Self-Love Is your Great Enemy (Thursday 20 April 1944, Paris Groups Pt XXVI)

Thursday 20 April 1944, pp. 127-135

published in Transcripts of Gurdjieff’s Wartime Meetings, in two parts, 125-133

There are certain difference between the transcripts, in the order of the questions, and the names of the persons who change them.

Dr Aboulker: As you counselled, I have tried to feel remorse of conscience, but the remorse overwhelms me. I cannot forget that Judas hanged himself from remorse.

Gurdjieff: Why do you speak of Judas in this case? What do you know of Judas? Judas was a great initiate, he was the second pupil of Christ, after John the Baptist. All that is said about him is false.

Dr Aboulker: Seeking (to feel) remorse leads me to depression. I must be doing the exercise badly. In what way should I seek it (remorse)?

Gurdjieff: To feel remorse, it is necessary to awaken true will, to remember one’s true aim. It is necessary to slay your self-calming (tranquillité).

Dr Aboulker: Two or three times I have spontaneously felt remorse, but I do not know how to evoke it. When I will to search for it, I cannot rediscover this quality. I find a remorse which casts me into depression.

Gurdjieff: When remorse comes without self-love, it will provide you with a desire for something better. But when it is mixed with self-love, it overwhelms us. The impulse of true remorse is hatred of one’s self, revulsion against one’s self. These two things form true remorse of conscience. (127)

{I think that Gurdjieff is saying that remorse of conscience is made up of both hatred of one’s self as one is, and a desire for something better.}

The published transcript has an additional sentence at the end of Gurdjieff’s first comment on p.127, where Gurdjieff says: “If you wish to know, he was even the master of Christ.” I have no way of knowing what the original transcript has. If it is surprising to think of Judas as the master of Christ, it is no less surprising, but less startling, to think of John the Baptist as a pupil of Christ. This is actually what is implied in the Gospels, but most scholars today reverse this and see John the Baptist as Christ’s teacher.

The exchange with Dr Aboulker continued: he said that he had once actually been nauseous. Gurdjieff replied that this must be felt many times to kill his enemy. In a comment not found in the English, the doctor said that he did not know how to evoke that state.

Gurdjieff: When you feel this depression again you must do the “I AM,” and nevermore fear depression. You can only escape from your nullity thanks to this impulse. You must never be afraid of this depression.

Dr Aboulker: I do not pity myself.

Gurdjieff: You should be pleased that such an impulse has awakened in you a genuine desire to change. You must make no ceremonies with self-love. Self-love is your great enemy. It is necessary to mercilessly discipline yourself (se punir) against this rogue. This (struggle) is not only for yourself, but for everyone.

(But) the feeling of remorse can repair everything, all the errors of your parents, your teachers, and your childhood friends. You must acquire the interior liberty which will make you worthy to be a candidate for the future man.

My dear doctor, I counsel you: this is a very difficult thing (to achieve). It is not pleasant (news), but that is not my fault. If you want a future, then test that in the present. The more you test it, the better the possibilities you will have in the future. It is necessary to come to lead remorse of conscience into hatred of yourself, hatred of your past, of your parents, and of the education you received. Curse it all.

Ask your ideal to help you merit pardon and to become worthy. From one side, curse your past, and from the other, in the name of your future, give yourself your word to help your parents as much as you are able, for this curse. It is necessary to arrive at (a point where) conscience speaks mercilessly within you. (128)

{I think that Gurdjieff means that the curse has meaning and value because you give yourself your word to raise it from your parents, teachers, and yourself.}

Mme Etievan: Mr Gurdjieff, on the subject of remorse, I have felt the same depression as the doctor, but I no longer have it. I find myself as before.

Gurdjieff: That is fine, but I am suspicious of something. Perhaps you have automatically habituated yourself (to it). That also is bad. It is a fixed idea. One should not habituate oneself to (the feeling of) remorse. It must penetrate inside. When you habituate yourself, you automatize yourself. It has become light, exterior, and you do it only with your head. (If so,) then you are wasting time. Begin again, (but) be merciless. If this appears easy to you, you are mistaken. It has become a habit. You must do it with your three centres, and not with your head only.

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