The Man in the Shadows

According to Gurdjieff in The Tales, the following seven impulses are the impulses that drive the Hasnamuss:

  1. Every kind of depravity, conscious as well as unconscious
  2. The feeling of self-satisfaction from leading others astray
  3. The irresistible inclination to destroy the existence of other breathing creatures
  4. The urge to become free from the necessity of actualizing the being-efforts demanded by Nature
  5. The attempt by every kind of artificiality to conceal from others what in their opinion are one’s physical defects
  6. The calm self-contentment in the use of what is not personally deserved
  7. The striving to be not what one is.

This damning description of the inclinations of a hasnamuss contrasts quite sharply with Lentrohamsanin’s essay inscribed on his famous Kashireitleer, which reads as follows:

“‘Man’s greatest happiness consists in not being dependent on any other personality whatsoever, and in being free from the influence of any other person, whoever he may be!’

“‘Undeniably, life under the present state-organization is now far better for us than it used to be before; but where then is that real freedom of ours upon which our happiness must depend?

“‘Don’t we work and labor as much now as during all other former state-organizations?

“‘Haven’t we to labor and sweat to get the barley indispensable to us to live and not to starve to death like chained dogs?*

“‘Our chiefs, guides, and counselors are always telling us about some other sort of world, supposedly so much better than here among us on the Earth, and where life is in every respect beatific for the souls of those men who have lived worthily here on the Earth.

“‘Don’t we live here now “worthily”?

“‘Don’t we always labor and sweat for our daily bread?

“‘If all that our chiefs and counselors tell us is true and their own way of living here on the Earth really corresponds to what is required of their souls for the other world, then of course God ought, and even must, in this world also, give more possibilities to them than to us ordinary mortals.

“‘If all that our chiefs and counselors tell and try to make us believe is really true, let them prove it to us, ordinary mortals, by facts.

“‘Let them prove it to us, for instance, that they can at least change a pinch of the common sand, in which, thanks to our sweat, our daily bread arises, into bread.

“‘If our present chiefs and counselors do this, then I myself will be the first to run and kneel and kiss their feet.

“‘But meanwhile, as this is not so, we ourselves must struggle and we ourselves must strive hard for our real happiness and for our real freedom and also to free ourselves from the need of having to sweat.

“‘It is true that for eight months of the year we now have no trouble in obtaining our daily bread; but then, how we must labor those four summer months and exhaust ourselves getting the barley we need!

“‘Only he who sows and mows that barley knows the hard labor required.

“‘True, for eight months we are free, but only from physical labors, and for this, our consciousness, namely, our dearest and highest part, must remain day and night in slavery to these illusory ideas which are always being dinned into us by our chiefs and counselors.

“‘No, enough! We ourselves, without our present chiefs and counselors who have become such without our consent, must strive for our real freedom and our real happiness.

“‘And we can only obtain real freedom and real happiness if we all act as one, that is to say, all for one and one for all. But for this, we must first destroy all that is old.

“‘And we must do so to make room for the new life we shall ourselves create that will give us real freedom and real happiness.

“‘Down with dependence on others!

“‘We ourselves will be masters of our own circumstances and no longer they, who rule our lives and do so without our knowledge and without our consent.

“‘Our lives must be governed and guided by those whom we ourselves shall elect from our midst, that is by men only from amongst those who themselves struggle for our daily barley.

“‘And we must elect these governors and counselors on the basis of equal rights, without distinction of sex or age, by universal, direct, equal, and open ballot.’

This seems unimpressive. It is not rich in ideas. There’s little appeal top idealism. It is not great rhetoric. It is self-contradictory, saying on the one hand “all for one and one for all” and a few sentences later “down with dependence on others.” It complains about having to work for 4 months in 12 —hardly onerous. It doesn’t claim that people are sorely oppressed—it even confesses that life is not too bad. Admittedly it calls for the overthrow of the current regime — but rather than espousing the dictatorship of the proletariat or some similar regime, it argues for simple democracy.

It does not even seem particularly evil. In The Tales we encounter a few other attempts to interfere with the authorities, not least of which is Beelzebub’s own revolt “in heaven.”

So the question naturally arises as to why Lentrohamsanin efforts at fomenting revolution qualify him as one of the 313 eternal hasnamusses? Is it because he destroys the works of the very saintly Ashiata Shiemash? Or is there something else we need to think about here?

This may be easier to resolve if we consider the Lentrohamsanin within us — the part of us that opposes the Work. In our inner world it needs to be isolated and its influence blocked. When Gurdjieff says “a strong positive evokes a strong negative” perhaps he is warning us about the potential power of this inner betrayer.