Beelzebub’s Tales and the Work

NOTE: This is the content of a paper I presented at the 2012 All and Everything International Humanity Conference on April 25 in Salt lake City, USA

“If you have not by nature a critical mind your staying here is useless.”

Aphorism inscribed above the walls of the Study House at the Prieuré.

Introduction: The Pointing Finger

I open my presentation by telling you all that I am very happy to be a full time disciple of what I designate as the Living Teaching found in the Legominism All and Everything and very specifically in Beelzebub’s Tales. I have no teaching of my own nor do I want to have a teaching of my own. The sense and aim of my existence on Earth is to bring attention to the material in the Legominism, of course according to my own individuality because I am also working on myself as I do this, and one of the most important aspects of my inner work is to attain the degree of self-individuality or sacred Martfotai. I consider myself to be in the tradition of how Zen monks and teachers describe themselves as pointer fingers. So, please, look to where the finger is pointing and do not stay with the finger.

Structure of the Paper: The Sacred Heptaparaparshinokh

In order to follow closely the six descents of Beelzebub to Earth, which I consider to be the Law of Seven of the book, I have also structured my paper in terms of six descents and will immediately proceed to start reading from them. In a paper I presented at the 2008 A&E Conference in England I also addressed the matter of the six descents of Beelzebub to Earth and raised the question of why only six and not seven descents when according to the Law of Seven every integral whole must contain seven centers of gravity. I did not answer my own question and let everybody to come out with his or her answer. I now ask the same question here; why only six descents presented in this paper and what would be the seventh and last descent? I will now go into each and every descent in my paper. I will try to be brief so that we will have time for discussions.

First Descent: Where I Come From.

In the summer of 1975 I found with my family in in Paris searching for one of the disciples Mr. Gurdjieff left in that city after his death in 1949. Why I was there is rather long to say and if you Google Will Mesa you will find that I describe the events that led me there in great details. Suffice is to say that on my trip from Caracas to Paris, we stopped at New York to visit my parents and it was there that I bought the three little booklets with the title Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson. The first thing I read was this paragraph printed on the back cover of one of the books:

“To possess the right to the name of “man,” one must be one.

And to be such, one must first of all, with an indefatigable persistence and an unquenchable impulse of desire, issuing from all the separate independent parts constituting one’s entire common presence, that is to say, with a desire issuing simultaneously from thought, feeling, and organic instinct, work on an all-round knowledge of oneself – at the same time struggling unceasingly with one’s subjective weaknesses – and then afterwards, taking one’s stand upon the results thus obtained by one’s consciousness alone, concerning the defects in one’s established subjectivity as well as the elucidated means for the possibility of combating them, strive for their eradication without mercy towards oneself.” (BTTHG, p 1209)

That really impressed me because I have always wished with my whole being to be a man.

After two months in Paris seeking here and there, I finally found one of the groups led by Henri Tracol. By thenI have already read the first book completely and the more I read, the more passionate I became. I was with his group for three years and for me personally the most significant event was that we never read Beelzebub’s Tales, although every Saturday we met to read Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous. I asked Tracol why we were not reading the book and he replied that one day we may read it but that day never came. In 1978 I went back to Venezuela and joined the group of Nathalie Ethievan, the daughter of Jeanne de Salzmann. What I also found of interest is that we never read Beelzebub, except once we read the chapter “The-Terror-of-the-Situation.’ The funny thing is that a friend of mine, who was member of a Gnostic group around and knew of my great interest for the book, invited me to give six talks on the material in the Tales. I remember that only few people attended the first talk. By the sixth and last talk, there were no chairs and almost no space left for attendees. I asked myself how come these people who are not in the Work are so interested in the book and all those who claim to be in the Work are not. It was then 1985 and I moved from Venezuela to New York .I had with me a letter of introduction by Nathalie to her daughter Marie at the New York Foundation. I did not even bother to take the letter with me. It was the end for me of all contacts with the so-called Gurdjieff Foundations and with any Gurdjieff group for that matter. I then knew what was more or less the sense and aim of my existence on Earth; to dedicate my life to the study and spreading of the message in Beelzebub’s Tales. Now you know where I come from.

Second Descent: The Living Teaching

What is the Living Teaching Mr. Gurdjieff brought to humanity in Beelzebub’s Tales? I am sure that each person will have a different answer. I am now preparing to give mine. I already wrote about this in my WordPress blog Gospel According to Beelzebub. For me personally, the Living Teaching is the true Fourth Way Mr. Gurdjieff brought to us in the Living Teaching. This Fourth Way is the way of Conscience. Here is how I put it in my blog:

If Mr. Gurdjieff were alive today, he would probably be very surprised to know that people who follow his teaching describe themselves as followers of the Fourth Way. I am sure that he would have immediately set out to find where this expression came from because he did use the term fourth way, and only one time, but in very specific terms and not as a Way. If that had been the case, he would have determined that the expression refers to those who do not follow the way of the fakir, the monk, and the yogi. Following my train of speculative thoughts here, I think that Mr. Gurdjieff would have said that he indeed spoke about the ways of the fakir, the monk, and the yogi at one time during the giving of his teaching in Russia and faithfully recorded by Ouspensky in his book In Search of the Miraculous, but that later he corrected himself and spoke of three other ways: The Ways of Faith, Love, and Hope.

And then he would have probably added:

“The Fourth Way is the Way of Conscience and that the Way of Conscience exists in the fakir, the monk, and the yogi, and in all of us because ‘Conscience in three-centered beings is sometimes called the REPRESENTATIVE OF THE CREATOR.’

The true Fourth Way is the Living Teaching

Third descent: The Help from Above.

“When you get to ME, you will receive help,” said Mr. Gurdjieff. Since I have structured my paper according to the sacred Heptaparaparshinokh, I have assigned the third stopinder of the law of my paper to the first Mdnel-In, the interval between MI and FA if we use the music scale. All help at the interval comes from outside and from Above, from point 9 in the enneagram. Help for evolution of the first-being food comes from air, outside and above. Sometimes this help does no come, does not materialize. In the Law of my own life, I have seen again and again how help never came to me whenever I tried to make money; however whenever I tried to understand and live the Living Teaching, help indeed has come. What about the motion of the trajectory of the Living Teaching in Beelzebub’s Tales? I am now convinced by certain events I have seen here and there that help for this trajectory has indeed already come. There have been a number of books and articles that have brought this help from outside and above. My favorite one is Orage’s Commentaries on Beelzebub’s Tales. Orage not only supervised the rendering of the 1950 original English edition of the Tales, but he was the person among the first generation of the Living Teaching who better understood the meaning of the book. It is well known that Ouspensky never read the book and even confessed to C. S. Nott that every time he tried to read it, it stuck in his throat. Nicol never read it either. He was too busy dictating his six volumes of his Commentaries to his secretary. And it is quite obvious from Jeanne de Salzmann’s The reality of Being: The fourth Way of Gurdjieff that not only has anything to do with the true Fourth Way of Mr. Gurdjieff but it clearly shows that she had no idea of what Beelzebub’s Tales is all about. Bennett’s book Talks on Beelzebub’s Tales is very good but never at the level of Orage’s commentaries. There have been other sources that have served as help from outside and above. The important point is that the Living Teaching has received the help necessary and sufficient in order to bring the trajectory of the Living Teaching to the Harnel-ahoot of its evolutionary movement.

Fourth Descent: Why the Living Teaching cannot find its way through the Work

I will now give a complete spectrum with corresponding commentaries of why, according to my own understanding and subjective views, the Living Teaching cannot find its way to humanity via the Work. Here are the seven components of this integral spectrum:

1. The Work is not interested in Beelzebub’s Tales. This is quite obvious by the fact that the book is studied by only a minority within the so-called Gurdjieff groups and Foundations. During my ten years in the Foundations it was read only one time. I know things have changed since then but I also know that reading and study of the book is not encouraged among group leaders and some of these leaders have not read the book even one time, let alone three times.

2. The Work is secretive. It took me two whole months to find the Work when I was in Paris and I found it through what Mr. Gurdjieff calls a conjury. Now, it is easier to find but if you look at the websites of all of the so-called big Foundations and little Foundations around, you will notice how secretive these sites are. This contrast with finding Mr. Gurdjieff who was always sitting at Cafe de la Paix and Child’s cafes. This man lived in the streets and cafe of life. The Work lives in hiding.

3. The Work does not bring help from Above. There is more help for the spreading of the Living Teaching in life than in the Work. One of the conditions imposed by the Foundations is not to talk about Beelzebub’s Tales outside the Beelzebub’s groups. There is very little interest in the Foundations for this kind of events we are here gathered for around what is called the companions of the book, the book being Beelzebub’s Tales. These kinds of events is what I call help from Above and it were not by the founders of this International Conference, we would not be here.

4. The Work is absorbent. I understood this in relation to my experience with a Gurdjieff group I used to frequent. For three consecutive years we gathered to study Beelzebub’s Tales, that is to say, exchange on the book. But little by little this spirit of exchange on the book was taken by other aspects of the Work such as morning sitting, movements, exercises and all those favorites of the Work. Last time I attended one ofthose gatherings, Beelzebub’s Tales was hardly discussed. Thatis why I stopped going to those gatherings. I am aware that I am a pain in the neck but I spent four years at a Chan meditation center and one thing I learned is that it is the intention is what counts. My intention here is certainly not to offend anyone but to expose the views of my Conscience. But if any if you are offended by my remarks, then remember that teaching of Saint Buddha: “The bet form of intentional suffering is to bear the unpleasant manifestations of others.”

5. The Work is anti-unitarian. The spreading of the Living Teaching into humanity will be founded on Unity. However, the Work cannot find unity. I understood that when I attended a week-end work period at the Two Rivers Farm group. There were about ten people for the Foundations and they were complaining about how the morning sitting was being conducted and that it was different from that of the Foundations. One of these person told me something about that and I told this person that there was no morning sitting in Pariswhen Mr. Gurdjieff was alive and that according to what Dushka Howorth, one of the daughters of Mr. has told me, to direct a sitting was anti-spiritual. I remember that when she told me that I thought about my four years in a Chan (Zen) meditation center in Queens New York. I never saw a zatzen sitting being directed. So, I told this person that maybe both the Foundations and the Two Rivers Farm were wrong.ThenI concluded saying that there was only one morning preparation in Beelzebub’s Tales and that it was standing and with the eyes open (page 78)of the book). In any case, there is no hope the Work will ever unite because each and every group thinks that what they are doing is the correct approach, particularly among the Foundations which think they were anointed by Mr. Gurdjieff himself

6. The Work is hierarchical. Within each Work group there is established a well-defined hierarchy not necessarily according to being but according to time and favoritism. If a member is a relative of a group leader, this member may be on the top. I saw that when I was in thegroup in Venezuela. Yes, it is truethat there is a hierarchy of Being in Beelzebub’s Tales but it all according to being and what makes a leader in the organization of Ashiata Shiemash is the meritorious being oftheperson, that isto say, how much the person has worked consciously and suffered intentionally.

6. The Work is selfish. On page 1185 of Beelzebub’s Tales we readthis “The highest aim and sense of human life is the striving to attain the welfare of one’s neighbor,” and that this is possible exclusively only by the conscious renunciation of one’s own.” This statement if I well rememberis quoted in Bonnie’s project The Golden Rule. The Work does not live by this statement. They seem to be worried only about their own welfare. There is not possibility of Antkooano between the Work and humanity.


Fifth Descent: the Work in opposition to the Living Teaching.

We now come to the Harnel_Ahoot of this octave of descents. This is the most critical Stopinder because of its asymmetry between the third and the last. One of its major characteristics is that it can give “results opposite to each other.”  That is why during the fifth descent of Beelzebub’s to Earth we find the teachings of Ashiata Shiemash and that of Lentrohamsanin. Both teachings oppose each other. One is evolutionary and the other is involutionary. It is the same with what I designate as the Living Teaching and the Work. The former is involutionary and the latter is evolutionary. The former is the system of the Archangel Hariton and the latter ismainly the system of Mme. De Salzmann. In fact, and according to the Law of Three, the Work is the holy-denying and the Living Teaching is the holy-affirming. The holy-reconciling will come from what humanity or a part of humanity does with Living Teaching.

Sixth Descent: The Future of the Living Teaching

I will say nothing of my own. I will simply quote here what I consider to be the best review among the sixty reviews of Beelzebub’s Tales in I too have a review there but this one is better than mine. Here is:


By Steve Adams (Denton, North Carolina) – This review is from: Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson: All And Everything: 1st Series (Compass) (Paperback)

When Gurdjieff discovered that his institute would fall short of accomplishing his aims and his condition after a severe automobile accident forced – or bookmarked – a re-evaluation of what he must do, he turned to writing and produced this “Magnum Opus.” He remarked that it was a javelin hurled into the future. I have read the book 3 times, and portions repeatedly, and contrary to the remarks of certain reviewers, I and others giving favorable reviews are not gullible. It took me three decades to see this issue in its true light, and the more I understand, the more I see I have a long way to go. The book is a legominism, to use Gurdjieff’s own technical term defined in the text. It exists on several levels, and on occasion I have been able to verify that for myself by the perceptivity of its deeper currents. Actually I will be the first to confess that you cannot tell much about this book by the reviews. The reviews – pro and con – tell much more about their authors than they do about this book. That should be expected. Even my own review reminds me of Beelzebub’s description of our species as those unfortunate three-brained beings that breed and multiply upon the face of that ill-fated planet Earth. Gurdjieff held up a mirror, and reviewers – including myself – seem eager to show our faces in it. Without question this is the most important work ever written on the issue of stopping wars, and that singular observation alone among many other comparable ones is sufficient to validate Leary’s comment that this is the most important work produced in the twentieth century. But because of its inaccessibility to many audiences, I would also include Ouspensky’s account of Gurdjieff’s teaching, “In Search of the Miraculous,” on a par with it. Ouspensky’s book may actually be more important immediately, but ultimately Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales will emerge to its true stature among segments of our posterity. Gurdjieff knew and stated that there was no hope for current generations. Without this javelin hurled into the future, there would be no hope at all.”

Mission Statement:

My mission statement is very simple: “To spend the rest of my life until I die bringing the attention I put in Beelzebub’s Tales to my life first and then to the lives of others. For the fulfillment of my mission statement I amnow following a series of activities involving posting in my WordPress blog with thetitle of Gospel According to Beelzebub. Travelling next months to Buenos Aires in Argentina and to Santiago en Chile where I have been invited to give talks about the Book. Then in October I will attend the large International gathering in Moscow to celebrate the one hundred years of the arrival of Mr. Gurdjieff to that city. I will be presenting a paper inspired on a comment from Orage to his friend Nott about Mr. Gurdjieff: “He is a god walking among us.” I also hope to publish book “Life with Beelzebub.” I hope and wish my book will be a testimony of my 37 years living with Mr. Beelzebub.


Concluding Remarks:

In Mathew 6:24 the Divine Teacher Jesus Christ said: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Now rephrasing Him, I say: “We cannot serve two masters, either we serve the Living Teaching or we serve the Work.”

And finally, concerning the sense and aim of my existence on Earth, I concluded with the words of the Most Most Saintly Ashiata Shiemash at the end of his Legominism “The Terror-of-the-Situation:”

“‘May the blessing of our almighty OMNI-LOVING COMMON FATHER UNI-BEING CREATOR ENDLESSNESS be upon my decision, Amen.’



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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2 Responses to Beelzebub’s Tales and the Work

  1. podloonaroon says:

    i agree with you in general about the emphasis being on ouspensky in new york and los angeles; my only experience.
    i remember lord pentland asked us to write an essay on what “beelzebub’s tales to his grandson” meant to us. at armonk, i was in a group which met early;before the general meeting. we read beelzebub passing the book around the circle. now, in los angeles, i am also in a group reading beelzebub’s tales an hour and half before the general gathering.
    my first influence was when i was 19 and hibernating in woodstock, vt.. every couple of months i would run to the city to sow my wild oats.
    finding ‘the mother of my first son’ julie, who had been in the work in california. she told me about the work. i ordered the book “in search of the miraculous”. i read it and then ordered “all and everything”. when i was stopping for breakfast accross from my studio in town, i discovered a man reading “meetings with remarkable men”. he was cagey but after meeting julie, and with another very young girl, sue, a native of woodstock, vt., when he was in town visting his father about twice a month, he would read to us from beelzebub’s tales, sometimes three hours into the night by candle light, (all i had). he was in one of the foundation groups in new york.
    i only talk about these things to testify that your statements about the neglect of beelzebub’s tales that you refer to does not jive with my experience from 1962 to the present moment.
    i too appreciated the review you singled out. and i can add that i too experience daily reading of mr. gurdjieff’s “all and everything” at millbrook where i was a guest for some weeks.

    i should try to write a short review myself someday.
    thank you will, for what you are doing. somebody has to do it. god speed and bon voyage.

  2. Ivo Forza says:

    Dear Will,
    I am writing to you from Italy, my name is Ivo and I am very sorry not to be able to write properly in English (I am availing myself of my sister’s help) since I would like very much to give my own personal contribute as well as express my deep appreciation for your work through your blog. I do believe what you are doing is very important.

    I need to talk to you about a few things privately: would it be possible to arrange that?
    Thank you very much.

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