, will vanish. All the efforts we make to conquer something material, will leave us with empty hands, because all is temporary, impermanent, ephemeral. What will happen is, that at the end of our life, we’ll realize how this story is real because despite all our efforts to keep something material,and even our convictions, knowing, beliefs, and self- image, will be useless: once we die, we’ll lose all these things. We’ll remain with empty hands. Horrible, isn’t it?”
Of course, it was horrible for a twenty year old man to hear about these things, even at this age, one considers death and old age distant events. But, in some way, the content of the story and the intensity with which it had been revealed, touched me deeply. I really felt what he meant as “horrible”.
“So, we are emptiness? Nothing will remain of us? We have no hope?
The mentor kindly smiled.
“No” he answered, “it’s not so for all people. I was speaking about people that are only and exclusively devoted to “external” activities, who make their possessions their only aim in life, without cultivating or understanding their inner world.
These persons don’t create any center of gravity, knowing, understanding; nor a glimpse of it, within them. They spend all they have to build an empty fortress in a desert. But the capacity to feel, do, wish, and love, must be spent to build an inner world in harmony with the natural principles that rule the world in which we live. In this way, one can do something for himself and then, only then, something for others.”
“What you have to understand”, he continued, “and not only intellectually or with your heart, but with your whole being, is that the riches of the inner world are not “material” as are the riches of the outer world. They are not water, fire, air, earth, or ether. They are something else, another “substance” and such “substance” solidifies inside of us only through a friction of opposite forces: a positive and a negative one. You know the teachings that Gurdjieff shared, so you are familiar, at least theoretically, about the law of three and seven.”
“The intentional effort”, I whispered.
“Yes, this is the friction I am speaking about”, he said.
“It’s something that is put to use through an Inner Research in a School, with a Teacher, and working in this way, consciously and voluntarily, one produces a third force, the reconciling one, or call it as you wish.
The struggle between the inner world of the seeker and the conditionings, the habits, the image he has about himself, clashes with the external forces that oppose the realization of our aim. We are seeking the “Kingdom of Heaven”, and this is our intimate self, our Essence. Only the Essence has the power to love and do in the real meaning of the term.
‘A man’s real I, his individuality, can grow only from his essence. It can be said that a man’s individuality is his essence, grown up, mature’ , said our beloved Gurdjieff and he meant just this.”
“Now, you have to return home, but I would like to give you something, a little but powerful exercise; you could see it as prayer, a mantram, or in any other way. If used with constancy, diligence and determination, it can be of enormous help for you. This little exercise will allow you, near the other practices you are still performing, to build an inner center of awareness and force. So, listen carefully and impress it in your mind and heart. When you use it, do it with the maximal concentration, keeping the attention on your solar plexus, where you’ll have to feel the reverberation of these words, and in anywhere else in your body. The power of this practice is to “force” your constantly distracted mind,influenced by thousands of other external and internal things and happenings, to remain focused “.
and since I am
I have the power to feel
to actively think
in the name of Love, Light and Power
I listened to these words, trying to keep in mind this little treasure, even if I wasn’t so sure that it was such a powerful treasure.
He continued: “We’ll speak about it in the future, because now you are tired, so you can’t follow my words. Every single word in this formula has its own meaning and purpose; Neither can I speak about the power, that the autosuggestion operates constantly and unconsciously on humans. You are too tired and distracted, now.
I’ll only tell you that, even if this formula can be linked to autosuggestion, and at the beginning it is so, it functions: it’s a sort of ‘fight fire with fire’. These words are very efficient to help you to emancipate yourself from conditionings and identifications caused by the dozen suggestions and autosuggestions of which every human being is victim since his childhood.
And these suggestions, influences a human who isn’t free to think and feel independently, and without this possibility he is unable to do and and wish what he really would. Indeed, he almost doesn’t know what he really wishes”.
Then he stopped and seemed absorbed in some ponderings.
“Considering well, who really wishes, in these contemporary days, to be really free?
Nevermind. Use these words as suggested, day and night, delve into the vibration of the words and their deepest meaning… be determined, as best as you can. We’ll speak about it at another time”.