All & Everything; Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson
Author/Artist: G. I. Gurdjieff
First published: 1950
With Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, G. I. Gurdjieff intended to "destroy, mercilessly . . . the beliefs and views about everything existing in the world." This novel beautifully brings to life the visions of humanity for which Gurdjieff has become esteemed. Beelzebub, a man of worldly (and other-worldly) wisdom, shares with his grandson the anecdotes, personal philosophies, and lessons learned from his own life.The reader is given a detailed discussion of all matters physical, natural, and spiritual, from the creation of the cosmos to man's teleological purpose in the universe. This edition of Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson--the first single-volume paperback to appear in English--restores the original, authoritative translation.
There is an online version of the 1950 edition of this book in pdf-format available here: All & Everything
It is helpful to see Gurdjieff's work and message in the context of his times - to look towards what he was drawing on, lampooning, ignoring, or overtly acknowledging. Without some awareness of this, or alternate anchorage for thought, one is that degree more liable to dream on `inspired' with Gurdjieff's suggestions rather than aptly grasp and utilise any transformative power in them. Fine if we're happy to regard his work simply as some grand outlandish tapestry (and, in ourselves, to myopically replay the past). But we may be inclined to take it (and our potential) as something more significant.
"Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson" is a magnificent tour de force through the twists and turns of ego, that of the individual and that of associations and civilisations as living systems, self-aware entities, `cosmoses'. With chapter titles from "The Inevitable Result of Impartial Mentation" to "Just a Wee Bit More About the Germans", Gurdjieff sports with the reader's potentials to indulge a partiality, accommodate bias, our capacities for delusional identification and consciousness - as with his own blithe sex chauvinism, for example, one is pressed to ask if this is some `wicked' sense of humour, or why the purposes of the wise should disguise themselves and change as do the tricks of the ego. Certainly there is a fundamental joke here, a critically illuminating deceptiveness, to be found - to be discovered by readers in different times and ways, and to differing effect. I concur with those who believe Gurdjieff knew just what he was about in the writing of this book, including the provision of `clues' as to what would follow, what manner of things could complement and succeed this First Series beyond his own Second and Third. Some have seen and pursued this succession or complementarity in the offerings of Subud, encounter therapy, Shah, Krishnamurti, Trungpa, Castaneda, Osho, besides the assortment of present day Gurdjieffian groups and gurus. For a different kettle of fish, one new resource warrants particular mention. M J Mitchell's "The Hog's Wholey Wash --" one can come to appreciate as hailing from a related space or cause to that of the Tales, a canny `legominism' in a world context a half-century on. By volume but a postage stamp on Beelzebub's Tales, in essence, in its quickening depths of humanity and paradox, it is of no less magnitude. Mitchell's `hogwash' packs the tightest metaphorical punches, and rings with the Tales as a hearty wake-up call - as a further worker-friendly appliance for self-awakening, self-remembering. In the architecture of Gurdjieff's "great lumbering flying cathedral" (P L Travers) there remains as much direct incitement to percipience in awareness, to radical aliveness, as bidding towards germane practice and research.
George Gurdjieff's "Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man", along with western society's digestion, indigestion and non-digestion of it, is objectively or otherwise a dynamic part of the context in which a variety of human and developmental initiatives today stand to be viewed.
As Beelzebub puts it best:
"The sole means now for the saving of the Beings of the planet Earth would be to implant again into their presences a new organ, an organ like Kundabuffer, but this time of such proportion that every one of those unfortunates during the process of existence should constantly sense and be cognizant of the inevitability of his own death as well as of the death of every one upon whom his eyes or attention rests.
"Only such a sensation and such a cognizance can now destroy the egoism completely crystallized in them that has swallowed up the whole of their Essence and also the tendency to hate others which flows from it -- the tendency seemingly which engenders all those inimical relationships existing there which serves as the chief cause of all their abnormalities unbecoming to three-brained beings and maleficent for them themselves and for the whole of the Universe".
Chapter 47 THE INEVITABLE RESULT OF IMPARTIAL MENTATION
Avi Solomon, Israel
Reijo Oksanen, Switzerland
Josh French, United Kingdom
The funny thing is that the reader becomes the grandson, and it is Gurdjieff whom teaches us about the reality of our unconscious "living". It is a book not intended to be an easy read, the book demands us to make great conscious efforts to understand the content and to keep alert. However, any effort put into the book is petty in comparison to the gain.
"Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson" gives us a choice to remain the automatons we are, or to take a step into realizing our potential as conscious beings. It is one of the most important books...ever.
Fabricio E. Bouza,