Ouspensky’s last days (5): the illness

Ouspensky’s last days (5): the illness

- in Esotericism

1. We learn that Ouspensky underwent a change between 1942-3, Esotericism (LVI): Ouspensky’s last days, §3, and had deterioration with nose bleeds in 1946, Esotericism (LVII): Ouspensky’s last days (2), §3. But no writer bothers to expand on these events. Ouspensky was very ill but instead of giving details of his illness, they prefer to interpret most events as “miracles” and Ouspensky’s attempts to plan recurrence.

We saw in Esotericism (XVIΙ): Gurdjieff and Ouspensky that in August 1916 in Finland Gurdjieff induced telepathic communication in and with Ouspensky. And, sure enough, after 30 years of non-manifestation, such powers emerge this time in and by Ouspensky sometime in August 1947. And, sure enough, it is Collin Smith who gains a “first inkling of something of this sort” (ch8, p57): clairvoyance, thought transference and knowing the future “which would seem to be” miracles for ordinary men, [but] were the normal function of man no 5. So, although the writers had no idea really of what man no 5 was like, they imply that Ouspensky was such.

2. The writers ignore blatantly the obvious physical debilitation of Ouspensky and his erratic behaviour and incoherent speech.

Undoubtedly Ouspensky forced himself at times to move and walk despite difficulties but this hardly conveys, except to those who wish to so see it, “an extraordinary impression of will, will as a force by which a man can make his body do the impossible” (p40). Patients of open heart operation are soon after made to walk up a staircase of 18-20 steps and then longer. And I know of an ordinary mortal, a pathologist, specialist in fasting therapy who on occasions abstains from all food and drink for 5 whole days.

They ignore his long spells of temper, his loss of appetite (but not of drinking) and his inverted sleeping–waking periods. This last they interpret again as the manifestation of a new spiritual power: have lunch at midnight, rise at 9-10am, have another lunch at 2.00pm, then supper at 6.30 and then retire. This inversion they ascribe to one “whose instinctive time – sense was so preternaturally acute”! They forget that he used to stay up all night carousing and conversing or lecturing until morning.

3. Let me give some more examples of incoherent speech, which the writers find symbolic or allegorical.

Returning one evening after a sojourn in to the countryside, Ouspensky got out of the car but then, having taken off hat and coat, went back, and sat in the car. “This is not the right Lyne”, he said!

On another day, having “said several enigmatic things”, Ouspensky wanted “all the people” assembled but nobody could be found other than these 4-5 close to him.

Ouspensky: Well we must decide.

Collin Smith: About the house?

Ouspensky: About the house, of course… everything depends on that. What is this place?

Miss P: Lyne Place.

Ouspensky: What is it connected with?

Miss P: It is connected with everything.

Ouspensky: That’s it –exactly.

And a little later he said “Yesterday I visited Madame – she was ill.” Madame was at that time in America! (P39-40.)

4. The “Dutch” version of the Last Remembrances of a Magician (held by Mrs. D. Van Oyen and inherited by her daughter Dorine, now Mrs. Tolley) which is on the Internet has a Forward. In this Mrs. Tolley says that she consulted “one of the world’s leading kidney experts, who is also familiar with Ouspensky and his work.”

As I often repeated Ouspensky had been ill for quite a time and certainly suffered severely when he returned to England (Jan 1947). He was then treated for kidney failure and liver dysfunctioning by three physicians including Dr. Roles. But knowledge of such diseases and of their treatment was then very limited.

The expert opined that Ouspensky suffered from hepato-renal failure which is a combination of liver and kidney failure – fitting with Ouspensky’s heavy drinking. He gave all the symptoms that have been mentioned: difficulty with sleep-wake pattern, confusion, lethargy and personality changes.

The doctor added that there was lapse into a coma but Ouspensky’s spiritual gifts may have spared him this.

I certainly prefer this explanation.

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