Chapter 1: The Secret of the Magic of Life
At last the magician found a remedy. He hypnotized his sheep and suggested to them first of all that they were immortal and that no harm was being done to them when they were skinned, that on the contrary, it would be very good for them and even pleasant.
Secondly, he suggested that the magician was a good master who loved his flock so much that he was ready to do anything in the world for them. And in the third place, he suggested to them that if anything at all was going to happen to them it was not going to happen just then, at any rate not that day, and therefore they had no need to think about it.
Further, the magician suggested to his sheep that they were not sheep at all. To some of them he suggested that they were lions, to others that they were eagles, to others that they were men, and to others that they were magicians.
And after this, all his cares and worries about the sheep came to an end. They never ran away again but quietly awaited the time when the magician would require their flesh and their skins.
George Gurdjieff loved this parable very much. His whole philosophy is contained in this small parable. And this parable represents man in the ordinary state of unconsciousness. It is one of the most beautiful illustrations of man as he is: man is a machine.
Man is not born to be a machine, but man lives like a machine and dies like a machine. Man has the seed of a great flowering of consciousness, man has the possibility to become God. But that doesn’t happen. It does not happen because man has been hypnotized - by the society, by the state, by the organized church, by the vested interests. The society needs slaves, and man can remain a slave only if he is not allowed to grow into his uttermost flowering. The society needs your flesh and your skins and naturally nobody likes it. Hence the whole process of socialization, of civilization, is nothing but a deep hypnosis.
Man is being hypnotized from the very moment he is born. He is being hypnotized: that the society exists in his favor, for his good. That is utterly wrong. He is being hypnotized: that he is immortal. He is not. He can be, but he is not. And if the hypnosis persists he will never be immortal.
You live only as a mortal being because you live in the body. The body is going to die. That which is born is bound to die; birth is the beginning of the body and death the end. Do you know anything more than the body in you? Have you experienced anything higher than the body, deeper than the body? Have you seen anything in you which was even before you were born? If you have seen that, then you are immortal. If you know your face, your original face, the face that you had before you were born, then you know you will be there after death too; otherwise not.