Chapter 14: The Way Goes Through
I said, “I still want to confirm it. A single exception and I will drop the whole idea.” But without any exception I found the principle to be true, that when people take a dead body to the funeral, even on the funeral grounds they don’t sit looking at the funeral. They sit with their back towards the funeral pyre and talk about a thousand other things - but not about death, which is the most important thing that is happening. A man is burning just behind them and they are talking of stupid things. “What movie is going on, have you seen it?”
I could not believe that people are afraid to face things, because to face them means to know intensely that every death is a declaration of your death; that today you are seeing somebody on the funeral pyre and tomorrow somebody else will see you on the funeral pyre. They want to avoid the fact. Even to visualize it, themselves on the funeral pyre, shakes their whole being.
That’s what Gurdjieff is saying: True suffering and sorrow never become the experience of the ordinary man. And by “ordinary man”.he is not condemning anybody. He is simply saying, every unconscious man is an ordinary man. He is not even aware of himself - what can be more ordinary? He has lived a life of seventy years and he has not come across himself.
But the reason is that people create a barrier between themselves and their unconscious reality, which contains lives of suffering, pain. They are afraid to face it. And unless they face it, they cannot face that which is beyond suffering, that which is blissful, that which is our very nature - our eternity, our joy, our dance, our flowers.
People cannot reach their own flowers. A great barrier of unconscious repressed suffering.
And you know how suffering is repressed. For example somebody dies and you start crying. Immediately some wise guy is going to tell you, “Don’t be emotional; death is a natural thing, it happens to everybody. There is nothing in it. And it is not manly - tears? Are you a woman?”
Even small boys are told, “Don’t be girlish.” Their father has died and they cannot cry because that will expose them: they are not a man, unemotional, strong, courageous, who can face everything.
This crying and weeping is left for women.
But that does not mean that this statement is true only about men and not about women. It is more true about men, but it is also true about women. They also go on suppressing their sorrow, their misery, in different ways. Just the ways are different. They distract themselves in their jewelry, in the television, in shopping, in going here and there, just continuously talking yakety-yak, yakety-yak. They are avoiding something, escaping from something. They don’t want to see it; they want to forget the wounds that are inside.
So in a way they are fortunate, but not really. The real fortunate ones are those of whom Gurdjieff says, “A man who has willfully undertaken the extraordinary and unnecessary burden of the work.”
Just look at his words. No master has been able to make such statements; that’s why he was the most misunderstood man one can imagine. He is saying, “A man who has willfully undertaken the extraordinary and unnecessary burden of the work.”