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Conversation with Richard May (“May-Tzu”/”MayTzu”/”Mayzi”) on “Identification: to Wake Perchance to Dream” and “Roast Pigeon”: Co-Editor, “Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society” (7)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2022/02/15


Richard May (“May-Tzu”/“MayTzu”/“Mayzi”) is a Member of the Mega Society based on a qualifying score on the Mega Test (before 1995) prior to the compromise of the Mega Test and Co-Editor of Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society. In self-description, May states: “Not even forgotten in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), I’m an Amish yuppie, born near the rarified regions of Laputa, then and often, above suburban Boston. I’ve done occasional consulting and frequent Sisyphean shlepping. Kafka and Munch have been my therapists and allies. Occasionally I’ve strived to descend from the mists to attain the mythic orientation known as having one’s feet upon the Earth. An ailurophile and a cerebrotonic ectomorph, I write for beings which do not, and never will, exist — writings for no one. I’ve been awarded an M.A. degree, mirabile dictu, in the humanities/philosophy, and U.S. patent for a board game of possible interest to extraterrestrials. I’m a member of the Mega Society, the Omega Society and formerly of Mensa. I’m the founder of the Exa Society, the transfinite Aleph-3 Society and of the renowned Laputans Manqué. I’m a biographee in Who’s Who in the Brane World. My interests include the realization of the idea of humans as incomplete beings with the capacity to complete their own evolution by effecting a change in their being and consciousness. In a moment of presence to myself in inner silence, when I see Richard May’s non-being, ‘I’ am. You can meet me if you go to an empty room.” Some other resources include Stains Upon the Silence: something for no oneMcGinnis Genealogy of Crown Point, New York: Hiram Porter McGinnisSwines ListSolipsist SoliloquiesBoard GameLulu blogMemoir of a Non-Irish Non-Jew, and May-Tzu’s posterousHe discusses: satori; attachment; a small “i” and a big “I”; intellectual analysis; “But I Hunger and Thirst…for the taste of Vagueness”; circularity; “Dogen Practice”; “Roast Pigeon”; the vagueness; the circularity; a particular, characteristic vague talk in the online chats; and the pigeon.

Keywords: Alfred Richard Orage, Blavatsky, Gautama Buddha, Gurdjieff, James Webb, Jean Klein, J.G. Bennet, P.D. Ouspensky, Richard May, satori.

Conversation with Richard May (“May-Tzu”/”MayTzu”/”Mayzi”) on “Identification: to Wake Perchance to Dream” and “Roast Pigeon”: Co-Editor, “Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society” (7)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: “Identification: to Wake Perchance to Dream” is a woeful story, sort of. What is “satori”? 

Richard May[1],[2]*: I speak with no official authority about the Gurdjieff work, you should know. None …

I’m not sure that I’ve ever experienced satori. Maybe … But if I have, then I cannot describe it in any case.

But off the top of my head it is an altered state of consciousness (the term satori comes from Zen Buddhism, of course) in which everything is directly seen to be just the way it is in the present moment  — When running by the Charles River in Boston once or twice after long 40-minute runs everything looked like it was just the way it should be! The chattering mind had stopped. I just saw … it was somewhat ineffable … “Suchness,” tathata in Sanskrit. The Buddha is called tathagata, “one who has thus gone.”

People in the online chat groups would kvetch endlessly that they were “identified.” In any spiritual practice the goal is the practice, period.

Jacobsen: What exactly is meant by an “attachment” in this non-philosophy philosophy?

May: Oh, I was talking about online chats in the Gurdjieff work. After 10 or 15 years of being in “the work,” intelligent people did not have a clue as to the meaning of “self-remembering,” a very important fundamental concept of G.I. Gurdjieff’s teaching. Gurdjieff had an injunction that recognized that everyone was going to die, so people must be helped along the way, “The Fifth Being Obligation.” But after 10 or 15 years “in the work” intelligent chat participants often did not have a clue what self-remembering meant!

Gurdjieff’s pupil, J.G. Bennet was recognized as brilliant and he knew both Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, his foremost pupil. He travelled to Gurdjieff’s home and even met Gurdjieff’s father. Bennet read All and Everything, Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson 11 times and did not understand it! Where does that leave a person lacking Bennett’s advantages?

In addition after many years the pupils in my chat group were told that the teacher’s teacher had said to his pupils “in the work” that we have a “life time of errors in Beelzebub’s Tales to correct.” How could one understand this writing, All and Everything, the Gurdjieffian Bible, without knowing what the innumerable errors are? This tome was translated and written by committee, not by one person, not directly by Gurdjieff, himself. Belatedly you are told that it is riddled with errors. But Gurdjieff himself had what he called the Fifth Being Obligation. Everyone is going to perish and we don’t know when, so there is an obligation to not waste people’s time.

I was satirically contrasting attachments in Buddhism with identification in the Gurdjieff work. There is a saying in Buddhism that “Original realization is marvelous practice.” The meaning is that the practice is the goal. There is no Buddha, no path, no enlightenment. Just meditate. Follow the path.

Jacobsen: The distinction between a small “i” and a big “I” is implicit in the test with the smaller “i” in the identification and identity. Is this distinction purposeful, or am I seeing a ‘there’ that’s not there?

May: Test? Did you mean text?

We are all always seeing ‘a there that’s not there’! Was that a wave or a particle that just walked by? Often small i refers to the individual fictional ego-identity and big I to the ground of being, itself, the individual wave in the ocean and the ocean, itself.

Jacobsen: Why does intellectual analysis interrupt the potential attainment of satori or enlightenment? 

May: Intellectual analysis is fine during cognition, but not so much during a meditation practice. (Often people have random thoughts, but do not actually think in any case.) Having thoughts is fine, just let them pass. Patanjali defines Yoga as the “Cessation of the modifications of the mind-stuff.” No or less internal mind-chatter is Yoga.

Jacobsen: What is meant by “But I Hunger and Thirst…for the taste of Vagueness”?

May: Gurdjieff wrote of individuals who “hunger and thirst after truth.” In the Gurdjieff chats there was a plethora of vague talk. Vague talk is not truth. I was mocking what generally occurred in the online chats.

And there seemed to be no evidence-based research on the practices of attempted self-remembering (i.e., being present to oneself in the body, emotions and intellectual mind simultaneously) or on “sitting,” one of the Gurdjieffian meditation practices. But the work was claimed to be scientific.

Jacobsen: There is a circularity, sort of, to the path from analysis to not really analyzing to more analysis. Is this reflective of our constant intellectual meanderings away – and away and away, again – from satori experiences?

May: Yes, more or less. I was satirizing the attempted use of analysis to understand why there was endless analyzing. —  Just watch your mindstream of thoughts, your bodily sensations and emotions. The practice is the goal. There is no Buddha, no Dharma (law), no Sangha (community)!

Gautama Buddha was not a Buddhist, Abraham’s mother was not Jewish, hence Abraham wasn’t a born Jew, Jesus wasn’t a Christian and Gurdjieff was not a Gurdjieffian.

Jacobsen: The final quote from “Dogen Practice” states, “Original realization is marvelous practice.” Why is there no definitive distinction between realization of awakening and its cultivation?

May: To have such a distinction would get in the way of realization, create an expectation, make awakening less likely!

Jacobsen: “Roast Pigeon” continues, a bit, with some of the same ideas from “Identification: to Wake Perchance to Dream” “taste” and “vagueness.” What is the association between the vague and the gustatory in these two publications?

May: Gurdjieff said something to the effect that one cannot expect a roast pigeon to fly into one’s mouth in the Gurdjieff work. By this he meant that one must make an effort, constant effort. Work takes effort. It’s not a sinecure.

Jacobsen: Why must the vagueness be stolen?

May: Nothing can be given; Nothing will be given, by the teacher or by Gurdjieff. In Yoga, the Yoga is the effort, not some position. One must steal the truth.

Jacobsen: There’s the circularity in this one, too, with “being in question of being in question” or “pondering pondering.” Are most of our thoughts circuitous-ish? 

May: I was again just mocking the endless vague talk in chat groups about “pondering and being in question.” Must we ponder pondering? Can we question being in question? And ponder being in question? … staining the fragments of silence … “You are the space between your thoughts,” Jean Klein.

Jacobsen: At one point, the amorphous is juxtaposed with the precise in the phrase “certain vague talk.” A certainty in the vagueness, this seems paradoxical, so… traditionally May-Tzu – looking at the other side of the partition to apprehend the whole as with the silence between sounds, background & foreground. The fragments of silence are some of the “Stains Upon The Silence.” Glenn Gould talked about the silence between notes or the gaps in notes – and higher harmonics – as rites of passage in a way. He, so it seems with you, see ‘both sides’ if this can be conceptualized, as such. What do you see as “stains” in the silence?

May: By “certain vague talk” I mean a particular, characteristic vague talk in the online chats, not anything to do with probabilistic certainty.

Jacobsen: Also, what is the pigeon, and why roast it?

May: According to a Google search: “Roasted pigeons have been a well-known delicacy in France since the 16th century.” I didn’t know this, but it makes sense as a context for Gurdjieff’s saying. Truth and moksha (liberation) are not going to fly into your mouth effortlessly.

After decades “in the work” there are individuals who cannot cease smoking or lose weight. Yet unification of one’s being is supposed to be a fruit of the Gurdjieff work. Gurdjieff himself was an obese cigarette smoker with chronic bronchitis for thirty years, according to sources.

Gurdjieff’s most excellent pupil, P.D. Ouspensky at the end of his life was an alcoholic, or nearly so, and completely disillusioned with the system of the Gurdjieff work. He said that nothing can be achieved without the “higher emotional center” and we don’t know how to use the higher emotional center. The title of Ouspensky’s book In Search of the Miraculous was originally intended by Ouspensky to be Fragments of an Unknown Teaching. Fragments … Unknown … The publisher, however, chose the former title. Perhaps that tells us something. My teacher didn’t mention the fate of poor Ouspensky, for some peculiar reason.

Now some people remain “in the work” for more than fifty (50) years, which Gurdjieff would never have allowed. Some individuals today make a career out of “being in the work,” exactly as Ouspensky made a career out of the work, finally lecturing in London.

In The Fourth Way Ouspensky states that there are “no institutions associated with the Fourth Way,” Gurdjieff’s path. What then is the Gurdjieff Foundation, if not an institution? Ironically Gurdjieff’s own system predicts that this would happen. In the relative world everything turns into its opposite, a loose paraphrase of the relevant ideas.

By contrast Alfred Richard Orage left Gurdjieff and the work. After Orage died, Gurdjieff called Orage his friend, a epithet he rarely used, and implied that Orage had “created a ‘soul’” by saying that he hoped he went straight to ‘paradise’.

As someone said to me in a chat group, “The work doesn’t work, but I don’t know anything better.” He also said, “Human beings f*ck up everything they do and Gurdjieff did too.” I asked him what he meant by that and he replied, “You’ll have to figure that out yourself.” I already had.

Gurdjieff said “Believe nothing, not even yourself.”  — The Harmonious Circle by James Webb is an excellent book on the Gurdjieff work. Webb suicided.

Yet I think that there is much of value to be extracted from the traditional wisdom and psychological teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff, e.g., that humans are unconscious automata most of the time, rather than conscious unified beings with free will. We are incubators or wombs for the creation of a ‘soul’, which can survive bodily death. But the precious diamonds are often found lying deep in dung.

And “Most people can’t hear gray.” — May-Tzu

“To know means to know all. Not to know all means not to know. In order to know all, it is only necessary to know a little. But, in order to know this little, it is first necessary to know pretty much.” — G.I. Gurdjieff

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Co-Editor, “Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society.”

[2] Individual Publication Date: February 15, 2022:; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2022:

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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