Capitals from the Cloisters, Manhattan
A perfect idiot is an individual who completely embodies the confluence of truth within their Being with complete equanimity — not indifference, aloofness, or distance, but equanimity, the understanding of the equality (roughly speaking) of all objects, events, circumstances, and conditions.
I was having a conversation with a group of people traveling from the Gurdjieff Foundation back home quite some time ago, and I was trying to explain that the particular quality we refer to as Being is created through the material transformation of substances.
This can’t be effected without receiving the material, which Jeanne Salzmann referred to as a “finer” material, within Being; and that particular material — which I refer to as particular specifically because it is composed of actual physical particles—is only absorbed to the extent that we form a different relationship with sensation. So one can’t become a perfect idiot unless one forms a new relationship with the physical sensation of Being. This is the foundation of an organic ability to receive finer particles and participate in the action that Gurdjieff, rather abstractly, referred to as the “coating of the higher Being body parts.”
Our effort to engage in this action is an effort aimed specifically at becoming perfect idiots, that is, our own individual whole and complete expression of the confluence of truth that has arrived within our own Being. This isn’t really that complicated a matter, since becoming an idiot does not mean becoming a guru or a teacher or some fancy kind of spiritually enlightened Being, but, rather, becoming most entirely and exactly human. This idea of becoming human, in the real and organic sense of the word, is far more important than all the lofty spiritual territory human beings think they have the right to occupy — and furthermore think they actually have the ability to attain. There are thousands of different higher states we could consider here, but there is only a single state of humanity, of perfect idiocy, and that state is shorn of all the pretensions and does not have any altars to stand on or worshipers to populate it. It is a position of abject humility, because one has, in the position of a perfect idiot, done nothing more than accept one’s responsibilities to become the individual expression of God’s whole and perfect Being that one has been assigned to express. Given the task to bloom into a single flower in the course of our own lifetime, to become a perfect idiot, is to bloom into that particular flower, and not some other flower that one decided as a child or even as an adult would be a very nice flower.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.