It seemed that reading The Tales through once was a minor achievement. When I later met other people who pursued The Work, I realized it was more common to start The Tales and then give up at some point. Nevertheless, I eventually realized that doggedly reading the book has little merit.
I absorbed very little in this first reading of The Tales. Gurdjieff said ” Some parts of the book are relatively easy to read literally, and thus relatively easy to understand literally. Yet, there are many ideas which taken literally seem completely absurd: the sun neither lights nor heats, apes were produced by women mating with animals, the life of man is shortening, and so on.
It is hard for the first time reader to understand why Gurdjieff included such baffling section in his “Magnum Opus” and there are few people to approach for assistance even in well established Gurdjieff groups with many members.
Insofar as learning more about The Work, there were, even at that time, many books to read, very few of which are at all difficult to get through. So I cast that The Tales aside. It was years before I picked up the book again.
It was not until much later, when I joined a group led by Rina Hands, who had known Gurdjieff and who regarded The Tales as very important, that my interest in the book revived. I asked her once:
“Does he really want us to read the whole book out loud to ourselves?”
She replied: “Well of course he does. That’s what he says, isn’t it?