A millennium needed to decode India

In India there was 'philosophy,' in Egypt 'theory,' and in present-day Persia, Mesopotamia, and Turkestan — 'practice’

Author P D Ouspensky
During the first week of my acquaintance with G., I spoke of my intention of going again to the East.

"Is it worth thinking about it? And can I find what I want there?" I asked G.

"It is good to go for a rest, for a holiday," said G., "but it is not worth while going there for what you want. All that can be found here."

I understood that he was speaking of work with him.

"But do not schools which are on the spot, so to speak, in the midst of all the traditions, offer certain advantages?" I asked.

In answering this question G. told me several things which I did not understand till later.

"Even if you found schools you would find only 'philosophical' schools," he said. "In there are only 'philosophical' schools. It was divided up in that way long ago; in India there was 'philosophy,' in 'theory,' and in present-day Persia, Mesopotamia, and Turkestan — 'practice.'"

"And does it remain the same now?" I asked.

"In part even now," he said. "But you do not clearly understand what I mean by 'philosophy,' 'theory,' and 'practice.' These words must be understood in a different way, not in the way they are usually understood.

"But speaking of schools, there are only special schools; there are no general schools. Every teacher, or guru, is a specialist in some one thing. One is an astronomer, another a sculptor, a third a musician. And all the pupils of each teacher must first of all study the subject in which he has specialized, then, afterwards, another subject, and so on. It would take a thousand years to study everything."

"But how did you study?"

"I was not alone. There were all kinds of specialists among us. Everyone studied on the lines of his particular subject. Afterwards, when we forgathered, we put together everything we had found."

"And where are your companions now?"

G. was silent for a time, and then said slowly, looking into the distance : "Some have died, some are working, some have gone into seclusion."

This word from the monastic language, heard so unexpectedly, gave me a strange and uncomfortable feeling.

At the same time I felt a certain "acting" on G.'s part, as though he were deliberately trying from time to time to throw me a word that would interest me and make me think in a definite direction.

When I tried to ask him more definitely where he had found what he knew, what the source of his knowledge was, and how far this knowledge went, he did not give me a direct answer.

"You know," G. said once, "when you went to India they wrote about your journey and your aims in the papers. I gave my pupils the task of reading your books, of determining by them “what you were”, and of establishing on this basis what you would be able to End. So we knew what you would End while you were still on your way there."

With this the talk came to an end.

[ Excerpts
from "In Search of Miraculous" published in 1949 ]

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