The next question was from Pierre. His external work was going very well, and he had been congratulating himself on this, but it didn’t seem to have any connection with his internal work.
“It doesn’t have any connection with your work because you do not wish for it very much,” replied Mr Adie. “If your wish were stronger, you would spend some time before it, in the preparation. Even if the preparation were short, it would be more definite.”
“Supposing something were to threaten this nice condition for you, you would not waste much time when you woke up: you would be off to rectify the situation at once. You want the thing to go on, and so you wouldn’t even wait for breakfast. You would be in the car and off to make sure that it could continue. Wouldn’t you?
“Well, we don’t do that about our work, our inner work. We work in ‘a very reasonable manner’, so very reasonable that we hardly take the first step in it, we just allow it to take its place in the flow of things.”
“We need to look for an impulse. We need to look for different quality of impulses in all the things which happen to us. Animals are far more alive. Every tiny fly that passes is spotted by a bird, and as soon as it has perceived it, the bird is in the air and seizes it at once. Every time a little fish rises onto the surface of the water, a bird will swoop.”
“The impulses are so fast because the material the processes use is so fine. And we have that fine material in ourselves, as well, but it has been buried in us for so long. But every now and then, circumstances come when we are more awake, we have more presence, and we know it. There is a degree of certainty for a moment. Something in me comes alive and I am certain that I am on the right track. This is an important moment, I am not at odds with anything, not disagreeing, I am here. I am open. I wish to receive more, and that that’s a valuable moment. That is a state of being which, as I am, disappears so quickly and is infrequently with me.”
“So in answer to your question, I don’t make the proper connection because I only pay very occasionally. And then, not very effectively. At the beginning, I pay, a good deal and sometimes for quite a while, because I hadn’t realised what it was to pay and what it was to receive in return for payment. And somehow it was all quite beautiful, and the ideas were right, and I thought I was able to receive them. And I was, up to a little point, but the depth of them was beyond me. And now that I have come to the real substance of the Work, and it is this inner change which I am wanting, I have to really work.”
“But by meeting, and hearing other’s peoples’ experiences, and of their difficulties, and of what they have received, it gives me a chance.”
Pierre responded that not so long ago it had been quite different: things were going well, but he was not at all suspicious of the comfort of external success. Now, however, that he has the success, he wants more.
“Yes, and you are less generally negative than you were. You have some material satisfaction, and, if you are not negative, when you slow down a little, perhaps something higher can enter your life. But let the success element be a little shaken, and then see if everything is not rather different. You find a moment of calm after you have won a match. But if success eludes you, it will be changed to the perturbation you feel after you have lost a match.”
“It is all very conditional in my inner world. I begin to see how dependent I am upon what are, for me, externals. I see that all my values are based there. And there is a certain euphoria about it. I exchange with others on that level. I need to see all that – not to change it very much – but to see it. I have to become a little wise, surely. Not someone with a long beard, no, but me as I am, with a little nous.”
“Aim. Aim is the thing we need. Without aim, nothing. So what is my aim. Surely I can have an aim for a little while. Couldn’t I have an aim for five minutes? Or for one minute? What about now? What would I give?”
I will make just a few short notes: first, the importance of the preparation. I have written a great deal on this, but it is absolutely essential. It is not impossible that this, and the ideas which explain it and its needs, were the very heart of Gurdjieff’s in his final years when, as Mr Adie said, Gurdjieff was at the height of his powers.
Then, there is the importance of being able to sense impulses within ourselves. These are a food of fine impressions, and they also represent a force which we can use to be present, and – when we have enough knowledge – to change. Together with that comes the need to wait, attentively, for the finer material and impulses within us. If we look too quickly, we will miss them, and the nourishment they bring.
The third question is how my values are based in the external world. Even if I use the external world to feed my dreams of spiritual development, I am still based in the external. This takes many forms, e.g. substituting pleasant daydreams induced by reading about spiritual experiences when I could be engaged with my life, and spiritual development would then be my reality.
Finally, there is the important issue: my aim. If I could summarise this exchange in one phrase it would be that if I have no aim to be present to the finer forces in my life, I will never experience spiritual growth (i.e. growth of being), I will only dream of it – and a key method of coming to my aim and bringing it into being-logical-confrontation with the material of my life is through the preparation.
Joseph Azize, 5 November 2018