War is “the most terrible of all the horrors which can possibly exist in the whole of the Universe,” according to Beelzebub’s Tales. This chapter will examine how the phenomenon of war is intimately related to the operation of the laws of vibrations and to the abnormal conditions of life established by men themselves during the process of common shared existence.
“The said decline in both their death rate and their birth rate proceeded because as they approximated to an existence normal for the three-centered beings, they also began to radiate from themselves vibrations responding more closely to the requirements of Great Nature, thanks to which, Nature needed less of those vibrations which are in general obtained from the destruction of the existence of beings.”
Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson presents a new and original point of view on war as well as giving practical advice on how to understand this phenomenon and begin to make the corresponding efforts to end this horror of horrors. War is described as “…the Process of the Periodic Reciprocal Destruction of Men….” The book clearly states that engaging in war is man’s “chief particularity” and that it is now “…an exclusively abnormal inherency in their psyche.” Concerning this “chief particularity,” it is said:
“And so, my boy, being desirous after this distressful ‘Alstoozori’ of mine, or as your favorites would say ‘sorrowful reflections’ to clear up for myself the very essence of the cause also of this lamentable fact there, I understood at the end of my minute investigations, and became aware with all my being, that this abnormality there proceeds exclusively owing only to one remarkable aspect of the chief particularity of their strange psyche, namely, that particularity which has become completely crystallized and is an inseparable part of their common presences and which serves as a factor for the periodic arising in them of what is called the ‘urgent need to destroy everything outside of themselves’.”
The sixth descent, the last and longest (more than three hundred years) of Beelzebub to the planet Earth, is for the express purpose of elucidating the question of war after having spent a great part of his exile pondering and observing this “particularity so phenomenal for three-brained beings.” All this shows the tremendous importance the phenomenon of war occupies in The Tales. One of the implications is that the evolution of humanity depends on the possibility of eradicating this evil of evils from the face of the Earth.
CONTEMPORARY VIEWS ON WAR
It will be useful to briefly review the perspectives about the phenomenon of war taken by contemporary thought. War is arguably the topic, in the history of humanity, which has received the most consideration by serious, honest and well-intentioned thinkers. Organizations upon organizations have been formed on Earth, each with a different agenda or program, with the sole purpose of eradicating this horror of horrors. The desire of finding an end to such a terrible plague has so occupied man, that some have even gone to the absurd, although well-intentioned extreme, of promoting war in order to end it. Every man, with any degree of common sense, wholeheartedly wishes to see the end of wars. However, they have not ended and there wars have existed throughout mankind’s entire history. It can be said that war is a constant on the planet Earth.
Several philosophical theories propose a rationale for the reality of war:
~ Because man is fundamentally conceived as a bio-social entity or Zoo Politikon, the most common theory is that war is an instrument serving the expansionary interests of nations.
~ War, as a religious enterprise, is presumed to serve some design of destiny. According to this theory, war has not been inspired by social-economic or geo-political factors but rather, from factors designed to fulfill a destined manifestation and realization, which is the rationale behind the so-called sacred and messianic wars.
~ War is simply a fatality that humanity inflicts upon itself or its parts. In this point of view, war is the responsibility of none, nor does anyone ever benefit from it. War simply happens, as do many other events in the life of man and, as such, the decisions, actions, and operations of those who either direct or participate in it have been naturally and historically controlled by unknown forces.
~ War is seen as the manifestation of man’s supposed instinct of biological aggression, or as a manifestation of the “death wish instinct” also supposedly present in man.
~ War is viewed as the major probable force shaping the evolution of Homo sapiens. There are even those who have advanced and made opportune use of the theory that war is a natural process of ensuring the survival of the fittest.
There are many theories and every war predictably evidences elements of one or several of them. None explain the phenomenon itself. The only verity seems to be that war is a complex phenomenon determined by an equally complex rationale.
BEELZEBUB REASONED UNDERSTANDING OF WAR
Beelzebub’s Tales presents a radically different perspective on war than presented by contemporary thought. War occurs on Earth because of two main causes. One is a consequence arising from the operation of the laws of World-creation and World-maintenance, more specifically the operation of the “law-of-the-equilibration-of-vibrations” as this law pertains to the needs of the planet, its fragments and of the solar system as a whole. The other cause of war has to do with the abnormal conditions of life men themselves have created during the process of shared existence, particularly those conditions arising from the crystallization of the consequences of the property of the organ Kundabuffer. Both causes will be examined and connected in order to attempt a thorough understanding of why war occurs on Earth and the practical steps that could be taken in order to eradicate war from the face of the planet.
The first condition is larger and more inclusive, pointing directly to the second cause – our abnormality. At the root of this first cause is the fundamental process that now maintains the existence of the present Universe. This is the “Most Great common-cosmic Trogoautoegocratic process” also known as “‘Reciprocal-feeding’ of everything that exists.” This process is universal and takes place at every level of existence and in every cosmic concentration great or small, including men who are considered an exact similarity, different only in scale, of the Megalocosmos. This is how each and every cosmic concentration in the Universe is maintained and how the exchange of substances among cosmic concentrations guarantees the existence of the entire Universe. The distinction between the Trogoautoegocratic process of general character from that of local character will be examined.
At a local level, this Trogoautoegocratic process requires from organic life on Earth, including man, certain specific vibrations, primarily destined for the maintenance of its fragments; life on Earth does not exist for its own sake but for the purpose of the exchange of substances. This is also addressed in In Search in connection with the Ray of Creation:
“In order to fill the ‘interval’ at this point…a special apparatus is created for receiving and transmitting influences coming from planets. This apparatus is organic life on earth.”
It must be noted that of all of the ideas introduced by Mr. Gurdjieff in his Teaching, the idea of man serving the needs of the Moon and Anulios is the one that has found the most criticism and ridicule among members of contemporary intelligentsia, particularly among the class of the humanists. Mr. Gurdjieff never abandoned this idea and kept it as a fundamental component of his Teaching. This fact can be corroborated by this statement about men in The Tales:
“… by their existence they should maintain the detached fragments of their planet, and being convinced of this their slavery to circumstances utterly foreign to them, they would be unwilling to continue their existence and would on principle destroy themselves.”
The idea of man maintaining its fragments is behind another peculiar idea of the teaching of Mr. Gurdjieff, namely, the implantation by Great Nature in man’s ancestors of an organ with very strange properties: Kundabuffer. We are told in The Tales that this organ was implanted for the express purpose of rendering men unaware of the ultimate reality of their existence, that of serving the needs of the Moon and Anulios.
The vibrations required for the maintenance of the Moon are radiated from the elaboration, in man and other beings sharing the biosphere, of a very specific substance. In The Tales this substance is identified as “the sacred vibration ‘Askokin’.”
More importantly, is how this substance, Sacred Askokin, is freed from all beings and radiated to the Moon. According to The Tales, there are two ways through which these vibrations of the Sacred Askokin are obtained. One is at the moment of death of these beings, while the other is through the elaboration in three-brained beings alone of two other substances as sacred Abrustdonis and Helkdonis. The Sacred Askokin, which is blended with these two sacred substances, is then is freed from them during the process of their elaboration. It is precisely this difference in obtaining the Sacred Askokin that, accordingly to The Tales, accounts for the occurrence on Earth of the phenomenon of war.
The key is that the two sacred substances Abrustdonis and Helkdonis are just those substances, which contribute to the processes of formation and perfection of the two higher being-bodies, namely, the body Kesdjan and the Higher Being-body or body of the Soul. The Tales is very explicit in this regard. We are told:
“…that the separation of the sacred Askokin from the said sacred substances proceeds in general when the beings on whatever planet it might be transubstantiate the sacred substances Abrustdonis and Helkdonis in themselves for the forming and perfecting of their higher bodies, by means of conscious labors and intentional sufferings.”
In The Tales only three-brained beings have the possibility of actualizing conscious labors and intentional suffering.
This brings us to the second cause in our discussion, namely, how the abnormal conditions of life, which men themselves have created during the process of common-shared existence, creates the occurrence on Earth of wars. It is because of these abnormal conditions of life that men, or the three-brained beings of the planet Earth, no longer actualize the conscious labors and intentional suffering involved in the formation and perfection of the two Higher Being-bodies. This results in a lack of production of the two sacred substances Abrustdonis and Helkdonis from which is separated the sacred Askokin. But since the vibrations of the sacred Askokin are required for the maintenance of the Moon, Great Nature, in Her infinite power of adaptation, has to extract these vibrations by other means available, that is to say, from the death of beings. The end result is the occurrence in our planet of “the process of the periodic reciprocal destruction of men” or war.
“Established by them themselves”
Hence the constant theme that is found in The Tales, expressed with these words: “The abnormal conditions of external ordinary being-existence established by them themselves.” Man, and man alone, is ultimately responsible for the appearance on this lunatic planet of the phenomenon of war.
It is important to note that the constant need of Great Nature to adapt to the abnormal conditions of life “established by them themselves” is another recurrent theme in The Tales. This need for adaptation is described in the book with these picturesque words:
“… poor Nature of their ill-fated planet would also not have to ‘puff and blow’ in order to adapt Herself to remain within the common cosmic harmony.”
We see in the book a number of these adaptations such as the degeneration in three-brained beings of the feeling brain, the degeneration in man of the sense organs, the gradual formation of the two independent consciousnesses and many others.
It becomes clear from studying The Tales that the greatest and most radical adaptation of Great Nature with respect to the abnormal conditions “established by them themselves,” which is intimately related to the question of war, is the change from the first principle of being-existence or “Foolasnitamnian” principle to that of the second principle or principle “Itoklanoz.” According to the first principle, three-brained beings “…were obliged to exist until there was coated in them and completely perfected by reason what is called the ‘body-Kesdjan’.” This by itself would have guaranteed elaboration of the two sacred substances Abrustdonis and Helkdonis and consequently the vibrations Askokin required for the maintenance of the Moon as well as the possibility of coating higher being bodies. According to the second principle of being existence, the principle “Itoklanoz,” the duration of three-brained beings is regulated by the same principle that regulates the being-existence of one- and two-brained beings. This adaptation of Nature, from one principle of being-existence to another, is connected to the operation of the law-of-the-equilibration-of-vibrations.
THE COSMIC CAUSE OF WAR ACCORDING TO THE PHILOSOPHER ATARNAKH
The cosmic cause of war is presented in Beelzebub’s Tales through the incomplete vision of a Kurd philosopher Atarnakh. He was a member of a serious and large society founded in Asia, in the city of Mosulopolis, under the name of “The-Earth-Is-Equally-Free-for-All.” This society devised a well-planned program for the express purpose of ending wars on the continent Asia. During his investigation of the question of “the sense of man’s existence,” the philosopher Atarnakh came across an ancient but well-preserved Sumerian manuscript. He became very intrigued with a part of the manuscript where it was said about the existence in the Universe of the law of the reciprocal maintenance of everything existing and that life on Earth serves something great or small in the Universe. Of course, the law mentioned in the manuscript arises from the Universal Trogoautoegocratic process that now maintains the existence of the present Universe.
The philosopher Atarnakh, concentrating only on this aspect of the information contained in the Sumerian manuscript, elaborated a theory on the cause of war and for several years went around testing it. After many experimental verifications, he became totally convinced of the validity of his theory and presented his results in a treatise under the name “Why Do Wars Occur on the Earth?” In his theory he proved that, as part of the process of reciprocal maintenance existing on Earth, man must produce a certain substance and that this chemical substance serves its Trogoautoegocratic purpose of local character only after a man dies. He also proved in his theory:
“…that at certain periods there must infallibly proceed on the Earth such a definite quantity of deaths as in their totality will yield vibrations of a ‘definite degree of power’.”
For the obtaining of this definite quantity of deaths, wars and civil wars then became a necessity on Earth.
The Kurd Atarnakh presented his conclusions at a general meeting of the society “The-Earth-Is-Equally-Free-for-All.” The immediate result of his eloquent and detailed exposition was total “confusion” and “agitation” among the members of the society. After the confusion and agitation quieted down, it was decided to elect a group of learned beings from members of the society, to jointly investigate the details of Atarnakh’s theory and to make a detailed report to the general assembly. The result was that very soon two opposite groups, each one with a definite conviction, was formed among the members of the society “The-Earth-Is-Equally-Free-for-All.” One group was convinced that everything took place precisely according to the theory of the philosopher Atarnakh and that “there must necessarily proceed ‘wars’ and ‘civil wars’ on the Earth quite independently of the personal consciousness of men.” The other group was convinced that if they were to carry out the well-planned program that the society had set itself, they might eventually eradicate from the face of the Earth this plague and thereupon everything might proceed well.
The two opposing groups, as is always the case on this ill-fated planet, began to discuss and quarrel over their individual convictions and these discussions and quarrels finally spread to the citizens of the city Mosulopolis. Thanks to the influence of a number of brothers of the society, calm was finally established and a decision was taken: they unanimously elected Atarnakh as their chief director and begged him to find a solution to their problem. After several meetings under the direction of the Kurd Atarnakh, they all agreed that it was practically impossible for man to consciously and deliberately put an end to wars. After this conclusion, they all decided to dissolve the society and go home.
Unfortunately, before the society was dissolved and the members returned home, Atarnakh gave a final speech. With all the details that are involved in the presentations of learned beings of new formation, the Kurd philosopher convinced them that his own investigations had taken him to the categorical conviction that the vibrations required by Great Nature for the purpose of reciprocal maintenance of everything existing can be obtained from the deaths of any being regardless of the number of brains. His words caused the same astonishment and agitation as had been caused by his theory on why wars occur on Earth. For three days and three nights the members of the society went around discussing the quite astonishing new view from the no less quite astonishing great philosopher Atarnakh. The final result was the decision to revive upon Earth the practice of Sacrificial-Offerings of two-brained beings that Beelzebub had helped to eradicate during His second and third descents to the planet Earth. The name of the society was immediately changed from the old name, “The-Earth-Is-Equally-Free-for-All,” to the new name, “The-Earth-Only-for-Men.”
The members of the society dispersed from the city Mosulopolis and began to preach the need for the practice of Sacrificial-Offerings. For more than a hundred years, according to The Tales, the practice of Sacrificial-Offerings was institutionalized through the auspices of the Mohammedan religion. Millions of “oxen, sheep, camels,” and other two-brained beings were offered in sacrifice in order to “give pleasure” to man’s invented and fantastic gods.
This practice would have continued for many more years had it not been for the intervention of a fanatic of the Mohammedan religion by the name of Assadulla Ibrahim Ogly. This Persian dervish saw something very horrible in these practices of Sacrificial-Offerings of innocent two-brained beings. With a strong being-force arising from his being-conviction, he spent the rest of his days preaching on the atrocity of this practice. The end result was that the practice of Sacrificial-Offerings was stopped in Asia. Ogly’s remedy was worse than the illness it intended to cure. Due to the absence of vibrations required by Nature and obtained at the moment of a being’s death, the quantity of required vibrations decreased. The demand for vibrations far exceeded the supply.
“In short, the result of all the activity of this ‘good’ Persian dervish was precisely the latest great process of reciprocal destruction, or, as your favorites call it, ‘The Great World War’.”
The Kurd philosopher Atarnakh is described in The Tales as “truly learned though very proud and self-loving.” He is a representative of what The Tales calls “learned of new formation.” One of the characteristics of these beings is that:
“…when a few scraps of information about some event or other do happen to reach the beings of remote later generations,…the learned beings of new formation there concoct their ‘hotchpotch’…”
THE LAW OF THE EQUILI BRATION OF VIBRATIONS
The common denominator of the learned of new formation is a lack of being with respect to the knowledge they possess. In the learned of new formation knowledge far surpasses being and are much more concerned with personal glory than with the glory and welfare of the Whole. Instead of working for Being, the learned of new formation hurry and develop, out of any information he gathers here and there, any theory they find useful for the purpose of satisfying their need for fame and recognition. The learned of new formation, according to The Tales, have a lopsided development and incomplete Being.
Atarnakh misses the most important point in relation to the exchange of vibrations required by Nature, as it concerns the participation of the planet Earth; it is not only the quantity of vibrations that restores the planetary balance; it is also the quality of vibrations. In other words, the needs of Great Nature for vibrations emitting from Earth for the maintenance of its fragments can be fulfilled either by the way of quantity or by the way of quality; with the quality being high, less quantity is required. We have seen how required quantity of vibrations is obtained through the deaths of three-brained beings engaged in wars or through the deaths of two-brained beings during the practice of Sacrificial-Offerings. We have also seen how the quality of vibrations is produced through the elaboration of the substances Abrustdonis and Helkdonis. It is from these two substances that the vibrations of the sacred Askokin required for the maintenance of the Moon are freed. We must remember that Abrustdonis and Helkdonis are just those substances which contribute to the processes of formation and perfection in three-brained beings of the two higher being-bodies, namely, the body Kesdjan and the Higher Being-body or body of the Soul. As it has been said these two being-bodies are perfected in three-brained beings by means of conscious labors and intentional suffering.
It should be noted that according to The Tales the three-brained beings of the continent Atlantis considered the perfection of their higher being-bodies, and the consequent elaboration of the two substances Abrustdonis and Helkdonis, to be a sacred being-duty. For this purpose they gathered in specially constructed buildings to engage in the practice of what they called “Amarloos,” which in their language meant “Help-to-the-Moon.”
Due to the abnormal conditions of life “established by them themselves,” men no longer radiate the vibrations required by the Trogoautoegocratic process of local character. Without the actualization of Being-Partkdolg duty, Great Nature is then forced to adapt Herself to these conditions by increasing the number of deaths among either two- or three-brained beings. If the practice of Sacrificial-Offerings is abandoned, the only way available to Nature is an increase in the number of deaths of three-brained beings. But for an increase in deaths of these beings, an increase in births is also demanded. Overpopulation and wars are the end results. Under these abnormal conditions of life “established by them themselves” the choice is clear: either the practice of Sacrificial-Offerings of two-brained beings or the occurrence of war among three-brained beings. The choice indeed is stark.
When quality is low then quantity is needed; when quality is high then quantity is not needed. This is precisely the law-of-the-equilibration-of-vibrations. In order to supply the demand by Nature of greater quantity when quality is low, more deaths are necessary. But more deaths are only possible when more births are produced. Hence the increase in population that takes place from time to time referred to in The Tales. This is the point contemporary science in its infinite arrogance misses.
The matter of quality of vibrations is one that is found in Beelzebub’s Tales again and again and not only in reference to three-brained beings but to two-brained beings as well. For example, on page 904 in the chapter on the Bokharian Dervish Hadji-Asvatz Troov, we see how quality of vibrations is measured quantitavely and compared among beings of different brain systems. In fact, it is stated that the quality of vibrations of a dog could be higher than that a man.
“It must be remarked that among men, especially men of recent times, very many are to be met with who have not even as great a number of vibrations in the subjective chord of vibrations of their common presence as the number shown by the presence of this dog.
“This has come about because in most of these people I have just mentioned, one function for instance, and, namely, the function of emotion, which actualizes the main quantity of subjective vibrations is already almost completely atrophied, and therefore the sum total of vibrations in them proves to be less than in this dog.”
The point is that the topic of the quality of vibrations is a very important one in Beelzebub’s Tales and it is not only associated with the topic of wars.
For those of us engaged in the kind of work we are doing, quality of vibrations is also very important in relation to the states of our inner world and the law-of-the-equilibration-of-vibrations. I have personally observed in my own inner life how I so often sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity and bring a disequilibrium in the law-of-the-equilibration-of-vibrations. One concrete example is how I search for results and experiences in quantity rather than being present to the experience and to the quality of the experience taking place in the moment. It is a Sacrificial-Offering of the quality of the moment for the quantity of experiencing and the disease “tomorrow.”
But the sacrifice of quality for the sake of quantity is also observable in our outer world because of the law of correspondence that exists between our inner and outer worlds. One concrete example, that is prevalent in America today, is in relation to the process of education or what Beelzebub refers to as the abnormal prevailing Oskiano. We think that by increasing quantity over quality in educating our younger generation is the solution to our problems. But expenditures on education keeps increasing year after year while the quality keep decreasing year after year. From a nation that was first in science and mathematics a few years ago, we have now descending to 14th place in relation to the rest of the world.
It is very important to note again connection between the law-of-the-equilibration-of-vibrations and the need for Great Nature to adapt with respect to the planet Earth in the sense of a change from the first principle of being-existence or “Foolasnitamnian” to that of the second principle or “Itoklanoz.”
The law-of-the-equilibration-of-vibrations finds experimental verification in The Tales. We see at the end of the chapter on the organization of Ashiata Shiemash how this law is practically demonstrated. Very specifically, it is said:
“But the most astonishing and significant result of the Very Saintly Labors of Ashiata Shiemash was that at that period not only did the duration of the existence of those unfortunate become a little more normal, that is to say, it began to increase, but also what they call the ‘death rate’ also diminished, and at the same time the number of their results manifested for the prolongation of their generation, that is, as they say, their ‘birth rate’ diminished to at least a fifth.”
This paragraph from The Tales is followed by the paragraph quoted at the beginning of this chapter and both of them show how the law-of-the-equilibration-of-vibrations is fulfilled, in the sense of quality, when normal conditions of life exist on Earth.
Another direct consequence of the fulfillment of the law-of-the-equilibration-of-vibrations, one that is very much connected to this discussion, is the fact that the process of reciprocal destruction, or wars, diminish on Earth when the law reaches equilibrium.
Three-brained beings, therefore, must strive to increase the quality of vibrations through the practice of conscious labors and intentional suffering. This requires that must strive to bring attention to the quality of our vibrations quantity be sacrificed for the sake of quality. Because of the abnormal conditions of life “established by them themselves,” we do quite the opposite; we sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity. Nothing illustrates this better than the so-called “American way of life.”
STRIVING TO ACTUALIZE QUALITY OF VIBRATIONS
Beelzebub’s Tales warns us that the diminishment of wars from Earth will be an immensely difficult task actualized only over a long, long time. We must not yield to false hopes and utopian fantasies. In the first half of the chapter on “War” we see a detailed description of how organization after organization have been formed on Earth for the sole purpose of eradicating this plague from the planet. All these organizations have failed miserably. The warning must resonate in our Being This horror of horrors has now become a “psycho-organic-need” which has fallen under the involutionary process of the Law of Seven, very much the same as a “psycho-organic-need” or organic habit strongly crystallized in us. Hence the nature of war’s periodic repetitiveness.
If the warning from The Tales should not lead to false hopes, it should not lead to total despair either. Wars can indeed be eradicated from Earth. Within Beelzebub’s Tales there is practical advice on the matter of eradicating this horror of horrors. To this end, Beelzebub speaks of the principle of “… solving and actualizing of only those questions which are in the sphere of their competence and powers;” and offers two examples of what this could entail:
“If, indeed, with all their Being they were aware of the whole objective terror of these processes and desired sincerely jointly to eradicate this evil from the surface of their planet, then they would will-nilly penetrate into the essence of this question and would understand that such an inherency which had become fixed in their psyche during hundreds of centuries can never be decrystallized in the course of a few decades.
“If they understood this, they would not attempt to decide or to actualize anything in this respect for the welfare of their contemporaries, but would direct and use all their attention, all their powers, and all their possibilities, having only the beings of future generations in view.
“For instance, if instead of wiseacring now and as it still said there ‘Don-Quixoting’ with the aim of immediately attaining the total cessation of these processes of theirs, they were to occupy themselves with the eradication of the conviction, which has become fixed in their ordinary process of existence, of the virtue of two notions they; that is to say, if they would try to attain the abolition of the practice of exalting certain of the participants in these processes to what are called ‘heroes’ and to reward them with honors and what are called ‘orders,’ and so if they would try to attain the abolition even of one of the illustrious ‘sciences’ from among their many ‘Hasnamussian sciences,’ invented by certain pimpled beings among them, in which it is nonchalantly proved that the periodic reciprocal destruction on the Earth is very, very necessary, and that if it did not exist an intolerable overpopulation would result on the Earth, and such economic horrors would ensue that men-beings would begin to eat one another.”
It should be noted that throughout Beelzebub’s Tales, there is an abundance of practical advice, method and even experiments. In this sense, it is a functional manual for the verification of the psychological and cosmological theory it brings to light. But, as with everything in the book, this treasure is buried, requiring patience and perseverance to be uncovered. For a more concrete elaboration of this point, the reader is referred to the chapter “An Experiment Extracted from Beelzebub’s Tales” in this volume.
Here it would be very interesting if we touch on one extraordinary aspect of the teaching Mr. Gurdjieff brought to us in Beelzebub’s Tales. The book constantly and continuously presents us with both, an outer movement and an inner movement and both within the context of the “abnormal conditions of life they themselves have created.” We must pay attention to both movements because it is easy to fall asleep in an outer movement, it is as easy to fall asleep in an inner movement. We must not identify with either and we must strive to bring a blending of both movements in our everyday life. The point is that when the book refers to the matter of conferring medals of honors, it is referring to both movements. No other teaching of our time brings so closely and so intertwined these two outer and inner movements so prevalent and so abnormal in their separation our lives.
This requires that there arise within three-brained beings an attention to the quality of vibration and not only the quantity – a balance toward more normal conditions within ourselves/on this planet.
The habit requiring eradication is the practice accepted by all nations of Earth, without one exception, of conferring medals of honor on soldiers for having gone above and beyond the call of duty, which very often means having killed more soldiers of the enemy ranks than is necessary. This is an unfortunate practice that has its origins in the generalized practice of subjective morality. And the idea requiring eradication is the ideological notion of contemporary learned beings of new formation suggests that war is a necessary evil arising of economic and demographic considerations.
The tragedy, according to The Tales, is that because men are habitually engaged in veneration of “their inner ‘Evil-God’ ‘Self-Calming’,” they will never do anything to eradicate war. With a sarcastic tone, the book tells us that those who could do something, because of their positions of power, would rather discharge their responsibility and burden of conscience by participating in promoting every variety of conference and international symposium about peace. Incidentally, the book also accentuates with a sarcastic tone, that these actions only serve as defenses of the egotistic interests of the represented nations as well as opportunities for their representatives to escape from the possession of their wives, mistresses and mother-in-laws.
In closing, we must conclude with some final thoughts on the question of war.
The chapter on “War” in Beelzebub’s Tales begins with Hassein asking his grandfather how it is possible that the three-brained beings of this planet, in spite of having existed for a long period of time, “have not yet become aware and until now continue to be unaware of the horror of this property of them.” The chapter ends with Hassein lamenting that something is wrong here and with his grandfather confirming that “certainly there is something not quite right here.” The chapter on war is the only one in the book that begins with a question from Hassein and ends with a question from Hassein. Hassein’s opening question is more in the realm of real curiosity; but his closing question is more in the realm of real concern for the three-brained beings of the planet Earth.
“At any rate, from this present moment, the aim of my existence shall be to understand clearly why the souls arising in these terrestrial three-centered beings are in such an unprecedented, terrifying situation …”
A change of Being has definitely taken place in Hassein after having listened to his grandfather’s detailed explanations about war. This is the change of being that must take place in us after becoming genuinely aware of this horror of horror which has now become the constant of the planet Earth. All this is an indication of the importance wars had in the mind of Mr. Gurdjieff. No other teacher in modern times has spoken about wars the way Mr. Gurdjieff has. He certainly knew how to take his personal suffering, the death in wars of many of his relatives and his own father, and to transcend it by elevating it to a new understanding and a new possibility: A radical new teaching on the subject of war that may really help humanity to eradicate this evil of evils.
The answer Beelzebub has for his grandson at the end of the chapter on war is clear and simple, and it must resonate in us:
If it is still possible to save the beings of the Earth, then Time alone can do it.
Meanwhile, as “Time alone can do it,” we can expect more births, more deaths, and more wars. It may very well be that we are now entering another “process of the periodic reciprocal destruction of men.” The fact that the chapter on war of The Tales follows the chapter on America in the sequence and form of the book may not be pure coincidence. Are we being warned about the role and involvement of America in this new “process of the periodic reciprocal destruction of men?” Does this have anything to do with America being, during the present flow of the Heropass, “the periodic fundamental source of the issuing of new causes of abnormality?” We do not know the answers to these questions. What we do know is that, regardless of causes, a “Process of the Periodic Reciprocal Destruction of Men” is indeed a great part of the “Terror-of-the-Situation.” And it is a great part of the “numerous catastrophic circumstances existing both internally and externally,”
As disciples of Mr. Gurdjieff and our dear grandfather Beelzebub, it is our ineludible responsibility to work on ourselves for the raising of the quality of vibrations and to share with others our knowledge and understanding on the intimate relationship between war and the law of vibrations. Then, and only then, will we possibly have fulfilled and discharged our obligations to our Common Mother in the service of our COMMON FATHER.
EPILOGUE TO THE CHAPTER ON WAR
The chapter on War of Beelzebub’s Tales is a transformational chapter in the book. We have already mentioned the transformation Hassein went through after listening to his grandfather’s opinions on the periodic process of the reciprocal destruction of men. We must go through a similar transformation if we wish to understand the phenomenon of war that takes place in humanity at large, as well as in the most immediate surroundings of our outer world and in our inner world. This chapter gives us immense clues for the understanding of these three levels: the world at large, our most immediate world and our inner world.
In order to understand how the law-of-the-equilibration-of-vibrations operates, it is necessary to note the correspondence between war as it takes place in our outer world and war as it takes place in our inner world. Without conscious labor and intentional suffering, quantity tends to replace quality, which manifests in the form of opinions and beliefs that have been accumulated in our mentation and feelings during centuries of abnormal conditions of common-shared existence. Hence the prime directive of The Tales to destroy mercilessly all the views rooted in our mentation and feelings.
There is a change in the narrative and even in the atmosphere of The Tales during the sixth descent – manifested in the fact that in the first five descents, the Karnak is moving toward the Planet Revozvradendr, while, during the sixth descent, the Karnak is moving away from this planet – Beelzebub and members of his tribe are now returning home. We are never told what took place at the conference. Many times in Beelzebub’s Tales what is left unsaid is more important than what is said.
The sixth descent is about our collective and individual hypnosis and its consequences for us, as individuals, as well as for humanity as a whole. It is also a descent into the life of contemporary man; as the first five descents are descents into the life of ancient man – the man from Atlantis, Maralpleicie, Tikliamish, Pearl Land, then Babylon and the bored fishermen and shepherds of the Greek and Roman civilization. The sixth descent begins in Afghanistan and extends to several centers of contemporary civilization such as Russia, Germany, France, and America, which was visited by Beelzebub just before he left the solar system Ors and returned to his beloved Karatas. If it is true that Beelzebub’s Tales is not an historical book in the ordinary sense and that history is presented allegorically as a way of showing us aspects of our own abnormality, it is also true that in the history presented in the book there is a strong critique of our collective way of existence. This is shown categorically in the critique presented in the chapter Beelzebub in “America” in which the American grouping is criticized and this criticism is extended to the planet as a whole.
What is seen in the sixth descent is an impartial criticism of our abnormal conditions of life, no longer in terms of different centers of civilization, as was the case in the first five descents where different regional centers of civilization disappeared, one after the other. But in the sixth descent, the whole planet is now addressed and one of the main factors in this criticism is undoubtedly the population explosion the planet has seen in the last century. In the book we see how from time to time three-brained suddenly begin to breed like mice resulting in an abnormal increase in population. But this increase was restricted to a certain part of the planet. Now the increase is planetary. Is Beelzebub telling us that we are in an involutionary downward flow at a much accelerated rate? We cannot really know, as it is difficult for an observer situated in the midst of abnormality to see and measure this abnormality; we cannot even see our own abnormality, let alone that of the planet.
All these abnormalities are results of the operation of cosmic laws and, in this matter of sudden overpopulation and the occurrence of war, the law-of-the-equilibration-of-vibrations is in operation. There is a definite ecological message in Beelzebub’s Tales in the idea that the ecology is a form of reciprocal feeding that maintains the planet. Reciprocal feeding is a constant theme in The Tales that goes in scale from the reciprocal feeding among the parts of an individual to the reciprocal feeding among the cosmic concentrations that maintain the existence of the Universe as a Whole. This message is indeed in Beelzebub’s Tales – “the conscious striving to ever more and more the laws of World-creation and World-maintenance.”
NOTE: This paper follows a presentation given by Bonnie Phillips presented at the 2008 All and Everything Conference under the title, “The Potentials in Today’s World through the Work of Gurdjieff.” In her paper Bonnie asks the following question: “What needs to be understood of the Gurdjieff teaching, in order to address the numerous catastrophic circumstances existing both internally and externally?”