Note: The material in this blog post has been taken from a paper I published a few years ago. As the reader will see, I speak of three ages with respect to the Teaching and Work that Mr. Gurdjieff brought to us. These three ages which I designate as Golden, Silver, and Copper Ages have nothing to do with other ages found in history, such as the Iron Age or the Bronze Age, or even in some Indian scriptures such as the Tetra Yuga or the Kali Yuga in which we find ourselves now. I say this because a person who read my paper once sent me an email telling me that he had never seen these ages in history. My answer to this person was very succinct: “I just invented them.”
The Copper Age
I propose that the Living Teaching that Mr. Gurdjieff left us in Beelzebub’s Tales is now unfolding in a new direction which I also call a third phase. I also propose to designate this third phase as the Copper Age, to distinguish it from the two previous phases which can be designated as the Golden Age and the Silver Age. These are just words, of course. But, we need words to communicate our ideas. And this is my idea: to explore a new line of development at the very beginning of this new millennium. My intention is to probe, not to persuade. In order to give more weight to my exploration I will use the language of analogy, the language of the Hermetic tradition. To be more specific, I use the analogy of solar systems and planets. But before embarking on the exploration of the third phase, a brief description of the well-known and well-documented previous two phases is in order.
The Golden Age
The Golden Age or first phase extends from the time Mr. Gurdjieff made his first public appearance in Moscow to the time of his death at the American Hospital in Paris. That is to say, this first phase extends in time from early 1912 to late 1949, a total of 38 years. This first phase also covers a large territory, from Moscow to New York, with the center in Paris. That is as far as time and space are concerned. As far as the fundamentals are concerned, the Golden Age corresponds to what may be called the formation of the solar system Mr. Gurdjieff, with Mr. Gurdjieff at the center and the sun of the system. In this sense, it can be said that the first phase corresponds to the emanations and radiations of the sun Mr. Gurdjieff. Also, in conformity to the great cosmic laws, (particularly the sacred Heptaparaparshinok and the sacred Triamazikamno), many planets were formed around the sun Mr. Gurdjieff.
By 1949, the solar system Mr. Gurdjieff had practically been formed. The emanations and radiations issuing from the sun Mr. Gurdjieff were responsible for bringing a certain degree of stability to the system. An entire spectrum of emanations and radiations given off by the sun Mr. Gurdjieff can now be detected. Four components of this entire spectrum, each with its own particular vivifying power or rate of vibrations, can be readily identified. They are Ideas, Music, Sacred Dances, and Group Work. These four components have been responsible, through the process of reciprocal feeding, for the maintenance of the solar system Mr. Gurdjieff.
The Golden Age was now complete.
The Silver Age
The second phase or age begins in 1949, after Mr. Gurdjieff’s death. This second phase is centered on the emanations and radiations of the planets orbiting around the sun Mr. Gurdjieff. Thanks to the sacred process Aieioiuoa, these planets acquired their own emanations and radiations. And, again in conformity to the great cosmic laws, the emanations and radiations of these planets were responsible for the formation of moons and satellites which began to orbit around some of these planets.
The sun Mr. Gurdjieff did not stop giving off its own emanations and radiations. Instead, its emanations and radiations were now being reflected by its planets and moons.
It is now easy to distinguish the specificity of the emanations and radiations of some of the major planets of the solar system Mr. Gurdjieff, in relation to the four components already identified: The emanations in the form of Ideas of the planet Ouspensky; the emanations in the form of Music of the planet de Hartmann; the emanations in the form of Sacred Dances and Group Work of the planet de Salzmann. Some of these planets became so large, both in terms of their number of orbiting moons and in terms of their vivifying power, that they became a sort of minor solar system (much as the planet Jupiter in relation to our solar system) within the solar system Mr. Gurdjieff. For example, the solar system Salzmanino.
But in all fairness, a description of the solar system Mr. Gurdjieff is not complete if it does not include the names of its other independent planets and moons. Personally, I like to think of those planets and moons I have visited during my personal odyssey through this solar system. They are the planet Orage (I have always felt a natural attraction to this planet), the planet Nott (I have always benefited from the emanations of this planet), the planet Tracol (I always received good food from this planet), the moon Etievan (I always received good vibrations from this moon), and the moon Hulme (I have many times visited this beautiful and always rich in surprise moon). I am sure the reader can name other planets and moons. On this we all have our choices and predilections..
If the Golden Age is characterized by the entire spectrum of emanations and radiations of the sun Mr. Gurdjieff (of which spectrum we have identified four components), the Silver Age is characterized by the specific emanations and radiations of each planet and each moon of the solar system Mr. Gurdjieff.
It is a fact that none of these planets and/or moons has produced an entire spectrum of emanations and radiations as the sun Mr.. Gurdjieff has. But, this is within the law: “The disciple is not above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the master.” Much more important than this is the fact that out of the four components of the entire spectrum of the sun Mr. Gurdjieff, the component Ideas has been the least emphasized during the Silver Age. This important fact is probably due to a variety of reasons. I can think of one that is very significant from the point of view of this exploration. It has to do with the two ways the component Ideas have been presented. One, the intellectual presentation of Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous (ISOM); the other, the allegorical presentation of Mr. Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson (BBTHG). They are two very different approaches to the component Ideas. Many of the most important representatives of the Silver Age have wondered again and again why Mr. Gurdjieff presented his Ideas the way he did in BBTHG. It is not surprising then, that there was little emphasis on the component Ideas during the Silver Age, and it has been in reference to Ouspensky’s.
This is not to say that ISOM is not a valuable reference source. Many of us have come to the Teaching and the Work through the doors opened by Ouspensky’s book. This, too, is within the law. The magnetic center is in the personality, and one can be attracted to a teaching by the kind of philosophical ideas presented in a book like Ouspensky’s. But one must eventually move from the personality to the essence, and this move is the move from ISOM to BTTHG. There is another reason. Given that BTTHG is complete and self-sufficient one would expect to find development of the magnetic center in the form of presentation given in BTTHG.
There is another characteristic of the Silver Age, the emphasis of psychology at the expense of cosmology. It is true that consideration of the cosmology presented in ISOM, and even more so as presented in BTTHG, does not readily lend itself to one’s personal experience as the psychology does. But it is also true that from his earliest presentation of the Teaching (even before the word Work came into existence), Mr. Gurdjieff strongly emphasized the necessity of a parallel and alternating study of psychology and cosmology, of man and the cosmos -“the one helping the other.” This necessity is explicitly acknowledged in ISOM. It is implicit in the BTTHG where the very same title is by itself an indication of this necessity: The Cosmic Individual Beelzebub rendering an objectively impartial criticism of the life of man.
We are in need of the kind of relatedness to the Whole as expressed by the Very Saintly Ashiata Shiemash at the beginning of his Legomonism “The Terror-of-the-Situation: “To me, a trifling particle of the whole of the GREAT WHOLE, . . . “ This is not a matter of rhetoric; it is a matter of practical importance. It is one that in our age-old-Kundabuffer-dominated forgetfulness has led to a feeling of separateness, that now translates itself by the simple expression “myself.” This feeling of humble relatedness to the GREAT WHOLE of Ashiata Shiemash, by the way, is contrasted in BTTHG by the feeling of arrogant separateness of Lentrohamsanin who, in total disconnection with the GREAT WHOLE and with full arrogance, demands proofs from GOD. The need for a relatedness of man to the Megalocosmos, to GOD, as well as their reciprocal dependency, is a constant theme in BTTHG, like a sinusoidal voltage that energizes the entire book.
Psychology, no matter how much founded on self-remembering, self-sensing, and self-observation, cannot by itself fulfill this need. This has been the failure of psychoanalysis as far as bringing a radical transformation of man’s psyche. Psychology is necessary, but not sufficient. We need psychology and cosmology -a Psycho-Cosmology. Of all of Mr. Gurdjieff’s early pupils, A.R. Orage practically stands alone as the person who saw the importance of this need -of a Psycho-Cosmology. In his keen commentaries to BTTHG, he constantly points to this important aspect of the book. But, his commentaries were written much before the Silver Age got underway. Furthermore, the revision by the Silver Age’s bon ton literary hierarchy of Orage’s intelligent rendering of the English version of the BTTHG, (in the sense of being-mentation), is a good indication of the Silver Age’s regard towards him.
It is Mr. Gurdjieff’s contention that for this Psycho-Cosmology to penetrate humanity’s subconscious that, according to him, is humanity’s real consciousness, it must be presented in the form of myths, symbols, and verbal formulas. Hence Beelzebub’s Tales.
The Copper Age.
This brings us to the third phase of the Teaching –The Copper Age.
First of all, for the sake of future historians, let us proclaim that the Copper Age begins with the beginning of the third millennium.
In very simple terms, this third phase can be described as follows:
The work of propitiating the penetration into humanity’s subconscious of the Ideas contained in Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson.
To be effective, this work cannot and must not be limited to an intellectual endeavor. The mere endeavor of incorporating these Ideas into humanity’s cultural mainstream, (today primarily represented by the sciences and the arts of modern times), is not enough. We must go beyond this endeavor. We must strive for a more radical approach, one that fulfills the book’s Prime Directive:
“To destroy, mercilessly, without any compromise 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 Prime Directive is the backbone of one of the book’s fundamental aims, to bring a shift in the center of gravity from the planetary body to the Kesdjan body, and then to the higher being-body. This is accomplished by first destroying mercilessly, without any compromise whatsoever, our center of gravity which is now in the planetary body.. Only then, by means of an appropriate form of mentation, (being-mentation), the center of gravity will be elevated to the other two higher being-bodies.
That is why the work under consideration must begin with oneself. One must first strive diligently in order to bring about a shift in one’s center of gravity by letting the component Ideas penetrate into one’s own subconscious. In other words, one must let the component Ideas to resonate in oneself and to become part of oneself, to be incorporated in the developments of one’s “Reason-of-understanding.” The individual is the point of departure of this work. We must not forget that another of the book’s fundamental aims is to impel one towards individuation through “conscious labors” and “intentional suffering“. This fundamental aim is incorporated in “the fifth being-obligolnian striving.”
The first step in this endeavor is to bring attention to Beelzebub’s Tales. But it will be a very special kind of attention, one of a very specific quality -the kind of attention that focuses on the book as a source of knowledge that can bring about new forms of knowledge. Or even better, knowledge in new forms, because all the knowledge is already there, waiting for the proper form of expression. This kind of attention is the key to the work under consideration. It will first be developed in the individual, and then shared with others.
To be sure, it will not be the kind of attention that focuses on the material in the book with the intention of widening old views and values. In this respect we can benefit from Orage’s own admission:
“For myself, I realize now that for two years I tried to use these ideas, tried to assimilate them into my own set of values, hoping to enrich the values without given them up. I thought that the new ideas would widen the scope and extend the perspective of the old and give variety to the content. But now I feel that the actual framework is becoming valueless. There comes a time to almost everyone in this work when he asks himself, “shall I lose the old values that gave incentive, and shall I then be able to go on to new ones, ones of a different order?”(“Orage’s Commentary on ‘Beelzebub’”, in C. S. Nott’s Teachings of Mr. Gurdjieff: A pupil Journal).
Fortunately, Mr. Gurdjieff left us very specific advice on how to develop the kind of attention we need to understand and to bring the Ideas exposed in Beelzebub’s Tales into everyday life (into our subconscious). His advice came in answer to a question from a disciple who wanted to know how to focus his attention on the reading of Beelzebub:
“One thing I can tell you. Methods do not exist. I do not know any. But I can explain now everything simple. For example, in Beelzebub, I know there is everything one must know. It is a very interesting book.. Everything is there. All that exists, all that existed, all that can exist.. The beginning, the end, all the secrets of the creation of the world; all is there. But one must understand, and to understand depends on one’s individuality. The more man has been instructed in a certain way, the more he can see. Subjectively, everyone is able to understand according to the level he occupies, for it is an objective book, and everyone should understand something in it. One person understands one part, another a thousand times more. Now, find a way to put your attention on understanding all of Beelzebub. This will be your task, and it is a good way to fix a real attention. If you can put real attention on Beelzebub, you can have real attention in life. You didn’t know this secret. In Beelzebub there is everything, I have said it, even how to make an omelet. Among other things, it is explained; and at the same time there isn’t a word in Beelzebub about cooking. So, you put your attention on Beelzebub, another attention than that to which you are accustomed, and you will be able to have the same attention in life.”
Hassein himself exemplifies this kind of attention in BTTHG. After having listened to most of his grandfather’s tales, he takes a firm resolution:
“At any rate, from the present moment, the aim of my existence shall be to understand clearly why the souls arising in these terrestrial three-brained beings are in such an unprecedented, terrifying situation …(1117)..”
With this kind of attention, we can take the material in BTTHG (or some of the material) and build something concrete for us and, hopefully, for others. Without this kind of attention, we are bound to make a mess of everything and end up adding one more brick to the “Building-of-the-Tower-of-Babel,” all the time thinking that we are building something concrete
Once this kind of attention has found some form of being-crystallization in some isolated individuals, the next step will be the formation of specialized groups. It will be the task of these groups to investigate some specific aspect of the Teaching as it is presented in BTTHG, and then make the necessary efforts to bring it into humanity’s subconscious. Indications and directions are given in the book; but in order to translate them into practice, the kind of attention referred to by Mr. Gurdjieff in his advice is necessary. Of course, this kind of attention can also be developed in a group work. But in this case, it will be the main task of the group to work for the development of this kind of attention. The members of the group will support each other, but it will be the responsibility of each member to strive for the development in himself/herself of the kind of attention in question..
The work under consideration will be an exercise in both individual and collective “conscious labors” and “intentional suffering.” No form and no amount of teaching and/or preaching can take the place of this work. We must be very clear from the very beginning that we are in the presence of a Legomonism-initiate-oriented-form-of-work. The Legomonism has been handed out; our task now is to decode it and to bring its contents into humanity’s subconscious. It will be a sort of renewal of the Babylonian “Club-of-Adherents-of-Legomonism.” Only now its aim will be decoding rather than coding.
Parallel to the work of development of the kind of attention in question, it will also be oriented to the eradication of old habits. Among them is the old, Kundabuffer-elicited habit of domination of the personality.. There is no place for self-glorification in the kind of work under consideration. The old personality with its whimsical demands will have to go or, at most, to become a function. Mister False Self-Love and Madam Vanity, the two representatives of the Devil on Earth, must die, and die for good (it may very well be that Madam Vanity becomes a valuable function, but she has to stop being a master). This eradication of old habits will lead to the development of new habits and functions: new faculties. These faculties will then be put to the service of the Work.
If the solar analogy used at the beginning of this exploration is followed through, it can be said that the third phase corresponds to the emanations and radiations of the suns Mr. Gurdjieff and Beelzebub. We are in the presence of a new solar system -the Mr. Gurdjieff-Beelzebub solar system. That this solar system has two suns or stars is not a strange phenomenon. There are many examples of such solar systems in our Universe; they are known as double stars systems. We do not have to go too far in our Universe to find a good example of a double stars system. We can find one very close to us. The planet Karatas, Beelzebub’s place of birth, belongs to a double stars system. The orbit about each other of its two suns, Samos and Selos, is a good analogy of the orbit about each other of the suns Mr. Gurdjieff and Beelzebub.
In this analogy, it is interesting to notice the relationship between Beelzebub’s place of birth, Karatas, and Mr. Gurdjieff’s place of spiritual birth, the fortress-town of Kars (Karatas may also refer to the Karatas people inhabiting the left bank of the Andi-Koisu river in the Caucasus).. It is also interesting to notice the relationship between the sun Samos, and Pythagoras’ place of birth. The name of the other sun, Selos, is possibly an anagram for soles, the plural of sol or sun. If the analogy between the two double stars systems is followed through, we can say that there are many suns in the solar system Mr. Gurdjieff-Beelzebub. One of them is the sun Pythagoras. Another, one that constitutes a star of magnitude one, is the sun Ashiata Shiemash. We may even envision a future triple stars solar system -the Gurdjief-Beelzebub-Shiemash solar system.
A new phase of the Teaching and the Work may be opening to us. It will be characterized by bringing a new kind of attention to the Legominism All and Everything and in particular to the First Series, Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson. Once this kind of attention finds development in some of us, the next step will be to bring this attention into Life. It is my contention that here in WITW a group of us can dedicate our efforts in the direction of the development of this attention and the bringing of this attention into Life. For that Aim I will soon form a group here in WITW with the sole Aim of working for the fulfillment of both the development of the kind of attention that will be needed as well as how to bring this attention into life.
In the Spirit of Brotherhood,