Thursday 24 August 1944, pp.261-266
previously published in Transcripts of Gurdjieff’s Wartime Meetings, 170-173
Yahne le Toumelin: You gave me an exercise which consisted in feeling four points. It was difficult at the beginning, now it is a strong sensation, but isolated. … But I have been taken again by my fear, my timidity, the weakness in my past. Should I continue this exercise which I have the impression is giving me nothing?
Gurdjieff: Do you have a suspicion why these things from the past, which are in you, have come back?
Yahne: Just as at this moment, I am suffering much from confusion, when I had thought that this exercise would help me.
Gurdjieff: Do you begin to see what the weaknesses are in you which produce this state of confusion? If you ask me sincerely, (I advise you to) continue this exercise a little longer, but this time I would impose a strict and categorical condition: it is to do it with a serious struggle. If you do it thus, for one month, I promise you that after that, in one week, you will be free of the misunderstandings of the past. But that is on condition that you continue.
Kahn You told me a few weeks ago to be merciless with myself. At first I first I had to impose harder conditions of life on myself. (261) Then, it seems to me that little by little, I have understood more deeply that to be pitiless to myself is to struggle against three things: lying, fear, and enjoyment in myself. But I am always split. It seems to me that there are, in me, good and bad, balancing each other.
Gurdjieff: There exist three whores: hope, faith, love, but a fourth is the mother of these three: Helena. As with a woman, if the man lets her have her way, he becomes her slave, a whore in pants.
Kahn: I know that I have to destroy her to become a man.
Gurdjieff: No, not to destroy. It is necessary to be like with a woman, act so that she becomes your child. It is necessary to struggle against egoism.
Kahn: For a long time I have not been so led by egoism in my relations with those close to me.
Gurdjieff: And yet it is always there.
Mechin: I have the same constatation to make as him on the subject of fear.
Gurdjieff: No! Yours is another thing completely.
Mechin: I realise that this fear appears in all my manifestations. It is the cause of a certain complaisance towards myself.
Gurdjieff: (Speaking to Dr A.) You see, doctor, their natures are completely different. One must treat them with completely different measures.
(To Mechin) Your grandfather is from Auvergne, his (nature) is Jewish. His manifestations have subtle differences. Never take another’s ideas when you pose your questions.
Mechin: I have tried to struggle against self-satisfaction, and I have uprooted some of the fear (I felt). But it is not enough. There is certainly something which I do not see.
Gurdjieff: Bring to life in yourself (Faites naître en vous) what you have understood with your head, and introduce it, in practice, into your life.
Mechin: That is what I try to do.
Gurdjieff: It must change organically. After that, we can continue on our path.
Dr Aboulker: Monsieur, I realise that I am incapable of making a decision. Absolutely incapable. I cannot choose. I am waiting to be forced by life, then I adapt myself to the situation.
Gurdjieff: You have to learn to attain to realising your decisions by beginning with small things. If you have no great (power of) will, you have to make your decisions in small matters. It is a very important condition. It is necessary to have a corresponding state. You have already come to a situation where, artificially, you sometimes have this state. It is necessary to keep two or three hours free (indépendantes).
Relax yourself (Relâchez-vous). Put all your attention, all your possibilities of relaxing on the three classes of muscles. Then, when have separated, that is to say, when your mechanism is one thing and your psyche is another thing – without allowing them to fuse from new – choose and decide. You have prepared a sheet of paper, on which you have written your decision. Continue to hold onto this state organically. Write down your decision. And at the same time, make different observations about your state.
Then you will be able to come back to your previous state. Forget what has happened. For one day, or two days, do not touch it. If you remember this state, remember in yourself the state, but without thinking about what has been written. (
Then, have faith in (croyez) your sheet of paper, and cease to have faith in yourself. Let your paper be like a holy image, your gospel. But remember that you are still small and that you can only do small things. Then you will be able to have faith (avoir foi) in your future.
Dr Aboulker: That is what makes my torment, my agitated state. It really makes me think of the symbol of the Wandering Jew. I never feel interior peace. I would like to ask Mr Gurdjieff, I do not know how to read. Is there an exercise to learn to read?
Gurdjieff: You mean to understand the form of your disharmony? I will give you a sheet of Beelzebub, and you can take as a task to read it in reverse direction, beginning at the end, then to begin it again, from the (right) place.
Dr Aboulker: I have asked myself if I cannot make translations?
Gurdjieff: No, no translations. To translate, one needs years of preparation. You take the material of this sheet, and you make from it an article or a conference.
Dr Aboulker: I perceive from my memories that I have had this habitual state of agitation from my childhood.
Gurdjieff Not your childhood alone, but from the childhood of your father or your mother.
M. Pecquer I have taken as a task playing a role in respect of my parents. I have taken it very seriously, for the longest time possible. What I have understood from this has led me to a feeling of sadness which now spoils me for work. It is a weight that for all my future would hinder me if I did not manage to repair the past.
Gurdjieff Can you say that you feel remorse for your past relations with your parents?
M. Pecquer No, I cannot have remorse of conscience because I have only seen that I was not responsible for what was done.
Gurdjieff You must forget the past. You are a responsible man and you must begin to pay by your existence. Your parents, your father and mother, are the first cause of your existence. They are for you like God. He only returns to someone when their parents have died. God loves he who loves his father and mother. Why? Because he prepares a place for God.
Now, without manipulation, if you begin to understand that it is necessary to pay, think no more of the past. If it was bad, that was a misfortunate. But your father, your mother, remain God for you. Be now a source of rest for them, that they may live tranquil lives. For twenty years they have been restless and anxious for you. They have a right to rest. You are obliged to become a source of rest for them. From one side, do everything so as not to irritate them, and from the other side do everything so that they may feel happy. Take as a task that your parents may love you wish a true love. They can only love you if you incarnate their ideal. If your father loves for you to steal well, then you must learn to steal, become a good thief.
Philippe L. Monsieur, this poses some very serious questions! When my grandmother gave me something, she made to swear to never give anything away to anyone. For her to be pleased I had to become something horrible, abominable.
[Note that the published translation changes this so that what Philippe’s grandmother did is left to the imagination.]
Gurdjieff Interiorly, it is necessary to detest her for that, but exteriorly it is necessary to do it.
P.L. Exteriorly, in front of her, but not in reality?
Gurdjieff Of course, it is criminal to create such a thing in a child.
P.L. How can one love one’s parents when it is necessary to hate them?
Gurdjieff You are obliged. It is your duty. Your individuality must.
P.L. Because it is idiot to wish to correct one’s parents. Impossible.
Gurdjieff It is possible, when one is very strong. You must only fulfil your duty. It is an idiot who forever wishes to change others when one cannot change oneself. Interiorly, on the one hand, you do your duty. On the other hand, repair your past and prepare a better future.
(end of meeting)