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Chapter 4: Beyond Life-and-death

The other fellow was dead. That’s why the manager had said, “Silently you go to sleep - don’t disturb the other fellow. He is fast asleep.” But when he did not answer good night, Mulla pushed him from this side and that side, and finally tried to open his eyes. And when he saw that that man was dead, he freaked out.

The whole hotel gathered and the manager said, “I was afraid of this - and you did this. What was the need for you? You had a bed, you simply should have gone to sleep. What were you doing with that fellow? He is fast asleep.”

Mulla said, “Fast asleep? My God, I cannot sleep in this room. He is dead!”

But the manager was a mystic, and he said, “You only think that you are alive. He also thinks he is alive. I have tried the whole day to persuade him that ‘You are not alive,’ but he does not listen. Now, you think you are alive - do you have any proof that you are alive?”

Mulla said, “Never in my life has anybody asked for proof of my life, and I don’t know whether really I am alive or just fast asleep like that fellow, only speaking in sleep. Many people speak in sleep, have great dialogues.”

According to George Gurdjieff, this is your situation. You sleep, you wake up in the morning, you do everything according to a routine, but is there really a soul in you? Do you think you will be able to pass through the funeral pyre? Is there anything in you that you have touched, felt, experienced, that will not be burned?

Perhaps you have never thought about it. You have simply believed the idea of all religions that everybody has a soul, an immortal soul. It is a good idea, that you will be here always, enjoying different ways of being: sometimes a tiger, and sometimes an elephant, and sometimes a man - but you will be here. That idea has gone so deep in man’s mind that he does not feel the necessity to discover it; there is no need.

To create the need Gurdjieff and Bukko both insisted that as you are, you are really empty. You can be filled with fulfillment and contentment, with tremendous joy and celebration, but you will have to do something.

Bukko said:

“The way out of life-and-death is not some special technique.”

To go beyond life-and-death there is no certain technique. The essential thing is to see through to the root of life-and-death. Do you know you have roots? You know perfectly well any tree uprooted is going to die. Roots are hidden underneath the ground. Just because you don’t have roots in the ground, because you walk here and there.

Have you heard about trees in Africa which walk? Not very fast, no traffic rule is needed, but they go on moving towards the sources where more water is available. What will you say - their roots are their legs? Nothing can exist without roots.

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