Dedicated to all the Amazons of the XXI Century.
The question of women in the Living Teaching G. I. Gurdjieff brought to humanity in his Legominism All and Everything and particularly in Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson (BTTHG) will never go away. I know a woman friend in the Living Teaching who once told me that she was afraid to show BTTGH to her women friends because there was not one woman in the Book. I tried to explain to her that there were women in the book, beginning with Mr. Gurdjeff’s grandmother, and that in the final analysis half the beings the book addresses were women because half of the three brained-beings of planet Earth are women. She remained silent but I do not think she bought my explanations. And the reason why I think she did not is because there is out there in the world of women a negative reaction to the fact that Mr. Gurdjieff had so many women in his life, plus the fact that he apparently treats women with disrespect in BTTHG. All this goes on in spite of the fact that there are so many testimonies of women who worked with Mr. Gurdjieff and loved him dearly. I have in front of me the book Gurdjieff: Essays and Reflections on the Man and His Teaching. I can read the testimony of seven women and they all loved Mr. Gurdjieff. And, finally, there is the statement from Sophia Wellbeloved in the sense that Beelzebub’s Tales is in the final analysis a woman. If this is true, and think it is, then the whole of BTTGH is a woman and there are many more women than men in the book.
But the fact remains that there are few women in Beelzebub’s Tales, the first series of the Legominism All and Everything. The book apparently is addressed to men. And if we go to the second series, Meeting with Remarkable Men, we see only one woman, Vitvitskaia. She is referred to in the session in the book dedicated to her as representing the “ideal for every woman.” Her main characteristic is that she dresses as a man. What is the meaning of Vitvitskaia in terms of Beelzebub’s Tales. As I see it, it has to do with the fact that the “I” must always be in command of the body, the higher vibration commanding the lower vibration. In us is the opposite: the body is always in command (our center of gravity is always in the body, instead of being in “I is directing,” which is the center of gravity of individuality). At one time, men, representing the “I,” engaged in pederasty and masturbation (the “I” began to descend and to titillate), but women, representing the body, engaged in sexual intercourse with two-brained beings (this is true adultery because it is the mixing of substances of different rate of vibrations –the body throwing the pearls to the gluttonous swine of our esteemed Mullah Nassr Eddin) and now we (men and women) are apes, our center of gravity is in the body instead of being in the “I is directing” (see monkeys in a zoo, or people in any Sunday football game, or any rock concert –all that useless energy goes to feed the lower planes, the moon, because it has no other place to go and because nothing is ever lost). But of course, we must first see ourselves, because it is happening to us. That is why three-brained beings of the whole Universe, as soon as they become aware of the existence of the Holy Planet Purgatory, initiate a merciless struggle with the body in order to one day be worthy of going to that planet with the possibility of one day blending with the Most Holy Sun Absolute. This applies to us three-brained beings of the planet Earth, so we must maintain a constant struggle with the body. But this struggle must be an intelligent one, never involving torture (that is why the wives of the “self-tamers” rebelled –natural instinct finds it degusting and rebels, which is also one of the meanings of the chapters on “sacrificial offerings,” how instead of sacrificing the unbecoming inner impulses arising from the crystallization of the properties of Kundabuffer, we instead sacrificed and still sacrifice, to some imaginary gods, our normal and healthy natural instincts). When the body is under command of the “I,” when it cooperates with the “I,” feeling then finds its proper place. We (men and women) are always falling because of the body. Angel Looisos was very smart in selecting the base of the spine as the place of implantation of Kundabuffer. The statement “Ask a woman’s advice and do the opposite” translates into “Ask the body’s advice and do the opposite.”
In Beelzebub’s Tales we read something very few women like. It is this statement from our most esteem and venerable Mullah Nassr Eddin, “The cause of every misunderstanding must be sought only in women.” From the point of view of Vivitskaia, this statement translate into, “The cause of every fall must be sought only in the body.” Vitvitskaia represents an ideal for every woman (for every “body”) because, owing to her unspoiled essence and the hard work on herself, in her the “I” prevailed over the body, over the tendency of the body towards laziness and an easy life, as it is the case with all of us (men and women). Before her change of being, she dressed like an ordinary woman (an ordinary body) and after her changed of being she always wore men’s clothes (she always dressed in her “I”). We (men and women) must strive to dress ourselves in men’s clothes (in the “I’s” clothes). All this is allegorical, but for us who follow the Living Teaching of Gurdjieff, it has a very practical meaning. Gurdjieff made it allegorical and difficult so that we have to sweat to understand it, because it’s the only way we can now understand.
Of course, every complete statement in Beelzebub’s Tales has three meanings and seven aspects, and every statement can only be understood when taken together with the rest of the book. In one of its seven aspects, everything Gurdjieff said about women was with the intention of provoking them, to make them angry. And, to some extent, he succeeded. He also provoked men, all Hasnamusses are men and he said that Nature hates the man in quotation mark, or half-man (what could be worse than being hated by none other than our Common Mother!). He was always provoking his disciples, and keeps provoking them through his writing, because he knew that anger could be a first impulse towards awakening –but then we must go further and inquire into the nature of our anger (many of us only dwell in the anger and don’t go further). As Fritz Peter said, he loved us in a way that we cannot even begin to comprehend. GOD loves us even more because HE sent us Gurdjieff and all the messengers from Above. But Kundabuffer is so tenacious that instead of our listening to them, we kill them or distort their teachings (verily, the massacre of the innocents is a constant of the planet Earth!). All this negativity, in some way, is necessary because it is the material we have to work with (that is why our Saviors forgive us because they know we don’t know what we are doing, that everything is done in us), but it can also destroy us (every stick has two ends). A woman once referred to the treatment of women by Mr. Gurdjieff as “unforgivable, subjective, unfair and unknowing.” How can someone who wrote “an objectively impartial criticism of the life of men,” or “Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson” be so subjectively conditioned? If that were the case, why even bother with such a difficult book or follow the teaching of such a prejudiced man. Gurdjieff says that, owing to a definite cosmic law, women “cannot be responsible for their manifestations.” In one of its seven aspects, this is referring to the fact that the body can never be free to have any independent manifestation, but must always be under command of the “I. The body can never have “equal rights” because in the scale of vibrations, it is lower that the “I.” It can have its rights, but never “equal rights.”
Then there are in BTTHG statements on “women mothers” vs. “women females.” Again, in one of the seven aspects, they are part of a long elaboration on the realization of organic shame. The sympathetic young Persia who is relating the story about what he calls “women mothers” vs. “women females,” represents the emerging “I,” and is experiencing the remorse of organic shame for the weaknesses and unbecoming manifestations of the body. He is in the presence of the emanations from Beelzebub, the emanations coming from a sun, and he is experiencing the “Sacred Aieioiuoa” (one brain revolts and criticizes the unbecoming manifestations of another). In other of its aspects, it is an elaboration on how the body should not be blamed for its manifestations, that these unbecoming manifestations are the results of wrong preparation and education for life (parents, husbands, guardians –education). And still in another of the seven aspects it shows how a woman must find a real man in order to become a real woman, a relationship that is beyond marriage and children and that can take place between any man and any woman.
The statements on “polyandry” and “polygamy” in Beelzebub’s Tales are also part of the elaboration on organic shame, and on how we have lost that very important being-property known as “the instinctive sensing of reality.” It is important to notice that these statements appear all in the chapters on France and America, because Gurdjieff was seeing the coming of the total loss of organic shame (both in men and women) and the total loss of instinctive feeling that are taking place in our lives (the poet Pablo Neruda once said that in America the husband was the last one to know that his wife was cheating on him, and the fact of the matter is that now when a man or a woman wants to know if the other half is cheating, he or she has to employ a detective). How ridiculous and machine-like our lives have become!) But all these statements, in another of the seven aspects, are part of the game Gurdjieff is playing on us the reader, the game of provocation, he is always playing this game, from the first to the last page of the book, as he always played it in life. If we (the reader) can’t see, then we don’t see it, and damned we are! But if we are striving for objectivity, then we must try to understand all the aspects, otherwise we will always be projecting our subjectivity onto the book and on the world (fear, anger, vanity, the illusion that we really are something and that we can do –jealousy, frustrations, envy, you name it). For Gurdjieff, it is all the same, because he is playing the conscious role of the devil, or one of his roles, that of provocateur. But the good devil, because he is never seducing us, he is never making our lives easy to get something from us, he is simply provoking and irritating us, so we can awaken (he is loving us with objective love).
I am not defending Gurdjieff, he does not need my, your, or anybody else’s defense. He was a conscious man playing a conscious role, something we are not even close to understand. With our lives formed in personality, and according to subjective reason, we cannot understand someone who is living from his essence according to Objective Reason. But when it comes to his relations with women and men as human beings, he had no preferences and prejudices, and he always was just and fair. We can read the testimony of many of the women who worked with him, and many of them were very “independent” American women. It is a fact that Mr. Gurdjeiff had a strong sense of patriarchal life, a sense of real community life, something many Americans can’t understand because they have not experienced it in life. One of the seven aspects of the chapter on America, is to show how we, not only in America but all over the world, in a matter of a few years have destroyed the good habits and sound costumes of real community life established over thousands of years by more or less conscious people, although in America is still the largest number of beings with the possibility, but only the possibility, of acquiring real being.
A prominent group leader from the New York Foundation, if we are going to listen to these leaders, once said that in the Living Teaching Gurdjieff brought to humanity in BTTHG, women are forty years ahead of men. I do believe this is true and have great hopes that women will make a great contribution in spreading into humanity the Living Teaching. That is why I have dedicated so much time of my life to bring attention to women and their potential contribution to the Living Teaching.