He who knows what his moon is and does can understand the cosmos. ~ Gurdjieff

Gurdjieff told the Eastern parable of The Magician. It is this:

There was a very rich magician who kept many sheep, so that he could shear them for wool and kill them for mutton. The magician was frugal. He did not want to hire shepherds, nor did he want to erect a wall or fence about the pasture where his sheep were grazing. Consequently, the sheep often wandered into the forest or up onto the mountain, fell into ravines, and so on. They frequently ran away, for they knew full well that the magician wanted their flesh and skins and their wool, and this they did not like.

The magician pondered the problem and invented a clever remedy. He hypnotized his sheep and made three suggestions to them:

First he suggested to them that they were immortal and that no harm was done to them when they were killed and skinned – on the contrary, it would be very good for them and even pleasant;

Secondly he suggested that the magician was a kind and good master who loved his flock so much that he was ready to do anything in the world for them;

And thirdly he suggested to them that if anything were going to happen to them it was not going to happen just then, at any rate not that day, and therefore they had no need to think about it.

Furthermore the magician suggested to them that they were not sheep at all; he told some of them that they were lions, he told others that they were eagles, and others that they were men. And he even told some that they were magicians.

Thenceforth he had no problems with his sheep. They never tried to escape again, but quietly awaited the time when the magician would choose to harvest their flesh and skins.


Gurdjieff is quoted by many as proclaiming that man is asleep. We have probably read this statement many times without considering what kind of sleep he was referring to. We tend to understand “man is asleep” in a metaphorical sense – and when we have a moment of presence we may be inclined to think of man’s sleep simply being a lack of presence.

In fact the situation is far worse than that. Man is in a hypnotic sleep – exactly like the sheep in the parable.

We believe we are immortal but we have a very limited time. Perhaps we believe, with no proof of it at all, that some higher force “looks out for us.” And yes some of us believe we are:

  • lions (masters of the emotion), or
  • eagles (masters of the intellect),
  • or men (masters of ourselves),
  • or magicians (true masters).

But in truth we are sheep.

Gurdjieff suggests that we have some variety of these sheep beliefs because of Kundabuffer – an organ which was implanted in us in the womb, when we had tails and when we were nothing more than a “moon.”

We became a planet when we were born.

As such our choice is stark: to feed the external moon or feed our inner moon.

Our inner moon is the moon that we were in the womb. It is this moon that is hypnotized. We need to feed it.

This we know, from The Tales.