A.D. Monsieur, you have also given the exercise of retaining the emanations (one has) around oneself. Well, I cannot succeed in that. I see how many things are escaping from me. My thought is always running away from the sphere I am trying to form. Even when I am calm, I am relaxed (je suis détendu), alone, even then things escape from my sphere.
Gurdjieff: It is a difficult exercise. It is necessary to relax, to calm oneself. If many associations are present, you should continue to relax yourself, and dismiss without cease all associations which have to do with your business, to exterior things. And even once you are calm, you cannot succeed entirely in one hit. Only then does the exercise begin.
A.D. This exercise has shown me that I have never known how to relax myself. This word, until then, never had any meaning for me. The relaxing all depends upon my “I,” it is not just physical.
Gurdjieff: Yes, it is not only physical. One’s whole presence is made up of different parts. When I say “one’s whole presence,” I mean the organism, the nervous system, the physical mechanism. Once should make tranquil all of that consciously. It is only possible consciously. Otherwise, one will travel to Asia or America with one’s associations. One journeys. One is here or there. Try not to go out with your thought, your imagination. Try, remain here. Send to the devil all that distracts you. Even God, angels, the devil: send them to the devil. Consider this work of making yourself tranquil as the most important thing. Only with this attitude will you receive a result, arrive at something. You will only succeed by repeating, by beginning again a great number of times.
A.D. There is another obstacle that I meet in all the exercises, I mechanise them. For example, in the exercise of filling, I make an account. I say to myself: I breathe three times for the foot, seven times for the leg. That facilitates the exercise, but it makes me lose all the benefit. And in life I do the same thing, in everything I do, I fix the count in advance.
Gurdjieff: It is the fault of your mathematics teacher, who taught you by constantly repeating things, and not at all by comprehension. It is necessary to change that. To succeed, you need to do another exercise. In place of the counting do something else which is more difficult for the head. It is a shame that you do not come to the Salle Pleyel on Monday. What we do there would interrupt your habits. The automatism must make four independent counts at the same time. You are accustomed to do just one thing. There we do four. If you have to do four, that would be doing something in the manner of “one nail chases another.”
B. This exercise of drawing the atmosphere into myself has given me a very strong sensation of presence. But I feel again this presence much later in the day once the exercise has been completed. This helps me a lot for what I have to do. But you have said that it is necessary not to mix the work and life. Should I stop it?
Gurdjieff: Do not use this force. Let life go on as before. Do not mix the two states. In life, do not work beyond the special time consecrated to these exercises.
B. How do I make this sensation of my presence stop?
Gurdjieff: Remind yourself of remorse of conscience. Make an oath before your ideal not use this force in life: “If I do it, make me push a button on my nose.” At the same time, you exercise yourself to keep your word. Punish yourself. One day, two days, ten days, do not eat. Go thirsty. Make your body suffer. It must do. But when it has done what it has been commanded, then reward it like a child, encourage it, give it ten times more than enough.
Bobby de Pomereu: I have the impression that the work has given me a greater calm in life. But I see that periods of depression and exaltation are greater than before. I no longer manage to see things as they are: I see them too rosy or too black. What should I do to see things as they are?
Gurdjieff: Take a task. It little matters which one. Begin there and go to the end. And when you have accomplished that, take another?
de Pomereu: I have already taken one.
Gurdjieff: Then, if you have done a small one, take a difficult one. This tasks helps (permettra) you to remember yourself. Take a task which will serve as a remembering factor. You have for example your parents, a father, a brother. Give yourself your word to direct them, to do the things necessary so that they arrive, sooner or later, at a different state from that in which they usually are now. You must do what is necessary to change their state.
de Pomereu: You mean to work to change my parents?
Gurdjieff: Some feature in them. With your brother, for example, or a sister, or your father. person that you see frequently, even a domestic (servant), if you want. This must be established in such a way that seeing this person creates in you, by association, a recollection. Suggest to yourself that when you see her, you have to remember your work. Then, you (237) automatically remember yourself. Of course, you must suggest good sentiments with regard to this person. It is too easy to do bad, to suggest bad to another person.
de Pomereu: I would like to know another thing: what amount of time should I spend on the exercises, on interior work, when one is alone by oneself? I would like to have (an idea of) a basic time: an hour? Half an hour? How much time?
Gurdjieff: There is a general rule: one must not work for more than one third of one’s waking hours. The other two thirds must be spent living automatically, as you have become habituated. For the work, the other third, that alone, never more. Begin from there. If you work for three hours you can spread them out over the morning, the afternoon, and the evening. But divide your time into three parts: two for ordinary life, and one for the work. That, that is the rule.