Extract from ‘Alfred Orage’s commentaries
on Gurdjieff’s ‘ Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson’’.
Lentrohamsanin‘s critique was that of a good philosopher but a pure rationalist-Objective Reason without Objective Conscience. His views was that man was created for service therefore he was a slave. Plausibly, and craftily he proposed to repudiate this service and attain to absolute freedom. He considered it possible to attain this without making the effort entailed in conscious labor and voluntary suffering. In one sense Lentrohamsanin was the forerunner of our spiritual ancestor, the Greeks and the Romans, who are regarded by us as the beginning of civilization-anything before them being barbarous and barbaric. But Gurdjieff says that the ancient Babylonian civilization was far superior to the Greeks, which latter descends, not from Ashiata Shiemash but from Lentrohamsanin-the rationalist with no higher emotional urge.
In each of us Lentrohamsanin tries to undo the work of Ashiata Shiemash-an unconscious force working against a conscious force.
In this Work, the work that we are engaged in, some people in whom knowledge has outstripped understanding may not be able to endure the suffering which follows-the sense of guilt, remorse, self-reproach, the despair at feeling that they are unable to do anything about themselves. This is the dark night of the soul. Some may go off at a tangent, looking for an easier way, the way of a philosophical school for example; or an Eastern cult unsuited to the Western Psyche; or they may become Lentrohamsanins and, with the best of all egotistical motives, actually become opposed to the work. This Work is a strong positive, as Gurdjieff says: ‘A strong positive provokes a strong negative’.
Lentrohamsanin is the personification in us of the unwillingness to bear the suffering that is necessary to obtain Objective Conscience parallel with the attaining of Objective Reason.
God has a plan. In this plan human beings are involved and part of the plan consists in giving to the elect the opportunity of working for themselves at the same time as for Him. It is a very high and great plan; and the degree of suffering is the degree of importance attached to the plan. Who are the elects? Everyone who is willing to pay the price of conscious labor and voluntary suffering; not the elects of John Calvin, predetermined from the foundation of the world.
Lentrohamsanin chose to work on those simple-minded folk, of good feeling, who had not obtained Objective Reason-the dissatisfied who were beginning to think that there was no hope of an attaining of Objective Reason in proportion to the suffering. In place of the great aim, he taught that the chief thing in life was the pursuit of happiness, and happiness consisted in not being obliged to make constant and unflagging effort. In certain moods we may find ourselves ready to agree. Lentrohamsanin appealed to tow characteristics in man-the desire to get something for nothing, and the idea of freedom, or liberty to attain happiness in the future. He was not a monster or a conscious traitor; he only thought he knew best; he left out of account the higher emotional element. In a state of higher emotion a man cannot do evil; Objective Conscience is awake; he is in a state of self-remembering, self-recollection. In our ordinary reason there is already enough to defeat Buddha, Jesus Christ, and Ashiata Shiemash. Lentrohamsanin’s weakness was that he had no urge to understand ‘why’ but was satisfied with the knowledge of ‘how’.
Gurdjieff says that ‘why is for what is not known, yet at the same time exists.’
As I have said, from the two streams possible to us-Ashiata Shiemash and Lentrohamsanin-we inherited the latter, the Greek and Roman. Yet in Greece there existed true esoteric groups, which were responsible for the flowering of her culture. Socrates was a member of one. Aristophanes was a sort of Lentrohamsanin of his time-he never understood Socrates.
Ashiata Shiemash’s followers, when his teaching became submerged in the flood of Lentrohamsanin’s rationalistic philosophy, withdrew into small groups. These small groups exist in ourselves.
All popular explanations of life are now based on the personal, the objective has been swallowed up in egoism. We cannot formulate any philosophy except from the point of view of personal interest. Nietzsche said: ’I no longer ask of a philosopher, ‘is it true? ’, but ‘what was the interest for the philosopher?’’ Without the higher emotion all philosophy become a matter of the head, with a view to personal welfare, subjectively colored and egoistically determined-like our degenerate reason. Without the higher emotional understanding ordinary man has the idea that the Universe has just happened, and that therefore life on our planet, including the human, is to be exploited; or, that God has no useful purpose in creating the world and that he has no use for us; or, that he created it just for us, that he loves human beings and only want them to be happy-and if they will not be good and happy and do as he wants, he will be angry and punish them. This is one of our more childish attitude, that our chief purpose is to be happy and that the path to happiness is to make others happy. This is Schopenhauer’s attitude. Another variation is that only individual happiness counts-the subjective error into which Nietzsche fell-that mankind exists for the purpose of producing a few supermen. Still another variation is that of the pathological Communist-Socialist: what matters my happiness now and those around me so long as there is ‘progress’ and happiness for others in the future?
And the modern scientist-inventing more and more processes for the benefit of the generations to come. The decease of tomorrow.
Objective Reason is not obtained by any subjective egotistical emotion or personal anguish: Objective Conscience is also necessary. Gurdjieff’s cosmology may seem ridiculous to the ordinary man but in comparison with the infantile concepts implicit in our general subjective point of view, it is manly and intelligent.
Ashiata Shiemash says: ‘There is a Method by which we can arrive now at an understanding of what is.’
Lentrohamsanin says: ’There is a mean by which we can accommodate ourselves to what is, without understanding it.’
The Greeks were responsible for the corruption of human reason, the Romans for the corruption of organic conscience.
Notes Taken by Charles Stanley Nott.From chapter 3 of his book, ‘ Teaching of Gurdjieff ’ by C.S. Nott, Routledge&Kegan Paul-1961, London.