Chapter 6: Only Now Is
The second question:
Why don’t you give your disciples a certain mode of conduct? Isn’t a moral character necessary for a spiritual life?
My whole effort is to give you a consciousness, not a character. Consciousness is the real thing, character the false entity. Character is needed by those who don’t have consciousness. If you have eyes, you don’t need a walking stick to find your way, to grope your way. If you can see you don’t ask others, “Where is the door?” Character is needed because people are unconscious. Character is just a lubricant; it helps you to run your life in a smooth way.
George Gurdjieff used to say character is like a buffer. Buffers are used in railway trains; between two compartments there are buffers. If something happens, those two compartments cannot clash with each other; these buffers prevent them from clashing with each other. Or it is like springs: cars have springs so you can move smoothly - even on an Indian road. Those springs go on absorbing the shocks; they are called shock absorbers.
That’s what character is, it is a shock absorber. People are told to be humble. If you learn how to be humble it is a shock absorber. By learning how to be humble you will be able to protect yourself against other people’s egos. They will not hurt you so much; you are a humble man. If you are egoistic you are bound to be hurt again and again. The ego is very sensitive, so you cover up your ego with a blanket of humbleness. It helps, it gives you a kind of smoothness, but it does not transform you.
My work consists of transformation. This is an alchemical school. I want to transform you from unconsciousness into consciousness, from darkness into light. I cannot give you a character; I can only give you insight, awareness. I would like you to live moment-to-moment, not according to a set pattern given by me or given by the society, the church, the state. I would like you to live according to your own small light of awareness, according to your own consciousness. Be responsive to each moment.