I cannot observe unless I also observe the observer (27 September 1979)

This is from the meeting of Thursday 27 September 1979 at Newport. The first two questions were interconnected. The first question came from Matt, who said that he had been observing his bad posture, a tension in his jaw, rigidity in his pelvis, and no arm swing. He has been trying to observe himself, and just observe, but on other occasions he tried to relax his shoulders and raise his head, or on other occasions to make a different movement. But although he has been trying this for a month, and the tension has not changed.

Mr Adie replied: “Well, you can’t really judge how bad it was, since you have only just started to notice it. The more you notice it, the worse it will seem. But do you not find in these moments of observation, that your state changes; not only your pelvis, not only your shoulders, but your inner state?”

Matt agreed: “Yes, I do. It is a useful reminder for me.”

“Yes, most useful, because my aim is to remember myself, and whatever helps me in that is to be welcomed. But if I focus too much on the relaxation, then I lose the idea of working for conscious being. Again, we get lost, we get lost in our search. What you describe is good, very good, and it would be of value to everyone to work on this line.”

“But now, if you notice that you are tense, let that remind you first of all to ask where you are. Where am I? I see that there is some tension in my body, but where am I, anyway? Am I in my head? What is my general state?”

“When I feel the tension I feel trapped in that tension, and become concerned about it,” replied Matt.

“That can mean that you end up not observing it, but rather identifying with it. If I have the intention of observing the tension in the body while remembering myself, the posture of the belly is vital. Have you used the exercise I gave of observing the posture of the belly?”

“Yes, and when I remember it, I contract the muscles.”

“The opposite would be better,” said Mr Adie: “let the belly slightly out. There is some tension, but only minimally. It has to be slightly out. Not pulled up. There has to be a free duct running from there to there, and then I don’t have to stop walking. I can walk as I go about during the day and still have some consciousness awareness of that duct. If I do, I will find that I breathe better, and come to some deeper feeling of myself.”

“Don’t forget, I cannot observe unless I also observe the observer. It means that I am present to the observation. The observation is the work of the head. It directs the attention. But that is just the head, it is not everything. I need a centralised responsibility, and that will allow me a centralised freedom of movement.”

“Go on, but remember that. If you do not, it won’t be as good as it might have been; there will be other mistakes in it. Don’t be in a hurry. It’s good work, using this tension. There is this tension in the body, and every time you notice it, you return to yourself.”

“But if there is nothing but that, it becomes a reaction. That is not the same thing. Do you follow? Does everybody else follow? Do you follow Jerry?”

Jerry said that it related to something he wanted to say.

“You see,” said Mr Adie: “it has everything except I. Everything has come before it, but it is I which needs to come first.”

“In that observation,” said Matt: “certain feeling or emotional states go with the raised shoulders.”

“What are the emotional states,” Mr Adie asked: “have you seen any of them well enough to name them?”

Matt said it was fear with the shoulders, and then when he sticks his jaw out and sucks his tongue, that seems to be associated with a feeling of need.

“Yes, I need to find out all the associations. There is much to be discovered. Why does a child put its tongue out when it tries to draw? Many children do that, not all, but many. Why? It’s paying attention, but why the tongue?”

“The tongue should be passive, touching the teeth, just at the side, like an ox tongue but not so big. But then it becomes alive, and you find the roots of the tongue, down here, and you start to understand by experience that this is an organ. A very unruly one.”

“Jerry, did you wish to speak now or later?”

“I have a lot of questions.”

“Yes, well would you like to speak now or later?”

“I will speak now. I lose contact with my aim,” said Jerry.

“Your contact with your aim passes through and is subject to many elements of false personality. You thought that you could obtain your aim, and you didn’t realise that this was an obstacle, and that was an obstacle. Now you being to see what stands in the way, and why you can’t go to it so easily. It’s more of a challenge. You see that you’re not really able to think.”

After a pause, Mr Adie continued: “I thought that I had a far aim but I never really realised what I was after, it was far bigger than I had any comprehension of. I being to get a truer aim, a less naïve aim. And I need very much to check on my near aim. I often think of something very grand, but that will also be very far. It is no goo having a far aim full stop.”

“Mr Gurdjieff said that together with that, we also need something intermediate, like a series of lampposts. My far aim is the lamp post over there, at the end of the street. That is very important: it gives meaning to the journey down that street.”

“A person can become identified with their near aim. I might go off and read all sorts of learned scientific book about tensions, and in doing that I go off on a tangent. But I remember my far aim, I see that I have lost my direction. The recollection of my far aim checks my work on my near aim. In other words, I find whether the near aim is true or not.”

“Then I can have the value of a near aim, something within the bounds of possibility. I cannot hope to have my far aim now. Maybe if at the very end of my life I got it, that would be a very big thing. If you finished up with objective consciousness, and will and I, you would be a very unusual being.”

Maybe not one of the truly great answers, but masterful, nonetheless.

Joseph Azize, 13 June 2019

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