I don’t think there is any single human being, except me, who has read his books from the very beginning to the end. It is such a torture, because he goes on making words of his own. You cannot find their meaning in any dictionary; they don’t belong to any language. He knew many languages, and he mixes all those languages.
His sentences are so long that by the time you come to the end you have forgotten the beginning. A single sentence may run the whole page. And he was aware of it. He has written big volumes, one thousand pages, and rarely will you come to a sentence that you feel you have understood exactly.
It is deliberate. He wants you to go through this torture because, he says, unless you get something with effort you don’t give any value to it. Out of one thousand pages, perhaps ten pages would have been enough to say what he wants to say. But he goes on in such a roundabout way that it takes pages for him to say a single statement.
Ouspensky, seeing the situation, wrote a book to explain Gurdjieff’s system of thought. His writing is absolutely mathematical, rational; each sentence is significant. But he gives a subtitle to the book. The title of the book is In Search of the Miraculous, and the subtitle Is Fragments of an Unknown Teaching.
When he was asked, “Why fragments?” he said, “I am not a poet. I will say only that which is absolutely reasonable, for which I can give you proof, for which logic stands in support. But I am aware that there are gaps between those fragments which can be known only by experience. Nothing can be written about them.
“And I will not deceive the world by calling this a system, because it is not. These are only fragments – a few pieces here, a few pieces there which have allowed themselves to be expressed in language. But the most important has remained unexpressed.”
The difficulty lies with the very experience of truth. Either the man of experience remains silent…. If he wants to be absolutely true then he cannot say a single word, then silence is the only possible expression. But who will understand silence?
The second alternative is that he gives you fragments. But if they are given in prose, you will not be able to join them together into a whole system. They are pieces and don’t make sense in themselves; and you don’t know the whole of which they are pieces.
Hence, the mystics have chosen poetry as a way. Poetry has the great quality that it does not need to be absolutely true; it needs only to be absolutely beautiful. And lies can be beautiful, there is no problem. Sometimes they can be even more beautiful than the truth. Poetry allows the poet to fill the gaps with beautiful flowers, and give you a sense that you are being given a whole system of thought, in its entirety.