More on the Atmosphere Exercise (3 August 1944, Paris Groups Pt XLVI)

Mlle D.   Will I really sense this atmosphere, without any doubt, without my having to doubt if it is not imagination? (I ask) because I do all the exercises like this, I proceed, I go on, (but then) I stop myself: I ask myself if it is not all imagination. I no longer wish to be imagining. (213)

Gurdjieff: You have not yet done this exercise. Do it. Only he who does it can judge the results in himself.

Mlle D.  I have done it. You gave it to G.B

Gurdjieff: (to G.B.) Have you done it? What result did you obtain in yourself?

G.B.  (Self-)remembering was better. I better sensed “Me.”

Gurdjieff: You sensed it?

G.B.   Yes, but the intensity of remembering in me diminished very quickly.

Gurdjieff: You have really done this regularly, for a long time?

G.B.   I have not done it for a long time.

Gurdjieff: You have only done it for a few days?

G.B.  No, longer than that.

Gurdjieff: I do not understand how it can diminish. When you are in a state of remembering yourself, half of your attention should be concentrated on “I Am,” and the other half should guard the preservation of this state. Your head plays the role of a policeman, it watches over what you are guarding, this state of “I am” with half of your attention. The other part is watching.

G.B.   But the force of my controlling increases, then declines.

Gurdjieff: You have not done it as I said. Half of your attention must be watching, but you, you let the associations increase: your thought is wandering around in this room, in Paris, but it is heading off into other countries. Your atmosphere (214), your magnetism leave you, and you remain with (only) your automatic attention. In this way, it is normal that it should diminish. You must do a thousand and one (thousand) times what I tell you.

G.B.   On the other hand, I have noticed that my (moments of self-)remembering are better if they are less frequent.

Gurdjieff: That is a small thing. First, accustom yourself to remain a long time in a collected state. That is what is missing in you. What you say is a small thing. When you have done what I tell you, you will be able to do a thousand times more.

Robert Pomereu   Mr Gurdjieff, I have constated that if I can remember myself very intensely when I do the exercises, then, in contrast, I obtain only a more superficial result when, in my ordinary life I try to play a role or remember myself before others,

Gurdjieff: I have explained this a thousand times. One should never use the results of this work in life so long as those results have not been fixed in you. Never use them, and expect nothing.

(Mr Gurdjieff speaks in Russian with Mme de Salzmann.)

R.P.   Should I limit myself to the exercise, or should I also play a role?

Gurdjieff:   Both. A man who is working is always (engaged) in the search of the way to do. If you meet many people you can make use of (your doing), and it will grow into something greater in you, if you do it well.

Pomereu: What does playing a role consist in? Does on behave before other people as if one was not working?

Mme de Salzmann: Mr Gurdjieff has said a hundred times: interiorly not to identify, exteriorly to do all as before, (215) as if nothing has changed, but consciously, instead of letting yourself go.

Gurdjieff: Act so that no one notices that something in you has changed, and that you are doing a special interior work. The important work, for you, is to apply yourself to not being identified. Exteriorly, you fulfil all the matters of your life, but you play a role. It is with your interior life that you must be entirely busy with. To be able to work, one has a need: not being interiorly identified. Exteriorly, do all that you are obliged to do in society, but without leaving your interior (work), you play your role.  Consciously do that which you have (before you) to do.

G.F. I have come, in my (self-)remembering, to something which is not, I believe, new. I feel a more intense sensation in the sense of a stronger affirmation.

Gurdjieff: What do you wish to say?

G.F. I mean that my self-remembering has changed in this sense; then at once I am as if deprived of energy, empty, and I sleep like a mass. (sic)

Gurdjieff: Wait. I want to understand your word.

G.F.   Affirmation?

Gurdjieff: What is that? What does it do?

G.F.   The impulse of will is much stronger.

(Mme de Salzmann speaks in Russian with Mr Gurdjieff.)

Gurdjieff: You are doing it too long.

G.F.   No. (216)

Gurdjieff: It is not necessary to work for a long time. I have already said that. Stop (it) and do something else. As soon as you begin to feel that you are going to sleep, before going to sleep, stop yourself.

G.F.   I am not sleepy when I begin the exercise, but all at once, the energy is lacking.

Gurdjieff: An association draws all your energy.

G.F.   Everything stops.

Gurdjieff: Do not do too much of it: more quality, less quantity.

G.F.   But I work very little.

Gurdjieff: Do everything little by little. When you work consciously, or even semi-consciously, this consumes your energy. You have one accumulator, not ten. You recharge yourself when sleeping, and then you consume the supply (charge). All is dissipated (s’en va). You should not leave your lights on for too long.

G.F.   One should spend less energy in exterior life to maintain more for the work?

Gurdjieff: That is not how to see it. Do not busy yourself like that. In exterior work all is done automatically; it needs very little energy. Let life go on as it does. Keep your energy for your work. Much energy is needed for the work. You are doing less conscious work and sleeping more.


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