Gurdjieff International Review

Religious Traditions

Respect every religion.1


You have a religion, a faith in something. It is excellent to have faith in something, in whatever it might be... To have faith, whether consciously or even quite unconsciously, is for every being very necessary and desirable. And it is desirable because owing to faith alone does there appear in a being, the intensity of being-self-consciousness necessary for every being, and also the valuation of personal Being as of a particle of Everything Existing in the Universe.2


All this, everything that moves in this moving world must be pervaded by the lord.3


OM! Will, remember! Remember the deed!

Will, remember! Remember the deed!4


Now listen to the method of Karma Yoga selfless, God-dedicated action, work.

In this yoga, even the abortive attempt is not wasted.5


You must be free of the pairs of opposites...

Be established in the consciousness of the Atman the Godhead always.6


You have the right to work, but for the work’s sake only. You have no right to the fruits of work. Desire for fruits of work must never be your motive in working... Renounce attachment to the fruits.7


One day a man of the people said to the Zen master Ikkyu: “Master, will you please write for me some maxims of the highest wisdom?” Ikkyu immediately took his brush and wrote the word “Attention.”

“Is that all?” asked the man. “Will you not add something more?” Ikkyu then wrote twice: “Attention. Attention.”

“Well,” remarked the man rather irritably, “I really don’t see much depth or subtlety in what you have just written.” Then Ikkyu wrote three time: “Attention. Attention. Attention.”

Half angered, the man declared: “What does that word attention mean anyway?” And Ikkyu answered, gently: “Attention means attention.”8


How does a practitioner remain established in the observation of the body in the body?

He goes to the forest, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty room, sits down cross-legged, holds his body straight and establishes mindfulness in front of him. . .

He uses the following practice: Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. Breathing out I am aware of my whole body...

Moreover, when a practitioner walks, he is aware, ‘I am walking.’ When he is sitting he is aware, ‘I am sitting.’ When he is lying down, he is aware, ‘I am lying down.’ In whatever position his body happens to be, he is aware of the position of his body...

He observes the process of coming-to-be in the body or the process of dissolution.

Or he is mindful of the fact, ‘There is a body here.’

Moreover, when he walks, stands, lies down, sits, sleeps or wakes up, speaks or is silent, he shines his awareness on all this.9


There is the case where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person does not discern what ideas are fit for attention, nor what ideas are unfit for attention. This being so, he does not attend to ideas fit for attention, and attends instead to ideas unfit for attention... As he attends inappropriately in this way and bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed...

The well-instructed noble disciple discerns what ideas are fit for attention, and what ideas are unfit for attention. This being so, he does not attend to ideas unfit for attention, and attends instead to ideas fit for attention... As he attends appropriately in this way, three fetters are abandoned in him: identity, doubt, and grasping at habits and practices.10


Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One.

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words which I command thee this day, shall be upon thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates.11


I pray with the floor and the bench.12


For this commandment which I command thee, this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.

It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?

Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear it, and do it?

But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.13


If I am not for myself, who will be?

And when I am only for myself. What am “I”?

And if not now, when?14


A basic idea underlying Jewish life is that there are no special frameworks for holiness. A man’s relation to God is not set apart on a higher plane, or relegated to some special corner of time and place with all the rest of life taking place somewhere else. The Jewish attitude is that life in all its aspects ... must somehow or other be bound up with holiness. This attitude is expressed in part through conscious action: that is, through the utterance of prescribed prayers and blessings...

There are many blessings. These are generally quite short, no more than reminders to a person that the actions he is taking are not just movements without meaning, but that they have significance and content. Such a blessing is recited before every mitzvah and also before almost every enjoyment that one experiences in the world, whether food and drink, smell, or pleasurable sights of all sorts. In fact, the task of the blessing is to remind one, to halt the process of habit and routine which draws man always into the realm of the mechanical and the meaningless, and to set up at every moment of change in the flow of life the brief declaration that this particular thing one is doing is not for one’s self, or of one’s self, but that at some point it is connected with a higher world. By these blessings, then, scattered throughout the entire day, in all manner of situations, one attains to an integration of the ordinary, habitual elements of life with a higher order of sanctity.15


We can only strive to be able to be Christians.16


For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.17


Note Christ’s words: “Where two are gathered together in my name I will be with them.” You should understand it thus: Christ means the soul and the body in true unity, so that the body wants nothing but what the soul wants.18


Now you might say: “Oh sir, ... it is a grievous matter for God to leave a man without support ... without either enlightening or encouraging me or working within me, as your teaching implies. If a man is in such a state of pure nothingness, is it not better to do something to beguile the gloom and desolation, such as praying or listening to sermons or doing something else that is virtuous, so as to help himself?”

No, be sure of this. Absolute stillness for as long as possible is best of all for you. You cannot exchange this state for any other without harm. That is certain. You would like to partly prepare yourself and partly let God prepare you, but this cannot be. You cannot think or prepare yourself more quickly than God can move in to prepare you. But even if it was shared, so that you did the preparing and God did the working or the infusion—which is impossible—then you should know that God must act and pour Himself into you the moment He finds you ready.19


The most potent and well-nigh the greatest of all prayer to attain everything, and the noblest work, flow from a free inner disposition...

What is a free inner disposition? ...

It is free of self, and desiring nothing for itself becomes completely governed by the love and the will of God.

Mankind cannot perform even the smallest work for God unless his energies and capabilities are graced by this state.

We need to pray in such a way that a longing should be aroused in all our members and powers, and all our senses, eyes, ears, mouth and heart, that they should all be directed towards this same end; neither must we give up before we feel that we are about to be united with that which is always present, and to which we have been praying, namely, God.20


Everywhere, wherever you may find yourself, you can set up an altar to God in your mind by means of prayer. And so it is fitting to pray at your trade, on a journey, standing at the counter or sitting at your handcraft. Everywhere and in every place it is possible to pray, and, indeed, if a man diligently turns his attention upon himself, then everywhere he will find convenient circumstances for prayer.21


Let us awake from sleep while we are still in the body.22


Have me present to your heart. I shall have you present to myself.23


The intermediate world: where the spiritual takes body and the body becomes spiritual.24


It is We who have sent down the Remembrance, and We watch over it.25

The commentators say this refers to the Koran. This too is good; but it can also mean, “We have placed in you a substance, a seeking, a yearning. We watch over that, not letting it go to waste but bringing it to a definite place.”26


Each time the heart sighs for the Throne, the Throne sighs for the heart, so that they come to meet. Each time a light rises up from you, a light comes down toward you, and each time a flame rises from you, a corresponding flame comes down toward you. If their energies are equal, they meet half-way. But when the substance of light has grown in you, then this becomes a Whole in relation to what is of the same nature in Heaven.27


The Sunrise Ruby

In the early morning hour,
just before dawn, lover and beloved wake
and take a drink of water.

She asks, “Do you love me or yourself more?
Really, tell the absolute truth.”

He says, “There’s nothing left of me.
I’m like a ruby held up to the sunrise.
Is it still a stone, or a world
made of redness? It has no resistance
to sunlight.”

The ruby and the sunrise are one.
Be courageous and discipline yourself.

Completely become hearing and ear,
and wear this sun-ruby as an earring.

Work. Keep digging your well.
Don’t think about getting off from work.
Water is there somewhere.

Submit to daily practice.
Your loyalty to that
is a ring on the door.

Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there. 28


This We Have Now

This we have now
is not imagination.

This is not grief or joy.

Not a judging state,
or an elation,
or sadness.

These come and go.

This is the presence
that doesn’t. 29

~ • ~

Copyright © 2013 Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing
Featured: Fall 2013 Issue, Vol. XII (1)
Revision: November 1, 2013


1 G. I. Gurdjieff, Views From the Real World, New York: Triangle Editions, 1973, Aphorism No. 14.

2 G. I. Gurdjieff, Beelzebubs Tales to His Grandson, New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1950, p. 191–192.

3 The Upanishads: Translated and Edited by V. Roebuck, London: Penguin Books, 2003, p. 7.

4 Ibid., p. 9.

5 Bhagavad Gita: Translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, London: Phoenix House, 1953, p. 44.

6 Ibid., p. 45.

7 Ibid., p. 46.

8 Philip Kapleau, The Three Pillars of Zen, Anchor Books, 1965, quoting the Zenso Mondo (Dialogues of the Zen Masters) translation by Kuni Matsuo and E. Steinhilber-Oberlin.

9 Thích Nhất Hạnh, Transformation and Healing, London: Rider, 1992, pp. 4–6, quoting the Sutra on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness from the Pali Canon.

10 Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism: Majjhima Nikaya 2, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

11 Moses, in the Torah, Deuteronomy 6:4–9. Inscribed on a minuscule scroll within a Mezuzah, a small decorative cylindrical case which is fixed ‘upon the door posts’ of the house as a constant “reminding factor.”

12 Rabbi Zalman of Ladi, 18th c., quoted by Martin Buber in Hasidism, Philosophical Library, New York, 1950.

13 Moses, in the Torah, Deuteronomy 30: 11–15.

14 Rabbi Hillel, c. BCE 110–CE 10, in the Pirkei Avot: The Ethics of the Fathers.

15 Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, The Thirteen Petalled Rose, Basic Books, 1980, pp. 154, 158–159.

16 G. I. Gurdjieff, Views From the Real World, Aphorism No. 16.

17 Matthew 18:20.

18 Meister Eckhart: Sermons & Treatises, Vol. I, Sermon No. 37, Element Books, 1987, p. 270, translated by Maurice O’C Walshe.

19 Ibid., Sermon No. 4, pp. 42–43.

20 Meister Eckhart, Tractates, London: Watkins, 1924, translated by C. de B. Evans.

21 The Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way, London: SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge) Publishing, 1954, translated by R. M. French. Quoted in The Brotherhood of the Common Life and its Influence, Ross Fuller, SUNY Press, 1995.

22 Anthony the Great, Early Fathers from the Philokalia. Quoted in The Brotherhood of the Common Life and its Influence, Ross Fuller, SUNY Press, 1995.

23 Koran II:147 quoted in Creative Imagination in the Sufism of ibn ‘Arabi, Bollingen Series XCI, Princeton, 1969.

24 Quoting an unnamed Shia master, op. cit.

25 Koran XV:9.

26 Discourses of Rumi, pp. 125–126, 198, ed. A. J. Arberry, London, 1975, p. 127.

27 Najm Kobra (13th c.), quoted in The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism, Henry Corbin, Colorado, 1978, pp. 72–73.

28 The Essential Rumi: Translations by Coleman Barks, NY: Harper Collins, 1995, pp. 100–101.

29 Ibid., p. 261.