This is the opening address of the Saturday Weekend Work, 20 July 1985. It is Mr Adie who speaks.
What is my formulation for today? This arises really from the question, where is my choice? In what does my choice lie? Everything is going on, nothing is stopping, everything is taking place, nothing is still, but where am I in all this?
Something in me, for a moment, glimpses that there is an infinity of things going on. It means something. But where am I in relation to it? So, where is my choice, what choice have I? It takes me very deep, I’m almost lost immediately I ask the question and yet my very possibility depends upon my not being lost.
So, where is the practical point for today? The odds are, I live until tonight. Very good. I have this day before me; but who has it? Is it something I could name? Could I really say: “I understand that I have this day?” No, it isn’t. But, there’s a need for some formulation. I must have some intentional formulation of words. But what? I have this question you see. This is why everything is a question. There is infinity before me, and – what?
If there is choice for me, and of course there is, then I must understand it. If I am there, there is choice. Yet even this choice must depend on discrimination, and division between this and that. If there is no division, there is no choice: a choice is between this and that. Could I be uncertain of that? But now, exactly where would that choice lie? I have some work to do: where does the choice lie in that relation?
I have to do the work, so, some of my force has to be engaged. But if it’s totally engaged, I disappear. So, my choice depends on division, a division of myself, my attention. This is why it is sometimes said, “you are your attention”, or “your attention is I”. I cannot do the work unless some attention is available for it. But again, I have a choice as to the quality of my attention. If my attention is attracted, then the work might not be so very well done, it might be very badly done.
So, something has to be for me. I need some attention of my own presence, of whatever is here. There has to be a division: something here for my presence, and something for that action in which I am engaged. This will bring a power of intention, and a faculty of discrimination. Then my attention can move; it has to, and it has to acknowledge that it is living among a thousand million waves of influence. Now we acknowledge that we are in the midst of these influences, and we know that we may have very different states, but if we do not put down some practical reminder when our state is higher, then we leave our state to chance … and our work can not be left to chance. So, this is why I said, use the word “formulation”, because it can flow from a moment of more presence, and it will remain available to the mind. From that, I can be reminded: “Ah! Where is my sensation? Where is my feeling?”
By being together and by the sitting, we have more presence, more often. Why is it that the sitting we have here gives you so much? It’s a combined force. You are in a certain arena there and then you find that the head is mentioned, and immediately I become aware of the head. Something is mentioned, I’m following, and I’m being influenced by these reminders from outside: that helps me enormously. Then why do I not remember when I’m by myself? It is a question for me, but perhaps it is because my force is very much less when I am alone, and it comes at random moments unless I have a programme for the day.
So, we have a work day, and work companions: there’s a relation there. But, in all this, there has to be some point, something put down to which I could refer at a more open moment, like when I ask the question,. It somehow puts me on the spot, just for a second, and that’s my second when I need to exercise choice. And, if I formulate this question, then where does my choice lie? Such a question does something: it is active. In preparation, there’s a great, great mystery about it. Everything is subjective, the choice is inner, between this and that. I get a glimpse of infinity, I disappear. A thousand things could happen in the preparation. Is this not a mystery? Why does this happen but not that does not? When we are in action, as we live, we may receive one fleeting moment. At that mysterious moment need the formulation which I came to in the morning, a formulation on the level of stone, of food, whatever I’m doing.
And it leads to this moment, this present moment, which, if you follow, if you’re there, you see that that moment really can encompass the whole day in a sort of measure. So I have this formulation to help me: it’s my icon for the day if you like, but I have it here. (At this point Mr Adie probably touched his solar plexus.)
Every time I notice what I’m doing, by chance, I have this formulation, and then I begin to direct my attention. This is the sort of similar process when we have a sitting together. We have to move so that work becomes active in us, and that means that I have to be present.
I’m before a great mystery – good heavens, life! – what other mystery is there? I’m in this, but the question never strikes my dull clay.
So, work with that question every time, just a little like that, but you see, if I really formulate it, like now, and I know that I formulate it and even have some understanding of it and the need for it, then I don’t need all those words. I just have the influence of the thought which at the moment I hold.
Well, we’ll have the briefing for the work and then just return for a moment afterwards to this thought.
Joseph Azize, 17 August 2019
The illustration is a sandalwood carving of Ganesha. I feel that there is something deep in the image of Ganesha.