Gospels through the 4th Way

“I AM often asked questions in connection with various texts, parables,
and so on, from the Gospels,” said G., on one occasion. “In my opinion the time
has not yet come for us to speak about the Gospels. This requires much more
knowledge. But from time to time we will take certain Gospel texts as points of
departure for our discussions. This will teach you to treat them in the right way, and,
above all, to realize that in the texts known to us the most essential points are usually
“To begin with, let us take the well-known text about the seed which must die in
order to be born. ‘Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone;
but, if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.’
“This text has many different meanings and we shall often return to it. But first of
all it is necessary to know the principle contained in this text in its full measure as
applied to man.
“There is a book of aphorisms which has never been published and probably never
will be published. I have mentioned this book before in connection with the question
of the meaning of knowledge and I quoted then one aphorism from this book.
“In relation to what we are speaking of now this book says the following:
” ‘A man may be born, but in order to be born he must first die, and in order to die
he must first awake.’
“In another place it says:
” ‘When a man awakes he can die; when he dies he can be born.’
“We must find out what this means.

” ‘To awake,’ ‘to die,’ ‘to be born.’ These are three successive stages. If you study the
Gospels attentively you will see that references are often made to the possibility of
being born, several references are made to the necessity of ‘dying,’ and there are very
many references to the necessity of ‘awakening’—’watch, for ye know not the day and
hour . . .’ and. so on. But these three possibilities of man, to awake or not to sleep, to
die, and to be born, are not set down in connection with one another. Nevertheless this
is the whole point. If a man dies without having awakened he cannot be born. If a man
is born without having died he may become an ‘immortal thing.’ Thus the fact that he
has not ‘died’ prevents a man
from being ‘born’; the fact of his not having awakened prevents him from ‘dying’; and
should he be born without having died he is prevented from ‘being.’
“We have already spoken enough about the meaning of being ‘born.’ This relates to
the beginning of a new growth of essence, the beginning of the formation of
individuality, the beginning of the appearance of one indivisible I.
“But in order to be able to attain this or at least begin to attain it, a man must die,
that is, he must free himself from a thousand petty attachments and identifications
which hold him in the position in which he is. He is attached to everything in his life,
attached to his imagination, attached to his stupidity, attached even to his sufferings,
possibly to his sufferings more than to anything else. He must free himself from this
attachment. Attachment to things, identification with things, keep alive a thousand
useless I’s in a man. These I’s must die in order that the big I may be born. But how
can they be made to die? They do not want to die. It is at this point that the possibility
of awakening comes to the rescue. To awaken means to realize one’s nothingness, that
is to realize one’s complete and absolute mechanicalness and one’s complete and
absolute helplessness. And it is not sufficient to realize it philosophically in words. It
is necessary to realize it in clear, simple, and concrete facts, in one’s own facts. When
a man begins to know himself a little he will see in himself many things that are
bound to horrify him. So long as a man is not horrified at himself he knows nothing
about himself. A man has seen in himself something that horrifies him. He decides to
throw it off, stop it, put an end to it. But however many efforts he makes, he feels that
he cannot do this, that everything remains as it was. Here he will see his impotence,
his helplessness, and his nothingness; or again, when he begins to know himself a
man sees that he has nothing that is his own, that is, that all that he has regarded as his
own, his views, thoughts, convictions, tastes, habits, even faults and vices, all these
are not his own, but have been either formed through imitation or borrowed from
somewhere ready-made. In feeling this a man may feel his nothingness. And in
feeling his nothingness a man should see himself as he really is, not for a second, not
for a moment, but constantly, never forgetting it.
“This continual consciousness of his nothingness and of his helplessness will
eventually give a man the courage to ‘die,’ that is, to die, not merely mentally or in his
consciousness, but to die in fact and to renounce actually and forever those aspects of
himself which are either unnecessary from the point of view of his inner growth or
which hinder it. These aspects are first of all his ‘false I,’ and then all the fantastic
ideas about his ‘individuality,’ ‘will,’ ‘consciousness,’ ‘capacity to do,’ his powers,
initiative, determination, and so on.
“But in order to see a thing always, one must first of all see it even if
only for a second. All new powers and capacities of realization come always in one
and the same way. At first they appear in the form of flashes at rare and short
moments; afterwards they appear more often and last longer until, finally, after very
long work they become permanent. The same thing applies to awakening. It is
impossible to awaken completely all at once. One must first begin to awaken for short
moments. But one must die all at once and forever after having made a certain effort,
having surmounted a certain obstacle, having taken a certain decision from which
there is no going back. This would be difficult, even impossible, for a man, were it not
for the slow and gradual awakening which precedes it.
“But there are a thousand things which prevent a man from awakening, which keep
him in the power of his dreams. In order to act consciously with the intention of
awakening, it is necessary to know the nature of the forces which keep man in a state
of sleep.
“First of all it must be realized that the sleep in which man exists is not normal but
hypnotic sleep. Man is hypnotized and this hypnotic state is continually maintained
and strengthened in him. One would think that there are forces for whom it is useful
and profitable to keep man in a hypnotic state and prevent him from seeing the truth
and understanding his position.
“There is an Eastern tale which speaks about a very rich magician who had a great
many sheep. But at the same time this magician was very mean. He did not want to
hire shepherds, nor did he want to erect a fence about the pasture where his sheep were
grazing. The sheep consequently often wandered into the forest, fell into ravines, and
so on, and above all they ran away, for they knew that the magician wanted their flesh
and skins and this they did not like.
“At last the magician found a remedy. He hypnotized his sheep and suggested to
them first of all that they were immortal and that no harm was being done to them
when they were skinned, that, on the contrary, it would be very good for them and
even pleasant; secondly he suggested that the magician was a good master who loved
his flock so much that he was ready to do anything in the world for them; and in the
third place he suggested to them that if anything at all were going to happen to them it
was not going to happen just then, at any rate not that day, and therefore they had no
need to think about it. Further the magician suggested to his sheep that they were not
sheep at all; to some of them he suggested that they were lions, to others that they
were eagles, to others that they were men, and to others that they were magicians.
“And after this all his cares and worries about the sheep came to an end. They never
ran away again but quietly awaited the time when the magician would require their
flesh and skins.
“This tale is a very good illustration of man’s position.
“In so-called ‘occult’ literature you have probably met with the expression
‘Kundalini,’ ‘the fire of Kundalini,’ or the ‘serpent of Kundalini.’ This expression is
often used to designate some kind of strange force which is present in man and which
can be awakened. But none of the known theories gives the right explanation of the
force of Kundalini. Sometimes it is connected with sex, with sex energy, that is with
the idea of the possibility of using sex energy for other purposes. This latter is entirely
wrong because Kundalini can be in anything. And above all, Kundalini is not
anything desirable or useful for man’s development. It is very curious how these
occultists have got hold of the word from somewhere but have completely altered its
meaning and from a very dangerous and terrible thing have made something to be
hoped for and to be awaited as some blessing.
“In reality Kundalini is the power of imagination, the power of fantasy, which takes
the place of a real function. When a man dreams instead of acting, when his dreams
take the place of reality, when a man imagines himself to be an eagle, a lion, or a
magician, it is the force of Kundalini acting in him. Kundalini can act in all centers
and with its help all the centers can be satisfied with the imaginary instead of the real.
A sheep which considers itself a lion or a magician lives under the power of
“Kundalini is a force put into men in order to keep them in their present state. If
men could really see their true position and could understand all the horror of it, they
would be unable to remain where they are even for one second. They would begin to
seek a way out and they would quickly find it, because there is a way out; but men
fail to see it simply because they are hypnotized. Kundalini is the force that keeps
them in a hypnotic state. ‘To awaken’ for man means to be ‘dehypnotized.’ In this lies
the chief difficulty and in this also lies the guarantee of its possibility, for there is no
organic reason for sleep and man can awaken.
“Theoretically he can, but practically it is almost impossible because as soon as a
man awakens for a moment and opens his eyes, all the forces that caused him to fall
asleep begin to act upon him with tenfold energy and he immediately falls asleep
again, very often dreaming that he is awake or is awakening.
“There are certain states in ordinary sleep in which a man wants to awaken but
cannot. He tells himself that he is awake but, in reality, he continues to sleep—and
this can happen several times before he finally awakes. But in ordinary sleep, once he
is awake, he is in a different state;
in hypnotic sleep the case is otherwise; there are no objective characteristics, at any
rate not at the beginning of awakening; a man cannot pinch himself in order to make
sure that he is not asleep. And if, which God forbid, a man has heard anything about
objective characteristics, Kundalini at once transforms it all into imagination and
“Only a man who fully realizes the difficulty of awakening can understand the
necessity of long and hard work in order to awake.

( P.D. Ouspensky In Search of the Miraculous page 228-9 in pdf on the internet, 224-232 in the book )

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