The Work Cannot Be Done by False Personality (27 September 1979, Pt IV)

This continues the meeting of Thursday 27 September 1979. There was one exchange which was good, but not so good it calls for report. These last two questions, however, and especially the first of them, do. The first was with Boris, who said he was trying to understand his egotism. It was such a long exchange, that I am publishing part of it now, and the balance in the next post. He began with saying: “I have two extreme states. I take very little notice of what is going on around me.”

“Can’t you put it more simply?” asked Mr Adie. “I have got the proposition more or less, but it could be easier to follow. Don’t you think you could formulate it a bit more clearly? You start by saying you are working against your egotism, but from that, what? How did you plan your work?”

I might note here that Boris had a doctorate, in days when they were much rarer than they are now. He was highly intelligent and educated. But there was a pause, and Mr Adie stated: “Let us say that you have seen it, and now you believe it is a good thing to try and understand it. Then you want to know what it is based on, how it manifests, and what it costs me. What it robs me of, the harm it does. If I can ponder on that, I can see many aspects of egotism, which I can then start to work on, that I can try and be present to, but it does mean a quiet reasonable thought. It does mean my attention placed on that. It does mean a real wish, otherwise I won’t get the quality thought that I want. Without that, I shall only get egotistic thinking, with great capital letters, and underlining, and splashes of all kinds, instead of genuine quiet reasonable thought.”

“We had this reading on essence and personality; practically all my ordinary egotism is in personality. While I am in the clutches of my personality, my essence is passive; but it should be the other way around. But now, this is something I am bringing to you. What is your question? You started speaking about two extreme states, one of which was being cut off, but then what was the second extreme state? What would you get out of ten for that in an exam?”

“It’s a very interesting question for you. How can I have a question about egotism and not be able to formulate it at all. Do you see?”

Again, there was a lengthy pause. Mr Adie waited for Boris, and then continued: “Did you really try and formulate your question for tonight? No? You felt you had a question but you didn’t really formulate it.”

“Formulation isn’t just a question of putting it into words, only, it is a question of confronting: what is that I want to know? I want to know something. But I didn’t receive that impression from you; rather it was one of being unprepared, of floundering. Confused and even contradictory. False stops. That is not satisfactory. Obviously, thatapparatus is not going to overcome egotism, is it? It’s going to be defeated before it starts.

“If I am going to do anything about my egotism, I have to be very quiet and serious, and use the best reason that I can. But perhaps you have some question, or some observations?”

“Yes,” said Ivan: “if I make an effort to be simple with someone – ”

“Did in fact you make such an effort?”


“What happened?”

“It’s as though the effort was too strong.”

“It immediately suggests the wrong kind of effort, doesn’t it? I mean, if there is a fly there, and I want to remove it, and I go and get a lump hammer, it obviously isn’t suitable, is it? The effort that is wanted to swat a fly is a quick one. Swinging a hammer at it will use a lot more energy, but it won’t succeed: the fly will have plenty of time to get off. The effort has to be suitable to whatever it is I am trying to accomplish.”

Mr Adie then turned to someone else, and said: “You’re very cross with me, are you? You are looking ferociously at me: what can he mean? What is it like inside?”

“I am just trying to understand,” said Ivan.

“Is it difficult to understand?”


“Then relax, relax.”

Boris then picked up his thread: “I make efforts, but everything seems unbalanced.”

“Yes, of course; and now you are saying something that is important – I can only be present at the expense of my egotism. Don’t forget that there is a real genuine I, but when we speak of “egotism” we don’t mean that, we mean “false personality”. If I can be present, it is certainly going to be at the expense of false personality.  At the expense of egotism. Directly my egotism enters in, my presence disappears, and automatic results displace any intentional process. I lose the power of choice.”

“You see, the sort of mechanics of these efforts, the successiveness of the kind of efforts we have got to try and make? It’s like cause and effect, and again, cause and effect. It brings me much nearer to this practical need for presence.”

“I see that if I have no presence, I just waste my time. What sort of effort is it going to be? It’s going to serve any old chance “I”.”

“And that’s another thing about my egotism: you think it is one thing. It isn’t. It isn’t ONE – BIG  – NOBLE – EGO. No. It’s a great number of little egos, running around, each of them puffing itself up as “I”. So which ego is it? I have to think about this and really wish to come to some point of application.”

“In the example that you were speaking of, you probably chose some such sort of application. But don’t forget that this is only one out of a great number of different “I”s. There really is no one glorious ego: it would be terrible if that were so. Our possibility just is that the smaller points can be defeated occasionally, and in order to do that, something bigger in me grows.”

“I have to be thankful that I am not strong in the present situation. Thank God I am not! If in my present state I were strong, I wouldn’t have much hope. I am in a very weak condition: I am subject to all kinds of impulses, seen, unseen. Very, very weak position. I think it’s strong. I think I am possessed with great passions. Have you something else to say about it?”

He did, but that will be in the next post.

Joseph Azize, 25 June 2019

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