The Petrified Soul

This extract from Life Is Real Only Then, When ‘I Am’ says what Gurdjieff says with different words elsewhere. It is worth reading…

…it must be said that in the outpourings of various occultists and other will-less parasites, when they discuss spiritual questions, not everything is entirely wrong.

What they call the “soul” does really exist, but not everybody necessarily has one.

A soul is not born with man and can neither unfold nor take form in him so long as his body is not fully developed. It is a luxury that can only appear and attain completion in the period of “responsible age,” that is to say, in a man’s maturity.

The soul, like the physical body, is also matter—only, it consists of “finer” matter. The matter from which the soul is formed and from which it later nourishes and perfects itself is, in general, elaborated during the processes that take place between the two essential forces upon which the entire Universe is founded. The matter in which the soul is coated can be produced exclusively by the action of these two forces, which are called “good” and “evil” by ancient science, or “affirmation” and “negation,” while contemporary science calls them “attraction” and “repulsion.”

In the common presence of a man, these two forces have their source in two of the totalities of general psychic functioning, which have already been mentioned. One of them coincides with that function whose factors proceed from the results of impressions received from outside, and the other appears as a function whose factors issue chiefly from the results of the specific functioning of the organs, as determined by heredity.

In the common presence of a man, as in everything in the Universe, sometimes one and sometimes the other of these totalities of functioning can serve as the source of one of the forces required for the process of which we are speaking. For this process, it is not important to know which of the two forces is affirmative and which is negative; what matters is that when one affirms, the other denies.

The full realization and precise determination in man of that totality of functioning whose factors are constituted from impressions coming from outside is called the “outer world” of man.

And the full realization of the other totality, whose factors have arisen from automatically flowing “experiences” and from reflexes of the organism—notably of those organs whose specific character is transmitted by heredity—is called the “inner world” of man.

In relation to these two worlds, man appears in reality to be merely a slave, because his various perceptions and manifestations cannot be other than conformable to the quality and nature of the factors making up these totalities. He is obliged, in relation to his outer world as well as his inner world, to manifest himself in accordance with the orders received from any given factor of one or the other totality. He cannot have his own initiative; he is not free to want or not to want, but is obliged to carry out passively this or that “result” proceeding from other outer or inner results.

Such a man, that is to say, a man who is related to only two worlds, can never do anything; on the contrary, everything is done through him. In everything, he is but the blind instrument of the caprices of his outer and inner worlds. The highest esoteric science calls such a man “a man in quotation marks”; in other words he is named a man and at the same time he is not a man. He is not a man such as he should be, because his perceptions and his manifestations do not flow according to his own initiative but take place either under the influence of accidental causes or in accordance with functioning that conforms to the laws of the two worlds.

In the case of “a man in quotation marks,” the “I” is missing and what takes its place and “fills its role” is the factor of initiative proceeding from that one of the two above-mentioned totalities in which the center of gravity of his general state is located.

We will publish the second part next month.