The Exercises, (Thursday 20 July 1944, Paris Groups, Pt XLII)

Dr Aboulker:   In this exercise one can ask one’s father: “Help me to remember myself.” How can this be compatible with what Mr Gurdjieff says?

Gurdjieff: It is only an exercise. Your father cannot help you. The exercise is given to change you. It first gives a special property. These exercises only interest us for changing our properties. Later we will have other exercises to utilise our possibilities. First one must learn to be.

Mme T.   When I find myself in an environment where people are hostile or indifferent to me, I remember myself. It gives me a sort of weight. But it also brings an inertia, and I cannot play my role.

Gurdjieff: It is above necessary to remember oneself when playing a role. The exercises that you do are only to help you play your role.

Mme T.   I feel it is impossible to do the two things at once.

Gurdjieff: Do not expect results. Do it only as an exercise. When you have data to be able to do, you can do it. Now you prepare the place. You expect to already be able to do something. You are mistaken. Expect nothing.

A.V.   The exercise of the cross gives me the impression of calm, of rigidity. It gives me the impression that it calms my associations.

Gurdjieff: Your explanation has no value for me. Perhaps something else has produced that. You are, today, a car in for repairs. When you leave the garage, you will see how the car goes.

Dr R.   I would like to know why, in general, I feel myself (205) as separated from my parents, why I only have memories of impressions of them, without understanding the tie which existed between them and myself. I have the impression of being all alone, as if nothing produced me. What can I do against that?

Gurdjieff: Your education was a bad one. You had a bad nanny. Someone has killed in you the factors which should have been able to form this connection. Do the exercise that I am going to give you. Take it as a task,

Think logically that you esteem and love your parents. You owe your existence to your parents. You must pay for that. You must re-establish the contact which nature gave, but which someone cut within you. You must make this contact consciously. It is necessary to treat this first exercise seriously, you relax yourself, you remember yourself and you represent to yourself your father or your mother. Begin with your father. Represent to yourself your father, and consider him with an interior look, without thinking.

Concentrate so that there is established between yourself and your father a connection in the form of a frame which you fill. You fill it little by little, by expending your energy (à vos dépens, avec votre énergie). Represent to yourself that you truly build a connection for future contact. This frame is more or less thick. Do that. Then we will have another exercise. There is quite a series of exercises. But first you must ponder it for yourself, logically. There must be a connection. Whether he is alive or dead, I feel a link with my father. Even mong a thousand people, I will (still) feel this link. Something of me goes towards him.

Mlle G.   I would like to know from where comes this interior voice which dictates to me my actions, by signs which are often imperceptible, and of which I do not always understand the meaning, but which is surer than instinct.

Mme de Salzmann: Are you speaking of something new? (206)

Gurdjieff: It is rather a medical question, you know. The spirit of Saint Vitus’ dance (la danse de Saint-Guy) is speaking to you. He is only asking to enter you. Only one person can answer you: a seer who lives in a place in Italy. It is a shame that I have forgotten her address. I will give it to you next time. I have heard it several times. Each year there is a new one (seer) in fashion.

[Gurdjieff is not speaking of Saint Guy of Anderlecht (c.950-1012). For some reason I do not know, St Vitus, of St Vitus’ dance, was also known as St Guy and as St Guido: e.g. The name “Vitus” is followed by “(Guy)” without comment in David Hugh Farmer, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1978, p. 394.]

 Brioche! What? Are you sleep? You are wearing a beautiful dress, which is why I did not recognise you.

Mlle D.   Is there a way of struggling against the pity that an unhappy being inspires in you, a pity which absorbs you too much?

Gurdjieff: We have often spoken about this. The pity you feel today is not worth anything, it is an animal pity. Our aim is to come to objective pity, that is to say, conscience. Today your pity is that of a slave.

I have already said to use everything as a means for working. Take a task. Understand with your reason (logiquement) that you are in a garage to be repaired. Stop even what seems to you to be good. Your usual kindness must also stop. When you are on good feet, you will be able to achieve ten times more. At the moment, consciously send all those things to the devil. (You need) complete egoism while you are consciously working.

Mlle D.   I have tried, but I have a need to be expansive which manifests itself despite me.

Gurdjieff:   This proves that you do not have enough force to work consciously. Your task must be to make those moments when you can be conscious last longer. Struggle with your associations. For five minutes, keep your brain out of action. Today, five minutes; tomorrow six, and the day after seven. In such a way I hope that your capacity for being conscious may, over some period, increase. (207)

Perhaps someone wishes to speak about the network exercise?

S.R.   I have constated that it has helped me a good deal to remember myself. Perhaps that is what has helped me have a different remembering.

Mlle D.   I have constated that at certain moments my force weakens, and an exterior forces compels me to think again about my friend in the work. That allows me to come back.

Gurdjieff: So you become a vampire on your comrade? All forces must have a source. If this soruce is not within you, then you are sucking it from your friend. Dirty egoism.

S.R.   It is involuntary.

Gurdjieff: Then you should do something voluntary. Do the same thing, but consciously take it as a task. You will see that this will not recur, you will cease to be a vampire.

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