Gurdjieff's teaching: for scholars and practitioners

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

Archive for the ‘‘”Our Imbalances All Balance”: George Adie 1980’ Category

‘”Our Imbalances All Balance”: George Adie 1980


Our imbalances all balance”: George Adie, 1980

I’ve been preparing the blog for the anniversary of Mr Adie’s death on 29 July, and had thought these questions might be suitable candidates. However, I’ve since come across some more promising material. I think that while what Mr Adie says here might strike some as so obvious as to need no reinforcement, others might find them useful, as I did. Whitsunday 23 May 2010 is as good a day as any to release them. All come from a meeting held on Tuesday, 1 April 1980 at Newport.

The first question was from Mick: “Mr Adie, for some time now, I’ve noticed a lack of force and direction in my work, and a readiness to accept excuses not to work. I find a confusion. I really don’t know how to make my efforts. And though sometimes I realise my position and what I must do get out, to change things, the impulse I get from these experiences very oftens immediately disappears, and I get lost in excuses.”

“Can you really can say you get an impulse to animate yourself?”


“What does that tell you?” Mick did not respond at once. Mr Adie addressed the group: “This is very important for everybody. Everybody has exactly this difficulty, amongst many others.” He returned to Mick: “Yes. What does it tell you?”

“That something is possible?”

“Yes, but for how long?”

“Just at the present.”

“It tells you that you have to respond quicker. There can’t be a gap. So where does that lead you?”

After not too long a silence, Adie said: “It leads you to your preparation.”

“You’ve got to prepare yourself when you’re willing to work, because the situation of confusion you describe is a confusion life. You get a reminder and then you don’t respond to it. But in your preparation, you can prepare to come to a place where you really find a wish when you get a reminder to respond. That is your wish.”

After a slight pause, he added: “Your attitude is that this is material, whatever your circumstance. If you have the attitude, then you’re ready.”

“What other way could there be? It’s very obvious, it’s very simple.”

“Of course, you’ll fall. You’ll get led away, covered over. But if you put that element into yourself, then there’s a possibility that when it’s not like that it will be touched immediately it’s needed.”

“That’s the work. You try and create an animated, responsive feeling centrality. It just gives more … point to your preparation.” He lightly stressed the word “point”.

I am omitting two exchanges, and passing to Tony’s question. “Mr Adie, I’m confused about the difference between being aware of myself and being present and self-remembering. Yesterday morning, I was talking quietly with my wife, and she asked me a couple of questions which were basically to do with trust in our relationship, and I immediately felt had feelings of my skin drawing together, and tensing up, particularly in the face.”

“You felt under attack?”

“Yes, yes. But I also felt very present. I was very much aware of myself. I was aware of her at the same time, but there was a complete focussing down, and I wasn’t aware of anything else at all. Yet it seems to me that if I was in a situation of self-remembering, it wouldn’t have been that way. I’m a little confused about being so aware of myself and a state that is different to that of self-remembering.”

“They’re not two solitary, labelled items. There are shades of intermingling from complete absorption to complete freedom,” said Mr Adie.

“But there is something else to learn here. We have habits, attitudes based on old happenings, and they can lead us into mistakes and then into a habitual routine. For instance, supposing someone is in the delightful habit of using an umbrella to beat their little boy. Every time she goes for the umbrella he thinks he’s going to get a beating. One day she’s going out and she’s heard that there may be a late change, so she takes the umbrella out. He thinks he’s going to get a beating. She has no such intention at all. But he’s sure she is, and he can’t see any clouds, so he reacts just as if he’s going to get a beating.”

“Yes, I understand.”

“Well, that’s happening all the time to us. The force of habit in our reactions is tremendous. We’ve got an incredible number of routines of habit, and little accidents of association. Now, with that information, I have a possibility. It’s no good telling me it’s not like that, I know that it is like that. But if am present to that knowledge, I may catch sight of a few of these routines, and I know where they lead to. I get a chance.”

“And you’re right, it’s not self-remembering to anything like an ample degree, but something is there that remembers. The question is respond more quickly, so that they recollection can awaken the parts of me which are sleeping. This takes us back to Mick and his confusion.”

“So now, where are you are now? You prepare, you want to see. It would be very useful for you if you could really see where the landslide started, as it were.”

“There must have been a predisposition to slide that way before this little remark of hers just set it off, then there was a landslide, very quick. It shows that you must have been all ready for it. It’s a condition of predisposition, built up in relative sleep, which we are. There’s also an instinctive sensing of proximity and possibilities. Something in me knows that this type of conversation can lead to arguments, crying and what not. And perhaps a little bit of head is telling me it’s fine, it’s alright. All this is quietly presenting itself, and that is the bubbling condition which I experience as a confusion. And then in one moment, off it goes.”

“Again, I have to prepare: not to escape from that, but to see what’s going on. If I were to escape from that now, I would never overcome my predisposition to it. I would escape a few times, I would think I was alright, and then it would be worse than ever. I really have to see, and go through, I have to accept, and then I can learn.”

I will interpose that these last two paragraphs, especially the last one have been of great assistance to me in coming to an interest in seeing, and in having some patience. Tony then asked his final question: “My position v is, then, how can I prevent myself from reacting in the habitual way?”

“Well, all your work will be towards that, that you will be able to help yourself. And you give thanks that you can learn. When consciously, you know how to move, that’s different. Until you understand how, you will react. So, say, alright, I’ve got to learn, so long as something in me can react like that. I need all these examples. And really, that gives you a concept, an idea of how very fair everything is: there’s nothing unfair in it. Something in us believes firmly, most of the time, in our bad treatment. I receive the most diabolical treatment, ‘it just can’t be true.’ But it is, and everything is very fair. I need just that.”

Later that evening, Joni said: “Mr Adie, I have a question, I have recently experienced a hardness inside myself that I sense very close to my inside, and … I’ve tried to think about it in order to understand more about this hardness … and I realised that I’ve been using it as a self-preservation sort of …”. Her voice trailed off. Joni had had very serious issues, literally life threatening, and these were known to Adie. Therefore, in reading his answer, bear in mind that her problems were beyond the average.

“That’s what you tell yourself,” replied Mr Adie.” Something in you’s been making a sort of excuse for it, that it’s necessary. Not very clearly, but in the background. It accepts it in a way, as acceptable and justifiable, and even, at the moment, rather necessary.”

“Yes,” Joni agreed. ”But I’ve been in a situation where I’ve been experiencing a lot of negativity around me, and I’ve felt that this was a sort of place where I wouldn’t become negative.”

“If I’m in the circumstances where a lot of that is going on, I will be affected. I can’t expect not to be. But I have to know my measure. Something is possible. If I am there I can tell if it is more than it’s advisable for me to endure, and if it is, I take myself away, or I take measures.”

“If I have a certain wish to be in the right attitude, to deal with things in the right way from the point of view of serious consideration, I will find that I have a measure. We each have a definite measure. It’s no good trying to jump over your own knees, because you never can. You realise what it means to jump over your own knees, don’t you?”

There was no answer.

“Spare a little time to think about jumping over your own knees. How would you do it? The higher you jump the higher would your knees come, don’t you think?”

Still no response, and he was clearly waiting for one.

“It’s no good trying the impossible. No good trying to kiss your own elbow. You just can’t do it, not even you. You have your measure, and you make your efforts for so long. But you’re intelligent, and if it is too much, you look for a suitable out, not in order to escape, but because you’re following what’s going on, and you see that it’s time to withdraw.”

“That helps a lot, a good deal, but I’m also wondering further on, what is the next step in understanding this sort of log in there?”

“Well, you have to be present to it, but you don’t stay too long. You can go back again. There’s plenty more coming, you’ll have a lot more opportunities, and you’re interested to see what. Start with relaxing. If nothing else comes into your head, don’t surrender to the confusion. Relax. You try and let the belly fall down, and if your head’s hanging in the same old way, move it. And then I have to be upright but neither stiff nor rigid.”

He continued: “And what about the source of the irritation? I have to be available to it, if I’m trying to do anything. If a person’s badly wounded, I must be there confronting this horrible mess: if I’m not, I’ll never help, and that is my job. I may have to run off and be sick, but doesn’t matter, I have to come back if I’m going to do anything.”


“To remain, to remain. Only learn from the present. Always the present.”

“Well I think that what you’ve been speaking about is very necessary and very good for you. Couldn’t have been better, really, what you needed to see. Your own evidence of your own inner hardness. This is the wonderful thing , because you begin to see where it is, it’s localised here. You know that. And then it’s related to other things, you know how we work. It won’t be confined to that. It will affect all the outer surfaces, how it will affect the “I”s, how it will affect your facial expression. Mmm? Good. And the voice, the tone, and everything. All different points can be included, gradually.”

The next question was from Hunter. His boss had accused him of being a slack tradesman, and that was not his own opinion. This had taken place before his colleagues. His reaction had been to put his head down and shut off. He could hear the boss’s voice was coming in, but only barely recognised his words. His hand moved a pencil up and down on a sheet of paper as if it had a life of its own. He was raging inside, and every muscle in his body was “locked in”.

“You felt your own inner rage?” Mr Adie confirmed.


“Then what is the aim there?”

Hunter did not reply.

“There are two aims there, broadly. There’s the aim to adjust and somehow satisfy or rectify the job and the relationship of workman to overseer, and a totally different thing, your own inner work of being and so on.”

“Surely from that point of view, your own inner work, you really need to be quite open to any external criticism. And be available to it, and to ascertain, if possible, what degree of truth or correctness there is about the criticism. It could be very interesting for you in that state of feeling, to find out how right or how wrong he was. In a feeling of rage, you can’t find anything out, and everything he says is impossible and unjustified. But obviously he’s not a complete monster, he doesn’t live and get up, have his breakfast with the idea of terrorising you. When he arrives there, something takes place, and an incident happens. So, in such a circumstance, if I haven’t got my aim, well, I’m going to be relatively at the mercy of what’s going on.” Mr Adie stressed the word “relatively”.

“See, I’ve received a lot, I’ve heard a lot, I’ve tried things in easier circumstances … and now, I’m under attack. Can I not look at that from the point of view of my aim? Actually, of course, my aim has disappeared entirely. Could I have aim there? If I haven’t, I shall never have any purchase on it. I shall be forced into a furious immobility, and be completely ineffective. You see? So it illustrates that under that circumstance you can lose your aim and direction. And in a way, you need that again. It’s very difficult to understand, but you need just that. Some good insults. As long as they can make you absolutely disappear, that is what you need. Because I cannot afford to be disappearing.”

“I can’t appreciate with any intelligence what he says. He goes off without any satisfaction. He says: ‘Oh hell. that man, I tried!’ You haven’t said anything to relieve him at all, or explain anything. You’ve been completely unable. So from a worldly point of view, it’s not any use either.”

“It’s very, very difficult to fulfil. But there’s no alternative. Either I try, not in order to do the job, but because I realise that such circumstances can serve me. And I need them. However bad they are, I need them. It’s a stick with two ends. If I can take this situation – and accept it – I get the good end of the stick. And the result is I learn. If I reject it then I have the bad end of the stick, and I suffer. Think like that. Is that clearer to you now?”

Rather weakly, Hunter answered: “Yes.”

“ It is? Good …”

Joseph Azize has published in ancient history, law and Gurdjieff studies. His first book The Phoenician Solar Theology treated ancient Phoenician religion as possessing a spiritual depth comparative with Neoplatonism, to which it contributed through Iamblichos. The second book, “Gilgamesh and the World of Assyria”, was jointly edited with Noel Weeks. It includes his article arguing that the Carthaginians did not practice child sacrifice.

The third book, George Mountford Adie: A Gurdjieff Pupil in Australia represents his attempt to present his teacher (a direct pupil of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky) to an international audience.The fourth book, edited and written with Peter El Khouri and Ed Finnane, is a new edition of Britts Civil Precedents. He recommends it to anyone planning to bring proceedings in an Australian court of law.

“Maronites” is pp.279-282 of “The Encyclopedia of Religion in Australia” published by Cambridge University Press and edited by James Jupp.



May 23, 2010 at 6:36 pm

%d bloggers like this: