Chapter 20: Affliction
Every politician in the world is psychologically sick. His sickness is a deep inferiority complex, a deep impotence. Now, there are only two ways to get out of this state of impotence: the cheapest and the simplest is to become powerful over others. But that is an illusory experience - certainly cheap, but not real.
Real power comes only with the experience of your own being.
That’s where politics and religion separate. Their inquiry is basically the same - the search for power - but politics chooses the cheapest, the most plastic way of attaining power, and religion goes in search of the authentic, the real, your own.
If you are independent, absolutely rooted in your own being, this experience of power can be shared. If you are close to the man of power and you are not afraid of opening up, you will immediately see a great flash, a great flow entering into your being, as if a flame has jumped from one lamp to another. It has been called, in the tradition of Zen, the transmission of the lamp. It is transmission of power, and it is a very strange experience.
One of the disciples of Gurdjieff - perhaps the one who was with him the longest - was Bennett. He had found Gurdjieff in a refugee camp in Constantinople after the Russian Revolution. Gurdjieff had escaped out of Russia. He knew that remaining in Russia would be absolutely dangerous for his life, and his disciples who were around him also persuaded him to escape in time. There was every danger, particularly from the communists, who don’t believe in any spirituality, who don’t believe that man has something eternal in him - and that was Gurdjieff’s lifelong work.
There was chaos all over the country. The czar and his government had failed, collapsed. The communists had not yet been able to establish order and peace. Everything was in chaos; the whole bureaucracy was disrupted - and that was the time when all the people who wanted to get out of Russia had the opportunity.
Gurdjieff landed in Constantinople, in a refugee camp, where there were thousands of homeless Russians. Bennett discovered him in the refugee camp in Constantinople. That was the first time the world came to know about Gurdjieff. Bennett was in the army; he helped Gurdjieff to reach Paris, and whenever he was able he would come and live with Gurdjieff.
Bennett remembers in his autobiography something concerning power. He had come, utterly tired, to see Gurdjieff, and he was feeling for a few days as if he was going to die, as if all power to resist sickness had disappeared. He was pale, weak, and he had come just to see Gurdjieff for the last time, thinking that he would not be able to see him again.
When he entered Gurdjieff’s room, Gurdjieff said, “What has happened to you, Bennett? It is not time for you to die.” He put his hand on Bennett’s head, and Bennett could not believe it: a great energy started flowing from his hand into Bennett’s body. Bennett became young again, just within minutes. He opened his eyes, he could not believe it. He looked at his hands - all his paleness had disappeared. There was a feeling of rejuvenation, almost a rebirth.