I dedicate these words to the memory of my grandfather Eduardo who taught me how to listen to Tales.
It was during my fourth reading of Beelzebub’s Tales (B.T.) during the year 1984 that I came to a deep realization that thereafter completely changed my relationship with the book. This realization came to me early during my reading,, right after receiving an emotional shock from these passages in Chapter III:
“Oh, I’m glad, I’m glad, I’m glad.
Beelzebub looked with affection on these joyous manifestations of his favorite, but old Ahoon could not restrain himself and, shaking his head reproachfully, called the boy -half to himself- a “growing egoist.”
Hearing what Ahoon called him, Hassein stopped in front of him, and looking at him mischievously, said:
Don’t be angry with me, old Ahoon. The reason of my joy is not egoism but only the coincidence which chances to be happy for me. You heard, didn’t you? My dear grandfather did not decide only just to make a stop, but he also promised the captain to talk with him. . . .
And you know, don’t you, that the talks of my dear grandfather always bring out tales of places where he has been, and you know also how delightfully he tells them and how much new and interesting information becomes crystallized in our presences from these tales” (B.T., p. 59).
All of a sudden I experienced a joy similar to that of Hassein. I too felt glad to be able to listen to the tales of Beelzebub.
It was then that I realized that there are two tales in The Tales, each one corresponding to the two kinds of mentations mentioned in the opening chapter (p. 15)., and each one corresponding to the two separate streams of the river of life mentioned in the last chapter, which “frequently approach so near each other that all the results engendered from the process of their flowing blend. . .” (B.T., p. 1228).
The two kinds of mentations are mentation by thought and mentation by form. And the two streams of the stream the one that ”seeps into the very depths of the earth” and the one stream ‘ultimately flows into the vast ocean.” We do not need to be too clever to see that the first form of mentation corresponds to the first stream and that the second form of mentation corresponds to the second stream. In a very amazing way BTTHG closes unto itself: The beginning is the end and the and is the beginning. This is a characteristic of all hermetic writings and it is symbolically represented by a serpent biting its own tail, a widespread symbol of the “All-in-All”, the totality of existence, infinity and the cyclic nature of the cosmos. Beelzebub’s Tales is an All-in-All, the expression of a cyclic cosmos.
But what are the tow tales I am referring to here?
One of the tales is to be read by three-brained beings of the planet Earth, like us. It is to these beings, like us, that the Friendly Advice of reading the book three times is addressed to, and it is for these beings, like us, that the Prime Directive “to destroy, mercilessly, without any compromise whatsoever, in the mentation and feelings of the reader. . .” is directed to. We are the three brained-beings trapped in mentation by thought.
The other tale is to be listened to by a twelve year old three-brained being of the planet Karatas, a being from a time and a place outside the sphere of contamination, a being existing before the consequences of the crystallization of the properties of the organ Kundabuffer begin to take full hold of him (for an earthly perspective, one can imagine a twelve year old boy from among the Karatas people inhabiting the left bank of the Andi-Koisu river in the Caucasus, at the end of the nineteenth century, which people the young Mr. Gurdjieff certainly was familiar with).
Of course, as three-brained beings of the planet Earth, we have almost no choice. We are far from the Center. We have to read The Tales as a three-brained being of the planet Earth. We have to make mistakes, find out what they are, work ourselves out of them, and find out what we really wish from the Tales. Then we know and we understand. We can do.
But we can have one very important guide to the reading. We feel and we know that a twelve years old boy of the planet Karatas can listen to IT. He can listen because he has ears to hear. He is close to the Center.
In some way, we have to become Hassein.
It is always inspiring to see how this emotional attitude of the twelve years old boy of the planet Karatas, the intensity to listen to and the passion for knowledge and understanding of Hassein, never dies. It is there in the beginning of The Tales when Hassein is curious to know whether there dwell three-brained beings on the planets of our solar system and whether higher being-bodies are coated in them (60). It is still there at the end of BTTHG, after Beelzebub’s five horns have been restored to Him and He has attained the rarely attained sacred Podkoolad, and Hassein wishes to know how He would respond to our ALL-EMBRACING CREATOR ENDLESSNES HIMSELF if asked whether it is still possible by some means of other to save us and to direct us into the becoming path (B.T., p. 1182).
Beelzebub can now rest. His grandson has indeed eagerly absorbed everything his grandfather either said or tough.
“Beelzebub, smiling at this question of Hassein’s, first said that He was now quite convinced that His tales had brought Hassein the desired results. . .”(B.T., p. 1182).
The beloved son of Beelzebub’s favorite son is now becoming a responsible three-brained being of the whole Universe. He is beginning to experience the taste of real objective Love and real objective Compassion.
“All I have to do is just to clarify and understand … why! … why!” (B.T., p. 1117)
With time, the right attention, some passion, lots of self-remembering, and the full realization of our nothingness, we too can become Hassein.
We too can learn to listen.
In the Spirit of Listening,