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June 14, 2011

On G. I. Gurdjieff's Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson


Section II

6. The Atrophy of the Sacred Being-Impulses:
  Faith, Hope & Love

During Beelzebub’s fifth visit on the spaceship Occasion to the Earth from Mars, he visits the “Center-of-Culture” of the time–the majestic city of Babylon.  Beelzebub was attempting to elucidate for himself and a High Commission the factors which were contributing to the “acceleration of the rate of the degeneration of their ‘psychic-organization.” Beelzebub explains to Hassein that the beings no longer had a “real being-psyche” as there had been an “atrophy” within them of the three sacred “being-impulses” –of Faith, Hope and Love.

 Beelzebub recounts various stories about Sacred Individuals who visited the Earth or who were “intentionally actualized from Above.”  The Tales include materials on Saint Krishnatkharna, Saint Buddha, Saint Lama, Saint Mohammed, Saint Jesus Christ and Saint Moses.  These Sacred Individuals had attempted to enlighten humankind through one of these “sacred ways for self-perfecting,” namely based on the arousing of the three sacred being-impulses of faith, hope and love.        

 During his fifth visit to Earth, Beelzebub reads from a “legominism” or treatise, entitled “The Terror-of-the-Situation,” by another Sacred Individual, the “Very Saintly Ashiata Shiemash.” Ashiata Shiemash had been actualized from Above and intended to influence the course of events through the means of the traditional sacred ways for self-perfecting.  However, his observations and experiences on the planet Earth raised grave “essence-doubt” about the possibility of doing so, because of “the consequences of the properties of the Kundabuffer ... (which had) crystallized in their presences.”  These ill-effects formed an artificial “second nature” within the three-brained beings and the sacred being-impulses had degenerated within their strange psyches.

 After a period of meditation, Ashiata Shiemash realized that it was “already too late” to save the contemporary beings by the three traditional ways.  Each of the sacred being-impulses had passed into the subconscious and atrophied into new peculiarities within the human psyche.  Properties of the organ Kundabuffer, which resembled the sacred being-impulses, had become mixed with them.  Ashiata Shiemash explained:

 “The contemporary three-centered beings here do at times, believe, love, and hope with their Reason as well as with their feelings; but how they believe, how they love, and how they hope–ah, it is exactly in this that all the peculiarity of these three being-properties lies!   (pp. 355-6)

Firstly, these sacred being-impulses no longer arise or function “independently,” as they do in other three-brained beings in the Universe, but instead they always depend upon some consequence of the organ Kundabuffer–“as for instance, ... “vanity,” “self-love,” “pride,” “self-conceit,” and so forth. ... “swagger,” “imagination,” “bragging,” “arrogance,” and so on.”  (p. 356)

Faith no longer ‘functions independently’ within the beings of the Babylonian times or within contemporary times, but it has degenerated into a willingness to “believe-any-old-tale,” if such fictions evoke those characteristics of the false egoism crystallized within the men-beings.  The strange three-brained beings thus believe anything that they ‘are told’ or ‘learn by rote’ if it satisfies their self-love, swagger and imagination:

 “From the influence of such actions upon their degenerated Reason and on the degenerated factors in their localizations (brains), which factors actualize their being-sensations, not only is there crystallized a false conviction concerning the mentioned fictions, but thereafter in all sincerity and faith, they will even vehemently prove to those around them that it is just so and in no way be otherwise.  (p. 356)

 Of course, the contemporary beings are so certain of all the false social, religious, scientific, philosophical and political dogmas and deceits they are told or conditioned to believe in.  The true nature of the being-impulse of faith is described by Beelzebub:

 “... owing to faith alone does there appear in a being, the intensity of being-self-consciousness necessary for every being, and also the valuation of personal Being as a particle of Everything Existing in the Universe.”  (pp. 191-2) 

The intensification of being self-consciousness brings about an awareness of self as a particle of everything existing and a faith in God, or the Endlessness, as the ultimate life source.  According to Beelzebub, three brained beings can “instinctually sense reality” and this should be the basis of Faith, not the wishing for tomorrow or for something new, and believing everything you are told.  Faith arises, like love and hope, as a result of directly experiencing the reality of one’s being and not from imagination, fictions or outward things.

Beelzebub characterizes what is taken as the sacred being-impulse of ‘love’ among those strange three-brained “men-beings:”

“In the presences of the beings of contemporary times, there also arises and is present in them as much as you please of that strange impulse which they call love; but this love of theirs is firstly also the result of certain crystallized consequences of the properties of the same Kundabuffer; and secondly this impulse of theirs arises and manifests itself in the process of everyone of them entirely subjectively …. 


“One would explain this sensation in the sexual sense; another in the sense of pity; a third in the sense of desire for submission; a fourth, in a common craze for outer things, and so on and so forth, but not one … could describe even remotely, the sensation of genuine Love. 


“Here, in these times, if one of those three-brained beings “loves” somebody or other, then he loves him either because the latter always encourages and undeservingly flatters him; or because his nose is much like the nose of that female or male, with whom thanks to the cosmic law of “polarity” or “type,” a relation has been established which has not yet been broken; or finally, he loves him only because the latter’s uncle is in a big way of business and may one day give him a boost, and so on and so forth. But never do beings-men here love with genuine, impartial and non-egoistic love.”  (pp. 357-358)


The genuine being-impulse of love is confused with sexual sense, pity, desire for submission, a craze for outer things and so on—always mixed with the properties of the Kundabuffer or false egoism.  

 Beelzebub, as Ashiata Shiemash, elaborates on the nature of Love as a sacred being-impulse:

 “... in none of the ordinary beings-men here has there ever been, for a long time, any sensation of the sacred being-impulse of genuine Love.  And without this “taste” they cannot even vaguely describe that most beatific sacred being-impulse in the presence of every three-centered being of the whole Universe, which, in accordance with the divine foresight of Great Nature, forms those data in us, from the result of the experiencing of which we can blissfully rest from the meritorious labors actualized by us for the purpose of self-perfection.”  (p. 357)

 The experience of genuine Love is depicted as a blessing bestowed upon an individual who has attained a level of self-perfection through their conscious labors to rid themselves of the consequences of the accursed organ Kundabuffer and its generations of effects.

 Love, according to Beelzebub, “should predominate always and in everything during the inner and the outer functioning evoked by one’s consciousness,” but such a love is only in the presences of those who are “formed in the lawful parts of every whole,”  thus awakened to the realities of self.  (p. 310)   Elsewhere, Beelzebub explains that the “being-property of sensing the inner feeling of similar beings in relations to oneself” is another property which “must infallibly exist in all beings of our Great Universe,” but this also has atrophied among the men-beings of planet Earth.   Beelzebub refers to experiences generally unknown among the contemporary beings.  However,

“... occasionally, one of those favourites of yours perfects himself firstly to the degree of sensing with all his spiritualized parts that every being or, as is said, ‘every breathing creature’ is equally near and dear to our COMMON FATHER ....” (p. 878) 

The third sacred being impulse of Hope or “essence-hope” has also atrophied into a “newly-formed-abnormal hope.”  Your favorites “always hope in something.”  The hope of the strange three-brained beings has become ‘a hope for tomorrow,’ is fed by self-love and imagination and leads only to “possibilities ... being paralysed in them.”  Beelzebub explains:

“… this maleficent strange “hope” newly formed in them … has taken the place of the being-impulse of Sacred Hope …

 “In consequence of this newly-formed-abnormal hope of theirs, they always hope in something; and thereby all those possibilities are constantly being paralyzed in them, which arise in them either intentionally from without or accidentally by themselves, which possibilities could perhaps still destroy in their presences their hereditary predispositions to the crystallizations of the consequences of the properties of the organ Kundabuffer.  (pp. 358-9)

 “Thanks to this abnormal hope of theirs a very singular and most strange disease, with a property of evolving, arose and exists among them there even until now—a disease called there ‘tomorrow.’

 “This strange disease ‘tomorrow’ brought with it terrifying consequences … by putting off from ‘tomorrow’ till ‘tomorrow,’ those unfortunate beings there … are also deprived of the possibility of ever attaining anything real.

 “This strange and for your favorites maleficent disease ‘tomorrow’ has already become a hindrance for the beings of contemporary times, not only because they have been totally deprived of all possibilities of removing from their presences the crystallized consequences of the properties of the organ Kundabuffer, but it had also become a hindrance to most of them in honestly discharging at least those being-obligations of theirs ….

 “Owing  to the said maleficent disease ‘tomorrow’ most of those unfortunate beings there who accidentally or owing to a conscious influence from without, become aware through their Reason in them of their complete nullity and begin to sense it with all their separate spiritualized parts, and who also chance to learn which and in what way, being-efforts must be made in order to become such as it is proper for three-brained beings to be, also, by putting off from ‘tomorrow’ till ‘tomorrow,’ almost all arrive at the point that on one sorrowful day for themselves, there arise in them and begin to be manifest those forerunners of old age called ‘feebleness’ and ‘infirmity’ ….

 “… in many of them, toward the end of their planetary existence, most of the consequences of the properties of that same organ which had become crystallized in their common presences begin to atrophy of their own accord and some of them even entirely disappear, in consequence of which these beings begin to see and sense reality a little better.

 “In such cases a strong desire appears in the common presences of such favorites as yours, to work upon themselves, to work as they say, for the ‘salvation-of-their-soul.’

 “But needless to say, nothing can result from such desires of theirs just because it is already too late for them, the time given them for this purpose by Great Nature having already passed; and although they see and feel the necessity of actualizing the required being-efforts, yet for the fulfillment of such desires of theirs, they have now only ineffectual yearnings and the ‘lawful-infirmities-of-old-age.’  (pp. 363-4)

 The strange men-beings hope for change, a better life and even for the ‘salvation-of-their-soul.’  Unfortunately, the strange disease of tomorrow leads them to always postpone their efforts, and tomorrow merges into another tomorrow, and it never arrives.  Towards the end of their lives, when their crystallized egoism has waned and the beings begin to experience more deeply ‘their inner nullity,’ they are stricken with the ‘feebleness’ and ‘infirmities’ of old age and it is too late. 

 At various points within the Tales, Beelzebub provides brief depictions of the atrophied forms of the sacred being-impulses and their true forms.  Generally, he depicts your favorites, the slugs, as “always believing, always loving, and always hoping in everything newly perceived.” (p. 567)

 Higher emotions or the sacred being-impulses are experienced only when a man-being becomes spiritualized in his parts and attains a certain “totality-of-self-awareness.”


Nott (1969), a student of Gurdjieff, describes moments of awakening to the state of self-consciousness.  His account illustrates a taste of the sacred being-impulses:

It was during this summer that I had the first deep and vivid experience of higher consciousness.  The three previous experiences of this unexpected impact of higher forces were a taste of real consciousness of self.  The present one was different.  One hot day I was walking from the house across the fields to bathe in the Wisconsin river.  About half way a strange and wonderful force began to enter into me and permeate my whole being, and filled me with light and power.  I stopped and stood still and let the force flow.  Although I was aware of my surroundings–the forest and fields and the hot sun, they were only a background to the inner experience; all anxieties and cares of ordinary life dropped away; at the same time I saw myself and my relations with people quite clearly; I saw the patterns of my life, my organism moving as it were along its appointed path.  There was time no longer, and an understanding of the whole of life seemed possible for me.  It was as if for a few moments I had entered into my real life; and the outer life, which had seemed so important and took up all my time, was not the real life but something ephemeral, a sort of cinema film with which I was identified.  Only the inner something was eternal-I, the real self of me.  I AM.  (p.154)

In 1899, Dr. Richard Bucke had similar glimpses of higher or expanded consciousness, which lead to his investigation of mystical states and the writing of the classic Cosmic Consciousness (1972).   Bucke recalls his experiences while speaking in the third person:

 All at once, without warning of any kind, he found himself wrapped around as it were by a flame coloured cloud. For an instant he thought of fire ...  the next he knew that the light was within himself. Directly afterwards came upon him a sense of exultation, of immense joyousness accompanied or immediately followed by an intellectual illumination quite impossible to describe. Into his brain streamed one momentary lighting-flash of the Brahmic Splendor which has ever since lightened his life; upon his heart fell one drop of Brahmic Bliss, leaving thenceforward for always an after taste of heaven. Among other things he did not come to believe, he saw and knew that the Cosmos is not dead matter but a living Presence, that the soul of man is immortal, that the universe is so built and ordered that without any preadventure all things work together for the good of each and all, that the foundation principle of the world is what we call love ...  He claims that he learned more within the few seconds during which the illumination lasted than in previous months or even years of study, and that he learned much that no study could ever have taught. (pp. 8-9)

 Bucke experienced an illumination of the mind and an awakening of the heart, gaining deep and varied insights into the nature of things.   He realized that the Cosmos is a living Presence, that Love is an element of the universe and that the soul principle is immortal.  Bucke was filled with feelings of wonder and awe—beautific emotions or sacred being-impulses.

Moments of self-consciousness enable one to penetrate the hidden dimensions of being and self.  Experiences involve the transformation of the sense of time, illumination of the patterns of one’s life, realization of one’s interconnectedness with nature and the larger cosmos, and experiences of objective emotions–including the sacred being-impulses of faith, hope and love.  The experience of self-consciousness involves a quantum shift in the experience of I–awakening to one nature as a particle of the living and sacred whole. 

 Higher emotions do not come about through the refinement or intensification of typical personal emotions.  Real emotions require the dissolution of the false consciousness system based upon self-love and self-feeling, attachments and identifications, “swagger” and “cunning.”  Such personal emotions are based on the complex of nerve nodes within the sympathetic system, particularly in the “pit of the stomach” and not within the original center of emotions, related by Beelzebub to a independent brain in the area of “the breast.”  All esoteric mystical paths teach the importance of transcending personal elements in the emotional life and the awakening of the Heart.  Unfortunately for your favorites, the sacred being-impulses have atrophied among humankind on planet Earth, contributing further to the degradation of the human psyche.

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