MAN’S being is very simple, but his personality is not. The personality is very complex. The personality is like an onion — there are many layers of conditioning, corruption, poisoning. Hidden behind many layers — what Sufis call filters — is man’s simple being. But that simple being is behind so many filters that you cannot see it. And hidden behind these many filters, you cannot see the world either — because whatsoever reaches you is corrupted by the filters before it reaches you. Nothing ever reaches you as it is; you go on missing it. There are many interpreters in between.
You see something. First your eyes and your senses falsify. Then your ideology, your religion, your society, your church — they falsify. Then your emotions — they falsify. And so on and so forth. By the time it reaches to you it has almost nothing of the original, or so little that it makes no difference. You see something only if your filters allow it, and the filters don’t allow much.
Scientists agree with the Sufis. Scientists say we see only two per cent of reality. Only two per cent! Ninety-eight per cent is missed. When you are listening to me you will hear only two per cent of what has been told, of what has been said. Ninety-eight per cent will be lost. And when the ninety-eight per cent is lost, that two per cent is out of context. It is as if you have taken two pages from a novel, at random — one from here, one from there — and then you start reconstructing the whole novel from these two pages. Ninety-eight pages are missing. You have no inkling what they were; you don’t even know that they were. You have only two pages and you reconstruct the whole novel again. This reconstruction is your invention. It is not discovery of truth, it is your imagination.
And there is an inner necessity to fill the gaps. Whenever you see that two things are unrelated, the mind has an inner urgency to relate them. Otherwise it feels very uneasy. So you invent a link, you fix those loose things with a link, you bridge them. And you go on inventing a world that is not there.
So before we can enter into this small but immensely valuable dialogue between the Master and the disciple, you will have to understand these layers, these filters.
Gurdjieff used to call these filters ‘buffers’. They protect you against reality. They protect your lies, they protect your dreams, they protect your projections. They don’t allow you to come into contact with reality because the very contact is going to be shattering, shocking. Man lives through lies.
Frederick Nietzsche is reported to have said, ‘Please don’t take the lies away from humanity, otherwise man will not be able to live. Man lives through lies. Don’t take the fictions away, don’t destroy the myths. Don’t tell the truth because man cannot live by truth.’ And he is right about ninety-nine point nine per cent of people. But what kind of life can there be through lies? It will be a big lie itself. And what kind of happiness is possible through lies? There is no possibility; hence humanity is in misery. With truth is bliss; with lies there is only misery and nothing else.
But we go on protecting those lies. Those lies are comfortable, but they keep you protected against bliss, against truth, against God.
Sufis say that man is exactly like an onion. And religion is the art of how to peel the onion and come to it’s innermost core. And what is the innermost core of an onion? Have you ever peeled an onion? You go on peeling one layer, another layer, and another, and so on and so forth. Then a point comes when the last layer is taken off and only emptiness is left in your hand. That is FANA. If you go on peeling your being, the last layer will be of being — BAKA — and beyond that will be emptiness — FANA.
So you can think in this way: at the very innermost core there is emptiness, pure sky, nothingness, FANA. The first layer around FANA is that of BAKA, individuality — what religions call the self, ATMAN, the soul. But the soul is already a step away from your being. The self is already distant from your being. Buddha has the right word for it. He calls it ANATTA, no-self. Your innermost being is a non-being. Nothing is there, or only nothing is. The first layer, the first fence that surrounds it, is BAKA, individuality.
This is your true and simple being: non-being surrounded by being, defined by being.
The real core is empty but the emptiness has to be defined by something — otherwise there will be no division between you and anything else. So a thin, a very thin, layer of being divides you. But that being is also a circumference not the center. At the center is FANA, dissolution, disappearance. Even at the point of BAKA, individuality, you don’t meet God, you are still there. Very little is left of you, but there is still just a thin line — even that has to disappear in FANA. Then you enter God.
Start from the other end. Start peeling the onion.
The first layer is made of corrupted physical senses. Never for a single moment think that your physical senses are as they should be — they are not. They have been trained. You see things it your society allows you to see them. You hear things if your society allows you to hear them. You touch things if your society allows you to touch them.
Man has lost many of his senses — for example, smell. Man has almost lost smell. Just see a dog and his capacity to smell — how sensitive is his nose! Man seems to be very poor. What has happened to man’s nose? Why can’t he smell so deeply as a dog or as a horse? The horse can smell for miles. The dog has an immense memory of smells. Man has no memory. Something is blocking the nose.
Those who have been working deep into these layers say that it is because of the repression of sex that smell is lost. Physically man is as sensitive as any other animal, but psychologically his nose has been corrupted. Smell is one of the most sexual doors into your body. It is through smell that animals start feeling whether a male is in tune with the female or not. The smell is a subtle hint. When the female is ready to make love to the male she releases a certain kind of smell. Only through that smell does the male understand that he is acceptable. If that smell is not released by the feminine sexual organism, the male moves away; he is not accepted.
Man has destroyed smell because it will be difficult to create a so-called cultured society if your sense of smell remains natural. You are moving on the road and a woman starts smelling and gives you a signal of acceptance. She is somebody else’s wife; her husband is with her. The signal is there that you are acceptable. What will you do? It will be awkward, embarrassing.
Your wife is walking with you and there is no smell from her body, and suddenly a man passes by and she gives the signal. And those are very unconscious signals; you cannot control them suddenly. Then you will become aware that she is interested in the other man, that she is welcoming the other man. That will create trouble. So down the centuries man has destroyed smell completely.
It is not just accidental that in cultured countries much time is wasted in removing all kinds of smell from the body. The body odor has to be completely destroyed by deodorants, deodorant soaps. It has to be covered by layers of perfume, strong perfume. These are all disguises; these are ways to avoid a reality that is still there.
When you make love, both male and female release a certain kind of smell. That smell has to be destroyed because if the man is making love to the woman and the woman is not really into it she will not release the smell. The man will be offended, hurt. He will immediately feel that the woman is not having an orgasm. And the male ego will feel very offended. The smell has to be destroyed completely, so that the man never knows that the woman was simply pretending that she was having an orgasm, just making empty gestures, be-fooling him, buttressing his ego. And he feels satisfied because the woman looks satisfied. But once the smell is destroyed, there is no way to detect whether she is really satisfied or not.
Smell is very sexual, that’s why we have destroyed the nose, utterly destroyed the nose. Even in language you can see the difference. To see means one thing; to hear, one thing — but to smell means just the opposite. To see means a capacity to see, but to smell does not mean the capacity to smell. It means that you are smelly. Even in language the repression has entered. And the same has happened with other senses.