Not Obsessed (Thursday 20 April 1944 Pt 2, Paris Groups, Pt XXVII)

Kahn: You gave me an exercise to place a wet cloth on my arm so as to come to sensation. When I consider the several years I have spent at the teaching, I realise that I have never lacked impulses (to work), but a part of me has always stolen away from the work. This became clear to me when you told me that I have no organic will.

Gurdjieff: Only one way can help you: you must suffer organically. For instance, eat less than you want. Or then, if your organism does not like cold water, (make yourself) endure it. The same thing with hot water. Do the opposite of what your body is accustomed to do. Make it suffer. This will not make your psyche suffer. We know seven different qualities of suffering, and for you organic suffering is necessary. With your intellect, you can mercilessly direct your organism, and force it to suffer. It is the only means of arriving at that (quality) which you lack. In you, two parts are working, but not your organism.

Do you understand your situation?  If you have constated it, if you credit me, then do that. Struggle, suffer, and afterwards we will speak again. Then you will be able to work on yourself. (129) I am happy that you in the come to just this question. Who has a question about work to ask? (130)

A.D. I would like to ask a question about the exercise of seven breaths. It is an exercise to do in life, but I can never seem to count correctly when I am on the Metro or walking along. I never finish it, I am interiorly occupied seeing a part of the exercise, but I cannot see it as a whole.

Gurdjieff: This is very important. Perhaps you have an obsession. That is what stops you. You must struggle as I shall advise you.

A.D. I cannot dominate (this weakness) when I am working at the exercise, I become identified.

Gurdjieff:   You must take this exercise in three independent parts, spending three days on one part, three days on another, and then all parts together.

A.D.   When I am calm I come to it better.

Gurdjieff:   But it is less useful then.

A.D.   I come up against another difficulty. When I represent to myself a (specific) deceased woman, I have no contact with her: I sometimes believe that I never saw her.

Gurdjieff: That is a very good example for you. Perhaps you only knew this person with a part of yourself, for example, with the intellect. Now that you wish to change, you represent her to yourself with some feeling. You will come to have contact with all your centres, but one by one.

A.D.   I have to find a person who fulfils the conditions. (130)

Gurdjieff:   Perhaps you will never find such a one. Perhaps you are being one-eyed (unilatéral). If you do not find one, then choose two people or even three; and with one you have feeling, with the other, thought, and so on. (130-131)

{Clearly the transcript is only a rough note of what was said. Gurdjieff’s practicality comes through, but not the exercise.}

M.B.   I have noticed that when I observe my breathing, I remember myself better. Is that what I should do?

Gurdjieff:   If you think that there is a risk it will become an obsessive idea, do not do it; but if you think that it can help you, the continue. Only you can judge.

M.B. How will I know whether it’s now an obsession?

Gurdjieff:   Now I have understood. If you had not asked this question, I would not have understood. I understand your interior state (now). What is the centre of gravity of your work?

M.B.   The exercise which consists in nourishing the “I” and the one with seven breaths.

Gurdjieff: Which one interests you the most? Which one gives you the most confidence?

M.B.   I don’t do them in the same conditions. The both of them are important to me.

Gurdjieff:   Change the conditions in which you do the exercises. That which you do at the period (put aside for) work, do in life; and (proceed) reciprocally (i.e. vice versa). Change the periods (around). I fear that you might automatize the time when you do them, that it will become a custom, a fixed idea. In changing the periods (around) you will perhaps be able to get rid of the fixed idea and have a result. I suspect something, and this can clarify it for me. Have you understood?

M.B.   Very well. (131)

{I note that the English translation attributes this last brace of questions to Robert Pomereu, but the French has “M.B.”}

Hignette I have a class in which I can follow the students rather personally. Some of them are given to onanism. How can I strongly tell them not to continue? (131-132)

Gurdjieff: Many books explain (why) this (is) an evil. Obtain these books and give them to (your students) to read. You will then be able to assemble them outside of your class, and tell them that he who practises this will never be a true man, or a real husband. Have them read these books, and counsel them pay serious attention to it. Give them this suggestion, and show them how it is noxious. If some have already become accustomed to it, and they can no longer be convinced, then send them to me, and it two weeks I will cure them of it, so long as they have a healthy bank balance.

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