November 15th, 2013

Gurdjieff on Nature and Individuation

Fritz Peters recounts an episode when he was a twelve year old boy at Gurdjieff’s Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at the Prieuré in Fontainebleau-Avon:

He then asked me to look out of the window and to tell him what I saw. I said that, from that window, all I could see was an oak tree. And what, he asked, was on the oak tree? I told him: acorns.

“How many acorns?”

When I replied, rather uncertainly, that I did not know, he said impatiently: “Not exactly, not ask that. Guess how many!”

I said that I supposed there were several thousand of them.

He agreed and then asked me how many of the acorns would become oak trees. I answered that I supposed only five or six of them would actually develop into trees, if that many.

He nodded. “Perhaps only one, perhaps not even one. Must learn from Nature. Man is also organism. Nature make many acorns, but possibility to become tree exist for only few acorns. Same with man — many men born, but only few grow. People think this waste, think Nature waste. Not so. Rest become fertiliser, go back to earth and create possibility for more acorns, more men, once in a while more tree — more real man.

Nature always give — but only give possibility. To become real oak, or real man, must make effort. You understand this, my work … not for fertilizer. For real man only. But must also understand fertilizer necessary to Nature. Possibility for real tree, real man also depend just this fertilizer.”

From the book Boyhood with Gurdjieff p.43

Ansel Adams, Oak Tree, Sunset City, California 1962. From Ansel Adams at 100.

4 Responses to 'Gurdjieff on Nature and Individuation'
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  • Joseph Burch

    Thanks for this story. I’ve been very captivated by Gurdjieff’s teachings for a few years now….but, hadn’t seen this charming story.

  • frederick_a_woodruff

    Joseph, if you haven’t already, I would start with Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous. Too, Fritz Peters three books are the most honest, loving, objective appraisals of Gurdjieff you’ll encounter. Highly recommended.

  • Joseph Burch

    I’ve read Friedman’s “Beginner’s Guide” (5-6x), and Vol 1 of Nicoll’s Commentaries. Plus, I’ve read the first 4 books of the Almaas DH series. (I think, each one twice.) Haven’t read “In Search…” yet…. will consider it now that you’ve recommended it. Thank you!

  • Joseph Burch

    Oh, and I started Tertium Organum…that was rough! LOL