"How do you put up with so many people about you who seem so shallow?"
This was Paul Beekman Taylor's question to Gurdjieff in their only private conversation.
It was late August 1948 and Taylor had come from New York to be with Gurdjieff in Paris at what would be the last summer of Gurdjieff's life. Since June, Taylor had eaten at Gurdjieff's table, taken trips with him and the Bennetts, Pentlands, Margaret Anderson and others. Now he was returning to America and his only question was concerned with the shallowness of others.
Gurdjieff - who Taylor says was always "extraordinarily patient and generous to me" - took some time with his question, telling him that people listen to everything except themselves. "I only teach them," he said, "remember what they forget." The subtlety of the answer - that Taylor was not listening to himself - understandably, escaped Taylor then; he was only eighteen at the time.
Gurdjieff then told him a story about someone who wanted to be a pupil and the teacher told him to "'Go away now and observe self. Come back after you try. If you remember self, I take you as pupil.' The person leaves, works hard and when he returns the teacher asks, 'Do you understand now what means to observe self, to remember self?' 'Yes,' say person. 'Wrong answer,' say teacher, and man go away. You see what story say? You like that person. You talk like Toomer talk, but what talk? You must not say thing unnecessary. That wiseacre talk."
Taylor, deaf to Gurdjieff, and completely identified with his reaction, came away feeling, "I had been tricked somehow. In my confusion, I had refrained from saying a word in reply. I never heard his voice again. He had had the last word."
(quoted from an article on www.gurdjieff-legacy.org)