Tuesday 22 February 1944 (Paris Groups 1944, Pt XXIII)

Tuesday 22 February 1944, pp. 112-120

Previously unpublished


Gurdjieff began: “The exercise which we have prepared this evening is very important for the “I am.” It will help you to enter more deeply still into your present (présent). You (now) feel “I am” only with your head, not yet with all your presence. It is already something to sense it with your head, but when one can sense it with all one’s being, there is no greater treasure. You will find a complete (pleine) satisfaction when you can really sense yourself with your whole presence. It is difficult. But you must on no account feel sorry for yourself. Continue, pitilessly, until there is a result. (112)

(I wonder if the reference to entering deeply into one’s “present” can be divorced from entering into one’s “presence.”)

M.H. then said that he had continued with the exercise of sensing warmth, cold, and sadness. He can sense sadness well, but warmth and cold only rather badly. If he already has a feeling, say, in the hand, he can spread it to the arm; but he cannot altogether create a sensation. (113)

Gurdjieff: You have never before felt a sensation of warmth or cold? You have not had the taste?

M.H. Yes, but I cannot find it again.

Gurdjieff: What did you experience (lit. “how did you pass the time”) when you were et hot or cold? Did you have no associations? You should try and recover them if you have already experienced them.

M.H. However, I cannot come to that.

Gurdjieff: You are living too automatically. Have you never noticed anything? Perhaps you have been occupied with a young lady?

M.H. I have had many experiences of intense warmth, of sunbathing for example, but I cannot make them come back again (je ne les retrouve pas).

Gurdjieff: To experience warmth, go to the baths (hammam), and afterwards you will find the taste again. For cold, put (some part of) yours (body) in a refrigerator. Afterwards, refer back to that experience and you may be able to recover the taste. I cannot explain it to you any more. If you cannot rediscover the taste of it yourself, I cannot help you to sense it.

M.H. I can vividly relive the sensations at the moment, but only in a part, not through the whole body. (113)

Gurdjieff: You must be serene. For you, what you say is a simple thing, but for me it is novel (originale). To say that you cannot recover the taste again is something I understand, and I can explain it to you; but if you have never had the taste, then that is difficult. (113-114)

M.H. I am trying to say that I have not been able to create the sensation, to feel it anew.

Gurdjieff: Have you often tried?

M.H. Many times, each day, for this week. I can feel sadness better than heat and cold.

Gurdjieff: Do you have a grandmother? Did she spoil you?

M.H. Not excessively.

Gurdjieff: But in general, how was she? When she gave you a present, did she also reproach you?

M.H. No, she was rather good.

Gurdjieff: Then it is her fault. Often children are harmed when they are spoiled. You remember my grandmother. Read the first chapter. She knew in advance what had to be done. When my uncle gave me something and I put it in my pocket, she said to me: “You are a parasite despite your responsible age.” Yours said nothing to you, and see the result. What to do (now)? The mistake came with your grandmother’s gift. But there is a way: if you consciously influence your grandmother. Do not use the gift she gave you, even if it is double what (in fact) it was. Then it can (all) be different. Doctor, have you understood?

Dr H. No.

Gurdjieff: He has understood nothing. (114) Turning to D.T. And you, Mr Rascal (Canaille)? “Rascal” corresponds more as a head, as a leader than you. You are a good boy, sympathetic, debonair, tender-hearted. In fact, you are soft like a slug.

Dr H. No I am only too good.

(I think that the transcript is particularly lacking here. It seems that Gurdjieff, after one comment to D.T., then turned back to Dr H, and said that D.T. would make a better group leader than he (i.e. Dr H.). Dr H., Gurdjieff said, was too soft. Dr H. replies, “No, I am not too soft, only too good.”)

Gurdjieff: If “slug” displeases you, I can find another word with (the help of) Mme de Salzmann. Your grandmother also was too good, and that has yielded a poor result. You have a sluggish heart, and that does not accord with the quality (required in) a leader. When the leader is good with everybody, the result is bad. If something is shit in a man, then all is shit. It is necessary that in a man all should be choice (rare).

Robert Pomereu then said that with the Sunday exercise, he was sensing his body better, but was “sucking” during the second part. Gurdjieff responded that that was bad, it was “fou-fou (“scatter-brained.”) Pomereu then asked whether the second part could be done if one had not completed the first. Although we do not know what exactly this exercise was, it seems to have had two parts: the first to sense “I am” in seven parts of the body, and the second to draw into oneself certain energies. What else it featured, is lost to us, but Gurdjieff’s reply is clear, in its principles:

If you continue doing that, you will become a really good example of a hysterical woman. You are sucking your reserves. If you artificially suck up your energy reserves, that it what I call “scatter-brained.” Without “I am,” it is scatter-brained; but with “I am” and with a real reserve, yes.

Pomereu then asked whether in the second part he should suck in all at once or piece by piece. (115) Mme de Salzmann answered:

One has to divide into seven parts (in) this exercise. You must completely suck in each of these parts in a single action (coup): the abdomen, an arm, or a leg. Afterwards, perhaps, one can again divide into each of the seven parts, but for now, do not divide the seven. (115-116)

The transcript is so summary, and the words used are so often approximate, that I could bequite wrong, but it seems from her singling out the abdomen, and then an arm and a leg that she was answering Pomereu with a “yes,” one draws them in piece by piece, i.e.  member by member.

D.T. said that his self-remembering is chiefly intellectual, unless he is responding to a negative emotion, in which case he feels disgust but also a strong impulse. Gurdjieff replied that he had no policeman in him. He gave him a task to use for one week, after which he should pose his question again:

Today or tomorrow, take a sheet of paper and a pencil. Relax. Try to be very calm. When you are in that state, then prepare a programme for the next two or three days of your life – no more. Write this on that sheet of paper. Then return to life, but keep the paper with you. When you forget, this paper will help you to remember your duty. It will serve as your director. Never believe in yourself, only in this paper which you have to refer to. Follow this well, and it will fill the office of a policeman for you.

This is very important, and so I repeat, you must never have confidence in yourself except when you prepare your programme in a calm state. Make a record of everything. Next week we will consider (nous analyserons) this paper together, and we shall discover the true reason for (the observations in) your question. You have many internal details which I do not know of: your age, your education, and so on. In this way, I will come to know them, and I will give you good advice.

You must give your reasons when making your programme. For example, I see a certain person and I must be like this or like that with her, for example, harsh. This is to attain to my aim. Take careful note of whether you do it or not. (116) In ordinary life, one can never force oneself “to do.” But with this paper, I can do everything I have decided. (117)

That ended the transcript of that meeting.

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