When [the Russian mystic] Gurdjieff’s father was dying he called his boy. He was just nine, and Gurdjieff remembered the incident all his life. The father called him. He was the youngest child and the father said, ‘I am so poor, I cannot give you anything, my boy. But one thing which my father gave to me I can give you. You may not even be able to understand what it means now, because I myself was not able to understand what it meant when my father gave it to me. But it proved the most precious thing in my life, so I am just giving it to you. Preserve it! Sometime you may begin to understand it.’
So Gurdjieff just listened. The father said, ‘Whenever you feel angry, never reply before twenty-four hours. Reply, but let there be a gap of twenty-four hours.’
Gurdjieff followed his dying father’s advice. It became deeply impressed in his mind the very day his father died, and Gurdjieff said, 'I have practised many, many, many spiritual exercises, but that was the best. I never could be angry in my life, and that changed the whole flow, the whole current, because I had to stick to the promise.'
‘Whenever someone would insult me, I would create something, some situation. I would just tell him that I would come back after twenty-four hours to reply, and I have never replied because it proved such nonsense to reply.’ Only a gap was needed.
And the whole life of George Gurdjieff became something different.