Now, can you create a greater shock? – just telling people, “You are soulless. There is nothing inside you – hollow, nobody inside you. You are not yet born; you are just a body, a mechanism. Yes, you have a possibility, a potentiality to become a soul, but then you have to do much work for it, great work for it, and only then is it possible to have a soul. It is the ultimate luxury to have a soul.”
Now, down the ages priests have been telling you that you are born with a soul. That has created a very wrong state of affairs. Because everybody has been told he is born with a soul, he thinks, “Then why bother? I am already a soul. I am immortal. The body will die but I am going to live.” Gurdjieff said, “You are nothing but the body, and when the body dies you will die. Only once in a while does a person survive – one who has created soul in his life survives death – not all. A Buddha survives, a Jesus survives, but not you! You will simply die, not even a trace will be left.”
What was Gurdjieff trying to do? He was shocking you to the very roots; he was trying to take away all your consolations and foolish theories which go on helping you to postpone work upon yourself. Now, to tell people, “You don’t have any souls, you are just vegetables, just a cabbage or maybe a cauliflower” – a cauliflower is a cabbage with a college education – “but nothing more than that.” He was really a master par excellence. He was taking the very earth away from underneath your feet. He was giving you such a shock that you had to think over the whole situation: are you going to remain a cabbage? He was creating a situation around you in which you would have to seek and search for the soul, because who wants to die?
And the idea that the soul is immortal has helped people to console themselves that they are not going to die, that death is just an appearance, just a long sleep, a restful sleep, and you will be born again. Gurdjieff says, “All nonsense. This is all nonsense! Dead, you are dead forever – unless you have created the soul….”
Now see the difference: you have been told you are already a soul, and Gurdjieff changes it totally. He says, “You are not already a soul, but only an opportunity. You can use it, you can miss it.”
And I would like to tell you that Gurdjieff was just using a device. It is not true. Everybody is born with a soul. But what to do with people who have been using truths as consolations? A great master sometimes has to lie – and only a great master has the right to lie – just to pull you out of your sleep.
For example, you are fast asleep and I shake you and shake you and you don’t budge. And then I start shouting, “Fire! Fire!” and you start running out of the house. Outside we will settle the matter. I will say that there is no fire…but this was the only way to wake you up.
Once you have known the soul, Gurdjieff will whisper in your ear, “Now don’t be worried. Forget all about what I was telling you. But it was needed. It was a device. I had to shout “Fire!” otherwise you were not going to get out of your sleep.”