Self-remembering is arguably the central aspect of the Living Teaching G. I. Gurdjieff brought to humanity. And yet the term is explicitly used only twice in his opus magnum Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, and only in passing. I think it would be worthwhile to quote the two passages in the book where the term self-remembering is explicitly used. First here is from page 1066:
“And just as nothing could be accomplished by the beings of their planet of former epochs, who, becoming responsible beings had even attained in respect of Being at least to what is called ‘self-remembering,’”…………
Then from page 1109:
“In the male temples, namely, in the Agoorokhrostiny, beings of the male sex of the given locality or of the given district performed in turn corresponding ‘mysteries’ while in the special state called ‘self-remembering.’”
(It should be noted that these two passages where the term self-remembering is used explicitly come from the chapter on war of Beelzebub’s Tales, maybe as a way to emphasize that the special state called ‘self-remembering’ could help us to end wars or at least to decrease here on Earth the occurrence of this process of reciprocal destruction).
Beelzebub’s Tales mentions the state of self-remembering but does not even attempt to describe it explicitly, let alone to define it. But this is one of the characteristics of the book: It teaches by example and not by definitions or even descriptions. For instance, the two ways for self-development constantly mentioned in the book are conscious labors and intentional suffering (which ways certainly involve a certain degree of self-remembering in order to be actualized). It is true that with respect to intentional suffering, it is explicitly said that the best form on intentional suffering is to bear the unpleasant manifestations of others but that is all is said. Except in every rare occasions is a give term defined or described in details, as it is the case for the two and other cosmic laws. However, if we go to the teaching by example used throughout the book, we see that each of the main personages in the book (like Belcultassi, the two Chinese brothers Choon-Kil-Tez and Choon-Tro-Pel, the Bokharian Dervish Hadji-Asvatz-Troov, and many others) had to go through the two ways of conscious labors and intentional suffering before carrying out his mission. This fact alone shows the teaching by example.
The state of self-remembering has been the topic of many discussions among followers of the living teaching. There are even books written on the topic. This in spite of the fact that Mr. Gurdjieff never defined it and even asked his disciples this very subtle question, “when your remember yourself, what exactly do you remember?”
All these considerations, and many others, beg the question, is there a place in Beelzebub’s Tales where the state of self-remembering is vividly described? Here we can make use of another characteristic of the book, the fact that what is mentioned in one part of the book is then addressed in other parts of the book. It should be expected that somewhere in the book the state of self-remembering is vividly addressed even when the term self-remembering is not mentioned. This vivid description would help us to understand what self-remembering is all about.
I claim that the state of self-remembering is vividly described in relation to one of the most sacred states mentioned in the book. This is the state of the sacred “Ksherknara” and it corresponds to the state attained by the Most Saintly Ashiata Shiemash after he ascended the mountain “Veziniama” in order to find the sense and aim of His existence. This is one of the states in the book that is further described in exact terms as the state of “all-brained-balanced-being-perceptiveness.” I claim that this state corresponds to the state of self-remembering. It is attained when all the three brained are “balanced” and in that state one attains complete being-perceptiveness.
So, the conclusion is that the state of self-remembering is indeed fully and vividly described in Beelzebub’s Tales and that, in this sense, Mr. Gurdjieff is truthful to his indictment that his book contains all and everything.
A final note is worthy of consideration. If self-remembering is the state of “all-brained-balanced-being-perceptiveness,” then this state will come about when the three brains or centers of man are balanced and work in harmony. What is then taking place during self-remembering is a re-mebering of all the three members or brains of man. Then the term “self-re-membering” is more appropriate than self-remembering.