“Don’t take this too grimly” (Saturday 20 June 1985, Pt IV)

The next exchange from the meeting Saturday 20 July 1985 was so illuminating of Gurdjieff’s principles that I have decided to retain it for 29 October, the anniversary of Gurdjieff’s death. The next and final question was absolutely unforgettable. I was there, in fact, at the end of the tape Mr Adie asks me to see him afterwards. And now for this most remarkable exchange.

Mitch:  I had a better day today, Mr Adie, right to this moment, but it all seems lost now, and hopeless.

Mr Adie:   Well, be very guarded now.  What in you wants to speak? You’ve been sharing what has been said?

Mitch:   Up to a point, yes.

Mr Adie:   How do you mean, “up to a point”?

Mitch:   I have been sharing but at times I have been trying to formulate, and it feels rather dark around me.

Mr Adie:   Well, that is crazy. You must see that. Something in you wants to speak, and it wants to speak in that way, saying those things: I think you should really take of note of that.

Mitch:   I was trying to decide in myself whether, bringing what I’ve seen, or whether it was just the part of me that wanted to speak, that wanted to, I couldn’t make a decision, I thought I’ll have to risk it.   

Mr Adie: Maybe. But why this drama about whether you can you risk it? You haven’t drowned so far. And you haven’t ever inflicted any wounds on yourself here. So, is there really much at stake? Now, honestly; what is being risked? Something is, that is true, but it is only vanity, false personality. And you risk it in good company, that’s an important point. I can afford to run a risk, and it may be that I will be better off for any risk, anyhow.

Short pause: But let’s go back to where you began: how can one say that I have had a good day, or a bad day? How can I say? A day has passed here, but, how was the day and in what state? It is this report which matters, surely.

But you open with a declaration that you have had a better day today. Now, if you had said that you had been less negative today, and you connected that to some specific effort, that would be good. But to say “it was better”? Why say that? As a preamble to some question? Yes, alright, but I want to be very wary about statements about my state, because my state changes every thousandth of a second. And when I speak, which thousandth am I describing? Ah!

 Mitch:   There was a question.

Mr Adie: Is there a question now?

Mitch:   I think there is, but I don’t feel I am in a state where I can judgeat the moment. I feel rather despairing.

Mr Adie places his hand on the table, and makes duck noises while using his hand to imitate a duck beak flapping.

Mitch, weeping:   I don’t know what I did wrong, Mr Adie.

Mr Adie:   You don’t do any wrong, you’re just not there.

 Mitch:   Not at the moment.

Mr Adie:   Yes, but try and see what is there. When that is there, the manifestations are the predictable manifestations of a duck with its arse wobbling from side to side. Something in you must talk, see? You get trapped.

After a short pause, Mr Adie added: Don’t take this too grimly.

Mitch:   I can’t help but take it seriously.

Mr Adie:   Yes. But you can. It’s nothing, after all.

Mitch:   I was trying to present something in good faith and something else came in.

Mr Adie:   That’s right, you did so, not only that it was acknowledged, see? I trusted you, to be able to see the joke.

Mitch:   Sorry, I have no humour.

Mr Adie:   Well, the duck doesn’t help much. All it wants is a good worm, or failing that, a mouth full of lush grass.

There was a long pause, then Mr Adie continued: Just be quiet. We’ve been speaking about “being,” but only speaking about it. Settle for the fact, for being.

I said what I did because I don’t want you to worry about, the fact whether you had a better day or not such a better day, or that you are not sure what in you wants to speak, or that you have no humour. Let it all go and speak about your state and your efforts, and something will become rather more balanced in you. Just let the rest go.

You want to be warned there, because you start missing what’s going on by that sort of formulating. It’s just the same old egoist. Don’t have anything to do with that more than you have got to, see? Here there is no need for it; it’s all an obstacle, so just relax. Perhaps it will help you if I tell you a story, you think it might?

Mitch:   It might.

Mr Adie:   Can you risk it?

Mitch:   Yes.  

Mr Adie:   Alright, well listen carefully. About thirty-seven years ago, when I was there, Helen was there and Jane Heap was there, everybody there. Jane said to Helen, more than once: “I do wish he wouldn’t work so hard”, speaking about me.

Mrs Adie:   She said: “I do wish he wasn’t so keen on the work.”

Mr Adie:    That’s a true remark?  Well, she didn’t say it to me, otherwise I might have been bitterly hurt. I don’t think I would have been. “I do wish he wouldn’t try and work so hard”.

Mrs Adie:   “I do wish he wasn’t so keen on the work.” (laughter)

Mr Adie:     “I do wish he wasn’t so keen on the work.” So, you and I share something, what? Do try and not be so keen on the work.  (further laughter)  

It’s in such a different direction, it’s no good being keen on work. 

Mitch:   I know it’s all ego, that dominance, and that’s the particular difficulty. I know.

Mr Adie:   Well, “I know” is not enough, not until you could laugh really heartily, then you might be able to claim nodding the acquaintance.

Mitch:   What in me is so upset at the moment, this is what I don’t understand.

Mr Adie:   Still upset?

Mitch:   Well, just the residue of bursting into tears, this is what I don’t quite. Something in me feels it’s being mocked.

Mr Adie:   Yes. yes, very difficult, it won’t stay still for a second, it’s so elusive. You’re such an agreeable ingratiating little devil, you know, it’s going to work its way in somehow, it’s going to be right somehow. I’ll tell you another family story,


 Mitch:   I’m sorry Mr Adie, I’m taken up so much time.

Mr Adie:   He’s nervous.  (further laughter) His consideration is so artificial. If he was talking himself and wouldn’t notice. But anyway the others will enjoy it. (heavy laughter)

This is a story about Ken’s brother who went to prep school, and he was only a little boy about eight, and they had lockers there. He found it rather interesting looking at other boys’ lockers, and sometimes he found chocolate, sometimes he found biscuits. What, why not? (laughter) This got reported to the headmaster who was a very reasonable man, and he had him into his study, and remonstrated with him, pointing out, that he shouldn’t do this sort of thing and how would he it and so on. So, George came after this interview, and the headmaster thought he had done everything that was necessary. And then, at some point during the week, he visited another locker. Now just about this time we were having an interview with the headmaster, and he said something like this, he said: “It’s very difficult, I had him in here again, and he sat in that chair. I spoke to him once more, and he said: ‘Yes you know, you only told me about it a week ago. You expect I would have remembered’.”(laughter)

So. It runs in the family. How many of us here, about thirty, see? So, you’ve only left one thirtieth of your loaded sorrow, all shared it. It shouldn’t weight you down, you ought to be free as air now.

But one thing you shouldn’t be, is serious. Serious with a small s, yes, if no one is looking, you could be as serious as you like. But If other people are there, don’t be serious, let them really see what blackguard you really are, why not?

Mr Adie then turned to Mitch’s brother, again, I recalled this quite clearly as if it were just last week, and said: You could help him. Practise to make that noise like a duck. (Laughter)

Mr Gurdjieff would say, it was your “benefice” today: your “benefice”, yes. Well, and the benefit of us all. You see, you thought that you could be sincere and open. You were right, you have been. All our work is one, Mr Gurdjieff, Jane Heap, Helen, we’re all the same. Well, I think will stop there.

[I will just note at the end that I had misheard that last comment from Gurdjieff. I heard it as “Mr Gurdjieff would say, it was your ‘benefit’, today.” But the recording is perfectly clear: Gurdjieff said “benefice”, and then shortly afterwards Mr Adie said “benefit.” In French, the word can mean “profit” or “gain,” as in “benefit” does in English. I am not expert in French, but it seems from my research that, as in English, there are two words: “benefit” in English and “bienfait” in French for “profit,” “gain”, and “benefice” in English and “benefice” meaning an office or position in the church. Both words come from Latin roots meaning “doing a kindness.” It is an interesting perspective: when Gurdjieff and Adie disturbed someone’s sleep in a  group, it was an act of kindness, most especially to the one who was called to awake. I remember, too, that at the end of the meeting, someone commented to Mitch that he should be pleased that Mr Adie had put so much effort and attention into the exchange. Mitch said something like: “I don’t feel it.” But I think he would say something different now.]

Joseph Azize, 30 August 2019

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