Man: an Egg or a Bird?

“This system turns everything we know or ever thought of upside down. It cannot be reconciled with ordinary psychological ideas. We have to decide how we are to see man: as an egg or as a bird. And if we see him as an egg we must not ascribe to him properties of a bird. When we see him as an egg the whole psychology becomes different: all human life becomes the life of embryos, of incomplete beings. And for some the meaning of life becomes the possibility of passing to another state.

“It is very important to understand what is a complete being and what is an incomplete being, because if this is not understood from the beginning it will be difficult to go further. Perhaps an example will help to illustrate what I mean.

“Let us compare a horse-carriage with an aeroplane. An aeroplane has many possibilities that an ordinary carriage does not have, but at the same time an aeroplane can be used as an ordinary carriage. It would be very clumsy and inconvenient and very expensive, but you can attach two horses to it and travel in an aeroplane by road.

“Suppose the man who has this aeroplane does not know that it has an engine and can move by itself and suppose he learns about the engine- then he can dispense with the horses and use it as a motor car. But it will still be too clumsy.

“Suppose the man studies this machine and discovers that it can fly. Certainly it will have many advantages which he missed when he used the aeroplane as a carriage.

“This is what we are doing with ourselves; we use ourselves as a carriage, when we could fly. But examples are one thing and facts are another. There is no need of allegories and analogies, for we can speak about actual facts if we begin to study consciousness in the right way.”

P. D. Oupensky. The Fourth Way. pg. 28

Anything in quotation marks in the following posts will come from this part of the book.

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4 Comments

Filed under Gurdjieff, Ouspensky

4 responses to “Man: an Egg or a Bird?

  1. It is sad that so many people don’t even realize that they could awaken to so much more. Look forward to more of Ouspensky’s important message in the next posts.

  2. I may be on the wrong path here but this reminds me of Aristotle saying about hylomorphes: a bronze sphere and a bronze dog is the same essence of bronze, but has different forms – sphere and dog.

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