A Newly Published Gurdjieff Anecdote (Wednesday 9 October 1985, Pt V)

Part One

As we saw in Pt IV of this meeting, Mr Adie gave sustained and careful attention to a question from Jill. When, after quite some exchange, he saw that she had more to say, he said: “Now, you wanted to speak of something else.”

“Yes,” said Jill: “I want to speak of the feeling exercise, the attention of my feeling …”

Feeling, the finger exercise, you mean the counting?” Mr Adie asked, referring to one of the exercises published in Life Is Real …

On Saturday morning I was sitting in here and feeling relaxed. I was receiving impressions and I had my eyes closed, and somebody came close to me and a feeling of panic which was immediately followed by criticism. I don’t understand that, it happens all the time.”

You see, it suggests that you are identified with what you’re doing,” replied Mr Adie. “You’re identified with your effort, otherwise you wouldn’t panic. If you only noticed an interruption about to come, you wouldn’t panic. You’d just realise that you had to shrink in a bit. You see, it’s like passing someone on the pavement, you don’t panic, you tense yourself a little, not consciously. So, when you see you’re bound to be interrupted … it’s like when you see it pours when it rains you’ve got to put your umbrella up, but you don’t panic. It indicates that you’re already losing balance. Have you arrived at the end of your question?”

I wanted to find out what the tension is in my feeling is in the finger exercise.”

Tension you say? Where?”

Here, as a knot.” Nothing was said to indicate where Jill would have been pointing: “Sometimes if I continue with the exercise, somehow my attention gets more evenly divided and my eyes relax more …”

Your attention gets more evenly divided.”


Therefore, the tension seems to be more spread.” Mr Adie seems to be say that when one’s attention is more evenly divided, one can become aware of more tensions than one had known.

It’s not so clear, not so…” Jill petered out.

Only you could say, you have to go on and experience and gradually find out.”

It seems to be related to my eyes,” added Jill.

Yes, everything is related, of course.” Mr Adie probably thought that what she needed was something more precise than “it seems to be related”.

Mr Adie went on: “If you close your eyes, everything will change. Everything. Immediately, possibilities which were almost not there when your eyes were open, will appear. There are tremendous impressions coming in through the eyes. And there are tremendous impressions coming in through the ears. But there are a number of points here, is this the tension you speak of?”


“Try and observe it, it may be a form of your sensation, of having feeling. See, anything that happens in any of the centres affects all centres. Try a very slight movement. Try and relax it if necessary. It’s very subtle. We’re not talking about great big wooden arms swinging around, or large and stiff steely movements, we’re talking about the finest movements. A wave of pain may come and go, some fine impulse can flow right through me, and I feel something here, but it need stop my movements. I can sense the flow of this energy and yet I am entitled to move my head if I want to. I can move my hand, anything is possible; but I have to divide attention a little bit more to do that.”

“But there is something else which it could be. I don’t want to say; you must try and come on it yourself. After all, if I appear and there’s will, there’s a certain cohesion you see. I would be aware that my thought is being torn out of me. My feeling follows my thought, so I resemble a raggedy thing like this all over the place. There’s a sort of tension which might be connected with that.”

“Well, what do you think of your presence? What does your presence consist of at this moment? Certainly, we don’t understand what presence is: it represents a force, a very definite force.”

“So, when I am on my own, and I’m relatively alive, and I’m not afraid, and I’m serious, for a second, where do I experience that?”

“When I know I’m serious, it’s a strong thing … it’s not something spread all around. Mmm?”

“Mr Gurdjieff said once: “If I go bust, the Arc de Triomphe will disappear. The whole neighbourhood will go.”

“We could represent an aggregate of force, a combination of forces a very definite power. At the moment it’s very fortunate we don’t, because we would be all over the place, but when they can be contained, then, maybe, the gradual acquisition of the power to contain will go on with the acquisition of the forces.”

“Then for any special action, then maybe there would have to be a moment densification, a very special action.”

“I’ve tried to answer you more or less on the feeling of your question and where you’ve been working, but I don’t wish it to become theoretical. Can you follow it?”


“If we remember ourselves, certainly we collect force, so where is the force going to be collected, how do I notice it, how do I sense it, feel it and know it’s there? Surely, if it’s there, it’s there because I’m beginning to be there, manifesting in my actions. This is something for everybody. We can expect lawfully to assemble force and be more collected. This is will we’re talking about, real will, power to do. Power to do, a real man is someone that can do. This is a complete definition of a man.”

“Take this box,” Mr Adie evidently pointed to his hearing aid container. “It can’t move over there on the surface of the table, it can’t. In order to do that, there would have to be some central intelligence which would be able to slacken off here at the back of the box, and advance a little at the front of box, and then reverse the procedure and then you get a sort of caterpillar action you see, like that. And then the box could move. But, it’s too dense there’s no life, it hasn’t got three brains, it’s only got one, the brain of a mass, even that wouldn’t deny some kind of a brain. Take two paintings, one foul and one beautiful. How they got there doesn’t matter for the moment, but objectively there’re quite different and have a different force. So everything has a force, this has a bad force for me, because it has a horrible shape and I don’t like the colour of it very much. That’s an artist’s subjectivity but … I don’t know if you see the connection.”

There was more silence. Mr Adie returned to someone who had spoken earlier and said: “Move. When you are tense, when you are anxious, the answer is move. When that happens, move. Move inside, never stay with the negative feeling. Never indulge in it, move.”

Part Two

To my mind, this was one of the great answers. I shall briefly mention one matter only: the new anecdote from Gurdjieff. I have never heard it before. What Gurdjieff was saying, I think, was that if one works on oneself, one will acquire an internal force, and one will be able to sense it, and to have a feeling of its power. In this way, I could have a means of measuring for my state.

It is immensely practical: Gurdjieff said that about himself. But what about me? What force is there inside me? Now. And if I can sense something, what can I sense about it, its force and its location (because the force is not mine, it is only localised in me.) If, on the other hand, I can sense nothing, how do I open in order to allow some more energy to enter? It is here, it is around me, but is there something about how I am which is rebuffing or repelling it? There are many more questions, but perhaps this can start the process off. I would be more than happy to hear some interpretations and ponderings on what Gurdjieff may have meant.

Joseph Azize, 13 April 2019

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