S3/E11: R. A. Smith DOGTALES Explained

Published December 3rd, 2020


R. A. Smith DOGTALES Explained

In this podcast, we walk through all 48 of Russell A. Smith’s aphorisms from THEDOG school, called appropriately, DOGTALES. These are complementary to the 38 original Gurdjieff aphorisms, and seeks to expand upon them, to aid development of knowledge and being.

Podcast Transcript

Welcome to a series of talks about objective consciousness, an objective universe, and an objective way to awaken.

It is primarily based on the works of George I. Gurdjieff and Russell A. Smith, and aims to simplify and explain what Gurdjieff actually meant within the various subject areas of the Fourth Way. All material discussed is drawn from Russell Smith’s book, Gurdjieff: Cosmic Secrets - The Teaching Guide.

In our last talk we walked through all 38 of G. I. Gurdjieff’s Aphorisms, explaining our interpretation of what may have been meant by them. 

In this podcast, we will walk through all 48 of Russell A. Smith’s DOGTALES from THEDOG school, starting with DOGTALE zero, and recommencing with DOGTALE 39, and continuing through to DOGTALE 85, and which appropriately fit around and complement the 38 Gurdjieff aphorisms.


DOGTALE 0 - There is no failure in effort. 

Gurdjieff tells us that whenever we do something, we gain something, even if we fail… thus, there is no failure in effort. 

DOGTALE 39 - Only a fool doesn’t take advantage of help that’s available. 

Have you ever tried to assemble something without first reading the instructions; and, then, when finished, found a part that should have been assembled in step 2; or, aimlessly drove around for 30 minutes, before stopping to ask directions, if so, then you already know the truth of this DOGTALE.

DOGTALE 40 - You may not be able to make another man conscious but you can at least try not to contribute to his sleep. 

Gurdjieff told the story of how, after the death of Orage, people would come up to him and say, “We are sorry to hear about the death of your friend”, and how their mechanical sympathies reminded him of his loss and once again renewed his suffering. Whereafter he remarked, "From such a habit, customary at the present time in the case of anyone's death, no one derives any benefit, and the person thus addressed, only great harm.”

So, when with others, do not say what the world mechanically expects you to say, nor do what the world mechanically expects you to do. Instead, learn to externally consider. That is, if someone is an alcoholic, do not offer them a drink; nor, take them out to a bar so they have to watch you drink.

DOGTALE 41 - Don’t perceive that a man will understand you, perceive that he will not.  

This, too, is about external considering. If you believe that you have something of value to offer to another person, then be prepared for them not to understand it in the way that you understand it. That is, learn to express your ideas in terms that they will understand. For instance: If you are talking to a child, try to put ‘what you understand’ in terms that a child will understand. If you are talking to a carpenter, try to put ‘what you understand’ in terms that a carpenter will understand, etc. With this foresight, you will be able to explain ‘what you understand’ to anyone you wish.

DOGTALE 42 - Don’t put your suit on ‘til you get to the beach.

A student once did exercises all morning, preparing to raise his state for an encounter that was scheduled for late afternoon. Then, when it was time for the encounter, he discovered that he was totally out of force. So, I looked at him and simply said, “Don’t put your suit on ‘til you get to the beach. He understood! 

DOGTALE 43 - Let your knowledge precede your actions... then, you will never be troubled. 

This is something I learned from my Dad, who often said, “Think, before you act. If you do, you will probably be able to stay out of trouble.” Similarly, good carpenters have a saying: “Measure twice, cut once.” 

DOGTALE 44 - Where there is more, more is added; where there is little, even that is taken away.

Gurdjieff often said that no effort is wasted, that something is always gained. That may be true at the moment of the effort; and, perhaps, shortly thereafter; but, I have found, that if you do not, periodically, refresh the fruits of your effort, they will diminish. That is, there are many things I once knew, like how to do square roots, that I no longer know, which have long ago evaporated; but the things I continued to do, like riding a bike, got even better. Thus, “Where there is more, more is added; where there is little, even that is taken away.” Or as someone once said, “Practice makes perfect.” Which means, if you practice and refresh what is important, it will probably get stronger; and, if you ignore the things that bother you, they will probably get weaker and eventually will disappear. 

DOGTALE 45 - A man can do remarkable things… if… he has remarkable things to do.

As discussed in the previous DOGTALE, a person will get good at whatever they repeat. So, find something amazing, remarkable, and worthwhile, then, do it incessantly; soon, you too, will find yourself doing remarkable things.

DOGTALE 46 - Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug. 

Everyone should easily comprehend this DOGTALE: Sometimes you win, and sometimes you don’t, that is just how it is. Sometimes things come out favorably, and sometimes they do not. 

DOGTALE 47 - When you can make force, make force; no wait ‘til 2 p.m. 

An apparent contradiction to DOGTALE 42, wherein the emphasis was on waiting for the appropriate time to make force. This DOGTALE is about doing things that could be done now, now, instead of putting them off until later, which is the tendency of many human beings.

DOGTALE 48 - You can’t call a turtle.

In this DOGTALE, ‘Turtle’ is a metaphor for the instinctive and moving centers, the lower centers. 

It is very difficult, nigh impossible, to communicate directly with your lower centers. That is why people, who want to quit drinking or stop smoking, usually cannot; because... they can’t call a turtle. In order to communicate with your lower centers, you must first communicate with your higher centers. That is, your higher centers can be directly spoken to and reasoned with; and, as such, can be called into action to control your lower centers. Or, as a famous football coach often said, “Control the mind, control the body.”

DOGTALE 49 - The moment you become mechanical is the moment you become mechanical. 

This was spoken to a student who argued that his mechanical acts did not necessarily make him mechanical; to which I remarked, “What you do may or may not contribute to you becoming mechanical; but, the moment you become mechanical is the moment you become mechanical.” 

DOGTALE 50 - Always remember the one you forget. 

Students sometimes say they have trouble remembering a certain Aphorism or DOGTALE. If they do, I say, “Then, make that the one you always remember; if you do that, then you will have no problem remembering the rest.” 

DOGTALE 51 - To memorize means never having to guess. 

Guessing is proof of not knowing.  So, find what is valuable, and repeat it until you know it.  Then, you will always be able to carry it with you and never have to guess.  

DOGTALE 52 - Freedom… is a whole stick. 

If you always react in a certain way, that is, if you always grab the stick at a certain place, what is the first thing you should do in order to overcome that? Well, if you are working on yourself, you could try reacting in the opposite way, and say, ”I will do this instead of that. That is, I will grab the opposite place on the ‘stick’.”  Later, you might realize, “Hey, I don’t have to grab the opposite place. In fact, I have the freedom to grab any part of the ‘stick’ I wish!”  When you learn to do that, you will have discovered that freedom is a whole stick.

DOGTALE 53 -  Don’t forget what you didn’t do, to get here. 

Gurdjieff gave us the model that doing always begins by not doing. So I often say, “Don’t forget what you didn’t do to get here!

DOGTALE 54 - Everyone does what they can do when they can do it. 

You must always remember that everyone learns at their own pace. That is, some people will understand an idea quickly and some will not. So, do not be critical of others who do not march at your pace. Allow them to do what they can do, when they can do it.

DOGTALE 55 - Self-initiation means never having to blame someone else for your lack of progress.

Take full responsibility for your lack of actions. That is, blame yourself for what you failed to do. There is truth in the fact that when you point your finger at others, there are always 3 fingers pointing back at you! 

DOGTALE 56 - People have the remarkable ability to major in minor things. 

There are amazing things that we could be doing; but, unfortunately, instead of doing them, we often spend time doing insignificant, minor things; and, thus, waste our lives pursuing the trivial.

DOGTALE 57 - When there is no more tread left, it’s time to retire.

This was a play on words that was said to a student at three oclock in the morning who had pushed himself beyond exhaustion. 

DOGTALE 58 - When the knowledge of your thoughts becomes the language of your mouth, you will understand. 

This is about how what you say is a reflection of what you think; and, how what you think is a reflection of what you understand.

DOGTALE 59 - A school is like a compass; it doesn’t claim to make you go anywhere, it just keeps pointing in the same direction. 

Gurdjieff said, “Here we can only direct and create conditions but not help.” Work is personal, you have to do it on yourself, by yourself. 

That is, just being a member of something does not make you become that something.

Thus, the best a school can do is remain objective, like a compass needle, and always point in the same direction.

DOGTALE 60 - A man who doesn’t have a question, probably doesn’t have a quest.

If you think you already know something, you will not be looking for an answer!

DOGTALE 61 - Maintaining sleep is a tacit conspiracy. 

This is the idea that, by nature, we are lazy beings; and, as such, have many ‘I’s’ in us that do not wish to work on ourselves. ‘I’s’, that are not interested in doing the things they should be doing, which may change our being. Thus, there is kind of a tacit conspiracy - an ‘unspoken’, ‘unwritten’ agreement - between those ‘I’s’, to not work on ourselves... and, unfortunately, that tacit agreement maintains our sleep.

DOGTALE 62 - There is always one thing you can do.  

This is a way to overcome the inertia that stops you from moving forward. In other words, to create momentum by choosing - for instance - to read a workbook, or do memory work, or sense your body, or do the three-fold attention exercise, or try to stop your thoughts, or remember yourself, or pick a center, etc.  That is, to do something!  Because, there is always one thing you can do, you just have to do it!

DOGTALE 63 - God rested on the seventh day… you ought to at least take one day and do something. 

A call to action against our laziness, and one which is very self-explanatory.

DOGTALE 64 - A sleeping man will be able to constate the moments he was conscious; a conscious man will be able to constate the moments he was asleep! 

If I asked you to give me a blow by blow report of what happened in 12th Grade, you would probably not be able to tell me what you did at every moment of every day; because, for most of the 12th grade, you were asleep. However, you would be able to tell me about the moments you were awake; that is, about your self remembering moments, moments when you were embarrassed; or, got into a fight; or, won the award; etc. 

Then, after you awaken, since moments of self-remembering become your norm, it will be very easy for you to see and remember the moments when you act from sleep.

Thus, a sleeping man will be able to constate the moments he was conscious; and, a conscious man will be able to constate the moments he was asleep! 

DOGTALE 65 - Intelligence should be an asset… not an excuse. 

Some students see themselves as being very intelligent; and, as such, do not believe they need to participate in the process of their own transformations. That is, that somehow, their innate intelligence will be enough. Which, if we think about that, is not a very intelligent thing to assume! 

If the so-called intelligent guys truly understood the process of transformation, their intelligence would be an asset, and be used by them to accelerate the process.

DOGTALE 66 - The moment knowledge surpasses being… it is imagination. 

People often claim to be able to show you how to do things that they have only acquired as knowledge. Case in point, we once hired a person to show us how to do the Gurdjieff Movements, who, we later discovered, had never read a Gurdjieff book! 

So, just remember, what you know and what you are, are two different things. That is, you may know what you are supposed to be, but have not, as of yet, been able to become it! Which means, your knowledge has surpassed your being. 

If that happens, simply apply your knowledge to your being. Become what you know... instead of knowing what you should become. 

DOGTALE 67 - The truth is: truth applies. 

Whatever you do, reflects your truth. So, if today, you act in a certain way, that is your truth. If tomorrow, you act in another way, then, that is your truth. In other words, the truth you have is the truth you follow.

DOGTALE 68 - Life is not going to make us, we have to make ourselves. 

We have to make efforts to change our being, because life is not going to do it for us. For instance: If we want to play a musical instrument, we have to practice playing that musical instrument. Just watching other people play, will not make us be able to play; we have to be the one that puts in the effort. 

DOGTALE 69 - I don’t have to know it first, I just have to know it lasts.

People often try to finish first. That is, they start a task and try to get it done before some other guy gets it done. However, it is not about who gets it done first, but about who does it so well that it lasts and lasts and lasts. 

DOGTALE 70 - Never ask permission to externally consider.

If you are moved to an act of kindness, generosity, or goodness, do it spontaniously; that is, do not ask permission.

For example: If you are on a bus, and the bus is crowded, and some folks are standing up holding on to the straps… what happens, if you look up at someone and ask, “Would you like to have my seat?” They will probably say, “No thanks, I’m ok.”  Right?  Even though they would have liked to sit down. Which means, they are externally considering you. So, instead... externally consider them. Stand up, as you look at them, and gesture with your open hand that the seat is available. They will most likely smile and say thank you, then take the seat. Which means, you have externally considered them.  

DOGTALE 71 - You can’t put someone else in your shoes until YOU are able to wear them. 

The idea here is that you must first change your being, before you can show others how to change their being. But, in life, that is usually not what happens. In life, people often tell others how to do things that they themselves cannot do. So, first, learn how to do something well before showing someone else how to do it. 

The well-worn spoken concept of Don’t do as I do, do as I say is, therefore, not a very good concept; thus, beware of hypocrisy.

DOGTALE 72 - If you forget it was your intention, it never was your intention. 

If you really want something, you will probably achieve it. Because, if you really want it, you will most likely be able to keep it in mind. And, therefore, will be often reminded to make the force that is necessary to obtain it. For example: How many people buy gym equipment because they want to lose weight; vs, how many pieces of gym equipment lay dormant in those peoples’ houses, just gathering dust?
So, first, decide whether or not you really want to do something. Then, if you really want to do it, go for it - knowing that you will have the definiteness of purpose to actually make it happen; but, if it is just a passing fancy... you probably will not!

DOGTALE 73 - The greatest force we have as humans, is the ability to be one!

We are the only species on the face of this Earth, out of something like 75 million species, to have reason! And, as such, we are capable of doing remarkable things when we use it. So, always try to manifest from reason: Strive to evolve, strive to learn, and strive to help others. Afterall, It is the only reasonable thing to do!

DOGTALE 74 - Man can do nothing, ‘til he can stop himself… anything else he attempts is only an illusion. 

One of Gurdjieff's criticisms of man was that he cannot do; and, as such, he was governed by identification and egoism. We have all seen the results of that. This DOGTALE addresses the issue by saying, “The first thing we need to do is to stop doing what we normally do.” If we can do that, we will have a chance to become higher beings; if we cannot do that, then everything else we attempt will only be an illusion.

DOGTALE 75 - Fear lives at the end of the stick -- if you can imagine worse, you can conquer fear. 

The ‘stick’ here is a metaphor for any given situation; and, where you may be inclined to habitually grab the stick. If you grab the stick there and find yourself afraid of the outcome, that is easy to change. To conquer that fear, just imagine something worse. For instance: If you go on an interview, and say to yourself, “If they do not hire me, that would be terrible,” Yes, it would be.... But, I suggest that if beforehand, you ask yourself what is the worst that could happen, you just might be able to conquer your fear of not being hired. For instance, if you say to yourself, “The guy behind the desk might take one look at me and think that I am the guy that broke into his house; and, therefore, calls the police and has me arrested!” 

Then, when that does not happen, not being hired is not such a bad thing.

You can also push it to the other end of the stick, and ask yourself, “What is the best thing that could happen?” For instance, the guy behind the desk might take one look at me and be reminded of his only son, who he lost in a car accident; and, who he really misses. And, therefore, having me around would be a good thing for him, as it would be like having his son around, so he hires me on the spot. Wouldn’t that be great! 

Which, too, will probably not happen, but it keeps me from getting a big-head when I am hired, because I expected better.

Either way, I am free from what I had imagined the outcome might be.       

DOGTALE 76 - Repetition is the mother of accelerated change; but, first, you must do it before you can repeat it.

With repeated actions, we can rapidly change. So, do it and do it and do it, until it becomes easy to repeat and repeat and repeat. Then, through repetition, change will be swift.

DOGTALE 77 - Recognizing that you do not know is probably one of the greatest moments of knowing. 

Such a great realization; to recognize and admit that one does not know, sets one up to be able to know. You will never learn what you assume you already know. And, you will never acquire what you assume you already have. Recognizing that you do not know is a great moment; a humble moment; a true moment of knowing. 

DOGTALE 78 - Understanding trumps knowledge.

This is about intellect and being. How many times have you brought something home, which needed to be assembled, and assumed that you could assemble it without first reading the instructions? I know, I have!

“The instructions are for wimps, who have never assembled anything.” I would say to myself, “But, I don’t need ‘em.” So, I would start assembling the item until a problem arose that I couldn’t figure out. Then, I would read the instructions; and then find out that I should have done something way earlier. If I had, I would have avoided the problem. So, first read, digest, and understand the instructions. Then, your knowledge will merge with your being and yield understanding; after which, things will be easy. 

DOGTALE 79 - The finest tools in the world may do the job perfectly… but not by themselves.

We may possess all the Gurdjieff books, all the diagrams, all the aphorisms, and all the charts and quotes, etc., but the material, by itself, will not develop our being. Unfortunately, it has to be used. That is, someone has to read the books, study the charts, do the memory work, and perform the exercises, etc., in order for the material to have any effect on their being. Awakening does not just happen by itself, effort is required. Fortunately, as indicated in the first DOGTALE, “There is no failure in effort!” Thus, there is hope for us after all; just like daddy always told me there would be, when he looked at me and said, “If you plow, you get paid.”  

DOGTALE 80 - Sacred Cows function best if fed - or slaughtered. 

One day I heard some of the students discussing the idea of Sacred Cows, that is, of false belief structures. Afterwards, when they asked me for my opinion, I responded, “Sacred Cows function best if fed - or slaughtered.”  That is, if you give them food, they will give you comfort. However, if you kill them, you will also have comfort, as you will no longer be ruled by the false belief. 

DOGTALE 81 - Un-attempted potential is the Universe’s only flaw. 

Everything in the Universe is involved in the process of fulfilling its potential, except man.  All plants and animals are exactly what they are and are doing exactly what they should be doing. They have no choice but to do so. That is, they are all ‘law conformable’.  Man, on the other hand, is not ‘law-conformable’!  If we go back to the Bible story of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we will discover that, there and then, man was given a choice. Man got to choose. Does he follow the dictates of egoism... or the promptings of Conscience. Does he follow his lower nature, which only leads to entropy, or does he attempt to fulfill his higher nature - his true potential, which is limitless!

So, if there is a flaw in the Universe, it is the fact that man’s development is no longer ‘law-conformable’; but, is rather, based on choice.

DOGTALE 82 - Always speak the truth… then you’ll never have to worry.

A conscience driven admonishment; especially in regards to man’s spiritual development. I am amazed that many men tell lies about their experience; especially when they seek to know the truth of themselves.   

DOGTALE 83 - What a man sees when he looks at the world around him says more about the man than it does about the world… 

When a sleeping man describes the world, he will most likely fashion it into a world that reflects his own personal, subjective opinions, observations, considerations, and value judgements, etc., that is, his likes and dislikes. In other words: he will see the world subjectively, according to his own projections, which will be more a description of him than they will be about the world. Whereas, when a conscious man sees the world, he sees it objectively, that is, as it actually is; and, thus, will be able to describe it using the Laws of World Creation and World Maintenance.

DOGTALE 84 - Objective concepts often get lost in the minutiae of definition. 

Objective concepts, which are concepts based on reality, are usually based on rules and laws. But even objective concepts will lose their potency if they are cluttered with countless subjective definitions.

DOGTALE 85 - To be or not to be may be the question, but to be AND not to be is the answer. 

Referencing Shakespeare's question, in the frame of a choice instead of an inclusion, will lead one to an unsatisfactory answer. 

That being said, if Hamlet had had access to the Double or Nothing exercise, and saw the question as an inclusion instead of a choice, he might have been able to escape his dilemma; and, by doing so, would have realized his true nature!  But, then, Hamlet wouldn’t have been a tragedy! 

Thank you for listening.

If you would like to know more about the subjects and exercises we have been exploring, including the book and guide that underpins it all, which is also available for PDF download, you can do so, by going to thedogteachings.com.

That’s T H E D O G teachings DOT COM.

There, you will be able to obtain Mr. Smith’s other diagrams, listen to other talks, as well as learn all the mathematics that supports them, and much much more.

But, most importantly, you will have real time access to the material we are discussing.

That’s thedogteachings.com

Goodbye until next time.

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