“There Are Old Patterns of Thought” (Thursday 17 November 1988, Part III)

The questioner was Polly, who said that she wanted to struggle with negative emotion, remembering what was said about how once the negative emotion had been expressed it was too late.

What you want to do in that case, is to prepare yourself,” said Mr Adie. “Choose certain times when A, B, C, or D, is going to occur. Otherwise, what will occur? No one is going to warn you: “Watch out, negative emotion coming!” Who could expect that? But in your preparation, come to a real genuine wish, and prepare. Recall what we were speaking about with Rick, and choose some situation when negative emotion generally does come forth.”

“You say that you want to watch negative emotion. It is almost impossible to do so because, if you are watching, negative emotion vanishes. What we call “watching” is generally waking up, to some degree, to find that we have been throwing plates around. But if you were watching, the ordinary manifestation might stop, but you would see something inside. That would give you a chance. You experience something. You learn from what is inside.”

Mr Adie then turned to Ketty, whose question he had just dealt with, saying to her: “It’s for you, too. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Just join in.”

Polly continued: “That night when I made the plan, I saw three instances of where I became negative.”

“Were they proceeding?” Mr Adie asked.


They were over? Yes, you were roused a little more, and so you what you had done without excuses. That is a start. But it is not the end, because they stop when you are more awake. They are not what you want. When you see them, do not just define them. Taste them.”

Polly then stated that that is what usually happens. She had prepared for a meeting with someone with whom she often becomes negative, and the rest of the week seemed completely different because of that one meeting.

You met and you were free of fear? Good. That is what we were hoping for, and you have finally got there. It proves that it is possible, and can be possible again. But now go on. Don’t leave it there. Find other

Polly then made rather a long statement. The essence of it can be rephrased like this: “When I got home from the group meeting, the man I live with had been drinking. I am completely intolerant of that. I wonder now whether my reaction to alcohol is one of the third types of negative emotions: my father drinks and from early childhood I used to get upset when he drank.”

When you say, “drinking”, you mean having too get much and getting tiddly?” Mr Adie asked.

Yes, every night my father would start drinking, and every night he would have too much.”

Is it the same with this fellow?”

No, not every night, only sometimes.”

Is he aggressive when drinking or is he pleasant?”

He is very pleasant.”

Then why worry about it if he is pleasant? If he isn’t hostile or even nasty, why worry?”

I can’t control it. I just get upset.”

Then you can have some gratitude for the situation, because there is a real work. Your reason tells you that you mustn’t interfere and cause trouble. You would be a bad influence in his life? How would you like to find a witch glaring at you because you’ve had a drink, you’re harming no one, and you’ve been happy until she comes home?”


“Well, it seems to me very important that you should take this seriously and try and have a sensible attitude. You said yourself that it is your own subjective ancient attitude. So you can question it, and say: “He’s a good man. He doesn’t beat me up when he drinks but on the contrary, he’s quite nice to be around.”

(Polly laughed a little.)

“Why you should find it so funny, I don’t know. It isn’t funny at all. You’re interfering with him, and you have no right to do that. He may even be interested in the Work at some time or other, but you’re making sure that he will have nothing to do with it. What is it that goes on over there, is it a witches’ coven or something? When you walk in does he ask you where you’ve left the broom?”

“Think about it. Think about it. It is a big thing, but you ought not to have much trouble, because the work is laid out right there before you, and you know its history. How is it going to help him or you?”

“There is such a difference between how I can think now, and the justification I feel at that time,” said Polly.

That is another thing. You see how the brain turns around in the same old path? Free yourself. You’ve got to make a change, we’re given this exercise, this finger exercise. If you’re going to do it, really do it, you’ve got to give all your attention to the job, otherwise you won’t manage it. Give the whole of your attention to that and fulfil it. And when you’re free, try and then think, and come to something. Free your mind from its habitual turning.”

“There are old patterns of thought. They are not entirely wrong: something caused them to appear. But they persist in situations where they ought not to. And the probability is that the more you go on, the less he notices, at least up to the point. Maybe he will start to drink more heavily before you get home, and put the bottle away, so that you don’t see him. Do you see how the path you’re on could destroy everything? We’re always destroying: our lives are like battlefields, broken swords and forts all over the place. Give yourself a role to play. Try and be a different mum, not this awful thing that’s going to spoil everything.”

The last words in this exchange came from Polly. They were very simple. She said: Thank you.”

I should add, that when one has made many efforts there is indeed something one can do after a negative emotion has been expressed. At the beginners’ level, one can, as Mrs Adie said on several occasions, draw the force of the negative emotion back in from one’s atmosphere. If you attempt it, especially if you have ever learned Gurdjieff’s “atmosphere exercise”, you will find that it is possible. A Mrs Adie, something of the emotional force remains in our atmosphere, and by pulling it back in, one actually tastes it better, and acquires some extraordinary force. As Ouspensky said, the fine higher elements which our positive emotion should use are generally used by our negative emotions. By digesting what is left of these higher hydrogens after they have been expressed, then, if I have a sense of contrition, I feed on this rich food, but this time, for my being. Again, one understands this better when one has learnt from a genuine teacher.

The second thing one can do, and this even more advanced, is consciously transform the negative emotion. Again, it depends upon the inner exercises, and it has to be done at the very moment I am feeling it.

Joseph Azize, 5 August 2018

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