The Contest Between Good and Evil

In Chapter XLIV of The Tales, which glories in the title In the Opinion of Beelzebub, Man’s Understanding of Justice Is for Him in the Objective Sense an Accursed Mirage, Gurdjieff asserts that Man is hypnotized by an incorrect belief about Good and Evil which has formed and crystallized over centuries: i.e.that there are external agencies of Good and Evil.

In The Tales we read:

“. . . according to the detailed and impartial researches I made there on the spot concerning all this, the following then became very definitely clear to me:

“When this maleficent idea there gradually took on such a definite form and began to be for the psyche of your favorites what is called an ‘actualizing factor’ for the crystallization in their common presences of data for the fantastic notion, namely, that outside of them there exist, as it were, objective sources of ‘Good and Evil’ acting upon their essence; then from that time on, other peculiar data—at first spontaneously and later through their strange consciousness—began to be crystallized in the general psyche of each of them, which data, owing to automatic being-associations, engender the conviction that the causes of all their manifestations, both good and bad, are not they themselves personally nor their own criminal essence-egoism, but some or other external foreign infuences not depending on them at all.

“The fundamental evil, for all these unfortunates, from this fantastic idea resulted there chiefly because, even before this of course thanks always to the same conditions of ordinary being-existence established by them themselves—data ceased to be crystallized in them for the engendering of what is called ‘various being-aspects of a world view,’ and instead of this a ‘world view’ is formed in them based exclusively on that maleficent idea about external Good and Evil.

“And indeed at the present time there, your favorites have already based all questions without exception, questions concerning ordinary being-existence as well as questions about self-perfecting and also about various philosophies’ and every kind of ‘science’ existing there, and of course also about their innumerable ‘religious teachings’ and even their notorious what are called ‘morality, ‘politics,’ ‘laws,’ ‘morals,’ and so on, exclusively on that fantastic but for themselves in an objective sense very maleficent idea.

Now if you are Christian for example, you may believe that there are external agencies (God and the Devil) who act on the side of Good or Evil. But if you are of a different religious persuasion, or agnostic or even atheistic, you may choose to disagree with Gurdjieff’s assertion.

Gurdjieff proceeds to explain . . .

“Of course, none of them even suspects that if every kind of villainy proceeds among them in general, then they do these villainies exclusively only because, existing wrongly, they thus permit to be formed in them their inner ‘evil-God,’ which I once called ‘self-calming’ and which has absolute dominion over the whole of their psyche and for which only this idea of external Good and Evil’ is necessary.”

He is thus asserting here that, insofar as villainy exists, it is internal to Man and stems from ‘self-calming’ which in general governs Man’s behavior.

What is  perhaps most curious here is the direct and unambiguous link Gurdjieff makes between the idea of “External Good and Evil” and the ct of self-calming.

Food for thought . . .