The master’s function in my work is just to be loving, helpful, compassionate in times when you are discouraged and you need fresh inspiration, in moments when you feel lost and you need a reaffirmation, in moments where trust is shaken and you need to be again given roots.
The master is simply like a gardener. His joy is to see all his plants come to flowering.
There is no question of certain people helping the group – not as a category. There may be a few people who will help the group because they love the master, they love the work, and they would like the work to spread. But I will not categorize them; on the contrary, I will say that each sannyasin functions in all these three ways at different times as the need arises.
Sometimes he is working on himself, which is his basic work. Sometimes he is helping the master, out of gratitude; sometimes he is helping the group, out of love – because they are fellow travelers. But these are not three categories of people, fixed. These are three qualities in every disciple, as far as my work is concerned.
It is not dictatorial.
You are with me because you love me.
People were with Gurdjieff, not because they loved him – most of them hated him from their very guts – they were with him because they knew that this was the only man who could help them to grow. Their basic motive was their own growth.
The people who are around me may have come, in the beginning, with the motivation of their own growth; soon that motivation drops away. Then they are with me because they love me – and in love growth happens so quietly, so silently, without making any noise. It does not need any motivation.
My work and Gurdjieff’s work are totally different. I have immense respect for Gurdjieff – he did much work to introduce Sufi methods to the West, which nobody else had done before. Sufi books were translated – but books cannot help. It needs a living master to give life to those words and methods. And the people who were translating the books had no idea of the work. Their translations were literal, and their translations reflected their minds more than the minds of the Sufis who had written those treatises.
For example, Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat…Fitzgerald has done a great job in a sense that he made Omar Khayyam world famous. In Persian he is not a first-grade poet; there are many greater poets than Omar Khayyam. He was not basically a poet, he was basically a mathematician. But he was a Sufi master, and he found it easy to express his Sufism in poetry. Of course, in mathematics it cannot be expressed.
And this is not only so with Omar Khayyam; many mystics have found that poetry comes very close to expressing what they want to express. But their poetry is only a means – they are not poets. For a poet, poetry is not a means but the end; and that is a great difference. They use the poetic formulation to express their ideas, which are more difficult to express in prose.