Written Teachings are Not the Truth

You have no reason to believe me. I ask you not to believe anything that you cannot verify for yourselves. – Gurdjieff

It seems to me that virtually every record of the Gurdjieff teaching is a record of something said in a given place and time, to certain people. As such, we have to understand that it was said for those people at that time with the point of making a certain impression on those people. Therefore, it was not meant as ultimate truth for posterity.

The one exception is All and Everything. However, as Gurdjieff says in The Arousing of Thought, he wrote it for the subconscious, not in normal language for the false-consciousness. Therefore, it is almost completely allegorical. It may state ultimate truth, but not directly. There is also Herald of Coming Good, but Gurdjieff recalled it.

Reality of Being may appear to be an exception but remember that it is from notebooks and so was not prepared by Jeanne de Salzmann for publication. For all we know, it may have been meant simply for her own use preparing for talks with groups. The editors say she had reported that she was writing a book, but we don’t know how close this was to the book she intended. It does not appear to be anywhere close to a complete book. I am compelled to note that, despite its limitations, I feel it is exceptionally valuable.

Still, it seems to me that we must take all of it with some doubt but use it to investigate truth for ourselves.

Words are good but they are not the best.
The best is not to be explained by words.

Johann Goethe

The ‘best is not to be explained by words,’ because truth cannot be expressed in words. It is said that the teaching is an oral tradition. Although oral means by mouth, here it implies direct, not only by mouth. This is why there are few written expositions of great teachings, the teachers know their truth cannot be expressed in words. Of course, truth can also be communicated directly without an oral element.

I began by addressing the Gurdjieff, Fourth Way, teaching but this point is true of all spiritual teachings.

Knowledge is knowledge of the whole. Yet we can only receive it in fragments. Afterward we must connect them ourselves in order to find their place in an understanding of the whole.                                                                                                                   Jeanne de Salzmann

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