P. d. ouspensky in search of the miraculous (fragments of an unknown teaching) chapter 1

Chapter One

Return from India. The war and the “search for the miraculous.” Old thoughts The question of schools. Plans for further travels. The East and Europe. A notice in a Moscow newspaper. Lectures on India. The meeting with G. A “distinguished man.” The first talk, G.’s opinion on schools. G.’s group. “Glimpses of Truth.” Further meetings and talks. The organization of G.’s Moscow group The question of payment and of means for the work. The question of secrecy and of the obligations accepted by the pupils. A talk about the East. “Philosophy,” “theory,” and “practice.” How was the system found? G’s ideas. “Man is a machine” governed by external influences Everything “happens.” Nobody “does” anything In order “to do” it is necessary “to be.” A man is responsible for his actions, a machine is not responsible. Is psychology necessary for the study of machines? The promise of “facts.” Can wars be stopped? A talk about the planets and the moon as living beings. The “intelligence” of the sun and the earth. “Subjective” and “objective” art.

I RETURNED to Russia in November, 1914, that is, at the beginning of the first world war, after a rather long journey through Egypt, Ceylon, and India. The war had found me in Colombo and from there I went back through England.

When leaving Petersburg at the start of my journey I had said that I was going to “seek the miraculous.” The “miraculous” is very difficult to define. But for me this word had a quite definite meaning. I had come to the conclusion a long time ago that there was no escape from the labyrinth of contradictions in which we live except by an entirely new road, unlike anything hitherto known or used by us. But where this new or forgotten road began I was unable to say.

I already knew then as an undoubted fact that beyond the thin film of false reality there existed another reality from which, for some reason, something separated us. The “miraculous” was a penetration into this unknown reality. And it seemed to me that the way to the unknown could be found in the East. Why in the East? It was difficult to answer this. In this idea there was, perhaps, something of romance, but it may have been the absolutely real conviction that, in any case, nothing could be found in Europe.

On the return journey, and during the several weeks I spent in London, everything I had thought about the results of my search was thrown into confusion by the wild absurdity of the war and by all the emotions which filled the air, conversation, and newspapers, and which, against my will, often affected me.

But when I returned to Russia, and again experienced all those thoughts with which I had gone away, I felt that my search, and everything connected with it, was more important than anything that was happening or could happen in a world of “obvious absurdities.”
(That refers to a little book I had as a child. The hook was called Obvious Absurdities, it belonged to Stupin’s “Little Library” and consisted of such pictures as, for instance, a man carrying a house on his back, a carriage with square wheels, and similar things. This book impressed me very much at that time, because there were many pictures in it about which I could not understand what was absurd in them. They looked exactly like ordinary things in life. And later I began to think that the book really gave pictures of real life, because when I continued to grow I became more and more convinced that all life consisted of “obvious absurdities.” Later experiences only strengthened this conviction.)

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P. d. ouspensky in search of the miraculous (fragments of an unknown teaching) chapter 1