Changing Relations with Others (Paris Groups, final instalment, 1 June 1944) Pt XXXVI

This is the third and final part of the group meeting of 1 June 1944.

Mlle D. I asked you what I should to do to change my relations with an authoritarian aunt who annihilated me. You told me to steal 19 cigarettes from her. That seems very difficult to me for two reasons: I have asked her for the key to her apartment, and I alone have one, and it seemed to me unpleasant to commit a deliberate theft. I tried. I had them within my grasp but I could not take them. But I have understood that this was the first time I ever tried to steal something deliberately, and yet, I otherwise steal often.

Gurdjieff: You are on the right road. Continue.

Mlle D. For example, I steal her attention, her affection, in obliging her to pity me. When she came back, the result was different. By a curious turn of events (fait), it was found that something else had disappeared from her apartment: a sausage. She told me, and asserted with assurance: “You took it!” With certainty. And I, very sure of myself, knowing that I had not, responded with an offended and very ironic air which made quite an impression on her. Then, two days ago, two pieces of cutlery disappeared, and her attitude was quite different: she came to say that she recommended I close the door well, and that she had been speaking with the concierge … that, in short, is the story.

(Mr Gurdjieff and the others laugh)

Gurdjieff: I see that you have succeeded quite well. And you see why I said 19, neither 18 nor 20! (166) along with that, you have constated that you always steal unconsciously, and yet you imagine that you do not steal. But you steal three times more than if you were to consciously steal.

Mlle D. That is why I was weak.

Gurdjieff: Then continue these comical episodes (choses). You will constate yet more. I ask you this question: have your relations changed?

Mlle D. Extraordinarily.

Gurdjieff: Alas, it is not, unfortunately, extraordinary for me. But how much good you will be able to take from all of that. Continue. This advice will have ten more value for you than anything you could get from your Bible.

Mlle D. Must I also revise all the opinions I have had of myself?

Gurdjieff: Analyse yourself as if (you were) a stranger; impartially, with your reason (logique). For each thing, constate. Collect material, and then judge.

Mlle D. It is difficult, I dream a lot.

Gurdjieff: We have already spoken of that.

Mlle D. I would like to add that I returned the nineteen cigarettes to you, as was agreed.

Gurdjieff: That is another thing. To be a good, honest student you must contribute half of everything to me. Half of whatever you want.

Mlle D. I stole nothing, but I have put in nineteen cigarettes.

Gurdjieff: And you have not added a zero to your calculations? Nineteen, and no zero? You should add a zero. Without a zero, it is a child’s thing. If you are very happy, then two zeros. And if you benefit yet further, three zeros! For each further thing, you (should) add a zero, and divide it by two. Ah, but you haven’t been well (enough) brought up for that. I advise you to speak about these thorny questions with my secretary.

S.C. (Solange?) Monsieur, it is difficult for me to relax (décontracter) my head. I would like an exercise to do in the course of the day. My head is always tense (contractée), as is my neck.

Gurdjieff: The nape of your neck?

S.C. Yes, and the neck.

Gurdjieff: And has what you feel in the vertebral column, happened?

S.C. Yes, when I have done the exercise, but I have the impression that it returns, even if more feebly.

[From the reply, I suspect that Gurdjieff asked: “And have you felt anything in your vertebral column?]

Gurdjieff: Begin against with the massages, your head is a part of those things which I have wished to cure by that method. I will give you what is necessary. I am sure that it will help to make what you have been feeling in your head go away. It’s the same sickness, the same disharmony.

(Silence)

Truly, there is a good atmosphere here for sleeping. Don’t you find that?

(Addressing himself to A.D.) You, master, have understood. Your angel is not here.

(Mr Gurdjieff had not seen his wife, who was hidden.)

For she is really your angel, a true angel, the universal angel. There are two qualities of angel: the angel at the left shoulder, and the angel at the right shoulder. There are entirely (toujours) different. Woman is both of them. The religious angel is that at your right shoulder, while the other is a demon. Woman is both of them. On one occasion she has wings, and on another she has a tail: sometimes wings, sometimes a tail. Now that you know that, keep a count: on which day and how often does she have wings or a tail!

S.C. How can I completely change all the relationships with those around me? How can I break the associations formed around these people?

Gurdjieff: My advice will be brief. Give yourself a task: imagine that you are a sister of the Carmel Convent. Then, when you are with one of these people whom you have in mind, always remember your vows, and act accordingly. Do this exercise twice or three times, and then it will be done automatically. All your associations will then correspond, and all will flow normally.

It is good advice. Do you understand? If you have realised that it is good advice, then you will understand me. Try to represent that (to yourself) with more details, as if were the fact. Let it be a task that you take it that you are truly in a convent, and even that you have pronounced your vows. When you enter a convent, you are a novice. Then, when you have really decided, you pronounce your vows. At first you are only a novice, not yet a nun. Represent to yourself that you are a novice, and have conformable relations with all people, like a novice in a convent. This is my advice, my response. If you do it honestly, you will receive exactly what you need. Then, if my advice yields good results for you, do not forget – half, half.

(Mr Gurdjieff gives the sign for dinner. There are no questions after dinner. Mr Gurdjieff constates that the sleepy atmosphere is the same in the dining room as in the salon. After a moment, he gives them leave to go.)

 

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