This is the third extract from the Saturday work of 19 October 1986. At the end of it, we find what Mr Adie says about the external reminding factor. It is of the first importance. Yet, I find that a careful reading of the questions beforehand helps to set the stage, and to better understand that answer. It is quite interesting. To deliver himself of that very powerful answer, the atmosphere had to be prepared. It is something similar to the way that the larger the ship the deeper the water needed to float it. It also shows that the work is not just a question of some information, but rather, of preparing an atmosphere, raising certain people to a certain level of being which makes it possible for such material to appear.
Before we come to the external factor, there were two questions. The first of these came from Hilda, who said that she had to find a way to go about things differently. She said that she understood that something in her would get excited as soon as I started doing things. As with the last exchange I posted, Mr Adie’s response really turned around this need to reverse illogical processes within ourselves. He started by saying to Hilda that this excitement was customary. He asked: “Were you trying to study it, or suppress it, or get rid of it?” There was no reply, and he continued:
“Could you wait just a little longer to see, what is the basis of this feeling? Where does this excitement come from? I have the idea of observing to learn, but then I interfere too soon. I am only talking about a split-second, but that is enough to allow me to see. Let us say that I have just done something undesirable; now, before I wash it out, can I see how it occurred? Otherwise, directly I see it, I want to scrub it out. If I remain … just a moment, I could see that. It’s like doing a lot of drawings. I could learn from my bad drawings, but I don’t; rather, I tear them up quickly so that no one else shall see, and so that I shan’t see. You know that as an experience. If I make a miserable drawing, and impartially consider it, I might be able to learn how that occurred.”
“So this is what we want to find out in our work: what takes place? Why would something in me get excited about washing up? I have done the washing up several times before. And I attribute it to what? To washing up? No. So what do I attribute it to?”
“So your resolve now to learn something is very good, but you will also need to have with that a good impartial, critical observation of it. Impartial but critical, because if I am impartial I can see all sorts of things about it.”
Hilda then said that it was related to hurry. She tried to slow it down, but then started considering that other people might think that she was working slowly.
” Yes”, said Mr Adie, “other things came in, but really, the work is so quick that I don’t have to worry too much that they do. If I see them, I can nonetheless go on because of the continuity in moving centre, and my intelligence. My intelligence tells me that the best strategy is to continue: to be quick without hurrying, because I can follow better without hurry. The best I can do is to be there with my good attention. If I hurry, I do one thing and then another, on top of each other with no order. There is a physical tension which attends with hurry, and I want to know how it comes about. I need to be able to assess my own state. And how do I arrive in this state? It is a mystery. So I need to study these states rather than to alter or to change them.”
After a little silence, he added: “The observation and the waiting with it in order to study it take place very, very quickly. But I jerk away to stop the manifestation, rather than taking a quick look, just a fraction longer, to see. It’s a different form of work. I have to be there to do it. I suddenly see this idiotic action, and so I understand something if I am there. I see how it works, how the body works, how the animal works.”
“And the animal doesn’t even work as a proper animal might: it is an animal which is interfered with by my mind and my attitudes. Animals don’t act as we do: they move very quickly but they seem almost never to hurry. A bird in a rush goes quickly, but it doesn’t seem to be hurrying. It has the most precise movement, many swift movements, but all made with a sureness, because they haven’t got our mind to interfere with all sorts of undesirable influences exerted upon their natural functioning.”
“So these instruments are in my mind. I want to be present to what is in the mind. It really is a work, so go on like that, and you can be sure that the work will provide the opportunity. Good.”
The next question was from Joshua who said that he had seen a lot of complaining in himself.
“Mentally grumbling?” Mr Adie asked.
Joshua agreed. He added that he had been making mistakes, spilling compost on people and almost struck a post with a heavy bucket.
“Now you have a picture of real bad work. Self-pitying, self-willed, get lost. That’s what you see. So what in you produces that? You come for a purpose. There is the work, all provided. Beautiful work. Tools. Everything. People. Table.”
“And then you disappear.”
“I am not interested enough to do it so that my body doesn’t hurt, because if I pick up a heavy bucket in the right way, it shouldn’t be agony, unless I have arthritis or rheumatism, or something. My body isn’t accustomed to being obedient in that way. It is not at my command. I have no command of my body.”
Joshua added that he had discovered that his posture was bad, but that by keeping his eyes up, and his back straight, it made a big difference.
“Yes, that is exactly why we have this work, so that we can see how we are in relation to the jobs. We are unwilling, we begrudge the necessity to have a job, we moan, we grumble and we do it badly. And we are rather dangerous if we are using heavy tools, and not only to ourselves. So that’s a discovery.”
“Now I need to know how that comes about. So, the next bucket, I must watch and see what takes place. Like Hilda with the washing-up, she must watch to see: why this strange state of excitement? Why, because you go out to do this particular job, should you have this self-pity? What is it based on inside? Everything comes from our thought. If you could take your thought in that case, you would be without that self-pity. The body can be trained to do a job which is difficult. If you were given a few of Pavlov’s biscuits, then with each bucket you would be very good.”
There was some laughter.
“It is a very rich position. I don’t want to cloak it, and you didn’t. You brought it. Good. Then there’s a chance. It’s a work to make passive our ordinary attitudes. Of course you don’t naturally like this work. No one would like doing heavy sweaty work for no good purpose that they can see. I see how you can get upset out it – except that it is all nonsense. All upside down. All complete lies. There is no need for it whatsoever. You have muscles, shoulders, everything provided which is needful for that job. But you do have to bend over a bit, because the bucket is heavy. If I try and lift it from a standing position, I will hurt myself. But then if I have two buckets, it is much better. And if have something to spread my over my shoulders better still: every yeoman had a yoke, and in China, too, you see that they used these yokes to spread the distribution of the weight, and then they could take a bucket here and a bucket there.”
“All the opposition is in the mind. I have to find out what kind of opposition. What kind of hypnotism have I placed upon myself, by my habit? What happens when I get a tin of condensed milk, and a jar of coffee, but I can’t get the lid off? What do I do? Stab at it with a knife and cut myself? Curse the people that made the top so stiff? It is very simple, all I have to do is get the right kind of tool, and then I go like that. That is how I open a tin of coffee. By the time I have bandaged my finger up, there is no time to have the coffee.”
The next question was from Sylvester, who had been working at the stone. When Mr Adie came over to help him choose the stones, he saw a lot of agitation in himself.
“You saw those thoughts proceeding, but they didn’t interfere too much. That’s an interesting discovery. You saw the rubbish going on, but you managed to perform the job well. Perhaps I helped a little bit, but it’s quite possible to have a good long look at this nonsense while I am engaged in life.”
Sylvester said that he thought that the discomfort seemed to help.
“Yes, it can help, because it helps to call your attention. Everybody, except those who have only just arrived, must have heard of the need for an external awakening factor. This is what Mr Gurdjieff came to after the dark night of the soul which he experienced in the desert, and suddenly he realised his situation in relation to the creation, and how it transformed his psyche at that time, and the result, how he realised the absolute need of an external awakening factor. He had to make this factor which would awaken him. It is of particular interest at the moment, the external awakening factor. Yes.”
“And that needs an enormous amount of understanding. How can I discern what is, for me, an external awakening factor? Seeing that my work is nearly entirely subjective, I need something outside myself which will awaken me. Now what is it going to be?”
“It seems like some obvious habit, something I need in order to awaken me, and then, in regard to that factor, he had to go into a certain state and take his oath that this would be his external awakening factor. He did that in order to have a permanent resolve which is, to say, quite beyond us. We could have a resolve for a short time. We could have a resolve – theoretically – for a day with a chance of fulfilment.”
“If we could use it, and could be clear enough about it, it is something outside me which if it occurs calls me. It gives me a chance. So what, in regard to what you said Merv, is the nature of that external thing which could call you from this terrible complacency. You have to find it. In this case, he chose a power he had, which he considered he had misused.”
“How can we take an indication of such a character and apply it, knowing that we have not got either his level or his force?”
“But at least we have some level in us. The higher level. So we have to go to that. And then to work. So if it is nothing more than simply seeking for a higher level in myself, still it is something. So what are the symptoms, the indications of a higher level? A higher state of being?”
“I am quiet. I am balanced, I am free from hate. I am free from negative emotion. I feel connected, my eyes are open, I am not afraid. These and many other factors are symptomatic of that presence, that “I”.”
“And for this, we could, perhaps, take that condition (of an external awakening factor) for just one day. I am not sure if you see the position: it is that we are not able to take vows for the rest of our lives. But we could take a vow for a limited time, and if we did that, that would be a very big thing. Something like that seriousness for this day, or this two days, this must be my aim for them, and somehow I shall return to this aim by hook or by crook, and I must choose some external thing that will help me.”
“But the idea has to be understood, it has to be worked on by myself, it has to be my choice. It may turn out to have been wrong, but I shall find out something. It means work. And then I get the chance of checking on it when I am assisted to be balanced, assisted, not totally unsupported in my erroneous thought, helped so that I am not subject to my normal closed-off and constricting circle of associations – if I take advantage of the circumstances here.”
“Try this afternoon, now, to be much simpler. Surely what we have been discussing is of interest. This is the point: what in me has interest? What in me is genuinely serious?”