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Chapter 5: This Is It!

When Ouspensky went to Gurdjieff, Gurdjieff looked at him. He could see the knowledgeable man who knew much, who knew that others also knew that he knew much - the subtle ego. Gurdjieff gave him a paper, a sheet of paper, and told him to go to a room on the side and write down on one side whatsoever he knew, and on the other side whatsoever he did not know. Because the work could start only when he was clear about what he knew and what he did not know. Gurdjieff said, “Remember, whatsoever you write that you know, I will accept, and we will never talk about it again. It is finished; you know. Whatsoever you write that you don’t know, we will work on it.” And the first thing Gurdjieff said was to know what you know and what you don’t know.

Ouspensky went into the room. He started thinking of what he knew for the first time in his life, and he could not write a single thing on the paper. He tried God, self, the world, mind, awareness - what did he know? For the first time the question was asked authentically. He knew many things about God, and he knew many things about the soul, and he knew many things about awareness, but he did not really know a thing about God. It was all information; it was not his experience. And unless something is your experience how can you say you know it?

You may know about love, but that is not knowledge really. You have to pass through love, you have to pass through the fire of love. You have to burn, you have to survive the challenge, and when you come out of love you are totally different, different from the man who had gone in. Love transforms. Information never transforms you. Information goes on becoming an addition: whatsoever you are, it goes on adding to it. It becomes like a treasure to you but you remain the same. Experience changes you. Real knowledge is not an accumulation, it is a transformation, a mutation - the old dies and the new is born. It is hard.

Ouspensky tried as hard as possible to find at least a few things, because it was so much against his ego not to write anything. He could not even write, “I know myself.” If you have not known the basic entity, yourself, then what else can you know? It was a cold night and he started perspiring. Just a moment before he was shivering with cold. His whole being was at stake. He started feeling dizzy, as if he would fall into a swoon or a fit. Long hours passed, then Gurdjieff knocked on the door and said, “Have you done anything?” And Gurdjieff could see that the man had changed. Just keeping that blank sheet of paper in his hand, sitting there - it had been a great meditation, a zazen. He gave the empty, blank paper to Gurdjieff and said, “I don’t know anything. I am absolutely ignorant. Accept me as your disciple.” Gurdjieff said, “You are ready then to recognize that one is ignorant is the first step towards wisdom.”

Being bound together as cause-effect, the effects disappear with the disappearance of causes.

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