A Private Aspect of the Work

This is from the meeting of Thursday 19 June 1986. The inner work needs all sorts of conditions: in life with others, and in life alone. In this instance, Mr Adie advised this person that a certain work he needed to attempt could only take place when he was alone.

Marvin said that he has way too much on and is in a jam, with writing a book and having essays to mark, but he’d like to get it all done.

“Are you sure you would like to be able to get it all done, in a hurry?”

Mr Adie seemed to be steering him to question whether it needed to all be done as quickly as possible, or might not be taken more slowly. But Marvin seemed oblivious to this,  and he reiterated that he was in “a jam” trying to meet impossible deadlines.

“Apart from the question of the likelihood of achievement, it is your jam,” said Mr Adie. “You are still identified with all these things, because the real aim should be to be internally free.”

“You are writing a book, and there is no harm in this, but not if I am identified. You should, if you were free, be willing to countenance writing it all down and then postponing or even withholding it from publication, just keeping it to yourself for a little while. But as it is, you want to be seen to be good.”

“That is the problem,” said Marvin. “As was read from Jane Heap, I live my life in other people’s eyes, but there are justifications from the external point of view. Publication will help my job prospects.”

“And what about your reality?” asked Adie. “You talk very nicely, you refer to Jane Heap and the tremendous effect it has upon you. But is it true? Has it really made such an impact on you?”

“All I can do is be silent, then.”

“Is that very logical?”

“I find it very difficult to speak, because, every time I do, I …”

“Put your foot in it?”

“Yes, and I don’t know how to change that situation.”

“Well, what would it take for you to be able to say something which has a real meaning?”

“That is very difficult.”

“Of course it is difficult, that is why we are here. But surely you have been here long enough to know that you are too identified with trivialities.”

There was a pause. Then Mr Adie began again: “This is a knife-edge. Have you ever heard of the knife-edge path? You are on it now.”

“You need to be alone, for a little, and to let everything else fall into the background, for a little while: the essays, the book, and the gallery you are playing to, and see the main fact, which is that what you call “you” is a rather well-oiled machine.”

“Don’t be proud about it being well-oiled, the point is that it is still a machine.”

“Irrespective of how it can write books and work in the garden, it is a machine. There is nothing for you in that. So what about you? When are you going to appear? You need to appear for yourself.”

“It is possible, even for a moment or two in the preparation, but keep it private. You’ve been publishing for so many years, every time you open your mouth. But now, something for yourself, your being-duty.”

“The great ability of a master is to be able not to do; to refrain from doing.  Do you see? Try. Don’t dislike this well-oiled machine or treat it with contempt. I speak sarcastically to disturb the surface a little. You’re fairly thick-skinned, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to come week after week with these confessions – sort of confessions.”

“And now your question is how to pierce that thick coat?”

“For you, you have to begin privately.” 

“Go on doing just what you’re doing, but watch. Have something that watches. A central place. And try and speak from that central place when you come. Say: “Okay, that is a tale that is told. But now, I want reality”.”

“Use your well-oiled machine, but don’t get snared by it any longer. It’s only a machine. But don’t imagine it’s so great: if you think of all the plants that have died in the garden … quite a few, no? Whole banks of them. True?”

“Good. But don’t start sneering at yourself. I can’t mock myself. This is what was given. This is what has come upon me. And suddenly I am here with the possibility of trying to produce some order.”

“I speak not to deride all this ability, but to encourage you to use it for a conscious aim. Don’t let identification with that capacity run you into the ground. Sometimes it seems more dangerous to have ability than not to.”

“See how serious our work is? We all share in it.”

Joseph Azize, 20 May 2017

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