This is from the meeting of Tuesday 24 June 1986, at Newport. It was a young man, whom I will call Richard, and who was new to the ideas. He said that he had realised that he had not had a real desire to see himself.
“This is a very valuable observation,” said Mr Adie. “You could not do without it. It means that you have a greater sensitivity now than what had previously been available. You have seen that spot, that place in you which can see what is actually inside, and now you know where to go to, and to go to it at once. It’s like catching fish: if you know where the best fishing hole is, you don’t need to go through all your calculations each time, you just take your tackle to that part of the river, and choose the hook and the bait you need.”
Then, making a reference to the previous answer, where he had spoken of how delicate and subtle the work was, and yet how something in us goes at with too much force, he said: “No need for a bulldozer. But now you need to study the effort. When I make an effort, all sorts of things can join in which I do not want. So I begin to see what is necessary in my effort, and also what extraneous features were joining in. When I am identified, all sorts of things are going on which are not wanted. They muddy the experience. Did you see that?”
Richard did not answer directly. He recounted an incident where he had made a plan not to discuss his business, and he hadn’t, yet he saw although he had not spoken about it, the keeping silent had been mechanical rather than conscious.
“You made a plan, and fulfilled it, and that is significant, even if in doing so you made good use of the formatory apparatus,” said Mr Adie. “But now if you wish to be more present at the time of making the effort you need to also be relaxed. Then you can also be flexible and be more present. Nevertheless, what you have seen was important, and because of your intentional plan you managed to see what otherwise you would not have seen.”
“Also, you found that it was possible, to a certain degree, to stop talking. I wish to stop in order to receive what I need. Then the question is, something in me has stopped, but another process is going on, and I still feel a bit at a loss, unsatisfied. Perhaps I didn’t get as much out of it as I had hoped.”
“There it is. You profit from that. Keep going. It is a special time. The suggestion was to make the effort for that half hour come absolutely first. Make that half hour for my being conscious effort. Then I see that my appetite for food or for talk or whatever has intruded on this special half hour in which I have decided to put my effort first. I was invaded after a little while.”
Mr Adie’s comments about the fulfilment of the task, although Richard felt that it had been mechanical, were interesting. First of all, even though we are fulfilling a plan, yet the mechanical side of us will still be there, our digestion, circulation of blood and so on, including formatory apparatus, and this is entirely legitimate. It is, indeed, necessary: we cannot live on a sort of celestial level as if we had no body. We cannot erase formatory apparatus: we need it just to get through life, to buy our food, to brush our teeth, and so on. The very fact that we are fulfilling our plan means that the person as a whole is acting in accordance with a projected aim, that is, he is actually doing, even if only in a small way and for a short time. However, as Mr Adie saw, Richard wanted to be feeling special. To be disappointed on that account is to expect too much.
The reference to being “flexible” is, I think, a way of saying that when we are present, then even if we have planned not to speak about a particular topic, we can be free to do so if the circumstances require it.
But, for me, the most interesting aspects were the idea of studying the effort and what joins in when I make one; and also that task: to put the work first for half an hour each day, chosen in advance.
Joseph Azize, 15 September 2017