The following excerpt is from All and Everything by GI Gurdjieff. Though the style of writing by Mr Gurdjieff requires unbending attention to comprehend, it is well worth the effort.
As defined here, Man was created and so differs from the rest of the animal kingdom, as “…a being who can do,’ and ‘to do’ means to act consciously and by one’s own initiative.”
But to our own great misfortune, the average contemporary man couldn’t be further away from his birthright.
…”A man comes into the world like a clean sheet of paper, which immediately all around him begin vying with each other to dirty and fill up with education, morality, the information we call knowledge, and with all kinds of feelings of duty, honor, conscience, and so on and so forth.’
‘The sheet of paper gradually becomes dirty, and the dirtier it becomes, that is to say, the more a man is stuffed with ephemeral information and those notions of duty, honor, and so on which are dinned into him or suggested to him by others, the ‘cleverer’ and worthier is he considered by those around him.
“And seeing that people look upon his ‘dirt’ as a merit, he himself inevitably comes to regard this same dirtied sheet of paper in the same light.
“And so you have a model of what we call a man, to which frequently are added such words as ‘talent’ and ‘genius.’
And the temper of our ‘talent’ when it wakes up in the morning, is spoiled for the whole day if it does not find its slippers beside the bed.
“The ordinary man is not free in his manifestations, in his life, in his moods.
“He cannot be what he would like to be; and what he considers himself to be, he is not that.
“Man–how mighy it sounds! The very name ‘man’ means ‘the acme of Creation’; but . . . how does his title fit contemporary man?
“At the same time, man should indeed be the acme of Creation, since he is formed with and has in himself all the possibilities for acquiring all the data exactly similar to the data in the ACTUALIZER OF EVERYTHING EXISTING in the Whole of the Universe.
“To possess the right to the name of ‘man,’ one must be one.
“And to be such, one must first of all, with an indefatigable persistence and an unquenchable impulse of desire, insuing from all the separate independent parts constituting one’s entire common presence, that is to say, with a desire issuing simultaneously from thought, feeling, and organic instinct, work on an all-round knowledge of oneself–at the same time struggling unceasingly with one’s subjective weaknesses–and then afterwards, taking one’s stand upon the results thus obtained by ones consciousness alone concerning the defects in one’s established subjectivity as well as the elucidated means for the possibility of combatting them, strive for their eradication without mercy towards oneself.”