Some believe that kundabuffer was implanted by an operation carried out on mankind at the very beginning—when three-brained beings first peopled the planet Earth. It’s an opinion you could acquire if you take The Tales literally.
I suspect otherwise. What is written in The Tales is open to interpretation, as will be discussed in the next article on this topic in The Lost Herald.
Here I will simply reprint the notes from a lecture the Gurdjieff gave prior to founding his institute and years before writing The Tales. Note that in this lecture there is no suggestion that Kundabuffer was implanted in us long ago.
So is the ordinary man. He can live all his life as he is.
At the same time, Nature has given him the possibility of changing, but this does not mean that any change will necessarily take place. This change you speak of is possible, but it is difficult to say if anyone has the chance of reaching it. There are many reasons not dependent on us, which may prevent this.
The chief reason is in ourselves, and it is the Kundabuffer as it is called.
To understand clearly what this new thing is, we must stop here and go into further details.
Nature in her foresight has given to man’s machine a certain property, which protects the man from feeling and sensing reality.
That is the Kundabuffer.
Let us take a real fact. All men are mortal and every man can die at any moment. I can imagine that Mr. Smith comes out from the theater, and crossing the street, he falls under an automobile which crushes him to death. Or a signboard is torn off and falls just on the head of Mr. Jones and kills him on the spot. Or Mr. Brown eats crayfish, poisons himself, and dies the next day without anyone being able to save him.
All this, everybody can easily imagine. But, we ask, can anyone imagine that he himself this moment or tomorrow, or in one year or in ten years will also die? Really if we think of this carefully-death is a terror. What is more terrible than death? What would happen if he really imagined this terror, his own death? Can you imagine the terror? You cannot imagine your own death, but you can imagine the death of another. Besides these terrors, there are many other terrors in reality, which we do not realize, which we do not see. If men realized them they would hang themselves from terror. But nobody sees this. Why? Perhaps somebody will say it is our will that protects us from realizing these terrors? But then why does not our will protect us from small fears?
Imagine you come home, undress, go to bed, and at the same moment that you cover yourself with the blanket-something jumps from under the bed, runs across your body, and hides itself in the folds of the blanket. You throw off your blanket, draw up your feet and see a mouse. Imagine this picture, and almost from thinking about it—a shiver will run through your body. And what was so terrifying, in this, a house mouse, the most harmless of beasts. You don’t feel terror before inevitable deaths but you are afraid of a mouse, afraid of a thousand trifles which may only possibly occur.
These terrors on account of which you will not hang yourself are admitted by Nature as offensive for your existence, to the extent in which they are necessary to give you the experiences of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. Without them, there could not exist the experiences of which our life is made up. This is the source of the many troubles, griefs, efforts, self-loves, vanities that force man to act, to attain, and have illusions and disillusions. That is what supports life. These same things give us dreams, imaginations, and illusions, and awake the most various wishes in man. And he is always full of them. They give him the necessary impulse and fill his life, and he has no time to feel reality. Often those aims are inaccessible, but man does not see this and keeps on trying and trying. When one kind of trouble passes-another appears. Man’s machine has to work all the time.
And now imagine that you know, that you remember, if only with your head, that you have in one month to die. Exactly in one month. What will remain then of all that has filled our day? Everything that you have will lose its meaning and will count as nothing. And the newspaper with your morning coffee, and the polite greeting from your neighbors on the stairs, your professional work and belongings, and theater in the evening, and rest and sleep-to what purpose is all this?
But if death will come only in a year or two? Even then, everything will no longer have the same meaning that it had for us before. Involuntarily you ask: if that is so, why should we live?
Just not because your life is for yourself. Your life is necessary to somebody else, who watches over it and takes care of it, that you may be able to live a little better. We take and watch over the lives of our sheep and pigs. When we feed them, do we do this because we care about them, or for the sake of their lives? No, we make their lives happy and good and arrange for them all sorts of comforts in order that when the time comes to kill them, we may have better meat and more fat.
Gurdjieff’s Early Talks 1914-1931, p36-37
More to follow.