This is but the first part of the first question and answer from Thursday 4 October 1979. The first question was from Jake. He said: “What I have noticed is that my work lacks method and force. I don’t really think enough of my work. I don’t really apply myself. I realise that I need knowledge and I need to understand how to work to understand, and make real observations.”
“That applies to everybody,” said Mrs Adie: “Lacks method may not be the right phrase. Perhaps you mean lack of a general organisation, lack of any plan. It’s much too chancy. Yes, go on.”
Jake then read this: “I would like to understand self-observation, I found that my observations lack depth and force, on the observations that I have made I have gained no understanding of the manifestations in question. My observations have not changed anything. If I have made observations most of them are quickly forgotten.” He then spoke this ex tempore: “I tried to do some reading to find out a bit more about it. In Views of a Real World, in a chapter called ‘Self-observation’, Mr Gurdjieff says, objectively you cannot see yourself for a single minute, because it’s a different function, a function of the master. If you simply realise that you cannot observe yourselves, it will be right, you must come to it as your aim.”
“You come to it as your aim, that’s quite right,” said Mrs Adie. “Sometimes you read one thing in one chapter of Views from the Real World, and then something absolutely the opposite in another; yet both are true. All those discussions or lectures were given in widely different periods of time and were collected together by a certain number of people, old people in the work. But they were all given at a certain time for people at a certain point in their work, and so one can be misled.”
“It is absolutely right, we cannot observe ourselves, we can’t separate enough. If we really separate, then we don’t behave in the same way, we don’t manifest in the same way, because we don’t react. If you manage to be in a position where you can really see what is happening, that means you feel your sensation and feel the presence of your I, that means you are more in your essence. Your personality is not manifesting in the same way, nothing reacts, so you appear to have nothing to see.”
Jake said that that connects with his question of how to understand observation. Mrs Adie noted that he had made that observation on Sunday, that he had felt a sort of laziness or inertia. “Yu said you couldn’t quite see the value of seeing. I understood that question very well, It’s a little part of the pattern. But the real value of that observation was there was something there to see it. That’s the most important thing.”
“Sometimes what one sees is not very important. That’s true. But sometimes I can see something that is very important, even if the observation is seldom made in actual action. Sometimes, however, you do become aware of it taking place, especially if you are awakened by some negative manifestation, for example, you may suddenly find yourself dreaming in a critical way about something. That type of thing may show you facets of your personality that you realise are weaknesses, that you don’t want to have, that you want changed, something that you want to lose. Still, there are a lot of things that have no interest in themselves, you’re like this or you’re like that, so what does it matter?”
“My observations lack depth as I said, they dissipate fairly quickly. What I am I gaining through observation?” asked Jake.
“The effort to observe yourself means you have to separate something, you have to have a contact between your head and the sensation of yourself. At least, the head must be present. There are infinite degrees of possibilities there: it may be only the head is present and only very, very partial self-remembering. But at the same time, it may enable you to see something. Now, for it to really be self-remembering it requires all three, it requires your head, it requires your sensation and it requires your feeling – over which you have no control yet, but which can come when the sensation and the head attention are both there.”
“If it’s really observation, then you gain a certain amount of capacity to live your inner life the same time as your outer life. Real observation allows that. There must be a watcher as well as the watched, and the watcher is inside. That is something which we need to develop very much, you see we can’t do it, as Mr Gurdjieff said, we can’t, and he’s talking about people right in the very beginning, when they’re beginning to learn.”
“But the really important things to see, as a rule, are those by which we are so taken that we’re completely lost in them. Sometimes, very, very quickly afterwards, you have a more or less undistorted view of it which may tell you something more important about yourself. We tend to see things that don’t matter very much, it’s true, but the seeing is important, because there are many things that are important, and I have to learn how to see them, even if for a long while I see only those things that are not important about myself.”
“My observation is that if I find something that does matter, my observation, I suppose, because it doesn’t have depth, doesn’t change anything in my manifestations,” continued Jake, implacably.
“Well, if it does matter then you have to remember it … and think about it. Ponder it. Is it getting in your way? Taking too much place? Then you have to choose situations where your likely to be confronted by that and try to be a little bit separate from it. You can’t directly change the thing in itself very much, you can only change it by … by being present to it. It will change, as they say, if your presence is enough, bit by bit, not at once.”
“Is it through understanding, is it?” Jake asked.
“If by ‘understanding’ you mean ‘reasoning it out’, no, because most of these manifestations can’t be reasoned away – they’re so utterly ridiculous. But if you grow in understanding, then the manifestations will weaken, and the attitudes which come with them won’t have the same power. Mr Ouspensky always said to avoid analysis, you see, analysis doesn’t lead anywhere at this point.”
“Everything depends on the attention. The reason we don’t have more observations is because we have no attention. We haven’t enough attention, we start, we get the idea, we choose a certain moment … and how often do we even remember the moment? If we do remember it, it lasts for one second, two seconds and it’s gone. But you see it takes time, one has to be very patient.”
“The preparation that you do in the morning is the basic thing, that there’s really some force to it, that something that really appears, it’s something that is not automatic and never the same as it was yesterday. One can’t expect the same thing as yesterday, but you begin afresh each time. Again, it’s a question of attention. Don’t give up too easily. You know your attention is bad, everybody’s attention is bad, maybe it’s not quite as bad as it was, I don’t know, but then one tends to get irritated, or annoyed, or egotism takes over. It’s not a good feeling, not a feeling of remorse, and then one just gives up. But never give up, never give up at that moment. Go on until there is something more stable. Know your measure, know how much you can expect from yourself.”
After a slight pause, Mrs Adie added: “It was very interesting in the movements class tonight, it was almost incredible, it went so differently from last week, and the many weeks before it, because you started from a certain place. You weren’t able to remain there, but you didn’t go too far away. There was something left all the way through, it was quite incredible. And it’s the same thing in life. You can look at movements as an analogy to life, in a way, and of course it’s much more possible because you’re all trying to do the same thing with postures and gestures to which you’re not accustomed. But they mean something, although you don’t know what it is. Yet, you can sense that it has some meaning. It’s a definite effort in a definite direction, the difficulty with life is that it’s all dispersed and you are taken by your personality by your egotism and completely forget.”
Joseph Azize, 20 October 2018