Free from all of my ordinary fears

“I am free from all of my ordinary fears”

This is a question and answer from Tuesday 8 April March 1986. It touches on many topics, but on one topic, my relation to what I have done in the past, it is very clear and very powerful. It struck me as being a good note with which to open 2016.

A young lady, Jenny, said that her preparation has been lacking for a long time. The preparation is a form of morning contemplation, which the Adies had learnt from Gurdjieff. Mr Adie observed that she hadn’t been able to attend groups for a long time, and that that makes a big difference. But Jenny said that she felt there was more, she said that she felt that when she sat down it was purposeless.

“Before you sit down,” said Mr Adie, “you should have the aim of sitting down and working. Just that. The aim of working for a set period, so that within that period you don’t have to hurry. You say that you will take fifteen minutes. You leave yourself that time, and you sit down intending to work.”

“You don’t think about sensation, you experience the sensation.”

“We must free ourselves from the words. I have to remember in words, the head can use them, must I must free myself from the words. I must go beyond the word “sense” in order to sense. Otherwise it’s just in the head. And if you go to the body, direct your attention to the body, you will find that sensation is there. You can think about sensation all night, and not have any sensation. That is purely a mental exercise.”

“I find that the words help me, and for a brief moment I really do experience,” replied Jenny, who seemed to reject the stopping thought.

I might pause to say that, as I now see it, none of us really understood what Mr Adie meant by stopping thought. For many of us, it seemed to mean “stopping consciousness” (which is impossible) or losing all thought forever (equally impossible). One stops thought for the shortest of moments. Yet that is sufficient. The next moment, our thought and our other functions are working more closely in an awakening harmony.

Mr Adie’s reply picked up on Jenny’s saying that she really did have some experience.

“And then”, he said, “the work is to have the moment, and move beyond it. There is a moment, “now”. It is what it is now partly because of the past. And the future is going to depend upon now. It will be the same as the past has been. But if I can be here now, the future is going to be different. I have to bring myself to the situation. I am in an external situation, but I am not in the one I think I am. What I think of as being the situation is largely erroneous, until I am present. If I am present for a flash I begin to see how things are.”

“There is an awful lot of moral self-punishment and chastising which wrecks our work. If I could only accept that I am as I am largely because of my upbringing. Now I had better do something about this. I have heard something which I think is unquestionably true, and now I am going to try and follow that. With that, a new element can come in. Then all of this has to be digested, because it has its momentum and habit. So as I go on, if I work, these habits are still there, but they’re slowing down, they’re slowing down … and finally they don’t interfere.”

“People do the most horrible things in their family, and outside. If one really saw one’s motives and sees how one behaves about possessions and all sorts of things, one would be quite horrified. But there’s no use saying: “Oh, I’ve been this wicked person!” I haven’t been, I just wasn’t there. But now, because I wasn’t there, I have the responsibility of dealing with the matter. Now I can start to be guilty if I wish, but I will know how to deal with that. So I have a chance. None of these quite terrible things are ever done intentionally. They are done because I am not there. Some automatic arrangement of particles produces that action.”

“If I am there, more or less, I am free from all of my ordinary fears. They are only temporary, in a sort of way. So I am free of that by being there, and the more I am, the more I am free from erroneous thought, and I am free from making absurd deductions and connections. I have a little choice on what I think.”

“My life is very limited, I only gravitate to deal with people I like, while I shun people I don’t know or suspect. So I’ve got this narrow life of people that I think will agree with me or even appreciate me, and I have not time for the others. But as I become more impartial, I find that I can have relation to many people.”

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