The Ability to Turn when I Am Called (23 November 1988, Pt I)

This is from the meeting Wednesday 23 November 1988. The first question was from Frieda, who said that she was confused. She wants to reach a balance in life between activities and the right amount of doing for the Work, and reading. She kept finding that she was often overrun by events and just did something or another. She made a list where she noted down all the things that she would like to get to each day. Then she would tick off what she had done, note how many hours that had taken, and see where the holes were, what she didn’t do.

Before coming to Mr Adie’s response, I might note that all of us have this question from time to time: there does not seem to be enough space in the day. This often leads to people squeezing the Work out of their lives. We are identified with many things in our lives and demand more time for them. This demand may well be a deep reason many people turn negative against the Work, yet, at its base is identification.

This is how Mr Adie responded: “Well, if you go to the trouble of writing all that down, just like that, then you would be wasting your time unless you to study it. It’s a very interesting approach, it says a tremendous lot. There are many questions about how you spend your time, consciously or otherwise, that you can now answer almost at once. You will have a record of that, and you will also have a record of how some of the things that you expect to do, and especially that you expect to do within a certain period of time. That record will show you what is impossible and what is not: some of these things, and the expectation of the time needed to get them done, are quite impossible. Could a person make a calendar like that and really expect to carry it out? No, but they could use it as a tool for study, for studying attitudes, expectation, identifications.”

“But surely the big thing is that is shows me whether I can say that I have an aim in my life, and that it means something to me. The main thing in your plan is to really have a balanced doing and also be able not to do. And for all that, I must have a clear aim. That will give me my priorities. That will show me my duties.”

I will interpose once more: Mr Adie hit on very significant points here, that a schedule of what I wish to do should also show me which wish not to do, and should allocate priorities and these should prioritise my duties.

Mr Adie continued: “Very good thing to try, I mean very valuable, but what can I benefit from it, and what can I not? I can’t expect to make a schedule and keep to it. All sorts of things are fluctuating, new factors are coming in and going out, and these have an effect.”

“So, what about a balanced being? Together with aim, that has to come to predominate: aim and being together. The essence of the long struggle is to reframe your aim, your expectations, your attitudes, to learn how not to do. That means, learning how to think of the future, how not to lose yourself in imagination when considering what I shall and shall not do. That’s very, very, difficult, for all sorts of external events will come in that you can’t calculate. Nobody could.”

“But there are certain things you can see: you are a member of a certain society. You have a certain work, it has a sort of level in a certain place, and there are waves and tides in that. Your life is given some continuity by the passage of time: morning and night, the days follow sequentially. Conscious work takes place only in flashes, and we can’t split up our time into small enough sections for this.”

“And what is a schedule which does not take account of conscious work? See, when I’m asleep, I have no choice, I’m just a machine, literally, and if I could only seize the moments when I am touched with quicker recognition this would be what I need. If I could see that, I could perhaps choose a little from among my possible activities that which would jolt me more.”

“Is that not, as a matter of fact, what you’ve already chosen? You chose to come into the Work as far as you could, so you get jolted. As a result of this jolt and the sweat and suffering and all, you are learning a great deal. In what you say much is very good, and now the question is: How can I recognise what my need is at any given moment? There’s always a question: what is necessary? No list will give me that. But if the list is only an instrument for me, and it reflects my aim, neither will it be too far removed from that recognition.”

“We have to learn how to think really, and that doesn’t mean formatory thinking, that means thinking with understanding. I have to refer to some inner place, and I have to learn how to withdraw into it for a moment. It cannot be for hours at a time. I want if possible, to learn the signs of negative states so that I can resist that tendency and transform it. Everything will change then. I see my idea of a calendar will go, whoof, and quite another one, with more significance and more ability to turn when I’m called.”

“You see how much formatory thinking there was there? Good formatory thought but I need more. I need a question at any moment, what is my need now? Every moment has a need. I’m either a slave, asleep, or else not quite there. I have some possible discrimination and a little bit of choice. I don’t forget this question of negative emotion, the necessity of not expressing it in order not to lose energy.”

“And, then observe your body, how it goes. It’s a marvellous machine, it may be a bit damaged here and there, a marvellous machine and so very willing. Even willing to do any idiotic thing, but I could I not spare it that? And then when light comes on, and makes my eyesight clearer, makes me a little bit free, I can even discover a certain amount of firm courage.”

“Continue. An obyvatel, a good solid man of the earth with family and so forth, and his image doesn’t go around with sort of things threating. He goes around with some sort of noticing. Some attention is wanted there. Tonight should be the celebration of something, awakening and having a look around, not the usual kind of life we live. Try and be prepared to try anything, try to think before it. It may be a good idea, or it maybe not so good, but don’t give up. Your effort is a good one.”

What Mr Adie alluded to about the obyvatel and his self-image is of signal importance. I shall return to this in a later post.

Joseph Azize, 14 March 2020

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