“Sancho Is More Important than the Wall” (Saturday 12 November 1988, Pt V)

These are the last questions from this day of work. Gotham said that he had wanted to do the job on the stone wall quickly, but knew that he would be with Sancho, who would slow him down. Despite that, something in him decided that Sancho was more important than the wall. That made a big change. He spoke differently and had no sense of hurry

Yes, certainly,” replied Mr Adie. “This was partly to protect him, but you might be able to use that same thought for yourself sometimes. Just change your name.”

People laughed. Then Mr Adie added: “We are quite merciless to ourselves, seemingly, and that means that we are not there.” (By this he meant that when we are criticising ourselves for our performance of the job, we should we remember that our being is more important than the details of the job.)

After a little silence, Gotham added that when he had been looking for rough stone, he came across stones which he had rejected just a fortnight ago, but he saw new possibilities, and they actually served the job quite well.

Yes, when I have the impulse to work, I become more practical, but if I lack the impulse, I can look and look, but somehow I don’t make the decisions which would allow me to get down to it. I know what it is to look at a pile of stones, and to come back after some time and see this one which is almost like an old friend because you’ve moved it out of the way four or five times already. But all you’ve got to do is just give it one good blow and then you’ve got two smaller stones, and it’s quite different. And we can use the small as well as the big.”

The next question was from Delphinium. She said that she had tried to not be identified with the fact that she is having problems with tinnitus, and that thought had helped a good deal during the day.

“Yes,” said Mr Adie: “Many people do have ringing in their ears. It forces you to make an effort: either you turn to it, or you go on. There are no half-measures about that. You have to decide: either I am going to do something about the noise, or I am going to ignore it. Is that right?”

“So again, I collect my attention, and I make the effort. Now of course I gather force through that.”

After a pause, he continued: “Do you find you had to divide your attention? You could not deny this thing, it was there, and in its presence, you had to work. And you find it gives you energy; this thing gives you energy, strangely enough. Good. I think we’ll stop there.”

Evidently, they remained at the table, for after a minute, Mr Adie continued: “I think if we were to … use the possibility of observing how we worked, we would be able to pick up a great deal of understanding that way. You see, if we all work, nobody works exactly like anybody else, so … try to compare the way I work with the way he or she works doing the same kind of job, or if I notice how they do their job, how this happens and that happens, I would learn a great deal, because we all have that possibility. But try and make the comparison without negative criticism, because the presence of any criticism would ruin it as a means of learning something about myself and how I could work in a different manner.”

“And any negative emotion entering such observations would make trust impossible. We come here, in trust, to work together; and after all, there’s twenty-five or thirty people around the table now, and so there are thirty different examples of working. There must be thirty different speeds of sweeping the step. Who would be the champion slow sweeper, and who is the champion quick sweeper, and who is better, and how? It is not for criticism. It is for understanding how different things go with different observations.”

“But I am so sunk in my own thoughts that I either do not see someone else, or if I do notice them, and they’re not doing it as well as I think I do, I say to myself: “How terrible! It isn’t right.” I am always working with different people more or less, and in different ways, so it gives me a chance, and it gives me a further entree into the job.”

“What will my function be in regard to this job done with these men or women that I have worked with before? How is the work going to go? But I am identified. I say to myself … it’s really a line … my central line is for my own attention, but I shall be working with him with her, and so there is the material. But if negative criticism comes into it, it all stops, of course.”

“It does appear from what has been said, quite specific and valuable observations have been experienced. So I have to take that for the next fortnight and make something of it. Use it. Don’t let it go.”

That was the end of the meeting. But I would like to add a few comments. First, the question from Gotham was one of the great observations for me. I was present, and I have never forgotten it. It has often come back to help me. It is as if the thought had a life of its own – and of course it was a thought of a higher level, meaning that it included feeling, as well. Yes, that was indeed a higher thought: “Sancho is more important than the wall.”

And yet, the entire group, and perhaps the Adies more than anyone contributed to it. I never heard Gotham touch those heights after the Adies had died. This is not to condemn or even to criticise him: it does not rob him of the value of his work, it just means that he was able to formulate something so pure because of the extraordinary help which was available to us. And if he can’t formulate it again, yet he can feel it again, and having felt it once, a track has been laid, and the track can be followed once more.

Truly, I did not appreciate what I had. But I do appreciate it more now, which is why I share this material.

Joseph Azize, 8 October 2018

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