George Adie on Being Present when Observing Myself (20 July 1989, Pt I)

This was the last group meeting Mr Adie ever took. I am saving the last, stunning answer from that meeting, for 13 January. The first question was from Oliver. “I had a very good view of some of my identification. I was in court, against another solicitor, and he made some very complimentary statements about the work I had done. And then, when I got back to the office, I was told how helpful I was. And there was this thing in me, a great big grin that almost cracked my face, self-congratulatory. But I realised that I was completely identified with this image of myself, and I was panicking to impress more people. I found a tension in my belly and in my shoulders. I was even gasping at times to get a ton of work out.”

What do you think about the whole position?” asked Mr Adie.

Well, my attitude to it is that it mustn’t go on.”

“I don’t know. It might be useful to you if it went on for a bit. It might awaken you each time. You want to see all you can about it. And by that I mean you use it to separate. You won’t see anything unless you are using it. What you say so far is good, but now you want to get in behind and see the origins of this deep attitude.”

“Unless you actually see a thing in operation, you can’t really understand how it operates. You see the result, but you don’t see the process. Here’s a chance of seeing the process. As soon as you see it, if you continue working on other lines, too, you are not, at least not to the same extent, vulnerable.”

“You have to be impartial to it, just to see. You have this particular conceit about you. You want to see how it works. The clever boy, you know the uncle says “clever boy”, and forever afterwards you’re the clever boy, paying heavily. Good. It will help you.”

The next question was from Alex, who said that the other night he had been free of the momentum of life, and happy. When he returned to work the next day, he was criticised for having taken a day off. He was upset at this.

“Very interesting to compare,” said Mr Adie. “If I could take the effect of being quiet and … not so hurried and identified, and the other extreme of racing around, and compare the relative satisfactions, because sometimes racing around will seem marvellous and important, and compare. How is it that afterwards the quietness and the nature of that experience never seems to lose its quality, whereas the other thing just seems to be worthless?”

I think this is a critical point: it helps us in our valuation of moments of presence. Mr Adie continued: “I need both at the same time. I’ve got to be in the hurly-burly of life, on earth under the sun, and there is the alternative, if I remember. I can have both together. If I have only one, I disappear and get eaten.”

After a pause, Diane said that she had “some very expensive fantasies: one has to do with eventually having a house of my own, and the other one is some sort of fantastic idea about my career. It’s quite a contradiction. One has to do with my family, and the other does

“Which is going to win?” asked Mr Adie.

“I am taken very far away by these. I am unhappy at work until someone congratulates me,” she replied.

“It is useful material. Use it. Go deeper with my work. Take it deeper. All these examples are interesting, but now our concern is to find out how they take place, so that they are not active. In other words, I want to be more deeply interested. I wanted to be serious. I read books, and I thought: “Oh, it’s wonderful to be able to curb your emotions, or to sit and contemplate and be free, or something.” I never expected I would have to work for it, or do anything about it. But I have to.”

“I have to find out where the buffer is. I can be told and told and told. I can have opportunity after opportunity offered, and I just say, “yes”, and do nothing.”

“Yes, I wanted to work at least for one hour, and yet when I arrived at work  – ”

Yes, connect the wish to that moment: the moment you arrive at work.”

I took my watch off and put it in front of me, and still, nothing.”

“Find some other way. Find some other way. You have the material and you have the chance.”

She asked another question, this time about how she gets caught by family problems and reacts all the time, but recently she had felt a shift inside.

Make that practical. Could you shift and change so that you feel compassion for one of the people who has offended you? That is the thing. You have a chance which they have not got, and if you feel sorry for yourself, you could feel sorry for them. It would be useful. It is a possibility. Not easy, but.”

“I mean, you would surely be more sorry for yourself if you were like them? And then, how much difference is there? The difference is just that: the possibility of changing your inner state. It exists. It exists. But I am like a craftsman. If I am going to plane down a piece of wood for use in joinery, I have to take the thing and look and see what is possible. I can’t just take it and sort of slash at it. Nothing intelligent can happen.”

“And if I am there, and pay attention, and take all measure I possibly can, then I have a chance of actually shaping myself. You have a big chance there, plenty of suffering, plenty of irritation. You couldn’t expect people in the street to understand what we are speaking of, but we can understand.”

“To benefit, we have to actually put it into practice, and that is of course, more difficult. Tonight we have had a lot of discussion of these things, and now we must take our work a stage further, and actually put into practice what we have learned.”

“We try, we fall down, but at least we learn why. Or can find why. And then we have to try again. I may find that I have directed my efforts all in the wrong place, but that is very valuable, because if they are just directed in the right place, it may start to achieve what I want to achieve.”

If there was a theme to this meeting, I would say that it was the need to impartially observe what takes place within us. Not just to know what  have done, and most definitely not to have a theory about myself, or to paint for myself a word-picture of how I am. But to actually be present as my manifestations occur, and to sense myself and feel myself as they take place. This effort requires a certain “I” to be present: a witness. It is not full “I”, but it is a representative, a seed, a beginning. It is, in fact, actually a new way of life.

Joseph Azize, 12 November 2018




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