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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.
Osho, The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol. 2, Talk #2
Gurdjieff has been much criticized because he was a liar – and the lying came from the Sufis; he was a Sufi. He was disciplined in Sufi monasteries and schools. And in the West, in fact, he introduced Sufism in this age in a totally new version. But then it was impossible for the ordinary Christian mind to understand him because truth is a value, and nobody can think that a master, an enlightened master, can lie.
Can you think of Jesus lying? And I know he lied – but Christians cannot think about it: “Jesus lying? No, he is the truest man.” But then you don’t know – the question of knowledge is very, very dangerous. He lied about many things – a master has to, if he wants to help. Otherwise, he can be a saint, but no help is possible from him. And without helping, a saint is already dead. If a saint cannot help, what is the use of his being here? There is no point in it. All that he can attain through life, he has attained. He is here to help.
Gurdjieff was very much criticized because the West couldn’t understand, the ordinary Christian mind could not understand. So there are two versions about Gurdjieff in the West. One thinks that he was a very mischievous man – not a sage at all, just a devil incarnate. Another is that he was the greatest saint the West has come to know in these past few centuries. Both are true, because he was just in the middle. He was a ‘po’ personality. You cannot say yes, you cannot say no about him. You can say that he was a holy sinner, or a sinning saint. But you cannot divide, you cannot be so simple about him. The knowledge that he had was very complex.
Osho, Journey to the Heart, Talk #7
Gurdjieff says: Go on remembering the observer – self-remembering. Buddha says: Forget the observer just watch the observed. If you have to choose between Buddha and Gurdjieff, I suggest choosing Buddha. There is a danger with Gurdjieff that you may become too self-conscious – rather than becoming self-aware, you may become self-conscious, you may become an egoist. I have felt that in many Gurdjieff disciples, they have become very, very great egoists. Not that Gurdjieff was an egoist – he was one of the rarest enlightened men of this age; but the method has a danger in it, it is very difficult to make a distinction between self-consciousness and self-remembering. It is so subtle it is almost impossible to make the distinction; for the ignorant masses it is almost always self-consciousness that will take possession of them; it will not be self-remembering.
The very word “self” is dangerous – you become more and more settled in the idea of the self. And the idea of the self isolates you from existence.
Buddha says forget the self, because there is no self; the self is just in the grammar, in the language – it is not anything existential. You just observe the content. By observing the content, the content starts disappearing. Once the content disappears, watch your anger – and watching it, you will see it is disappearing – once the anger has disappeared there is silence. There is no self, no observer, and nothing to be observed; there is silence. This silence is brought by Vipassana, Buddha’s method of awareness.
Osho, This Very Body the Buddha, Talk #4
One old woman became very much impressed by Ouspensky, and then she went to see Gurdjieff. Within just a week she was back, and she told Ouspensky, “I can feel that Gurdjieff is great, but I am not certain whether he is good or bad, whether he is evil, devilish, or a saint. I am not certain about that. He is great – that much is certain. But he may be a great devil, or a great saint – that is not certain.” And Gurdjieff behaved in such a way that he would create this impression.
Alan Watts has written about Gurdjieff and has called him a rascal saint – because sometimes he would behave like a rascal, but it was all acting and was done knowingly to avoid all those who would take unnecessary time and energy. It was done to send back those who could only work when they were certain. Only those would be allowed who could work even when they were not certain about the master, but who were certain about themselves.
And to surrender to a Gurdjieff will transform you more than surrendering to Ramana Maharshi, because Ramana Maharshi is so saintly, so simple, that surrender doesn’t mean anything. You cannot do otherwise. He is so open – just like a small child – so pure, that surrender will happen. But that surrender is happening because of Ramana Maharshi, not because of you. It is nothing as far as you are concerned. If surrender happens with Gurdjieff, then it has happened because of you, because Gurdjieff is in no way going to support it. Rather, he will create all types of hindrances. If still you surrender, that transforms you. So there is no need to be absolutely sure about him – and that is impossible – but you have to be sure about yourself.
Osho, Vedanta: Seven Steps to Samadhi, Talk #5