Gurdjieff’s Simple Advice (Thursday 27 September 1979, Pt II)

In continuing this report of the meeting of 27 September 1979. Jerry, who had asked one question already, now spoke about a discussion he had had with Mr Adie two months ago, when Mr Adie had spoken about the possibility of placing oneself under a law. Now, said Jerry, he wished to do so, but he did not know which law he should be falling under.

“I think that’s right,” said Mr Adie, “It was something to think about: what law could you place yourself under? The work has its laws, hasn’t it? I know if I indulge in unlimited negative emotion, I break the law of the work. There is a form of life which corresponds to my aim: so this is lawful from the point of view of the work. Anything which violates that and destroys it is, from the work point of view, is unlawful. This is not answering it directly, but it helps me to think about it.”

“To fall under a law, to put yourself under it, is a big step, and you are not ready for that yet. It means a dedication, does it not? Some form of dedication. That is not so near … but I can try. But to dedicate means to pay everything. Now, where does that leave you?”

“For a month after our discussion,” said Jerry, “I felt that I did come under a law.”

“Under the influence of a law,” Mr Adie replied, speaking quite precisely. “It was a very special thing: there had been that reading and other things which you know of, and as a result the impact did not disappear for quite a long time, but to come under a higher law is something more continuing, and deeper and more comprehensive – it affects the whole of you.”

“But what you have now is valuable. Don’t let this go. I have to be able to understand it, not only emotionally, I have to understood it so as to make it practical. For example, I cannot place myself under the law of man number seven; I cannot, it’s impossible. But what law can I place myself under?”

“Am I ready for any sort of dedication? This is the point, you see. What can I dedicate myself to? If I could have that question alive within me, much more, it would be beginning towards the dedication, you see.”

Now, at this point one can hear that Jerry starts sobbing. That sobbing continues, more or less, for the balance of this exchange. Mr Adie not stop; he continued: “I remember saying to Mr Gurdjieff, once, that I wish I could give myself to the Work, everything. Mme de Salzmann was there, she said: “He wishes to dedicate himself.” Mr Gurdjieff said: “He is not ready.” Very simple. It was, at that stage, impossible.”

I had heard Mr Adie tell that story before, and I recall that it packed a powerful impact when delivered person to person: that Gurdjieff could see the entire situation, and respond so directly and yet so justly, without sentimentality or false encouragement. And how balanced of Mr Adie to appreciate that Gurdjieff was correct. Now, in this exchange, Mr Adie came back to Jerry’s situation: “But this is very good. Keep it close to you. You have so much feeling about it that it shakes you, and that is very good. Be prepared to keep that. It can help you to melt inside.”

“People think that they can have the work without any suffering, or any breaking or any tearing, but it isn’t true. If I really start to be torn, then I am near something. I try to remember, you try to remember yourself, try to accept your present position: you have a wish that you don’t fully understand, and you have a sincere impulse. Don’t deny anything. Try to be there. Accept all the conditions. It can open you, it can give you an opening. Then things can change and my head can work with it. I don’t give up that feeling, but then the head can start to work as well. To a certain extent, you try not to give way to unnecessary emotion, but you don’t resist it the wrong way.”

Jerry was still sobbing, and Mr Adie added another reminiscence of Gurdjieff: “I remember once I was terribly moved about something. And he saw this. And he said three words to me, he said: “Try not cry.”

There was a pause. Then Mr Adie continued: “Tremendous strength in that instruction, and tremendous gentleness. Just the three words: “Try not cry.” Not: “Don’t cry.” “Try not.” So I could try not without trying to escape, without trying to evade. You see? Accept that good position of yours. Try and be awake within it. A little bit free from it now. See, if I am not present I cannot understand what is going on, and there can arise a tumult, a crisis, a pain.”

“Obviously, this is not nothing: there is some fact there. I didn’t invent it. There is some fact there. But what is it? Now my head has to be there a bit, but not the ordinary one. A better. With that, I can see a justification for this effort. The effort is not so much to save myself the pain, but rather not to throw away too much energy, so that I can discharge my duty towards my state. Try to understand it. We can come to your other questions a bit later. You remain with that.”

Mr Adie then took turned to two others who had raised their hands and indicated the order in which he would take their questions.

Joseph Azize, 18 June 2019

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