The Way (16 March 1983, Pt VIII)

Part One

This is the final portion of the meeting of Wednesday 16 March 1983, when mr Adie was reviewing people’s written statements of where they saw their work now lying.

Sushi: “Attempting the task given revealed some new aspects of myself, the two main obstacles I think are a shallow carefree personality where anything deeper cannot penetrate, coupled with complacency leading myself to trains of thoughts that repeat the same dislikes, opinions and desires in me.”

“Yes, that’s right,” Mr Adie agreed. “Well, it’s a very good description of place in and around you. It’s the description of the passive state that occurs often, and it’s the substance of the elements of the state which you have now got to try and specify and deal with. You’ve selected the ground and describe it very truly. Now there’s a question: how does this shallow carefree personality manifest externally? I’m in the grip of this thing which is carefree and shallow, I don’t care about anything. Remember the two creatures, one is a tramp and the other is a lunatic. Well, this is a tramp element, everything is equal for the tramp, and so she cannot be serious. She has the attitude: “I couldn’t care. I may be a bit uncomfortable, but what does that matter to me, so I just stay where I am now, ah?” How does the shallow carefree personality manifest externally, and when does it? You need to know in order to be able to overcome it. And then another question, how does it affect others? See, you are married, and you have children, so you’ve got these duties. The tramp does not care for duties, certainly not any duties she might have to someone else. But it is only one aspect of you. Thankfully you are not a complete tramp, but if this aspect asserts itself at a critical point it can overthrow years of efforts.

“So see, what are the tramps’ manifestations? What are its formulations? These you want to put down, so that you can know them and overcome them. When you realise that they’re lies, and dangerous lies at that, they can help you. If you fall asleep, then because you have seen them before and are aware of how dangerous they are, you are awoken by their smell coming up around the corner. So I must become definite and specific so that I may know where to apply my attention and my work effort. Is it clear?”

Sushi agreed that it was, so Mr Adie turned to the next contributions. These were from two separate women who both mentioned conflicts with their daughters. There were some misunderstandings which took a little time, so I shall try and present the essence of what Mr Adie had to say: “Why do you find no feeling of yourself in respect of your daughter? What is it that stops your feeling? What is it that closes you up? Well, that’s the work of your contemplation. You’ll see something don’t worry. Try and confront it and then make a specific plan. Start say, from seven to eight a.m., and from seven to eight p.m. and see what happens with your daughter. Choose the difficult times with she’s going to school and when she’s had dinner and is at a loose end.

“You said that you need more attention on yourself when with her. Of course, but it has to be interdependent; you can’t take yourself away when you’re with her, and have all your attention on yourself, it has to be divided. And what is on you also has to be divided, we have to have some feeling, we have to have some sensation. Now then there’s not so much room for your ordinary goings on, you follow?

“You feel under pressure, too much to do, and consequently become impatient and depressed. These are states and results. Be concerned with your state, begin to divide your attention, both internal and external as I have indicated, and they will change. This is a sort of greed for activity. It could ruin you. Look how children fight to stay up, or being in bed they do anything than rather to go to sleep. It’s a sort of self-will, it’s the same sort of self will to have endless self-satisfaction. There’s a question there, do you see the nature of this compulsory enforced avidity for external doing, and what follows from it? Has it occurred to you that you have, that you have too much external activity, too many things going on, you have at least a theoretical possibility of actually taking a practical step”

It should be recorded that the last of the ladies said that she had imagination about the suffering of “people, animals and plants.” When she affirmed that this was literally true, she would be identified with what she saw as the suffering of a daisy or a tree, Mr You must or you wouldn’t indulge it, surely We love our negative emotions. Don’t you see the futility of suffering about a daisy? Can’t you see the utter stupidity of it, the nonsense?  Do you not see the wide  world, mass slaughter of humans, endless wars? It’s lacking any real perspective or proportion, isn’t it? It is too small to allow you to consume your life force? It’s the sort of romantic conceit you might find in a little book with a mauve cover. On one page there’s three words, and then another poem. It’s about that level.

“I can imagine anything, of course, but is it worth it? I must try and get an objective view on my manifestations if I can. Stop worrying about the daisies and be serious about your daughter. Do you see that this is what it means to be a tramp, just like Sushi? If you do, then how are you going to train it? How to be practical?” With that, the tape ended.

Part Two

The ideas of the “tramp” and “lunatic”, together with the correlative concept of the “householder” (obyvatel) are dealt with in Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous, 363-365. It is worth studying as a whole, but this passage especially struck me: “People who are not serious for the obyvatel are people who live by fantasies, chiefly by the fantasy that they are able to do something” (364).

However, the extracts in The Fourth Way make clearer what was implicit in Miraculous, that these categories of people are related to the concept of “the Way.” When one meets C influences, the personal influence of the Work, a staircase can be climbed, and only at the top of that staircase does the Way begin. This is very true: we have all sensed the difference between three things: first, hearing and discussing the ideas but not being able to put them into practice; second, a mixed period when we are forever studying, but there are also some efforts. It is only, I think, in the third phase, that one begins to be able to work methodically; and for that, I suggest four things are necessary (assuming a school or having been in a school): a sufficient understanding of the ideas, the formulation of an aim which has some meaning for me, the practice of the preparation and the contemplative exercises, and finally, efforts according to a daily programme. I could expand on these four, but if I did, they would lose their conciseness. I repeat, these four assume a school, meaning a real group and a real teacher, at least for a time, because – it seems to me – I really only begin on the Way when I have put it all together for myself, and that is something a teacher can help me with, but not do for me.

In The Fourth Way, it is recorded that Gurdjieff told them that only a householder could climb the staircase and reach the Way. Those who cannot climb it are tramps and lunatics: “… tramps … are not really interested in anything; lunatics … have false values. So if they attempt to climb up the staircase they only fall down and break their necks” (298). Ouspensky also adds that belonging to these three categories is not permanent, it can be changed. But this is not true of a fourth category, the Hasnamuss – the crystallised egotist. He has no chance at all, and never will.

Other key points in Ouspensky’s presentation in The Fourth Way are that we all have features of tramp and lunatic inside ourselves, a school is needed to helps free ourselves from these, and we should not take these words as referring to people who are literally homeless or literally crazy, this category refers to values and evaluation (299). I had forgotten that a lunatic has false values, but I had not remembered that he “has no right discrimination. He is always formatory. … lunatics are particularly devoted to formatory thinking: that is their chief affection in one way or another (299)”. I had also forgotten that one of the tramp’s favourite phrases is “everything is relative” (299).

Part Three

This meeting of 16 March 1983 was a real banquet. A friend transcribed it, and I reviewed the transcript and edited it. As I came to the end, I started to think: a theme seems to be emerging here, that by being able to formulate a real aim, and a programme to achieve that aim, we work against the tramp in us. We need this discipline. After I had formulated all that, I read this in The Fourth Way: “… struggle with formatory thinking is struggle against lunacy in ourselves, and the creation of discipline and self-discipline is struggle against the tramp in us” (300).

Joseph Azize, 9 December 2019

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