In his book Meetings with Remarkable Men, George Gurdjieff describes a strange event he witnessed as a young man. He recounts being deeply involved in his studies when he suddenly heard a boy’s scream. As he ran over to investigate, he saw a Yezidi boy trapped inside of a circle drawn on the ground by a group of mischievous youths.
Gurdjieff asked the boys who had drawn the circle what was going on. They told him that when you put a Yezidi inside of a circle, they cannot get out. Gurdjieff went over to the circle and rubbed out part of it with his foot. The Yezidi boy saw the opening through this “magic” circle and fled through it. This dumbfounded Gurdjieff.
Gurdjieff learned that Yezidis are a sect living in Transcaucasia, mostly in the area around Mt. Ararat. Gurdjieff was so blown away by the incident he witnessed of the magic circle that several years later he conducted his own experiments. He had drawn a circle around a petite Yezidi woman and it took two strong men to pull her out of the circle. But taking her out of this circle by force caused her to go into an immediate swoon or state of catalepsy. Gurdjieff also learned that the women’s mental state returned to normal as soon as she was brought back into the circle! Otherwise, it took many hours outside the circle before she could return to normal. Apparently there was a very strange force more powerful than one’s normal strength that kept such a person imprisoned in such a magic circle
Gurdjieff ultimately discovered the mechanism behind this strange phenomena of the human psyche and offers clues to its understanding in his various books. But one has to make real effort not only towards intellectually grasping the mechanism and power of a magic circle, but also to becoming personally alert to recognizing similar forms of its manifestation in daily life. (Otherwise there is no practical lesson to be learned.)
This happened to me while attending a church service one Sunday. Being bored with the ritual of worship I happened to look out a large window for some new experience and began to meditate on “deep” subjects. Suddenly, I felt an elbow jab me in the ribs.
I turned in the direction of the jab and saw that a fellow member of the church had noticed that I wasn’t singing along with everybody else and offered me a hymnal book, thinking that I was unable to find one on my own. The person in question was well meaning and full of good intention, but became a little uncomfortable when I waved off the book and continued to look out the window.
Later, after the church service, there was a “fellowship hour” where people could strengthen bonds while enjoying food brought in by all the members. Sometimes I would be so inspired to have conversations about important spiritual topics during this allotted time that I would completely lose my appetite for terrestrial food. I began to notice that both my persistence in having deep discussions and not choosing to eat the food, so artfully displayed on the table, made most of the congregational members uncomfortable with me. I was not conforming to their established customs and conventions—drilled into them over long periods of time.
(No church wants to make its members uncomfortable, because they see it as their duty to offer comfort.)
Finally, I realized that I was outside their “magical” circle of automatic behavior. It would be naïve of me to expect other members to escape this difficult situation since this weekly routine was “fixed” and “hard-wired” into their consciousness and there was no need to question it. Besides, a person would not be considered “normal” acting outside the accepted procedures of this circle. Thus “normalcy” is a powerful and strange force that keeps people within their magical circle.
In fact, it is a form of hypnosis!
Great psychic harm would come to a person if he or she was suddenly yanked out from one of these protective circles or forced to “snap out of it.” Certainly, the biblical warning to “sleep not” never seems to refer to those who have enclosed themselves in such protective circles.
In modern parlance this scenario is called “drinking the Kool-Aid.”
We all have to carefully examine the “magical” circles, which influence our very lives—otherwise there is no escape.
View the clip from the film here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jc2aljRs1a4