The next question was from Cal: “Mrs Adie, recently a statement particularly struck a chord with me, Gurdjieff said that some people wanted to take on the new without giving up the old. This represented in a nutshell the difficulties that I have. I’ve come to a wish that I wanted to be free of something and yet I don’t want to give it up. This has happened so many times and I still don’t seem to know how to get out of the situation. I seem to continually be in the position of wanting to go to a party, but wondering if I should, so that I am between two stools not wanting to go back and almost afraid to go forward.”
“Do you have the idea that going to parties is something bad?” Mrs Adie asked. “What is it that you think you don’t want to lose?”
“Well, I seem to willingly be distracted by things. An example, I had very big reorganisation task, my books and possessions and things. I didn’t take this as a work task as something I had to do. But each time I started, I put on some rock n roll music and just kind of bopped away while I was doing it. After about half an hour I lost interest in the job and it was only half finished. Then I went off and got involved in something else, but I can’t remember what I did. Probably sat down and read a book, something. This is the kind of thing I do, time and time again just, I give myself a distraction.”
“I think we all could say the same thing,” replied Mrs Adie. “But I can allow myself a certain time for relaxation, to let my personality enjoy itself, as long as it’s not unlimited, as long as I draw the line somewhere. I can decide to do that, while something in me is aware that this is a decision for a reason, and then something that even be possible. I can remain separated from the experience without spoiling it at all.”
“Sounds very difficult,” said Cal, doubtfully.
“Yes, but for a short time you can do it,” Mrs Adie replied. “You certainly can’t give all these things up, and it’s never asked of you. Supposing you don’t give in to all these distractions, are you going to sit and remember yourself all the time?” There was some laughter.
“I think this is what I ask of myself,” said Cal.
“Well, you know you can’t. But what I need to gradually be able to do is to remember myself to some extent when I’m in ordinary life. That is my material. I have to live in both worlds, I can’t retire into a monastery, I have to live in both worlds, they must exist together. But I know that while I can’t maintain that sort of state for a long time, I can maintain it for five minutes, I can be aware of this surface part of me that wants this distraction.”
“And that brings me to a moment of inner confrontation. I won’t be so easily distracted when there is something alive and steady inside. But if I find that I am still distracted, the answer is still not to give up the distraction. Perhaps I stop it for one moment, and regroup. It’s quite a mistaken idea to think that we have to give up the pleasures and the pains of ordinary life. No, we have to live with a little bit more control and consciousness in those conditions.”
“I guess I hadn’t thought of it that way,” Cal said.
Mrs Adie added:“It’s important. Everybody must have a certain amount of pleasure and enjoyment, but it doesn’t have to be completely unconscious. That is not necessary, I enjoy it even more if I am not unconscious.”
[When I re-read Cal’s comments, it seems clear that his very attitude was holding him back, and part of the value of Mrs Adie’s wise reply was that she could help him uncover his implicit attitude.]
Joanne then said: “When I first came here to the work, everything seemed to be very big and very important in all my efforts. I tried very hard and I, something was very dramatic in a way about being here, but that’s no longer the case in any way at all. Every effort and every experience that I have now seems to be very light. I realised on the weekend again, I have many experiences and I’m not valuing them. For example, everything that everybody spoke about on the weekend I had noticed in myself during the day that I hadn’t really thought that any of them were important enough, or the impact of them hadn’t touched me in a way. And, consequently, my work is running down all the time, just very short spurts and it’s just not there at all. And in trying to think about it I feel there must be a lack of feeling still in me. I would just like to go away tonight with a new way of working on, having feeling.”
“But I’m not sure if you really understand yet, what an effort is,” replied Mrs Adie. “I may be wrong, but I’m not sure. The feeling is the result of effort. Feeling only comes as a result of the very work. You see, you do things, you do kind things, you do good things for people which you probably don’t want to do. That’s because you want more for doing a good thing, than you want not to do it, so it is done. But’s it’s not the same thing as a c conscious effort. That means going against the grain, overcoming the sort of like and dislike. There is something of this in every time I work: something in me doesn’t want to work, and until you experience that kind of effort, and struggle in that manner, you won’t develop feeling. You’re very active in a sort of external way, you do a lot, you do it quickly, you dash around, but it’s there’s not enough inside effort. Not enough inner activity.”
“Yes,” agreed Joanne, “I understand what you’re saying. Making of the effort, where the resistance is.”
“Yes, see, I get that feeling of resistance, I don’t want to sit down and do my preparation, I don’t want to do it, something doesn’t want to do it. My body doesn’t want to, my personality doesn’t want to. And what’s left is perhaps rather small. However, that’s where the force is, where the real force is, where the possible of my feeling is. Then it’s always very simple, and it can happen very often that I have a reminder from the head. I know I have to do it for my aim, and I sit down. And then what?”
After a pause, Mrs Adie continued: “There’s not this real impulse that I have to try to bring my attention, to maintain my attention, to stay with this impression. I try to arrive to a more conscious impression of myself which I know will feed me. It would give me force, but it has nothing external to show for it. That’s why I don’t like it. Nothing to show outside. Try a little in that way, make a different start.”