The next question on Sunday 16 October 1988 came from Hamish: “Mr Adie, I came this morning wanting to be freer from considering what other people thought of me. After the reading, I had a sense of my own presence. When I sat down to eat I was suddenly very interested in everybody, everybody in the room. At that moment I was free from considering. I wasn’t judging myself or the others from any position. It was just a moment of interest, and through the morning, I could hardly believe that the ten-minute stops were only ten-minutes apart, because my experience was so full. I was working on cleaning and lopping trees. I think I had an idea of working up a sweat, but on the contrary, I saw it was very subtle, as you were saying before. It made me realise just how much I miss, looking for a big tree to chop away at.”
“Yes,” Mr Adie replied. “Fancy living that other life, when here is the open world. I recall once, when I was a boy, having a chat with the local fireman about his helmet, his hoses, all the apparatus. There had been no fire at all for twenty years, but there was this careful attention in this quiet, sleepy fire station. He was ready, alert, he was interested. A prepared man, on that level. No need to work up a sweat, as you say.”
“Then there’s the question of the quality of thought. What is the value of the thought which must be associated with such a state? It is a thought associated with a quality of feeling. Something allowed you that very special moment of feeling, when you were alive to the relationship with everybody and what was going on. I think in this case it was connected, unquestionably, with what you received from the reading. My thought has been directed, and I receive something. Very big ideas. I mean you couldn’t get bigger concepts than what we read.”
“So it’s a question of mixture. There is something there, and it is associated inside me in this way. There are all sorts of unexpected influences and shocks, and if I am open, I find that I am in a state I would never have imagined before.”
“I struggled with the reading while it was read. I didn’t think I made much of it at all,” Hamish added.
“No, but the result comes about because of the struggle. There is something in that reading, there was an enormous power, it was far. The effort to be present before it left you with something. You struggled, but not a struggle like anything which you would do in the ordinary way. It was not the usual kind of struggle. That kind of struggle to be present and receive will give me some kind of thing. It’s no good worrying about having missed this bit. I will miss what comes next if I do. So, I keep on trying, and then some words penetrate very quickly; and afterwards, suddenly, as a result of all that, there is a minute of clarity.”
“If there are no more questions then this afternoon, everything seems to be waiting. Men walk round at 3.30, women at 3.45, try and have, try and adapt to the work, try and be willing just to do the work and in a skilful way without losing energy and see what happens. Try and be the observer, so that you really get some impressions.”
This was the last of the questions from lunch, and Mr Adie often reminded us to walk around the sight in the afternoon, to receive the impressions, and also to take an interest in the jobs undertaken. Also, the task he had given, of stopping each ten minutes, was an intense one. So intense that even when we are alone we do not like to take it; yet, with sophisticated alarms on our mobile phones it is more feasible than ever. The question for us in choosing to submit ourselves to such a demand is: what shall I do at the stop? Take an internal moving stop by changing my thought? Close my eyes? Remember some feeling or idea, chosen in advance? A combination?
Then, Hamish’s question showed a rather remarkable matter: that by struggling to follow the reading from “Holy Planet Purgatory,” he found that he was not only freer from considering, which had been his aim when coming that day, but that he was better related to others, and in that state, was interested in each of them as individuals. In fact, the two must go together. To be free of considering cannot be a purely negative accomplishment: it also implies an access of positive feeling, that is, of external considering.
It is easy to forget: Gurdjieff never said we should or even can be entirely free of “considering.” Considering is a certain number of forms of identification with other people. At pp.151-153 of In Search of the Miraculous (in chapter 8), he spoke, with great finesse, of several different forms of internal considering, and added: “It would be possible to bring forward many more examples. But you must do this yourselves, that is, you must seek these examples in your observations of yourselves and of others” (153). He then passed to a consideration of external considering (153-154). I think that Hamish’s experience fits Gurdjieff’s discourse, even in its details.
Joseph Azize, 17 August 2020