Playing a Role, with Examples Philosophising, Playing a Role (Tuesday 8 February 1944, Paris Groups, 1944, Pt XIX)

M.D. said that when she confided her experiences to others, she felt that he lost force. But then, she said “I sense (feel) that I influence others by getting rid of (taking off) bad things.” (88) She seems to say that by speaking to others, she cleanses herself, perhaps of negative emotions. Gurdjieff replied that she was therefore playing her role badly. M.D. repeated the essence of her remark, and Gurdjieff answered:

“Today you sacrifice everything for the future. All today’s pleasures. You cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven and at the same time be eating cake. Establish good relations with everyone, but learn never to identify. This will be a good means for change. At the same time it will elaborate within you a certain energy which will allow you to work better.”

He then turned to Dr H, and said: “Doctor, easy things never give you energy.” (88)

R.P., possibly Robert Pemereu, asked about using the physical energy which would usually be expended playing sport. Gurdjieff advised him to exercise with numbers, names, and so on. To do it well, one needs five times the force. (88) Pomereu replied that they had not done that yet. Gurdjieff said that he should use the exercise given on Sunday. In half an hour, he said, “I can suck ten times more energy in you than you have now. If you feel this, you have not understood. Ask.” (89)

This last part is odd, and Pomereu does not ask, either in that meeting or the one after. So what did Gurdjieff mean? The French transcript eads: “En une demi-heure je peux sucer dix fois plus d’énergie en vous que vous n’en avez. Si vous sentez cela c’est que vous n’avez pas compris. Demandez.” I wonder if the transcript is wrong, and if Gurdjieff did not mean: “In half an hour, I can suck out of you ten times into you more energy than you know you have. If you do not feel this, you have not understood. Ask (or, possibly, “demand that energy”) (89)

M.D. then spoke about her difficulties with the replenishment exercise. Gurdjieff replied: “Keep trying. This comes little by little. (You can try) ten times, but it nothing happens, but then, on the eleventh … With all the exercises one must do them, and do them again. … First one must acquire the taste, and then it becomes easy. Follow the rules closely: relax yourself, and so on, and that will help you, and you will arrive, soon or later. It is not necessary to conserve yourself.

D.S. reported not truly having the sensation of filling the body, yet being able to sense some “general feeling.” Gurdjieff’s reply is given as: “At the beginning you can use that.” (89)

A.G. then asked about whether there could be a finer knowledge than of our essence: his sensations are mixed with imagination, and different sensations seem to oppose one another. Gurdjieff replied that he had an exercise, to which A.G. responded that he could not do it well. Perhaps, said Gurdjieff, you are thinking of something else, philosophy, or fantasy. You have as yet no essence, you are a little dog, a puppy. A.G. replied that his attention naturally fixes itself on subtle matters. Gurdjieff advised him to apply himself to two times two makes four. You always go too far ahead of yourself, and from that come misunderstandings. (89-90)

A.G. replied that in many ways he was actually standing still; to which Gurdjieff replied that that was because he was going too far beyond himself. A.G. then asked whether his trouble with the Sunday exercise could be because of something sexual, and Gurdjieff responded:

“Do not philosophise. I give you an exercise, for you specifically. Each time you feel a weakness begin, relax, and seriously think, “I want the result of my weakness to become my own force.” It will then accumulate in you for future work. Each man knows what weakness he has in himself. Each time this weakness surfaces in you, stop, and work at this exercise. This exercise is quite necessary for you. You will discuss it sincerely, with Mme de Salzmann. (90)”

Dr H. then asked what role to play in respect to his four year old daughter. Gurdjieff replied, simply: “The role of a father.” Dr H. replied that he did not have the impression he was a good father. (90) Gurdjieff said: “It is necessary to be a good father. For example, one does not encourage. While the child has no imagination, we review (critiquer), but interiorly, love her. Thus you will realise true love.”

Dr H said that there were moments when he sensed that he had to be rigorous (sévir) but that on other occasions, he let his affection be apparent. Gurdjieff replied: “(Affection) does not have to appear. What is necessary is to be just. If you show your affection (even) once, your authority will collapse. You must never show her your interior, your weakness, to make a show of love and of caressing, and so on. Leave that to others, not yourself. The father’s authority is a very important matter, (retain that) and you will be a good father.”

M.H. then asked whether there was a danger that this advice would lead to the child becoming timid, or smothering its personality. Gurdjieff replied that one did as he had said, the child would not become fearful, but rather have self-esteem, quite a different quality from timidity. Do not, he added, terrify the child. (91)

Apart from a comment about awaiting the return of four people from the theatre, that was the close of that meeting.


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