This Glorious Gift of Life under the Sun

This is from the meeting of Wednesday 16 November 1988, at Newport. The first exchange was very brief. A lady said that someone in her family had been sick, and she had been suffering negative emotion. But she had studied negative emotion, and after studying it, she had felt much freer.

“I think you’re making a mistake,” said Mr Adie. “I doubt that the suffering is all negative emotion. You would expect to be worried when someone very close to you is very ill. Compassion for another’s suffering is genuine. You mustn’t label it all as negative. If you hurt yourself, there is some pain there.”

After a pause he added: “You made an effort, and you can’t forget it.”

The next question came from Alfred. It was typical of Alfred that his questions rambled, and that as Mr Adie was answering him, he would keep talking, and move onto other areas. Without wishing to sound superior, hearing the recordings, it is as if whatever was controlling him did not want an answer so much as the chance to speak. This is not to disparage him: a lot of excellent material arose in the course of these exchanges. It is just a shame that he seems to have squandered much of the benefit. I have not tried to capture all of his interruptions. His first question was to something to the effect that he cannot think clearly enough to make decisions based on his own thought.

Even Mr Adie had trouble following him: “But the situation you are describing is inherently unclear. You would need to be a prophet to be able to see all the different aspects and their possible consequences. But you can look at it using what you know. You can make a sum of it, the pros and cons. If you have to decide one way or the other, what else can you do? Let’s hope that it doesn’t cost you too much unnecessary energy, but do that, and then do the best you can. See how it turns out.”

Alfred replied that he does write out the pros and cons. But, and here he quoted Krishnamurti, we only think by mixing together bits of memory.

“Oh, that is not all,” said Mr Adie. “Our memory includes incidents from the past, but you do not know that an idea may not be coming to you. The idea itself may cause certain memories to appear in your consciousness. Even a memory is a thought, and until it has come up, you don’t know what it is.”

“There is a great deal in the subconscious memory. You are becoming more and more conscious, and so you are beginning to see more of what is in the subconscious. What corresponds? Corresponding ideas and memories are joined together. Similarities.”

I will myself interrupt here to remark how deep this insight is. What Mr Adie was saying that thought can work, and even work well, by presenting a memory to us. It makes sense: sometimes a memory of a blunder warns us that this is the same sort of situation. The opposite is also true: recalling something which worked may prompt a chain of thought which is too fast for us to catch, yet the thinking is done. At this point, Mr Adie went back to the initial muddle which Alfred had presented.

“We only speak here from the point of view of work for being. You have a certain wish, and you take time to balance yourself as best you can. If you do the being-work also, which indeed should come first, you think as best you can. Otherwise you smoke while you pray, which is the wrong way around.”

Here, Mr Adie was alluding to a Zen story where two pupils dispute whether one can pray and smoke at the same time. They each individually ask the master, and when they compare notes, one says that the master had allowed it, and the other declared, just as affirmatively that he had forbidden it. The first pupil asked his friend what his question has been. “I asked whether I could pray while I smoked,” he said, “and the master said yes.” “Ah,” the first replied: “had you asked whether you could smoke while you prayed, the answer would have been different.”

Mr Adie continued: “Do not confuse your inner aim and external doing. Are you clear which you are speaking about?”

“Both, really,” replied Alfred.

“No wonder you are confused,” replied Mr Adie. “You need to separate them out. Mr Gurdjieff always said that we should not try and use the Work for life purposes. It is the other way around.” (That is, we use the lower for the higher.)

“One is your being state, you very life. The other is a sort of incidental and external effort to ascertain something which may go in one way, but despite your best efforts, may not. In one case, you can act positively. In the other case, you can only do your best to calculate, and maybe –”

Alfred interrupted: he said that he is making changes to his external life so that he can better work.

“You are making some changes to make your life more stable and less hectic. That is part of your life aim. This is the businessman out for a profit. Your work may benefit from a change of life, but that is not your work. Your being aim can always be achieved now. It may only be a flash, but it puts you in touch with a higher level. That is life on a higher level.”

“Then there is all the interchange of materials, involution, on a lower level. You are all mixed up with that, and confuse it for the life of the other. But it should be added to the other life. It really is life on two levels simultaneously.”

“Do you not see that change to your work and life would have to be formulated as a series of questions: time of life comes into, as does length of life. All sorts of things. You have to allow for the law of accident, because you cannot read the future. If you realise that you are trying to deal with an area where there is not and cannot be any certainty, then you could be less tense. You can only do your best and leave it to the laws … or to the hand of God. Both are more or less the same.”

Alfred now went back to something Mr Adie had said from the “Bible,” as he put it, but he could not remember quite what it was, although he said that it had made an impact.

“The young man who went away sorrowing because he had great possessions?” asked Mr Adie.

“Yes” said Alfred, “To free yourself from that is extraordinarily difficult.”

“You can free yourself by moments,” replied Mr Adie. “If you realise that your attention is needed here, you free yourself, if that is possible. But you cannot evade the fact that your given life is under the sun, and that life includes possessions. So, willy-nilly, that is part of your life. The glorious gift of life. So many years on earth, under the sun.”

“I have to keep returning to it, this scale, this perspective, the relation between these two lives. Then, after an effort, I find my state is different, because I have actually been thinking in a different way. But you cannot succeed in that unless you realise that you are have some sensation, that you’re a breathing creature, that the blood is moving around. You have to have something of that, too.”

“Do not forget this instinctive and subconscious mind working away, directing the blood flow, sending messages. This is just your material, your life material which you have there.”

Joseph Azize, 21 September 2017

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