Chapter 9: When a Man Has Presence.
Once you have touched a master or the master has touched you, something that has never been in your consciousness has happened. And from that knowing there is no way to fall back. It is irreversible. And once you have felt it, then you know it is. And then you can see the same flame in the trees and in the rivers and in the people. Maybe it is not so clear, maybe it is clouded, hidden behind smoke, asleep, but it is the same whether asleep or awake, hidden behind a cloud of smoke or burning brightly with no smoke. It is the same flame. Once you have touched a master or you have been touched by a master.
Michelangelo painted the Day of Creation in the Sistine Chapel. He changed the whole story, the biblical story. And even the people who were making the Sistine Chapel, who were financing it, and the pope - even they could not detect that he had done something utterly new, something which is not in the Bible.
The Bible says that God created Adam. He created Adam with mud, humus - hence the word human. And then God breathed into the nostrils of Adam - he breathed life. Now Michelangelo must have thought - I was looking in his diaries, there are many references. - he must have thought for many days, “To paint this will look a little awkward. God breathing into the nostrils of Adam? It will look a little awkward to paint it.” So he changed it. He painted one of his most famous paintings: God touching Adam, not breathing. There is just God’s finger there from the unknown. God is high in the heaven, in the clouds; Adam is on the earth. A finger just comes and touches Adam. and that touch makes him alive.
Nobody thought that he had changed the whole story. It is not so in the Bible - not by touch but by breathing into him was Adam made alive. But Michelangelo was a student of Sufism. He was deeply interested in Sufism, and he must have come across the idea of the touch of the master - that the disciple becomes alive by the touch of the master.
Yes, it is a touch. It is the jump of a flame from one lamp to another lamp. Once you have felt it - and it is a feeling, there is no way of describing it - once you have felt it, you have become aware of the sacred. Then it is all over, then only it is.
So Sufis say that the greatest blessing of life is to find a master - one who knows, one who sees, one who is. You are only when you are in God - before that you are just empty, before that you are a house without a master, before that you are just a dwelling where nobody dwells, before that you only think that you are, but you are not. You are very momentary, you are bubble-like. You don’t have any integrity, you don’t have any center, you don’t have any soul.
Gurdjieff, who was immensely impressed by Sufi ideas, who was, in fact, a Sufi master, introduced a very new concept into the Western mind. In fact, nobody had talked about it in that way before. Gurdjieff introduced the idea that you have no soul. The soul has to be created. Don’t remain placid, smug, and don’t remain confident that you have a soul. All the great religions have told you that you have a soul, that it is already there - but Gurdjieff introduced a very new insight. He said that the soul is not there; there is only a possibility of it. You can have it, but you may miss it. There is no certainty about it. You have to create it. Yes, if you want, you can create it, but don’t take it for granted. Don’t think that it is already there inside you.