SUNLIGHT & BREATH: TWO MEMORIES OF GEORGE ADIE
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.