“An Exaggerated Form of the Usual” (Wednesday 16 March 1983, Pt I)

Part One

This is from the meeting of Wednesday 16 March 1983. Mr Adie had asked everyone to bring in twenty words or less, their aim. He had received them, and in this meeting he read, before the whole group, what each had written, and made comments. The few occasions on which he did this were very powerful. Among other things, they showed how the work of one could be the work of all. Before the reading of the formulations began, there were two questions about general work.

The first was from Pavlos. On the weekend work, he had seen the truth of what Mr Adie had said to him on the weekend, that he, Pavlos, “cared very little about my approach to the work and most things in general,” and it had shaken him. As a result, he had tried to ponder it after the preparation, but had been afflicted with turning thoughts such as: “I must watch what I say, I must take more care,” but he couldn’t formulate anything practical.

“No,” said Mr Adie, “that sort of thought is not constructive, it is not really thought so much as formatory association, reaction. It says: “I must, I must.” But I can nothing, this is just accompanying nonsense. I have to listen and see the reality. I stop the associations, I stop the words, and then I can see what is going on around me. If I am surrounded by wild animals, I want to know what their natures and their intentions are, are they going to eat me or what? you I have to look and see; what is going to take place?”

“You know that inside there is very little concern for the work or for more any other things in your life. It is a crust of negligence, but it has cracks, so you have to look through these crevices. The morning preparation gives you a special opportunity, it is like taking a peek through the window to see whether it’s going to rain or not.”

“But when we mutter things like that: “Oh, I have to do so and so,” that’s not practical. I have to see, that there’s this sort of sacrilegious litany going on, which is the most horrible sort of farce based on the possibility of work, it just goes on.”

The next question was from Magda, who had just received the good news of the birth of her first grandson. She said: “I lost my mind, I was hysterical when I heard the news, I was crying and woke up for about two to three hours in the middle of the night. I saw the abnormal way I’m acting, and I asked, “Why did I do to myself? I’m sick, I felt absolutely sick, then I calmed down.”

Mr Adie asked her whether she had a question from all this. She could not formulate something, so eventually Mr Adie said: “That observation shows an exaggerated form of all the things that go on ordinarily. Now, babies are not born every day in the same family, but minor occasions of happiness or misery occur, and the same reaction starts up, although not to the same degree.”

He then said that he now had to come to the accounts people had written. Before doing so, he asked: “Is everybody prepared to confront this? Is everybody willing that it should be, on their part, intentional suffering? Or do they want to glaze over it? Who wants to suffer intentionally? There’s opportunity now.”

After a little pause, he added: “It’s serious you see, it has to be. We wish to find out what is wrong, what is lacking, so that we can take a step, so that the situation can change. So, now, here are the accounts. I will read each one and, as far as I can, answer in the time we have. Of course, everyone is lacking; you would expect that. Everyone is lacking, everyone one of these is lacking, of course … in different ways.”

Before I move on to the second and much longer part of the meeting, let me highlight Mr Adie’s penetrating comment about Magda’s over-reaction: “(It is) an exaggerated form of all the things that go on ordinarily. … minor occasions of happiness or misery (often) occur, and the same reaction starts up, although not to the same degree.”


Part Two

“I’ll take this one first, this is from Pavlos.”

There are three facets which I regard as chief features, each being more prominent at one time or another. Criticism, un-necessary talking, daydreaming. The most damaging of these is daydreaming, in which I constantly indulge, the most prominent dreams concerning myself being important, having the correct answers and solutions to all situations.

“Well, there’s no plan, no line of attack, or what to do. Criticism: I have to know what kind. I can’t deal with something if I don’t know the first thing about it. All criticism is not the same, it’s all reactionary, so what in me is reacting?”

“Again, unnecessary talking: what kind of rubbish?”

“Day dreaming: what sort of singular cleverness do I manifest?”

Each being more prominent at one time than another, the most damaging is the daydreams in which I constantly indulge. The most prominent, concerns myself being important, having the correct answers and the solutions to all situations.

“So, what sort of singular cleverness do I manifest? How am I dressed up? Am I a clever Napoleon, or some other sort of character? I must know. My knowledge comes by feeling and gesture. But if I don’t know anything of this, how am I to receive the message, or do I allow the information to go out of the door?”

“You’ve seen a lot of comment; that’s good. This is where you began with the question you asked at the start of the meeting. Your observation is fairly simple and honest, it wasn’t devious. Now, you must select the scenes and the occasions when your sense of self-importance and cleverness manifest most strongly and frequently.”

“You’ve got to find it out, for example, is it the same with men and women equally? Is it the same in morning and night equally? You have to, it’s your work. And you have to concentrate upon that which is most frequent or seems the worst. And then pass on to other manifestations when this has been dealt with. It has to be specific. You can’t against this host, you have to have a definite plan; something so specific that you really can and do carry it out.”

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