Archive for the ‘George Adie’ Category
Joseph Azize Page
George and Helen Adie are the Mr. and Mrs. Todd-Ashby of Carl Ginsburg’s Medicine Stories, Center Press, Santa Fe, 1991, “The Daphne Blossom”, pp. 55-9, he has kindly given us permission to post it here.
THE DAPHNE BLOSSOM
Mr. Todd-Ashby appeared at the door, tall and solid in a long dressing gown and white cylindrical fez. He was an astonishing eighty-six years old, considering he had lived the last third of a century missing his right lung, and with the other lung working at two-thirds capacity. He greeted us warmly and we followed him into the house.
The bush was in flower. Early spring. From Mr. Ashby’s window you overlooked the thick bush of shrubs and gum trees on its descent down to the beach. The ocean beyond was rough a heavy surf breaking some distance from the sand.
Adele and I had driven up through French’s Forest, past Narrabeen and Mona Vale. After the turn off to Bungin Beach we were on the peninsula with the Pittwater to the west and the Pacific on the east. We had to drive up a narrow road that snaked between tall eucalyptus. A sudden squall with a fine but heavy rain broke as we got out of the car.
I had met Mr. Ashby two years before. He was having difficulty swallowing, a condition apparently related to the operation to remove his lung. Adele rang me up and insisted I see him. “He’s very bright and lively,” she said, “in spite of his condition. I’ve been his doctor for a number of years now. He’s really very lovely to work with.” Her voice was seductive with its lilt and tiny musical lift at the end of each sentence.
“What can I do in one go?” I said. “I’m leaving for the States in two days.”
“Oh, you’ll think of something,” she said. “I know you can help him.” Adele had more faith in my abilities than I had in myself.
Mr. Ashby barely had the strength to get up the stairs at the flat where I was staying. Despite this, I noticed that he had a lively energy. We spoke very briefly. He then lay on his back on the low table I used for lessons at the flat and literally put himself in my hands. For my part I quickly observed his situation. The right side of his chest and the compensating twist , in his neck resulted in a pressure on his throat which prevented his swallowing. I saw a need to expand his ribs on his right side. But how?
A very rapid reasoning resulted in an assessment: even if his lung had been removed, he still had the muscles in his chest. It was obvious, however, that he didn’t use them. I decided that it must be his knowledge of the fact of his missing lung that led to his collapsing his chest. What he needed, I thought to myself, was a lung, an imaginary lung. I even had a process in mind.
It was a gamble to expect Mr. Ashby to accept the strange exercise I was to propose to him. I was sure he would question it. The one thing I knew of his background was that he had been a well known-architect in London before he retired to the bush. However, the exercise went beautifully. I had Mr. Ashby explore the good lung as if it moved from the inside. When he was clear as to the nature of the movement, I had him imagine a right lung that moved in the same way. His chest immediately began to expand.
“Very clever,” he said to me afterwards. “I think I’ll enjoy working with your method. It certainly made a difference to me.” Adele called me three or four times in the intervening two years to tell me of Mr. Ashby’s continuing improvement. I was pleased about his progress, but was even more astonished at his remarkable intelligence and perceptiveness. He understood completely that we had made a successful fiction together. He knew how to use that fiction totally to his advantage, and it took only one single session.
Now Mr. Ashby was undergoing a new crisis. Adele suggested we see him at his home. This time he had apparently pulled a ligament between his rib and the connecting vertebra.
His pain was very apparent in his attempt to move ever so carefully and avoid bending or twisting. Despite his pain and labored breathing, he was cheerful and talkative. His words came in short, puffy breaths as he led us to his bedroom.
Adele said, “Mr. Ashby has designed this room for himself. You must see his bed. You can raise the bottom half or the top. Mr. Ashby has designed these special pegs for the purpose, which fit into different holes to create different heights.” The bed not only adjusted, but Mr. Ashby had designed a swivel arrangement with a hook that allowed the bed to be wheeled into different positions while also staying attached to the wall As interesting as I found the bed, I was even more attentive to the two framed photographs above it. These were both of Mr. Gurdjieff. One which I had seen before showed Mr G. looking fierce with his bald head, penetrating eyes, and turned up moustache. In the other he was smiling, wearing a fez and showing an unexpected sweetness in his face.
I peered into the adjacent part of the room. There was an English oak Chippendale desk over which hung two more photographs of Mr. Gurdjieff. One of these taken in Paris in his last year showed him fully erect and present, eating his dinner. To either side of these were two photographs of Madame de Salzmann. On top of the desk sat a small gold Buddha, perhaps Burmese or Thai.
Mr. Ashby sat down on his bed and invited us to bring chairs and sit for a moment.
“Did you know Mr. Gurdjieff personally?” I asked.
“Ah, yes,” he said. “I was fortunate to have been one of his pupils. An extraordinary man.” He paused to catch his breath. “I have a group here, you know. I have been teaching his work for years.”
“Were you at Fontainebleau?” I asked.
“No, no. I met Gurdjieff much later, in his last years in Paris, just after the war. He was at the height of his powers.” Although Mr. Ashby was audibly making short and distinct gasps as he spoke, his voice was steady and clear.
Adele watched as I gave Ashby his lesson. This time I worked without words. It was my hands that spoke. I asked him to lie on the bed on his side and placed a pillow under his head to make him comfortable. By placing one of my hands on his lower ribs and the other on his hip I could gently remind him how his ribs moved, how indeed he could allow more movement differentially and subtly between his chest and hips, chest and shoulders.
He did feel immediate relief afterwards. Slowly, he got himself up from the bed. I asked him to walk about a bit and feel the differences in himself. This he did with ease.
He then left us a short while to order some coffee and cookies for us. Somewhere in the other part of the house there were servants and Mrs. Ashby. I was to meet her on my next visit a week later, when I gave lessons to both Mr. and Mrs. Ashby, and was served a dinner of caviar stuffed into avocado halves, washed down with a glass of Armagnac. Mrs. Ashby was a small tidy woman who was equally a devotee of Gurdjieff.
She had accompanied Mr. Ashby all over the world in his pursuit of teachers. In fact it was an accident in the jungles of Venezuela while visiting a Gurdjieff community that led to her injuring her leg. Now that she had limped about for twenty years, she wanted me to help her walk more easily.
She too was an apt pupil. With each move I made with my hands to connect with her, I detected an immediate response.
As I guided her to feel how she could freely use her healthy uninjured leg, I could see how her keen awareness of herself led her to an understanding of what I was asking of her. And indeed when she stood up after the lesson, one could see that she now knew how to place her weight more evenly on her legs. Her walking too was visibly easier and more confident.
As we waited for the coffee and cookies, Mr. Ashby took me aside to tell me something special. Adele left to speak with Mrs. Ashby. “As I don’t generally tell anyone about this,” Mr. Ashby said, “these words are for you and you alone.”
I understood then that I was to receive a gift, and I took his admonition seriously. Mr. Ashby spoke first about pain, his own first, and, more generally, everyone’s. Pain was a part of life and everything in life was worth attending to. He, meaning himself or Mr. Gurdjieff, learned from pain, and therefore it was of no more consequence than anything else.
Mr. Ashby then related a story about Mr. Gurdjieff. It was about Mr. G. and a wrench that Mr. Gurdjieff had used with extraordinary force. Mr. Ashby described how Mr. G. placed that wrench back on a table. He reproduced the gesture for me with his own hand. It was exquisite. Mr. Ashby repeated it three more times. The powerful force of using the wrench dissolved into a movement of such grace, such delicacy that I can still see it, still feel it as some after-image in my own musculature.
Adele returned with the refreshments. We chatted lightly. I felt a need to be alone a moment. I wandered into the living room. Near the doorway, the lower ceiling was cut away in a large oval and I therefore stood under a very deep blue recess in the oval space. It was like standing under a night sky. I watched the ocean and the heavy clouds which rolled in. A large black bird with a long and slightly curved beak perched on the outer window sill. He had a yellow circle about his eye. We watched each other for what seemed a long time. He flew off as Adele fetched me for the return journey.
It was dusk. The rain had stopped. Adele said, “Just look. All the Daphne blossoms. I’ll get you one.” She walked to the end of the drive and picked a large blossom. She returned to the car.
“It has such a lovely aroma,” she said.
The fragrance was intense. It permeates my memory of the drive back. I thought again and again of the gesture that Gurdjieff had used and Mr. Ashby had duplicated for me. I saw in it the essence of what I know in my hands, that utter delicacy that I learned from my own teacher, Feldenkrais. I saw too that it was the innocence and openness of that gesture, its freedom from any thought, any preconceived constraint, its purity of intention, that led to its possibility. And that possibility is the possibility of the heart. This was Mr. Ashby’s gift to me.
From Joseph Azize:
At a meeting of 25 February 1985, Mr Adie read the pieces in parts 1 and 2 of this blog. They have been lightly edited, and references to his biblical allusions have been added. The quotation at the start of the first piece is Mr Adie’s own.
“I waited on the Lord, He inclined unto me. He heard my complaint.” (Psalm 40.1)
I try to open as I go about, but am greatly occupied by turning thoughts. Yet, even so, am I not, even dimly, aware of the great unknowable, the infinity of the-Creator-in-me? What can be more important than this? But for this knowledge to enter my field of consciousness I have to be aware of myself, and to pay for my life on the level of the external world. I must contribute and receive of that level, also. It is my life, and it is in this very life that I must actualize my possibility of becoming conscious, so that I may enter the great realm of self-certainty.
As I go, as I work, as I think, let me also be primarily aware of God-in-me, the-Creator-in-me. Let me have no doubt about it. Primarily, so that it is not pushed aside in me. Primarily. As I am aware, and become ever more conscious of my self-certainty (that is, as I remember myself), as I voluntarily manifest this process within me, with all it implies, let me also fulfill the external work in such a way as to benefit my fellow-creatures.
Let me not miss the sense of the-Creator-in-me, so that this sensing leavens my being. Let me also direct attention outwards, and thus share in the infinity of the great life of the everlasting and ceaseless sunrise of the creation. Let my labour be also for my neighbour.
When I look back, I see a vast vacuum of lost opportunities, repeated failures to understand life’s offerings, moments of rarest exchange squandered. All moments of lost love of friends, family, parents, children, strangers. All without response so from me, so that they withered and died in pain and disappointment.
These recollections arise and distract me. Yet, in my past, I have been able to stop thought, and to find myself. Then, indeed, I had refreshment so as to continue, but life and creation never ceases, the way always mounts before me, and now more is necessary. Now I have to repair these very bitter past failures … but how?
Now in the present … here is present suffering, and I am here also, present to accept, then to realize, and to actualize. These ghostly pictures which lie behind and now return can, just because they still return, be repaired now. Now I can make recompense for the past, in an act of acceptance that they occurred, accepting to suffer the pain of remorse without wishing to deny anything. In this voluntary act, they are at once repaired as time vanishes. Time is no longer. All is one, and I am that.
I look on the ocean, calm after endless days of storm, stretching now blue and serene to the horizon, and I hear in me the word: “Peace be still.” (Mark 4:9)
Now I give thanks for my present pain, which awakens me and tells me just now to fill in the present void with reparation.
I now deal with the present needs in the presence of the all-merciful Presence, the all-merciful Present.
After the reading the piece in Part 2, Mr Adie added this: “You know he spoke about the Merciless Heropass? In the now, it is merciful.” This ties in with something he said on another occasion, that on other levels of the universe (worlds 24 and above) the Heropass is less merciless. However, eternity is not freedom from time as such: it is an organic unity of different times, which being together in eternity, allow one to choose one’s time.
I think that these two pieces are interesting, not only for the biblical references, but more because of the impact which comes through them. There is a certain unity of feeling and intellect. They are not made up of nothing but new ideas (although some of the ideas were new to me), and yet they are fresh because their very delivery is such as to leave no doubt that this is a man who lived these experiences. He is not just a philosopher or even a philosopher of mysticism: he is a poet and an analyst combined, who is describing his actual realities in an impact-ful way.
The first piece illustrates something I have been coming to, perhaps slowly. Many have tried to align the Gurdjieff ideas and Christianity by “finding”, or perhaps more truly projecting Gurdjieff’s ideas into Christianity. Needleman’s Lost Christianity and Mouravieff’s works come to mind. Needleman’s book could be more accurately titled Reframed Christianity.
Such an approach is neither fair to either system. Rather, the methods of Christianity can be characterised, reasonably accurately, by reference to Gurdjieff’s food diagram. Christianity as we generally know it begins with the second conscious shock (an effort in the feeling, let us call it the transformation of negative emotions into positive), but says practically nothing about the first conscious shock (the conscious receipt of impressions). Gurdjieff goes on to say that the sure path is to commence from the first conscious shock, then one can move on to the second.
Seen in this way, there is no contradiction between systems and the wrong-headedness of projecting Gurdjieff’s ideas into Christianity is apparent. Mr Adie’s approach was quite different. One makes one’s efforts, and one remembers God-in-me. This is possible, because, as Gurdjieff said, “Behind Real I lies God.” Or to put it another way, one makes the efforts we were taught by masters like the Adies, but one dedicates them to God. I am fortified in this approach by recollecting that Gurdjieff said that his teaching was esoteric Christianity.
From: Joseph Azize
On 14 May 1980, one of Mr Adie’s oldest pupils asked a question: “Mr Adie? Last Wednesday, in the small group, I had such a realisation that night that all the anger and things I have felt over all the years are within me … I had thought somehow that it was outside. It was a completely different understanding, because although I’ve had the head knowledge, the real understanding has never taken place like it did last Wednesday. It’s all so clear, that … it was just that feeling of direct knowing … But still, when you mentioned the signs of manipulation, I felt that over the years I had at times worked very sincerely for my being but yet it struck me how much has been manipulation. The impact was … very enormous.”
Mr Adie replied to her that the question now was how to keep it? “You’ll keep it”, he said, “by deepening it. Continue bringing it to yourself. It could be alive in the moment …
It can bring you to what you seek. But, we haven’t come to anything like our most difficult moments. So now, use it every chance you get, so that when the moments are more difficult it will be available.”
“Somehow, I can’t quite – I don’t know which way to go, or how not to be acting on impulse or wrong reasons …”
“The essential thing is to be there yourself, because if you’re not there, everything is chance – and chance loaded to the way of repeating what has gone before. So the essence is yourself, and not to have fear about what may transpire. If you yourself are there, that is the most desirable possibility. The only fear is that you won’t be there. There is no other real fear. That is the only objective fear.”
“So, the greater the difficulty, in a way the greater the direction it gives. When people are in a really tight corner, their physical lives threatened, very very often, they are called. They know what to do, immediately, because it’s a big question. It’s an essence question. And it’s the same with the work. You can use everything, even the most difficult. Of course, nobody would wish certain things. But why wish it to be different? It’s a waste of time. And it’s miraculous what can take place. But be very careful of looking for the dividend, too. You know what happened to Job? In the end he waxed stronger than ever. After all his tribulations he became strong. But he wouldn’t have if that had been his sole purpose.”
“There’s an ineffable love in the justice of circumstance. There are very difficult circumstances which no one would choose. But one sees that if can understand and confront them, one is immediately given something greater.”
On 15 December 1982, Mr Adie read us the following piece:
This expression has meaning for most people, but they never ponder this or relate it to their own daily life. They do not, unless they are deeply religious, wish to realize that everything in the universe and in themselves proceeds and can only proceed according to the will of God – according to the will of the absolute, according to the laws of creation.
And now I ponder, I place myself and adjust my posture, inner and outer, so that there is formed in me a receptacle, an oratory, an inner place in which this work and the fine life force of these words may echo, be experienced, and find a response in me.
I realize that all things are in accordance with God’s will, all my actions, even my bad manifestations. For according to the will of God, I am granted the possibility of a power of choice of direction, either for evolution and development, or for involution and self-destruction.
So now I wish to remember this reality and to experience the reality of the operation of my will becoming merged in the will of God.
Just as my will is part of the will of God, so is my inner sense of place and reality: this also is part of the place and the reality of God.
So when I go within to find I, I go also to find I in God.
Mr Adie then added, ex tempore, the following: “If I work practically, I become more and more conscious of difficulties. I am twisted, I am tormented, I find myself in difficult situations – or so I tell myself. I need these connections. When it’s bad, just then I take advantage of it. I have to deal with the features of my sleep, and for our work now we must return to the features of our sleep. We reassess our position in the light of our past work on ourselves – we have some knowledge, if we ponder, if we take the trouble.
“We do not realize sufficiently clearly, unequivocally, deeply and frequently enough that the features of our sleep, which constitute the ground and substance of our work, is a totally inner ground. All of its lies and considerings – which we balance against imaginary external factors – are a totally inner phenomenon. There is no external reality to which these features of my inner subjective state are related. All the supports for our self-willed torment, our suffering and miseries, are inner.”
On 8 June 1983, Mr Adie opened a meeting saying: “Doing is possible for us. So often it is repeated in the work that we cannot do, but we also need to remember that we can do – we have to! This work of attention is our doing. Our doing is not external – that is all nonsense. The only doing for us is inner doing.”
I have written about this topic on the blog. I think many could benefit from this corrective to the formatory application and superficial understanding of the idea that we cannot “do”. Mr Adie then went on to speak about “creating sun in myself”, an idea which Gurdjieff brought, but which is very little known.
“ I have spoken before about creating sun within myself: the experience of an affirmative, positive and intelligent element within myself. This is our aim, this is our doing, to create sun within ourselves. We come to learn and practice, to be able to do just this. It sounds beautiful, even poetic, but it must be very much more. We have not sufficiently realised that I can and must observe my state, and change my state.
“We already possess this vital power – the power to change our state. This is our work, to consciously observe my state and to remain present, consciously experiencing the change of my state. So, when I experience, in a moment, the conviction of this possibility, it becomes crystallised in me. I call it the crystal “I can change my state”, and then, there is another crystal, “I ONLY can change my state”. We need to try to jump from one stream to another. I endeavour to divide the life-force of my attention so that I accept this life in the so-called normal stream, and am aware of myself as participator in this normal level. At the same time, this awareness, for the extent of its duration, allows us to participate also in the conscious life of the higher realm. This effort brings us into touch with this higher realm, with its life and its vivid impressions. We touch this by consciously experiencing the impression of I AM, the being-reality. It has to be there many times, for each single flash puts down a particle of the substance which will be crystallised.
“My state will inevitably change, and I can be present to these changes, in a flash. If I am conscious as my state changes, I learn how the panoply operates, and how a beam of my attention can affect the processes as they are occurring. Something arises within me: I can in fact appear within myself and manifest myself to myself, in the sun of my being. My presence is illuminated.”
He then went on to relate these ideas to the first and second conscious shocks. Anyone not familiar with them should read “In Search of the Miraculous”, pp. 180-193. However, as one person commented to me after reading this, Mr Adie here says more about the second conscious shock than Ouspensky did. “The first conscious shock, remembering myself, is connected to the second conscious shock, the transformation of negative emotion into positive emotion: for you recall that there is no interval between these two shocks. The first conscious shock will pass into the second, by law, provided only that I accept my experience, that I do not interfere, neither recoiling from nor denying it . Then this miracle is possible for me, and I become aware of that active all-embracing love based on impartiality.
“Impartiality and acceptance go together: they are inseparable. Without impartiality all the attributes of love and faith and hope are impossible. The basis of love is impartiality, and the basis of impartiality is acceptance. The “acceptance” spoken of here is the acceptance of all that is as it is, without wishing for anything to be not as it is. To ordinary logic this is an utter absurdity. In fact, it is objective truth. This is a moment of eternity, and so includes all other moments of my life, all other moments of eternity, because each moment of reality is successive, causal, lawful and unique. Each moment has come from the never-ceasing transformation according to law, and passes, always by law, into the next. So the unconditional acceptance of one moment with all its qualities and implications, seen and unseen, known and unknown, brings acceptance of all alternative aspects. The knowledge and the deepening experience of this truth makes possible the being-experience of impartiality – the flashing second of present unconditional acceptance.
“The state of impartiality is thus a state of coexistence, and makes possible the experience of a higher realm of reality, where there operates the trinity of conscious forces, the third force of which is called “love”. And so we come to the manifestation of the laws of a higher world in this world, the miracle. Often we refuse, we will not accept things as they are without a reward. You know it is said: “Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to render to every man according to his works.” [The Apocalypse of St John (Revelation) 22:12.] The reward is stated there, it is “I”. No other reward is needed.
“You see, by the act of acceptance, one achieves the sacrifice of suffering. Acceptance is an inner act: it is shown in the painting of The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci upstairs – it is on display.”
I will just pause here: Mr Adie has in fact been speaking about the second conscious shock: he has simply not made the connection clear. He is saying that impartiality makes possible acceptance, and that is an aspect of the second conscious shock. Characteristically, he points us to a work of art. He then continued, now linking the idea of “moon in myself” to the discipline needed to prepare for the second conscious shock and thus for “sun in myself”. What he is expressing is that the second conscious shock is a stage in the creation of sun in myself, a stage which must be repeated time and again.
“Until I have moon in myself, a centre of gravity, I cannot sacrifice my suffering: they go together. Moon in myself is a power of control over my inner movements, over my movements of thought, of feeling, of body. Without sufficient control, for a sufficient length of time, I cannot sacrifice my suffering, and until I have sacrificed my suffering I cannot have sun in myself – there is not the space. So we seek an external awakening factor, something outside of us, some arrangement in our external life circumstances, which reminds us of our aim. You know we have each year, on the thirteenth, the reading from Mr Gurdjieff’s own life, of how he made a vow, and thus provided for himself such a factor.
“But we use externals the wrong way: we assign to external conditions the causes of our suffering, when we could put them to a conscious use. I have to meet that man, I cannot abide him, okay, but instead of complaining about how unfair it is, I plan for that external condition. Or there is some loathsome job I have to do … a thousand different things. Each one of us needs to find his own. In assigning to some external condition the cause of our unconscious suffering, we manifest negative emotion, dislike, refusal. This non-acceptance, these difficulties, our chief fault, these could all be a dripping roast for us. Some people cannot bear the thought of Hitler, others cannot bear the thought of Mrs Thatcher. But I have to accept the facts without getting upset – it’s like having a thousand pound notes and tearing them up one after the other.
“I shackle myself when I try and justify my attitude. But if, instead, I put myself in the way of the very thing I hated most, if I owned up to the truth which something in me feared to admit, this would be an excellent awakening factor. I seek out this thing I would avoid … I have to plan my suffering. I go to see that person whom I dread, and so I make my suffering, it becomes intentional. The incredible thing is that we don’t know that we love our suffering. People love their suffering – of course they do – they wouldn’t go on repeating and repeating and repeating their complaint and their arguments unless they loved them. But while we might say we agree, we never really face that fact in relation to our own suffering.
“It is an extraordinary state of self-hypnotism. I have to free myself from this thing which is dominant, but it is very difficult because it works from inside me, and it has a momentum like a sort of anti-vortex, going the wrong way. And yet, the morning preparation is the work of “immediate doing”.
“And so I wish to speak about the symbolism of the work, because a symbol expresses several truths at once, in a way which bypasses the ordinary brain, and stands above our famous logic. A symbol is not so easy to argue with, to wiseacre over. It is a very interesting word, “wiseacre”, used in the English translation of All and Everything. This wonderful translation was made by Orage, who really helped to create the book, because he fashioned it from the translations from other languages, and this influenced the translation backwards and forwards. This word “wiseacre” is an authentic English word, it refers to the clever man who bubbles away, but doesn’t really know what he’s speaking of … it’s make-believe, but very self-important … wiseacring. This is translated in the French as “chercher midi à quatorze heures”, to look for midday when it’s already two o’clock in the afternoon. Always looking for the impossible, always wishing that it could be different. If only Hitler could have been a well-brought up child, he would have been so different. This is always what we do instead of working – if only this person had done what they should have, I would not have to do this now, and so I won’t.
“Now to study the symbolism of the work, we will bring together certain concepts of the work, and finding their relation. If there is any difficulty in understanding, it means that I have omitted one of the central work concepts, and so we go limping along, never getting it quite straight.”
And one can see that this is what Mr Adie has done: used the symbols of the moon and sun to express, in an effable way, the path of conscious development and the requisite transformation of negative emotion. Now, a young man asked a question:
Luke: “How does one find what prevents one from accepting? The reason I bring it is because there are times when I think I have accepted a situation I am in, and shortly afterwards, I find I haven’t.”
“Yes, everybody knows about that. You can score a century when you dream about cricket, but get him to the wicket – [laughter]. I have to come to myself and separate out my thought, my so-called thought, from my dreams. I think I have accepted, but this is just an illusion. If at that time I was present to the sensation in my toes, my elbows, my belly, my head could not wander off into fantasies. If I have divided my attention, the ordinary processes are robbed of some of that force, and they cannot go on the same way. And they cannot bear to be looked at. This is why I said that we must change our state: if we do not, we will never shift. But if I can give something up and reposition myself … if I were devoid of all discrimination, there would be no chance at all.”
Annie then asked: “Mr Adie, that partly answers my question. An example of something I find difficult to accept is one of my children’s whinging.”
“Do you realise that you may well be the cause? She’s too young to know any other way. And she hasn’t heard about sacrificing her suffering. … Or do you expect her to sacrifice her suffering?”
“Yes, I suppose that I do.”
“It’s not very likely to happen. Really, you’re expecting your six year old to do what you cannot do. How could she be different? You wouldn’t like her to be a half-wit would you? No? Well, if she didn’t complain, she would be! So be grateful that she does. Does that give you a practical approach? Take it, because if you’re serious, and you want to work, there is ground for work. It means that something is not understood, that false personality has become mixed in our attitude to the work: something conceited has entered, and we now have this attitude that everyone around me must manifest as I think they should.”
This thing, “false personality”, incidentally, is our flattering and false picture of ourselves. It is not to be confused with personality: chains of associations in or across centres. Then a “clever young man” (not me) spoke:
“Mr Adie, in much of Mr Gurdjieff’s writing he speaks of “intentional suffering”. I’m not sure I can reconcile the notion of intentional suffering with giving up our suffering, as you have been encouraging, at least I can’t.”
“You won’t give up your suffering unless you intend to experience it, let me tell you that. There is no need for me to explain it: rather than quibbling, look for the meaning behind these symbols. “Intentional suffering” isn’t going out and wantonly causing pain to yourself or other people. How could it be? When you have prepared yourself, you make a plan, and confront the suffering which is already in your life. But in our ordinary way, we do not, we are identified with it. We will give up anything before we give up a suffering with which we are identified, especially some ill done to me: [assuming a character] “that ill which was done me, well it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right … and I’m afraid I shall always have that opinion.” [laughter] So, I’m stuck, and I hold fast to this suffering – “I’m a man!” [laughter] What is your attitude towards something that you cannot accept? In a word?
“It is your customary attitude. So I have to bring myself into a state which is not my customary state. I have to bring myself into a more awake, conscious, balanced state, and ponder it impartially. I will see that I cannot blame these people: they have heard less than I have; I cannot do, and yet I expect them to be able to do. I aim to sacrifice my absurdity, my rules and my fixed ideas; to become much more alive, flexible and even have a sense of humour. Look at what it costs me – I am left without a sense of humour – and I receive no allowance for my temper!
“This question of intentional suffering is tremendous: it is half the work. Recall, it is conscious labour and intentional suffering … conscious labour, because I never want to do anything, it wants to do it. I always want to do it for reward, and if there is no reward it’s all the same to me, the television, the pub. I do not understand that my reward is my being. The work is so much bigger than we are, infinitely bigger. And yet it is there so that we can receive. Does that give you something to use?”
He quickly agreed that it did. But Mr Adie wanted a more measured answer: “Something practical?” Yes, he replied.
Then Jonathan asked: “I am beginning to see that something in me tries to just change certain states I’m in because I don’t like them … gloomy states … rather than try and understand them, or accept them.”
“It’s not a bad idea to get rid of dreary states, but something else likes them more than what dislikes them, perhaps. That’s so difficult to understand, but it’s a custom. It’s based on absurd notions that we’ve picked up somehow. One’s seen people gloomy and one has accepted it, see? And now I have to deal with this. It’s good that you have this query about it, because you need to be more perceptive, more discriminating.”
Jonathan agreed, and Mr Adie asked: “And then bring specific examples when we’re small groups?” “Yes”, he replied. The next exchange was classic:
Danielle: “Mr Adie, if you have a particular grudge towards a person, and you –
“You say if you do?”
“Or you have?”, Mr Adie enquired.
“Good. That’s better.”
“But if I’m willing to surrender –
“Are you willing?”
Danielle was not deterred: “But if I try and work on it!”
“I cannot give you an insurance policy.”
“No, but what I want to know is, do you have to go and reestablish relations with that person?”
“It’s no good like that. I’d keep it until your attitude is different. You would go to see this person, while nursing a grudge. Isn’t that the position you’re putting to me?”
“It looks that way.”
“Then it looks as it is. None of this “if”. It means I’m dilly-dallying. And what if I should do this, and what if I were to do that? I’m not concerned, really, I’m just an onlooker – someone who watches the game from the side but doesn’t know it, really – doesn’t participate. I need to establish an impartial attitude. Reason should help you, but realizing what your feeling is: fixed feeling. We spoke of love earlier. Where is it? It cannot be there. Well, are you willing to settle for that? No, not with your head. I want to use my head, but then go past it – make it become a fact. Still, still not sure. Could you say what your feeling is? Try to find out the quality of your feeling. Do you have any feeling in relation to how you’re working on this problem? Or for how you’re related to somebody … anybody? Try and think about it, and feel what it means to be a machine with a grudge. I cannot settle for that, I must change my inner state. Free yourself from the “if”. Don’t let there be any “if” about it. Very important word, “if”. Over the gates of hell: “IF”.
“Try not to be separate from each other. Mr Gurdjieff always taught by family. We want to feel that we are family – a special kind of relationship.”
FROM JOSEPH AZIZE
At the time I wrote the book (George Adie: A Gurdjieff Pupil in Australia), there were two matters I omitted: the first because I had forgotten it, and the second because, strange to say, I negligently omitted to include it.
The Morning Sun
In chapter VII of Beelzebub’s Tales, “Becoming Aware of Genuine Being-Duty”, Beelzebub advises Hassein that it is “indispensably necessary that every day, at sunrise, while watching the reflection of its splendour …” he should do certain things (p.78). These amount, I think, to the preparation as Mr Adie had it from Gurdjieff. Incidentally, Mr Adie said that this advice was meant literally, and he took it himself. He would set his alarm in order to be working at his morning preparation as the sun rose. Sunlight has the property of suffusion, so it is not necessary to be in the direct sunlight. It is sufficient to be where the sunlight can find one. Even if it is raining, it doesn’t matter: the sun is up and its force is in the atmosphere.
Solita Solano records in her diaries that on 2 November 1935 Gurdjieff said: “…morning sun is best for us, the only time of day when the rays contain certain properties necessary for our understanding.” I associate this with the Phoenician Solar Theology, as preserved by the Emperor Julian from Iamblichus the Syrian Neoplatonist: “… the sunlight which is sent forth everywhere is the immaculate action of pure mind itself.”
I did mention at p.46 of the book that Mr Adie was a single-lung invalid, and had very little of even that single lung left. The London doctors believed that it the operation was necessary, but it turned out that there was nothing wrong with his lungs at all. He said he had gained a great deal from this accident: he had to struggle with self-pity, with criticism of the doctors and so on. But the point he always returned to was that because breathing was so difficult for him, he had always to pay attention to it. That is, he used the necessity of watching his breath as a reminding factor. Awareness of the breath is extremely important in the Gurdjieff method: it brings together the raising of sensation to consciousness, and feeds the feeling. Awareness of the breath aids in assimilating the higher hydrogens present in the air. (It is also critical in other traditions: for example, see Nikiphorus the Solitary in the Philokalia.)
This awareness will not come automatically from having a breathing problem. But if I have the problem, I can make a conscious connection to my aim. I will forget my aim, but I see the circumstances when I am most likely to forget, I prepare for them, and I practice. I repeat, and repeat and repeat.
click on image to enlarge
“Doing” and “Not-Doing”
On 15 and 22 August 1990, Jim Wyckoff of the New York Foundation attended meetings at Newport. Mr Adie had died a little more than 12 months earlier. In May 1990, some of our people had visited Paris for guidance, and Michel de Salzmann had told them to try and work with Jimmy Wyckoff, as he was already coming to Sydney to visit the Foundation group there. And so Jim Wyckoff came to take questions at Newport. After that second evening, he asked me whether the meetings were being taped. He was not keen on the idea, and said that one should try and work in the present. However, he added, they have been taped and there is no need to destroy the records. Use the material, but as sparingly as possible. Some of what he said, for example, his answers to Stan and to myself have proved to have enduring meaning for me, and I think that the material may have value for others too. So let’s use the material … if sparingly. Here are a few questions from each of those nights, and then in Part Two, some comments.
15 August 1990 was the first occasion when Jim Wyckoff sat in front of a group at Newport. The Wednesday before, in a combined meeting (for this term see George Adie: A Gurdjieff Pupil in Australia), Ken Adie had brought an exercise from his father which involved making diary notes after the morning preparation. Now, having tried the exercise for a week, Basil brought an observation about how much it had given him, and how fresh it had seemed to him to sit quietly after his preparation and spend a little time digesting it, valuing his being, rather than hurrying off into life, as usual. Throughout the day he had found himself quieter, remembering his hourly appointments. He could see himself dragged out, but then he would recollect himself more quickly.
Yes, replied Jim Wyckoff, something simple like that can help me. But I see that I cannot “do” it, and it is not something I can gain or acquire. Maybe what I need is to give something up, such as my tension, my hurry, or my compulsive thinking, so that there is room for something else. I open and listen for my work. We are made of an energy which everything is made of, so maybe something in me can correspond to what it seeks. I don’t know, said Jim, but I can be patient. If I was watching an animal in the bush, I wouldn’t rush in … I would be quiet and watch, he said, dropping his voice. I can be patient like that, with myself. Not with “my” attention, but with “the” attention. It is not mine.
Then Esmeralda spoke. Like Basil, she had been with Mr Adie for many years, and he had a profound respect for each of them, even if he sometimes found some of Esmeralda’s ways exasperating. She spoke about how she was when with her daughter, realizing that there were difficulties in that relationship, and that she had done no work at all in respect of that for years. This is how things go, Esmeralda said, I pick something up, there is a result, and then I let it drop for a number of months or years until I return to the same situation, the same area of work. I never really make use of what I could make use of, she said. The possibilities seem so rich, and I know that things can change and be improved, but then I squander those possibilities. Even listening to the question some 20 years later, its truth still has an impact. And to her credit, she did realize that she had a tendency to “not deal” with things which needed to be addressed.
Well there’s a lot that needs to be done, replied Jim Wyckoff, but that still doesn’t mean that I can “do”, does it? I need to experience, I need to learn how to perceive. I try to perceive by going out, but to perceive I need to take in, I need to be. We live under laws, I start DO RE MI and then I go MI RE DO. I know it, but I don’t feel it. I think that if something starts it can be continuous, but Mr Gurdjieff tells us that the vibrations are discontinuous. This question of trying to do something about my situation is in my way. If I really understand that I know nothing, then I can learn something. But whatever I try and learn, I put it on top of what I already have. I am brought up to acquire something, and then I get graded on it. But when I see that I am simply an expression of life, like all of nature, then perhaps I could accept to simply experience myself through the sensing awareness of the body, which is the receiving of something, not a going out. Like that. Does that make sense to you?
Yes, Esmeralda replied, thank you. Then Stan, a talented young man, spoke of his jealousy, resentment and envy in relation to his wife. He could see how it affected both of them. Jim Wyckoff asked, are you saying that you are concerned about how she treats you? Yes, answered Stan.
You’re concerned about how she treats your image, your ego?
Well, is that all you are? Your ego? Now I am asked to try and see my SELF beyond the I in quotation marks. Am I the I in quotation marks who thinks he should be considered by his wife? Or am I something other than that, from which that other I is derivative? Study your body when you’re in that state. It’s tight, and closed, but I still have that spark of life. Then, if they want to consider me, that it’s alright, and if they don’t, then that’s alright too. Am I concerned about their opinion? That’s a load of nonsense, isn’t it?
But what about my feeling? I don’t mean my emotion, I mean the feeling, this reconciling force which Mr Gurdjieff speaks of? How can I look for that, how can I touch that? I can’t make it appear, because that will be more of the ego trying. Maybe it’s there. When you work you find that something changes. I don’t mean like a rearrangement of the furniture, but the quality is different. The sense of yourself and of time is different. I don’t say “I’m going to sense myself, as if I was the author”. I don’t have to be first and foremost. You are you. Listen with your whole self, your body, not just your ears. I listen and see that I am different. How did I attract that state, not how did I do it? My preparation is not to get that state, it is to be in such a way that that can come. It could be a very interesting study. Not how to overcome it, how to get rid of it, but how to see, is it possible that something can be transformed here, although it is not something I do. You know if you put an empty cup in a sink full of water, it will fill it. You don’t have to fill it, just put it in.
Loreto then brought a question: what can I trust? That is the question, replied Wyckoff: or perhaps I should ask, can I be trusted? I get very tight, but it doesn’t have to be like that. You know how you can get up and go to work, but you know you have an appointment at 5 o’clock, say you’re going to see Shakespeare, and you’re looking forward to it. You’re working all day, but you still have this sense of anticipation. It can be like that, but not hurried. I ask myself, who am I? What am I? (His voice dropped when he asked these questions.) I listen with that inner listening, and if I don’t find it today, then I don’t find it. And then there’s the question that maybe that force needs me. Instead of me finding something, I need to be found. That is enough from the first evening.
The next week, Andrea mentioned how she had been in a conversation with someone. The other person was seeking her help in respect of something, and it seemed to be a rather intimate and personal matter. Andrea was trying to console her, and as she sat there, she started to become aware of extraordinary sense that two human beings were in contact. She had rarely ever had this type of simple contact in a conversation before. It was a discovery for her.
And it can be a discovery the next time, too, replied Jim. Our relationships with other people tend to be based exclusively on “yes” and “no.”. But on occasions a force can appear which is neither “yes” nor “no”, but recognition. If I work in a certain way, it appears. When I work, I become different. I’m a different person, and this force recognizes me: we recognize each other.
I was the second person to speak that evening. I had been struggling with anxiety about a conflict with some people, when I had remembered Mr Adie’s injunction: “Never forget the Creator. Never forget the Creator of all that exists.” That had dissipated the anxiety. (I still vividly recall the moment: I was sitting in the bottom level of a rather over-heated train). That night I woke from sleep, the anxiety reappeared, and bang, right behind it was this other recollection, and I was present, free from anxiety.
You see, said Mr Wyckoff, the situation helped you. One tends be against such situations, because they are unpleasant and tire you. But it’s as if I need the opposition, as if I were a wrestler who needs an opponent to struggle against, so that I can grow. (Incidentally, wrestling is the only sport I was ever any good at, but I doubt Jim knew that.) What is the difference in me? It’s not just a different attitude: there’s a basic change in my body too. Be observant for it. Oh, he added, it’s a good idea, if you wake up in the night, whether anxious or not, to immediately work.
The third question was from Tim, who relayed, as often one finds in groups, a fairly bare if not even despondent account of realizing that some effort was made, but feeling as if he couldn’t make any. And in fact, despite his better knowledge, he had not made an effort. How he could move in such situations?
We’re all passive, replied Jim Wyckoff. We want outside stimulation, an interesting person, a book, a film, or an idea. Such stimulation moves the energy in me and I like that, so we go to parades, football games and so on. But that quality is not what we here are after. We have had a taste of a finer quality of energy that seems to appear from nowhere, and I’ve been told that if I work in a certain way, it appears. However, my habits and my armour hold me back. I need to know the difference by taste (he lightly stressed these two words), because I identify with the better feelings which appear. I need to begin again, even if I am feeling better. Never say “I’ve arrived”, because in the next breath it’s gone. Something may be looking for me, not just me looking for it, because it would not come if it did not recognize something. Like attracts like. The difference in me is recognized by this force. So wait, be patient. But actively wait. Actively be patient. For you never know when the hour cometh.
Then Samantha spoke. She had seen a feature in herself, she said which she wanted to change. She had attempted to do so before, and it had gone for single days, but had always come back. She knew, too, that something in her was indeed attached to it. She needed to but could not change her attitude. Was she perhaps not sufficiently serious? Was that clear enough, she asked?
“Yes”, Jim Wyckoff replied, “the difficulty of course is that I want to do something about it.” He emphasized the word “do”. I want to get rid of it, or change it. “I want to do something about it”, he reiterated with the same emphasis. But what I need is to study it, he said. I cannot do anything about it because I’m the one who allowed it in the first place. Take something like tennis, for instance. Say the coach tells you that you’re holding the racquet in the wrong way, or standing in the wrong position. You want to change it, but you can’t. The old way of moving is too strong. You see?
Samantha agreed. The same thing applies here, continued Jim. When it happens try and notice what takes place without reacting to it. We don’t see our habits, we just see their effects. But to see what goes on inside, for that I need patience and observation.
Then Lindy spoke. Yesterday she had initially been able to observe what went on during conversations with a difficult person at work, even when this woman became quite upset. Lindy had felt sympathy for her, but then this person had attacked her, Lindy, which upset her a great deal. Lindy could think of the work and of observation, but she could not move, she was frozen. She had held up her hand in a gesture of protest but had not been able to speak. What could she do when she was paralyzed like that?
I cannot control anything, replied Mr Wyckoff. One can speak of self-control, and one can squash something down, but then one can also speak of work and only have but the thought of it. What really counts is the memory of being in work without any notion of controlling anything or anybody, but simply to see what happens. What was really happening? You have pictures that you were doing something and she was doing something, but what was really happening – by way of force? There is something happening which I don’t see. I record it only after it has happened, although it’s so quick that it seems to be simultaneous. But when you’re more connected you’re in a different time, and you weren’t in that different time on that occasion, were you?
No, Lindy replied. So, continued Jim, I can remember that there is something I don’t see and I can draw back. It is like how if you’re looking at that picture and you’re standing right there in the corner of the room you can’t really see it and what’s around it. You need to draw back and then you can see it. Like that.
The last question I will deal with came from Esmeralda. She returned to her question of the week before. She said that she thought had understood what Mr Wyckoff had said, but when she came to put it into practice, it was a “complete mess”. She had been with her daughter while she was practising her violin, and she tried to have a certain state with her, but it was quite the reverse, she was worse than ever. It seems to me, said Esmeralda, that when you speak, I understand something and something responds, but tomorrow, this condition won’t be there.
But something will be there, maybe, said Jim. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I don’t know what’s going to happen in five minutes, and the moment I say that, it puts me in a different place. I assume that work is only up to me … well there’s a job for me, but what comes to me, I don’t create that. I open to it, so it’s a big work. My effort is up to me, but when I allow a place that corresponds to this other force, it comes, doesn’t it? When I try and do something about it or think about it, I close. I’m ordering my life, I’m ordering the universe, even. But I wonder what’s going to happen today when we play the violin? It’s different. I don’t just listen o the violin, but to my body, because that’s where I hear the music, not just in the ears, but in the body.
To my mind, at least, Jim Wyckoff had some substantial insights. He also had a good quiet style in groups, and while he spoke, one felt a confidence that much was possible. But in retrospect, I think that Esmeralda’s experience over those two weeks was everyone’s, whether they would concede it or not. With him, we felt that it was simple. We were getting in our own way. But when it came to using his advice in daily life, then like fairy gold which glittered by night there was only dust in one’s pocket by daylight. People may disagree, but that is my view. Wyckoff could indeed deliver moments of uplift: no doubt at all. But these left little trace. However, there are techniques, there are methods: many of them. But Jim Wyckoff only really understood the use of sensation, if indeed he understood that, because he did not see that even for this, an aim is needed.
Mr Wyckoff had some tremendous flashes, and he had some follies. His answer to Samantha is an example: it was nonsense to say that a tennis player cannot change his grip or stance. They do it often. I have even checked with a tennis player who gave me some interesting information about the different grips and stances and how while older people might find them unusual at first, or awkward, he had never met anyone who could not with some attention change either. It is formatory to say one cannot “do”: incidentally, one could look up George Adie: A Gurdjieff Pupil in Australia in the index under “change”, “doing (do)” and “formatory (as in “formatory thought”) to see what the authentic teaching of Gurdjieff, Ouspensky and Adie was in these regards. Gurdjieff even said: “A man who works is always seeking for means to do.” (3 August 1944). But the concepts of change and doing are related to aim: aim must come first. The ability to do, Gurdjieff said, is the ability to attain a projected aim (see George Adie, p.56 and the materials cited there, see also the lectures “The Point of Doing” and “Doing” at pp.112-20 of that book).
If I cannot “do”, and it is so absolute as that, then neither can I study. Neither can I listen. There is no point in his advice: which is what Esmeralda effectively said. “Learn by doing”, said Gurdjieff, “repeat, repeat, repeat. Work until the sweat runs neither only from your brows but also from your heels”. “I cannot work”, said Jim Wyckoff, “I am worked.” Which sounds more inviting?
I do not say this to abuse him or his memory, but the fact is that “aim” is something Jim Wyckoff simply did not understand. As I mentioned in my earlier blog: “Did Gurdjieff Found the Gurdjieff Groups?”, he rebuffed a question about it by telling me not to think in terms of aim.
The concept of doing is distorted if approached in a formatory way. As I show in George Adie, “do” and “cannot do” can be reconciled. One needs a third force: an aim, or at least a motive, perhaps new knowledge, perhaps a new understanding. We even see people in life, with no connection to the Gurdjieff groups let alone to any religion, who change their lives. We see drug addicts beat their dependencies, we see people leave grudges behind, we see reconciliations. How could an intelligent man arrive at Jim Wyckoff’s conclusions?
I think the answer is that Wyckoff himself did not “do”: he was fortunate to come under certain conditions, and he had a mind capable to insights. But he was a rather feckless person, who never learned to think: he never acquired an ability for logical-confrontation. He saw deeply, but I never saw evidence that he could analyse. His books support me: whatever virtues they have, analysis and logic are not among them. In The Lost Continent of Atlantis (1968), he narrates Plato’s myth, with little discernable added value. He mentions that “Atlantologists” say that “Gadir” is the only surviving name in the Atlantean language (p.20). Jim would be helpless in the face of such an assertion: he would not know how to test it. But this is in fact a well-known Phoenician word, as many books on the Mediterranean would have told him. This would have lead to a more fruitful line of enquiry: the relationship between Phoenicia and Greek mythology. Typical, also, is his ending on p.92, that when man has found Atlantis, he may have found “something of himself. Maybe then he will know then who he really is and why he is here on earth.” Sounds good, may even sound great. But nothing whatever in the book has lead up to this. It is just a portentous statement he added at the end of the book. Jim certainly did not know why we were here, as he said (see below).
Then, in Wilhelm Reich: Life Force Explorer (1973), consider the statement at pp.120-1 that in “a sick world” anyone who is sane is bound to seem mad. What is madness, Wyckoff rhetorically asks, but that area where we place our devils, our enemies and our God? I read this to a friend of mine, a doctor (meaning, a physician). Oh no, she said, madness exists alright, and it is a horrifying thing. She was speaking from experience in the mental health wards of Sydney’s hospitals. Even from my limited exposure to genuinely mad people, I would say that Wyckoff’s statement is once more, big sounds, no content, and certainly no attempt to justify it. We place God in madness? What in heaven does he mean? It is not even undergraduate level. I could continue with other parts from the book, but you have the picture.
I suspect that Mr Wyckoff’s real passion was not Gurdjieff, but Reich. I think this is why Jim would mention “armour” (Reich referred to “body armour”), why he placed so much emphasis on sensation of the body, and why his real strength in the Gurdjieff work was in the movements, but certainly not in the ideas. This would explain why “aim”, “chief feature”, “essence”, “higher being bodies” and similar concepts from Gurdjieff meant nothing to him; why in fact he eschewed them.
Jim Wyckoff’s crypto-Reichianism is why he hardly ever read Beelzebub. He did not understand it, and it was a world away from Reich, with its Most Most Holy Absolute, its angels and its discourse on the reasons for man’s existence. I once heard Jim ask rhetorically: “Why are we here? Who cares, I don’t want to know. All that matter is we are here”. Well Gurdjieff cared. It was the reason for the entire panoply of ideas and techniques and his answers are the heart of his book. It is ironic that Wyckoff expresses the wish that Reich be studied without “distortion” (p.136), because that is what I feel he brought to Gurdjieff: distortion.
It seems to me now that the big problems for the Gurdjieff groups emerged in the 1960s, and it is no coincidence, perhaps that the Catholic Church went through what can only be fairly described as a process of Protestantisation during that period. Catholic theologians came very close to Luther’s idea of salvation by faith alone, and certainly not human works. The same thing happened with Gurdjieff: “work”, “aim”, “doing”, were all very hard and de-emphasized, if not done away with altogether.
Did Jeanne de Salzmann effectively Protestantise the Orthodox teaching and methods of Gurdjieff? It is an intriguing line of thought: the Gurdjieff exercises were no longer needed: one just called down higher energy. The old rituals with their rules and stately order were discarded, yet Gurdjieff had said that “every ceremony or rite has a value if it is performed without alteration” (Miraculous, p.303). So why were his exercises not performed without alteration? Look at what happened with the movements. No longer did one study the movements in detail, learning them, getting them into the body, reading the book which was there. As Gurdjieff said, “a ceremony is a book in which a great deal is written.” (p.303). Rather, as Wyckoff would tell us, one just works on the floor. One would do a bit of a movement, leave it for weeks, come back, maybe do bits of another movement for a few weeks, but then not again for a year. With Mrs Adie, however, we learned four movements regularly over the period of nine to ten months, and entered into the mystery. It is not enough to have the experience: it must be digested, as Gurdjieff said.
The next blog shall have more to say about Jeanne de Salzmann. It is time to end this one. Those who cannot bear the critique of Jim Wyckoff can simply cut and paste Part One into another document. It is unique, some of it is excellent, and I cannot see anyone else making available material by him. For those who have the stomach, however, to try and consider the facts impartially, Jim Wyckoff was a man of great talent, but he never met anyone who could help him develop his talent and whose help he would have accepted. He did meet Mr Adie, but he despised him. In the end, it was his loss, but many other people lost out too, because Jim Wyckoff played a large role in the destruction of Mr Adie’s school.
When he came to Newport, he made no attempt to find out what we had there. He just started doing things his own way. Even the new manager of an office doesn’t do that: they enquire, they go softly and see that is there, and then make changes as they think they are needed. Not Jim: no interest, not the least curiosity as to what Mr Adie had brought, who we were or how we were. He just had to bring the two groups under his direction.
It is ironic. He said so often that we know nothing. Maybe five minutes ago I knew something, but not now, he said (it’s on the tapes). But he did not live this. He was quietly cocksure of himself and his approach. Yet his mind gave out. Perhaps he had a condition I do not know of, but it seems to me that his last years, which were spent in senility correspond to his passive, indeed overly passive dispensation. This idea that I cannot keep it, I can only have moments, is insidious. This formula “not my attention but the attention” is a play with words. It is just not right: I can keep something of it, as Gurdjieff said, and as many have proved. One can change, one can coat the higher bodies, one can save one’s soul. In the end, although he did have something, Jim fulfilled his teaching: he could not do, he could not change, he did not know who he was, he could not even remember, and he died like that.