From Personality to Individuality 09

Ninth Discourse from the series of 30 discourses - From Personality to Individuality by Osho.
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What do you have to say about the law of karma?
I have very little to say about it – but it will still take two and a half hours!
The law of karma is, in the first place, not a law. That word gives it an aroma as if it is something scientific, like the law of gravitation. It is merely a hope, not a law at all.
It has been hoped for centuries that if you do good you will attain to good results. It is a human hope in an existence which is absolutely neutral. If you look at nature, there are laws – the whole of science is nothing but discovery of those laws – but science has not come even close to detecting anything like the law of karma. Yes, it is certain that any action is going to bring certain reactions, but the law of karma is hoping for much more.
If you simply say any action is bound to produce some reactions, it is possible to have scientific support for it. But man is hoping for much more. He is asking that a good action inevitably brings a good consequence with it, and the same with a bad action. Now, there are many things implied in this.
First, what is good? Each society defines good according to itself: what is good to a Jew is not good to a Jaina; what is good to a Christian is not good to a Confucian. Not only that, what is good in one culture is bad in another culture. A law has to be universal. For example, if you heat water to one hundred degrees centigrade, it will evaporate – in Tibet, in Russia, in America, even in Oregon. In Oregon it will be a little puzzled, but all the same at one hundred degrees water will evaporate.
A law has to be universal if it is a scientific law. If it is a law created by people themselves, by creating a constitution, a legal system, then it is nothing to do with science and nothing to do with existence. Then it is applicable only within the society that creates it. It is arbitrary, artificial. You can change it – and laws do go on changing. Something that was legal yesterday is illegal today; what is illegal today may become legal tomorrow. These are man-made laws.
Certainly the law of karma is neither a scientific law nor part of any legal system. Then what kind of law is it? It is a hope. A man wandering in immense darkness, groping his way, clings to anything that gives a little hope, a little light – because what you observe in life itself is something totally different from the law of karma. A man who is a well-known criminal may succeed and become the president, the prime minister; or vice versa: he was not a criminal before, but when he becomes the president or prime minister of a country he becomes a criminal.
I have thought about Lord Acton’s famous statement from every possible angle, and I have found it always gives some new insight. Acton says: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I don’t think so, because I don’t see it happening the way Lord Acton is saying. But Lord Acton was speaking from his whole life’s experience; he was a politician himself, and what he was saying was not unfounded.
Still, I dare to disagree with him, because my understanding is that power certainly corrupts, but it corrupts only a person who was potentially corruptible. He may not have been known as corrupted before because he had no opportunity, he had no power. But power itself cannot corrupt a man who has no potential for corruptibility. So it is not the power that is corrupting the man; in fact the power is simply revealing the man to you. The power is making actual what was only potential; it is exposing the person to you and to himself.
If you look in a mirror and you see an ugly face, are you going to say that the mirror corrupts? The poor mirror simply reflects. If you have an ugly face what can the mirror do about it?
I have heard about a mad woman who, whenever she came across a mirror would immediately destroy it. She was ugly, but her belief was that mirrors were the reason for her ugliness. If there were no mirrors she would not be ugly. Perfect logic! In a certain way she is not being absolutely illogical. If she were alone on the earth – no mirror, no eyes, because eyes are also mirrors – do you think she would be ugly? Alone on the earth without any mirrors, without any eyes to mirror her, she would be just herself: neither beautiful nor ugly. But she would just be the same, the only change would be that now she could not see her reflection. Nothing has changed, only the reflectors have been removed.
The same is true about Lord Acton’s famous dictum, “Power corrupts” – it seems so. I would like to say that power mirrors. If you are potentially ready to be corrupted, power gives you the chance. And if you have an absolute potential – like an Adolf Hitler, a Joseph Stalin, a Mussolini – then what can power do about it?
Power is simply available to you. You can do much with it. If you are a corruptible person you will do what you always wanted to do but did not have the power to do. But if you are not potentially corruptible, then it is impossible for power to corrupt you. You will use the power, but it will not be corruption, it will be creation. It will not be destructive; it will be a blessing to people. And if you have the potential of being a blessing to people, then absolute power will be an absolute blessing in the world.
But man’s life has many strange things in it. Only the potentially corruptible person moves toward power. The potentially good person has no desire for power. The will-to-power is the need of a corrupted being, because he knows that without power he will not be able to do what he wants to do.
Adolf Hitler first wanted to be an architect, but all the schools of architecture refused him because he had no potential as an architect. He could not even draw a straight line. He wanted to become an artist – if not an architect, then an artist – but no school would accept him. If the school of architecture was not going to accept him, then… Art, particularly painting, needs an even greater caliber, and he had no talent for art. Disappointed everywhere, rejected from everywhere, he started moving toward power.
Adolf Hitler’s will-to-power was really strong. A man who was not able to become an architect or a painter became so powerful that the whole destiny of humanity was in his hands. But you will be surprised to know that the first thing that he did after he became powerful, absolutely powerful, was to make architectural designs for buildings. He made many ugly structures and the government had to build them because, although no architect was ready to accept that those designs were worth even a second look, if they were coming from Adolf Hitler you could not reject them. Their rejection would mean your death, because that was the only language he knew: either you are with me or you are no more.
It is one of the blessings of the Second World War that all Adolf Hitler’s great buildings were destroyed; otherwise he would have left those ugly structures behind. But his designs have been found, and they are enough proof that this man simply had no qualities to conceive buildings.
The moment Adolf Hitler became powerful, in his spare moments he was painting; and of course, then, everybody had to appreciate his paintings. None of his paintings were worth calling a painting; they were just a waste of canvas and color, without any significance. Not only that, they were ugly, nauseating. If you had kept his painting in your bedroom, in the night you would have suffered nightmares.
Power brings into actuality what is hidden in you. But strangely, the good man has no need to be powerful, because good can manifest without power. There is no need for good to have power; it has its own intrinsic power. Evil needs some outside power to support it.
Kahlil Gibran has written a beautiful story. This single man has written so many beautiful stories that there seems to be no comparison to him in the whole history of man. This story is a very small, and that is where Kahlil Gibran’s beauty is. He does not write big stories that can be made into films; his stories are only of a few lines, but they penetrate to the very depths of man.
The story is:

God created the world, and he created everything else that was needed. He looked around and he felt that two things were missing: beauty and ugliness. So the last things he created were beauty and ugliness. Naturally, he gave beauty, beautiful clothes and to ugliness, ugly clothes; and he dropped them from heaven to come to the earth.
It is a long journey, and by the time they reached the earth they were feeling tired and dusty, so the first thing they decided to do was to take a bath. It was early morning, the sun was just rising, and they went to a lake, dropped their clothes on the bank and both jumped in. It was really refreshing and cool, and they enjoyed it.
Beauty went swimming far into the lake, and when she looked back, she was surprised; ugliness was missing. She came back and she found that her clothes were missing too. Then beauty understood what had happened: ugliness has taken her clothes and run away.
The story ends: since then ugliness is hidden in the clothes of beauty, and beauty is compulsorily wearing the clothes of ugliness. Beauty is running after ugliness, searching for her, but she has not yet been able to find her.

It is a beautiful story. Ugliness needs something to hide itself behind, to help it pretend: to have a false mask. Beauty had not thought about it at all; the idea had not even occurred to her, that it was possible that ugliness would steal her clothes and run away.
The man who has a heart throbbing with goodness, with blessings, feels no need to be the president or the prime minister. He has no time to waste in this ugly game of power politics. He has enough energy. Good brings energy with itself. He will create music, he will compose poetry, he will sculpt beauty in marble; he will do something for which power is not needed. All that is needed is already provided for him. That’s the beauty of good, that it is intrinsically powerful.
Let it be very clearly understood: you can be certain that anything that needs power from outside is not good. It is something intrinsically impotent; it will live on borrowed life. So in life this strange situation happens: bad people reach good positions, become respectable or honored, not only in their time but throughout history. It is full of their names.
In history you will not find people like Gautam Buddha, Mahavira, Kanad, Gautam, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Lieh Tzu, even in the footnotes. And Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Nadirshah, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, make up the major portion of history. In fact, we have to write the whole of history again because all these people have to be completely erased. Even the memory of them should not be carried on, because even their memory may have evil effects on people.
A better humanity will not give these names even a place in the footnotes; there is no need. They were nightmares; it is better they are completely forgotten so they don’t follow you like shadows. We have to discover people who have lived on this earth and made it in every way beautiful; shared their joy, their dance, their music, shared their ecstasies – but lived anonymously. People have completely forgotten even their names.
People don’t have any idea how many religious people have lived on this earth and are not known. The reason that you know those few names that are known, is not simply that they were religious – there are some extra reasons. Just think: if Jesus hadn’t been crucified, would you have ever heard his name? So it is not Jesus – not his qualities, not his goodness – but crucifixion which makes him a historical figure.
You know of Gautam the Buddha, not because he was an enlightened man but because he was the son of a very great king. And when the son of such a great king renounces his kingdom, of course the whole country far and wide buzzes with his name. It is not because he is religious but because he has renounced such a big kingdom – the same kingdom that you have been aspiring to and dreaming of perhaps for many lives. This man has some guts: he just drops the whole kingdom without ever looking back.
That’s why you remember Gautam Buddha. Somewhere they have to mention his name because he was a king who renounced his kingdom. If he had been a poor man’s son then nobody would have even heard about him. And there have been many whose names are not known at all. Even while they were alive only a few people came to feel that they had a different kind of presence. Goodness has its own intrinsic power, and it has its own benefit, blessing. It is not somewhere else in some other life: if you do good now, you will get paid for it in your other life. That is a strange kind of law; and that’s what the law of karma is.
If you are living a poor, miserable, suffering life, the law of karma says it is because in a past life you committed evil acts – this is the result of them. If somebody is enjoying good health, money, power, all the joys of life, you need not be jealous of him: he has done good deeds in a past life and now he is reaping the crop. He has sown the seeds in his past life.
But why so much distance between sowing the seeds and reaping the crop? Is it that always in one life you do good or bad, and in another life the result comes? To me there seems to be some conspiracy in it. It is not a law, it is a conspiracy, because the priest cannot manage to explain why somebody is rich when everybody knows that what he is doing is evil – and still he goes on becoming richer. And we know that somebody is good, but he is starving. So what good is good?
Now, the priesthood is in a difficulty to explain this situation which is occurring everywhere. Good people will be found in every corner of the earth, poor, starving, suffering. Bad people will be successful. The cunning – who are ready to cut anybody’s throat, who have cut many people’s throats, who have been stepping on people’s heads toward power and riches, who have used people as if they were things – have all that should really belong to the good people.
How is the priest going to explain it away? He has found a way: the law of karma. He cannot explain it herenow so he shifts the whole scene. He makes death come in between your actions and their results; the results will be after death, in the next life. But why? You put your hand in the fire and you will be burned in the next life? If you put your hand in the fire now, you will be burned now.
So, take any priest, any monk, anybody coming from the East talking about the law of karma to the fireplace. Tell him, “Put your hand in the fire so we can see whether the law of karma works herenow. Or does it take so much time that it is necessary for death to happen first, and then the result will follow? Action – death – result? Death has to intervene absolutely?” I know he will not be ready to put his arm into the fire.
That’s why I said I don’t have much to say about the law of karma, only very little, just two words: boo boo.
Now I will have to explain to you – it is an Oregonian story…

If I am not mistaken, Senator Fatfield had gone to visit his constituency. The particular place that he was visiting was a reservation for Red Indians. He used to go there only once in five years, just when the election was coming closer. The Red Indians had become perfectly aware that he only came once every five years, promises great things and then disappears – and the things never happen.
Again he appeared after five years, and again the same game. Red Indians are simple people… Their chief gathered them all into one place that used to serve as their common meeting place. Senator Fatfield started the same promises: “Forgive me for last time. There were so many difficulties, so many problems, a financial depression, and so many wars, that I could not manage to make the bridge over the river, the road to your reservation, or good houses for you.”
And each time he said something – “a bridge” – they would say, “Boo boo!” and they would rejoice and almost start dancing. Fatfield was feeling very good, seeing how they appreciate him. They would clap and shout and scream, “Boo boo!” and that gave him more incentive and more inspiration.
He gave free rein to his imagination: “I will make a hospital, a college, a university…” When you are simply going to promise something and never fulfill it, it does not matter what you promise; you can promise paradise, you can promise anything. And that is what he did; “Within five years you will see this place will be a paradise on earth” – and they all shouted, “Boo boo!”
Senator Fatfield was very happy, so happy that he said to the chief, “I would like to go around the reservation to see if anything else is needed.”
The chief said, “That is okay; just one thing. We Red Indians are absolutely childlike: we use the whole field like it is an open toilet. So if you are going around – I have no objection – just be careful not to step in the boo boo.”
Now Fatfield understood the meaning of boo boo, but it was too late.

The law of karma is nothing but boo boo. And you understand the meaning now, so there is no problem.
To me, certainly each action has its result, but not somewhere far away in a future life. An action and a result are continuous, they are part of one process. Do you think sowing the seed and reaping the crop are separate? It is one process. What begins in sowing the seed, grows, and one day that one seed has become thousands of seeds. That’s what you call your crop. It is the same seed which has exploded into thousands of seeds. No death is intervening, no afterlife is needed; it is a continuum.
So the one thing to be remembered is, yes, in my vision of life every action is bound to have some consequences, but they will not be somewhere else, you will have them here and now. Most probably you will get them almost simultaneously. When you are kind to someone, don’t you feel a certain joy? A certain peace? A certain meaningfulness? Don’t you feel that you are contented with what you have done? There is a kind of deep satisfaction. Have you ever felt that same thing when you are angry, when you are boiling with anger, when you hurt somebody, when you are mad with rage? Have you ever felt contentment or anything similar to it? Have you ever felt a peace, a silence descending in you? No, it is impossible.
You will certainly feel something, but it will be a sadness that you again acted like a fool, that again you have done the same stupid thing that you decided again and again not to do. You will feel a tremendous unworthiness in yourself. You will feel that you are not a man but a machine, because you don’t respond, you react. A man may have done something, and you reacted. That man had the key in his hands, and you just danced according to his desire; he had power over you. When somebody abuses you and you start fighting, what does it mean? It means that you don’t have any capacity not to react.

Gurdjieff’s father was dying. His last words to Gurdjieff were immensely significant: perhaps no father has ever advised a son with such a great insight. Gurdjieff was only nine years old, so his father said, “I know you may not be able to understand right now what I am saying, but I have no more time, I have to say it now. You have time – just remember the words. Whenever you have enough maturity to understand what these words mean, then act on them. But don’t forget. Remember, it is a simple sentence.”
He told Gurdjieff to repeat the sentence three times, so he could die peacefully. And he said, “Forgive me because I am not leaving any inheritance to you except this sentence.” And what was the sentence? – a very simple one. Remember, if somebody creates anger in you, tell the person you will come back after twenty-four hours to answer him. For twenty-four hours, wait; and after twenty-four hours, whatever comes to you, go and do.”
Strange advice, but not strange if you understand it. This simple advice changed Gurdjieff’s whole life. This single sentence made a man like George Gurdjieff – and that kind of man is created only after centuries.
But the old man must have been a man of great insight. He left nothing else; he said to his son, “Now you will have to look after yourself. Your mother is dead, I am dying. You will have to earn your bread. You will have to learn things on your own.” A nine-year-old child…

But this became a great opportunity for Gurdjieff because he started moving around with nomads. Gurdjieff was born near the Caucasus in the Soviet Union; still there are nomads, wandering tribes. Even sixty years of Communist torture has not been able to settle those nomads, because they consider this to be man’s birthright, and perhaps they are right.
Nomads all over the world believe that it is the woman who has created the house. Man has made it, but it is the woman who has tethered the man to the house; otherwise, man is basically a wanderer, he would have liked to move. A tent was enough; a tent, a horse, a bullock cart – that’s enough. And who bothers to live in the same place year after year? The nomads go on moving – a few days here, a few days there.
This nine-year-old child, having nothing else to do, joined a nomad group. Then he started moving from one group to another. He learned many nomadic languages, he learned many nomadic arts. He learned many exercises which are not available to civilized people anymore, but nomads need them.
For example: it may be very cold and the snow is falling, and to live in a tent… Nomads know certain exercises of breathing that change the rhythm of the breath, the temperature of your body increases. Or if it is too hot, if you are passing through a desert, then change again to a different rhythm, and your body has an automatic, inbuilt, air-conditioning system.
Gurdjieff learned his first lessons in hypnosis with these nomadic groups. If the wife and the husband are both going to the market in the village to sell things, what are they to do with the children, the small children? These nomads have used hypnotism for centuries. They will just draw a circle around the child and tell him, “Till we return you cannot get out of this circle.” Now, this has been told for centuries to every child. From the moment he could understand, he has heard it. He is hypnotized by it. The moment it is uttered, the moment he sees the line being drawn around him, he simply relaxes inside: there is no way to get out, he can’t get out.
Gurdjieff was very puzzled, because he was ten or twelve years old then: “What nonsense is this?” Each child in every nomad camp is just surrounded by a line, and that’s all. The father and mother disappear for the whole day to work in the town. By the evening when they come the child is still inside the circle.
Gurdjieff started wondering how it happened, why it happened, and soon he was able to figure out that it is just a question of your unconscious accepting the idea. Once your unconscious accepts the idea, then your body and your conscious mind have no power to go against it.
In his own exercises that he developed later on when he became a master, Gurdjieff used all these nomad techniques that he had learned from those strange people – uncivilized, with no language, no written alphabet, but who knew very primitive methods. He was surprised to see that hypnotism works not only on children but on men, because those children become young adults, then too it worked. Then they become old, then too it worked. It did not change with age.
Gurdjieff used to play with the old people, drawing a circle around them, and the old person would shout, “Don’t do that, don’t do that,” and before the circle was complete he would jump out. If the circle was complete then it was impossible, you were caught. And this boy – who could know whether he would be coming back again or not? When the circle was half completed, something was open: you could escape. Then you were saved, otherwise you were caught in it. And many times Gurdjieff succeeded in making the circle complete. Then even an old man would simply sit down, just like a small child, and would pray to him, “Break your circle.”
Gurdjieff used that technique in many ways – and many other techniques that he learned from those people. He used to have an exercise called the “stop exercise,” and he exhibited it all over the world, particularly in America and Europe. He would teach dances, strange dances because nobody knew those dances that the Caucasian nomads dance: strange instruments and strange dances.
They had strange foods that Gurdjieff learned to make. His ashram near Paris was something just absolutely out of this world. His kitchen was full of strange things, strange spices that nobody had ever heard of, and he himself would prepare outlandish foods. He had learned it all from those nomads. And those foods had a certain effect. Certain foods have certain effects; certain dances have certain effects; certain drums, instruments, have certain effects.
Gurdjieff had seen that if certain music is played and people are dancing a particular dance, then it is possible for them to dance on red-hot, burning coals and still not be burned. The dance is creating a certain kind of energy in them, the music is creating a kind of energy in them, so that they can escape the law of fire – which is a lower law. Certainly, if consciousness knows something higher it can escape from lower laws.
All the stories about miracles are nothing but stories about people who have come to know certain higher laws; naturally then the lower laws don’t function. Gurdjieff had seen all these things, he had experienced them when he was a child, and children are very curious. There was no father, no mother to prevent him from doing anything, so he was experimenting with everything, in every possible way. And once he was finished with one nomad group, he would simply move to another because from other groups he had other things to learn. He developed all his exercises from these nomadic people.
The stop exercise was tremendously significant, perhaps one of the greatest contributions to the modern world – and the modern world is not even aware of it. Gurdjieff would tell his disciples to be engaged in all kinds of activities: somebody is digging in the garden, somebody is cutting wood, somebody is preparing food, somebody is cleaning the floor. All kinds of activities are going on, with the one condition that when he says “Stop!” then wherever you are, in whatsoever posture you are, you stop dead. You are not to be cunning, because then the whole point of the exercise is lost.
For example, if your mouth is open and you see that Gurdjieff is not there to notice, and you just close your mouth and rest, you have missed the point. One of your legs was up – you were just moving – and one leg was down; now suddenly the “Stop!” call comes. You have to stop, knowing perfectly well that soon you will fall down; you cannot stand on one foot for long. But that is the whole point of it: whatever the consequence you simply stop as you are, you become just a statue.
You will be surprised that such a simple exercise gives you such a release of awareness. Neither Buddha, nor Patanjali, nor Mahavira was aware of it, that such a simple exercise… It is not complex at all.
When you become just a statue you are not even allowed to blink an eye; you stay exactly as you are at the moment you hear the word “Stop!” It simply means stop and nothing else. You will be surprised that you suddenly become a frozen statue – and in that state you can see yourself transparently.
You are constantly engaged in activity, and the mind’s activity is associated with the activity of the body. You cannot separate them, so when the body completely stops, of course, immediately the mind also stops then and there. You can see the body, frozen, as if it is somebody else’s body; you can see the mind, suddenly unmoving, because it has lost its association.
It is a simple psychological law of association that was discovered by another Russian, Pavlov. Gurdjieff knew it long before Pavlov, but he was not interested in psychology so he never worked it out that way. Pavlov also got the idea from the same nomads, but he moved in a different direction; he was a psychologist. He started working on the lines of the law of association.
Pavlov would give food to his dog, and while he was giving the food, he would go on ringing a bell. Now the bell and the bread had nothing to do with each other, but to the dog they were becoming associated. Whenever Pavlov gave the dog some bread, he would ring the bell. After fifteen days he would simply ring the bell and the dog’s tongue would start hanging out, ready for the bread. Now, somewhere in the dog’s mind, the bell and the bread were no longer two separate things.
Gurdjieff was doing far higher work. He found a simple way of stopping the mind. In the East people have been trying for centuries to concentrate the mind, to visualize it, to stop it – and Gurdjieff found a way through physiology. But it was not his discovery, he had just found out what those nomads had been doing all the time.
Gurdjieff would shout “Stop!” and everybody would freeze. When the body suddenly freezes, the mind feels a little weird: “What happened?” – because the mind has no association with the frozen body, it is just shocked. They are in cooperation, in a deep harmony, moving together. Now the body has completely frozen, what is the mind supposed to do? Where can it go?
For a moment there is a complete silence; and even a single moment of complete silence is enough to give you the taste of meditation.
Gurdjieff had developed dances, and during those dances he would suddenly say “Stop!” Now, while dancing you never know in what posture you are going to be. People would simply fall on the floor. But even if you fall, the exercise continues. If your hand is in an uncomfortable position under your body, you are not to make it comfortable because that means you have not given a chance for the mind to stop. You are still listening to the mind. The mind says, “It is uncomfortable, make it comfortable.” No, you are not to do anything.
When he was giving his demonstration of the dance in New York, Gurdjieff chose a very strange situation. All the dancers were standing in a line, and at a certain stage in the dance when they came dancing forward and were standing in a line with the first person just at the edge of the stage, Gurdjieff said “Stop!” The first person fell, the second fell, the third fell – the whole line fell on each other. But there was dead silence, no movement.
One man in the audience got his first experience of meditation just seeing this. He was not doing it, he just saw it. But seeing so many people suddenly stop and then fall, but falling as if frozen, with no effort on their own to change their position or anything… It was as if suddenly they had all become paralyzed.
The man was just sitting in the front row, and without knowing he just stopped, froze in the position he was in: his eyes stopped blinking, his breath stopped. Seeing this scene – he had come to see the dance, but what kind of dance was this? – suddenly he felt a new kind of energy arising within him. And it was so silent and he was so full of awareness, that he became a disciple. That very night he reached Gurdjieff and said, “I can’t wait.”
It was very difficult to be a disciple of Gurdjieff; he made it almost impossible. He was really a hard taskmaster. One can tolerate things if one can see some meaning in them, but with Gurdjieff the problem was that there was no obvious meaning.
This man’s name was Nicoll. Gurdjieff said, “It is not so easy to become my disciple.”
Nicoll said, “It is not so easy to refuse me either. I have come to become a disciple, and I will become a disciple. You may be a hard master, I know; I am a hard disciple!” Both men looked into each other’s eyes and understood that they belonged to the same tribe. This man was not going to leave.
Nicoll said, “I am not going. I will just sit here my whole life until you accept me as a disciple” and Nicoll’s case is the only case in which Gurdjieff accepted him without bitching; otherwise, he used to be so difficult. Even for a man like P. D. Ouspensky, who made Gurdjieff world-famous – even with him Gurdjieff was difficult.
Ouspensky remembers that they were traveling from New York to San Francisco in a train, and Gurdjieff started making a nuisance of himself in the middle of the night. He was not drunk, he had not even drunk water, but he was behaving like a drunkard – moving from one compartment to another compartment, waking people and throwing people’s things about. Ouspensky just followed him and asked, “What are you doing?” but Gurdjieff wouldn’t listen.
Somebody pulled the train’s emergency chain, “This man seems to be mad!” So the ticket-checker came in and the guard came in. Ouspensky apologized and said, “He is not mad and he is not drunk, but what to do? It is very difficult for me to explain what he is doing because I don’t know myself.” And right in front of the guard and ticket-checker, Gurdjieff threw somebody’s suitcase out of the window.
The guard and the ticket-checker said, “This is too much. Keep him in your compartment and we will give you the key. Lock it from within, otherwise we will have to throw you both out at the next station.”
Naturally Ouspensky was feeling embarrassed on the one hand and enraged on the other hand that this man was creating such a nuisance. He thought, “I know he is not mad, I know he is not drunk, but…” Gurdjieff was behaving wildly, shouting in Russian, screaming in Russian, Caucasian – he knew so many languages. The moment the door was locked, he sat silently and smiled. He asked Ouspensky, “How are you?”
Ouspensky said, “You are asking me, ‘How are you?’! You would have forced them to put you in jail, and me too – because I couldn’t leave you in such a condition. What was the purpose of all this?”
Gurdjieff said, “That is for you to understand. I am doing everything for you, and you are asking me the purpose? The purpose is not to react, not to be embarrassed, not to be enraged. What is the point of feeling embarrassed? What are you going to get out of it? You are simply losing your cool and gaining nothing.”
“But,” Ouspensky said, “you threw that suitcase out of the window. Now what about the man whose suitcase it is?”
Gurdjieff said, “Don’t be worried – it was yours!”
Ouspensky looked down and saw that his was missing. What to do with this master!
Ouspensky wrote: “I felt like getting down at the next station and going back to Europe. What else would Gurdjieff do?”
Gurdjieff said, “I know what you are thinking, you are thinking of getting down at the next station. Keep cool!”
“But,” Ouspensky asked, “how can I keep cool now that my suitcase is gone and my clothes are gone?”
Gurdjieff said, “Don’t be worried. Your suitcase was empty; I’ve put your clothes in my suitcase. Now, just cool down.”
But later, when he was in the Caucasus and Ouspensky was in London, Gurdjieff sent Ouspensky a telegram: “Come immediately!” When Gurdjieff says “Immediately,” it means immediately! Ouspensky was involved in some work, but he had to leave his job, pack immediately, finish everything and go to the Caucasus. In those days Russia was in revolution, so to go to the Caucasus was dangerous, absolutely dangerous. People were rushing out of Russia to save their lives, so to enter Russia and for a well-known person like Ouspensky, well-known as a mathematician, world famous… It was also well-known that he was anti-Communist, and he was not for the revolution. Now, to call him back into Russia, and that too, to the faraway Caucasus…
He would have to pass through the whole of Russia to reach Gurdjieff, but if Gurdjieff called… Ouspensky went. When he arrived there he was really boiling, because he had passed by burning trains, stations, butchered people and corpses on the platforms. He himself could not believe how he had managed, that he was going to reach Gurdjieff, but somehow he managed to. And what did Gurdjieff say? He said, “You have come, now you can go: the purpose is fulfilled. I will see you later on in London.”
Now this kind of man… He has his purpose – there is no doubt about it – but has strange ways of working. Ouspensky, even Ouspensky, missed. He got so angry that he dropped all his connections with Gurdjieff after this incident, because: “This man had pulled me into the very mouth of death for nothing!” But Ouspensky missed the point. If he had gone back as silently as he had come, he may have become enlightened by the time he reached London – but he missed the point. A man like Gurdjieff may not always do something which is apparently meaningful, but it is always meaningful.
Nicoll became his disciple, and he had to make it through so many strange tasks, strange in every possible way. No master before Gurdjieff had tried such strange ways. For example, he would force you to eat, to go on eating; he would go on forcing you, “Eat!” and you could not say no to the master. While tears were coming to you he was saying “Eat!”…and those spices, Caucasian spices – Indian spices are nothing! Your whole throat was burning, you could feel the fire even in your stomach, in your intestines, and he was saying “Eat! Go on eating until I say stop.”
But he had some hidden meaning in it. There is a point for the body… I said to you just the other day that a point comes for the body, if you fast, when after five days it changes its system. It starts absorbing its own fat, and then there is no more hunger. That is one method which has been used. This is also a similar method – in the opposite direction. There is a point beyond which you cannot eat, but the master says, “Go on.” He is trying to bring you to the brink of the capacity of your whole physiology, and you have never touched it. We are always in the middle. Neither are we fasting, nor are we feasting like Gurdjieff: we are always in the middle. The body is in a settled routine; hence, the mind is also settled in its way of movement. Fasting destroys that.
That’s why fasting became so important in all religions; it brings you to a moment after fifteen days when you simply start forgetting thoughts. Bigger gaps start appearing: for hours there is not a single thought, and after twenty-one days your mind is empty. It’s strange that when the stomach is totally empty it creates a synchronicity in the mind – the mind becomes totally empty.
Fasting is not a goal in itself. Only idiots have followed it as a goal in itself. It is simply a technique to bring you to a stage where you can experience a state of no-mind. Once that is experienced, you can go back to food. Then there is no problem, you know the track. And then you can also go into that state any time you want, eating normally.
Gurdjieff was doing just the opposite because that’s what he had learned from the nomads. Those are a totally different kind of people. They don’t have any scriptures. They don’t have any people like Buddha, Mahavira, or any others, but they have passed on by word of mouth, from generation to generation, certain techniques that were given by the father to the son. This technique Gurdjieff learned from the nomads. They eat too much, and go on eating, and go on eating, and go on eating. A moment comes when it is not possible to eat anymore – and that is the point when Gurdjieff would force you to eat.
If you say yes even then, suddenly there is an immediate state of no-mind because you have broken the whole rhythm of body and mind. Now it is inconceivable for the mind to grasp what is happening. It cannot work any longer in this situation. It has not known it before because – always remember – mind is exactly like a computer. It is a bio-computer, it functions according to its program. You may be aware of it, you may not be aware of it, but it functions according to a program. Break the program somewhere… And you can break the program only at the ends, only at the boundary, where you are facing an abyss.
Gurdjieff would force people to drink so much alcohol – and all kinds of alcoholic beverages – that they would go almost crazy; so drunk that they would forget completely who they were. And he would go on giving it to them. If they fell he would shake them, sit them up and pour them some more, because there is a moment when the person has come to a point where his whole body, his whole consciousness is completely overtaken by the intoxicant. In that moment his unconscious starts speaking.
Freud took three years, four years, five years of psychoanalysis to do this. Gurdjieff did it in a single night! Your unconscious would start speaking, would give all the clues about you of which you have not even been aware. You would not know that you had given those clues to Gurdjieff but he would know. And then he would work according to those clues: what exercises would be right for you, what dances would be suitable for you, what music was needed for you.
All the clues have been given by your unconscious. You were not aware of it because you were completely intoxicated. You were not present when he worked on the unconscious and persuaded it to give all the clues about you. Those were the secrets about you – then he had the keys in his hands. So if somebody refused, “Now I cannot drink any more,” he would throw him out. He would say, “Then this is not the place for you.”
The law of karma is something psychological: neither legal, nor social, nor moral, but something psychological. It has not been worked out that way up to now.
Whatever you do contains in itself its consequence.
It does not matter whether you call it good or bad, because what you call it – good or bad – will depend upon your conditioning. If you are eating meat, and you are a Mohammedan, or a Christian, or a Jew, there is no question of “bad.” Others may be doing the same act, but their moral interpretation may be different. If you are a Jaina or a Buddhist or a brahmin – in the first place you cannot eat meat, and if you are eating it, you are doing the same act but your interpretation is that you are doing a bad act, a bad action.
Now, a Jaina eating meat, and a Christian eating meat – the acts are the same, but to the Christian conscience it is good, to the Jaina conscience it is bad. The action is exactly the same but the consequence will be different, because it is a question of psychology, it is not a question of nature. Otherwise, the consequences would have been the same.
Their psychologies are different: they have different minds, different conditionings. The Jaina will immediately feel guilty and will feel great fear. He will fall into self-condemnation and feel that he is absolutely unworthy, that he has fallen from grace. Now, this is the consequence, but this is not the consequence of the act; it is only the consequence of the act through his psychology.
The Christian feels nothing bad about it, in fact he is very happy: it was a good treat and he enjoyed it. Now he is sitting in his armchair with his cigar in his hand, enjoying, really relishing how tasty it was. Now do you think it was a consequence of the act? No, it is not. It is just a different psychology.
If you really want to know what the act brings, then you have to drop your psychology; then you will know the law of karma, not before. Before that you will know only that law working through your psychology, and your psychology will change it completely.
To a Jaina, it is a sin and he is going to hell; to the Christian there is no problem. Jesus was eating meat, Moses was eating meat, and I guess God also must be eating meat, particularly the Jewish, the Christian and the Mohammedan Gods. You cannot deprive God of such nourishing, delicious food. Or do you think you are going to keep him vegetarian?
In front of me once lived a doctor, a Bengali doctor, Doctor Datta. Bengalis are not vegetarian. Once in a while, if I was sick or something – he was very friendly to me and he would come to see me. My aunt, who used to live with me, would ask him, “Doctor Datta, is there anything about food – what he should eat, what he should not eat?”
And Datta would say, “No need to worry. You are just grass-eaters. What can be cut from your diet? You are dieting continuously. Now, I cannot give you any suggestions. We can diet; we can become grass-eaters just as you are; that will be dieting for us. But for you, if you diet then you will be finished; there is nothing else to eat – so don’t bother about it.”
To a Jaina it would be a sheer impossibility to conceive that Jesus can be enlightened: he eats meat, he drinks wine. And most amazing, he not only drinks wine, he turns water into wine. Now, to a Jaina the real miracle will be somebody turning all the wine of the world into water. That will be a real miracle, a religious miracle. You call this a miracle? – turning water into wine? This is a crime!
Unless you drop your psychologies… For example, to me who has no psychology: in between me and my life there is no mind. I am in direct and immediate touch with my life. If I eat meat, it is not that it is going to throw me into hell. No, that is stupid. In the first place there is no hell. In the second place, there is no law of nature that by eating meat you will go to hell, because if that is the case then all the animals and almost all men will be going to hell; heaven will be absolutely empty. And because all the animals are eating meat, there is no possibility for animals to grow toward higher consciousness.
I used to say to Jaina monks, “You are preaching a stupid thing. You say that animals go on growing, moving upward; finally they become man. How can they become man? If eating meat throws people into hell, then how can meat-eating animals grow in consciousness and become men? If animals grow and become man by eating meat, then man by eating meat will grow and become God. There is no problem, growth is not prevented.”
Those Jainas would say to me, “With you, argument is just impossible. From where do you get these ideas? We have been reading the scriptures our whole life, and we have been reading that animals grow and become man, but this idea never occurred to us. Yes, it is true: if they are eating meat and growing in consciousness, then what is wrong in eating meat?”
“And particularly,” I said, “eating the meat of animals who are growing upward will be a great help for evolution.” In fact that’s what Mohammedans say. They have a very strange idea – it’s this idea that I am telling you. They say that you have to eat animals because only by eating them do you transform them and make them capable of moving upward. Because you absorb their body and their soul, it goes upward, so release as many animals as you can. God has made it clear in the Koran that he made the animals for man to eat. What else, what other authority, is needed?
I am not a Jaina or a Jew or a Mohammedan because I don’t have any psychology. These are all psychologies created by different religions for their own purposes. I have dropped all psychology.
I don’t eat meat because to me the act itself is ugly. It is not a question that I will suffer in a future life. No, the very act, even the idea that you have to destroy life just for your taste buds, which are not many – just at the back of your tongue, perhaps two inches… If your tongue is cleaned a little deeply with a razor, all your taste will disappear.

It happened in the Second World War that a man got shot in his neck. He was saved by medical science, but his food pipe had to be closed. Now there was trouble, so they made a small hole into his stomach through his side and fixed a pipe there. He used to put food in it, and it was working perfectly well, but he was very unhappy because there was no taste. You could put anything in his pipe, no problem, but he was very angry: “This is not a solution; there is no taste. Life is meaningless. Without food, more than half your life is finished.”
So finally the doctor decided, “Do one thing: first chew the food so you have the taste and then drop it into your pipe” – because his tongue was perfectly okay; only his food pipe was closed so he could not directly swallow food. And the idea worked. That man lived almost twelve years after this, chewing food. He enjoyed it more than you do, because he chewed for longer. That was his only joy, so why chew and just swallow?
Because your swallowing is so close to chewing, you never chew perfectly. If you want to chew perfectly, you have to chew forty-two times. I have tried, but by twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two… It becomes so boring; forget about the scientific law – I just swallow it. But if you chew exactly forty-two times then you have chewed your food perfectly well. That man may have been chewing even eighty-four times – there was no problem – and then dropping the food into his pipe. We are also doing that, but our pipe is joined; his pipe was separate. He lived for twelve years, joyously eating all kinds of delicious food.

But killing, just for those small buds on your tongue, taking anybody’s life is simply unaesthetic. It is not a question of morality, it is not a question of religion, it is a question of aesthetics: your sense of beauty, your sense of respect for life. And by not eating meat, you are not going to heaven – because there is no heaven either.
But to me, just to attain to this aesthetic sensibility is to be in heaven. The man who has no aesthetic sensibility is below human. He is still an animal: walking on two legs of course, but just walking on two legs instead of four can’t make much difference. Or do you think it can make much difference? If that is the only difference between human beings and animals, that they walk on four and you walk on two, that they are horizontal and you are vertical… Do you think geometry is the difference between you and animals?
You were certainly horizontal once, like those other animals. That’s why when you sleep you feel so restful, because you come back to your primitive state, horizontal; and the mind moves into the collective unconscious, far back when you were also moving on four feet.
If you look at the faces of animals you will find them graceful. Have you seen any animal in the same kind of states as you see in man’s changing faces? No, because there is no emotion, no sensibility, their faces remain the same. But your face is continuously changing; you have sensibility. Your sensibility is the basic quality that differentiates you from animals.
To me, if your aesthetic sense allows you an act, you will immediately feel immensely fulfilled.
I don’t issue any promissory notes to you. All the religions have done that. I am absolutely for cash! I don’t believe in promissory notes, I believe in cash. My religion is a cash religion: you act, and out of your action you get the result immediately, connected to it as a continuation. There is no discontinuity. This is my law of karma. This is absolutely different from all the philosophies of the law of karma that have been preached in the past, particularly in the East. But my law of karma has a different dimension: it is aesthetic. The more your senses become alive, the more you become full of reverence for life; it is bound to happen. With sensitivity, you will become so respectful that even to pluck a flower from a plant will be an ugly act.
A very great painter not much known in the West, although he was a Western man, lived in the Himalayas. He was a Russian, Nicholas Roerich, and he belonged to the czar’s family. When the revolution happened and nineteen members of the czar’s family were slaughtered, even a six-month-old child – sometimes these revolutions can be so ugly – Nicholas Roerich escaped; he was just a boy at that time.
He lived in the Himalayas. He was a painter, but not a painter for art galleries and marketplaces. He never sold any of his paintings – not because people were not ready to purchase them, but because he was not willing to sell. He said, “It is not a commodity, it is me spread on the canvas. How can I sell it?” He died with all his paintings in his house.
I have been to his house – he was very old at that time – and seeing that he was vegetarian, I asked, “You are a Russian, why should you be vegetarian?”
He said, “Because of my paintings. I cannot even destroy a painting, which is not alive. How can I destroy a living being for my food? And if I can destroy a lion or a tiger, then why not destroy a man?”
…Because human meat will be more digestible, more in tune with you. What is wrong with the cannibal? Why is everybody against the cannibals just because they eat human beings? Cannibals say human meat is very delicious. They say there is nothing as delicious on earth as human meat, particularly the meat of small children. If deliciousness and taste are decisive… Perhaps they may be right, because they have eaten other foods also, and they are saying it: all cannibals agree. But you can’t think of eating a man. How can you think of eating a tiger? How can you think of eating a deer? If there was no mind given to you by the past, or if you can put it aside and see directly, you will be simply amazed at what people have been doing.
Vegetarianism should not be anything moral or religious. It is a question of aesthetics: one’s sensitivity, one’s respect, reverence for life. To me this is the law of karma. All other interpretations of it are absolutely wrong, just boo boo.

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