(For context, see the post of 10 November 2020, “The Paris Groups (1944)” The French is rather terse and needs a certain amount of interpretation. But in the interests of transparency I place my interpretative additions in round brackets, and place French words which do not admit of straightforward translation in square brackets. In my view, for people interested in the practical application of Gurdjieff’s ideas, the book is a necessary addition to your library. It is worth learning French to be able to read it (and if you can read English, French is not so hard).
Thursday 6 January 1944, pp.17-23
Not previously published
There was a reading, continuing “From the Author,” then dinner, and then Gurdjieff gave a long explanation to two newcomers of their “idiot,” which was “zigzag”. Gurdjieff’s explanation is omitted.
There was some unimportant conversation with Dr B. (Dr Hubert Benoit?), in the course of which Gurdjieff said “There are some things I don’t have, but my eyes, I have diabolic eyes. They can even pierce the fortifications which the Germans have made against the English!” (17) This is one of the direct references to the war in these transcripts.
Gurdjieff told them to follow his grandmother’s advice (which must be the advice about not doing as others do). He then gave, possibly as an example, that he has a new woman every day: only idiots keep the same woman. Mme de Salzmann warned them against taking him literally (18).
After more odd conversation, and comments from which it is hard to draw general advice, he said “I am thinking of writing in my last book, after Beelzebub and the second series, some of the things I am passing on to you” (20). They have, he said, a grave responsibility to humanity, and so must fulfil their obligations “with exactitude.” This would suggest that he was contemplating continuing with the Third Series. He went on to ask A.G. to look after the two new people, and to make them as “sympathetic towards me as you are” (20-21).
Gurdjieff went on to refer to the need to reorganise his groups as his apartment was so small.
An exchange with L. (Luc Dietrich?) was begun, then stopped, then taken up again. Gurdjieff said to L. that as he had not followed his (Gurdjieff’s) advice it was necessary for him to be in a separate group from his wife, and to work at different tasks. Later, he said, they would be able to help one another, but for now, his work had been mechanical, and “I have seen no result” [Je n’ai vu aucun résultat]
Several times I have pointed out that people in the tradition often take his warning about not being identified with results in too formatory a way – of course there should be results from one’s efforts, otherwise something is wrong with one’s efforts.
Gurdjieff also said to L.: “(Work) not with the head alone. You need your whole presence. You have done it only automatically. Once you did it well, the second time it was already automatic” (22). There was more conversation, but I cannot see that it amounted to much.
Tuesday 11 January 1944, pp.23-25
Not previously published
At the beginning of the meeting, Gurdjieff explains to someone about the role of “director.” He said: “He is director, now; not (just another) man. Your behaviour must be guided by his position; all the director’s charges must behave themselves appropriately in consideration of the director. Each intelligent man is obliged to follow this principle of common life among men. (Keep this principle) and it will be a conscious asset for you [Ce sera alors un bien conscient]. Involuntary sin is contrary to this (way of living). In the ordinary way, people commit involuntary sins. They destroy one another. Instead of evolution, it produces involution. Humanity (thus) diminishes itself.” (23).
“The director is your head: whether a man or a woman is unimportant. Have with the director those relations which you must have with any leader, any head. It is not that he must take command, but that his charges must make him leader. He may be an idiot – (but) you are obliged to make him into something other than an idiot. It is for you to create his authority. Today everything is explained by “bon ton,” by conventions. That is why France has begun degenerating. … In former times there were many (good) principles, but today they are no longer elements in education; it (seems) small, but it has big results for humanity” (23-24).
Then, to a question by someone, coming terms with the idea of being “a young man,” Gurdjieff said that at twelve years of age we enter a preparatory period for responsibility. But that period ends at the age of eighteen. From that time, he said, you must be capable of taking action. Nature does not do that for you [ne le fait pas à votre place], and aids you no further. But you must help nature, and you can, if you have been given a corresponding education. However, most people reach eighteen yet remain as unformed as they had ever been, and so for us the idea of being a “young man” is a mockery: it means that they have not done that which they should have done [ce qu’ils auraient dû faire] (24). Gurdjieff’s conclusion was:
From now on you must not allow one day to pass without doing something, not only to educate yourself today, but also to repair the past, to do that which you have not done. You must do all (you can) to no longer be “a young man.” Do you feel that? … Then you must be sure that before the age of eighteen you did not exist as you should have. You must sacrifice twice as much time to prepare your future, and also to repair you past, consciously, because before the age of eighteen you did not help nature. It is a little hard to understand, but if you can grasp this, it will be a great help to you. And after that it will be twice as easy” (24-25).
By “this” being twice as easy, I think Gurdjieff means discharging your obligation to nature, and what may come to the same thing, living consciously. He then added this critical comment:
Our work, also, is preparatory. … You can be forgiven for the past. For the future, it is necessary to prepare another quality, and at the same time to repair the past. There are seven different principles (lit. “seven different principles exist”). Today I give you but one: for every satisfaction during the age of preparation, you must pay with a dissatisfaction. And for every dissatisfaction you had during the age of preparation, you must pay with a satisfaction (25).
Table of Contents
Untitled Introduction 9
A Caution from one who Participated in these Groups, Henri Tracol 13
Remarks from the Editing Team 15
Thursday 6 January 17
Tuesday 11 January 1944 23
age of preparation 24-25
All and Everything 10
Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson 10, 13, 20
de Hartmann, Thomas 9
de Salzmann, Jeanne 9, 13, 15
de Salzmann, Michel 15
Gurdjieff, G.I. 9-10, 13, 15
his groups 19-21
his writing 20
Gurdjieff Institute of Paris 15
Meetings with Remarkable Men 9, 20
preparing the future 24-25
repairing the past 24-25
Tracol, Henri 13