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Hadji-Asvatz-Troov and the Feeling of Pity
Note: The content of this short article is inspired by a gathering that took place in Harrison, Maine, under the auspices of Dr. Keith Buzzell to whom we must be grateful for bringing together many different followers of the Teaching of Mr. Gurdjieff. During the gathering we had a lively discussion on the chapter on Hadji-Asvatz-Troov of Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson. This lively discussion inspired this short article.
“This time there was mixed in this state, so unusual for me, my ‘being-Hikhjnaqpar,’ or, as your favorite say there, ‘pity,’ for that terrestrial three-brained being, chiefly because he was suffering through me.”
Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, p. 901.
Few chapters in The Tales are as full with pity as the chapter on the Bokharian Dervish Hadji-Asvatz-Troov. We can find in the chapter at least three manifestations of the being-impulse of genuine pity.
One is the manifestation of pity of Hadji towards his friend the dervish Hadji-Boggan-Eddin. By using his piano and his tremendous knowledge of the laws of vibrations, Hadji had placed a painful “boil” on the left leg of his friend. However, because of his consternation after realizing that an identical “boil” had not appeared in Beelzebub’s leg, he had forgotten the situation in which he had put his friend. Upon this realization, Hadji jumped from his place, and addressing him said:
“My dear friend! In the name of our friendship, pardon me, an old man, that I have forgotten to put an end to the pain caused you from the evil-carrying vibrations of the grand piano” (B.T., p. 897).
He then sat at the grand piano and through his knowledge of the laws of vibrations he put an end to the sorrow of his friend.
Another manifestation of genuine pity is what Beelzebub feels for Hadji-Asvatz-Troov when this latter realizes that the “boil” appearing in the left leg of Bogga-Eddin does not appear in Beelzebub’s left leg. In Beelzebub’s own words:
“When Hadji-Asvatz-Troov ascertains this, he immediately jumped from his place like a young man and cried out very excitedly, ‘It cannot be!’ and began to stare at my left leg with the eyes of a madman” (B.T., p. 895).
Thereupon, Hadji-Asvatz-Troov engages in a long story about all the pain and suffering he had to endure in order to attain his knowledge of the science of the laws of vibrations. And now, with great sorrow, he sees in front of his eyes how his beloved science, which had taken the place of his beloved diseased mother, has failed.
Moved by the dervish’s story and His “being-Hikhdjonapar” or “pity,” Beelzebub decides to do something He had never done before during His many years among three-brained beings of the planet Earth. He decides to reveal to Hadji-Asvatz-Troov His true nature. Beelzebub realizes that the fact that no boil was formed on His left leg proved the truth and precision of Hadji’s beloved science still more. Beelzebub also realizes that He has moral right to reveal to Hadji-Asvatz-Troov His true nature just because the dervish, through his attainments, is a three-brained being to whom it is not forbidden for members of Beelzebub’s tribe to be frank. But He cannot do it in the presence of the dervish Hadji Bogga-Eddin who is an ordinary three-brained being to whom it is prohibited under oath from Above to the beings of Beelzebub’s tribe to communicate true information.
Here it would be worthwhile to point out the reason why beings of Beelzebub’s tribe are forbidden under oath from Above to communicate true information to ordinary three-brained beings of the planet Earth.
“This interdiction on the beings of our tribe was made chiefly because it is necessary for three-brained beings of your planet to have ‘knowledge-of-being.
“And any information , even if true, gives to beings in general only ‘mental knowledge,’ and this mental knowledge, as I have already once told you, always serves beings only as a means to diminish their possibilities of acquiring this knowledge-of-being.
“And since the sole means left to these unfortunate three-brained beings of your planet for the complete liberation of the consequences of the properties of the organ Kundabuffer are just this knowledge-of-being, therefore this command was given to the beings of our tribe under oath concerning the beings of the Earth” (B.T., pp. 901-902).
It is obvious from the above quotes that “mental knowledge” is an obstacle on our way to free ourselves of the crystallization of the properties of Kundabuffer. Our only possibility for the eradication of these consequences is “knowledge-of-being.”
The third manifestation of genuine pity that we can detect in the chapter on Hadji-Asvatz-Troov is not that obvious. In fact, it is rather hidden. Here Mr. Gurdjieff plays on us one of his beloved tricks. It has to do with the feeling of pity Hadji-Asvatz-Troov expresses for his young European friend and his situation in life (B.T., pp.910-917).
This young European is very much interested in the cure of cancer using the laws of vibrations. One day he noticed that this terrible disease had appeared in his beloved wife. However, due to surrounding conditions, he had no possibility of applying to his own wife the cure he had obtained and which only he alone could actualize. When surrounding conditions had changed for the better, he had now the possibility of preparing himself to employ the cure he had developed. But then he had a terrible automobile accident and, because of the injuries during in the accident, he cannot apply to his wife the cure he alone can do.
It is obvious that this part of the chapter on Hadji-Asvatz-Troov refers to Mr. Gurjieff himself. He is the young European friend Hadji-Asvatz-Troov refers to. And here the trick Mr. Gurdjieff is playing on us unveils. Hadji-Asvatz-Troov expresses pity for Mr.Gurdjieff. But who is Mr. Gurdjieff? He is also Beelzebub. So, in the beginning of the chapter we see Beelzebub feeling pity for Hadji-Asvatz-Troov. And at the end of the chapter we see Hadji-Asvatz-Troov feeling pity for Beelzebub. We find that the feeling of pity is reciprocal: “Love of Consciousness evokes the same in response.”
The genuine feeling of pity is intimately related to an important aspect of the Teaching of Mr. Gurdjieff, namely, to put oneself in the position of others. Mr. Gurdjieff said that if we put our eyes on our neighbor and realize that he/she is going to die, and to die for good, a great feeling of pity towards him/her arises in us. The importance of putting oneself in the position of others is captured in these “words placed over the chief entrance of the holy planet Purgatory” (B.T., p. 1164):
It would be very sad and tragic for us that upon arrival to the chief entrance of Purgatory, which of course is not a place but a state of being, we find impossible to proceed because we realize that we never learned how to put ourselves in the position of others. We then have to return to Earth, a lower state of being, to learn what we must have done but forgot to do.
That is why Mr. Gurdjieff put a great emphasis on our disposition to put ourselves in the position of others. He gave several exercises addressed to help us in the actualization of this being-effort. One that I always found very illuminating is contained in one of his exchanges with his disciples. I have reproduced here both the context in which the exercise was given as well as the exercise itself.
“Disciple: Mr. Gurdjieff, this week I made an observation. I found myself in front of several boys who inspired pity in me because they were malnourished and poor. I didn’t know how to be in front of them. I didn’t know what to think. At first it was pity, but I saw I couldn’t do anything and soon. . ..
“Gurdjieff: Excuse me, but you could have done something. You could have given something to nourish them. Not literally, but you could have seen to it that they had something to eat. If, objectively, you had loved them; if, objectively, you had wanted them to have something to eat, this would have been enough. They would have gone out and, automatically, they would have found someone to give them something to eat.
“D.: I really saw my weakness, and my pity turned to hate.
“G.: It’s necessary to try in a different way. Perhaps you only thought about superficially. Think like a man, think about helping your neighbor with all your heart, with real pity. Do you want him to eat well? First, convince yourself, collect yourself inside and pray:
“I AM, I WANT TO BE, FOR HIM”
“And, believe me, on leaving school, before he has taken ten steps into the street, he will meet someone who will give him something to eat. This is a law. Or perhaps, a week later, he will win the national lottery. Such is the power of feeling pity, of wishing, of loving with the whole of one’s presence. Afterwards, you will speak differently, you will able to help someone, not with gifts of money or food –next to this that’s cheap- but you will be able to help him with a real wish, a real relationship, with all the force of I AM. Not with the head, not automatically, but with your presence you will be able to help.”
I must say that I have done this exercise three times, always with surprising results. I know that I should have done it more often. But I found out that it is very tiring. I also found out that in order to do it one must be totally freed of self-pity. As it has been said, “Self-pity is diabolical; pity is Divine.”
© Will Mesa 2007
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