The next question came from Henry. He said that during the week had had tried to work against negative emotion, and found that he had “a lot of attitudes”.
“And also states, not only attitudes, you also have fairly repetitive states,” added Mr Adie.
Henry then said that an old girlfriend had come over, and a sort of unpleasant issue had blown up between her and his wife, and “for the first time, I didn’t do anything”.
“You let the river run. You didn’t interfere, didn’t do anything. Marvellous.”
Henry continued: the former girl-friend had hung back rather than eat with them, and although he had been just about to say: “If you don’t want to come and eat with us you can leave,” he in fact looked up and said to her: “You should come and eat with us.” He felt free when I said it, and when he looked up at her, he could tell that she couldn’t help her behaviour, and didn’t mean anything by it.
“You just said something about yourself which indicates a very definite attitude,” said Mr Adie, referring to what Henry had been just about to say. “That is what you have to spend some time thinking about, and seeing how impossible it is. Take your experience of it, find out what it is based on, it’s nature, and what it costs you. There’s a job for you, to deal with that attitude, that terribly aggressive warlike attitude.”
“But you don’t have to sweat to find it, because you’ve had that companion for a long time. It may even be related to your essence, I don’t know, but you can use it. Go on. This is the chief thing about a real old negative emotion, of course you try and remember yourself, but you use it, you use the negative attitude, take it as an instrument. Every time it appears it gives you an opportunity. Then it will occur in another situation. Alright.”
“Eventually, if you work in those situations, it will become passive. Of course, if you are deeply asleep, something can return at any time. But then, you’ve already educated it, and so instead of coming and eating you, you have it as an adviser. You a rustling, or some noise, and: “Oh, here it is. I am on the ball.”
“That is your very inner work, to try and see, to remember rightly, to understand why and how. To ponder a bit.”
“Do you ever ponder? I don’t know what is going to happen when I ponder. I can broadly say that I do wish to understand something, in this case, about my negative emotion. How can I have this attitude? I don’t quite know how to think about it, but at least I retain the question. And I also divide my attention. I know I am sitting on the chair, my legs are not moving, I am breathing, and I am still holding the question. If I can remain like that, then perhaps some connected idea will come. I don’t know when. It may not be a complete answer, but I may emerge with a little more light on it. And it may lead on to other things. But I find that if I can maintain that effort, than I acquire some definite information about that, maybe an aspect which occurred in the past, or something else.”
“If I continue to work like that, I eventually create something strong, which is not a guarantee, but is a real work. It will give you information about your negative attitude; not about your wife, or this friend, but about you. When you are by yourself, you can have this certainty.”
The final question of the night was from Stan, who said that, as part of his day job, he had had to move a tree, and was filled with negative emotion.
“Yes, but please give something of the background,” Mr Adie asked. “Whose tree, and what were they going to do? Just a fraction, not a lot.”
It was an important client, they had a tree which was dying, and there was a lot of trouble because it was dying. They did not ask Stan directly, but he overheard, and then stuck in his two cents’ worth. There was a lot of opposition to his looking at it.
“This is something which you cannot accept, of course. Things started when you poked your nose in and gave an opinion which was not accepted. Well, that is enough to start a war. And it went on, despite of Wednesday.” Mr Adie is referring to the Wednesday night meeting which had intervened between the event and today’s meeting.
“I got a lot from Wednesday,” responded Stan. “I was trying with the idea of having an attitude prepared.”
“You can’t have an attitude prepared until you change the attitude. You will have to study it and change it. And see that this attitude is reasonable, not that one.”
Stan said that he had never seen himself in that light before, so pig-headed.
“There are other ingredients, too – not only pig-headed, but also so proud. A proud pig, wants to give a grunt and have its way.”
To his credit, Stan did not demur. He added: “A big element was that these people just weren’t listening to me.”
“Outrageous. Is the tree still standing?”
“Yes, but it will die for sure.”
“Is there a chance that you’re wrong?”
“A chance that I am wrong?” Stan’s disbelief was patent, and the meeting broke up in laughter. With his inimitable sense of humour, Mr Adie rejoined: “I didn’t really mean it.”
After a little discussion of the job, Stan admitted that he had actually been wrong about a few things.
“So now you see a little of what this construction is based on,” Mr Adie said. There was a pause, and then he continued: “Now what for you is the centre of gravity? You describe identification and negative emotion lasting over a period of a week or more; not quite finished yet, all to do with the wrong advice you gave about a tree. That seems to me to be a very costly transaction. So what about it? Stan is still smouldering a little bit. Got to come to some conclusion on that, and use it. If I can set it down, and understand it … Do you follow? Are you prepared to do that, to give time and thought to it?”
“I think I shall have to, because –”
Mr Adie interrupted: “No, that isn’t enough. You “think” you “shall have to”? There is already regret coming into it. Haven’t you got a strong wish to understand it? Surely you don’t want to go strutting around like this. You glimpse it for a moment, and then go on again as before. But now it is just an example of the pathological states we can all have. In the ordinary way you could even go to a psychiatrist about it. For us, however, there is another perspective: you are nothing, just nothing when this weather-cock is spinning around. You cannot tolerate it.”
“Recognise what it means to have at least one example of sitting firm, and seeing these things going on while you have a definite attitude which you know is a relatively sane one. You should be very glad, very grateful, for having such an experience.”
“It would be throwing away the Work were you to settle for anything less than that. Do you follow? Really?”
“I can’t get the full sense of it now. I can accept what you say,” Stan replied.
“Consider it. This is very costly to you. Do you wish to lose pints of your energy, draining yourself for nothing? That is what it is costing you, and in the process, it is spoiling relations with people, distorting your judgment, even in an area where you have some expertise, and strengthening this idiot ego in you. Do you want to be there, coordinating your faculties? This is an usurper. Surely you do not want that. But do you accept to try? Take it as a task that you will not be thwarted on. Realise that when you forget that, you gradually become more and more pathological. In you it takes one form, and in another person, a different form. It is very easy now, for us here, to see how wrong this is.”
There is so much of value in this, and Mr Adie gave tremendous guidance. There was also the warning born of experience: that if we see but forget, we become “more and more pathological”. As much as success, failure leaves a trace.
Joseph Azize, 9 August 2018