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Gurdjieff, George Ivanovitch
A Tribute to G. I. Gurdjieff
Writings on Mullah Nassr Eddin
Contact with God
Struggle
Work and Life
Symbolism
The Meaning of Life
Meetings 1941 - 1944
Symbolism
Eight Meetings in Paris 1943, 1944, 1946

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Gurdjieff, George Ivanovitch
Gurdjieff brought to the West a psychology and cosmology of the development of man. He started 'helping people to develop' around 1912 in Russia and continued until his death in 1949 in France.
 

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Meetings 1941 - 1944


December 7, 1941


Question: Something intolerable happens in my work. In spite of my efforts I cannot remember myself; to get a better quality. It's useless to set myself hours of work by the clock. I get no results. Why?

Answer: That comes from your egoism. Particularly big egoism in which you have lived till now. You are enclosed in it; you must get out of it. To get out, you must learn to work. Not only for yourself alone, but for others. You began with work on your parents. You must change your task. Take a new one, the same one on the neighbor, no matter who, all beings, or choose from the people amongst you. You must work for yourself through the aim of being able to help them. This alone will struggle against egoism. I see that you both have a very bad past, a particular egoism. All the old material comes to the fore. That is why you can do nothing. It is normal; according to order, according to law. Before attaining the aim, there are many ascents and descents. This should reassure you. I could reassure you completely, but you must work yourself.
Q: To get out of this state of suffering, so vivid and so negative.(Two kinds of suffering, one objective, one subjective.) Can I make use of exterior means, take opium, for instance?

A: No, you must work on yourself. Destroy the egoism in which you have always lived. Try what I say. Change your task. It is necessary now to reach a new stage. Both of you are on the way to the Gare de Lyon, but you go different routes, one by London and one by the Opera. You are both at about the same distance.
Q: I see my powerlessness and my cowardice. I can say nothing and do nothing for another. Because my head is not clear. I have a sensation of whether a thing is right or not, but I cannot explain why clearly.
A: You cannot say anything or do anything for another. You do not know what you need for yourself, you cannot know what he needs. Work with purpose for him. But play your role. Be apart internally: See. Eternally speak as he does, so as not to hurt him. You must acquire the force to do this. Play a role. Become double. For the present you work as overseer. Do what I tell you, you cannot do more. Love of your neighbor; that is the WAY. Bring to everyone that which you felt for your parents.
Q: From the beginning of the work, one has this desire.
A: Certainly, it is the same thing; always the same thing that returns in a different degree. Now another degree. You must overcome this crisis. Everything comes from false love of oneself, of the opinion one one has of oneself, which is lies.
Q: Everything has been turned upside down in me by the exercise - in all my work. It has taken away the joy of the work, has made it painful, without hope, I feel like a donkey pulling a very heavy cart up a hill.
A: It is because in you are other parts which are touched. It is like a painter who always mixes the same colours and there is never any red. When he puts red in, it changes everything. You must continue.

Q: This exercise has made me feel something which is new for me; when I try to do it and put my attention on this small motionless point and see that I cannot hold myself in front of it, I have a sensation of my nothingness and I seem to understand humility better. This small point is greater then I.
G: Because you have a dog in yourself which hinders you in everything. It is called insolence toward oneself. You must destroy this dog. Afterward you will feel master of this point, that you are stronger and it is nothing. I have no confidence in the artistic type which lives in the imagination, has ideas behind its head, not inside, thinks it feels and experiences, but in reality only is occupied with exterior things. It lives only on the surface, outside, not inside, not in itself. Artists know nothing of reality and imagine that they know. Do not trust yourself. Enter into yourself, all parts of yourself. Absolutely necessary to learn to feel and think at the same time in everything that you do, in every day life. You are an empty person.
Q: How should one pray?
G: I will explain, but it is for later. In our solar system certain substance emanate from the sun and the planets, in the same way as those emanated by the earth, making contact at certain points in the solar system. And those points can reflect themselves in materialized images which are the inverted images of the All Highest - the Absolute. I tell you that there always exists a materialized image in our atmosphere. If people could have enough concentration to enter into contact with this image, they would receive this substance; thereby receiving, no establishing a telephatic line like the telephone.
Q: Do those images materialize in human form? G: Yes.
Q: If someone puts himself in touch with this image, and a second person can put himself in touch with him, and a third and a fourth, can they all receive this image?
G: If seven persons can concentrate enough to put themselves in touch with this image, they can communicate, at any distance, by the line between them and the seven form one. They can help each other. By the way, it is only by explaining something to others that one understands and assimilates oneself completely.

Q: I want to know if by materializing the image of a saint, this will get me what I particularly desire.
G: You think like an ordinary person. You have not the means of materializing anything now. For the present take a task of auto-suggestion, so that one part convinces the other and repeats and repeats to it what you have decided. There is a series of seven exercises for the successive development of the seven centres. We cite the first, the brain, the one which counts in ordinary life. (The head is a luxury.) The other, the emotional also; but the only one which is necessary is the spinal cord, the one which you must first develop and strengthen. This exercise will strengthen it. Hold out both arms horizontally at an exact angle, at the same time looking fixed at a point before you. Divide your attention exactly between point and arms. You will find that there are no associations, no place for them, so occupied you will be with point and position of arms. Do this sitting down, standing, then on knees. Twenty-five minutes each position, several times a day - or fewer. Once I had pupil could stay for 2 hours without moving arms one centimeter. For other things he was nothingness.
Q: When I wish to make such efforts for work, a hard barrier forms in my chest, impossible to overcome. What should I do?
G: It is nothing, You are not in habit of using this center - it is a muscle which contracts - just muscular. Continue, continue.
Q: I have done this exercise till I had aching shoulders. While doing it, I had sensation of "I", I felt myself apart, really "I".
G: You cannot have "I". "I" is very expensive thing. You are cheap. Do not philosophize, it does not interest me, and do not speak of "I". Do the exercise as service, as an obligation, not for results (like "I".) Results will come later. Today it is only service. Only that is real.
Q: I feel more within myself, but as if I were before a closed door.
G: It is not one door but many doors. You must open each door, learn to.
Q: I have worked especially on self-love.
G: Without self-love a man can do nothing. There are two qualities
of self-love. One is a dirty thing. The other, an impulse, love of the real "I". Without this, it is impossible to move. An ancient Hindu saying - "Happy is he who loves himself, for he can love me." I see from Mme. S's report that no one has understood me. One needs fire. Without fire, there will never be anything. This fire is suffering, voluntary suffering, without which it is impossible to create anything. One must prepare, must know what will make one suffer and when it is there, make use of it. Only you can prepare, only you know what makes you suffer, makes the fire which cooks, cements, crystallizes, DOES. Suffer by your defects, in your pride, in your egoism. Remind yourself of the aim. Without prepared suffering there is nothing, for by as much as one is conscious, there is no more suffering. No further process, nothing. That is why with your conscience you must prepare what is necessary. You owe to nature. The food you eat which nourishes your life. You must pay for these cosmic substances. You have a debt, an obligation, to repay by conscious work. Do not eat like an animal but render to nature for what she has given you, nature, your mother. Work - a drop, a drop, a drop - accumulated during days, months, years, centuries, perhaps will give results.
Q: I've arrived at the point where I am very unhappy, everything is distasteful to me, of no interest.
G: And that handkerchief arranged like that in your pocket? That interests you. Well, nature wishes you well, I am glad. She brings you to real work by making all the rest distasteful - it's a certain crossing you must make. The more you work, the more you will come out of this discomfort, this emptiness, this lack.
Q: Even work is distasteful to me.
Mme. de Salzmann: Because you do not work. There is never any work with you, nothing ever between us when we are together - it is empty. One person cannot carry everything alone. You must make the effort for yourself. Tonight it is the same. Nobody is there - nobody makes the effort.
G: Then one must change the way of working. Instead of accumulating during one hour, one must try to keep constantly the organic sensation of the body. Sense one's body again, continually without interrupting one's ordinary occupations - to keep a little energy, to take the habit. I thought the exercises would allow you to keep the energy a long time, but I see it is not so. Wet a handkerchief, wring it out, put it on your skin. The contact will remind you. When it is dry, begin again. THE KEY TO EVERYTHING - remain apart. Our aim is to have constantly a sensation of oneself, of one's individuality. This sensation cannot be expressed intellectually, because it is organic. It is something which makes you independent, when you are with other people.

Thursday, July 1, 1943


S: I am very often deceived in my opinion of others. That is bad for me. I give people credit for qualities they do not possess; and as for the people who do possess them, I see it only later when I know them better. I don't know how to detect hypocrisy and I'm always seeing it too late. I would like to have a means of judging people and recognizing who can be useful to me and who is useless.

Gurdjieff: You cannot, you must first prepare yourself to see reality. While waiting, play a role exteriorly. Interiorly, recognize your nonentityness. You don't know anything. If you have the habit of doing things in a certain way, do them in this way. Say "Good morning" as you always say goodmorning. But at the same time work to keep up with the work we're doing here and then you'll be able to recognize people. At present, everyone is like you. Get to work at not being a nonentity. Do everything exactly as you are accustomed to doing. But you must play a role, without participating, without identifying yourself interiorly; and remember what your value is - nothing. Work, work and again work, in order to change that nothingness into something definite.

Education makes a mask. When you see people, you believe in this mask. After a while the mask falls and you see that they are the same merde as yourself. No matter whom you see, he represents a mask. If you look at him longer, with impartiality and attention, you see that he is not always able to keep his mask; at the same moment, the merde will show through, it is the same which is in you. He is nothing, as you are nothing, even if he is a colonel, senator or millionaire. It's only the combinations of life that are there. His grandfather was like that, his father was like this, and he profits from it. But he himself represents only nothingness.

Only he is not a nothing who has understood his nothingness and has worked on himself to change it. That man is another quality of merde: with "roses". It is still merde but it has not the same odour.

Work, put everything toward it, and be sure that all who do not work are nothing like you. You are nothing, but he also is nothing. He is a general, a colonel, these are exterior things: they cost nothing.

In life, everything is accidental - occupations, position, all obligations; whether one is the mayor or the corner policeman. It is life which creates these abnormalities. Interiorly, everything is always the same thing. Exterior things do not change the interior things. Only conscious work is able to change the interior - conscious labor and voluntary suffering.

Sim: I have noticed for a long time that very often, and concerning very different matters, an interior voice told me what I had to do. I perceived it, I heard what it said, but without acting on what it told me. I have acted otherwise and afterward I see the voice is always right. I would like to know if I should pay no attention to it or on the contrary follow it more?

Gurdjieff: Do nothing about all that. Buy a little notebook, make a record. Write down, but do nothing. That voice is your instinct; sometimes instinct can appear through the consciousness, but it is rare. Perhaps it will prove that you have true instinct. See if your records will show that. Now perhaps we will find an exercise. But do nothing before.

Sim: But to write it, I will have to do it actually. (realizer).

Gurdjieff: Make a note, I will speak afterward. Perhaps it's suggestibility, fantasy, idiocy. According to the result, I shall say what it is mathematically. Sometimes instinct is a very independent thing. But as for you, I don't know. I will speak afterward. Before that, continue as you are doing, before you noticed anything.

Sim: It would have been better lately if I had done what it told me.

Gurdjieff: We shall see. You think that, but perhaps it's the contrary. Perhaps it's psychopathic. I do not wish to believe anything except the facts given by the records. (Statistique). You speak subjectively. The objective I do not know.

Lu: I try to maintain the feeling of nonentityness and voluntary suffering as often as possible. But I notice it gives a paralysis as far as action is concerned. It shows the futility of all action and busyness. If, before, I had to make effort to do a given thing, today I must also carry the iron collar of this nonentityness. The effort is doubled. What shall I do so that this feeling of nullity does not paralyze me, does not interfere with exterior life?

Gurdjieff: Do as I have already told you. One must work only the third part of one's waking state. Make a special time for the work. Don't mix things; fix a time: tomorrow between 10 and 11 o'clock, ordinary life. The other ideas, the work, send them to the devil.

Lu: One is no longer free to drive away the feeling of one's nothingness.

Gurdjieff: Put aside your new state. And do as you did before, when you hadn't begun to work. One must never mix matters. Do not yet use the results of the interior work for exterior work. Not yet. You are at school, like a child. It isn't for life, not for earning money. You would know a great secret which you should not use. That is one thing, life is another thing. Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, you do what you like, send to the devil all other thoughts; if you mix them, one will impede the other.

Lu: The feeling of nullity, uncalled, which comes by itself, is indeed automatic and therefore destructive.

Gurdjieff: In the time set aside for the work, make a comment more lively. The rest of the time, to the devil. It is psychopathy.

Gurdjieff to An (or Au?): I have never heard the sound of your voice. I know your voice in life, but not here in our circle. Can you say anything to me?

An: I haven't worked enough yet to ask a question.

Gurdjieff: How do you know that?

An: Because I do not dare.

Gurdjieff: Then you do have a question.

An: Not today.

Gurdjieff: Well, then, yesterday.

(Mme. de Salzmann tells Gurdjieff what questions An. has asked her)

Gurdjieff: He who works becomes an actor, a real actor in life. To be an actor is to play a role. Life is a theatre where every man plays a role. Every day they change it. Today one role, tomorrow another role. He only is a good actor who is able to remember himself and consciously play his role, no matter what it may be.

An: But how does one know the role one must play?

Gurdjieff: You speak with Boussik - you know who she is, how one must be with her, what she likes. Well then do it. Interiorly she is nothing for me, she is merde for me. She likes people to kiss her hand; I do it because she likes that. I am kind to her. Interiorly I want to insult her, but I don't do it. I play my role. So then she becomes my slave. Interiorly I don't react.

An: I don't succeed in being good to others.

Gurdjieff: Perhaps you are not yet free.

An: I wish to profit from everything egotistically for myself.

Gurdjieff: You must work. Kill the dogs in you. You only play your role theoretically, but very quickly you forget and you return to your nothingness. Your task will be to remember longer.

Dr. Ab: What good is it to have slaves?

Gurdjieff: For life, if you haven't any slaves, you are the slave of someone.

Dr.Ab: Cannot everyone simply be equal?

Gurdjieff: Never. How is it possible? You have four eyes and I two. Already there is a difference. Your father loved your mother if he was lying to the left; my father loved my mother if he were lying on the right. The result: I am one, you another. For me one law, for you another. The well-being of man is that everyone be his slaves. You say that the work has changed you. Thanks to the work you are no longer a merde ; thanks to conscious labours and voluntary suffering. Objectively you deserve it.

Dr. Be: At present our dogs oblige us to use others for our ends.

Gurdjieff: There you have good ground for being-work. Today you are an ordinary man; in your work try to be a superior man. Afterward perhaps you will be a complete man, a real man. At the moment when you feel your dogs, struggle against them; this conflict is necessary for you, in order to become a real man; it's good soil for the work. And there are still more dogs in you that are invisible.

Dr. Be: But shouldn't one give up using egotistically one's power over others?

Gurdjieff: Today you do it unconsciously; try to do it consciously. Then it will be good, both for them and for you. There is no other justice.

Thursday, September 16, 1943


Gurdjieff: ( He looks at Mme. V. sitting opposite and says to Mme. F. ): Now after the holidays your sister looks more like you. At first sight, I saw that her expression had changed. I thought it was you who was sitting over there. ( To the others ): I was sure that it was Blonde who was over there, but it is her sister. ( To Mme. V. ): Usually you are always sitting at the side. Now you are just opposite. You are in a good position to benefit. Now, Mr. District Attorney, if no one is asking a question, you ask one which demands an answer easy to formulate, an answer good for everybody. Write it and read it afterwards. ( While J. is writing his question, Gurdjieff asks L. to take the seat of B. who is in the kitchen. B. comes back, sits behind Gurdjieff who asks K. to change places with him ). You understand, I do not know him yet. If he asks a question and he is not facing me, I do not see his face and I cannot make an answer that will be subjectively good for him. It is a rule that has not yet been formulated. Here it is: new people should sit here. For example, he hasn't yet drunk any alcohol. Alcohol opens, it shows many aspects of your interior; it is very important for knowing someone. It isn't my fault, alcohol costs too much, already 1800 francs the bottle. Have you written your question, Mr. Specialist?

Ja: Sir, you have enlightened me greatly on the way in which one must accomplish one's task. To a certain degree, I'm succeeding. But in the course of the day, one's activities are sometimes very absorbing. One doesn't see the person whom one has chosen for one's task and afterward one sees that the day has been empty. How can one keep, in the absence of that person, the fire necessary for one's task? How can one put something in its place?

Gurdjieff: In general, it is a very important thing. You have chosen a task toward someone. But you are not always with that person. There must be pauses. It is impossible to work all the time, on an object; you haven't enough energy. For this reason, one half of your time should go to your task and half for the preparation of the task. It's a very good combination. You must use the time when you are not seeing the person to prepare yourself. How to prepare? You can only do one thing - you can consciously increase your wish for contact with that person. You can increase it by saying to yourself: "I am". You breathe consciously. You say, "I am". When you say "I", you breathe in the air consciously with all the active elements of the air. When you say "am", you accumulate some energy in your battery and you think of using this energy. You represent to yourself the person with whom you are working and you think when you see that person you will be more concentrated, you will have more contact with him. So that what you would have done in seven times, you will do in one. And now, doctor, explain to him in good French what I have just said.

Ab: The task is composed of two parts; in the first, you accomplish the task with the person whom you have chosen, and in the other you prepare yourself to have more direct relations with him.

Gurdjieff: No, doctor. Don't explain like that. That is not a part. There are no parts. He is absent. All his time is free. If you say "a part", it is as if you were saying, for example, one part you think, one part you do. Don't use this word. How did he ask his question? He said sometimes he was far away and he asked how he should employ his time. All his time for that; not a part.

( Dialogue in Russian )

Mme. de Salzmann: Mr. Gurdjieff says, why did he hook unto that?

( Silence ).

Ja: I have noticed - it is a verification - that, besides the fact that I am working better, in reality there are a thousand reasons that I have never seen and that appear to me now, reasons for interest in that boy. First, it facilitates my exterior work and that gives me a better relation with him; and then I do not identify with him, I do not get nervous with him.

Gurdjieff: By the way, have you noticed anything (special) since the last time I gave you a task? Has this interim been very productive?

Ja: Certainly yes.

Gurdjieff: But not theoretically - seriously, compact?

Ja: Yes

Gurdjieff: If I say that if you work always like that, you will do in one year what you would have perhaps done in fifteen, do you believe me?

Ja: I can even say that I have seen it like a new door.

Gurdjieff: Brother, listen to what he says. If he continues to work well, that could help you also to continue well. Now, take as a task, helping him; and understand well that you are helping him egoistically, that you are helping him for yourself, so that afterward he may help you. And for that, in order that you may remember this, I shall give you a very good means. I am going to repeat to you something that Blonde has recalled to me by association. Each day you and your brother see each other. Take as a task never to meet your brother without doing what I am going to tell you. You will say to him: "Remember yourself". And when you have said it, you will think interiorly, "I am thou, thou art I" with all your being. And you will continue this process for as long as you are able.

Al: As long as he is there?

Gurdjieff: Yes, and with these words, it is necessary that your emanations go out toward him also. Make a contact with your brother. He has the same blood as you; through the blood your brother will receive this contact. Your help can consist in that. Afterward, if he goes out on business or for something else, from the moment he comes in, do it again. Each time you see him again after he has been absent, even if it be only for five minutes, you will begin again. If outsider is present, you say it softly; but if he is alone, say it aloud. If someone is there, you can even make him a sign. You can press his foot, shake hands. You can have an understanding beforehand with him. You can even slap him... And at once you begin the task. And never forget it: that you are helping, not him, but yourself. If he can put himself solidly on his feet, he will help you afterward. He is the only (unique) person who can help you. Doctor, have you something to say?

Ab: Sir, the preparation you were talking about a while ago, must one try to do it all the rest of the time, when one is not with the person?

Gurdjieff: That depends on the individual, how busy one is in life, what business affairs one has. You have perhaps one hundred things (to do); divide them into 100 parts, divide your time. One part of the time you do that; another part, another thing. In principle, you should prepare yourself. But he has a task, you have another. You are a doctor, you have something to do, you have many pursuits; he is only the parasite of his father, he does nothing. You, you are not a parasite. ( To Ja ) If you formulate well what I have just said, there is in it a good philosophy which can serve for understanding many things. He who can grasp it will understand many things concerning education. Some other time I shall explain to you why you are, you, a parasite. Someone else, a half-parasite. Still another, a one-fourth parasite. The unique parasite, do you know who he is? Our God. In the world everyone is a parasite. The only person who is not: our esteemed Mullah Nasar Eddin. He is impartial.

Ba: Who is he?

Mme de Salzmann: A wise man of the East whom you do not know as yet, who is spoken of in the book. He always has an appropriate saying for everything.

Gurdjieff: He is a wise man, unique on earth.

Mme de Salzmann: He has a maxim for every circumstance in life. For example, he says that if the father has like to dance to the tune of the violin, the son will always end by beating the (big) drum.

Gurdjieff: ( to Zu ) Well, dear new person, you aren't yet seated in galoshes?

Zu: Yes, with a foot-stool.

Gurdjieff: I don't remember that he went in entirely. He is candidate for being put in galoshes. The galosh of an old Jew. Perhaps you had something to ask?

Zu: When one begins to work here (here and outside) the relations that one can have with different persons seem as before to be modified, halting. Must one keep the same expression as formerly (and one is embarrassed, for one feels oneself changed), or must one change one's face and engage oneself in a confusion and an improvement that one isn't capable of carrying out?

Gurdjieff: Well, you haven't understood the task I gave you. I told you to learn, to prepare yourself to play exteriorly a role and interiorly not to identify yourself. Interiorly, you do the work given here. Exteriorly, you change nothing, you should be as before. Before you were doing like that; now you do the same. Play a role without anyone noticing that something is going on in you. Change nothing. You remain as you were before, but you play a role. Well then, you will understand what it is to play a role. You will do the same thing you did six months ago. You change only interiorly.

Zu: You gave me that advice for one person, but it's like that in general?

Gurdjieff: For that person also it should be like that. Until you are interiorly changed, completely changed. Then at that moment, if the other notices that you have changed, he can only respect you. Otherwise, if he remembers it today that you have changed, he will take you for an idiot; he will believe that you have a new idée fixe. You will give him the impression of gaiety, sadness, or idiocy, or that you've fallen in love, or that you've lost at cards. People must not notice you have changed. Before them the same as before. Doctor, you have understood. He hasn't. The two things must be considered, interior and exterior.

Ab: The difficulty is that one doesn't know the person one was before. One was unconscious. One doesn't know what one was. Since one didn't see oneself. How can one imitate one's former self?

Gurdjieff: If you have an objective taste, you should know what you are. You can remember by looking backward.

Ab: But one's personality had something spontaneous which is inimitable. Perhaps in time we will manage to imitate it. But it is difficult. The imitation is wretched.

Gurdjieff: There is one thing that can help you. Each morning before going to work sit down for 15 minutes in your bidet. ( To Denise, who is laughing ): And you, sister of charity, you understand well medical matters. Your doctor must consult you often. ( To Jacques ): Did you write it down? Also what I said about the bidet? Bravo! One word contains many explanations for him who is intelligent. One word can explain more than a thousand words. One single picture. ( To Mme. Vie ): By the way, I have just noticed something. A half hour has passed; I remember that a little while ago you had the same colour as your sister. Since half an hour you have grown pale. Blond, you have remained the same as before. Your sister has paled. It is very possible that on her right or on her left is seated a vampire who is draining her. That can be found up to fifty-four centimeters to the right or left.

Ab: I don't believe that Louise is a vampire. I'm even sure she's not.

Gurdjieff: You must never be sure. That proves that you don't know what a vampire is. Vampirism is a science. It can be practiced unconsciously. Medical science does not know about it. For example, you are husband and wife. She is a thin as this, and you are like that. Three months later, he is thin like this, she is fat like that. Or the contrary. Or between brother and sister. Or two friends. Six months later everything has changed. Unconsciously. Vampirism exists consciously and unconsciously. Here where we are happens a certain vampirism. It is a very explainable law. We are all around the table. There is a chain connecting everyone. If I take the hand of my neighbor and we all hold hands, I can drain the doctor (Andree) until she dies of it. Perhaps it is she who, not looking like a vampire, is just that. I don't know. It would be necessary to examine the question dans l'ordre. I see the fact. If it happens that I notice something more, I make a note of it. If twice, I remark it. If three times, it is for me a fact. Then I study seriously and specially. The first time might be an accident; I perceive it, but it is once, I say nothing. I see it a second time. So I pay attention, I look for the reason, and if it happens a third time then I study it specially. ( To Jacques ): Your work is very difficult, our esteemed chief secretary. I put myself in your place. I pity you for the time being. But I am glad for you in the future. Your bank account is growing without your having to deposit any real money.

Ba: I should like to ask a question. I should like to know... I remember myself many times a day, but I believe that my remembering is not voluntary. It is only the result of an association which leads me to work. How can I make a remembering that results from my wishing and not from my associations?

Gurdjieff: There exists a very good way. Is your father or your mother alive?

Ba: Both of them.

Gurdjieff: Good, you can be happy. I will give you an exercise. Learn to do it. Later I shall explain to you the details. First of all, fix a contact with your father and your mother.

Ba: When I am with them?

Gurdjieff: With or without them. You do it interiorly. For example, "I am". When they are there, you look at them. When they are not there, you represent them to yourself. You say to yourself: for each one of them, "I am thou, thou art I". You are the result of your parents. You are the same blood. Remember that. Later I will explain to you. While waiting, do this. Accustom yourself interiorly to be very quiet and to see sincerely and with affection your father, your mother. Objectively, they are more than God. God himself said: as long as your father and mother live, I do not exist for you.

Ba: Why must one thus represent to oneself one's father and mother?

Gurdjieff: You owe your life to them. But that is another question; we shall see that later. It is a law. In the meantime, take it objectively. Your father and mother are more than God. If you pray to God, God himself can send you to the devil: "after their death you will come to me" ( chez moi ) It is an expression. I give you this exercise which consists of this contact in order to prepare you for another exercise. This will help you. It is difficult to remember yourself. You cannot do it theoretically, for it becomes automatic. Associations will not help you; in order to remember yourself, one must make an effort of will. You understand what I wish to say. Nothing can be born spontaneously. Your associations are not you, they are automatic. Afterward (when you have worked) your associations will always remain automatic, but your work will have a relation, not any more with your associations, but with you.

From Lecture (Q's and A's of French group) September 9, 1943


Q: I wish to ask about work and fatigue. It seems to me that there is a difference between efforts of work and automatic efforts. Exterior work takes our energy; the other work, on the contrary, should accumulate energy. But it is the opposite. One is very tired, one loses energy.

G: And in the meantime, you keep it. Consciously, you eat the electricity that you have in your body and you transform it. This constitutes your force. Not the same kind of fatigue. The fatigue from real work has a future; you are tired, that will give you a substantial results, re-charge your accumulator. And if you continue, you accumulate a substantial substance which fills your accumulator (battery). The more you tire yourself, the more your organism elaborates this substance.

Q: Is it that fatigue is favorable or not to efforts of concentration?

A: If it is ordinary fatigue, it is not worth while to make the effort. It depends on the other accumulator. You will not be able to do even ordinary things. You will lose your final forces. But for another sort of fatigue there is another law: the more you give, the more you will receive.

Q: I have noticed that in the morning when I am rested, I cannot work. In the evening, on the contrary, after all the fatigue of the day, I am more successful.

A: Because one part of you is tired and because you work without that part. You work with one or two centers. You must work with all three. If one center is tired, it does not take part in the work and you obtain no results. If you think you can work better at night, it is subjective; not worth anything; it is cheap.

Q: Can one sleep consciously - remain conscious during sleep.

A: It is possible, but not for you now. One can remember something so that it enters into you automatically. Auto-suggestion. One can suggest to oneself during sleep. Before being able to sleep consciously one must have a different quality of sleep. There are gradations. There are four kinds of sleep; one can sleep a sixth, a quarter, a half or completely. It depends on what your waking state has been. If you dream while you sleep, you only sleep half. You then need seven and a half hours' sleep. If you do not dream, four and a half hours are enough. It is the quality that is important. You sleep seven and a half hours. You take two hours to relax at night, two hours to contract again in the morning. That leaves you three and a half hours of sleep. You do not relax consciously but automatically, and that takes time. You can relax yourself consciously until you sleep while on the other hand you establish the necessary relation between your body and your consciousness. In the morning when you wake, do the same thing. Make a program immediately, reflecting, suggesting to yourself the way in which you are determined to spend the day. Do the same work which you have thought about. Your activity will double itself. Make a real program, not a fantasy. You must create the habit. You can do this only little by little. Nothing happens all at once. Change the quality of your sleep. Give yourself a good cold rubdown before you sleep. When you are going to sleep, pray for your near ones who are dead. These things are a good preparation for sleep. Otherwise, you will continue your dreams and fantasies of the evening.

Two of those present say they cannot sleep on Thursdays, the day of the meetings for questions and answers. G. addresses a third.

G: Does this happen to you, doctor?

A: No, as soon as I close my eyes, I fall asleep.

G: Well, everyone is not a cousin like you. You know what I call a cousin of man. (Cow).

Q: How can one acquire detachment?

A: One must have an ideal. Create an ideal for yourself. This will save you from automatic attachments. Think about this consciously and automatically this will grow and form a center of gravity.

Q: Is it not easier to detach oneself from material things than from feelings?

A: All have the same value. You attach yourself with one center or the other. You must look at this in this way, without philosophizing. You have neither an ideal or a serious aim. You are a mechanism. You must have contact with something, but you have contact with nothing. So that everything has contacts with you - you are a slave. You must accustom yourself to prepare yourself for work. One certain time of day must be consecrated to the work. You accept the idea that a certain time must be consecrated to the work. And if a task is given you, or if you make one for yourself, you will do it during the time you have already fixed for this. The place will be made. It is by DOING that man understands. You will see the result which this will bring to you. You say you work. It is a little better than titillation. In real work, the sweat runs from the brow, it even runs from the heels.

Q: When I meet people who are slightly interested in these questions, or worried by this subject, as soon as I pass on what little experience I have, all that I have learned here diminishes and afterward I feel smaller.

A: Here there is a rule; here our life is exceptional. What we say here, what we do, no one must know.

Q: But I say nothing of what we do.

A: But this rule also concerns the ideas. What interests you diminishes if you give it to another and you feel empty. Keep the new ideas for yourself. In life you can use the ideas as instruments. But without identifying. Everything comes out of you with your words.

Q: I think I am urged by my feeling of superiority and this is why I do it.

A: I will tell you something else. You have a weakness which he who works with me, must destroy. You believe. You must never believe. You must criticize everything, accept nothing which you cannot prove, like to and two make four. Believing does not count, it is worth nothing. You believe, you identify and you wish to pass on your belief with your emanations. You identify, you give all your energy. If you do not believe, if you remain quite impartial, in wishing to transmit something to someone, you do it as if you were rendering them a service. (To someone else) Have you experienced this?

Q: I have noticed that one loses what one has if one throws it to others.

Q: I have the impression that I cannot prevent myself from using the forces given to me by the work in order to be superior with the people whom I meet.

A: You are a small person. One aspect in you has grown. Six others must also grow. After this, you can imagine that you are not as others. You must not forget that the first thing to remember is your nothingness. You have a lot of imagination. If you have the knowledge of your nothingness, this idea of yourself will show you better that the others have surpassed you.

Q: When I am alone, or with substantial people, I see my nothingness. I forget it when I am with mediocre people.

A: I will give you a task. Work on this. Recognize your weakness and work. If you meet obstacles on the path, I will support you by correcting you.

Thursday, September 30, 1943


JA: ( begins to read the question he has written ): More and more, I feel how much my work is mental, how little it animates me. And I have understood that I truly cannot approach my work with real fire (élan).

Gurdjieff: Excuse me, but what you have just said is not logical. One destroys the other. I don't understand what you wish to say. Don't read, put your paper away.

JA: I lack an impulse for my work. I don't succeed in approaching my work in a satisfactory manner unless I feel a certain urge which can only come to me from a clear realization of my present situation and my present nothingness. I have understood that very clearly. And that made me understand that I ought to have remorse of conscience for this nothingness. But I can't go further than this statement. What can I do to have remorse of conscience?

Gurdjieff: That question carries with it seven aspects; not one, but seven. One I will tell: Every man when he comes into the world, comes there for certain reason. There are causes, that is to say, outside forces have created him. These forces perhaps were not obliged to give you life. Are you glad to be alive? Is life worth something in return. For example, I see your mother here. But for her, you would never have come into the world. It is to her that you owe your life. If you are glad to live, you must repay her. You are of age now, the time has come to settle your debts. One of the chief causes of your being alive is your mother. It is because of her that you have your pleasures and that you have possibilities of developing yourself. One of the reasons, one of the aspects of your coming into this world, is, then, your mother. And I ask you, have you begun to pay your debts to her?

JA: No.

Gurdjieff: There are still six other aspects. But I speak to you of one aspect. Begin, then, by this first aspect: your mother. Repay her. Even if she is objectively bad, she is your mother. And how can you pay her? You should unify her life. But instead of that, what do you do? You make her life more difficult. You unnerve her, you irritate her. Unconsciously, remorse of conscience could flow from that. Take the year that has just passed, remember; often you have been very bad. You are merde. You have not fulfilled your obligations. If you have understood this, remorse can begin in you. This is but one aspect. I can explain to you six others, but forget them. Before knowing them, begin by this one. For the past two years, how many times have you been bad, very bad, to her? It is very difficult thing. If you forget, if you do not do it, it is your fault and doubly your fault; first you are to blame for the past; and you are a second time to blame for not repairing it today. A good answer, is it not? Everyone here is glad. Except one person - do you know who? Your mother. Madame, it is for the benefit of your son that I say this. ( He speaks in Russian with Mme de Salzmann ).

Mme de Salzmann: ( to Mme. E ): You might think that if Mr. Gurdjieff speaks like this, it is because he is our kind host and because you are here. But it isn't for that.

Jac: I've thought about what you said to me the other day, that I must choose "all or nothing". I've decided to take a task and stick to it no matter what happens. This task was to put aside a certain time of the day to do an exercise, the exercise of the extended arms. And in trying to do this exercise, I've understood truly for the first time what it is to be a nonentity. Until now, I thought I had understood, but it was for exterior reasons only. I saw that I was incapable of doing anything whatever, because something in me refused to make an effort.

Gurdjieff: ( first speaks in Russian to Mme. de Salzmann ) Excuse me. Perhaps you believed I had forgotten you. I asked Mme. de Salzmann: "When everyone went away for the holidays, I gave to each one a bottle of medicine to take while working. Is it possible that I did not give it to you?" She tells me that I did not give it to you. Now I understand why you asked me that question. If you had had that bottle you wouldn't have thought that way about your nothingness. ( He speaks to all ). He felt in general a nothingness. But today he possesses nothing; he has accumulated nothing during his holidays. You on the contrary are little by little reaping the results of your work. Now you have a basis for measuring how that can be done. ( To Ab ) Do you understand now the force of chemistry?

Ab: I took about a third of it.

Gurdjieff: That is your business. You've had only a third of the force. That is not my fault; if you take all, you will have three times more force. It is for that that I said it. Perhaps you didn't give enough value to this medicine. Perhaps that will give you a remorse of conscience in the future in order to obtain another quality of attention. As to him ( Lac ) I can say I regret not having given him a bottle I gave to everyone for the holidays. Mme. de Salzmann says I did not give one to him. I understand the reason for his question. If he had had his bottle he would have done something else with his time during the holidays - he would not have asked that question. You understand, Tracol? I'm sorry he is not in the Saturday group. He isn't and it's for that reason he asked the question. If he has asked that idiotic question it's because he hadn't had his bottle of medicine. It is your fault, it's the fault of Madame the Presidente and the fault of all his friends. He's been here a long time; he's been your friend a long time; and for a long time he's been deprived. It's the fault of Mme de Salzmann, of the Presidente, of every person here. ( He offers cigarette to Mme Et. ). Mother, you deserve to have everything. You should have everything. Your sons should give you everything, and the friends of your sons. You have brought up your sons to a responsible age. They should give you what you care for. If you like cigarettes, you should have cigarettes. If you haven't any, it is the fault of your two results; they must be annihilated.

Lac: May I finish may question?

Gurdjieff: Finish.

Lac: I have noticed in doing this exercise that for the first time and for a very short moment, I had the feeling of being free, free of this inertia against which I always am struggling, and that has given me the exact taste of what could be liberty. ( Gurdjieff interrupts Mme de Salzmann who translates, but Gurdjieff stop her ).

Gurdjieff: I've already understood. It's the same reason. You have understood with your head, but your organism has not the possibility of being what your head wishes. Well then, the chemical matters I spoke of can give you that and accumulates results in you and give you the fire for revitalizing your functions. It's the same reason. Whose fault it is I do not know, but for the future you should take every measure, - ask, beg, supplicate Mme de Salzmann to help you. Mme President also has the possibility of getting you into the Saturday group. ( To Mme Er. ): You ought to see to it that your title has a meaning. In the beginning you thought it was a joke, but it's taken a serious term. Tracol, how is your pupil (Gerb)? You ought to help your pupil, enlighten him so that he may understand. He has a very sympathetic exterior. I know him exteriorly but not interiorly. For that, he must manifest with his tongue. You should help him so I may understand his interior. In the same way that the Prosecuting Attorney is governor for her (Mlle. Dol). You have noticed that when I know someone well, I am able to give good advice? Now, I cannot. I must know with what he is stuffed. As for her (Mlle Dol), I know with what spices she is stuffed. ( He jokes with Mlle Dol and Sunn about saving cigarettes, invites certain people for Sunday, gives bonbons and dismisses them ).

Thursday October 21, 1943


Gurdjieff: Mother, may I smoke? (To Ja ): Note this example - she is mother of the house; you remember what I said the last time, that no one may do anything without mother's permission. The mother is head (of the house).

( Gurdjieff jokes about Ja. says Ja. is jealous because his mother no longer belongs only to him but to everybody present, and when he loses her he will realize the value of what he possessed).

Gurdjieff: Eh! After what we have just read about the ceremony of Christ, I think it is difficult for anyone to ask a question. But even so, one must try, even though it be egoistical to as a question.

Hig: Sir, I'd like to ask a question. Having finished several weeks ago the tasks I had laid out for myself, I find myself since then in a happy balance without a hiatus and without a desire. I wish to go on working because I feel there is a universe above the one where I now am, but I can't make any progress since that time and I feel that alone I can do nothing.

Gurdjieff: It's a bad sign. You must look for a shock from outside. You are contended with little. Now during this period you should make effort. You should be having an interior struggle between your individuality and your functions. You must not calm yourself. The fact that you cannot work is a very good sign. You must force yourself. If you pass this crisis, this small crisis, you can begin again afterward.

Hig: I don't see exactly what path to follow and what aim to have in view.

Gurdjieff: A path isn't necessary. It is only necessary that you obtain results in yourself. Collect, accumulate the results of struggle. You will need them for continuing. You must accumulate; you have batteries in you in which you must accumulate this substance, like electricity. This can only be accumulated by struggle. Therefore create a struggle between your head and our animal. I already explained this the last time. Excuse me. It was Saturday that I told it. My memory is getting old. I never used to make mistakes and now I begin to. I advise you - now that I know you a thousand times better - not to stop. Continue your struggle, but without waiting for results. Accumulate the results of the process of struggle. When we struggle interiorly with thought, feeling and body, that gives a substance in the place where it belongs. We have no interest today in knowing where that place is. Accumulate. It is this that is lacking in you. You are young. You haven't experience. You are empty. Continue the struggle accidentally begun. So that if you say that you are satisfied, that proves you are on the right road. But you must not stop. You had as a plan to go to the Etoile. You are in the rue d'Armaille. The Etoile is still far: Boulevard Carnot, there are 20 lampposts, 20 stations. Now then, turn to the right. That is the right road. That is to say, continue your struggle. You are searching for the means? What you are doing has no importance. What is necessary is that you must have in you the process of struggle. What means shall you employ? That isn't important. Struggle. You know better than I what struggle. For example, whatever your body likes, whatever you have the habit of giving it, don't give it any more. The important thing is to have a continual process of struggle, because you need the substance that struggle will give you.

Jac: Mr. Gurdjieff, you gave me as a task, for the purpose of remembering myself, that of working with someone who is near to me. And I have noticed, and so has my wife, that this aim has changed our relation, but only to a certain point, and that there was an obstacle that neither she nor I could pass over. And you told her that you would say what to do to get past this obstacle.

Gurdjieff: First, for every parent, one must begin by bringing forward a question; you and your wife have children. Well, if you have children, they create for you special obligations. Living just for yourselves is finished. You should be obliged to sacrifice everything for your children in your ordinary life. At that time you and your wife ought to plan as an aim to live for your children; it is the aim of you and your wife. Nothing should interfere with your mutual relations. You should have this common aim between you. You should have an aim, a common aim, between you, and this common aim between you will give a contact for the work, because it is an objective aim and the work is also objective. Begin this. Discuss it with your wife. With her, plan as an aim to sacrifice everything to your children. Not for always, but for a special period of time. All for your children. Your aim will be a common one. And in your personal relations there will be a struggle, for if you both plan this aim with your minds, since your characters are different each one will have - because each will have chosen his aim - an interior struggle to sustain in himself. And he who will attain this aim will have passed his examination in order to have another objective way (moyen) that will come afterward. In the meantime speak quietly and frankly with your wife and plan this aim. If you do this for one or two weeks, you will then deserve to know the objective way.

Pom: May I ask a question?

Gurdjieff: If you please. This is the first time you have spoken, isn't it?

Pom: I should like to know what to do to prevent, outside of the work which lasts a certain length of time, my imagination from running away with me.

Gurdjieff: Well, for that I'm going to give you a very simply and very ordinary piece of advice. You too are on the right path. Now what I advice you is a very simple thing. To understand logically can give you absolutely nothing. You will understand afterward that only this advice is good which I'm about to give you. During all your free time, count: 1,2,3,4,5,6, up to 50. Afterward: 50,49,48,47,46, etc. until you are back where you started. All the time. And if you do it 7 times, 5 or 10 minutes, sit down, relax and say to yourself: "I am", "I wish to be", "I can be", "Not to use it to do evil, but good", "I will help my neighbour when I shall be. I am". After then, count again. But consciously, not automatically. You do that all your free time. The first time it will seem absurd to you. But when you have done it for two or three weeks, you will thank me with all your heart. Have you understood me?

Pom: Very well.

Gurdjieff: I give you nothing else. I know a thousand other things. But I give you this simple thing. ( To the others ) And that will save him. His entire life will change and until the hour of his death he will thank me, he will never forget me. Do that, and that is all.

Mme Et.: May I ask you for some advice? I was wanting to ask you: when I do my work of remembering myself, I am always hampered by the same idea: how can I do my work, how can I organize my day, so that everyone in the house is happy? And during the day, it's just the opposite. I am hampered by the ideas that have to do with the work. I think about what I've heard here and at Mme de Salzmann's, and that constantly impedes me.

Gurdjieff: That is the result of the demands of daily living. It happens to everyone. I've often said this. You must set aside a special time each day for the work. Not all the time, The Work is a very serious thing. You cannot work interiorly all day. You must make a special time and increase it little by little. To this work you give half hour of the 24 hours. During this half hour forget all the rest, put all the rest aside. It's a little thing. You sacrifice to this time all your occupations, all the work of your exterior functions. Sacrifice everything for your interior work and afterward you can put it aside for the things of ordinary life. You cannot do this work all day.

Mme Et.: I think so. That becomes mechanical: I am, I wish to be.

Gurdjieff: You mix, you must not. Don't mix this work with ordinary work. We have two kinds of waking state. For this work, you should have one active waking state. But a half hour of this waking state is enough for the rest of the day, which you live as you have the habit of doing. You can do this? And if you can't do a half hour, even ten minutes is rich for him who work ten minutes. You must give and sacrifice to this work a special time. You cannot give all your time. Life is one thing, the work another. The substantiality of each one is different: for this work you must be more active. I've said this many times. When you begin your work, your task, it is your work. You should, even before beginning relax yourself, prepare yourself, collecting yourself. Afterward, with all your being, you accomplish your task. It is a very complicated thing. You cannot do it for a long time. You are soon tired. It takes all your strength; if you do it five minutes too much, you are drained of all strength. It's for that reason that I say you must increase the time little by little, until you are used to it: five minutes, six minutes, ten minutes. Only this system will always give you a good beginning to prepare you for acquiring the state that is becoming to a real man. And if you work a long time, that proves that you do not work with all your being - you are working only with your mind. But as to that, you can do it for a thousand years without gaining anything; it is worth nothing. Work a short time, but work well. Here it isn't the quantity but the quality that counts. Life is one thing. Do not mix it with other things. Five minutes of good work is worth more than 24 hours of another kind. If you haven't much time, work 5 minutes. Let ordinary life continue automatically according to habit the rest of the time. What you say does not concern the work. Our life is one thing, the work another thing. Otherwise you will become a psychopath. You remember yourself with your mind - it is worthless; remember yourself with all your being. You can't do it for long, you drain yourself. Do it for 5 minutes, but forget everything else. Be an absolute egoist, forget everything, your God, your husband, your children, money - remember only the work. Short, but substantial. ( He speaks in Russian with Mme de Salzmann ).

Bar: May I ask a question? How can I distinguish between my mental center and my physical center?

Gurdjieff: Take a simple task. When you think, you think. Associations go on automatically; that is your mind. When you feel hot or cold, when you are nervous, angry, when you like, when you don't like - that is your feeling.

Bar: But in one's actions, how can one prevent the centers from encroaching on each other: thinking with my feeling, to have a mental feeling, and to mistake one for the other.

Gurdjieff: You wish to say that you can't think because you are feeling?

Bar: I mean that I have an emotional thought.

Gurdjieff: You have a weakness, a sickness; you must not think with your feeling; you must think with your head. To think with your feeling is a weakness, a sickness. The beginning comes from feeling and the center of thought is only a function. But the center of gravity must be the thought. And now you can know what is individuality. It is when your center of gravity is in your thought. So, if your center of gravity is not in your thought, you are not an individual, you are an automation. It's a simple explanation. Every man should try to accustom himself to being an individual, an independent person, something, not merde (excuse the word), not an animal, dog, cat. It is a very simple symptom. If you concentrate your being in your thought, you are an individual; there are many degrees among individuals, but that isn't important for the moment. You are an individual when you have your center of gravity in the thinking center. And if it is in another center, you are only an automation. It can be in your body and in your feeling, but when you work you should always have for aim to be in your thought. And this do consciously. If you do not, everything does itself unconsciously in you. Your work should be exclusively to concentrate yourself in your though. It's a simple explanation. Philip? To you also it should explain many things.

Philip: Theoretically I know it.

Gurdjieff: But for your understanding this should have given you something new, some interesting conclusions?

Zu: Sir, I asked you last Thursday, if there was a way to develop attention; you said that attention was measured in the degree that one remember oneself. You told me to especially look into myself. I especially asked you that because I wasn't able to put my attention on the reading of Beelzebub. During this week I understood that attention was what I was. As many "I's" as there were, so many different attentions. I wanted to ask you if there was, for developing attention, only the method of "I am" or if there are other special methods?

Gurdjieff: One thing I can tell you. Methods do not exist. I do not know any. But I can explain now everything simply. For example, in Beelzebub, I know, there is everything one must know. It is a very interesting book. Everything is there. All that exists, all that has existed, all that can exist. The beginning, the end, all the secrets of the creation of the world; all is there. But one must understand, and to understand depends on one's individuality. The more man has been instructed in a certain way, the more he can see. Subjectively, everyone is able to understand according to the level he occupies, for it is an objective book, and everyone should understand something in it. One person understands one part, another a thousand times more. Now, find a way to put your attention on understanding all of Beelzebub. This will be your task, and it is a good way to fix a real attention. If you can put real attention on Beelzebub, you can have a real attention in life. You didn't know this secret. In Beelzebub there is everything, I have said it, even how to make an omlette. Among other things, it is explained; and at the same time there isn't a work in Beelzebub about cooking. So, you put your attention on Beelzebub, another attention than that to which you are accustomed, and you will be able to have the same attention in life.

( A joke with Pom. about tobacco and how to dry it, and than about rice powder and gunpowder; and about the French language which is rich only in the insults between taxi drivers. ).

Mme de Salzmann: Really now, has no one anything more to say?

Jac: Mr. Gurdjieff, a little while ago I was very interested by Pom's question and by your answer. In my life which is customarily very bustling and very trivial, I observe how little room there is for the work. All too often I feel myself lost. Which is normal. But what is less normal is that I am attached to, belong to, this bustle, to this triviality which exactly fits me, the ordinary me, the individual who is the strongest in me. And I ask you if I should not apply to my own case the advice which you gave to Pom, because I believe that it contains something clear and simple which will pull me out of the squired cage in which I am always turning.

Gurdjieff: That would not do for you at all. It is difficult to count like that: 1,2,3, up to 50. I am going to give you something yet more simple. You have a family. A father? A mother? A brother?

Jac: And a sister.

Gurdjieff: A sister also: five persons. Beginning tomorrow morning, you take as a task: every ten minutes, a little less or a little more, about 10 minutes - it's the same to me if it's 8 or 12 - remember your father, 10 minutes later your mother, etc. You remember them and you represent them to yourself. And when you have finished with the four, then minutes afterward "I am", "I wish to be", with the sensing of all your presence; and ten minutes afterward you begin again - your father, your mother, etc. And like that that you pass all your time. It's more simple like that. You understand? By the way, you must have an idée fixe. When you think of your mother each fifth time, think that she's here with silver things in her ears, cheap things; and you give your word to yourself that when you are grown up and are earning money, you will take as a task to earn her gold ones. ( To Mme Et. ): Ten percent for me. ( To Jac ): You have understood me?

Bar: Mr. Gurdjieff, when one is seized with a feeling of profound sadness from which one cannot manage to emerge, with what mechanical means can get away form it?

Gurdjieff: If one doesn't know the cause of it?

Bar: No, one doesn't.

Gurdjieff: There is no such sadness; it is idiocy. Go to see a specialist. I can recommend a neuropathologist. I know him very well, he gives me 10 percent.

Bar: Sometimes I notice it after luncheon.

Gurdjieff: Oh, oh: that's a symptom; you eat more than you should. Eat less. Don't eat the last piece, that's all. Do you understand that? You know what it is, the last piece. You understand? Then bravo. Test this and next time we will speak. It's possible the cause of it is there. If it isn't we'll find another way. ( Jokes with Dr. Ab. about medicine ).

Hig: Sir, I'd like to ask another question. I don't understand what conscious love can be. I don't understand why the lucidity with which one examine one's passion and discloses its causes does not at once kill it.

Gurdjieff: Well then, say that love only interests the functions. It is only physical polarity that is working. When you have thought that, love will become repugnant to you. The love that everybody has, you have. But conscious love, that is real love. You have only love based on sex; it is a sickness, a weakness. You cannot have love. That which perhaps your grandfather had. Today, for everyone, love is based on sex and sex on polarity. So if a person has a nose like this you love her; if she hasn't a nose like that, you don't love her. Real love is objective; but in Paris objective love doesn't exist. You have made the word sentiment for sex, for dirty things; you have forgotten real love.

Hig: But must one seek to repress it for the sake of the other?

Gurdjieff: Regard it as a weakness and put it aside. And at the same time, use it for looking at yourself. Profit from everything. And from instinct you will perhaps be able to feel real love. The taste will perhaps come to you. Once that you have pity for a person whose nose you don't like, or for another who seems ill, for a child without a mother, for a person who is hungry, for a man without a wife - then, for each person, you will be able to enter his situation. Have contact with your different impulses; and if you remain impartial, you will see that everything you have in you until now is merde, and at the same time you will be able to try to have the taste of another quality of love. And if the taste of it comes to you, I can explain the details to you.

Ab: Sir, in order to experience this conscious love, can polarity be a help or a hindrance?

Gurdjieff: A hindrance, naturally. But you can't do anything about it. You are a slave of this law. Wish or not wish. Your body makes you love or not love. Consciously, you can be no longer the slave of your polarity. But first you must have the taste. All I can say in the meantime is that love exists, objective love. But you must have the taste of it, afterward we will speak about it. All that we can say beforehand would remain theoretical. About this, Beelzebub explains many things. Concerning the commandments of Ashiata Shiemash there is this:

Love of consciousness evokes the same in response.
Love of feeling evokes the opposite.
Love of body depends on type and polarity.

And there is also this about hope:

Hope of consciousness is strength.
Hope of feeling is slavery.
Hope of the body is disease.

And about faith:

Faith of consciousness is freedom.
Faith of feeling is weakness.
Faith of the body is stupidity.

And now, district attorney, try first to earn a lot; and you, mother, come to see me. I know a place where there are golden things. I have a friend at the pawnshop.

Thursday, May 10, 1943


Mme Dub: I can't come on Saturdays, as you permitted, because of my job. I have found an impulse for working in the day time, but I find myself in trouble with the exercise of remembering myself, in the same difficulties as at the beginning. I fall asleep when I do the relaxing exercise.

( Gurdjieff tells Mme de Salzmann to go on with the reading )

Mlle Tal: The teaching has caused to be born in me a kind of witness who observes me mercilessly and that impedes me greatly. I have to struggle against this witness. I cannot do self-remembering any more. I can't relax any more. I am in a state of absolute revolt.

Gurdjieff: Along with this witness, perhaps something else has closed up in you?

Mlle Tal: Yes. There's a struggle between two things. The witness makes me see to such a point what I am that I am disgusted. But I haven't any strength.

Gurdjieff: Is the wish to change at any price crystallized in you?

Mlle Tal: Yes. But not strongly enough. Before, I could. Now I can't.

Gurdjieff: You must work hard. Harder. In order to see what a nonentity you are. You feel that there exists a possibility of changing. You perhaps have the taste. To change is only possible thanks to hard interior labour. If you don't wish for it, you are wasting time. You must not go on.

Mlle Tal: But that's precisely what I wish to do.

Gurdjieff: Then work. Struggle, struggle.

Mlle Tal: My work is theoretical at this time.

Gurdjieff: Then, struggle. You have understood that you are two persons. The result of your struggle will be a substance which will crystallize different factors in you for a real function of associations. ( Russian )

Mme de Salzmann: Conscious associations.

Gurdjieff: You have mechanical factors. You are a machine. Now you can crystallize factors for conscious associations. ( Russian )

Mme de Salzmann: Consciousness is a property of man without quotation marks.

Mlle Dol: You have advised me, in order to do the remembering exercise better, to hold out my arms and to watch against relaxing, principally in the nape of the neck. In my nape there are many "crackings" ( Gurdjieff is astonished at the word "crackings" and says to Mlle Dol. that she is using "slang expressions" ). And each time I go down into a layer of associations, deeper than before. Now I always come to the same layer which I don't manage to break.

Gurdjieff: Why break?

Mlle Dol: I wish to go deeper.

Gurdjieff: This isn't our aim. Associations cannot change. They only stop at our death. When your attention is consciously busy with something, it doesn't see them. This is a good example. Your associations go on more freely. But in this case, your consciousness is absolutely at a standstill. It doesn't note anything. During the day, it is the same thing. Your attention is occupied with a work which you have need (of) for your aim. If you do work consciously, if you do not masturbate, then associations will not disturb you. They exist for themselves. You can formulate like this: the obstacle brought by associations is proportional to the degree of conscious concentration. ( Russian )

Mme de Salzmann: They hinder you in so far as you are less concentrated.

Mlle Dol: Nevertheless, I always end by dreaming.

Gurdjieff: You do it to much.

Mlle Dol: Yes, I'm worn out.

Gurdjieff: I said in the beginning: make a program. Work no more than 11, 12 minutes. Sometimes, accidentally, you eat something that permits you to work one hour. Don't do it, you could break something. Don't use possibilities when they come along. For example, by chance you take coffee with me. This coffee stirs you up. You could work an hour. You should not do it. You should not use this force. Your program is only 11 minutes.

Hor: Mr. Gurdjieff, in accomplishing my task there are moments when I fail, and when I suffer from having failed.

Gurdjieff: It's a normal thing. But you should have hope. Little by little, make grow the substance which I have. It will serve to make crystallize in you the factors for being a real man. Struggle. Struggle without accepting anything. Do it as if it were a service for someone.

Hor: Yes, but even when I struggle like that, I do it with a predetermined aim; I fulfill a task. And I am sure that if I make one more effort, I would not succumb.

Gurdjieff: It isn't like that, you can relax. You can struggle consciously only in proportion to the energy you possess. You have batteries. If they are empty, you can do nothing.

Hor: Then, one mustn't struggle.

Gurdjieff: Eleven minutes, no more. The following week, 12 minutes. We need the result, this substance. Later, we will be able to use it. Now you are empty. When you have it, I will give you an injection and it will be crystallized. You must have a real desire, a desire of all the centers. Not only with the mind. It is necessary to have a desire for real work with all your being. You are young. You must get accustomed to it little by little. Chi va piano, va sano. (Who goes slowly, goes safely). These questions are not very desirable. All that fills my head. My head is already full of worries. Life is difficult at this time, and if my attention goes away to these difficulties, it cannot go to answering these questions.

SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM THE FRENCH GROUP


Q: I never do a task thoroughly. I think about it, I do it, but only for second. I cannot hold a thought or a feeling. ("a task" evidently means one of Mr. G's exercises.)

Mr. G: You forget, you have no memory, you forget. You must repeat, repeat, repeat. You wish to say that you have no power of concentration. It is the same with everybody. This is the aim of the work. I a man could really concentrate for a quarter of an hour only, he would be bigger than your Notre Dame, than Christ. I should ask him to be my teacher. If everybody could do this, everybody would be saints. In three centuries there have been perhaps one and a half saints. You must try to achieve gaining perhaps one second a month by repeating, repeating, repeating.

Q: When I see a negative emotion, I see very clearly that it is not the object that counts. It does not exist, it is the covering. As soon as I have seen it, it disappears but the negative emotion remains and becomes occupied with another object, no matter which, then something else. I have noticed the same negative emotions come back again and again by association and they seem to correspond to a tendency. By seeing them, can I think of them as "I's?"

Mr. G: Not so many complications. (For example) you are hungry. There are different kinds of hunger; the hunger of the morning, of mid-day, of the evening. They are not the same. The English eat a lot in the morning, the French at night. You have the opportunity to have this material. It is ready made for you. Others will have to make it. (Mme. de Salzmann) By (through?) negative emotion one knows something which one cannot know without having it. Envy, fear, anger, etc. One must separate this from oneself so that it does not remain in the essence and can be used when necessary by remaining apart.

Q: I see how empty I am, full of small mundane desires, contradictions like a mill where everything comes in and goes out. I have no will and I have no remedy for this. I lack force.

Mr. G: The task has been given for that. If you do not do the task, then let yourself go, open a vein, it will be easier. I can give you a pill to make you sleep forever. A pill is cheap to sleep well alone. One night is much more expensive. If one sleeps well for one night, one can then have a good waking state.

Q: When I see my nothingness, I am completely discouraged. Then to see that I have seen it gives me back hope and great satisfaction of myself. Should I allow myself this?

Mr. G: No. Look, always learn to see more and more. Search back into your past. Into your whole life. Suffer for all your failures. Tell yourself you are already 25, that it is too late to do anything; that time is measured. Even when one is one year old, it is already late. Always see your mistakes more and repair.

Q: I see myself in my dreams with such clarity, with such force and disgust that it wakes me up.

Mr. G: I spent 15 years learning not to dream. One must not dream, one must do. There are two states: sleep and a state of waking. When one sleeps, one must sleep. Take a cold shower, give yourself a vigorous rubdown, stand for ten minutes with arms extended and you will sleep. If one sleeps well, one watches well. If one dreams, everything is done by halves. Associations never stop until the end. This is life. But one can stop paying attention to associations. The dreams or associations which continue are those which are the most habitual and (therefore) which recur. There is also (book) the Key of Dreams and the Models of Love Letters. You can choose.

Q: Only my head participates (in the exercises). How can I avoid this?

Mr. G: The head is only the director. It is the policeman with his truncheon who shows the way. One must sense and feel. Work on feeling, on sensing yourself. "I - am," "me - am." Not only your head - the whole man. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Exercises, exercises, thousands and thousands of times. Only this will bring results.

Q: How should one understand "repair the past?" Is it by remorse?

Mr. G: You are too complicated. It is much more simple. The present is the result of the past. If you have acquired a bad habit in the past, you must stop it. I see that I have the habit of always turning my thumbs in the same direction. Stop. This is repairing. Do not make the same error again and prepare for the future, prepare for the future. Practice, practice as you would to play the piano. You must develop the strength of your fingers. Repeat, repeat.

Q: I see how I spend hours a day occupied with very small paltry feelings, very vile. Should I attach myself to a task to remedy this, or is there anything else to be done?

Mr. G: It is the same for everybody. It has always been so. For you, it is only now that you see this. This is what we wish to change. Do everything that you do well. Even eating. If you eat well, you pray well. Be wholehearted in everything you do. One must work precisely on something precise. Work should not be a desire, but a need, a need. When it becomes a need, you will have an answer. You have not the right to have desire only. This is not enough. It will give nothing. Create a need in yourself. Repeat, repeat, repeat. You never repeat enough. Everything that comes easily to you, make "tohik." (Destroy) Choose something which costs you something, which is an effort. That which is easy is bad for your interior life.

THE AIM. Always have an immediate aim. This is your objective. You must achieve this. There are many zigzags on the way. Do not delay. Always see the aim. Know where you are going and you will find the means to get there. Later I will indicate another aim. You must attain the first one first; the aim should be clear and always before you.

Q: When I try to work on remorse, there is always some part of me that refuses, that tells me that it is useless, that it will not lead anywhere or to anything. I wish to understand better the use of remorse, its necessity, to enable me to convince myself and struggle against this refusal.

Mr. G: It is very simple. Look at this. (He takes a section of a tangerine from plate). This is destined to become jam, it has to become jam, it was made for that. But it is full of salt. What should be done? It must be washed, soaked, cleaned to remove the salt. Afterward it can become jam. With the salt it is impossible. Remorse is that which removes the salt. This is what purifies. You understand.

Q: When I take my class I have to stop for a moment to collect myself. It seems to me empty, useless, vain. How can I prevent this?

Mr. G: You must make your obligations enter into your work. Everything that you do must become a part of your work. This must be your task. Your class must be part of your task. Your task is to help. You must not see the children in their manifestations, but in their future. You must wish to help that future. You must put yourself in their place. Remember how you were at their age. Then you will make them see differently. When you think "I-am" at the same time wish to help. You will see then how the children will love you. You will then be able to tell them to go kill their fathers and mothers and they will do it. It will be nothing for them. I have seen this over there with real Masters. (Magi) This is the yeast of the work, the children. It is an opportunity for you. You must become a good laborer.

Q: When I try to put myself in someone's place, there is always one part of me which refuses, which does not participate, which hides, which is occupied with itself and which has enjoyment with itself. It is something which slips away and which I cannot catch. On the other hand, as soon as I have a a small result in my work, vanity takes hold of it - "It is I who have done this" - and this spoils everything.

Mr. G: I will give you a sacred secret. You remember Beelzebub - there are two currents, two rivers. You have to cross from one to the other; you are like fish whose natural element is water and who are obliged to live in the air. You must now learn to live in both currents at once. There is the habitual current which is ordinary life in which you live, and then in you must exist the other current, the second current, which is your interior life. Up to now you have had contact with yourself only when you were alone, quiet, now you must learn with others. When you are with a person, remain in your own current, in your interior current.

Q: In the system, it seems that satisfactions, pleasures, are rejected. Are they all? Have I understood rightly?

Mr. G: All pleasures are shit. All pleasures make you a slave. Your satisfaction. There are two qualities of pleasures; two qualities of agreeable sensations. On one side objective pleasure; if you work well and get a result, you can have satisfaction of yourself. This is good satisfaction which crowns effort. Other, mechanical pleasures destroys you. You are lost in them. They are all injurious, except for giving oneself voluntary relaxation, necessary for an aim.

Q: I notice (in myself) a dryness, an absence of emotions. I live either in indifference or hostility. What is to be done?

Mr. G: You interest me. I wish to help you. Are your parents still alive? We have not known them, but perhaps they had souls. Perhaps they suffered. They cannot do any more where they are, they have no bodies. You must do something for them. You must think of them. You must picture them to yourself, see them again, have their faces before your eyes, you must think of all that you owe them. You are a small piece of them, of their life. You must love them, express your gratitude to them. Think back on all they have done for you. You must see your mistakes toward them. Persist in this, reconstruct the scenes when you made them suffer, perhaps cry. Re-live the times when you were a bad child. You must have remorse of conscience. Remorse. One must suffer voluntarily to repair. One must pay for the past. The past must be repaired. Search in your past. Create remorse. Doctor, you also do this exercise. For the moment, your parents are your God. You cannot know God. He is to far away. There is no place for Him in you. Your parents are God, they are the future place for God in you. You owe them everything, life, everything. Work first with them; after there will be other exercises.

Q: I have done the work which you gave me. Really I love my parents very much and I have discovered a very special quality of emotion; during one second perhaps, one particle of real love, also great suffering, a real suffering for my sins towards them. Of remorse. The two emotions were there at the same time, very vivid suffering and happiness given by the feeling of love. It was the remorse which brought happiness, for after that disappeared the happiness also disappeared. Sometimes when I am attending my patients I have discovered in myself for a second emotions of love of the same quality. And at that moment I could relieve their physical suffering and bring them a feeling of happiness. Is there a connection?

Mr. G: Real love is the basis of all, the foundations, the Source. The religions have perverted and deformed (love). It was by love that Jesus performed miracles. Real love joined with magnetism. All accumulated vibrations create a current. This current brings the force of love. Real love is a cosmic force which goes through us. If we crystallize it, it becomes a power - the greatest power in the world. Later you will study magnetism in books, no matter which, it will give you material. And with love as a basis, you will be able to cure paralytics and make the blind see.

Q: I have been surprised by the acuteness of sensations observed for a long time, so intense, so vivid, with all the impressions I had in myself and which came back.

Mr. G: This is normal. Our centers register everything, from the hour of one's birth. If I put you into an hypnotic sleep, you can tell me what went on around you a week after your birth. Everything is written, everything is there. A subject put to sleep by me told me the pulse rate of the person who was beside him at the moment which I made him re-live. Everything is written, as on a photograph, but a thousand times more sensitive. That is why you must be careful of the inscriptions. Choose them. (Beelzebub: "Watch the purity of your roles.")

Q: Does this work bring something to my parents? Does it touch them, give them something?

Mr. G: You must do this for yourself, for repairing. Have remorse. Let your remorse be as strong as possible. It is this remorse which counts; it is the suffering which matters; voluntary suffering which pays for the past, which repairs the errors.

Q: I have discovered the same quality of emotions of which we spoke, but it gives me such an interior fullness, such a sensation of happiness that I no longer feel remorse; I grudge myself this happiness, for I have not deserved it.

Mr. G: You have imagination and fantasy. I have always said so. You are a representative of art. Foufou. There is no weight. It is light. Philosophy, imagination. A state is a result. It is this which gives weight. This is the counter balance of real happiness which goes in step with it. At the same time in order that it should be genuine, one must not have one without the other. Your nature has a tendency (the result of inertia); you let yourself go toward this tendency of having extraordinary states without a real basis, without weight. You must eliminate this, drive it away. As soon as a state of satisfaction arises, make "tohik." Crush it, eliminate it. Work on remorse, remember yourself, revive the scenes when you were a bad child, when you made your parents cry, perhaps. Feel again in all the details, find your faults again. Search in your past. Suffer. In that suffering you can have real happiness given by real love.

There are two different things under different laws: 1) The organic body; 2) the psychic body. The organic body obeys its laws. It only wishes to satisfy its needs - eating, sleeping, sex. It knows nothing else. It wishes nothing else. It is a real animal. One must feel it as an animal. One must feel it as a stranger. One must subdue it, train it and make it obey, instead of obeying it.

The psychic body knows something other than the organic body. I has other needs, other aspirations, other desires. It belongs to a different world. It is of a different nature. There is a conflict between these two bodies - one wishes, the other does not. It is a struggle which one must reinforce voluntarily. By our work; by our will. It is this fight which exists naturally, which is the specific state of man, which we must use to create a third thing, a third state different from the other two, which is the Master, which is united with something else.

The task is therefore something precise which reinforces this struggle, because by struggle and ONLY by struggle can a new possibility of being be born. For instance, my organism is in the habit of smoking. That is its need. I do not wish to smoke - I eliminate this habit. The need is always there but I refuse to satisfy it. There is a struggle, a conscious voluntary struggle which calls the third force. It is the third force which will be the factor - "I" - which will conciliate and make the equilibrium.

The body is an animal. The psyche is a child. One must educate the one and the other. Take the body, make it understand that it must obey, not command. Put each one in its place. One must know oneself. One must see what goes on. Take a task which is within your possibility, very small to begin with. On eating. On a habit. Each one knows himself and can find a task; it is his interior thing, a will which is opposed to a need and creates struggle.

The only possibility of creating a second body is by an accumulation of a different substance. The only aim is that everything should serve this aim.

Q: I have thoroughly understood all during the week what you told me last week about the physical body and the psychic body and all the week I have worked in this direction; I have struggled. One night I was asleep. I was awakened by my son - I have a four-year old son - who had been bitten by mosquitoes and who was in pain and began to cry and call for me. He was suffering and crying. I went to him and because he was crying and suffering, before I even had the time to see myself, I beat him. I did not allow myself to go to sleep again. How can I crush this violence in myself? I have seen what my body is, what it is capable of and its reaction after a week of work on it.

Mr. G: There are forces around you, foreign to you. It is possible that when a man really works, really wishes to struggle, they produce an event like this. They can even create the mosquitoes. In any case, whether it was this or chance, nothing could have been better. There you have felt, you have understood, not with your head only. I am very glad and I ask you now to make notes of all that happens in your work for a week, two weeks, three weeks, and you will speak about it here, because this will be useful for your companions. And do not forget that now your son is your master. Thank him. For me, he is my friend. And I charge you with a commission for him; five candies a day for a year.

January 18, 1944


Mme. Dubeau: It is difficult for me to separate what I sense, what is true, from what is imaginary; difficult to see if what I sense has a real basis. For example, it seems impossible in the exercise to fill my arms...

Mr. G: I told you to expect nothing from this exercise. It is the exercise which will give you understanding. Others will come after. Then perhaps you will find it possible to understand what is fantasy and what is real. To understand, it is necessary to DO, to have experience. The exercises will give you experience. These exercises were established centuries ago, even before Europe existed.

Pomereu: I would like to know whether the work is compatible with ambition - a desire for power - in the external world.

Mr. G: If it helps you with your exercise, you can do it. For example, you can even kill someone. I have given you this categorical advice: Be an egotist. You can do nothing at present. First put yourself solidly on your feet. After that, you can do something. Your question is abstract.

Pomereu: Can one have ambition outside the work?

Mr. G: You can give it to yourself as a task but you mustn't count on succeeding - you may or may not. It may perhaps be compatible with the work.

Pomereu: So it is not necessary to try and destroy it right away?

G: No. But if it upsets your serious work, if it is a weakness, you must kill it. If you can do it consciously, you can keep it.

P: But if it is a physical thing...

G: It can be a physical thing, but no automatic. Give yourself a conscious task and carry it out, even by inertia.

P: How can I know that my decision is conscious? If I want money, for instance, it is surely from cupidity.

G: Another question. What you have acquired through the work must not be used in ordinary life. Go long as you have to do with me, you must outwardly play a role, but inwardly you must learn never to identify. During the work such things do come - extraordinary possibilities - you must never use them for ordinary life.

Mlle. Dollinger: Can one be helped in work by prayer and how can one pray?

G: You can only pray with your three centres, and at the same time it is an exercise. What interests me is not your prayer, it is your concentration with your three centres. Your prayer goes no further than your atmosphere. (aura) When your prayer can go as far as America, you will be able to pray to the President.

Mlle. D: How can one pray with the three centres?

G: Now you must do a serious thing. Learn, for the sake of the future, to concentrate not only with one center but with the three. You must think, feel and sense. This is important. For this there are different exercises. You can pray, sing - anything you like - but with the three centers.

Hignette: The rule formulated just now leaves me wandering. It seems to me that sometimes one can't help using certain results of work. I am thinking of my class and how differently I manage it now from before.

G: What I wish to tell you is something different. We were not speaking of that. This is natural thing. You could even have done that without me. Each year you are older, more practiced. You gain experience and change your way of going about things.

Alain: Sometimes I succeed in reaching a kind of thinking which is clearer and bigger, in which I understand many more things. Can I use this?

G: Just do your exercises... Exactly as one learns to play the piano. First of all, you do many exercises before playing a tune. Now you must do your exercise and live as before. No one must notice that you are inwardly working. That is your aim - inwardly not to identify. To play a role is not an aim, but a means.

A: I wanted more definite directions how not to identify.

G: Everything comes in its time, only necessary practice. You are philosophizing. Now your aim is not to identify. Consider your past actions. What can you say of them impartially? This will serve as a clue for your work and you will recognize that you were always identified. It is necessary for us to be inwardly impartial. This is impossible for the moment. We look at each thing, animate or inanimate, partially. This is where our weakness lies.

Horande: Sir, I am in a bad way at the moment and I am very tired.

G: I told you from the start, doctor, this work burns a lot of electricity.

H: For a week I haven't been able to do my exercise, even the simple effort to remember for a quarter of an hour, because I have been intoxicated by the results I have had. I think about work, but I don't succeed in doing anything definite.

G: You cannot expect results yet. You can only do the exercises. To be able to play tunes takes a long time. Perhaps you had an illusion, then a disillusionment. It comes like that. Think only of the future, when your playing may acquire a different quality and you may become a pianist.

Mme. D: My way of reasoning sometimes makes me think that all this is a dream. When I don't feel like working, I tell myself all this isn't true.

G: You have many dogs in you. As "Mr. Gurdjieff" I cannot help you, but only as a doctor. But I have not the right to practice in France. I take on only English and American patients.

Mme. D: Then I might as well give up.

G: You must get over this crisis. Now if you have recognized your nothingness, you can make a real decision to change something. If I had a pill to calm you, I wouldn't give it to you. You must thank nature that this crisis has begun, and that it has begun so soon. Philippe has a crisis like that twice a year.

Denise: Is sincerity compatible with spontaneity?

G: They can go together, but it is desirable that they don't go together. Spontaneity is not controlled. You must not be sincere with others, but with yourself. You must trust no one, neither sister nor brother. You must be sincere with yourself. If you are sincere with another, you put all your cards on the table. He will sit on your head. This sincerity is a disease. Perhaps you have nothing inside, but the other imagines that you have something. Let him imagine it.

January 16, 1944


(The second part of Exercise 1 is described to some pupils and some new people are questioned and advised.)
G: Little one, what is your question?

Luc: The exercise which consists in demanding of the body the substances necessary to bring to the face expressions of goodness, justice, honesty, impartiality and intelligence has led me to reconsider each of these terms and particularly honesty. What is the relation of honesty, the balance between what one takes and what one gives in return? I had more satisfaction when I was earning less and am embarrassed now in a more comfortable and easy situation.

G: I have already understood your question. Go on.

Luc: I feel doubtful about my honesty, even though I give away three quarters of my money. I want my life founded on such principles that my means of livelihood could be purified.

G: And how, will you formulate your question?

Luc: By what can one feel that one is honest?

G: There is a principle, a criterion: when you have given yourself your word to do something and you have done it, you have a certain feeling of contentment. It is this feeling of satisfaction in yourself which shows you that you are honest. You understand this feeling?

Luc: Yes. But now in my everyday life I have more and more to use tricks and that revolts me.

G: That is exterior life. You do this for them. I have already said now you must be an absolute egoist, a good egoist. For the sake of future altruism. Today you cannot give much to others, and if you try to, you will not be able to change yourself, you will remain what you are. You must make the sacrifice of giving to another. But you must give yourself your word that you will make it up to him in future ten-fold. So you compromise. You have two clues, two principles; satisfaction in yourself and promise to pay back much more later on. Outwardly, one plays one's role, according to what the situation demands, and inwardly one does not identify. If you are working inwardly, nature will help you. For the man who is working, nature is sister of charity; she brings him what he has need of for his work. If you need money for your work, even if you do nothing to get it, the money will come to you from all sides. In another case, nature will cut off all a man's resources if it is necessary for his work. (To Simone) Do you understand? For instance, had you had money a certain evening, you would have gone to a cafe but having none, you stayed at home and worked. Nature is more intelligent than you; she knows better than you which are the best conditions for your work; and if you work, nature calls on conscious spirits who will arrange for you the conditions you need. For ordinary man, for the man who does not work, there is nothing but chance. But for the man who works, nature gives him through conscious spirits all that he needs.

Philippe: What you have just said has given me more than all the exercises. I feel in myself at this moment what spirit is. I feel a life in me. Now I understand what I must do. I must give up my "scale". I must undertake obligations, give myself my word concerning small things, not big ones which are too far from me.

G: There is a law which is formulated very simply. A man must keep his given word; in all cases, whatever happens. It is an absolute command. If you have given your word to come and see me at a certain time, even if they cut you in pieces, kill you, you must come. A small thing but perhaps it is connected with many others which you do not know. If you do not come, it may cost a million francs. It will upset the appointment I have after yours and that will make it necessary to change something else and so on through a chain of events you cannot foresee. If one small thing is not carried out, then no big thing will be carried out. With big things it is easy; they are far away and you are only concerned with them from time to time, when it pleases you. But small things are near you all the time, whether you want it or not. Try once to give your word about a small thing. Not about everything, because a promise given must be held to and you must know that you are capable of keeping it. Take a small thing that you can do.

(After luncheon G. reproached "T" for not fulfilling well his duties, his obligations as director.)

G: It is a small thing, but if one understands how one must direct one's affairs in life, it is a big thing. There is not one aspect, there are seven. If you have seven affairs and you do one well, the six others can even go well automatically. You neglect one, even though for the first time in your life, the result is bad. For instance, if you undertake the obligation of directing the serving, you must direct all the details. Forget everything, even your God, to supervise all details with exactitude. If you are director, nothing exists but that, even if you have affairs worth millions. Those you must forget. Do well that which you have to do. When your affairs worth millions come up, you will do them the same way. Do not see just one aspect but seven and all will be well. If one aspect is not good, nothing is good. Accustom yourself to do well all things at the time, and parallel with this, you will learn to do everything well. You are here, you sacrifice everything else. All your presence, all your thought, all your associations must be drawn to the affair which constitutes your work. If you do well what you have to do in the w.c., you will also do well that which you have to do in church. If you do not do well what you have to do in the w.c., you will not do anything well in church either. In the ordinary things of life you must fulfill all your obligations, even think about them two or three weeks ahead and never fail. You have the time. Think of everything, prepare everything. You are always losing time. With such an interior organization, a man will never go far.

Q: Can I ask a question?

G: Why do you make a fly from an elephant? If you have a question, ask it. It is my speciality to talk, talk, talk. Help me to stop my machine from talking. Ask your question.

Q: (He asks about his search for God, his doubts and struggles.)

G: I have already answered this question when someone asked the same thing. I said: if you do not have an ideal, if you do not believe in God, then your father, your mother, your teacher can serve for you as an ideal.

Q: I have an ideal, I have always been a Catholic. But I no longer see Jesus Christ in the same way.

G: In the beginning Catholicism was very good, but not latterly. They searched for midday at two o'clock; they diluted everything. In the beginning it was superior to the Orthodox religion and to all others.

Q: I cannot recapture the faith of my childhood.

G: That is not necessary. You have lost that possibility. You are no longer a child, you are big now. You should have logic and not search automatically. To have direct contact with God is impossible. Millions and millions of nonentities wish to have relations with Mr. God direct. This is impossible. But you can have a relation in this line. What you do here, for instance, has this changed your interior ideal - since you took part in our conversations? (Yes) Then perhaps you have confidence in the person who directs here? (Yes) Then he can serve as teacher in the meantime.

Q: That does not satisfy me entirely. I want something else.

G: Then make a program. You do not know what you want. I wish you to understand that your nearest - father, mother, teacher - can serve as your ideal in place of God. The real God, forget him. As you are, you can never have relations with God. When you have grown, this could be, but you are one among millions of nonentities. Meantime, take as an ideal whoever is nearest and then you can pray to God, because this person has an ideal also, this ideal has in turn an ideal and so on, on to God. God is far, there are many stages before you reach him, do not think about Him. Your ideal will be your God. Later you can have another ideal.

Mme. de Salzmann: God is much too far away. You are too small to have direct contact with him. Only he who is immediately above you can be God for you. He is a God who in his turn has a God. It is a ladder, there is always something above. Each degree (rung) leads you to another and you get your answer by the same chain.

G: You cannot pray directly to God. You imagine so, but you waste your time. It is from there that psychopathy comes. Like a monk. He says directly, "God". He manipulates like this (gestures) and sixty years later he perishes like a dog without ever having received anything. He wanted God directly. No one has seen Him, for the law of contacts is strict. This law exists everywhere. You will look for your God when you have felt yourself guided in the right direction, on a good road, for instance by Mme. de Salzmann. Then she will be your God. She is not God, but she will be your first stage; you can have contact with God through her; make all your prayers and good manifestations pass through her and that itself will make contact with the next stage. Then a third stage and finally it is possible that your prayer will reach the real God. Exactly like the telegraph; a message to a relative in the country near Lyons. First from Paris to Lyons; then to another town, then to the village, then to your relative's house. By states and it takes some time.

Q: (This question asks about "injustices".)

G: You know "Justice" is a big word - it is a big thing in the world. Objective things are not small things like microbes, they go according to law, as the law has accustomed them to go. Remember; as you sow, so you will reap. Not only people reap, but also families and nations. It often happens that that which happens on earth comes from something which was done by a father or a grandfather. The results converge on you, the son or grandson, it is you who have to regulate them. This is not an injustice, it is a very great honor for you; it will be a means which will allow to regulate the past of your father, grandfather, great-grandfather. If misfortunes come to you in your youth, it means that someone brought them - for this you must reap. He is dead, it is another on earth who reaps. You must not look at yourself egotistically. You are a link in the chain of your blood. Be proud of it, it is an honor to be this link. The more you are obliged to repair the past, the more you will have remorse of conscience. You will succeed in remembering all that which you have not done as you should in the past. Those things which you have done contrary to JUSTICE have mortified your grandfather. Thus you can have ten times more remorse of conscience and your worth will augment in proportion. You are not tail of a donkey. You have responsibilities, a family. All your family, past and future, depend on you. Your entire family depends on the way you repair the past. If you repair for everyone, it is good. If you do not repair for everyone, it is bad. You see your situation. Logically, do you see what Justice is? Justice is not occupied with your little affairs, unredeemed pledges, it is occupied with big things. It is idiotic to believe God thinks of small things. It is the same with Justice. Justice does not touch all that and at the same time, nothing is done on earth without it. Search for the reasons. You are obliged to have a position of responsibility in the line of your blood; you must work more to repair the past. It is difficult to understand all at once.

Q: (A man asserts he cannot work well, can do nothing to his satisfaction, is troubled by conscience.)

G: It is impossible to do this all at once, one must search. Begin with a small thing. When you wake, remember consciously to put on left sock first, instead of the right one, remembering yourself. Wash the left ear first, not the one you are in habit of washing. Make a program. Always either a fly or something else will appear to prevent you from carrying out this program. But even if there is a fire, do what I tell you. Then when you go out into the street, instead of looking into the window on the left at the blond who interests you, look toward the window on the right at the brunette. And so on. If you do not succeed in trying this, do not speak of it any more. If you do this, you can ask your question again, and I will reply and explain a thousand more details.

Q: At the bottom of all my negative emotions there are two things; on one side, the opinion I have of myself, on the other a certain fear. If I succeed in remembering my nothingness, the opinion of myself changes and no longer hinders me, but the fear grows and determines the negative emotion and prevents me from resisting. I have not found a means of struggling against this fear.

G: One must decide: "All or nothing". It is simple, all or nothing. If you know your past nothingness, then decide; either you want to transfer this nothingness into something, or you will perish. If you decide, all or nothing, after this your fear will be less important. if you decide to perish, then that is another question. You are not frightened? (No) Then the fear is nothing. This is the means of liquidating your fear. What you first said about your opinion of yourself is fou-four. Your father was already fou-four. So what opinion can you have? You are a nonentity, merde. You must understand this. Objectively what opinion can you have? You can do nothing. It is all imagination. You cannot even make a cigarette. You must decide within the field of your nothingness. The all or nothing can end your fear. Either something will happen or you will perish like a dog. You should not exist as you are. You are a source of evil in the world, for your nearest and for everyone. Either you will cease to be such a source in order to acquire a real individuality, real not fantasy, or - perish. Have you understood? It is a new "Justice", it has another dress. A belt and a hat also - a tall hat

April 20, 1944


Dr. Aboulker: I have tried to feel remorse of conscience, but the remorse overwhelms me. I cannot forget that it was from remorse that Judas hanged himself.

Why do you speak of Judas in this case? What do you know of Judas? He was a great initiate. He was the second disciple after St. John the Baptist. All that is told about him is false. If you wish to know, he was even the master of Christ.

Dr. Aboulker: The search for remorse leads me to depression. I must be doing the exercise wrongly. How should I try to find remorse?

G: In order to experience remorse it is necessary to awaken real will, to remember real aim. You must destroy tranquility.

Dr. A: I have felt remorse in flashes two or three times. But I do not know how to make it come. When I look for it intentionally, I do not recapture this quality but find the kind that depresses me.

G: When remorse comes without self-love, it gives us the desire for something better. But when it is mixed with self-love, it weights you down. The effect of true remorse is hatred of yourself, repugnance toward yourself. These two things make up true remorse of conscience.

Dr. A: One time when I felt it I was nauseated, literally.

G: You have to feel a lot of that in order to kill your enemy. When you feel this depression, you should do the "I am", then you needn't be afraid of becoming more depressed. Only through this impulse can you transcend your nothingness. You should rejoice that an impulse has awakened in you a real will to change. You must not stand on ceremony with self-love. Self-love is your greatest enemy. One must punish oneself mercilessly against this filthy creature. Not only you - but everybody. The feeling or remorse can make reparation for all things, all the mistakes of our parents, of your educators, your childhood companions. You must acquire the inner freedom which will make you worthy to become a candidate for future man. My dear doctor, this is what I advise and it is a very difficult thing. It is not pleasant, but that is not my fault. If you wish to have a future, try this in the present. The more you experience it, the more possibility you have for the future. You must succeed in bringing remorse of conscience to a point where it becomes hatred of self and hatred of your past, of your parents, of the upbringing you have had. Curse everything. Call upon your ideal to help you to bear the burden and to become worthy of it. On one hand you curse your past; on the other, in the name of your future, you give your word - as against this curse - to help them as much as you can. (Parents?) You must reach the point where conscience speaks mercilessly in you.

Mme. Etievan: I have experienced the same depression as the doctor, but I no longer have it. I find myself as I was before.

G: I am suspicious of something; perhaps you are getting used to it automatically. That is also bad - an idée fixe. One cannot become accustomed to remorse; it must penetrate to the inner self. If you become accustomed, you make it automatic; it becomes external, without weight, you do it with your head only. You are wasting your time. Being again more mercilessly. You must do this with the three centres, not only with your head.

Kahne: When I examine the few years I have been in the work, I notice I have never lacked driving force, but that part of me has always run away from work. I saw this when you told me I lacked physical will. Where can I get the force which will give me physical will?

G: Only one thing can help you. You must suffer physically. For instance, don't eat enough; be hungry. Or, if your organism doesn't like cold water, make yourself bear cold water. Same with hot water. Do the opposite of what your body is in the habit of doing. Make it suffer. It is the one and only way to make the force you lack. Not a mental suffering. We have seven kinds of suffering. For you, bodily suffering is necessary. With your mind you can mercilessly govern your body, make it suffer. In you, two parts work, but the body does not. Have you understood your emotion? If you have observed it, if you believe me, do this, struggle, suffer. Afterward you will be able to work on yourself. I am glad you came to this question by yourself.

Mme. D: I cannot master the exercise. I get identified. When I am quiet I succeed better.

G: Then it is less useful.

Mme. D: Another difficulty. When I visualize a dead person, I have no contact with him. I even have the impression of never having seen him. (them)

G: Very good example for you. Perhaps you only know that person with one part of yourself - the intellectual part, for instance - and now you wish to change and picture them with feeling. You will have contact with all your centers, but one by one.

Mme. D: I must find someone who fulfills the conditions.

G: Perhaps you will never find such a person. Perhaps you are one-sided. If you cannot find one person. Take two or three. With one you will be in the feeling part, with another in thinking and so on.

Pomereu: I have noticed that when I watch my breathing I am better able to remember myself. Should I do this?

G: Not if you think there is risk of its becoming a fixed idea. If it helps you, continue. Only you can judge.

P: How would I know that it is a fixed idea?

G: Now I have understood. By your question. I have understood your inner state. What is the center of gravity of your work?

P: The exercise which consists of feeding the "I" and the seven breaths.

G: Which is the one that interests you most, gives you most confidence?

P: I don't do them in the same conditions. Both are important for me.

G: Change the conditions in which you do the exercises. Do the one which you have been doing in the time set aside for working, in life and vice versa. Change the time to overcome automatism. I am suspicious of something and this may make it clear to me.

Mme. Vera Daumal: (Asks a question about exercise of 7 breaths) Is this the right way to continue or must I clean up more?

G: Continue. Perhaps you are doing it with only part of yourself. Now you begin to awake, that produces a misunderstanding. Go on until you have objective contact with your three centers. Contact with one is only hysteria. A real person is himself. I am me; if I love, it is with the whole of my being; if I hate also.

V.D.: I don't want any more of that.

G: Then do it all the time, fix a new habit. After that I will help you.

V.D.: I have made a great effort all week. I have felt something new.

G: For the first time something has awakened in you. But you are not used to it yet, you haven't yet enough material. You are on the right road. If you are able to curse and be disgusted by your past, that will help you. Realize how much time you have lost. That is remorse of conscience. In this way you prepare a good future. Without bad things, good things never come.

Wack: There is one part of me that I never succeed in bringing up intentionally when I try to remember myself. This part only awakes as a result of an outside shock. How can I make it appear?

G: You must kill something in yourself. You have to make room for this new feeling. We have in our system (organism?) a definite number of factors. In you all the factors are already written upon, like gramophone records, and these inscriptions are already false. You must destroy one of these records, put another in its place.

W: How can one destroy it?

G: By a definite force. Choose an external ideal. Religious faith, for instance. Something which you are sure about and which is outside yourself. Then liquidate this belief, destroy it. You will lose nothing, for it is false. Sooner or later everything must be new in you. For the moment everything is merde. Make room, so as to crystallize a new factor for a new life. I advised you to take faith; perhaps you have another feeling of which you are sure. In any case, there is one which you must succeed in destroying and replacing, so that you will have real contact with feeling.

W: What will the new factor be?

G: Conscience. Until now you have only crystallized abnormalities coming from the outside.

Mme. David: What must one do to follow the advice you give in your book; to persuade all the matters, all the unconscious parts of one's presence, to work as if they were conscious, and so on.

G: It is not my book, it is Mr. Beelzebub's, and it is advice which he is giving to his grandson.

Mme. D: Then it is only for his grandson?

G: Beelzebub will explain it to you. As for me, I give you another piece of advice: get accustomed to calling Beelzebub, "my dear grandfather". That will help you. The condition is that you address him respectfully, "my dear grandfather", with all the details. Then perhaps he will answer.

January 28, 1944


Dr. Aboulker: You advised me to make a break in my work this week. This break has shown me that I was working just enough to keep me satisfied and subdue my negative emotions. When I do not work, I have a feeling of remorse; negative emotions take up the whole of me. For instance, I am seized constantly by envy of others.

G: It is not your fault. It is the fault of your mother and father. We will destroy the results of this upbringing.

Lanctin: I have noticed that when I work, at the same time certain coarse tendencies and desires, certain appetites for low things become stronger and take a more important place than before.

G: In this room there are twelve people. If you wanted to bring in two more people, it would be necessary for two of the people already here to go out. It is the same for you. Room has to be made and in order to make room, whatever occupies this room has to go out. If one person wants to go out while another wishes to come in, they are stopped, one by the other. They have their eye on the door. Perhaps you are in that situation. In this work there must be no compromise. Little by little you make room. One person goes out, another comes in.

Lecaxe: Monsieur Gurdjieff -

G: It is a long time now since I was Gurdjieff.

L: This week there came to me, quite apart from the exercises and work, a certain taste of myself which I have never felt till now, and which forces me to be in a part of myself that usually I am never in. This taste is dissipated because I don't know what to do with it; I don't want it to be lost but help me go further.

G: You must stop all things and do inwardly what has to be done for your work and what can help you for your future.

L: But this feeling comes at a moment when I am doing something quite different, when I am busy with people and can't stop what I am doing.

G: We are not speaking about things in life. This is something quite different. You must play a role. For instance, you shake hands with the right hand. You don't need to think for that.

Zuber: I found myself this week in a situation where I should have felt remorse but in fact I felt only a slight twinge which couldn't be compared to the real feeling. I would like to know whether there are some special means for experiencing remorse.

G: Think of all you have done in your life, all moments when you haven't been as you should have been. You remember and at the same time you have a feeling of remorse.

Solange: I have noticed that I used to have a stronger feeling of remorse than now that I am working. I had violent feelings; now they are intellectual. I judge my actions but I don't feel as I used to feel.

G: It is quite a simple thing. Before you used to make elephant from fly and fly from elephant. That is the way you are by nature. Now you see fly as a fly and elephant as an elephant.

S: I am wondering if I should keep on with the work I am doing or take up something else better suited to my capacities. I should like to have an aim in life.

G: My advice is do something quite new, without any connection with what you are doing at present. The less you are satisfied with your work, the greater your possibility of doing more. Start again to learn for the future. A new career is the very best thing for you. In life one can make all sorts of compromises, but with this work there are none. You must change your whole life and begin all over again.

February 8, 1944


Gilles: I have little knowledge of myself, especially of my essence. I never know how to be certain about myself. What means of investigation can I use to know if a thing comes from me or not?

G: Now you are philosophizing. Necessary begin from something real. Now this is empty for me because you are empty. You did not start on the way of a real man. This is education. Seven factors were absent from your upbringing. I can tell you the first. You were not taught that for you your father is your God. For each man, up to a certain age, his father must be his God. God loves him who esteems his father. When the father dies, then there is a place where God can enter in. You have not this relationship with your father and your question springs from that. Now take as a task to put down all these factors in yourself which hinder you; establish a real relationship with your father.

Mme. Dubeau: But if the father is unworthy - low?

G: Even if he is the worst criminal, if he is merde, the lowest among men, you must recognize your obligation. You don't know why he has become like that. Here is a law. He created you. You owe your existence to him. And he is answerable for your life in another world. If he is the lowest of men in the eyes of everyone, let it be so - but inwardly you must feel your obligation. You have to pay him for your existence.

Gilles: But in order to establish a right relationship with someone, one has to be sure of what one is oneself.

G: You divide yourself in two parts. Inwardly you must not identify; outwardly you must play a role. Take all things as your guide. Your task now is to acquire inner freedom. This is the starting point for going further. And for that you have to do what I have told you. What does it mean, to play a role? Try to understand it in a broader sense. Do everything that gives him pleasure. If he likes you to sit on his right, sit on his right. If at another moment he prefers the opposite, do it. Subjective role. With each person a different role. You accustom yourself to fulfill obligations. It is one of the aspects of the future of a free man. Not necessary to philosophize. After, yes. First prepare the ground. The ground has seven aspects. After that, you can go as you like. In future, with each man you must play a role; for your egoism. To make each person your slave. You do not do what you like, but what he likes.

Mme. D: Towards one's father, is it an inner or outer obligation?

G: I said that inwardly you have objective obligations. But at the same time you play a role with him outwardly, as with everyone. This is difficult at the beginning, but later you will come to see how everything changes. Perhaps later your father will become your slave; even God can become your slave.

Denise: So at present we should not do what we like.

G: You have no time now to satisfy your weakness. You must kill it. If you work, you must not compromise with your weakness. You must be merciless.

Denise: Even if the object is to comfort someone else?

G: We are speaking of ourselves at this moment.

Denise: For instance, I am living among people who talk always of devotion and mutual help. It used to be my aim too. Now I realize one can do little for others.

G: That is true, it is a fantastic idea. Before, you couldn't do anything good for anybody. Now you give your word to do nothing except for yourself; put yourself on your feet, prepare your future.

D: Now people consider me indifferent.

G: Then you haven't played a role. Otherwise they wouldn't have noticed the change. You are open. Other people must not see what goes on inside you.

D: These are the people who are always around me.

G: It is exactly with such people -

D: It is difficult.

G: Bad things are easy.

Mme. D: When I confide to someone something that has happened to me, I feel that what I say loses its force for me. I feel I affect others in getting bad things off my chest.

G: Than you play your role badly.

Mme. D: Yes, but it takes the strength from what is bad in me.

G: Today you must sacrifice everything for the sake of the future. All present pleasures. One cannot enter the kingdom of heaven and at the same time eat cakes. Establish good relations with everybody and learn never to identify. This will be a good instrument for changing yourself. At the same time this will create in you a certain energy which will allow you to work better. Things which are easy never give energy.

Pomereu: I would like to know if there is a better way to use physical energy than doing sports.

G: Exercise with numbers, names and so on. To do it well one must have five times as much energy as you have.

P: But we haven't done them yet.

G: Well, do the one which was given on Sunday. In one-half hour I can pump into you ten times more energy than you have. If you feel as you say, it shows you haven't understood.

Mme. D: For a long time I didn't work because I felt I wasn't doing the exercise of filling the body rightly. Then I started again.

G: Go on trying. It comes little by little. Ten times it may not come, but the eleventh time - You have to do and do all the exercises. First you have to get a taste for them, and then it becomes easy. Follow the rules carefully; relax yourself, and so on, and that will help you. Sooner or later you will succeed. But one must not spare oneself.

D: I haven't really the feeling of filling the body, but a general feeling.

G: At the beginning you can use that.

Gerbeau: Can one have a more subtle knowledge of one's essence? My sensations mingle with a sort of imagination and with very different sensations, often completely opposite. How can I manage to do this better?

G: You have an exercise.

Gb: I don't succeed in doing it at all well.

G: Perhaps because you are thinking of other things; philosophy, fantasy - You have not any essence yet. You are a little dog - a little bit of dog's merde.

Gb: It is because my attention is naturally drawn to very subtle things.

G: Stick to two times two are four. You go too far ahead. Hence these misunderstandings.

A: Yet in lots of ways I remain on one spot.

G: Because you go on ahead. (Marvellous)

A: In connection with Sunday's exercise, I wonder if it isn't a question of sex which prevents me from doing it well?

G: Don't philosophize. For you specially, I give an exercise. Each time you feel the beginning of weakness, relax and then think seriously: "I wish the result of my weakness to become my own strength." This will accumulate in you for your future work. Each man knows which weakness he has in him. Each time this weakness appears in you, stop yourself and do this exercise. It is a very necessary exercise for you. You will talk about it sincerely one day with Mme. Salzmann.

Horande: I have a little girl four years old. What role should I play with her?

G: Role of father.

H: But I feel I am not a real father.

G: Be a good father. Do not encourage, criticize everything, so that the child shall not have imagination. But inwardly, one loves the child. In this way your real love will come into being.

H: There are moments when I feel that it is necessary to be severe. At other times I let my affection show through.

G: It must not show. It must be just. If once you show your affection, your authority will be crippled. You must never show a child your inner self. Your weakness - to love, to caress, and so on - leave that to everyone else. Not you. A father's authority is a very important thing. And in this way you will be a real father.

Hignette: Isn't there a risk of making the child timid and stifling its personality?

G: If he does as I have explained, the child will not be afraid. He will have respect. It is another quality of fear. You must not frighten him.




The source of this text is Jean Toomer Papers, Georges Gurdjieff , Coll. No. JWJ.MSS.1, Series No. III, Box No 68, Folder No. 1541, YALE UNIVERSITY, BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY

Link: http://webtext.library.yale.edu/xml2html/beinecke.TOOMER.con.html#SII64

Thanks to Avi Solomon for buying the original PDF format notes and scanning them for our use!

All 31 of Mr. Gurdjieff's meetings 1940-44 are published in William Patrick Patterson's book Voices in the Dark.



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