I say to you: You can reach without following, but the path will be very, very lonely, very long – it is bound to be so. One can reach, it is not impossible – people have reached. I myself have reached through not following; you can also reach. But remember that not following should not become an ego-fulfillment; otherwise you will never reach.
Master or no master, that is not the basic thing. The basic thing is the ego, your ego. No ego – then even without a master you can reach. With ego – even a buddha cannot lead you. Either follow totally or don’t follow totally, but be total. So it is for you to decide. Remain undeceived by the mind and look deep within yourself. Be aware of what you are doing. If you are surrendering, then surrender.
I remember: It happened once with a group in Gurdjieff’s life. He was working with a few disciples. Absolute surrender was needed – and Gurdjieff had said that whatsoever he said, they had to follow. He was helping them to practice a certain exercise; he used to call it the stop exercise. So whenever he said: “Stop!” you had to stop whatsoever you were doing. You were walking, one foot was above the ground, and when he said: “Stop!” you had to stop there. You were talking and your mouth was open and he said: “Stop!” you had to stop with an open mouth. You were not to change it, you were not to make your posture convenient, because that would be a deception, and you were not deceiving anybody except yourself.
One day, suddenly, in the morning when people were doing some exercise outside the camp, and a few people were passing through a canal that was running by, he suddenly said: Stop! – He was inside the camp. So people stopped. Four people were crossing a canal. It was dry, the water was not running, so they stopped.
But suddenly somebody opened the canal and the water started coming. So they started to think: What to do? Gurdjieff was inside the tent, he didn’t know that they were standing in a canal and the canal was flowing. But they waited –because for a moment mind can wait.
When the water came up to their necks, one jumped out. He said: “This is too much. He does not know.”
Then the canal flooded more. Two others jumped out when the water came just near their noses – because now they would be drowned and the rationalization was simple and easy. You would have also done the same. They were going to die – and the master was inside the tent and he didn’t know!
Only one remained. The water was flowing above his head and he was standing. Then Gurdjieff rushed out of his tent and brought him out of the canal. He was almost unconscious. The water had to be brought out of his body; he was just on the point of death. But when he opened his eyes he was another man. The old man really died. This was a transformation. He was totally different.
What happened in that moment of death? He accepted the master. He rejected his own mind and the rationalizations. He rejected his own life-lust. He rejected his own innermost biological urge to survive. He rejected everything. He said: “The master has said stop! I have stopped. Now nothing can move me.”