FRITJOF CAPRA, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH SWAMI DEVA OJAS ABOUT THE NATURE OF SPIRITUAL ORGANIZATIONS, SAID, "THE COSMOS DOES NOT KNOW ANY HIERARCHY,"
THAT "THE BEST WAY TO ORGANIZE THEM IS AS A NETWORK, IN A LOOSE INTERACTION,"
AND THAT "SUCH A NETWORK STRUCTURE SEEMS THE BEST SOIL FOR THE SPIRITUAL GROWTH OF THE INDIVIDUAL, BECAUSE IT ENSURES THE POSSIBILITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL CONTINUING AND GUARANTEES ENOUGH TO DEVELOP HUMAN RELATIONS."
He is right, and that's what we are trying to do.
Nature certainly has no hierarchy. Hierarchy is man's mind game, because without a hierarchy, the ego cannot feel nourished, it dies.
In nature, everything has an opportunity, space, and there is nobody is being bossy. Nobody is master and nobody is servant. Nature functions almost as an organic unity in which individuality is not lost, but in which the ego has no chance to evolve; hence trees don't have egos, birds don't have egos. Animals of all kinds don't have egos.
The problem arises with man. He can't think without putting someone above him and below him.
The mind is very comparative. It is the comparison that creates a hierarchy.
To destroy the hierarchy we have basically to destroy the comparative spirit. We should see each individual as individual - incomparable.
And that's what I am trying to do. Sannyasins should become more and more individuals, having a direct relationship to me, having a friendship with other sannyasins. That's how it will be a network.
But nobody is higher and nobody is lower. This way will help to avoid organization and all its bureaucratic spirit. And it will give individuals freedom, space to grow on their own, But the trouble is double-sided. Individuals don't want to have that much freedom. So many questions have been coming, and they all indicate that people are afraid to dissolve communes, because with freedom comes responsibility.
People love freedom - but nobody wants responsibility. And they come together, they are inseparable.
Because people don't want responsibility, they want to live in a commune where responsibility is taken by the commune. But they don't understand that the moment responsibility is taken by the commune, individuality is also taken; they are inseparable.
They will find a certain feeling of being at ease in the commune, but they will not grow. It will not help for their spiritual development, because they have lost the basic growth by losing individuality, by losing responsibility. They are safer, secure - but dull and dead. They always look up to somebody else to tell them what to do, what not to do.
So organizations have not been imposed by people. It is impossible for a single pope to impose his will on six hundred million people. Something is in those six hundred million people which needs a pope, so they can feel that they are no longer responsible; the whole responsibility is on the representative of God - and, finally, on God. They created God just to get rid of responsibility, unaware of the fact that the moment you lose responsibility, you lose yourself; you become a cog in the wheel.
My insistence that there is no God is basically to give back responsibility to you. Without God there is no Jesus Christ as a savior, there is no pope to tell you what is right and what is wrong. There is nobody who decides on your behalf.
In the beginning it may feel like a tremendous burden, but to get out of retardedness and to become mature, one has to take that burden. It is not against you; under the pressure of responsibility your whole individuality is saved. But without denying God, organizations cannot be denied, because God is the beginning of all hierarchies. And God is not part of nature because nature knows no hierarchy.
So from every angle God does not exist. But man wants him to exist. It helps him to get rid of the whole burden and just be a retarded child. And for centuries he has lived in that state: there was God, and there were God's messiahs and their representatives - and man was simply to listen, to follow. If he cannot follow, then he just has to go and confess the sin, and he is forgiven. So it was a very much easier way.
But growth is a little harder. To accept that you are alone, that nobody is above you who can decide for you, that you have to take decisions every moment of your life, that every inch you move is your decision.... If you commit a mistake, you have to correct it; nobody can forgive you, because there is nobody at all. If you do something good, nobody is going to reward you.
So basically and deeply the acceptance that "my act is my reward, and my act is my punishment, and I am totally responsible for whatever I am doing" - this is maturity.
You are not in need of a father figure.
You are not in need of being part of a crowd.
You can be yourself.
I wanted the communes not to be hierarchical - but it seems difficult, because every man wants a hierarchy. So the only way is to disperse people, and let them be on their own and work towards their spiritual growth. In the beginning it may look hard, but in the end it is immensely beautiful because then you become part of a non-hierarchical cosmos.
In a hierarchy you will remain always bounded by human crowds; you will never get out of them. You will not be part with the trees, with the rivers, with the mountains, with the stars - because they don't understand the language of hierarchy.
So once you have passed the initial shock, things become very simple - more simple than they ever were in a hierarchical system - because it is not only responsibility that is coming to you, freedom is also coming to you.
Just to think of yourself as totally free and totally responsible for each act - there is no judgment, no court, no God, no boss over you - makes such an immense space available in which to grow.
And then sooner or later you will realize that you are becoming part of a non-hierarchical existence, because existence understands freedom, it understands responsibility, but it has no way to understand hierarchy.
A loose network is perfectly good, just to inform each other: if some help is needed somewhere, it can be given - but the network should be very loose.
It will not make you a crowd. Individuals will have space enough. And there is nobody who is a pope or an Ayatollah Khomeini or a shankaracharya. Each point in the network is independent. If he is in the network, it is his choice, his responsibility. If he wants to get out of the network, there is no barrier and there is no guilt.
Capra's understanding is perfectly right.
GURDJIEFF SAID THAT A MASTER HAS THREE KINDS OF DISCIPLES: THOSE WHO ARE HELPFUL TO THEMSELVES, THOSE WHO ARE HELPFUL TO HIM AS THE MASTER, AND THOSE WHO ARE HELPFUL TO THE GROUP. IDEALLY, THE DISCIPLE WOULD FLOWER IN ALL THREE DIRECTIONS.
OSHO, WHAT KIND OF DISCIPLES DO YOU HAVE?
I don't have any kind of disciples.
It is perfectly good for Gurdjieff because his method requires a dictatorial master who knows - and the disciples, who know not. And then he divides disciples in three groups: one who help themselves; one who help themselves and help the master; and the third who help the group.
In a school method that division is necessary; all those kinds of disciples are necessary. The master is alone, the group is big, so all developed group members in a certain way become part of the master. So those who are developed start helping the master in his work; he cannot work alone.
But still there are disciples who cannot see beyond themselves; they help only themselves. And the third is the group who helps the group because the master needs the group to be together in a solid unity, with no factions.
In a way it is some kind of spiritual fascism.
But I don't have any disciples. I have only friends. I don't need anybody's help. If they give, it is their joy. It is not my need; it is their gratitude. I want simply to give indications of the path, and each one has to follow the path.
And the path is not something ready-made and available. That is the most important thing to be understood. The path is created as you walk: just by your walking a footpath is created, but there is no footpath ahead of you.
The master's function in my work is just to be loving, helpful, compassionate in times when you are discouraged and you need fresh inspiration, in moments when you feel lost and you need a reaffirmation, in moments where trust is shaken and you need to be again given roots.
The master is simply like a gardener. His joy is to see all his plants come to flowering.
There is no question of certain people helping the group - not as a category. There may be a few people who will help the group because they love the master, they love the work, and they would like the work to spread. But I will not categorize them; on the contrary, I will say that each sannyasin functions in all these three ways at different times as the need arises.
Sometimes he is working on himself, which is his basic work. Sometimes he is helping the master, out of gratitude; sometimes he is helping the group, out of love - because they are fellow travelers.
But these are not three categories of people, fixed. These are three qualities in every disciple, as far as my work is concerned.
It is not dictatorial.
You are with me because you love me.
People were with Gurdjieff, not because they loved him - most of them hated him from their very guts - they were with him because they knew that this was the only man who could help them to grow. Their basic motive was their own growth.
The people who are around me may have come, in the beginning, with the motivation of their own growth; soon that motivation drops away. Then they are with me because they love me - and in love growth happens so quietly, so silently, without making any noise. It does not need any motivation.
My work and Gurdjieff's work are totally different. I have immense respect for Gurdjieff - he did much work to introduce Sufi methods to the West, which nobody else had done before. Sufi books were translated - but books cannot help. It needs a living master to give life to those words and methods. And the people who were translating the books had no idea of the work. Their translations were literal, and their translations reflected their minds more than the minds of the Sufis who had written those treatises.
For example, Omar Khayyam's RUBAIYAT... Fitzgerald has done a great job in a sense that he made Omar Khayyam world famous. In Persian he is not a first-grade poet; there are many greater poets than Omar Khayyam. He was not basically a poet, he was basically a mathematician. But he was a Sufi master, and he found it easy to express his Sufism in poetry. Of course, in mathematics it cannot be expressed.
And this is not only so with Omar Khayyam; many mystics have found that poetry comes very close to expressing what they want to express. But their poetry is only a means - they are not poets.
For a poet, poetry is not a means but the end; and that is a great difference. They use the poetic formulation to express their ideas, which are more difficult to express in prose.
But Fitzgerald absolutely misunderstood him: he took him literally. If Omar Khayyam talks about wine and women, Fitzgerald took it literally. And in a way, he misrepresented Omar Khayyam, but he helped thousands of people to enjoy the beautiful poetry.
Fitzgerald is a poet, so he managed the original Omar Khayyam in a better, more poetic way.
Reading the original you are not impressed by the poetry, it is negligible. It is just a substitute for prose - a little better than prose, but not the heights of poetry. That was not the purpose at all.
But Fitzgerald, out of misunderstanding, has created great poetry. He was a great poet himself.
And then the misunderstanding of the Sufi symbols created a strange phenomenon. The saki - the woman who pours the wine into your cup - is God in Sufi language. And the wine that is poured is spiritual experience - it is intoxicating; hence it has a similarity to wine.
These poets have never conceived of God as man - always as a beautiful woman; and their whole approach is to be lovers of that woman. When you think of God as father, things become more flat - and what kind of relationship can you have with a father?
In millions of houses the sons and fathers don't see eye to eye. They don't talk to each other unless it becomes absolutely urgent. The father is always afraid that if he says something, the son is going to argue against it. The father is aware of the gap - he knows the son will not understand what he is saying; it is better to keep quiet.
And the son is also aware that the communication is broken. So only when he needs money or something that the father can give him, does he come to the father; otherwise they avoid each other.
They try not to come in contact in the house. When the father is out, the son will come in; when the father comes in, the son will escape. It is better, because otherwise there is an ugly argument which leaves a very sour taste behind.
There is a book by Turgenev, FATHERS AND SONS, which is all about this whole generation gap that nobody understands. Fathers have their own world, sons have their own world.
To call God "the father" does not ring a bell in your heart. That's why Sufis are absolutely against calling God a father. They are less against calling God a mother, because between the mother and the son there is still no generation gap, there is some understanding.
The understanding has some psychological reasons: the son always wanted to be a lover to his own mother. And that can show you why he feels so against the father. From the very childhood the father has been taking his beloved - the mother - from him. The father is the enemy.
All the societies all over the world enforce a certain respect towards the father. Remember, whenever a society insists that you should be respectful to your father, that means there is a fear that if it is not insisted upon, there is going to be disrespect; otherwise there is no question of insisting. If it is a natural phenomenon, then why so much insistence that you should respect the father, you should obey the father - otherwise you are falling from your duty and obligations?
Perhaps from the very beginning, people became aware that there is competition between the son and the father, that there is competition between the daughter and the mother.
But the Sufis are not satisfied with calling God a mother either - although it is better than father - because they know that you cannot be a lover to a mother. You can love your mother but you cannot be a lover. And slowly, slowly it becomes formal; you have to love her because she is your mother.
If she was not your mother you may not have even taken note of her.
Their choice seems to be perfect - that God is your beloved, and you have fallen in love with the beloved. But their symbols were not understood by Fitzgerald at all. He never enquired of the Sufis, "What do you mean?" He simply knew Persian as a language, and he was a poet in his own right.
And when he came across Omar Khayyam, he was thrilled.
Fitzgerald's translation is far more poetic than the original. You can't hope for mathematicians to be poets. So it is a very strange situation: it is all wrong, because he is taking it literally, that it is a man/woman love affair; it becomes something human. But he raises it to the most beautiful poetic expression. The original is symbolic, and he takes symbols as realities.
So many books have been translated - Hafiz has been translated, Omar Khayyam has been translated - but nothing has helped as far as spiritual growth is concerned.
Gurdjieff is the first man who, as a master, brings Sufi methods. But Sufism has come out of Mohammedanism - it is an offshoot - and Mohammedanism is a very dictatorial religion. Sufism has changed all the symbols, but some shadow of Mohammedanism continues to hang over it.
So Gurdjieff's school is more or less a dictatorial school. On small things he was dictatorial. Every evening disciples would gather. He was a great cook, and he used to collect from the whole of the East different kinds of food, spices, which those people had never tasted in their lives. He himself would cook, and then he would start feeding the disciples - every evening. He would force them to eat more and more; and you could not refuse, because it was not just a dinner, it was a school work.
He changed everything into work.
If he was saying, "Eat more," then there must be something to it. Unless people started vomiting, he would go on forcing them. And there is some basic idea that if you want a man to be truthful, stretch him to the very extreme - either fasting or feasting. Many religions have used fasting; he used feasting. It is the same: it stretches one to the very extreme.
The fasting man, when he comes almost close to death, suddenly realizes a few things which he had never realized. And when a man goes on eating and is so full that he cannot contain the food, and starts vomiting, he realizes for the first time something which he had never known. It is known only at the extreme.
And after the food there would be wine, and again the same enforced order: "Drink as much as you can." Gurdjieff would go on filling people's cups: "Go on drinking!" And people would be saying, "This is too much; we are losing consciousness" - but he wouldn't listen.
By the middle of the night almost all the disciples were flat on the ground, saying things, uttering words, shouting, screaming. Very educated people - professors, doctors, artists - behaving in such a crude, animalistic way, you could not believe it. And Gurdjieff would be sitting and watching each one.
From those moments he would get a clue as to what this man needed. It was simpler than Freud's method of years of psychoanalysis. This was far simpler - because a master cannot work that way, that for years one student goes on, every day, taking up one hour, telling his stupid dreams while the master listens. And then he figures out, after years of listening, what is hiding in the man's unconscious.
Gurdjieff's method was so simple: just let a person drink and come to a point where he loses all consciousness, and the unconscious starts speaking. In a single session he was able to derive conclusions which Freud was not able to in ten years - because the unconscious immediately takes over. And Gurdjieff would provoke people to talk in that state.
That was his basic understanding about the person, and it would be followed up: what kind of technique had to be given, what kind of person the man was. If he was an independent type, like the first kind of disciple, then methods would be given that he could do himself; there would be no need of any help from somebody. He could not work in a group - he was too individualistic.
Then there were people, Gurdjieff found, who were absolutely incapable of working on their own, they needed a group - only in a group could they function. And he found people who could be a great help to the groups, or people who could be a great help to him.
All the sorting was done out of their unconscious statements. If the statements were absolutely indicative that the person already had a developed consciousness, he could be a help to the master.
He could go on growing himself, but he was far higher than others - he could be a help. And the master cannot work on so many people.
Gurdjieff had schools in England, in America, in France, in Constantinople, and underground disciples in Russia. So he needed people to be sent, but these people needed to be on a higher level. Of course they would not be the same as the master, but they would be better than the other disciples. They would be at least capable of helping them a few steps; then the master could take over.
There were people who showed tremendous compassion in their unconsciousness. These were the people who could help the group. If they did not help anybody, they would suffer; their compassion would remain repressed. Compassion needs a certain expression. And there were people who were utterly independent. Even in their unconscious their statements were absolutely of their own.
Each statement had their own signature. Even in unconsciousness they could not forget who they were. Now, these people did not need a group, they needed individual methods.
So Gurdjieff had all kinds of methods - what to give and to whom. And the ways he used to find...
psychologists should be ashamed. There is no need to waste somebody's ten years and your ten years digging a whole mountain, just to find a small rat. Meaningless... it can be found in one night, it comes out itself. And everybody, in unconsciousness, behaves differently, so these three categories are found through the unconscious.
But my work is a totally different. In the first place, it is not the work of a school. In the second place, it is not dictatorial.
Work has to be dictatorial if you cannot explain it to people; and there is something in which Gurdjieff is handicapped - he is not articulate. He cannot say exactly what he wants to say. He would write something, and then the disciples would read it - and he would watch the disciples to see whether they were understanding or not understanding. Then he would write it again. One book would take almost twenty years to be written.
Gurdjieff was not certain that he had been able to say what he wanted to say, because he had been brought up in Sufi schools where no teaching as such is available - only methods. You simply do the method and you will get it; there is no need to talk about it. So he was absolutely handicapped as far as explanations were concerned. He could not explain anything that he was doing, or for what reason he was doing it. He was doing the right things, but he could not prove that they were right.
Gurdjieff was not a philosopher, he was not a rationalist, not a logician. That's why P.D. Ouspensky - who was a mathematician, a philosopher, a logician - became his best spokesman. Even though he went against Gurdjieff, his books are the best introduction to Gurdjieff because he is articulate.
Ouspensky did not know what Gurdjieff was saying, but once Gurdjieff gave him an indication of what had to be said, then Ouspensky could figure out the best way to say it.
As far as I know, in this century Ouspensky was the most articulate man. His every sentence is so pregnant, so full of meaning and so clear; being a mathematician he could not be unclear.
He does not write in paragraphs, he simply writes in single lines, because each line has such an independence and is so complete in itself that it does not need to be explained in a paragraph.
He is one of the best writers the world has ever known, although after writing these books - A NEW MODEL OF THE UNIVERSE, IN SEARCH OF THE MIRACULOUS, and THE FOURTH WAY, all of which are devoted to George Gurdjieff - he disconnected himself from Gurdjieff.
And one can see what happened. After THE FOURTH WAY, Ouspensky could not write anything significant. He wrote one book, THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE FUTURE MAN, but it is ordinary, no comparison with IN SEARCH OF THE MIRACULOUS, and THE FOURTH WAY - they are giants.
What happened to him? Those ideas were not his. He was only articulate, intelligent enough to put them forth in the right order; but those ideas were coming from Gurdjieff - and he was absolutely inarticulate. You read a hundred pages and you may come across one sentence that seems to be meaningful. Perhaps he wanted to write just that one sentence, but he had to go round and round to find the right words for it.
Nobody reads Gurdjieff's books, for the simple reason that it is such a torture to read them. You have to read a hundred pages of sheer nonsense and then you may find it, or you may miss because of your anger. You may find it if you are calm and quiet and patient. Gurdjieff has written books - one-thousand-page books - but such patience is needed. So even today Gurdjieff can only be understood through Ouspensky.
But he was a great explorer of methods, and he knew most of the secrets of the Sufis. He learned those methods, and he could teach those methods. But he could not explain those methods, exactly what they did and why they did it.
My situation is totally different.
Whatever I say to you, I know exactly why I am saying it, what it can do to you. what its basic purpose is, and the essential change that it can bring to your life.
I don't need any interpretation. I don't need any P.D. Ouspensky. I don't need any help, because whatever I am saying I have not learned from anybody. I have evolved it with myself through lives, so I know every nook and corner of it. I have not suddenly got hold of it. I am absolutely aware of how it begins and where it leads and what the pitfalls are. And I can make you aware.
And everybody can work individually; there is no need... because I have worked individually. I have never taken anybody's help, I have never accepted disciplehood from anybody. I simply moved on my own, knowing perfectly well it might take a long time, it might take a long journey; perhaps I might be moving in the wrong direction and I may never arrive. But something in me never wanted to follow anybody - I wanted to discover it myself. Only then would I be contented that I had come to the truth.
So because it has been my own individual growth, whatever I can give to you needs no group; you can work individually. That's why it is easy for me to call you my friends, because I am creating in you the same desire - to move alone, to go alone, to risk, and not to be dependent.
Discovering something on your own has an ecstasy of its own, which no follower of Gurdjieff, or anybody else, can have - there is no adventure, there is no search.
My experience is that the adventure and the search does not only bring you to the truth finally; the very adventure and the search create in you a maturity which never comes to a follower.
He may come to the truth, but he will come to the truth retarded. He will not come to it as a fully mature person.