Gurdjieff's teaching: for scholars and practitioners

G. I. Gurdjieff's teaching, research, books, conferences


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.”

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