Gathering everything from the system of Gurdjieff, Ouspensky was in a position to write beautiful treatises, as if they were his own experience. Gurdjieff could not compete with him in writing, nor in speaking. Ouspensky was a very talented genius, well educated. Gurdjieff was uneducated, coming from a very undeveloped tribe in the Caucasus, in Soviet Russia. But he had the whole mine of diamonds – it is just that they were all uncut, unpolished. Only a man who had the eyes of a jeweler would have been able to recognize them; otherwise they were just stones.
Ouspensky had the eyes of a jeweler; he recognized that this man had a treasure, but had not the talent to spread it…a great chance for exploitation. He learned everything from Gurdjieff, and the day he felt that now it was enough – he could make a system out of it all – he betrayed him. And he had to prevent his disciples from going to Gurdjieff, because personality-wise Ouspensky was just a schoolteacher – he looked like a schoolteacher. Even while teaching mysticism there was a blackboard – he was a mathematician. He would be teaching mysticism and writing on the blackboard; it was like a class, a university class. His students were taking notes….
Gurdjieff had a tremendously charismatic personality. Anybody who had seen him once could not forget the man; in a crowd of millions he would still stand out. If you had looked into his eyes once, those eyes would follow you your whole life. He was not a man of words, but a man of a tremendously powerful being.
And that was the fear of Ouspensky – that if his disciples went to Gurdjieff, then whatever he had been saying against Gurdjieff would be exposed. And if they listened to that man…although he was not articulate, in a way he was the most articulate master ever. To say a simple thing he would take hundreds of pages. You have to find out where it is – what he really wants to say. He will make up his own words, big long words spreading out over the whole line, a single word that you have never heard before – it is his invention. He knew nothing about how to write; one paragraph will go running on for pages. No publisher was ready to publish his books; he had to publish them himself.
When his first book was published it was one thousand pages. It is one of the strangest books in the world, All and Everything. He kept nine hundred pages uncut, and only one hundred pages – that is the preface – were cut, with a note to every customer who purchases it: “You read the preface and if you feel that it is worth reading on, then you can cut the remaining nine hundred pages. But if you feel it is not worth it you can take your money back – return the book – but don’t cut the uncut pages. Those one hundred pages are enough example.”
Even to understand those one hundred pages is a strange experience, particularly for those who don’t know anything about mystics and their strange ways. Now he was not in any way able to compete with his own disciple Ouspensky. His books are so lucid, so beautifully written, so poetic, that I have not seen any other man who comes close to him, even close to him. Kahlil Gibran writes well, Mikhail Naimy writes well, but they don’t even come close to Ouspensky.