IT WAS AS IF A POT HAD BEGUN TO BOIL AND THE SCUM TO RISE
One result of work in the Institute [Gurdjieff’s Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man] was that all kinds of things began to stir in me. My weaknesses became ‘stronger’, that is to say they showed themselves more clearly. As my old personality began to dissolve, it was as if a pot had begun to boil and the scum to rise. I had imagined that I ‘loved’ people, in the weak pseudo-Christian way that my religion had taught. It came as a shock to have the beginnings of a realization that I hated certain people. One of the Russian women said, ‘I don’t like your emanations. You hate me.’
‘Hate you! Of course I don’t.’
‘Oh yes, you do. But don’t let yourself be identified with it. In the beginning this work often brings out the worst in us. That is why we are here; to see it. It will pass.’
When I thought about it I saw that I did indeed hate her, and for no reason except that our personalities did not agree; I was surprised at the force of my hatred. Very soon it did pass, and I forgot about it. I then began to be aware that a hatred of one of the young men was growing in me. It was not his personality, but something in our essences, that aroused my dislike. When Gurdjieff put us to work together I could hardly bear to look at him, and everything I said came out in a tone of resentment. Then, one Saturday evening in the Turkish bath, Gurdjieff, as was his wont, began to talk, this time about how personalities can hate each other, or essences hate each other. He said that we must understand this and reason with ourselves and realize what is taking place in us, and not be identified with what we are feeling at the moment; then we shall change. In the same way as they hate, personalities and essences can also love each other.
‘You must understand,’ he said, ‘that both ordinary hate and ordinary love are mechanical. Later you may understand something about real love.’
We dressed and began to leave. As I was going out, Gurdjieff, in front of everyone, pointing to the man I mentioned, said to me, ‘You hate him. You think he is the tail of a donkey. But you—not even tail of donkey. You are less; you are what comes out of donkey.’
~ CS Nott “The Teachings of Gurdjieff – A Pupil’s Journey”
“Our work is the work of being.” ~ George Adie (a student of George Gurdjieff)
I WANT A CONSCIOUSNESS OF MY SENSATION WHICH IS FULLER
“Generally, I am not aware of the posture of my tongue, the sensation of my eyes, or the state of my body. I know if I have a headache, or perhaps if I’m particularly tense. But, for us at least, this type of awareness is primitive. I want a consciousness of my sensation which is fuller, which deepens and expands my understanding of my myself. This sensation is a field, and my work is to understand and cultivate this field by directing my attention.”
~ George Adie (student of George Gurdjieff)
HOPE IN MY OPINION IS AN EVIL THING
As I watched this “man without quotation marks,” I remembered the thrilling statement he had once made about such initiates, the “Peace on earth among men of good will” gospel dated in Gurdjieffian terms.
“All men without quotation marks are the same,” he had said. “By every proof of science, by every test, all such men are exactly the same — same tempo, same vibration, same polarity, same understanding . . . ” These unifying words were of thunderous significance, words that forecast the future of Man, of all humanity on earth. Same understanding . . . same understanding instead of thousands of tongues and dialects — words I was to hear myself repeating over and over again in a personal future that was nearer than I knew . . . when I would be in a California Babel, swinging from a scaffolding, welding Liberty ships for the North African landings in a war that was now only a poster on the Paris walls, a portent to follow the Spanish Civil War bombings . . . and, in a later version of Babel, when I would be salvaging human beings from the postwar Displaced Persons camps, beings who would remind me so poignantly of our vanished master — White Russians, Poles, Ukrainians, even the old Nansen-passport refugees called “Stateless,” left over from the ‘1914—18’ changes.
Since I could not then, on that January night of 1937, even remotely imagine the coming horrors which were to separate us all from each other and from our master, I continued to gaze at Gurdjieff with a naive “Where you go I go” emotion, as I waited for his next words.
His next words sent us back to work. He began talking about the staircase (up the scale of consciousness) and the stairs which for us, in the beginning of the Work, had been artificial. “Fantasy stairs,” he called them. Now they were becoming real. Now we were at a definite place on those stairs which symbolized his “scale” — up which we had the possibility of progressing, or down which we could swiftly slide back to where we had started.
“A scale will always involute back to its beginning note, do,” he reminded us, “unless you carry it to the do of the next scale. Nothing remains halfway. This is Law . . .” He was referring to his Law of Seven, the “fundamental cosmic law” described in one of the most difficult chapters in his manuscript, (and also in Ouspensky’s) embracing everything from solar systems to man, from man to atom, in a panorama of an ordered universe evolving consciously or involuting mechanically. Under his brooding gaze we had read that brain-cracking chapter innumerable times, groping for the knowledge it contained and trying — without any help from him — to see its application to us in the Work, to fit ourselves into it, as it were. “There are seven times seven scales . . . the formulation of forty-nine is you in yourself!” The cryptic formulation, hinting possibilities of development beyond conjecture, certainly beyond the powers of any of us even with a lifetime of trying, seemed to hang in the air like luminous writing, the words understandable as words, the meaning of them too vast to grasp, except by emotion only. Then Gurdjieff spoke his “language of the smile.” “But this is already very far,” he said. “We cannot now speak of this; anything we say is only titillation. Now we must eat . . . ”
He unfolded himself from the divan and led the way to the dining room, adding in a tone pregnant with warning, . . . “If We do not eat now, then our animals will make revolution!”
That night we drank a toast to our Squirming Idiot, Wendy. As the toastmaster announced it, Gurdjieff raised his glass to her. “May God help you to transform into Ordinary Idiot which is very high . . . Next after Unique when the sequence begins again.”
Wendy bowed her thanks for his words. “I hope I fulfill your wishing, Mr. Gurdjieff.”
“Not hoping . . .” he picked her up quickly. “Hope in my opinion is an evil thing, is why man is nearly not man any longer. Man must use what he has, not hope for what is not!”
His words were meant for the entire company. To use what we had . . . Before this new year ended, we were all to discover in our varying ways how little we had, now that we were standing alone.
~ Kathryn Hulme “Undiscovered Country”