Mr Adie: “De-Identification,” Saturday 15 November 1986

This is an edited transcript of Mr Adie’s breakfast address.

As I sit, waiting or balanced, or however we sit, what is my greatest need? It must be now, of course. It has to be immediate, because my only chance is now, always now. So what now, in my present state, is my greatest need? It’s a legitimate question. It’s neither fanciful nor theoretical. It’s a burning question, albeit one that we hardly ever manage to approach. We may have some flickering in the head, but it’s so difficult to experience this need. And if there is no experience of it, it means nothing. However I am, I have the need. So, what is it?

(Long Pause)

I need to realise that I am always identified. But there’s so much to be understood about that. We get hooked by our language, which we don’t digest carefully enough to see how to acquire an understanding so that our very language doesn’t mislead us. My real I is not identified, it is just asleep. My real I can never be identified. Nevertheless, I say I am identified. This means that I have this persistent acknowledgment of both something is I, and something which is not I.

So perhaps my greatest need is the realisation that my real I is not there. I am submitted to all these lesser I’s, the I’s of my personalities, the automatic use of my psychic force, which is this identification. All these different I’s leap onto the platform.

How can I do something practical about it? If I’m honest, I don’t have this thought near to me. I don’t have this sort of realisation that something is needed which none of these I’s can realise. It’s vital for me to have a different state from the one I’m in. Again, the system tells us that we cannot do. We, we’ve had many, many demonstrations of the truth of that statement, but we don’t live with it. We still go on under the impression that we can do.

So, I invent a new word, a new work word. Everyone asks: what can I do?All right. I need to de-identify myself. I never heard anybody use such an expression, but I hope it will be very valuable, because it is valuable to me. I need to de-identify myself.

This could be useful, because it gives me something to do, and the strange thing is, we turn things into a direction they were not meant to have. In this case, we are told we cannot do. Formatory apparatus gets hold of this, does not understand why this was said in that way, takes it as a doom of death, does not realise that it is only said because we do have the potential of doing, sees no nuances, and so we approach everything in a strange way.

But there is something to do. An internal act is required. An act is needed. An individual act of intention, of knowledge. Anything less than that is just the froth on the waves, just the sand turning over. So, I need to de-identify myself. Then from that, the question is: with what am I identified?

And now, how to deidentify myself? I have to find myself. I have to find somehow that place where something which I could acknowledge is in the direction of “I.” You know how it is said that we haven’t got real I, and that many years of labour will be needed to get a real I. Well, we’re on the way. We have flashes of it, moments of it.

There is a second illusion, that short moments of awareness are of no effect. We are so fixed in our thought that we don’t acknowledge that a second’s act is capable of doing something. But if I can have one second’s voluntary, intentional presence, that’s a fact, and it leaves a trace.

As I am, a flash is all I can have. It appears in a moment, then identification starts. All the I’s are waiting for it. But in this flash, I awake, because they don’t work at that faster speed. Now I have a momentary sort of realisation. So today I try and de-identify myself. I have something to do. Everybody asks, well, what shall I do? The very first young beginner in the work. If they’re at all leaning towards the work, the first question they bring is: what can I do? Of course. And we, after years, come to the point. We have to de-identify ourselves. So we have to make an act.


And what is that act?

What are the conditions that make possible an intentional act? The aim, the state, the posture, the gesture, the inclination, the level, the centre. All these elements are necessary for an act. Otherwise, I’m unbalanced and leaning this way. Now, how do I act? Some sort of thing happens, but it goes by habit. However, if I am here, balanced, belly down, I might approximate to an act. And this relates purely to an inner possibility. I need to realise that something is necessary, and possible, and it has to be now. This is what I associate with the idea of de-identification.


Almost the very first words I exchanged with Mr. Gurdjieff. It was in a private interview. I asked him what to do? And he told me,  as he sat opposite: “You play role but not identify” [pronounced ee-dentify]. I said to him: “Mr Gurdjieff I can play a role, but I don’t know how not to identify.”

“Ask Madame de Salzmann,” he said. [1]

This is an exact picture of what happened.  Do not identify, and play a role.  So now I need to de-identify myself. For that I have to gather myself.  We have a role to play but what? If I am not there any talk of a role is an absolute waste of time. You can’t get a role out of something that isn’t there. To play a role, I have to have the idea, the power, the knowledge and so on.

So stop. Plan your own stop for this day’s work, but working together, stop again each half hour. But with this as a help. I have to turn as I am, and try and see what I am. Be present. See without changing anything, and not getting tired, and not getting depressed with it. At any moment I need to de-identify myself to come to myself.

[1] On another occasion, Mr Adie explained that when Gurdjieff said to him: “Ask Madame de Salzmann,” it was exactly what he needed. By refusing to go into the details then and there, Gurdjieff’s advice not to identify remained very clearly with him. It also made go to de Salzmann with a burning question.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *