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Chapter 2: Yoga: The Growth of Consciousness

Seekers were practicing this Stop Exercise continually for one month. One day Gurdjieff was in his tent and three seekers were walking through a dry canal that was on the grounds. It was a dry canal; no water was flowing in it. Suddenly, from his tent, Gurdjieff cried, “Stop!” Everyone on the bank of the canal stopped. The three who were in the canal also stopped. It was dry, so there was no problem.

Then suddenly there was an onrush of water. Someone had opened the water supply and water rushed into the canal. When it had come up to the necks of the three, one of them jumped out of the canal thinking, “Gurdjieff does not know what is happening. He is in his tent and he is unaware of the fact that water has come into the canal.” The man thought, “I must jump out. Now it is irrational to be here,” and he jumped out.

The other two remained in the canal as the water became higher and higher. Finally it reached their noses and the second man thought, “This is the limit! I have not come here to die. I have come here to know eternal life, not to lose this one,” and he jumped out of the canal.

The third man remained. The same problem faced him, too, but he decided to remain because Gurdjieff had said that this was an irrational exercise and if it was done with reason, the whole thing would be destroyed. He thought, “Okay, I accept death, but I cannot stop this exercise,” and he remained there.

Now water was flowing above his head. Gurdjieff jumped out of his tent and into the canal and brought him out. He was just on the verge of death. But when he revived, he was a transformed man. He was not the same one who was standing and doing the exercise; he was transformed totally. He had known something; he had taken the jump.

Where is the limit? If you continue with reason, you may miss. You go on falling back. Sometimes one has to suddenly take a step that leads you beyond. That step becomes a transformation; the division is transcended. Whether you say that this division is between the conscious and the unconscious, between reason and nonreason, science and religion, or East and West - division must be transcended. That is what yoga is: a transcendence. Then you can come back to reason, but you will be transformed. You can even reason things out, but you will be beyond reason.