Mystery and Consciousness (16 October 1988, Pt II)

Part One

The next question was from Jim. “Mr Adie, the ten minutes of the idea that you gave to us I found a great help, although, it didn’t really click until lunch time because I came with a rather heavy feeling of identification with ordinary things. And I remembered about half of the ten minute stops apart from the half hour at each time … It wasn’t until lunch time that when I was eating the soup and the idea came again, I realised I wasn’t tasting the soup at all. All of a sudden it just clicked, the feeling, as if I had a new body … I thought I was paying attention to the posture before, it somehow became re- enlivened and heavy, full quality feelings went and the work everything and suddenly had life. I know they could return, they could come back if I don’t …”

“Work now,” Mr Adie offered: “my possibility this afternoon will depend partly on now. And partly on my being state now, the more intention I could have for that, the more opportunity.”

“But of course, the issuing source for a hope, because hope is now, depends upon the balanced state from which it comes. If it comes from an unbalanced state, or a state of one centre, not equalised, this is unbalanced, then the likelihood is much less. You remember the picture of John the Baptist starting out for the desert? We haven’t had it up for some time because of the Egyptian exhibition, but do you remember how John emerges from the tabernacle? In this early painting, which wasn’t limited by perspective and other rules, there he is, he’s already in the desert, He is shown here and here simultaneously: instantaneous fulfilment.”

“It’s a mystery, isn’t it? A mystery dependent upon present consciousness. The more present consciousness, the more mysteries.”

After a little pause, Pierre said: “Mr Adie, this morning the work that I was doing never developed a rhythm, it was sort of, all the time changing direction a bit. A lot of it was digging out dirt, and hitting rocks a lot and sheering off the rocks with either the mattock or a spade. And doing that sort of work has sort of led to a kind of jangling inner state. It wasn’t very peaceful work. I’m not sure if that’s the right word, but inside I know, what I was doing there, my inner state almost was becoming corresponding to that. For a very brief period I had to clear out dirt with a garden trowel and it was sort of very soft work what I was doing and that felt very, different. That quality of work was rhythmic and gentle, and felt much more pleasant in a way in doing it. And I felt I had more chance of finding something while I was doing that the second kind of work. So I’m left with a question, how can I find something that stays calm while the work has to be that way, in one way, I think, because of the nature of the work we were doing?”

Mr Adie replied: “To find that calm state I need to pay with my attention, to divide my attention between myself and the work I am doing. That requires intelligence, too. It would be good if I could explain that to myself. I have to require and acquire a tension that corresponds to the work that I am doing. If I’m going to try and lift something, then I need to knit myself, otherwise I will not be able continue, and may even suffer some rupture. The tendons have to be ready for it. So for any situation, a balance is required. I have to adapt and take into account the conditions, the surrounding conditions. Your conditions included hacking off pieces of rock. Well, it’s not a gentle spirit thing. And if I know that, then I can be interested in it, and there’s this fact: so much tension is necessary, but not more. I need to pay my attention there too.”

“I think I was left with a question,” said Pierre, “what was possible given that, that sort of work?”

“Well, you’re given it and you find out what is possible. One thing you’ll find is that you have to find the right degree of tension with each stroke you see. Not too much, you take some ,you kept it in your hand, just like that, you measure, it’s all very symmetric and … a nice arc, and you cut, and so on. Approached like that, it’s good.”

“There was an example of that when one of the trees nearly uprooted near the foot of the first bit of road work we did. After the gale, that tree leant forward like this, it was a high tree, it was all tangled up with other high trees. And, the question was, how on earth to bring it down without breaking all the thing because all the other trees were like this you see. How to get it down? The man, the very, efficient tree feller, he looks at this thing, he looks at the thing, and at a certain moment, I could see it was a moment of decision for him. I observed it very keenly, he just walked up to the thing and took his stance, and put his saw in and cut it. And the tree fell down this way. Down the tree, immediately came down almost at his feet disentangling its entire self from all the branches. But the interesting thing was the decision in him, how he looked, looked, looked, and went straight up and made this cut. There was a moment there of recognition, that’s when the work was done really. And all this rough work of this big bulky falling tree followed from just one little cut.”

“If you notice that quality of attention a bit more, then you could make an adjustment in your movement you see, let the movement correspond.”

Part Two

The comment about mystery relates to something we don’t pay enough attention to, and it is not the same as saying “I don’t know.” As Mr Adie stated, mystery is related to consciousness. I am conscious of something, and that the whole of this something is beyond my grasp. Maybe not every mystery is completely beyond me, and maybe not forever. But it is this dual aspect of knowing and not-knowing, of the known and the adventure, which makes it enticing. Mystery can draw me on and beyond, it can bring me to a higher level.

I was also struck by his reply to Pierre. How do I work with any balance or calm when the job is rough, even violent? If I want something, like that, Mr Adie replied, I need to pay, and I pay with attention. Then, when the attention is divided between myself and what I am doing, a higher level of intelligence can appear.

Joseph Azize, 8 August 2020

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