The Prologue to the third series of All and Everything with the title Life is real only then, when “I am” is a very interesting piece of writing. In it Mr. Gurdjieff tells us by the way of example all we need to know about “conscious labors” and “intentional suffering,” what many consider to be the Alpha and Omega of the teaching he brought to humanity in his Legominism. No wonder the Prologue opens with this soliloquy that proceeded in him the 6th of November of 1927:
“I am. . .? But what has become of that full-sensing of the whole of myself, formerly always in me in just such cases of self-questioning during the process of self-remembering. . . .
Is it possible that this inner ability was achieved by me thanks to all kinds of self-denial and frequent self-goading only in order that now, when its influence for my Being is more necessary even than air, it should vanish without trace?No! This cannot be! . . . Something here is
If this is true, then everything in the sphere of reason is illogical.
But in me is not yet atrophied the possibility of actualizing conscious labor and intentional suffering! . . .According to all past events I must still be. I wish! . . . and will be!!
Moreover, my Being is necessary not only for my personal egoism but also for the common welfare of all humanity.
My Being is indeed necessary to all people; even more necessary to them than their felicity and their happiness of today.
I wish still to be … I still am!”
Then Mr. Gurdjieff engages in a long and labyrinthic description of how the writing of the first series of All and Everything with the title Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson (BTTHG) becomes for him a source of actualizing conscious labors and intentional suffering. The writing of the book is in itself an excuse for presenting by the way of example the teaching on conscious labors and intentional suffering. However, by giving minute details of how he went from one stage of writing to another, Mr. Gurdjieff gives a very clear hint concerning the matter of for whom he is writing his book. This become very obvious in the following four paragraphs taken from the Prologue to Life is real only then, when “I am:”
“During these common readings, in the presence of listeners of many different topicalities, while simultaneously observing the audience and listening to my writing, now ready for publication, I for the first time very definitely established and clearly understood, without any doubt, the following:
The form of the exposition of my thoughts in these writings could be understood exclusively by those readers who, in one way or another, were already acquainted with the peculiar form of my mentation.
But for every other reader for whom, strictly speaking, I had goaded myself almost day after night during this time, would understand near nothing.
During this common reading, by the way, I enlightened myself for the first time with regard to the peculiar form in which it would be necessary to write in order that it might be accessible to the understanding of everyone. “
It is quite obvious from these four paragraphs that Mr. Gurdjieff clearly identifies two categories of people, namely, “those already acquainted with the peculiar form of his mentation” and those for whom he wants to write Beelzebub’s Tales. He then makes a choice; he decides to write for everyone. This “everyone” is now you and me and all of us who are reading and studying BTTHG. And those already acquainted with his mentation are those to whom he had already given the teaching and Mr. Gurdjieff is not writing for them.
The inevitable conclusion is that we do not need to read In Search of the Miraculous (ISOM), or any other book for that mater, in order to read Beelzebub’s Tales because those already acquainted with his mentation and for whom he is not writing BTTHG are precisely those to whom he gave the teaching we now find in ISOM. And the converse is also true. Those who rely on ISOM do not need BTTHG. Hence the already known fact that many who are in what is called in the Gurdjieff community as the Work, a great number so be said, have never read BTTHG and have never even bothered to read it.
The bells in Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson toll for everyone and not necessarily for people in the Work. Beelzebub’s Tales is indeed “An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man” written for any man, for “everyone” as a matter of fact.
For whom the bells toll, then?
The answer to this question was given by the English poet John Donne more than four hundred years ago:
”And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”