Beelzebub's Tales

Gurdjieff International Review

On Attention and Understanding
of Beelzebub’s Tales

by G. I. Gurdjieff

Question:  Sir, I asked you last Thursday, if there was a way to develop attention; you said that attention was measured in the degree that one remembers oneself. You told me to especially look into myself. I especially asked you that because I wasn’t able to put my attention on the reading of Beelzebub. During this week I understood that attention was what I was. As many “I’s” as there were, so many different attentions. I wanted to ask you if there was, for developing attention, only the method of “I am” or if there are other special methods?

Gurdjieff:  One thing I can tell you. Methods do not exist. I do not know any. But I can explain now everything simply. For example, in Beelzebub, I know, there is everything one must know. It is a very interesting book. Everything is there. All that exists, all that has existed, all that can exist. The beginning, the end, all the secrets of the creation of the world; all is there. But one must understand, and to understand depends on one’s individuality. The more man has been instructed in a certain way, the more he can see. Subjectively, everyone is able to understand according to the level he occupies, for it is an objective book, and everyone should understand something in it. One person understands one part, another a thousand times more. Now, find a way to put your attention on understanding all of Beelzebub. This will be your task, and it is a good way to fix a real attention. If you can put real attention on Beelzebub, you can have a real attention in life. You didn’t know this secret. In Beelzebub there is everything, I have said it, even how to make an omelet. Among other things, it is explained; and at the same time there isn’t a word in Beelzebub about cooking. So, you put your attention on Beelzebub, another attention than that to which you are accustomed, and you will be able to have the same attention in life.

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