serve as a model. An atom of a given density, a really existingindividuum, must be taken as the smallest quantity of the sub-stance examined which retains all those qualities—chemical,physical and cosmic—which characterize it as a certain note of a definite octave. For instance, in contemporary chemistrythere is no atom of water, as water is not a simple substancebut a chemical compound of hydrogen and oxygen. Yet fromthe point of view of "objective chemistry" an "atom" of wateris an ultimate and definitive volume of it, even visible to thenaked eye. Mr. Gurdjieff added: "Certainly you have to acceptthis on trust for the present. But those who seek for the GreatKnowledge under the guidance of one already in possession of it, must personally work to prove, and verify by investigation,what these atoms of matter of different densities are."I saw it all in mathematical terms. I became clearly con-vinced that everything in the Universe is material and thateverything can be measured numerically in accordance withthe law of octaves. The essential material descends in a seriesof separate notes of various densities. These were expressed innumbers combined according to certain laws, and that whichhad seemed immeasurable was measured. What had been re-ferred to as cosmic qualities of matter was made clear. To mygreat surprise, the atomic weights of certain chemical elementswere given as examples, with an explanation showing the errorof contemporary chemistry.In addition, the law of the construction of "atoms" in matterof various densities was shown. As this presentation progressedwe passed, almost without my being aware of it, to what mightbe called "the Earth octave" and so arrived at the place fromwhich we had started—on earth."In all that I have told you," Mr. Gurdjieff continued, "myaim was not to communicate any new knowledge. On the con-trary I only wished to demonstrate that the knowledge of cer-tain laws makes it possible for a man, without moving fromwhere he is, to count, weigh and measure all that exists—boththe infinitely great and the infinitely small. I repeat: every-thing in the universe is material. Ponder those words and youwill understand, at least to some degree, why I used the ex-pression 'more materialistic than materialism.' . . . Now wehave become acquainted with the laws ruling the life of theMicrocosmos and have returned to earth. Remember oncemore 'As above, so below.'24
"I think even now and without further explanation youwould not dispute the fact that the life of individual man—theMicrocosmos—is ruled by this same law. But let us demon-strate this further, by taking a single example in which certaindetails will become clearer. Let us take a particular question,the plan of work of the human organism, and examine it."Mr. Gurdjieff next drew a scheme of the human body andcompared it to a three-storied factory, the stories being repre-sented by the head, chest and abdomen. Taken together thefactory forms a complete whole. This is an octave of the firstorder, similar to that with which the examination of the Ma-crocosmos began. Each of the stories also represents an entireoctave of the second order, subordinate to the first. Thus wehave three subordinate octaves which are again similar tothose in the scheme of the construction of the universe. Eachof the three stories receives "food" of a suitable nature fromoutside, assimilates it and combines it with the materialswhich have already been processed, and in this way the fac-tory functions to produce a certain kind of material."I must point out," Mr. Gurdjieff said, "that, although the de-sign of the factory is good and suitable for production of thismaterial, because of the ignorance of its top administration, itmanages the business very uneconomically. What would bethe situation of an undertaking if, with a vast and continuousconsumption of material, the greater part of the productionwere to go merely to the maintenance of the factory and theconsumption and processing of the material? The remainder of the production is spent uselessly and its purpose unknown. Itis necessary to organize the business in accordance with exactknowledge; and it will then bring in a large net income whichmay be spent at one's discretion. Let us, however, come back to our scheme" . . . and he explained that while the food of the lower story was man's meat and drink, air was the food of the middle story, and that of the upper story was what couldbe called "impressions."All these three kinds of food, representing matter of certaindensities and qualities, belong to octaves of different orders.I could not refrain from asking here, "What about thought?""Thought is material as well as everything else," answered Mr.Gurdjieff. "Methods exist by means of which one can provenot only this but that thought, like all other things, can beweighed and measured. Its density can be determined, andthus the thoughts of an individual may be compared withthose of the same man on other occasions. One can define all25
the qualities of thought. I have already told you that every -thing in the Universe is material."After that he showed how these three kinds of food, re-ceived in different parts of the human organism, enter at thestarting points of the corresponding octaves, interconnected bya certain process of law; each of them therefore represents doof the octave of its own order. The laws of the development of octaves are the same everywhere.For instance, do of the food octave coming into the stomach,the third do, passes through the corresponding half-tone intore, and by way of the next passage through a half-tone is fur-ther converted into mi. Mi, lacking this half-tone, cannot, byway of a natural development, pass independently into fa. It isassisted by the air octave, which enters the chest. As alreadyshown, this is an octave of a higher order, and its do (the sec-ond do), having the necessary half-tone for the transition intore, appears to connect up with the mi of the former octave andtransmute into fa. That is, it plays the part of the missing half-tone and serves as a shock for the further development of theformer octave."We will not stop now," said Mr. Gurdjieff, "to examine theoctave beginning with the second do, nor that of the first do,which enters at a definite place. This would only complicatethe present situation. We have now made sure of the possibil-ity of a further development of the octave under discussion,thanks to the presence of the half-tone. Fa passes through ahalf-tone into sol and in fact the material received here ap-pears to be the salt of the human organism [the Russian wordfor salt is sol.] This is the highest that can be produced by it."Reverting to numbers, he again made his thought clear interms of their combinations."The further development of the octave transfers solthrough a half-tone into la, and the latter through a half-toneinto si. Here the octave again stops. A new 'shock' is requiredfor the passage of si into the do of a new octave of the humanorganism."With what I have now said," Mr. Gurdjieff went on, "andour conversation about chemistry, you will be able to drawsome valuable conclusions."At this point, without waiting to clarify a thought which26
came into my head, I asked something about the usefulness of fasting.Mr. Gurdjieff stopped speaking. A. gave me a reproachfullook and I immediately realized clearly how inappropriate myquestion was. I wished to correct my mistake, but had not timeto do so, before Mr. Gurdjieff said: "I wish to show you one ex-periment, which will make it clear to you," but after exchang-ing glances with A. and asking him something, he said: "No,better later," and after a short silence continued: "I see thatyour attention is tired, but I am already almost at the end of what I wanted to tell you today. I had intended to touch in avery general way upon the course of the development of man,but it is not so important now. Let us postpone conversationabout that until a more favorable occasion.""May I conclude from what you say," I asked, "that you willsometimes permit me to see you, and converse on the ques-tions which interest me?""Now that we have begun these conversations," he said, "Ihave no objection to continuing them. Much depends on you.What I mean by this, A. will explain to you in detail." Then,noticing that I was going to turn to A. for the explanation,"Rut not now, some other time," he added. "Now I want to tellyou this. As everything in the Universe is one, so, conse-quently, everything has equal rights, therefore from this pointof view knowledge can be acquired by a suitable and completestudy, no matter what the starting point is. Only one mustknow how to 'learn.' What is nearest to us is man; and youare the nearest of all men to yourself. Regin with the study of yourself; remember the saying 'Know thyself.' It is possiblethat now it will acquire a more intelligible meaning for you.To begin with, A. will help you in the measure of his ownforce and yours. I advise you to remember well the scheme of the human organism which I gave you. We shall sometimes re-turn to it in the future, adding to its depth every time. Now A.and I will leave you alone for a short time, as we have a smallmatter to attend to. I recommend that you not puzzle yourbrains over what we have spoken about, but give them a shortrest. Even if you happen to forget something, A. will remindyou of it afterwards. Of course it would be better if you didnot need to be reminded. Accustom yourself to forget nothing."Now, have a cup of coffee; it will do you good."When they had gone I followed Mr. Gurdjieff's advice, and,pouring out coffee, remained sitting. I realized that Mr. Gurd-27
 jieff had concluded from the question about fasting that my at-tention was tired. And I recognized that my thinking had be-come feebler and more restricted by the end of theconversation. Therefore, in spite of my strong desire to look through all the diagrams and numbers once more, I decided togive my head a rest, to use Mr. Gurdjieff's expression, and satwith closed eyes trying not to think of anything. But thethoughts arose in spite of my will, and I attempted to drivethem out.In about twenty minutes, A. entered without my hearinghim and asked, "Well, how are you?" I had no time to answerhim when the voice of Mr. Gurdjieff was heard quite close by,saying to someone, "Do as I have told you and you will seewhere the mistake is."Then, lifting the carpet which hung over the door, he camein. Taking the same place and attitude as before, he turned to-ward me. "I hope you have rested—if only a little. Let us talk now of casual matters, without any definite plan."I told him that I wanted to ask two or three questions thathad no immediate reference to the subject of our conversationbut might make clearer the nature of what he had said."You and A. have quoted so much from the data of contem-porary science that the question spontaneously arises, 'Is theknowledge you speak of accessible to an ignorant, uneducatedman?'""The material you refer to was quoted only because I spoketo you. You understand, because you have a certain amount of knowledge of these matters. They helped you to understandsomething better. They were only given as examples. This re-fers to the form of the conversation but not to its essence.Forms may be very different. I will not say anything nowabout the role and significance of contemporary science. Thisquestion could be the subject of a separate conversation. I willonly say this—that the best educated scholar could prove anabsolute ignoramus compared with an illiterate shepherd whopossesses knowledge. This sounds paradoxical, but the under-standing of the essence, over which the former spends longyears of minute investigation, will be gained by the latter in anincomparably fuller degree during one day's meditation. It is aquestion of the way of thinking, of the 'density of the thought.'This term does not convey anything to you at present but intime it will become clear by itself. What else do you want toask?"28
"Why is this knowledge so carefully concealed?''"What leads you to ask this question?""Certain things which I had the opportunity of learning inthe course of my acquaintance with occult literature," I an-swered."As far as I can judge," said Mr. Gurdjieff, "you are refer-ring to the question of so-called 'initiation.' Yes, or no?" I re-plied in the affirmative, and Mr. Gurdjieff went on: "Yes. Thefact of the matter is that in occult literature much that hasbeen said is superfluous and untrue. You had better forget allthis. All your researches in this area were a good exercise foryour mind: therein lies their great value, but only there. Theyhave not given you knowledge, as you yourself confessed.Judge everything from the point of view of your commonsense. Become the possessor of your own sound ideas, anddon't accept anything on faith; and when you, yourself, byway of sound reasoning and argument, come to an unshakablepersuasion, to a full understanding of something, you will haveachieved a certain degree of initiation. Think it over moredeeply. . . . For instance, today I had a conversation with you.Remember this conversation. Think, and you will agree withme that in essence I have told you nothing new. You knew itall before. The only thing I did was to bring order into yourknowledge. I systematized it, but you had it before you sawme. You owe it to the efforts you had already made in thisfield. It was easy for me to speak to you, thanks to him"—andhe pointed to A.—"because he had learned to understand me,and because he knew you. From his account, I knew you andyour knowledge, as well as how it was obtained, before youcame to me. But in spite of all these favorable conditions, Imay confidently say that you have not mastered even a hun-dredth part of what I said. However, I have given you a cluepointing to the possibility of a new point of view, from whichyou can illuminate and bring together your former knowledge.And thanks to this work, to your own work, you will be able toreach a much deeper understanding of what I have said. Youwill 'initiate' yourself."In a year's time we may say the same things, but you willnot wait during this year in the hope that roast pigeons will flyinto your mouth. You will work, and your understanding willchange—you will be more 'initiated.' It is impossible to give aman anything that could become his inalienable propertywithout work on his part. Such an initiation cannot exist, but29
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