For 29 July: “It’s the negative that I have to transform”

This is from the meeting of 22 February 1989. I thought it fitting for this day, when we remember the passing of Mr Adie.

Kerry:  Sorry, after speaking to you a fortnight ago, when you helped me to begin to work again in the right way, I found that I’ve been able to do the preparations and prepare myself each morning for the day. And I have come to a better posture for most of the time, but what you were saying to Ned, really it meant something to me because I wanted to bring that, there are times when I feel I’m more collected and yet, I seem to get taken very, very, quickly by strong emotional feeling.

Mr Adie:   Negative emotion?

Kerry:   Negative yes. And when you were talking about the posture, I realised that when I feel, all is lost, a picture of …

Mr Adie: You ought to recognise these by this time.

Kerry:   That’s right, but what surprises me is, quite a time I’ve had warnings of minor kind of things like irritability, frustration and all those things. But that seems to be not happening at all, it seems as if …

Mr Adie:   Probably because you’re asleep, that’s all, basically. You’re not making enough plans to awake, you’re not working, you’re not using the material of your daily life which is given … You’re not using that material in order to do it consciously. Are you prepared to try? Because otherwise, really, it’s a waste of time.

Kerry:   No, I am.

Mr Adie:   Good. That’s it. Then use all these petty annoyances and things, use them all. It’s all material to be transformed, material in me. I am full of stale old resentments and bad habits. You’ve heard of the Augean Stables, haven’t you? They were full of horse manure, they kept all the horses for years … and Hercules had to dig the caves out. That’s what our minds are like, stables full of manure, actually stuck, what sort of things to solve simple problem with. What kind of emetic am I going to administer each morning? It would be a good recipe for some of us sometimes, wouldn’t it? A good emetic would be wonderful, a mental emetic.

Well, a really good look at oneself is almost good enough. Truly, but of course no-one really wants to be sick and uncomfortable. Yet, it does cut near to the bone because if we are to study ourselves, we have to be willing to see things which are not flattering, which are very difficult to deal with, which require all sorts of qualities which we are only on the way to possess: the ability to accept the circumstances of my life, impartiality, a feeling of  benevolence, even a desire for love, brotherliness, and so on and so on. These things don’t blaze out of us every day.

If one considers all the methods of our work, there are two recipes which stand out, one is conscious labour, and the other is intentional suffering. They need to be understood, they can be understood. You might say, “Oh Lord, what a thesis, intentional suffering, and conscious labour! Gracious, that’s not a very prepossessing picture.” But another perspective is available. Relate them to the blessing which Gurdjieff gave so frequently in saying good-bye: on many occasions he would say “l’ange et le diable vous aident”, angel and devil help you. That needs understanding because, the devil is only another angel and is just as necessary as the angel with wings; for us, the devil with the tail is just as necessary. Of course, without the negative and the positive together, and the affirmative, reconciling force, three forces … positive, negative, and reconciling, there’s no reality at all, you can’t have anything without three forces.

So, where does that lead us, have I completely lost on my way? No, I need to find the negative force because I’m always trying to avoid it. But it’s the negative that I have to transform, I have to transform negative into positive. And if you look back on your life, and really look a bit, you’ll find certain actions in certain deeds that you have done which you really don’t want to bring out, which are really too painful to look at. Too unfair, too beastly; somebody you let down, someone you caused to suffer a great deal, and you really aren’t willing to look at that.

But if you don’t look at it, it will always remain as a negative thing of which you’re afraid and which you’re subject to. And if you’re really prepared to suffer, this is the intentional suffering, to take it and face it, and not deny it. Then you will learn that it isn’t you who made that fault, you’ll find that you didn’t do this deed, you will find it because you acknowledge that you were responsible, it was done, not by “I,” because there was no “I” conscious that would do such a thing. It was actions through you. It’s true, it’s your responsibility, and if you work like that and face it until it’s fully understood, you’ll find that that’s pacified.

It’s the writing on the wall, some act, “I did this,” “I kicked somebody,” “I murdered somebody.” God can’t change that, it’s a fact. Just the same as if I move this from here to there God couldn’t undo it, it’s a fact.

So, what can happen about such facts? They need to be understood, they need to be realised, that I did not plunge this weapon in like that, it was done through me. My hand did it, yes; it was my knife, yes; I had all this violence in me, yes; but not I. Because I, I am only just now coming, the more I come, the more reality, and I come through the suffering, I must face these the things. All my failures, little ones, big ones, what chance have I got?

I find that my ordinary life I am always shoving, competing, pushing, twisting, cheating, giving with great generosity things which I have pinched from someone else, and then immediately getting offended because it’s not received in the right way. That is the kind of life I Iive. That has to be faced, that’s why I need to keep erect and not be bowed down because I acknowledge I’m working in that direction.

There’s no pride, it’s quite a different thing. There can be pride, a real man could have pride; he’s proud of the fact of the reality of manhood. It’s different, it’s not like a sergeant major with his chest stuck out. So, there we are, so what is my morning emetic going to be, my morning emetic? I need it.

I have only to be present a little, a short moment and questions will arise. I have to be practical, how long am I going to remain here? All sorts of absurdities. I have to be balanced in this, three levels, three simultaneous levels. That’s my safe way, I have three levels at once and I want to be able to observe my face and its contortions, my posture. I have to do this, I have to see all the bad habits, because they’re associated with ideas. If I have an expression like that, it’s associated with a certain thought, if I can see the expression, I can suspect the thought and I can work in that way.

Joseph Azize, edited, 20 July 2020

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