Paris Groups, 1944 (Pt VIII, 18 January – completed, plus “The Crow and the Crane”)

The next question was from Alain G, who asked whether he could his new clarity of mind for his work. Gurdjieff replied: “Work only at the exercises.” Alain felt that in that respect he was up against a wall. Gurdjieff replied:

Do them like an exercise, exactly as one learns to play the piano: you have to first work at many exercises before you can play a melody. You must work at your exercises, and live as before: no one should notice that you are working interiorly. Interiorly do not identify: that is your aim, (although) playing a role is not (really) an aim, but rather a means. Gurdjieff included practically the same advice in his reply, later in the meeting to Dr Horande.

Alain asked for help with not identifying. Gurdjieff replied: “That will come in time. Just practice.” Alain then said something which was not reported. Gurdjieff next says:

You are philosophising. I have told you that our aim now is not to be identified. Verify your past manifestations. What can you say about them? This will be a key for your work. When looking over your past manifestations, recognize that you have always been identified. It is necessary for us to interiorly be impartial. At this time, it is impossible, but we should consider everything, animate or inanimate, impartially. That is our weakness (that we lack this impartiality). It is unnecessary to seek any new methods of help. It is that, (impartiality), which you must acquire (43-44).

We have already noted what Gurdjieff said to Dr Horande, but Gurdjieff also said to him, when Horande told him that he was very tired: “From the start, doctor, I said to you that this work burns a lot of electricity” (44)

To a lady who said that, when she was in a bad state, all the work seemed like a dream, Gurdjieff said: “You have many dogs in you. … You must pass this crisis. You now recognise your nothingness, and you can make a true decision to change something. If I had a pill that could calm you down, I wouldn’t give it to you. You must thank nature that this crisis has begun, and begun quickly. … You now, work for me. When the war is over I will give you a large cheque. Trust me” (44-45)

The final question was from Denise, asking whether sincerity was compatible with spontaneity. Gurdjieff replied that although they were compatible, it was best that they did not go together. “Spontaneity is not intentional (volontaire). What is necessary is to be sincere not with others, but with oneself. Trust no one, neither your brother nor your sister. You must be sincere with yourself: if you are sincere with another, you lay all your cards on the table, and he will (be able to) sit on your head. That type of sincerity is an illness …” (45).

 

Thursday 20 January 1944, pp.46-54

Previously unpublished

There were twelve regulars and six new people at this evening’s meeting. They finished reading “From the Author.” Gurdjieff made jokes about tapeworms. He then made a comment about the appearance of “Y.L.”, which I guess is Yahne le Toumelin. There were then what seem to me to have been some inconsequential remarks with others. But the next question made up for it.

Madame T. said she did not understand why “remorse” was so important. Gurdjieff replied: “If you find it difficult, then you have not felt it in yourself. So think of how cars were before the war. They had a dynamo which supplied them with electricity. This electricity was needed so that it could move, and so that it operate its lights at night. The dynamo would feed the accumulators, and electricity would accumulate in them. You can use this electricity for all sorts of things, to get going, or to light the dark. … It can do everything. It is the same thing in yourself. Remorse of conscience has the same effect as the work of this dynamo. If your dynamo is not working, you will lack electricity in your accumulators, and you will not be able to use your lights to see in the dark. Only the motor’s dynamo can produce the energy for these accumulators. In exactly the same way, it is remorse of conscience which illuminates your darkness. Are you satisfied?”

I have faithfully translated that because of its importance. Mme T. continued to ask questions about remorse, and Gurdjieff to insist that it was important to do this so that in the future she could go on to other aspects of the work. He told her that she had to see that she was shit (“merde.”) She said she did, but he replied that she did not because, if she had, she would want to change. She replied she did, but in respect of other people. Gurdjieff answered: “This is about you. Today you are in Paris, tomorrow you may be in Berlin, and there you will not see those whom you see today. Over there it will be another quality of shot, and that is all there is to it (et voilà tout). But you are you. Do not think of anything else. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. We are speaking of you as you are today.”

Gurdjieff then told her, at some length, and with considerable skill and humour: “… I remember a story. A crow had a nest, but its nest became dirty. She built a second which became dirty in its turn. “Why is my nest always dirty?” asked the crow. “Everywhere else, nests are clean, but mine is dirty. Why?” This became an obsession. She thought about it day and night. She devoted all the philosophical ingenuity she could to this question. “Why my nest, but not those of others?” It was an obsession, for all animals have the same psyche.”

“One day, when particularly edgy, she decided to seek the counsel of a professor. Among the birds, it is always the stork who has that role. So she went, and found him busy with some “circulation.” That is, she had caught a snake, and was swallowing it, but the snake was escaping out of the other end. The stork swallowed it again, it passed back out, she swallowed it, the snake slid through (resort). So it was, not finishing until the stork found the way. She caught the snake in her beak, and said: “Now try circulating through.” That is the “circulation” I was referring to.”

“When the crow saw the stork occupied like that, she did not interrupt. She would not have dared. Finally, when it was all done, she respectfully said: “Your Excellency, a thousand apologies for disturbing you, but I would like you to explain something to me. Why is my house always soiled, when the other birds I know all sleep in nice clean beds? I have resolved to ask you why, your Excellency.”

“She waited for a response. You see the position she was in? The crow, ever proud, and usually brave, waiting respectfully. The crane looked at he from the corner of her eye, to see who she was dealing with, and also to check out what kind of gift the bird had brought – for one always brings a present for the stork, that is the custom. She saw that the gift was good enough, so she gave the crow the explanation: “You ask why your nest is always soiled? But you know, it’s not the fault of just anyone. It is the fault of your “Monsieur the Vicomte.” The stork continued: “You are a fool. Any other bird, when it wants to shit, take their “Vicomte” out of the nest, and shit outside. But you, you shit on your own bedroom. Even if you changed your nest a thousand times, your “Marie-Dupond” will keep you company. The need is not to keep changing your nest, that’s the way your “Marie-Dupond” goes about it. Don’t shit in your nest, shit outside” (48-49)

TBC

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                                        23

Thursday 13 January                                       25

Friday 14 January                                           33

Sunday 16 January                                          36

Tuesday 18 January                                        40

Thursday 20 January                                     46

 

 

Index

 

age of preparation 24-25

aim 35, distinguished from a means 43,

All and Everything 10

atmosphere 42

Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson 10, 13, 20

de Hartmann, Thomas 9

de Salzmann, Jeanne 9, 13, 15, 42

de Salzmann, Michel 15

director 23-24

egoist 37

exercises 40, 43, 44

counting 31-32

prayer with three centres 42

substances for one’s face 36

feeling 31

groups 33

Gurdjieff, G.I. 9-10, 13, 15

his groups 19-21

his writing 20

Gurdjieff Institute of Paris 15

honesty 37

“I Am” 29

Idiots 17

keeping one’s word 37-39

Meetings with Remarkable Men 9, 20

movements 10

nature 24, 45

prayer 42

preparing the future 24-25

relations with others 26-28

remorse of conscience 28-30, 47-48

repairing the past 24-25

role 37, 41

sacrifice 37

satisfaction 25

sincerity 45

small things 39

spontaneity 45

spirits 38

sympathies 27-28

thinking 26

time 34-35

Tracol, Henri 13

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