A Myth for Our Time

The first half of the twenty century saw the birth of a myth adapted to the Reason of contemporary Western man. This myth was the procreation of G. I. Gurdjieff who baptized it with the name Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson.

Mr. Gurdjieff also subtitled his myth with the title An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man. He wanted to render and objective and impartial critique of the life of contemporary man, particularly but not exclusively contemporary Western man.

However, Mr. Gurdjieff knew that his critique could not be rendered either in the ordinary language of the contemporary intelligentsia or the bon ton language of the literacy. He opted for another language, the “language of mentation by form,” as he called it.  Rather than addressing his critique exclusively to the mind of contemporary man, as it is usually done by contemporary critics, he addressed it to both the mind and feeling of contemporary man, and to the function of sensation as well. The end result was a long narrative of some twelve thousands pages addressed to the three centers or function of consciousness, the thinking center, the feeling center, and the moving center; as well as the constituent parts of man, namely, body, personality, and essence.

Mr. Gurdjieff handed us a complete myth for contemporary man in search of the sense and aim of existence.

A myth according to A. R. Orage, the English critic mainly responsible for the rendering into English of the original 1950 English edition of Beelzebub’s Tales, “is an allegorical monster to shock the mind, as an artistic symbol gives a shock to the imagination.” Orage further writes in his Commentaries on Beelzebub’s Tales that “constant reading of the book seems sometimes to stupefy the mind, yet, paradoxically, it awakens the understanding.”

There have been great myths in the history of humanity that still speak to the man of today because universal myths will always be with us. The tale of Satyavan and Savitri in the Mahabharata is one of conjugal love conquering death. It was revived by Sri Aurobindo, in another myth of the twenty century, with his long poem by the name of Savitri-A Legend and a Symbol.  And then there are the well-known Greek myths of the Labors of Hercules, the Quest for the Golden Fleece, Ulysses, the war of the Greeks and Trojans for Helen, and many others.

The myth Mr. Gurdjieff brought to us speaks very explicitly to contemporary Western man through the being-understanding of Eastern man. Besides the language of mentation by form, the myth makes heavy use of the language of science. This is the language of today, as much as the language of philosophy served the man in ancient Greece and later the language of religion served the man of the Middle Ages. Beelzebub’s Tales speaks to the totality of man in the language of contemporary man.

Like all great and universal myths, Beelzebub’s Tales is a myth about redemption.

Beelzebub is a three-centered being from the planet Karatas, a planet near the Center where our ENDLESS ENDLESSNESS Resides with HIS Querubins, Serafins, Angels, and Archangels. Because of a transgression of his rebellious youth, Beelzebub is exiled to a remote corner of the Universe, our solar system which in the myth is called our solar system Ors. Beelzebub spends thousands of years in our solar system, Time being relative to the place of birth of the observer, in conditions not fitting to his nature. Beelzebub works like a true Devil and learns like a normal three-brained being. He renders a special service to a true Messenger sent from Above, the Most Most Saintly Ashiata Shiemash. When Ashiata returns to the Center, He intervenes for Beelzebub before our ENDLESSNESS and Beelzebub’s transgression of his rebellious youth is pardoned. Beelzebub can then return to his beloved planet Karatas. He finds redemption and becomes well-known throughout the entire Universe to the point that he is invited to a Conference in the Solar system whose star is the North Star. While travelling towards and from the Conference in the Tran-Space ship Karnak, Beelzebub tells his grandson Hassein about the thousands of years of his exile. Together with them in the Karnak is the Ahoon, Beelzebub’s faithful servant. So, now we have the three centers of there-brained beings, the thinking center in Beelzebub, the feeling center in Hassein, and the moving center in Ahoon. They form a totality of being. The tales of Beelzebub to his grandson centers on the very strange psych of the three-brained from a planet of that solar system with the name of Earth. At the end of this long and laborious trip, the horns of Beelzebub are restored and he becomes a three-brained being with a high degree of Objective Divine Reason, fourth to the Absolute Reason of our ENDLESSNESS. His final redemption is then consummated in the spaces near his beloved planet Karatas. This in essence is the Myth.

The redemption of Beelzebub is our own redemption. Like him we too live in exile and only the perseverance of our “conscious labors” and “intentionally suffering,” procedural as the Myth awakens dormant Conscience in us and helps us in the formation of Real Consciousness, plus the Grace descending from Above, can bring redemption to our souls.

Let’s now examine in details the working of the Myth on us.

For that aim let’s address the three cardinal questions: What, How, and Why.

These three cardinal questions are answered in the first 52 pages of the Myth. Let’s now consider these questions and their respective answers in the book.

What is the Myth is going to do for us?

The answer to this question is in the Prime Directive found at the very opening of the Myth. This is the prime directive:

 “To destroy, merciless, without any compromise whatever, 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 tells us what the Myth is going to do for us. It is going to destroy our subjective reason. But destroying for the sake of destroying would make the myth incomplete and not self-sufficient. The Myth is complete and self-sufficient. Like the Serpent of Knowledge, it closes onto itself: The beginning is the end and the end is the beginning. It begins with two mentations and it ends with two rivers. In between there is the teaching on Objective Divine Reason. This is the Reason the Myth is going to help to develop in us. The Germ is already in us but exists only as a potential actualization. The Myth is going to help us to transform this potential actualization into actual realization. And it is going to do it the proper and normal way, by first awakening in us Objective Divine Conscience.  Objective Reason without Objective Conscience is an abnormality, the abnormality of the Hasnamuss type, as this type is referred to in relation to a three-brained being in whom for one reason or another data for the engendering of Divine Consciences is not present, a man without Conscience in plain English.

How is the Myth going to operate on us?

The answer to this question is given on pages 24-25 of the first chapter of the myth:

“I wish to bring to the knowledge of what is called your “pure waking consciousness” the fact that in the writings following this chapter of warning I shall expound my thoughts intentionally in such sequence and with such “logical confrontation,” that the essence of certain real notions may of themselves automatically, so to say, go from this “waking consciousness”— which most people in their ignorance mistake for the real consciousness, but which I affirm and experimentally prove is the fictitious one—into what you call the subconscious, which ought to be in my opinion the real human consciousness   and there by themselves mechanically bring about that transformation which should in general proceed in the entirety of a man and give him, from his own conscious mentation, the results he ought to have, which are proper to man and not merely to single- or double-brained animals.”

What is really extraordinary in the statement of intention above is that the Myth is going to transform us automatically and mechanically. This means that we have nothing to do but initiate the being-efforts necessary to follow the Myth. Then the Myth will take care of our transformation by exposing us “the essence of certain real notions.” This means that there is absolutely no need for what the so-called Gurdjieff Work and Gurdjieff groups (The Gurdjieff tradition) ask us to do, such as morning preparation, exercises in breathing, movements and dances, group meetings and all the rest. No need for all that. All that is needed, according to the intention of Mr. Gurdjieff , is for us to follow the Myth in all its ramifications. The Myth will take us to the other side of the river of life, the one that empties into the vast ocean. It is very simple, isn’t it?

Why the myth is going to do it?

The answer to this question is very explicitly stated on page 52 of the myth:

“Beelzebub once saw in the government of the World something which seemed to him “illogical,” and having found support among his comrades, beings like himself not yet formed, interfered in what was none of his business.”

The statement above tells us why the Myth is going to do it what the Myth is intended to do.  It is going to do it because there is something “illogical” in the functioning of the Universe. This is why we have to do something about ourselves because we cannot let things go that way. We have to help the Universe to become “logical” again. We have to help alleviate the Sorrow of our COMMON FATHER, as stated in the fourth striving of Objective Morality. What is this “illogical” something? We are never told explicitly but we know that the answer is in the Myth. Beelzebub spends thousands of years in exiles trying to find out why this “illogical” something exists. And he does find it and we too can find it if we go to the Myth. It is not so much that it is in the Myth; it is that it is in us, in you and me and them as well. The Myth is a mirror in which our exiled souls are reflected. We too live in exile, the Myth tells us.

The Myth then puts us face-to-face with the three most fundamental questions: What, How, and Why. Why is for the thinking center. What is for the feeling center. How is for the moving center.

The Myth puts us in contact with the totality of our being: our three centers. The Myth helps us to bring normality to the abnormality that now exists in us. The Myth transforms us from a condition of abnormality into a condition of normality and it does it in an automatically and mechanical way, if we are willing to give for a period of time our life to the Myth. By doing so the Myth gives us the possibility of accessing the two higher centers which are fully developed in three-brained beings. These two higher centers are the higher feeling center and the higher thinking center. They are never mentioned in the Myth. Why is it so? For the simple reason that the Myth is written from these two higher centers and no need exist to speak about them when they are already there.

We can again become normal three-brained beings of the Universe.

There is Great Hope. Redemption is at hand.


Will Mesa


About willmesa

I have been studying and working with the ideas of G.I. Gurdjieff exposed in his Opus Magnum Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson. The intention of this blog is to share these ideas with people around the world. For more information about me, please search in Google for Will Mesa
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6 Responses to A Myth for Our Time

  1. Gregory says:

    Hello Will
    What I think you will find to be an interesting aside here:
    Certain serious-minded and long-termed theosophists unequivocably state that The Gurdjieff Work as explicated by Ouspensky points to the hidden psychological key behind Blavatsky’s THE SECRET DOCTRINE. They hold Ouspenky and his writings (particularlyTHE FOURTH WAY) in the highest esteem as the penultimate theosophist and theosophical elucidations. While they hold Gurdjieff separately in very high regard as the teacher of The Work, they see his writings as something altogether “other”.
    I think there is something to this in relation to your findings.
    More about this in private. Did you recieve my new email address?

    • Gregory says:

      PS That’s
      “Certain serious-minded and long-termed theosophists unequivocally state . . .”

      • alberto says:

        Thanks for the note in Spanish on the holy Ashiata … I would like to have more information about the conference … Beelzebub’s Tales
        The interpretations are very rich, deep, unknown to me, very valuable.
        Send me appreciate some of these conferences and signals me where to look.

        Thank you!
        (translated with google translator)

      • willmesa says:

        Hola Alberto,

        Los Relatos de Belcebu existe en espanol. Yo tengo un version que es un poco obsoleta pero se que hay versiones mas modernas. Es cuestion de buscar. El articulo que puse sobre Ashyata es el primero que escribo en espanol. Pienso seguir escribiendo otros. En todo caso, si le interesa puede buscar mas sobre la ensenanza de G. I. Gurdjieff.



  2. Gregory says:

    Hi Will
    You stated above:
    “Mr. Gurdjieff also subtitled his myth with the title ‘An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man'”

    On the title page of the rejected for publication by Knopf 1931 version mimeograph we read

    On the title page of the 1950 first edition published by Harcourt, Brace and Company — a rewrite of the 1931 text —- we read:
    “‘All and Everything’
    Ten Books in Three Series, of which this is the First Series”
    “First Series” is then defined on the third page as follows
    FIRST SERIES: Three books under the title of “An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man,” or, “Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson.”

    By the 1964 EP Dutton edition the title page states the tome’s title to
    “‘All and Everything’
    Ten Books in Three Series, of which this is the First Series
    The third page stays the same as the 1950 edition, therefore contradicting the title page.

    By the 1992 Viking (spurious to me) edition we have:
    “‘Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson’
    An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man
    The third page states
    FIRST SERIES: Three books under the title of “Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson: An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man”

    So, given the above information, the subtitle is: Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson while the title is AN OBJECTIVELY IMPARTIAL CRITICISM OF THE LIFE OF MAN

    I don’t know how you feel about this, but after I realized this alteration many years ago, it changed the entire thrust of Gurdjieff’s book and actually began to separate it out from much of what he taught his followers.

    I now am of the slowly realized (over the years)/realizing (in the present) opinion that what Gurdjieff taught and what he wrote are two entirely different “animals” separated by six degrees of separation; looking alike, smelling alike, sounding alike but ultimately NOT ALIKE.

    Thank you for your time!


    • willmesa says:

      Hi Gregory,

      I just checked the French edition which I read when I lived in Paris and that supposedly is a translation from the original Russian and the subtitle is An Objectively Impartial Criticism of the Life of Man. So, it seems to me that this is the way to go. I have always placed great emphasis on my relationship with Beelzebub the man, as Mr. G himself said that we should do, treating Him respectfully and with great Love. It has worked for me.

      In any case, I totally agree with you that what Mr. G taught and what he wrote are two different animals, as you well put it. What he taught is for groups and disciples. What he wrote is for the entire humanity, in fact for EVERYONE, as he put it in the Prologue of Life is real only then, when “I am.”

      Thanks for your comments.


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