(From Nicoll’s “Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky,” pp. 1499-1500)
The influences coming down the Ray of Creation and received by Higher Centres, which can change us, are shut out. Now if one believes in nothing else, one can admit that sometimes one is in a better state and sometimes in a worse one. We know there are far worse states than we usually experience. We can experience hell on earth in more ways than one, externally and internally. This, I repeat, must be admitted even if one believes nothing else, and for those who have difficulty with their inner denial and awkward doubts it can form a starting-point beyond argument for the reception of the Work. Now, to set about cleansing the Augaean stables of negative emotions by running the river of the truth of the Work-teaching throught them is real intelligence indeed. And, of course, this task gives one an entirely new angle on life and what one has to do. The results, ideally speaking, would be finally to eradicate violence; for all negative emotions lead down to violence and root in it. No one can be rising in the scale of being unless he is leaving violence more and more behind him. Eventually in one’s development violence must go.
I will append here an account of an experience I had in connection with this matter some time ago. It is in the form of a dream, and is as follows:
The difficult-to-cross ditch at the top of the slope is full of the bones of prehistoric animals–the remains of violent things, of beasts of prey, of monsters, of snakes. They go far down into this abyss. There is a plank to cross by, but the air seems full of restraining power, like the invisible influence of some magnet; and this, with the fear of crossing this depth–although the width is not great–holds me back. I cannot say for how long for there is no ordinary time in all this. Then I find myself across–on the other side. What wonderful vision do I now behold? I see someone teaching or drilling some recruits. That is all. At first sight there seems nothing marvellous. He smiles. He indicates somehow that he does not necessarily expect to get any results from what he is doing. He does not seem to mind. He does not shew any signs of impatience when they are rude to him. The lesson is nearly over, but this will not make any difference to him. It is as if he said, “Well, this has to be done. One cannot expect much. One must give them help, though they don’t want it.” It is his invulnerability that strikes me. He is not hurt or angered by their sneers or lack of discipline. He has some curious power but hardly uses it. I pass on, marvelling that he could do it. I could not take on such a thankless task. I come to a place, perhaps a shop, where boats are stored. Beyond is the sea.
When I wake I think of this man. To do what he is doing is so utterly contrary to anything I would do. I would need a new will to do it.
It would mean I would have to go in a direction I never went in. I thought much about this direction. How could I define it to myself? I would have been violent to those recruits. Yes, that was it. He shewed no violence. He had not a will of violence. He seemed purified from all violence. That was the secret. That was the source of the curious power I detected in him. A man without violence. And then I reflected that to reach him I had to get across to the other side of the deep gulf full of the bones of prehistoric beasts, where the non-violent lived and taught–the country of the non-violent, where recruits were being taught.
He had nearly finished his lesson. Beyond was the sea, and there were boats stored near it. No doubt when he had finished he was going on, somewhere. As for me, I had been given only a glance into the meaning of a new will–a will not based on violence or on having your own way. I repeat–only a glance. For I knew I had not really crossed that deep gulf filled with the bones of the violent past and left it behind finally. There were no recruits for me and certainly none of the waiting boats was mine. But from this glance I know better what going in a new direction is and what a new will purified from violence means. I know also that the possibilities of following this new will and new direction lie in every moment of one’s life.
Note from Kevin Roberts:
It is useful to consider your teacher/school in this light, as a person who is without violence psychologically. Unless you can see this side, this special effort you teacher/school makes, you will fight with them. This requires a different sort of assessment than is ordinarily made.