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Archive for May 2008


Calm Ocean

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.

Part One

“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.

Part Two

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.

Part Three

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.


Earth, Sun and Moon

From: Joseph Azize

Part One
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.”

Part Two
On 15 December 1982, Mr Adie read us the following piece:

God’s Will
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.”

Part Three
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.

“I have.”

“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

Part One

When I started writing this blog, all I had in mind was to present some rather interesting and powerful material from a meeting of Wednesday 9 March 1983, taken by Mrs Adie. As I worked at the introduction, however, more and more ideas came together. Answers appeared to queries I had long had about group work, and these in turn raised new questions as I contemplated the significance of these new ideas.

This all brought me to the concepts of “group depression” and “group resistance”, the sort of depression and resistance which can strike a person only in a group: the sort of depression and resistance which a person doesn’t experience until they find a group, and can take the person right out of the way of conscious development irrespective of whether they stay in the group or not.

Time and again, I was struck by how many of the questions on this old tape really came down to this: “I can’t work. I feel a resistance, I’m not getting anywhere, and I feel depressed. I want a quick fix.” I was also struck by how true this was of all my experience in groups. This attitude is contagious, as it were. Even when the Adies provided the answer – and it is an answer – people could not apply this to themselves. Even when people saw others going around in the same circle, they could not help but tread that circle, too.

As Mr Adie very acutely pointed out, when people first come to groups they are often enthusiastic and willing. Why not? They have been excited by Gurdjieff’s ideas and the thrilling prospect of conscious development. They come asking what to do. But then, relatively soon afterwards, this question has disappeared. “It is as if we have lost the realisation that an action of doing is essential to any real work.” (George Adie: A Gurdjieff Pupil in Australia, p.112) We find that it is not so easy as we had imagined, and being told that we cannot do, we take this too literally, too absolutely. And yet without the possibility of being able to do, to attain a projected aim, as Gurdjieff defined it, the method is meaningless (see In Search of the Miraculous, p.132).

I had long been puzzled by Jurgen, who had been bringing his extremes of elation and depression to groups for 30 years and perhaps still is. Only last year, I realised that something in him did not want to change: it preferred the performance and the attention of the audience. That is, he brought his questions and observations not to have the ostensible concern addressed, but for the sake of the show, rather like the ritual changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace where the military or security value of the parade is negligible. The resistance he spoke of is a resistance which takes that form only because he can bring it to a group and be the tragic problem. Others heard him, and although they had initially tried not to indulge in negative emotions such as depression, as they became accustomed to his constant wringing of hands, they feel free to indulge it, too.

I know that something like this happened to me. I had a very healthy attitude about not complaining. This is not to say that I never did complain, or indulge in self pity, but I had always felt that it was a problem I had to address. Then, after Mr Adie died, I had a good deal to do with Jana. She was like the patron saint of complaints, or perhaps the demon assigned to them. She had been in groups for probably 25 to 30 years at that point, and was one of the senior women. Others in the group all said “Yes, Jana’s concerns must be taken seriously.” Not until much later was one of the women willing to concede that Jana was “negative.”

And because it is “wrong” to be “negative”, that is only said about people in groups if the person has already been marked as not fitting in. So as she was not a black sheep, no one could say that she was negative. Then, gradually, something in me was not impeded from imitating her attitude. It has taken me a long time to try and repair that part of my past. I never sat down and articulated such ideas to myself: something in me just wordlessly picked this up. This is “group resistance”. The prevalence of certain negative qualities in the group hallowed them for me, because this was the group. So too, the prevalence of silly ideas among “group leaders” justifies them. Who am I to know better than Sadie Schmutz from Group 1 in New York?

People frequently brought this observation: “I cannot work, it is hopeless.” The Adies frequently showed what was wrong with that and why it could not be trusted. But people had “learned” in the group that it was alright to bring the question and not to use the material offered. This is “group resistance”.

When you read the material in Part Two, you will see how familiar Mrs Adie’s answers are, even if she expresses the ideas in her individual way. Imagine what it would be like if before bringing their questions, people had followed her advice, and then brought questions about what they had seen while making the efforts she had recommended. The group meetings would have been charged like suns.

What could have been done? Well, I think people are kept in groups too long. Why can people not be sent out when they are in a rut, and then, if they can overcome the resistance, they return?

This shows the significance of the fact I have commented on before in these blogs: Gurdjieff did not found the Gurdjieff groups. Ouspensky did, and he was copied by de Salzmann. The idea of being in groups for all of the rest of your life does not come from Gurdjieff. I think he was too wise for that.

Part Two: The Meeting of 9 March 1983
The first question was not recorded. The tape starts somewhere in Mrs’ Adie reply. “Yes, but we’re not trying to change anything externally. It will change of itself if we work, but we change from inside, not from outside. Relationships are a very useful source here. I have a tendency either to be hurried or to be slow, or even lazy. Certain people I am irritated by, and with certain people I am always anxious for their good opinion. That sort of thing. Take what strikes you as the strongest tendencies, and so make a serious plan each day when you know more or less what you’ll be doing, who with, what you’ll come up against, that kind of thing. And then you plan to be present to it. Then, if you are present to it, the chances are that you will not react in the same way. But that is not the object of it: the object of it is not to lose yourself in that situation.”

“We have had this task before, but it is difficult to get to grips with it, and very few people have actually got down to it, because we don’t know well enough what goes on. But we know more or less certain things which we can start with. And some things really stand out: I always expect people to be different, I cannot accept people as they are and not be disturbed by them. And then once you have started, it becomes more possible. I shall see more, because I shall be more awake. A great deal can from it, but we’re always in a sort of fog.”

{This question of preparation, intelligent and focussed preparation is absolutely critical. I shall return to it in a future blog.}

The next question was difficult to transcribe. The woman who asked the question was arguing with Mrs Adie, and spoke over her. She started by saying how she did not feel keen to do her preparation, and found the rotation exercise very tedious.

Mrs Adie replied: “As for the preparation, does it really make a difference if I am keen or not keen? Sometimes if you are not keen you get more from it, and if you really start in a serious way, the feeling changes. Something in you knows that it is important, but that is not uppermost in you at that time.”

The woman objected that she does “not feel stirred by it”. Mrs Adie acknowledged this: “No, your personality is not stirred by it. But is there not an interest attracted not by the thing in itself, but by the fact that you are taken by it, that it takes your energy, and also that it is unreal? Considering, for example.”

Another objection followed from the same person, who did not even acknowledge what Mrs Adie had said. She now changed tack: she has no line of work. Her son should be a help, but she keeps putting off doing what she should do. Mrs Adie’s reply was: “If you cannot spare him time when he needs it, then he has to understand that, somehow. But then when do you make time, do not imagine that he is bound to enjoy it. Some children do not enjoy such times.”

The next question was from someone who said that he found it difficult to find chief feature, as he has so many, lack of feeling, dreaming, etc. But, he added, he did not really care about the exercise (sic). Mrs Adie replied: “But something in you does care. It might be present only for such a short time that it seems it doesn’t count, but it’s not true. When I really need to think, it is more possible to be free of dreams. I can come away from certain recurring dreams, and I need to, because they often have other effects as well, but to stop dreaming altogether … no, that is not possible.”

Then Jana asked a question. She said that she had decided to give up her job, and thought it would be good, because she has a tendency to always be doing things. At first she could use it, but now she is “very resentful against all factors that were involved. That was Jana for all the time I knew her. She went on: “And I find I spend a lot of time and energy justifying my negative approach now, and I can’t honestly confront the conflict in me, something turns away.”

Mrs Adie replied, sensibly: “If you know that, that is already half the battle.” But Jana was not to be mollified. “But I only just see it, I don’t see it enough to act.”

Again, Mrs Adie’s reply was spot on: “In a way that is an excuse, telling myself that. I think that you see it very clearly. Try not to encourage these thoughts which disagree with the action you’ve taken. It must be very hard, I am sure, to see the other side, but it is a struggle with the denying part. You have a lot to occupy you, a – ”

Jana interrupted Mrs Adie with an insistent: “Yes, but I feel I am occupied with what Jana does not want to be doing.”

Mrs Adie patiently replied: “Your big chance is that you can formulate it to yourself. What is there? There is a denying part, but there is something also which understands that this is not to be accepted. Try and bring both sides more in front of you, and for that you need to do away with the words in your head.” Jana had to have the last word: “Yes, I agree, it’s the words.” I am sure Mrs Adie felt deeply stirred and encouraged to know that Jana had agreed with her last comment.

The next question was from someone for whom I had a good deal of respect, because she did change over the years. Iris said that something came up at her work (she was an art teacher) which made her depressed. It affected her in the stomach, and then she found she had no force at all.

“You need to have some thought, or an idea that will help you at those moments. You now know, in advance, that after the preparation, you feel better for a while, but after half an hours, this depression comes back. But although the preparation seems to be all in the past, yet there’s some recollection of it, and the purpose of it, and that a different state is possible,” Mrs Adie said. Iris agreed. Mrs Adie continued: “Then this depression is something you could really be grateful for. It is hard to see this until you’ve been able to use it, but it is material for you. Once you have seen it, you can acknowledge it, “I am depressed.” I don’t try and free myself from it exactly, not try to push it back – you can’t do that – but if you can come back, to some extent, even while you’re doing things, to this feeling of another part. Accept the depression, alright, I’m depressed. Don’t try and argue, you are depressed, I’m depressed. But I separate out from it.”

“Don’t try and prolong it, but I am aware of it. It is almost as if it isn’t you. It’s part of you, it’s an external part of you: but you’re not lost in it, you’re not drawn out of it. This is a good example of a line of work. All of these moods and states I go through … if I could only see at the end of the day how many states I have been in … it’s a thing we should do much more often, ask myself, what is my state now? If possible, without words. I try to see what is going on. I may not understand it. It doesn’t matter, but I see it and I accept it, and I separate to some extent from it. Something is separated from it. It’s going on at the same time, in another life inside.”

“And it’s not in order to lose it. It’s in order not to be taken by it. I see the force of it, but I don’t get lost in wondering what it’s all about. This seems to be something around you at the moment. But then you also have this thing about art, too, don’t you? Which is really a sort of considering. You have to accept that you do what you do, well or not so well, I don’t really know. Don’t let it concern you. Accept that that is what is what you can do, and don’t criticize it, meaning don’t consider about it. This one is above me, or this one is down there. They are all individuals, and their talents are not the same as yours: it doesn’t matter.”

“Try to accept that you are as you are, with all the ups and downs, but to see the ups and downs, and in a way to be separated from it. There is something that doesn’t go up and down, and is either there or isn’t there, and it will always come when it’s called. It’s longing to come when it’s called, but it is smothered, it can’t breath. And you can use these strange considerings and states to all upon it, but without expecting your state to change immediately. It may, or it may not.”

“Try not to look at it as something which is permanent. Try to look at it from the point of view of how it can be of use to you, how a certain struggle is required, producing just that friction which you need. It is a force. The struggle is not exactly a fight with the thing itself, it’s a struggle to come alive inside. It is a dead thing, it has a lot of force, but a dense heavy one. You try and find a finer force, which you can, don’t doubt it, as long as you free yourself from the head.”

The final question which can be made out on the tape came from a lady who complained that she had not changed in all the years she had been coming to the groups. “Oh no, I can tell you that there’s been a big change,” Mrs Adie assured her. But the woman was disappointed because “things get hold of her”.

Mrs Adie would not agree. “You see it more, because despite what you say, your sleep is not so deep as it was and not so unbroken. There are degrees of awareness, complete sleep is one thing. But the change is very gradual, and you sound more aware of what is taking place. But instead of being glad to see it, and taking action with it, you get annoyed with it, which is just throwing good money after bad.”

“But I get depressed about it, “she retorted. I love Mrs Adie’s reply: “Well that is very silly, isn’t it? Because when you see it you have an opportunity. We don’t trust to the simple effort which has to be made. I just have to come to myself and recognize the life which is in me. I always want to do something sensational.”

As Mrs Adie said time and again, once one has seen it one has an opportunity. Try not to look at it as something which is permanent. And don’t let anyone persuade you that it is.


From: Joseph Azize

Part One

At the combined meeting of 2 August 1978, Mr Adie spoke about the development and coating of the astral body, the vehicle of the soul (“Body Kesdjan” from the Persian “self-soul”) which is in the book George Adie: A Gurdjieff Pupil in Australia. He said that as the astral body forms, the fine particles which comprise it can escape into the body, and there they are felt as discomforting if not explosive. They are, in fact, a finer fuel than the body is adapted to, and it is quite an effort to remain calm when experiencing this process of coating.

There is a general principle here, the importance of which can hardly be overstated: before all the endless diversity of uncomfortable and even painful life processes, the best advice is always to first acknowledge them for what they are, and to experience them, impartially. Then one may know or sense in what direction to move, and whether they should be ameliorated, changed, removed, embraced, enhanced or just endured.

On this night in 1978, after that reading, some questions, and an exchange on certain rules to do with the group, Mr Adie was about to end the meeting when Eddie said: “I want to know how we can use sex for our work.”

“That’s a good question to ask at the end of our meeting”, Mr Adie replied. “Well, you have already been told tonight. If you speak of when we come here, then the essential thing is not to forget that we are brothers and sisters in the work. The first question really is your aim.” I will pause to emphasize this: the first question is always aim.

“Sex is a force, a tremendous force,” he continued. “How can one use any force? If you could remember yourself a bit, if you could control your manifestation a little bit, then you could commence to use it. But perhaps this is not your question. How would you propose to use it? How would you like to use it?”

“What I find is that often after sex I feel very relaxed, and very free flowing.”

“Well that’s nothing special,” said Mr Adie. “After a good meal you feel very full and relaxed. After going to the lavatory you feel light and relaxed.” The meeting was interrupted by laughter.

“It’s the same thing. Sex is the same as everything else. You cannot increase that feeling, neither can you diminish it: it’s there. So? A person could come to believe that they must have sex before a preparation, and invent theories about it. When you ask a question like that, it’s like the sex they talk about in books. There’s no such sex. Try and understand how you speak about it.” Mr Adie paused and evidently addressed the group: “He wishes he hadn’t asked it now.” This was greeted by proverbial gales of laughter.

“You do not use it, you are used by it. That is sex for you.” Mr Adie stressed these last words. “Work on the three centres that you have got, moving-instinctive, emotional and intellectual, leave sex until a lot later. You will notice that if you are negative, sex relations are not much good, but then neither is anything else. What you can say about sex you can say about almost anything.”

“Sex exists between everybody, there is sex between every single person here, in a minute or in a greater degree. To use sex, I would have to be a man, would I not? To use anything, I would have to be a man, but you want to use sex, the most difficult of the lot. I don’t see that I am used by sex, and made to do absurd things. I am sure that hasn’t satisfied you.”

“You ask: how can I use sex, and you ask as if everyone knew what we were talking about. But this is not so: what is sex for you? Going to bed for an hour? Sex is all the time. Until we can see that it is always operating in us, our view of it must be a partial, keyhole one.”

“Your chief mistake is that you ask how you can use it, but you can’t use it. The first question is to be present, and then maybe I can see and study. Then I will understand that as I am I cannot use it. Ah, now this is interesting! Can you use emotional force? No, you’re completely at the mercy of your emotions. Can you use the force of your thought? Hardly at all – the thoughts arise.”

“In the absence of “I” there is no question of using anything at all. That is what was good about your question, it is an impossible one unless “I” and responsibility enter into it.”

Part Two

In Voices in the Dark, p. 46 (transcripts of a meeting of 8 April 1943), Gurdjieff is quoted as effectively saying that questions of sex are individual. On the next page he goes on to add: “Love is love. It has no need of sex. It can be felt for a person of the same sex, for an animal even, and the sexual function is not mixed up there.” Although sex and love can be mingled, he added that “it is then difficult to remain impartial as love demands.” Then, a little later comes this statement: “The sexual act originally must have been performed only for the purpose of reproduction of the species, but little by little men have made of it a means of pleasure. It must have been a sacred act. … this divine seed, the Sperm, has another function, that of the construction of a second body in us …”.

(I will add as an aside that one can see something like this happening with food. The chief purpose of food is nourishment. The pleasant taste of food is partly a providential way of encouraging good eating. But today, one can see how food is often treated as a sensual adventure. In retrospect, this was happening in aristocratic Rome and Athens, but the process of decay was arrested in the Middle Ages.)

When he was asked why religions “forbid the sexual act” (which is a rather severe overstatement), Gurdjieff replied that “originally we knew the use of this substance, whence the chasteness of the monks”.

In some unpublished material, Gurdjieff insisted that celibacy does have a value, but it should go with restraint in all centres. That is, one must be able to watch one’s thoughts and feelings, and to exercise some degree of control over them.

Part Three

Today’s culture is so saturated with sex and erotica that it is effectively impossible to prevent thoughts of sex from coming into one’s head. However, if one can see that these are merely associations evoked from without, and if one has the aim of not being carried away by sex, these associations can even call one. To put it another way, one does not have to assent to the associations.

Providing only that one has an aim or a religious purpose (let us say, to use sex energy for conscious development), then one can speak intelligently of sex: and one can research it. But most of what passes for research is merely the more or less accurate gathering of statistics and describing of trends. Further, I am sceptical of tantric ideas such as Leadbeater is said to have employed (see G. Tillett’s The Elder Brother : A Biography of Charles Webster Leadbeater). To me, this is self-delusion. Without knowing a person’s individual circumstances, and knowing that person, the best advice is simply to repeat Mr Adie’s words above.

What Mr Adie said throws a light on what Shakespeare called “the sovereignty of reason”. “Reason” is more than logic: it is balanced understanding in its practical aspect. It is, perhaps, the fourth cardinal virtue: “prudence”; or conscience and consciousness taken as a whole. Shakespeare’s plays illustrate the desirability of reason ruling human passion, and the possibility, but difficulty of realising this. “Othello” is a parade ground example, but the idea is found so frequently that it may even be the main motif in Shakespeare’s oeuvre: it may be the fundament and the firmament of his perspective.

By saying the “fundament”, I mean that the struggle between reason and unreason is the ground of so many of his plays, such as “All’s Well That Ends Well”, “Hamlet” (where the phrase ‘sovereignty of reason’ is found), “King Lear”, and “Measure for Measure”. these plays make more sense when this is taken into account. “Reason” is so large a concept that it can be mistaken for “virtue”, and there is overlap, but whereas virtue connotes an ingrained habit of thinking and action, reason is the guide which directs virtuous thought and action. Also, reason is Shakespeare’s firmament, because the good fruit of all the struggles and catastrophes is the re-establishment of a new rational order: this is reflected in the history plays, but most of all in the last plays: “The Winter’s Tale”, “”Pericles”, “Cymbeline” and “The Tempest”, perhaps his supreme accomplishment.
This may partly explain why these plays have such a fairy tale character. But the theme is present even in his earliest work, consider the turn which “The Comedy of Errors” takes upon the intervention of the Abbess. It is as if one could say that heaven is reason and hell is unreason.

There is a Latin proverb, apparently children used it in skipping: “Tu, si animo regeris, rex es; si corpore, servus”. This means: “You, if you are ruled by your mind, are a king; but if by your body, a slave.”

Once at Newport, someone made a comment, and Mr Adie in reply simply asked: “How high is that on the scale of human reason?” It needed no more. If we are climbing that scale, we can deal with anything, including sex. And the starting point is to see it impartially just as it is, no more and no less. Seen like that, sex energy plays a critical role in our lives, even if we are perfectly chaste. It is, indeed, amenable to reason. One has the power of choice whether to have sex, and if so, under what conditions. Often, we implicitly consent to be compelled.

I mentioned Shakespeare, which strikes me now as interesting not least because I think a lot of our problems with sex are caused by over-dramatizing it. We allow it a power it simply does not possess in itself, because we lend it the power of imagination.

When Mr Adie spoke of the astral body, and how its fine energies leaked into the physical body, he could also have been speaking of sex. But if the mind, emotions and body work, subject to the sovereignty of reason, then they at least being in their bounds, they allow a chance for the sex centre too, to work within its proper limits.

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