On Our Mechanicality

On Our Mechanicality

G. I. Gurdjieff

To have the right to the name of man, one must be one.

And to be a man, one must first of all, with an indefatigable persistence and an unquenchable impulse of desire issuing from all the separate independent parts constituting one’s entire common presence, that is to say, with a desire issuing simultaneously from thought, feeling, and organic instinct, work on an all-round knowledge of oneself, while struggling unceasingly with one’s subjective weaknesses, and afterward, taking one’s stand upon the results thus obtained by one’s consciousness alone regarding the defects in one’s established subjectivity as well as the means for the possibility of combating them, strive for their eradication without mercy toward oneself.

Speaking frankly, contemporary man as we can know him if we are capable of impartiality is nothing more than a clockwork mechanism, though of a very complex construction.

A man must without fail think deeply about every aspect of his mechanicality and understand it thoroughly, in order to appreciate fully the meaning of this mechanicality and all the consequences and results it implies, both for his own further life and for the justification of the sense and aim of his arising and existence.

For a man who wishes to study human mechanicality in general and make it clear to himself, the very best object of study is certainly himself with his own mechanicality, but to study this practically and to understand it intelligently with all one’s being, and not ‘psychopathically,’ that is, with only one part of one’s entire presence, is possible solely by means of correctly conducted self-observation.

And as regards the possibility of conducting self-observation correctly, without the risk of incurring any of the maleficent consequences that have resulted all too often from people’s attempts to do this without proper knowledge, it is necessary to warn you, in order to avoid excessive zeal, that our experience, supported by a great deal of exact information, has shown that this is not as simple a thing as it may appear at first glance. That is why we take as the groundwork for correctly conducted self-observation the study of the mechanicality of contemporary man.

—Excerpted from Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson