The Web Exercise (25 May 1944, Paris Groups, Pt XXXII)

Thursday 25 May 1944, pp. 149-157

Partly unpublished but partly published with significant differences. 134-139, Transcripts of Gurdjieff’s Wartime Meetings

G.B. complained of not having feeling, and asked what feeling is.

Gurdjieff: There is feeling when there is a presence of the totality of (one’s) functions.

G.B. There is a question of higher feelings. But very simple people often have much feeling.

Gurdjieff: It is an instinct which has not been spoiled. They are a good race, (but) you are from a degenerated (dégénérée) class [note: the word “degenerate” means “having lost the good qualities proper to its kind”]. When you speak of simple people, it is those who have not yet become degenerate. You lack this normalcy which all animals have. You notice it among simple people. That is why I say this: that they are a good race, not degenerate, not educated, simple.

This thing which we have begun with you will either revive something old, or it will give birth to something new in you. You can already begin, and speak with me about it on the seventh occasion that you come here.

Gurdjieff then commented that there were not many people there today. But this is interesting for Gurdjieff’s statement that G.B. might be experiencing something although G.B. was new, or else G.B. should allow for seven meetings with him before speaking about it. Time is needed to allow something to appear. Patience. Some of this material had previously been made available, being transferred into the later answers.

The next question, which is where the available English begins, was from G.Mechin who said that he was suffering from a headache whenever he tried the refilling exercise, and asked whether he should continue. (149)

Gurdjieff: Continue. You will pass this crisis. Your salvation lies in this. It is to come to where something snaps. Do not hold yourself back [the verb ménager can also mean “to economize”]. This tiredness can give you a subtlety which you lack. (Now) you are strong like a pig, but for our work it is necessary to be like a goat, a young goat is good, but old goats have a bad smell.

(To the doctor) I am sorry you have come in late – I have been speaking of medical questions. I am doing the opposite of the usual doctor. M. is not nervous, (but) I make him nervous. Medicine would cure it, while I provoke it. He has everything except that (quality). He is a bull, but not a thoroughbred bull. It is necessary to transform him into a thoroughbred bull.

(To A.G.) If you do not change, you will one day become an old goat, a walking source of horrible emanations. Doctor, you often see that among your patients.

Robert Pomereu: I have the impression of more and more difficulty with the Sunday exercise. I cannot succeed in giving the shock to (myself in) my chest or the spinal column.

Gurdjieff: You are not interested. You do not work with all your presence. You want to just do it theoretically, but not with all of you. You randomly decide with your head, but it is not you who wishes. It is necessary now for you to have an aim with all your presence. If you do like that, you will awaken little by little this function. You do not sense because you have no feeling. (150)

Among other things, I am going to disclose to you something which is not for you, but at the same time is for you. This afternoon, I constated something which can be of great service to everyone. You do not have contact, you are not driving each other crazy to achieve your aspirations. It is possible to have a common contact through your common aim.

It is possible through (the act of) practising it. For example, when you are sitting together, do not spend your time interiorly as in life. Use the occasion to do an exercise. Suggest to yourselves that the atmosphere around you awakens the desire to go towards your aim. … [the three dots are in the text, indicating perhaps that something is missing here] Everyone here can produce such an atmosphere. This atmosphere is a fire which helps one to aspire to the common aim with all one’s being. When you come together it will at once and of its own motion produce this fire.

You will be able to have an action on all the town. Paris is big, but if you begin and a movement is produced in one point of this atmosphere, it will little by little become possible for it to release a wave which will extend everywhere … You know the various laws of telepathy … It is as if the atmosphere expands itself, and forms a fabric (tissu) like a spider web. If a new force enters in one stitch, it can spread out through all the net, as in an electrical network (câble).

It is necessary when you are accidentally together that you do this exercise. You create a factor to reach the goal together. For that, it is necessary to do two things interiorly: autosuggestion, and representation by forms, by subjective forms. Little by little you will understand what is happening. It is not important to represent it to yourself exactly. Imagine that between you there is being formed a net, like a network. If a current moves along one point of the network, it moves through all of it. If there is a sensation of warmth or of cold in one point, the warmth or cold will be felt at every point. Represent that what occurs in one place is happening throughout.

(They try the exercise.) [This is important as showing that Gurdjieff did in fact work with his pupils on the exercises, which is what Dr Lester told me had done with them from 1946.]

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