“No Attachments at all” (Thursday 19 July 1979, Pt II)

This was a very interesting exchange between Mr Adie and a young woman whose voice I don’t recognise. I am guessing that she left the group, certainly in this transcript she seems to want to use the ideas and methods to handle a worldly problem. In this system, however, it is more the other way around – we use the circumstances of life for our inner work.

Part One

Woman            I have no control over what I’m doing. We have a lot of dogs, and they annoy me. I can sometimes speak without shouting, but that might work once, and then it adds up, I shout. And today I was speaking to someone, and it didn’t go well.

Mr Adie    What is the question about that? You have two separate questions there, and not at all the same. Let’s take the first part: do you plan for your encounters with your dogs? What does the plan consist of?

Woman            Particularly when they wake up in the morning, not to react to them the way I do.

Mr Adie          How do you react to them?

Woman            Well, I shout at them and I get a stick.

Mr Adie           Wait on. If you begin by shouting at them, and getting a stick, and they’re yelping, then this increases the hubbub doesn’t it? And it probably wakes everybody else up, too.

Woman            It probably does.

Mr Adie           Probably? Of course it does.

Woman            I have no control over myself at that time. (Goes on about how hard the situation is.)

Mr Adie           But neither can you afford to think wrongly or superficially about it. You don’t have control because you don’t want control – you want the dogs to be quiet. You can begin thinking intelligently about it by realising that this can be quite useful for you. Next to having some presence, some being reality, and hence some control, having the dogs be quiet is rather a small thing. You want to have a more practical approach to it.

The dogs want to get up and go out; is that right? Good, then as you have undertaken the responsibility of keeping them, you have also to accept the responsibility of taking them out. They need the freedom to move sometimes, especially perhaps in the morning. What is they need? A better cut of meat? To run around? Whatever it is, it is a bit of life they want, isn’t it? And you expect them to be satisfied with living in your yard.

You don’t seem so very happy. What do the dogs want?

Woman            To wake me up and annoy me.

Mr Adie           Yes, but for what purpose?

Woman            To play.

Mr Adie           Did you teach them to expect that?

Woman            No, that is just how they behave.

Mr Adie           Exactly. That is their nature. You can’t even train a puppy if you don’t understand their nature and that that is a given. But you speak as if the dogs are barking because they have something in their minds against you personally. It is not that at all; they are just acting the only way they can, in accordance with their nature.

I make these comments because I want you to see that there are many different points of view around this question, not just the one: how do you stop the dogs from barking? There must be alternatives.

It is not trivial, the situation is an important one. I want to see and think about it, on the scale that it is. The dogs could be a very useful alarm clock. Do you take them for walks?

Woman            No, they jump on top of me.

Mr Adie           Are they lapdogs?

Woman            They’re just very exuberant and leap all over me.

Mr Adie           But what is their size? Are they great danes?

Woman            No.

Mr Adie           If you want to be quiet, the thing to do is to study the situation, work out what the dogs need. If they need training, then have them trained, but there will be certain needs which training might regulate but cannot remove. If you wanted quiet animals that won’t jump up on you, you might have purchased turtles. But you didn’t, and so you have dogs with their own needs. Use your intelligence to find how and when you will do your morning preparation. You can even be grateful to them for waking you up to do your preparation.

Woman            I wanted to work on how I feel inside, not what to do with the dogs.

Mr Adie           I would like you to see that the two go together. You are in relation with the dogs. You bring the question, and you get this kind of answer. A year ago when you were starting I could not have given such an answer; everything was roses, roses.

But now you know enough to see that there is no work in that picture. You can use the situation to serve your own ends, and also to train the dogs. I don’t know the situation, or how to do it, that is up to you. Do they have enough space? Do they get enough exercise? Try and bring some real being weight to your thought.

Do you not hear how, in the way you bring this, one might think that you were caught by one of those monsters with 25 arms? You make the dogs sound like dragons, but they’re nothing like that. And they’re probably delighted when they get their food and their exercise?

Woman            They are.

Mr Adie           Then see it for what it is, and have some pity for the dogs you keep in your yard. See the proper scale of this circumstance: it is a small issue but of great importance for your inner life. If you see the scale, it will help with everything, and everything will help.

I remember years and years ago, at the very beginning of the work, there was a lady, she was older than you are, and there was a question of attachments. She said she had no attachments. Mr Ouspensky was there, and he asked: “Nothing? No attachments at all?” She said: “No, I have no attachments. Everything can be taken from me.” He asked “No attachments to your house?” “No.” “Some furs?” “No.” “Your china?” She jumped and clutched at her throat: “Oh! My china!” There it was, a small little attachment. Use it. Use it.

“Do you like that answer?

Woman            I am thinking about it.

Mr Adie           Do you like that answer?

Woman            Yes.

Mr Adie           Good, if anything in you wishes to work, it will like that answer.

Part Two

Gurdjieff would say “roses, roses,” in several contexts. As I understand it, it was often used to suggest that someone had come to him and thought all would be wonderful from here on in, but now they had to begin to work on themselves, which means not “roses” but “thorns.” That is, when one hears the ideas and begins to use the methods, one glimpses the possibility of a great freedom. That is right, but to achieve it, one needs to realise conscious labour and intentional suffering. That aspect is not quite as appealing. The longer one works, the more one needs to confront deep issues within ourselves, and dealing with these is more painful because they are more deeply concreted into our egotism.

I remember he once said that when people say to one of his suggestions “I will think about it,” one could hardly wish for a stronger opposition. I wonder if this exchange grounded that shrewd observation.

Joseph Azize, 17 January 2020


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