Gurdjieff International Review

“You Know This Word, ‘Kindness’?”

Fritz Peters


here were a number of cats and dogs around the Prieuré. One of the dogs, a rather ugly black and white mongrel, had always tended to follow Gurdjieff around, but not to such an extent that he could have been called Gurdjieff’s dog. At this period, with Gurdjieff rarely absent from the Prieuré—he had cut his trips to Paris to an absolute minimum—this dog, named Philos by Gurdjieff, became his constant companion. He not only followed him everywhere, but also slept in Gurdjieff’s room unless Gurdjieff put him out personally, which he usually did, telling me that he did not like anyone or anything sleeping in the same room with him. Upon being put out of the room, Philos would curl up directly in front of the door, and then go to sleep against it. He was a reasonably fierce watchdog and became very protective of Gurdjieff. He was, however, extremely tolerant of me as I was—obviously with Gurdjieff’s permission—constantly coming and going to and from Gurdjieff’s room. When I would enter it late at night with my tray of coffee, he would glare up at me, yawn and permit me to step over him and enter the room.

Tom and Fritz Peters at the Prieuré

One night, it was very late and the entire Prieuré was silent and dark with the exception of Gurdjieff’s room. Gurdjieff set aside his work when I came in and told me to sit on the bed beside him. He talked at some length about his work, how hard his writing was, how exhausting his daily work with Madame Ostrovsky, and then, as usual, asked me about myself. I recapitulated the various things that I was doing, and he commented that since I had a great deal to do with animals—I took care of the chickens, the horse, the donkey, and recently had been feeding Philos, too—he would like to know what I thought of them. I said that I thought of them all as my friends and told him, to his amusement, that I even had names for all the chickens.

He said that the chickens were not important—very stupid creatures—but that he hoped that I would take good care of the other animals. The donkey did not matter too much, but he was concerned with the horse and the dogs. “Horse and dog, and sometimes also true of cow,” he said, “are special animals. Can do many things with such animals. In America, in Western world, people make fools of dogs—make learn tricks, other stupid things. But these animals truly special—no longer just animals.” He then asked me if I had ever heard of reincarnation, and I said that I had. He said that there were people, some Buddhists for example, who had many theories about reincarnation, some “even believe animal can become man—or sometimes that in next reincarnation can become animal.” He laughed when he said this, and then added: “Man do many strange things with religion when learn a little—make up new things for religion, sometimes things that have little truth, but usually come from original thing that was true. In case of dogs, they not all wrong,” he said. “Animals have only two centres—man is three-centered being, with body, heart, and mind, all different. Animal cannot acquire third brain and become man; but just because of this, because of this impossibility to acquire third brain, is necessary always treat animals with kindness. You know this word, ‘kindness’?”

I said that I did, and, he said: “Never forget this word. Very good word and not exist in many languages. Not in French, for instance. French say ‘gentil,’ but this not mean same thing. Not kind, kind come from kin, like family, like same thing. Kindness mean to treat like self.”

“Reason for necessity treat dog and horse with kindness,” he went on, “is because unlike all other animal, and even though he know cannot become man, cannot acquire third brain like man, in his heart all dog and horse who associate with man wish become man. You look at dog or horse and you always see, in eyes, this sadness because know not possible for them, but even so, they wish. This very sad thing to wish for impossible. They wish this because of man. Man corrupts such animals; man almost try to make dog and horse human. You have heard people say ‘my dog almost like human’—they not know they speak near-truth when say this, because is almost truth, but still impossible. Dog and horse seem like human because have this wish. So, Freets,”—as he always pronounced my name—“you remember this important thing. Take good care of animals; always be kind.” □

Fritz Peters, My Journey With a Mystic (1986) Laguna Niguel, CA: Tale Weaver Publishing, pp. 84–86.


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Featured: Winter 2019/2020 Issue, Vol. XIV (1)
Revision: August 13, 2020