Gurdjieff used to tell a story: A very, rich man went on a pilgrimage. He had many servants and a very, big palace where he lived alone with all these servants. He called all the servants and told them, “One by one, by rotation, you have to be on guard. I don’t know how much time I am going to take, it may be many years; the journey is long, the pilgrimage is hazardous. I may come back, I may not come back, but the palace, the garden, everything has to be present as it is.”
They said, “Of course. Whatsoever you say we will do.”
The man went away. Months passed, years passed. By and by the servants started completely forgetting that they were servants because the master had been gone so long. Man’s memory is not that long, and there are things which one does not really want to remember. One’s being a slave and somebody being the master who wants to remember that?
Each servant had to guard the palace in rotation, and when each servant was guarding, he would pretend that he was the master. Anybody coming to the palace or passing by would ask, “Whose palace is this?” The servant would answer, “It is my palace, my garden. Don’t you like it?”
This was happening with all the guards. Years passed; the guards completely forgot about the master and that he was going to return. “By now he must be dead, something must have happened. And it is good that we got rid of that fellow – now we are the masters.” They declared to the whole town, “We are the masters” – and the town had also forgotten the master. It was long before – only old people remembered that somebody had been there, but it was only very vaguely. When he went, where he went, and what happened to him, nobody was aware.
But one day, the master appeared; he knocked on the door. The slaves looked at him and suddenly fell at his feet: “Master, you are back!”
He said, “I told you I would come back, even though it may take a long time.”
They said, “Forgive us, because the city people will say we have committed a crime against you. We had forgotten you completely, and we enjoyed being the master so much that we declared that we were the masters – and the city believes that we are the masters.”
Gurdjieff used to tell this story, saying that the same is the case with the watcher. The watcher is absent; the mind – which is just a slave – is pretending to be the master. And it is not a question of a few years – for millions of years the master has been absent. Perhaps the master has never been home; there is no question that he had gone, because once he arrives he never goes. So your thoughts, and the combination of thoughts which you call your mind, certainly, confidently believe that they are the master.
Just try to watch your thoughts.
Remember one thing: Thought itself cannot watch another thought – that is impossible. A thought cannot become a watcher of another thought; so when in your mind the thought arises, “I am watching,” you have missed, because it is a thought. When the watcher is there you will not even have the idea of “Aha! Got it!” Lost it! You were just on the verge of getting it and Werner Erhard entered, and EST finished everything: “Got it!” Even that much, just two words, is enough; the mind is back.