God and Prayer: Tuesday 29 February 1944, (Paris Groups Pt XXV)

Tuesday 29 February 1944, pp. 121-126

Previously unpublished

The director asks for volunteers to help with the washing up. J.B. offered.

Gurdjieff: You have enough strength for the washing up but earlier you had none for the exercise?

J.B. said that he had been away for a fortnight and it was his turn. Gurdjieff told him that that was not the issue: just before dinner he had told him that he was not bestirring himself, but now he volunteers for the washing up. J.B. replied that he found the exercise very difficult, but he thought the washing up would give him opportunities to practise the rhythm exercise. Gurdjieff replied:

It is just for this that you are here: to work at what is difficult, at what demands an effort. I take pains to explain matters to you. I have spent a lot of my time on you, and have done nothing.

J.B. reiterated that it was his turn to help with the washing up. Gurdjieff replied:

When you take your friends and myself into consideration, what am, for you? I have wasted my time. The washing up can be done quite well by any donkey or camel, but only a man can do the exercise. But during the exercise you sat like a (piece of) shit, and you did nothing, you made no effort. You had no strength, but now you find enough to volunteer for the washing up. I do not need you for the washing up. I can hire any of a thousand people for that, or a donkey or a camel; but for the exercise I need someone who works. Leave the beaten track. (121) Find someone else. (to the director) This is your fault. Head!

Director: Why?

Gurdjieff: You must understand all the (various) make-ups (combinaisons) which are present in this group. That is why you are the head. You must direct it, be its guardian, be the policeman. You have to see how it works, and note all which occurs in it, but you did not even notice this idiocy. (turning to J.B.) Excuse me. You may go where you wish: do the washing up, or masturbate.

He then turned to Mme de Salzmann, saying that he had been obliged to point this out. He then spoke with her in Russian. He then turned to the prosecutor, and asked him whether he had noted this. He replied that he had. Gurdjieff asked whether he had understood the interesting conversation with Mme de Salzmann. The prosecutor replied that he had no dictionary. I suppose that means he had not. Gurdjieff then asked everyone who smoked to place a cigarette on the table, adding that he was a good wholesaler. He then asked what Robert Pomereu, who smoked a pipe would do. He placed four cigarettes on the table. (122) Gurdjieff then asked whether he had thought beforehand to bring four cigarettes in the place of his pipe. This has more value than four packets of cigarettes. (It seems that there must have been a task to bring a cigarette, perhaps for him to trade on the black market, and Gurdjieff is impressed that he has brought four cigarettes.) Gurdjieff then asked him whether he was not astonished at his reasoning: it is the fault of his (Gurdjieff’s) grandmother.

D.T. then said that Gurdjieff was not a good storekeeper, as four cigarettes is worth less than packets.

Gurdjieff: You are a bad mathematician, you see only what is present. I am a great wholesaler, and as such I take risks. I take hazards when I trade. I hope that with these means which he will make for me not four packets but four factories. These small things, 5%, 10%, or 25%, are nothing. I am not interested in such. When I make a profit, it is 10,000%. That is why I prefer four cigarettes. Do you understand, Head?

The Director said that he did. Gurdjieff then said: “Sometimes the universities provide a good education. You have a good side, only you also have bad sides. Yet, with your good side, you can do much.”

Mme de Salzmann then said that it was 10:40, and they had only ten minutes. Gurdjieff then asked the prosecutor whether he had understood, and asked him whether, in ten minutes, he could write material enough for forty minutes of work. He said that he could. (123) M.D. then said that Gurdjieff had given him a task to relax his head, but he could not both remember himself and relax it. (123-142) Gurdjieff responded:

Perhaps you know that, in order to have freedom in thought, it is necessary that your head not be tense. I shall give you a task (experience) that you can take as an exercise. Let your head be as if it were just a piece of meat, and rock your body from right to left, and from left to right, making effort only with your spine (épine dorsale, “dorsal spine”). You will find that although you have completely relaxed your head, something is happening, and that your head is deciding the movement. Without any tension, your initiative retains the initiative.

Interestingly, Gurdjieff describes this as being “like an exercise” (comme exercise). This supports in me in drawing a distinction between exercises and tasks or disciplines.

M.D. objected that he fell asleep. Gurdjieff replied:

I can contract all my muscles and yet my head remains completely free. The result of this exercise will be just this, to allow you to relax your head. For example, your back might be tense, but not your head. The head is the source of logic, it commands. I always relax the head, and at the same time, it makes the decisions. So, for you, I give this advice: do not tense your head, but still act consciously. You see how when I say something I demonstrate it at the same time.

When you do something, but at the same time your head is tense, it becomes a fixed idea, it becomes an idiocy. There are different parts in us for our different aims. These different points take the initiative and decide for the various aims. For you, it (your aim) is to relax your head and that at the same time it retain the initiative. Without initiative, there is no conscience. It is necessary to have initiative in one’s presence.

This feature of always demonstrating what he spoke of was something Mr Adie insisted on: that one’s being correspond to one’s words.

Then Mme de Salzmann lit a cigarette. (124) Gurdjieff told her that she set the example, and that if she did not smoke no one could. She replied that she had lit (just) one.

Mme D. then said that she had been able to sense warmth and cold when she left a place where she had really been warm or cold, but she could not feel it all throughout her body.

Gurdjieff: When you arrive at any result, this must be fixed in your memory. How do you receive the quality of warmth or of cold? Study it, and the next time (you work on the exercise) this is the taste which you will use.

Without seeking to feel exterior sensation? Mme D. asked.

Gurdjieff: If you really have the taste, all that is equal to me. That is not necessary. It is the taste (you need). If in one part of your body you want the sensation of warmth, you must sense it everywhere. Do you exercises for that (aim).

Gurdjieff then spoke in Russian with Mme de Salzmann. Mme de Salzmann told her that once she found the taste she should be able to find it again and in another part. You understand through experience. She will sense a little, then later will sense more, and finally will sense with her whole presence. (125)

D.G. said that he had been raised a Catholic, but had long ceased practising, although he believed in something which he called God. Through this work he had come to a sense of “Me,” and his idea of God had imperceptibly been replaced by that of “I am,” and then it was not so much what “I” am now, but may become. (124-125)

Gurdjieff: Stop, I have understood. You really could not be upon a better path. You have understood that God is not an old Jewish man with a beard, but that it is precisely “I” with all the qualities which it includes. Have you read the Bible and the Gospel? We were created in the image of God. You are a miniature of God.

If you always continue like that, you are God. Not you, but the sensation you have. Let this sensation become stronger and at the same time think always that God is not an old Jewish man with a beard and a comb in his pocket. You are a micro-God (micro-Dieu). You have read Beelzebub? The seen cosmoses have the same value, only the scale is different. If you understand that, and you act in a becoming manner, according to your proper scale, you will be able to know the six others. And now, what is your question?

D.G. said that he had no question as such, but he would like to know if it was a good thing, or if he should be worried.

Gurdjieff: At the beginning, it is ideal. On one hand, you destroy your abnormal God, and on the other, you construct your new God, the true one, he of your possibilities for development. You are on the good path.

D.G. But if I wish to pray now?

Gurdjieff: What you have to pray for now is for all the possibilities that are in you. These qualities are already within you, that is God. It is an ideal, because God is already within you. (126)

D.G. I understand. (127)

That ends the transcript.

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