Sayings from Gurdjieff’s writings:

  • Mullah Nassr Eddin (from the Tales)
  • Gurdjieff’s Father (from Meetings With Remarkable Men)
  • Gurdjieff (from Life is Real Only Then When “I am.”
  • And of Gurdjieff, from other sources.

Struth! What might not happen in this world! A flea might swallow an elephant.

As soon as anything is needed, it seems that it is filthy and eaten by mice.


Better-pull-ten-hairs-a-day-out-of-your mother’s-head-than-not-help-Nature.

Ekh! My dear friend! Is there such a thing anywhere on Earth as a wise legal examination of men’s guilt?

Ekh!… if you’re unlucky in life, you may even be infected by your godmother with venereal disease.

Even a donkey can understand that peasant flesh costs nothing in peacetime.

Everybody talks as if our learned know that half a hundred is fifty.

For our sins, God has sent us two kinds of physicians, one kind to help us die, and the other to prevent us living.

Isn’t it all the same if I sing like a donkey as long as they call me a nightingale.

Oh, you unfortunate creature! Your mother must have sung an Armenian ballad while you were being born.

One can never know who might help you to get out of galoshes.

The degree of the importance of these people depends only on the number of their corns.


Without greasing the palm not only is it impossible to live anywhere tolerably but even to breathe.

Worldly deeds are like honey-cakes, from which the eater must grow an ass’s tooth.

You cannot jump over your knees and it is absurd to try to kiss your own elbow.

If there is ‘I’ in ones presence, then God and Devil are of no account.

No elephant and no horse—even the donkey is mighty.

Once you can shoulder it, it’s the lightest thing in the world.

Truth is that from which conscience can be at peace.

A man is satisfied not by the quantity of food, but by the absence of greed.

A representation of Hell—a stylish shoe.

Ashes come from burning.

Fire heats water, but water puts out fire.

Genghis Khan was great, but our policeman, so please you, is still greater.

Happy is he who sees not his unhappiness.

He is deep down, because you are high up.

He is stupid who is ‘clever’.

If a man is a coward, it proves he has will.

If the priest goes to the right, then the teacher must without fail turn to the left.

If you are first, your wife is second; if your wife is first, you had better be zero: only then will your hens be safe.

If you wish to be famous, make friends with the reporters.

If you wish to be full—make friends with your mother-in-law.

If you wish to be rich, make friends with the police.

If you wish to have peace—make friends with your neighbor.

If you wish to lose your faith—make friends with the priest.

If you wish to sleep—make friends with your wife.

A man is not a pig to forget good, nor is he a cat to remember evil.

The first refusal to a person who is devoid of conscience or consideration will destroy the results of even thousands of good deeds formerly manifested toward him by you.

Only that person is worthy to be a follower of any religion who, although he remembers the wrong done to him by someone, will not manifest any evil toward him.

You will be reasonable only then when you will learn to distinguish your future good or evil from that of your present.

Such is the nature of man, that for your first gift—he prostrates himself;
for your second—kisses your hand;
for the third—fawns;
for the fourth—just nods his head once; for the fifth— becomes too familiar;
for the sixth—insults you;
and for the seventh—sues you because he was not given enough.


A man can only attain knowledge with the help of those who possess it. This must be understood from the ery beginning. One must learn from him who knows.

You should understand, and establish it as a firm rule, not to pay attention to other people’s opinions.

Man is an image of the world. He was created by the same laws which created the whole of the world.

Man number one in the full sense of the term, learns everything like a parrot or a monkey.

Our language is too poor for full and exact descriptions.

It is the greatest mistake to think that man is always one and the same. A man is never the same for long. He is continually changing. He seldom remains the same even for half an hour.

Patience is the mother of will. If you have no mother, how can you be born?

People cannot perceive and observe the third force directly any more than they can spatially perceive the ‘fourth dimension.’

Think that you could die tomorrow… The ego and imagination will be seen more clearly. Objective reason will be able to have its place.

One hand washes the other – and both hands wash the face.


Without self-knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself and he will always remain a slave.

Laughter relieves us of superfluous energy, which, if it remained unused might become negative, that is, poison. Laughter is the antidote.

The majority of people find many excuses not to work on themselves.

The Moon in Man is sensation. Sensation in man is the growing part of his inner cosmos.

The planetary body can die at any moment. It is always one step from death.

There are two lines along which man’s development proceeds, the line of knowledge and the line of being.

There is a cosmic law which says that every satisfaction must be paid for with a dissatisfaction.

Until you stop being governed by your emotions you cannot be impartial.

What can allow a man to spend his time profitably in his search, if not freedom from every kind of attachment?

With thorns in the inner world there will always be roses in the outer world, in law-able compensation.

You must see that in life, you receive exactly what you give, life is the mirror of what you are; it is in your own likeness.

Your being attracts your life.

Without struggle, no progress, and no result. Every breaking of habit produces a change in the machine.

Practice love on animals first; they react better and more sensitively.

Psychology is only the study of other people’s ideas; it is far better to study yourself than to study other people’s fantasies.
Sensation is the atmosphere of being. No growth of being will take place without a corresponding, prior growth in sensation.
Sleep is very comfortable, but waking is very bitter.

The Absolute is as material, as weighable and measurable, as the moon, or as man.

The function of man is knowledge; but if one does not understand man as a whole, one will not understand his function.

The idea of the ray of creation and its growth from the Absolute contradicts the general views of our day.

The knowledge of man number three is knowledge based upon subjectively logical thinking, upon words, upon literal understanding.

The knowledge of man number two is merely the knowledge of what he likes; what he does not like he does not know.

The liberation which comes with the growth of mental powers and faculties is liberation from the moon.

Every ceremony or rite has a value if it is performed without alteration. A ceremony is a book in which a great deal is written. Anyone who understands can read it. One rite often contains more than a hundred books.

A change in the nature of knowledge is possible only with a change in the nature of being.

A man can only obtain knowledge with the help of those who possess it.

A real work of art is as precise as a treatise on mathematics.

Authority that comes into you from without is erroneous.

Do not judge a man by the tales of others.
Emotions are the windows of the soul – colored glass through which the soul regards the world.

Even inanimate things such as flowers, which have no consciousness, understand whether you love them or not.

Everything in this universe can be weighed and measured.

He who can love can be; he who can be can do; he who can do is.

If knowledge gets far ahead of being, it becomes theoretical and abstract and inapplicable to life.

In every man there has been implanted a need for knowledge, differing only in its intensity.

In properly organized groups no faith is required; what is required is simply a little trust and even that only for a little while, for the sooner a begins to verify all he hears the better it is for him.

A man will renounce any pleasures you like but he will not give up his suffering.

A sin is something that is not necessary.

As soon as so-called ‘education’ begins personality begins to grow.

Essence in man is what is his own.

Personality in man is what is ‘not his own.’
Essence is the truth in man; personality is the false.

If you can put real attention on Beelzebub’s Tales you can have real attention in life.

In order to destroy the lies in oneself as well as lies told unconsciously to others, ‘buffers’ must be destroyed.

It is necessary to know how to sacrifice everything, including oneself. A price has to be paid for knowledge. You yourself are this price.

Morality is merely self-suggestion.

Personality feeds on imagination and falsehood.

The concept ‘conscience’ in the sphere of the emotions is equivalent to the concept ‘consciousness’ in the sphere of the intellect.