"In Search of the Miraculous" by P.D.Ouspensky, Harcourt Brace & Company, p.21
"In Search of the Miraculous" by P.D.Ouspensky, Harcourt Brace & Company, p.25
"In Search of the Miraculous" by P.D.Ouspensky, Harcourt Brace & Company, p.30
G. replied:"There are two answers to that... In the first place, this knowl-
edge is not concealed; and in the second place, it cannot, from its very
nature, become common property. We will consider the second of these
statements first. I will prove to you afterwards that knowledge " (he em-
phasized the word) "is far more accessible to those capable of assimilating
it than is usually supposed; and that the whole trouble is that people
either do not want it or cannot receive it.
"But first of all another thing must be understood, namely, that knowl-
edge cannot belong to all, cannot even belong to many. Such is the law.
You do not understand this because you do not understand that knowl-
edge, like everything else in the world, is material . It is material, and this
means that it possesses all the characteristics of materiality. One of the
first characteristics of materiality is that matter is always limited, that is
to say, the quantity of matter in a given place and under given condi-
tions is limited. Even the sand in the desert and the water in the sea
is a definite and unchangeable quantity. So that, if knowledge is material,
then it means that there is a definite amount of knowledge at its dis-
posal. But we know, even from an ordinary observation of life, that the
matter of knowledge possesses entirely different qualities according to
whether it is taken in small or large quantities. Taken in a large quantity
in a given place, that is by one man, let us say, or by a small group of
men, it produces very good results; taken in a small quantity (that is, by
every one of a large number of people), it gives no results at all; or it may
give even negative results, contrary to those expected. Thus if a certain
definite quanitity of knowledge is distributed among millions of people,
each individual will receive very little, and this small amount of knowl-
edge will change nothing either in his life or in his understanding of
things. And however large the number of people who receive this small
amount of knowledge, it will change nothing in their lives, except, per-
haps to make them still more difficult.
"But if, on the contrary, large quantities of knowledge are concentrated
in a small number of people, then this knowedge will give very great
results. From this point of view it is far more advantageous that knowl-
edge should be preserved among a small number of people and not dis-
persed among the masses.
"If we take a certain quantity of gold and decide to gild a number of
objects with it, we must know, or calculate, exactly what number of
objects can be gilded with this quantity of gold. If we try to gild a greater
number, they will be covered with gold unevenly, in patches, and will
look much worse than if they had no gold at all; in fact we shall lose our gold.
"The distribution of knowledge is based upon exactly the same prin-
ciple . If knowledge is given to all, nobody will get any. If it is preserved
among a few, each will receive not only enough to keep, but to increase,
what he receives.
"At the first glance this theory seems very unjust, since the position of
those who are, so to speak, denied knowledge in order that others may
receive a greater share appears to be very sad and undeservedly harder than
it ought to be. Actually, however, this is not so at all; and in the distribu-
tion of knowledge there is not the slightest injustice.
"The fact is that the enormous majority of people do not want any
knowledge whatever; they refuse their share of it and do not even take
the ration allotted to them, in the general distribution, for the purpose
of life. This is particularly evident in times of mass madness such as wars,
revolutions, and so on, when men suddently seem to lose even the small
amount of common sense they had and turn into complete automatons,
giving themselves over to wholesale destruction in vast numbers, in other
words, even loosing the instinct of self-preservation. Owing to this, enor-
mous quantities of knowledge remain, so to speak, unclaimed and can be
distributed among those who realize its value.
"There is nothing unjust in this, because those who receive knowledge
take nothing that belongs to others, deprive others of nothing; they take
only what others have rejected as useless and what would in any case be
lost if they did not take it.
"The collecting of knowledge by some depends upon the rejection of
knowledge by others.
"There are periods in the life of humanity, which generally coincide
with the beginning or the fall of cultures and civilizations, when the
masses irretrievably loose their reason and begin to destroy everything that
has been created by centuries and millenniums of culture. Such periods
of mass madness, often coinciding with geological cataclysms, climatic
changes, and similar phenomena of a planetary character, release a very
great quantity of the matter of knowledge. This, in turn, necessitates
the work of collecting this matter of knowledge which would otherwise
be lost. Thus the work of collecting scattered matter of knowledge fre-
quently coincides with the beginning of the destruction and fall of
cultures and civilizations.
"This aspect of the question is clear. The crowd neither wants nor seeks
knowledge, and the leaders of the crowd, in their own interests, try to
strenghten its fear and dislike of everything new and unknown. The
slavery in which mankind lives is based upon this fear. It is even diffi-
cult to imagine all the horror of this slavery. We do not understand what
people are losing. But in order to understand the cause of this slavery it
is enough to see how people live, what constitutes the aim of their
existence, the object of their desires, passions, and aspirations, of what
they think, of what they talk, what they serve and what they worship.
Consider what the cultured humanity of our time spends money on; even
leaving the war out, what commands the highest price; where the biggest
crowds are. If we think for a moment about these questions it becomes
clear that humanity, as it is now, with the interests it lives by, cannot
expect to have anything different from what it has. But, as I have already
said, it cannnot be otherwise. Imagine that for the whole of mankind half
a pound of knowledge is allotted a year. If this knowledge is distributed
amomg everyone, each will receive so little that he will reamain the fool
he was. But, thanks to the fact that very few wnat to have this knowl-
edge, those who take it are able to get, let us say, a grain each, and
aquire the possibility of becoming more intelligent. All cannot become
intelligent even if they wish. And if they did become intelligent it would
not help matters. There exists a general equilibrium which cannot be upset.
"That is one aspect. The other, as I have already said, consists in the
fact that no one is concealing anything; there is no mystery whatever. But
the aquisition or transmission of true knowledge demands great labor
and great effort both of him who receives and of him who gives. And
those who possess this knowledge are doing everything they can to trans-
mit and communicate it to the greatest possible number of people, to
facilitate people's approach to it and enable them to prepare themselves
to receive the truth. But knowledge cannot be given by force to anyone
and, as I already said, an unprejudiced survey of the average man's
life, of what fills his day and of the things he is interested in, will at once
show whether it is possible to accuse men who possess knowledge of con-
cealing it, of not wishing to give it to people, or of not wishing to teach
people what they know themselves.
"He who wants knowledge must himself make the initial efforts to find
the source of knowledge and to approach it, taking advantage of the help
and indications whch are given to all, but which people, as a rule, do
not want to see or recognize. Knowledge cannot come to people without
effort on their own part. They understand this very well in connection
with ordinary knowledge, but in the case of great knowledge , when they
admit the possibility of its existence, they find it possible to expect some-
thing different. Everyone knows very well that if, for instance, a man
wants to learn Chinese, it will take several years of intense work; every-
one knows that five years are needed to grasp the principles of medicine,
and perhaps twice as many years for the study of painting or music. And
yet there are theories which affirm that knowledge can come to people
without any effort on their part, that they can aquire it even in sleep.
The very existence of such theories constitutes an additional explanation
of why knowledge cannot come to people. At the same time it is essen-
tial to understand that man's independent efforts to attain anything in
this direction can also give no results. A man can only attain knowledge
with the help of those who possess it. This must be understood from the very beginning. One must learn from him who knows ."
"In Search of the Miraculous" by P.D.Ouspensky, Harcourt Brace & Company, p.36-40