by George I.Gurdijeff

These questions are the most important, the most vital that can ever confront a man.

But before this it is necessary to be convinced of the very fact of sleep. It is possible to become convinced of this only by trying to awaken.

When a man understands that he does not remember himself and that to remember himself means to awaken to some extent, and when at the same time he sees by experience how difficult is to remember himself, he will understand that he cannot awaken simply by having the desire to do so.

It can be said still more precisely that a man cannot awaken by himself, except in exceptionally rare cases, and we are not talking about those cases.

But if, let’s say, twenty people make an agreement that whoever of them awakens first shall wake the rest, they already have some chance.

Even this, however, is insufficient, because all twenty can go to sleep at the same time and dream that they are waking up. Therefore, more still is necessary. They must be looked after by a man who is not asleep any more, or who does not fall asleep as easily as they do.

The twenty people must find such a man and hire him to wake them up and not allow them to fall asleep again. Without this, it is impossible to awaken. This is what must be understood.

It is possible to think for a thousand years. It is possible to write whole libraries of books, to create theories by the million, but all this is in sleep, without any possibility of awakening.

On the contrary, these books and these theories, written and created in sleep, will merely send other people to sleep, and so on.

There is nothing new in the idea of sleep. People have been told almost since creation of the world that they are asleep and that they must awaken.

Christ disciples even slept when He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane for the last time. It is all there. But do men understand it? Men take it simply as a form of speech, as an expression, as a metaphor.

They completely fail to understand that it must be taken literally. And again it is easy to understand why. In order to understand this idea literally it is necessary to awaken a little, or at least to try to awaken.

I have been asked why nothing is said about this kind of sleep in the Gospels. But it is there spoken of almost on every page. This simply shows that people read the Gospel in sleep.

Generally speaking, what is necessary to awaken a man? A good shock is necessary. But when a man is fast asleep, only one shock is not enough.

A long period of continual shocks is needed. Consequently, there must be somebody to administer these shocks.

I have said before that if a man wants to awaken he must hire somebody who will keep on shaking him for a long time. But whom can he hire if everyone is asleep? A man will hire somebody to wake him up but this one also falls asleep.

What is the use of such a man? And a man who can really keep awake will probably refuse to waste his time in waking others up: he may have his own much more important work to do.

Artwork courtesy of and copyright by Daniel B. Holeman at Awaken Visions Galleries.