The Gurdjieff Journal—Fourth Way Perspectives

Online Exchange
Ouspensky & The Big Creatures


We know that 'war', and 'politics', and 'economic life'—in a word, all those things about which one reads in the papers, and in which those big two-dimensional creatures called Nations and States live and move and have their being—we know that all this is one thing, but that the life of individual men and women is quite another thing, having no points of contact with the former, except when it does not allow the latter to live. We know now that the whole life of individual men and women is a struggle against these big creatures. We are able to understand without difficulty that a Nation is a creature standing on a far lower stage of development than individual men and women; it is about on the level of zoophytes, slowly moving in one direction or the other and consuming one another.

—P.D. Ouspensky
Letters from Russia

WPP: Who would like to speak to Ouspensky's quote?

CL: I remember reading that humanity as a whole is on an equal level with individual man.

DM: "War" and "Politics" and "Economic Life" are conditions we live under, and yet we are above them. Why do they seem to take over the individual?

WPP: Okay. "We are above them." Who is this "we"?

DM: Individual men and women. And he says we have "no points of contact" but we live with these conditions.

WPP: How is the word "individual" being used?

DM: The "life" of individual men and women.

WPP: Yes, but still...? I am referring to the direct question I asked you.

CL: I think the quote speaks to the difference in time in the possible evolution of individuals versus "nations," etc. That individuals have the potential to evolve at a much faster pace.

WPP: Refer to the question I asked D.

CA: Individual men and women by comparison with nations and statesman.

WPP: Refer to the question I asked D, please.

CL: Individual is used as an adjective to describe men and women.

WPP: That's the grammar but what does the word mean?

CL: Separate from the group?

WPP: Ouspensky is in the Work, no?

CL: I meant from the group as in the "population" or "family."

WPP: Well, let's get at Nations. What word does he use to describe Nations?

CL: Zoophytes.

WPP: Yes, what's it mean? Does anyone know without guessing?

DM: They are things.

CS: A simple organism, onebrained.

WPP: What isn't a thing?

CA: Lower stage of development than men.

WPP: CS, look the word up in the dictionary.

WPP: While we are waiting—interesting that we are talking about the quote and all the words and their meaning isn't known. Let's go back to "individual." An individual is separate from a group. In what way?

War, Gurdjieff, Fourth Way, Ouspensky

CS: A zoophyte is an invertebrate animal such as a sea anemone or sponge that remains attached to a surface and superficially resembles a plant.

DM: An individual can become conscious.

WPP: Correct. Now how does this tie in with "individual"?

CA: Inseparable.

WPP: Invertebrate, spineless, inseparable—in what way?

CA: As an indivisible whole.

WPP: An individual is an indivisible whole? Is that right. Anyone disagree?

CL: An individual has the possibility of becoming an indivisible whole, of having a unified "I".

CA: Existing as a distinct entity.

WPP: CS, what do you say?

CS: I agree with CL.

WPP: If an individual has the possibility, then what number person are we talking about?

WPP: CL, persons have possibilities, no?

CL: Yes.

CS: All levels have the possibility.

WPP: So how does an individual differ from a person?

DM: 1, 2 and 3 have the possibility of becoming individual; but perhaps the possibilities increase as one begins to work.

CA: One and the same.

WPP: If we are in a dream, asleep—how is it that we have possibilities?

CA: We don't.

DM: Accident, B influences.

WPP: All 1, 2 and 3 persons have the possibility?


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