I was reared a Southern Baptist, up until 18 years of age. At 20, I was introduced to the Gurdjieff literature.
Head, meet wrecking ball.
For the next five years, I read those books over and over. One can't become absorbed in something to that extent without stark changes taking place. The world is turned inside-out. Years later, you might fumble around, trying to turn it outside-back-in, but the fabric has been permanently wrinkled, so to speak.
Ouspensky: In Search of the Miraculous, Tertium Organum, A New Model of the Universe, The Fourth Way.
Rene Daumal: Mount Analogue, A Night of Serious Drinking.
A. R. Orage: On Love.
G. I. Gurdjieff: Meetings with Remarkable Men, Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson: All and Everything.
And by a natural extension, some books by Idries Shah, including: The Sufis.
Well...that's a bunch of unusual stuff. It can soak way down into your mind, and before long, the world begins to look topsy-turvy. I don't think I ever fully recovered from that period of reading and reflecting. Many others back then used those books as mere stepping stones to actual action...to finding some Gurdjieff group, wherein they could systematically work on their conscious evolution. Me? I'm too much of a dreamer. I just wanted to sink down into those strange books and swallow their dark nectar. I think I turned that literature into an exotic dream, whereas it was designed to wake someone up.
Gurdjieff's Beelzebub's Tales is the strangest book ever written. Reading it once through, and your brains will liquefy, oozing out your ears. Reading it twice will cause part of you to become permanently stuck inside another dimension. For goodness sakes!...whatever you do, never read that book.
But all that reading and thinking prompted me to no firm action. Can I be blamed very much? For not wanting to be fully conscious and awake? And a nagging thought followed me around even back then: so what? Ultimately, what does it gain someone to be a Fully Realized Being? If we're all eventually destined for the Big Sleep?
No, I'd rather spend my days just walking funny: a semi-wakeful foot followed by the one tinging and numb with sleep. Just limping through life, half awake, half sighing. Off-balance...yeah!...that's the ticket.
My life shall be lived equivocally...so stop looking at me that way, Mr. Gurdjieff!