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Chapter 8: Not Knowing Life Is Death

These three additional months in that asylum, he told me later, were worse than hell for him. He said, “As long as I was mad, there was no problem, because everyone else was the same as I was. But when I recovered, I couldn’t figure out where I was. I was fast asleep and two men jumped on me; I was going my way and someone started pushing me. I never noticed these things before because I was mad too. When I was mad I never could recognize that everyone around me was mad as well. Only when I came out of my madness did I realize that all those people were mad.

“As I ceased to be mad, I became the target of everyone there. My problem was that I knew I was quite well, but I wondered and worried what would happen to me now. How would I get out of there? My screaming ‘I am not mad,’ was of no avail because all madmen scream they are not mad. No doctor was ready to believe me.”

We are surrounded by people who are asleep, hence we don’t realize we are asleep too. We immediately kill the one who is awakened because he appears very troublesome, very disturbing to us.

A British scholar, Kenneth Walker, has dedicated a book of his to a mystic, Gurdjieff. The wording of his dedication is tremendous, wonderful. He has written, “To George Gurdjieff, the disturber of my sleep.”

There have been very few people in the world who have tried to break man’s sleep. But if you attempt to break anybody’s sleep, he will take revenge on you. Don’t ever try to waken a sleeping man, he will be at your throat. Up to now, whosoever has tried to shake man out of his spiritual sleep, we have been at his throat as well. We don’t notice it because we are all sleeping too. I have heard.

A magician once entered a city. He threw some powder into a well and declared that whosoever would drink water from that well would go mad. This was the only well in the city. There was one more, but that was inside the king’s palace. By the time it was evening everyone in that city became thirsty, so even at the cost of turning mad, people drank the water. How long could they hold out? They were helpless. And so by evening the entire city had gone mad.

The king and his queens were happy that they didn’t have to drink the water from that well and become mad. His ministers were happy to be saved from madness as well. The palace was filled with music and celebration, but by evening they realized they were wrong. The people had surrounded the palace; they had all gone mad. The palace guards and the soldiers of the king’s army had gone mad as well. Surrounding the palace, they shouted, “It seems our king has gone mad. We cannot tolerate a mad king sitting on the throne.”

From the tower of his palace the king saw there was no way to escape, that he was completely surrounded by the mad crowd. The king was terrified. He asked his prime minister what he should do. “What will happen now?” he worriedly asked. “We thought we were fortunate that we had our own well. Now we have to pay very dearly for it.” Sooner or later, all kings have to pay dearly for owning an exclusive well. This is true all over the world. One who has recently become a king will certainly find his separate well proves costly tomorrow. Owning an exclusive well is dangerous.

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