Making the Work Practical (28 March 1989, Pt V)

Tuesday 28 March 1989, continued.

The next question was from Veronica, who said: “Mr Adie, I feel like I’ve returned to the work after a long absence, and there’s a gratitude for what’s here. This week hasn’t been comfortable for me, but it’s been different, in normally I run away from it. I feel I’ve tried to stay with it, and I haven’t run to external things that will make me feel good or comfortable. I don’t want to lose this.”

“Well, you come,” said Mr Adie, “you bring what you want to bring in and everybody brings either their work or lack of work, they come. So, take what you can get and work.”

“I find it very hard to make it practical,” said Veronica.

“The work is hard, but it’s extremely interesting,” he replied. “Even a little thing carries enormous big reward. It may be a small thing, but then when we do a small thing we want to blow it up, because, in the ordinary way, anybody who does anything at all wants to make it enormous, big.”

There was laughter. What I think meant Mr Adie meant was that one could always make the work practical provided only one chose something definite and small. He went on: “We need all sorts of things, we need special words, we need the word “serious.” “Serious” is a wonderful word: “Be serious.” Think, what does it mean to be serious? I’m very tempted, but I won’t say any more about that, try and think this week what it means to be serious.”

“You, are you serious? At this moment are you serious, that means at the moment when you may remember what we’re talking about, and then what does it mean? Is it desirable and why is it desirable and what does it require and where is it’s place, and how it can be confused? And so on.”

“People often answer magazines adverts, where they say that if you don’t like the first volume you can send it back. People receive it, they don’t feel they need it, but they don’t go to the trouble to cancel the second one, and so the second one arrives, and then they are subscribed to something they barely glance it. That is not a serious life. Try and think really hard, what it means to be serious, whether you wish to be or not.”

“Can you wish to be serious? What is against it? It’s enormous idea. If I’m serious, can I joke? And how will I laugh? Is it serious to be like all grim that?”

“Do you think anybody will have a stroke of genius and wonder, what it is to be not serious, as well? If our mind goes so far as that step, it would be good: to ponder also what it means not to be serious. It isn’t such an easy thing to think about. There is a tendency to imagine that what I need is a lot of new ideas. Maybe. Sometimes. But not always. One true idea, and we have enough of those in this system, can lead to an infinity of ideas. You have got all the ideas you need to understand, if you’re present to them.  

Once more, a little interpretation may be helpful. Veronica asked about being glad to be back with the group, but being unable to make it practical. Mr Adie’s answer was basically, the Work will be practical so long as you take it on a small and near scale, select something definite, and go about it seriously. For that, you need to ponder what it means to be “serious,” and what it means not to be serious.

So, for example, one needs to have a long term aim. For many people, a perfectly adequate provisional aim would be to be a good father or mother, a good husband or wife. Then, with that as my guiding aim, what plan can I make today? I don’t select something on a huge scale: “From today I shall be a loving and wise father.” It is not possible to transform myself overnight like that. But I can select something close at hand: “As part of my aim to be a good father, I shall prepare myself before breakfast, so that I am not always bad-tempered with the children. To help me today, I shall, in the morning Preparation, come to an especially clear sensation of my left hand, and shall try to hold some of that sensation for the hour before the children go to school. Then at lunch I shall review the morning and see how it went, and if it went wrong, ponder how I could have done things differently.” That might be sufficient for a week. The week after it might be to pay special attention to taking out the rubbish, or cleaning the house, seeing what items we need for the house, or how I am with my wife when the children have turned in for the night. It might not be the left hand, it might be the breath, or the belly, or the right foot.

If I wish to understand an idea such as identification, once more, I take something close and near: my identification with my intelligence, with my body, with my appearance, with my car, with my job, with my family, even with my spiritual life. And with that, also read what the books say about identification (i.e. chiefly Gurdjieff and Ouspensky).

And it is definite: for one hour today, between 11.10 and 12.10, and that for one week. And so on.

Joseph Azize, 10 February 2020

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