A Contest of Two Spirits

The following is a record of a lecture, entitled Two Spirits, given by Gurdjieff

It is said in some ancient teachings that on the day God created man he also created for each man two spirits — the spirit of good and the spirit of evil, or as they are called, an angel and a devil, and placed the angel on the right of man and the devil on the left.

Another ancient teaching says that when God sent spirits to work on the planets, the spirits asked God: “What shall we do there?” God divided the spirits according to their qualities and said: “You, on the right, will try to lead those who live there to heaven, and you, the other half, will try to lead them to hell.

Then one of the leaders asked about the means permissible to those on the one side and those on the other.

God answered: “You can use any methods and means you like. But there is one essential difference. Let the weapon of those on the right be – to do through ‘doing,’ and the weapon of those on the left to do through ‘it happens.'” The method of those on the right must be through what is active and conscious, and the method of those on the left through what is passive and unconscious.”

These two teachings to which I refer are ancient. At the same time, parallel with these teachings there existed another religion, another teaching and it still exists to this day.

The majority of religions live, act, believe in accordance with holy scriptures, precepts and commandments. At the same time there has existed a teaching of learned followers who have tried to put into practice all religions, all sayings, all teachings without infatuation, without faith. They did not worship blindly.

Before accepting something they practiced it. What could be put into practice was accepted, what could not be was rejected. In this way a new religion was formed, although the material for it was taken from other religions. The teaching about which I speak now is the teaching of the sufis.

This teaching says the following about the angel and the devil:

Every action of a man, every step, every moment, every movement emanates either from the one or from the other. Emanations from both (result) are equally deposited in the human organism in the form of certain crusts of real tangible matter which one can examine and distinguish whether the crust is of one kind or another. Each crust obeys certain laws, leads to certain consequences.

And in the case of man things whispered by the devil have a greater effect.