Thursday 1 June 1944, pp. 158-170
(Gurdjieff comes in and waits for questions.)
Gurdjieff: No one has anything to say? Why (is it like this) today? How did the last exercise go? That is what interests me the most. I gave (the exercise of) Morse (Code) and the head on Monday. Is it difficult? Yes. When you do not exercise, everything is hard, and they remain (that way). When one exercises, everything is easy. Outside of working days, do you exercise at home?
Y.L. (Y. Le Tourmelin?) Yes, every day.
Gurdjieff: Can you do it?
Y.L. A little.
N.L. For my part, I sense that I will be able to succeed. I do a certain number of them one after the other, then I stop myself because ( find) I am lacking in the practice.
Gurdjieff: But are you sure you can succeed?
Gurdjieff: Even to arrive at this result one needs to be exercised. You know the Morse alphabet. I advise you, you, to take in place of “papa mama” a phrase like “I am, I wish to be.” Do that, do the exercise separately, but add it to the exercise. I have given “papa mama” as an exercise. But you, you can do more. The others should begin with “papa mama” and keep at that for a little. Did you want to ask something? (158)
[This is important, as evidencing a principle of the exercises – Gurdjieff might begin with something rather matter of fact, such as “father, mother,” and then graduate to “I am,” and so on. I think the principle can be used to develop exercises such as the “three chairs.” It also shows that he considered the relaxing exercises to be basic beginners’ exercises.]
N.L. Monsieur, in working this week, I perceived that one of the biggest forms of my nullity is that I understand only with my head and all my body refuses it (the head). One of the greatest aspects of my nullity is the refusal of the body to accept it. As I am going to be away for some time, I would like to ask if I can do anything more specially to succeed in greater organic sensation.
Gurdjieff: You are not yet conscious, but you do have (the faculty of) logic. Compared to your logic [reason], your organism is spoiled. Your logic is weak, it has become a function of your organism, when on the contrary your organism should be subordinate, and become a function of your reason.
N.L. I mean that at certain moments I do subordinate it, but by itself it does not submit. I would like for it to acquire some sort of acceptance.
Gurdjieff: It is necessary to (make it) be subordinate. One can only succeed with pitiless mortification for a certain time. It is necessary to show it [the organism] that your reason (logique) is different from what it was before, that it has grown up, and that it is strong, so that your organism may fear it. For example, it is extremely automatized to eat well. That is its first pleasure, its first aim, its first weakness. If you do not give it anything to eat each time that it has refused to act in accordance with reason [logique], if you refuse it nourishment once, twice, then it will be afraid, and you will take from it all its pleasure. Whether it likes it or not, it will subordinate itself. It will be afraid. It will take logic into account. Today it considers nothing. It is your boss. Your organism and not your logic or your thought is the master, but it should be the slave of your thought. However, your logic is fearful, and you are the slave of your organism. Today your consciousness is afraid of your organism, that it will not allow it to sleep if it is not given food. To overcome this, you need special periods of work. You are afraid, your organism is your boss, it is your fault. You have done it.
Your reason [logique] has not grown up. It should be the same as you, but it is only five years old, while your body is thirty-five. It is strong. Your consciousness is the slave of your body. If it continues thus, you will die a slave. If you want to have another future, if you wish to be more intelligent, then your logic has to acquire authority. You should accustom your body to this fear. It is difficult. If you really want something with your thought and consciousness, and if that disturbs your body, you have to come to a decision with your head, and to make it your slave. All your life you have been spoiled. It is your fault. Pay. You have always been satisfied. Pay with dissatisfaction. See your body as being somebody else (une personne étrangère). Little by little, make it subordinate: there are many ways to achieve this. The programme is an easy one. What does it like? To eat, to dream (daydream), sex. To discipline it, you have only to make your programme concerned with these three things, not always the same one: take one in the morning, and another in the evening.
(Mr Gurdjieff leaves the room)
N.L. That is what I tried.
Mme de Salzmann: Why do you aim for this? (Pourquoi le tendre?)
N.L. Because I have a tendency to go back to this habitual state. Perhaps there is a question of balance apart from the work.
(Mr Gurdjieff returned, and Mme de Salzmann translated the question to him)
Gurdjieff: You have not done the exercise of relaxing, you and others. That factor is the origin of your difficulty, but with this exercise you will be able to eliminate it. Thanks to this exercise you will be able to command your body at each moment.
When one remembers himself, then the muscles automatically relax themselves. Your musculature is tense: that proves that you have not done this exercise. Remember, we have three sorts of muscles. You must make the small muscles be subject in such a way that each time you remember yourself, they are obliged to relax (détendre). Without that, impartial thought is impossible (lit. “there is no impartial thought.”). You have not done this.
N.L. I succeed in this release (détente) more or less easily.
Gurdjieff: You have to succeed in (being able to) release yourself without exercise. The exercise is to prepare you for that. When you have (acquired) this mastery (propriété) you will be able to subordinate your body. It is the first indispensable thing. As long as you are tense (contracté), the body dominates you. It is an egoist. You are the property of your body. This condition proves that your body is your boss. You can do nothing against it. That is why the desires of your intellect remain theoretical. You must categorically decide with your logic to begin this struggle. Then, little by little you will make your body and your weaknesses slaves of your reason (logique). Make a programme for that, and struggle with these three means: sex, nourishment, and dreams.
(The struggle with) dreams is an important thing. Doctor, do you know why? The process of dreaming in us, (according to) true knowledge (science) – not yours – calls it “a representative of the devil.” The process of dreaming is infernal. From the beginning of the work one must set oneself the task of never dreaming. You must kill it. That is the first liberation. With that, you will be destroying “the representatives of hell.” Then you can seek out a second sphere for liberation.
You may have noticed how we always succeed in tranquillizing ourselves with two or three fantastic ideas. They are opium. Most people have personal daydream themes to calm themselves. They evade all disagreeable thoughts with these fantasies. Thanks to this opium, when they turn to these daydreams, they leave all their sadness behind, all their difficulties. There can be no true work (tâche) for one who has not killed in himself this weakness.
We have often said that it is necessary to struggle against imagination, but never have I said it like today. Struggle. How to struggle? You do not know. All is mixed. How can you struggle with yourself if you do not exist separate from yourself?
Represent to yourself how imagination dominates you (cette propriété de l’imagination). Master it, make it yours, and later you will even be able to use it as a means for action. For example, when this dominion (of imagination) is subordinated by auto-suggestion, when it acknowledges reason (logique), your reason can order it, and represent to it that it is this or that. And if one reinitiates this (effort) several times more, it can come to really be. Beforehand, you had to submit to this domination by daydreaming. I have said to kill it, but it is not the machine which will kill it, it is his authority. It [imagination, daydreaming] must not be the chief, but rather a function, and for that, it is necessary to change the organism.