The third question this evening was from Ravi, who said: “Mr Adie, on the phone you said that I should observe myself being negative, and actually see my state, because I don’t know what’s going on. This morning I did a short preparation, and I was getting ready to leave to go to work, my wife said something to me which was very kind and nice, and I was replying to her, when she finished my sentence for me. It was about my son, and I immediately reacted to what she said, and I saw myself becoming stiff and wooden. I could see the tension in my face, in my back and in my neck, I could feel myself really tighten up inside and cut right off. I tried not to say anything at the time.”
“But you think she didn’t notice that?” asked Mr Adie.
“Well, she did for certain, because she said sorry, I didn’t mean that. Somehow, I joined with the resentment and when she came back into the room, I found myself letting go, and it was lethal. It was so fast I wasn’t there at all, I didn’t see it happen.”
“Again, what about her,” Adie asked, “was she able to say another nice thing?”
“Yes, she did actually, she sat down and said, don’t shout at me. That sort of really changed things when she said that.”
“What you have said is more or less true, isn’t it?” Adie was affirming that he sounded honest. “What about it then?”
“I know nothing much about it at all really.”
Adie paused, for a moment, then said: “It could help if you could possibly see a little bit of the suffering you’ve caused her, even a little bit. You are in that position. Where are you going to get your help, where? Don’t you see unless you yourself suffer in the way that you cause others, you won’t be able to.”
“I have to try and make place in myself, a place where I can understand. You have to find it. As you relate it, you didn’t feel for her, and you still don’t now.”
“I’m feeling for me, yes, not for her,” Ravi agreed.
“There’s your material,” said Adie. “You must try and stay with it and see. Try and understand, try and take knowledge of this. I see that all the time it’s like that, everything is marvellous and magnificent, everything is offered: bad as well as good. But then I smash, every day. I don’t understand. So mothers can’t look after their children, fathers can’t look after their boys or their girls. Have you noticed how often parents say: “I’m trying to have a relation with my daughter”, or “I’m trying to have a relation with my son”, something like this. It is as if they were talking about somebody who has turned up from the North Pole and has nothing to do with them at all. It does not sound like they’re speaking of their own flesh and blood. Where is the sensitivity?”
“It’s as if a sweet child turned up its face for a caress, but I slap it. Feel how different these two actions are. I have to try and be present, to try and understand, but to continue, especially if I can find something. It’s no good getting negative about it, but I’ve got be prepared, prepared to suffer.”
“If you do the work, you’ll suffer; if you don’t do the work, you won’t. Then by the suffering you’ll see what’s happened; you partake in it, it changes.”
“You’ve had your so-called thought, right throughout your life with many people. Now, it has to go in deeper; it has to, if you are to emerge. By repairing the past, you will emerge. And in order to emerge, you’ll have to repair the past.”
“Do you see that? By repairing the past your reality will emerge, and by emerging, you will repair the past. They go together.”
It was quite remarkable how Adie brought out that the fundamental issue for Ravi was related to, but not identical with, what he (Ravi) had thought it was: it was not his manifestation at the time of his arguments with his wife. No, it was the fact that even as he was bringing that to the group, he still had no feeling for his wife – all his concern was still for himself, just as it had been in the quarrels. This ability to sense the real position of someone else, and to discern how to help them see it for themselves (or at least to glimpse it enough to have material to work with), is wisdom. It is based on, but goes beyond knowledge.
Observe, too, Adie’s remarks about repairing the past. I cannot rephrase it any better than he put it: “By repairing the past your reality will emerge, and by emerging, you will repair the past. They go together.” From one perspective, the entirety of the spiritual struggle is, indeed, repairing the past. In a very real way, we still are our past. But now I have been pondering how it is that the power, as it were, of the past can be so crippling. We make a mistake, we do something wrong, we sin, and the memory of it prevents us from every going beyond a certain point. When pangs of guilt strike us, they can use an extraordinary amount of the good energy we need to nourish positive emotion.
I have often struggled with this question: nothing can alter the fact that I did this, or I did not do that, that I manifested in this way; so how can I ever cease to feel guilty? Of course, there is confession for sins, but oddly enough, the incidents which rankle the most, which have remained open wounds, are not sins, just stupidities. It hurts to concede our own foolishness, even if it is historical – and this means that our vanity and egoism live on.
Now, it is easy to give an answer which is actually correct: that by changing so that I am not the person I had been when I did or omitted to do that. Mr Adie taught this very well, and many of his expressions of this truth are in the volume, George Adie, (available only from By the Way Books). I wish to add one reflection of my own, and that is, in overcoming the emotion of guilt, we can make conscious use of the Heropass, we can make use of time. Time is forever devouring: that is something it does. We can find that in many writings, not least in Gurdjieff, but also in the Bible and in the Bhagavad Gita. This devouring aspect of time is perhaps why Gurdjieff called it the “Merciless Heropass.”
But time does not only destroy, it also offers new possibilities. It removes, and it presents. Mr Adie once said: “You know how Mr Gurdjieff speaks of the Merciless Heropass? Well on a higher level, he is merciful.”
Let us take a clear example: endless grief for the dead. The passage of time will ameliorate it unless we interfere with that process: all memories fade, and stye fade in at least two ways: first, they grow weaker, we forget some of the details; and second, other new memories are formed, and these displace the earlier one, at least to some extent. To keep the sadness alive by refusing to think of other things, and by going over and over it, is unnatural. It is, of course, an identification, but somehow that does not help me as much as remembering that it is neglecting the grace of time – time erases the old and presents the new.
There are some matters we should not allow time to erase, such as our faith. But these are not preserved in aspic, as it were, these are lived and are taken into a higher perspective: our understanding is deepened. Perhaps this richer use of our past and experience is the only basis upon which we can rightly keep it alive within us. Anything else, it seems, is feeding the past with our own souls.
Joseph Azize, 29 July 2019, in memoriam