A wise man, the wonder of his age, taught his disciples from a seemingly inexhaustible store of wisdom.
He attributed all his knowledge to a thick tome which was kept in a place of honor in his room.
The sage would allow nobody to open the volume.
When he died, those who had surrounded him, regarding themselves as his heirs, ran to open the book, anxious to possess what it contained.
They were surprised, confused and disappointed when they found that there was writing on only one page.
They became even more bewildered and then annoyed when they tried to penetrate the meaning of the phrase which met their eyes.
It was: When you realize the difference between the container and the content, you will have knowledge.
Man is not born perfect. He is born incomplete. He is born as a process. He is born on the way, as a pilgrim. That is his agony and his ecstasy too – agony because he cannot rest, he has to go ahead, he has always to go ahead. He has to seek and search and explore; he has to become, because his being arises only through becoming. Becoming is his being. He can only be if he is on the move.
Evolution is intrinsic to man’s nature, evolution is his very soul. And those who take themselves for granted remain unfulfilled; those who think they are born complete remain unevolved. Then the seed remains the seed, never becomes a tree, and never knows the joys of spring and the sunshine and the rain, and the ecstasy of bursting into millions of flowers.
That explosion is the fulfillment, that explosion is what the divine is all about – exploding into millions of flowers. When the potential becomes the actual, only then is man fulfilled. Man is born as a potential; that is unique to man. All other animals are born complete, they are born as they are going to die. There is no evolution between their birth and their death: they move on the same plane, they never go through any transformation. No radical change in their life ever happens. They move horizontally, the vertical never penetrates them.
If man also moves horizontally he will miss his manhood, he will not become a soul. That’s what Gurdjieff meant when he used to say that all people don’t have souls. It is very rare that a person has a soul. Now this is a very strange statement, because down the ages you have been told that you are born with a soul. Gurdjieff says you are born only with the potential of becoming a soul, not with the actual soul. You have a blueprint, but the blueprint has to be worked out. You have the seed, but you have to search for the soil, and the season, and the right climate, and the right moment to explode, to grow.
Moving horizontally, you will remain without a soul. When the vertical penetrates you, you become a soul. “Soul” means the vertical has penetrated into the horizontal. Or, as an example, you can think of the egg, the caterpillar and the butterfly.