Chapter 5: Layer upon Layer
The Sufi master, Ajnabi said, “Write to Mulla Firoz and tell him that I have no time to engage him in correspondence, and therefore have nothing to say to his letter.”
The disciple, Amini, said, “Is it your intention to annoy him with this letter?”
Ajnabi said, “He has been annoyed by some of my writings. This annoyance has caused him to write to me. My purpose in writing the passage which angers him was to anger such as he.”
Amini said, “And this letter will anger him further?”
Ajnabi said, “Yes. When he was enraged at what I wrote, he did not observe his own anger, which was my intention. He thought that he was observing me, whereas he was only feeling angry. Now I write again, to arouse his anger, so that he will see that he is angry. The objective is for the man to realize that my work is a mirror in which he sees himself.”
Man’s being is very simple, but his personality is not. The personality is very complex. The personality is like an onion - there are many layers of conditioning, corruption, poisoning. Hidden behind many layers - what Sufis call filters - is man’s simple being. But that simple being is behind so many filters that you cannot see it. And hidden behind these many filters, you cannot see the world either - because whatsoever reaches you is corrupted by the filters before it reaches you. Nothing ever reaches you as it is; you go on missing it. There are many interpreters in between.
You see something. First your eyes and your senses falsify. Then your ideology, your religion, your society, your church - they falsify. Then your emotions - they falsify. And so on and so forth. By the time it reaches to you it has almost nothing of the original, or so little that it makes no difference. You see something only if your filters allow it, and the filters don’t allow much.
Scientists agree with the Sufis. Scientists say we see only two per cent of reality. Only two per cent! Ninety-eight per cent is missed. When you are listening to me you will hear only two per cent of what has been told, of what has been said. Ninety-eight per cent will be lost. and when the ninety-eight per cent is lost, that two per cent is out of context. It is as if you have taken two pages from a novel, at random - one from here, one from there - and then you start reconstructing the whole novel from these two pages. Ninety-eight pages are missing. You have no inkling what they were; you don’t even know that they were. You have only two pages and you reconstruct the whole novel again. This reconstruction is your invention. It is not discovery of truth, it is your imagination.
And there is an inner necessity to fill the gaps. Whenever you see that two things are unrelated, the mind has an inner urgency to relate them. Otherwise it feels very uneasy. So you invent a link, you fix those loose things with a link, you bridge them. And you go on inventing a world that is not there.
So before we can enter into this small but immensely valuable dialogue between the master and the disciple, you will have to understand these layers, these filters.
Gurdjieff used to call these filters “buffers.” They protect you against reality. They protect your lies, they protect your dreams, they protect your projections. They don’t allow you to come into contact with reality because the very contact is going to be shattering, shocking. Man lives through lies.