These are the first two questions from Tuesday 7 October 1986. Amy said that she wants to have a more positive relationship with her immediate family, and is having trouble making a plan. She brought an image of each of them up, and tried to make a connection to something more positive in herself, but she feels it is passive, but her plans have no weight. She can’t see herself during the day, or make it practical.
Mr Adie said: “Yes, but you don’t see all of your relatives on one day, and you don’t see any of them for all the day, do you? So if you chose one or two specific times or incidents or areas of past failure, and make certain in your mind that you will try and be present then, representing what your attitude will be and what your aim is, I think you would find a result. But spread wide like that, without being brought down to a point or an incident, it is too big, too vague. Vague plans are not good.”
“This is more practical. Make it practical. And then try and really understand what your attitude is when you represent this person to yourself. How do you feel? Take trouble. Work on it. There are a hundred questions there, if you think about it, and you could write them down.”
“I must use writing sometimes to help my thought. If you start off some job you need a list of the materials, what you have and what you need. You might need to cost them, to see if you have enough money. You have to work out how long the job will take. You don’t want to do all that just in your head, you get a piece of paper and write it down. It’s the same thing here. And observe your writing, and yourself, as you are writing it down. A fresh idea, no?”
“The finer the idea, the higher the level, the more practical it has to be. It may sound strange, but the really practical thing is I. I am there. That is practical. That is practical.”
That is the more important of the two questions. It needs little comment, just application. However, the next person to speak was in groups for such a short time that he was almost a transient. I remember him well, and his disdain for the others who were there. That was just a fact. My interpretation is that he never really had the idea of the inner work. The exchange went backwards and forwards. I have cut it down by about 50%.
The man in question, Rick, said that he had a new office, and one of the men working there have mutual dislike for one another. During the day they don’t have to speak, but one day, he (Rick) made an attempt to do so, to find out more about the dislike between them, and whether it was a chemical thing or whether he had started it. But the other chap “was not impressed by the attempt”. Those were his very words.
“What impression did you want him to have? You didn’t want to impress him, did you?” asked Mr Adie. Rick said that he had. Mr Adie replied: “You wouldn’t impress him with your desire to find out how this situation of mutual animosity arose. If he hasn’t got that intention himself he can’t be impressed by it. It sounds as if when you finished, you were no more friendly than you were when you started. Is that what you mean by saying he was not impressed?”
“I don’t think he appreciated my attempt”.
“How could he?” asked Mr Adie. “Your attempt was not an honest one, was it? You went to find out something for yourself, but you didn’t go up to him and say that you had come to find out something about him and why you two don’t get on. You went in and asked him something about the accounts. Or did you go in and say, I notice that we never say good morning, and so I thought I would come in and break the ice?”
“I found a small excuse to start speaking. Just a nice pleasant conversation,” said Rick.
“Did you think that would be pleasant for him? Wouldn’t he think you were being inquisitive? I want to know what kind of impression you wanted to make on him, because you seem to have lost your internal aim.”
“I don’t think I was trying to impress him,” said Rick.
“But you said that you felt it had not impressed him. What was he to make of it? When you left he was just as likely wondering: “What on earth did he want? Has he taken anything?” You didn’t go in there with anything for him, none of your conversation was for his benefit, to save him time to anything like that. You didn’t go in to share a glass of whiskey. So what did he have to enjoy about your visit, or to feel grateful for at the end of it?”
“It is very far away and not very practical. It would even have been better to have said: “We’ve been in this place three years and I hardly recognise you, so I thought I’d come around and have a cup of coffee with you.”
“You feel he doesn’t appreciate you, and you dislike him because of that,” said Mr Adie.
“I suggest that it is, and that is why you used this phrase about him not being impressed”.
“I think I used the wrong word,” countered Rick.
“Partly, but not all together. The truth will out a little bit, not matter how you try and hide it,” said Mr Adie.
Let me try and draw out something which Mr Adie was reaching towards, and did get out a little, but he was thwarted by Rick’s insistence on his having been right.
What Mr Adie was hinting at was this: it would have been even better to have just waited, and when Rick saw him or was near him to not be negative, and if a conversation came up, to deal with it naturally and simply. To improve a relationship can take time. To cook something up and force it is to take a great risk, if not only because the head is not made for relationships. It is feeling one wants, not ideas. People can usually sense when someone else dislikes them, or when they’re uninterested i any interaction. If one can soften inside, it will be felt, or at least there is a good chance it will be. Whether the other person responds cannot be guaranteed. But this is certainly a more practical approach because, as Mr Adie said in his answer to Amy, nothing is as practical as “I am.” Rick, I feel, had a sense that the Work was something he could use on someone else for life aims. It is not: it is something for the development of my soul.
Joseph Azize, 4 January 2019