In my previous post I wrote:
“Beelzebub’s Tales (BTTHG) and the entire All and Everything was written in such a way that it contains self-guards against involution according to Law. For that Mr. Gurdjieff invented lies, contradictions, inexactitudes, conjuries, and fairy tales. Anyone attempting to tramp with all that will fail miserably.”
This post is about concrete examples of lies, contradictions, and fairy tales in BTTHG and what they may mean for the serious student of the book.
There are more than one lie in BTTHG. Some of them are outright lies and others are lies invented by Beelzebub himself in order to carry out his mission. Consider the fact that polygamy is superior to monogamy only because there are more women than men. That is not a fact but a lie. The number of females and males has always been about the same, except maybe in times of wars when there are more deaths among males than females. But why the lie? It is to show us that Beelzebub is not talking about actual polygamy but about some “otherwise” and what this “otherwise” is we have to figure it out ourselves. Another lie is the fact that circumcision is more beneficial when it comes to the prevention of venereal diseases. There is not statistical data to support this fact. So, Beelzebub is talking about another kind of circumcision.
And there are passages in the book where we are told about a very specific lie invented by Beelzebub. This is the case of the third descent where Beelzebub invents a lie to help eradicate the practice of sacrificial offerings. During the second descent and for the same mission Beelzebub preached to his friend the Priest Abdil all truths concerning this practice, in relation to both our inner and outer worlds. This resulted in his friend to be killed and Beelzebub taking his planetary body to Mars. The lie Beelzebub tells during the third descents gives much better results in terms of stopping the practice of sacrificial offerings but it gives rise to fantastic practices in relation to the behavior of two-brained beings proving that in this remote lunatic corner of the Universe a medicine, even if it is the result of a lie, can be worse that the disease it is meant to cure.
In BTTHG, we find contradictions after contradictions. What is said in one given chapter is contradicted in another chapter. For instance, on page 1164 (all quotes come from the original 1950 English Edition, the only one supervised and approved by Mr. Gurdjieff himself) of the chapter 47 we read these words placed over the main entrance of the holy planet Purgatory: “Only-He-May-Enter-Here-Who-Puts-Himself-In-The-Position-Of-The-Results-Of-My-Labors.” Then on page 1125 of the chapter 44 we read about “these indignant righteous ‘souls’” inhabiting in Holy Purgatory because of the past actions of another inhabitant of the Holy Planet by the name of Makary Kronbernkzion . How can a ‘soul’ inhabiting Purgatory be indignant and righteous when in order to enter Purgatory this ‘soul’ had to be in the position of other? But one of the most obvious and explicit contradictions in the book is when Beelzebub explains to Hassein, in chapter 46, that in order to expose his tales he made sure never to express his own opinion. Then in the three chapters previous to the one where Beelzebub tells that to Hassein, he exposes his views on war, electricity, and justice (chapters 43, 44, 45).
Beelzebub’s Tales being a book of tales lends itself to the exposition of fairy tales. Thare are very few books mentioned or quoted in BTTHG but one mentioned several times is the One Thousand and One Nights or Arabian Nights. This fact is an indication of the high regards Mr. Gurdjieff had for tales in general and for fairy tales in particular as a means to convey true and real objective knowledge. So, in the book we find several passage that have all the characteristics of a fairy tale. One I particularly like is found in the opening pages of the chapter Holy Purgatory, on pages 746-747 to be more specific. But let’s invite Beelzebub here and listen from his own narrative about this fairy tales:
“When we were there, you probably noticed that we always saw and sensed that from there all the space of our Great Universe or, as your favorites would say, all the ‘skies’ reflected, as it were, the radiance which recalls the radiance of the famous and incomparable ‘Almacornian turquoise.’ Its atmosphere is always pure like the ‘phenomenal-Sakrooalnian-crystal.’
“Everywhere there, every individual with all his presence senses ‘everything external,’ ‘Iskoloonizinernly,’ or as your favorites would say, ‘blissfully-delightfully.’
“On that holy planet, as the informed say, of springs alone, both mineral and fresh which for purity and naturalness are unequalled on any other planet of our Universe, there are about ten thousand.
“There, from the whole of our Universe are gathered the most beautiful and best songbirds, of which as the informed also say, there are about twelve thousand species.
“And as for the surplanetary formations, such as ‘flowers,’ ‘fruits,’ ‘berries,’ and all others of the same kind, words are inadequate. It can be said that there are collected and acclimatized there almost the whole ‘flora,’ ‘fauna,’ and ‘foscalia’ from all the planets of our Great Universe.
“Everywhere on that holy planet, in corresponding gorges, are convenient caves of all kinds of ‘interior form’ – made partly by Nature Herself and partly artificially – with striking views from their entrances, and in these caves there is everything that can be required for a blissful and tranquil existence, with the complete absence of any essence-anxiety whatever in any part of the presence of any cosmic independent Individual, such as ‘higher-being-bodies’ can also become.
“It is just in these caves that those ‘higher-being-bodies’ exist by their own choice, who, owing to their merits, come to this holy planet from the whole of our Great Universe for their further existence.
“Besides all I have mentioned, there are also there the very best, in regard to convenience as well as to speed, what are called ‘Egolionopties,’ or, as they are still sometimes called, ‘Omnipresent-platforms.’
“These Egolionopties freely move in all directions in the atmosphere of the holy planet, at any desired speed, even at that speed in which the second degree suns of our Universe fall.
“The system of this kind of ‘Egolionopty’ was, it seems, invented specially for this holy planet by the famous angel, now already Archangel Herkission.
What is the fairy tales here, one may ask? I let the reader ponder on this because it will give him/her an opportunity to grasp an essential aspect one of the true meanings of this unique planet Holy Purgatory.
Why Lies, Contradictions, and Fairy Tales?
On the first page of Beelzebub’s Tales , Mr. Gurdjieff establishes what is known as the Prime Directive of his book, namely:
“To destroy, mercilessly, without any compromises whatsoever, in the mentation and feelings of the reader, the beliefs and views, by centuries rooted in him, about everything existing in the world.”
The beliefs and views rooted in the mentation and feelings of the reader, you and I, are nothing more than what is known as subjective reason, addressed in the book with terms such as automatic, mechanical, ordinary Reason or more picturesquely as bobtailed reason. That the destruction is merciless and with any comprises whatsoever leaves no doubts about the aim of the book: It is a matter of destroying. But destroying for the sake of destroying would make the teaching in the book incomplete; the destruction is for the sake of constructing “something new,” something we ordinary three-brained beings of Earth have no access to. And this “something new” is known in the book as Objective or Divine Reason or just Objective Divine Reason.
The attainment of Objective Divine Reason is not the result of adding more and more views and beliefs to subjective Reason; rather, the attainment of Divine Reason is founded on the end of subjective Reason. None saw this better that Orage in his keen commentaries to Beelzebub’s Tales when he stated: “Objective Reason means coming to the end of subjective reason and then having a totally different experience.” We are now in the presence of totally and radically new experience. And for this new experience to emerge in us, a totally and radically new language is needed. Whatever this new language is, it is made up of allegories, symbols, parabolas, lies, contradictions, fairy tales, inexactitudes, unpronounceable words, and other non-ordinary tools of everyday ordinary language, the language Mr. Gurdjieff refers to in the first chapter of the book as bon ton literary language.
And out of this new language emerges Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson with its lies, contradictions, and fairy tales among many other non-ordinary spices.