Acharya Prashant on Gurdjieff: Man is a machine

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Questioner: Acharya Ji, Pranam.

Gurdijieff said, ‘Man is a machine’. Please shed some light over this statement.

Acharya Prashant: Very practical, very precise, one simple observation, man is a machine, man is a programmed machine. It is just that, the mechanics, the functioning of the machine remain hidden behind the belief of consciousness.

Just expose how we function as machine, make it very obvious, how programmed we are and, in that exposure something new happens.

He was not very bothered with what is that new.  He just left that, surrendered to that. But, he was a master in devising a lot of ways, that helped expose functioning of the machine. Some of the ways were quite crude. He rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, including himself, probably he is the only Teacher who conduct experiments upon his own body.  The experiment as esoteric as banging one’s car deliberately against a tree to figure out whether one can witness the fracturing of the bones. That kind of a teacher!

‘Is it possible to remain centered even when you have ten cracks in your body and forty-eight wounds?  Is it possible to remain centered?’

Must have been a pretty faithful fellow. With out deep faith, you cannot risk that kind of an experiment and he was very choosy. Very choosy.

Q: What was the result?

AP: He managed to survive! In fact, he walked all the way to the nearest hospital.

Q: Is he aware of what he is doing?

AP:  Yes, of course, deliberately, and of course he was aware that he has not to bang the car beyond a certain speed, he wanted to be physically alive to witness.

He would call students to a particular location, and many would come, and when they would come and they would find a notice saying that Gurdjieff will be found at a place 200 miles away tomorrow morning. And then most of them would evaporate and only few reach there. And, there they would find another message saying, ‘Oh, we have returned to the base’, and finally only 3 or 4 will be left. Then he would impart his teaching.

He was a pattern-breaker. So, if you go to him and tell him that you would never get angry then he would ensure that he provokes into anger. You go to him and tell him that you don’t take alcohol, he would fill you with alcohol right till up to the throat.

So, while some people really liked him, there was also a big cross-section that, who don’t, he inspired many people after him, led a controversial life.

Have you heard of the book called ‘The Fourth Way’?

Ouspensky?

Even Osho took a lot from Gurdjieff.


Excerpts from a Shabda-Yoga Session. Edited for Clarity.

Watch Full Discourse: Acharya Prashant on Gurdjieff: Man is a machine


(To receive regular updates on WhatsApp regarding wisdom articles by Acharya Ji and to get an opportunity to connect to him directly, click here)

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