Those were the days of the First World War; it was very difficult to travel, dangerous to travel, and going back to Russia was dangerous for Ouspensky because the Bolsheviks, Communists, had come into power and the whole of Russia was in turmoil. There was no order, no government.
Still, the master had asked, so he sold all his possessions, his house, took all the money and traveled back to Russia knowing perfectly well he was going into danger. The journey was long; it took three months for him to reach, sometimes traveling by train and sometimes by horse and sometimes he was prevented and the police were after him. But somehow he reached – the master had asked him to come, and he did. He was hoping that as he had made a great sacrifice, so he was going to be patted on the back by the master.
And do you know what Gurdjieff did? The moment Ouspensky arrived he said, “Put down your money and go back! Leave your money here and go back to London immediately!”
This was too much. He became antagonistic. He thought Gurdjieff had become insane. He was not insane. Had Ouspensky followed that too, although it was very illogical… But Ouspensky was a mathematician, a logician, a great intellectual of this century, one of the most profound mathematicians that we have ever produced. He could not believe all this nonsense. He traveled back, but turned against Gurdjieff, turned very sour, saying that he had gone mad.
That was his rationalization to avoid seeing the truth: that Gurdjieff was trying to totally destroy his ego. That was the last hit on his head. If he had allowed it he would have become enlightened. He missed the point – he missed and fell from the last rung of the ladder. Sometimes it happens: you can miss at the last moment.
Then for his whole life Ouspensky was talking against Gurdjieff; his name became unmentionable. Whatsoever he was teaching he had learned from Gurdjieff, but he was very secretive. He wouldn’t allow his disciples to read Gurdjieff’s books. He wouldn’t allow his disciples to go and see Gurdjieff. Ouspensky’s disciples could see Gurdjieff only after Ouspensky’s death; and then they were surprised at how much they had missed. Ouspensky was only a professor, nothing else. Gurdjieff was an enlightened man.
But the problem is always how to drop the ego. Gurdjieff offended many people in the West for the simple reason that in the West there is no tradition, no background, no context for the psychology of egolessness.
That’s why I have chosen to be in the East. Even if people come from the West they have to come to me, because only in the Eastern space is it possible to surrender the ego. The whole milieu is helpful; much effort is not needed.