I now conclude the report of the meeting of 23 January 1944.
Mme. L. then confessed to being uncertain of how to raise her children, as they were all different. Gurdjieff replied that until now she had praised them for good behaviour, and punished them for bad. She must now do the opposite: “Encourage your children to the opposite of what you used to do. Create conflict among your children. That which used to seem good to you, now repay as bad. And that which seemed bad, now treat as good. Make sure that they realise it. Do you understand me?”
“Do everything in reverse?”
“Do not encourage them as before. You were encouraging them in a subjective manner, in relation to yourself. Objectively, that is bad. To arrive at objectivity, begin by doing what I counsel. First use this method. Later there will be others.” He repeated his earlier comments about doing the opposite. He said that this would begin the education of their conscience, and alter there would be other methods. “It is necessary to destroy your abnormal education , your incorrect education” (68-69)
Gurdjieff said to her husband that he was astonished. Mme de Salzmann said: “It is of course surprising. He hits his brother, and (you say): “Here you are, have a lolly.”
Gurdjieff repeated the advice with more suggestions like de Salzmann’s, and said he could see people were astonished, for it was contrary to all custom and morality. But do it, and then his six other pieces of advice, and the children will look on their parents as divine (69).
This, I confess, astonished me, too. But it explains a lot about Gurdjieff treated people. I think the idea is to make the child ask: what is right and what is wrong? Am I acting to do what is right or for reward? I wonder if this would be how to start the education of children. I have my doubts.
Friday 28 January 1944, pp.70-72
This has previously been published, see Transcripts of Gurdjieff’s Wartime Meetings, 1941-1946, pp.119-120
The first question from Dr Aboulker was to the effect that when he did not work he was taken by negative emotions, yet he also had remorse for it. Gurdjieff replied that he would discuss it with him on Monday, and they would “kill” (nous tuerons) of his abnormal education: it was not his fault but that of his parents (70).
I see a significance in this sort of comment which I had previously missed: Gurdjieff often speaks about having to love one’s parents, even if they are criminal. Here, I realise, he is also saying that one has to be impartial, and be able to see how certain results in us are not our fault – we should not identify with them – but are from an abnormal education provided by our parents. And neither should we identify with that education or our parents.
Incidentally, the French text, as well having more details of Gurdjieff’s short reply, adds that he then and there made an appointment to meet the doctor. That is missing from the English.
Lanctin (N.L.) then said that when he worked, crude appetites and aspirations became stronger than before. Gurdjieff’s reply clarifies what I have been coming to about the “synchronous stages” of the work, to that there is education, cleansing, and then illumination and finally consolidation. He said:
There are twelve people in this room. If one wished to bring in two more, it would be necessary for two of those already here to have (first) left. It is the same with yourself. You must make space, and for that, someone who (already) occupies the space must vacate it. If one person wants to leave at the same time as another wants to enter, they are stopped – one by the other. They block the doorway. Perhaps, in this situation, that it what you are finding. With this work, one must not make any compromise. Little by little, you (must) make space. One person leaves, another enters (70).