This exchange comes from the meeting of Tuesday 24 June 1986. Just when I start thinking that I have heard most everything Mr Adie had to say, I find myself astonished by the fecundity of his mind. This question was brought by a young man who said that he was suffering from “aimlessness.” He was a school teacher, and his aimlessness related to a certain fecklessness, or lack of success in his teaching. He had been disturbed by this, and had tried to work against it by taking notes of each class he taught and where he got lost in that class. But although taking the notes had helped, the effect had worn off: he found that once he had made his list, it was as if there was nothing more to do.
“Perhaps it was too much in the head,” said Mr Adie. “What you have spoken about could all have taken place in the head alone. But that is not enough.”
After further discussion, it transpired that the teacher was most concerned about one particular class, with three boys in it, who were not terribly interested.
Mr Adie honed in on that: “You have these three young men in your class: do you have any contact with them? What is going on, what is flowing in them? I am in front of life, but I am not there. I am not being paid to teach them how to be, and yet, for myself I wish to be conscious, and this is what I need to bring when I am in the presence of those three people.”
“Then, when I am with them, I need to receive the consciously impressions which I can receive from them. This doesn’t mean to stare at them. If I am going to work at the board, or draw illustrations for them, I have to look away. But even then, I can sense myself, and I will have some awareness of their states.”
“Then, I will also look at them from time to time, I have to. That will give me a different impression, maybe too many, on occasions. So I need to make an effort not only to come to myself, but also to relax. Without conscious relaxation, I cannot come to myself. And the more I am present and relaxed the more I will be able to tell whether they are comprehending, or not understanding. It’s visible.”
“If anything conscious is to take place, then you are dependent on them. They are providing you with the impression, so you are beholden to them very much. Do you see?”
“This is the reality of human mathematics: you are dependent upon them for the unique and uniquely powerful impressions which I can receive from other human beings. Try to understand the human mathematics: their state and their understanding are visible.”
“And then, if I find they don’t understand, I see that I have to find another way in the class. They will sense that you are trying, and when they sense that, they will try. Mmm? If you only tried for yourself, to be present or something, it wouldn’t work. But there is a relationship with them. And do you wish to serve their future?”
“There is a manifestation of conduct. If you remember that, then much should be possible.”
It seems to me that although he did not say so, this young man found that when his efforts in front of the class did not work, he became rather depressed, and this caused the aimlessness he spoke of. That is, he had the implicit idea that no aim was worthwhile if he could not attain to his projected aim.
What Mr Adie was suggesting to him was that his effort was not wrong so much as it had not been sufficiently fine, that is, it had been lacking in sensitivity. In particular, what he needed was to broaden and deepen his effort. It had been too self-focussed. Of course my efforts must begin with myself, and, as Mr Adie said, my task is to work on myself rather than on the students.
But I am dependent upon those students in order to receive the special impressions which I can receive from them. Although Mr Adie didn’t say this, I think that it is implied in what he did say that we rely upon other people for the impressions which make us fully human.
And that, I suggest, could be what he meant by “human mathematics.” The mathematics is like this, I think: in a crowd, for example, one person plus another makes two. Add another person, and we have three people. And so on. But the crowd is under very low laws: it is governed by moving centre, and imitation. So, at an ordinary level of life, human mathematics is addition and subtraction.
But human mathematics can apply other functions of a higher nature: the more consciously I can receive the impression of another human being, the more my state is nourished and elevated. This is raising my state to a higher power altogether, like squaring my number. Conscious relationships are under fewer and higher laws.
Since I transcribed this meeting, I have tried, from time to time, to work with this idea of human mathematics, and being dependent upon other people for the special impressions of humanity. I find that it cuts out a lot of personality. It tends to the relationship of essences. It is quite a powerful experience.
Joseph Azize, 11 September 2017