Thursday 16 November 1944, pp.310-314
Reading of the chapters Prince Yuri Lubovedsky and Abraham Soloviev
P.P. I have followed your advice to work for not so long but more intensely. However, I notice in myself only impulses of fear (and) desires, never of generosity (or) kindness. I always have, in respect of anything at all, a negative reaction.
Gurdjieff: Read something, have some occupation for your ordinary life: science, literature … choose. I have told you, as a rule, do not work too much, but always struggle: that you can do. A good means: remember that you are you. These slavish associations, how can they occur in you? Do that, read or speak with your colleagues. But our work is something special. It must be done in special moments.
P.P. When I work less, I feel that I work better.
(Gurdjieff converses in Russian with Mme de Salzmann)
Gurdjieff: What was your life (i.e. what were you doing) before (you met) this work?
P.P. I am preparing (to sit) an entrance exam.
Gurdjieff: Then you are quite busy, you are taken by your usual life.
P.P. But nevertheless I am constantly solicited by impressions which set off in me fears and desires. (310)
Mme de Salzmann: That is why Mr Gurdjieff asked you what you did before. Have you always spent your life in this manner?
P.P. Yes, certainly, my reactions were never pure. They have always had a negative side.
Gurdjieff: That is something else. For that, I receive you as if (I were) a doctor. My visits cost not less than one hundred dollars. As a doctor I receive between one hundred and three hundred.
Questions should be ones in which everyone can be interested. He who is working seriously does not even have time to think about ordinary life. Who has a question, the answer to which can interest everyone?
Mlle G. I would like a task to acquire will and discipline.
Gurdjieff: I have already given you one: relax your head. Without that, you can do nothing. Only that can stop the old things and create the ground for a new tempo. And you, you have done it twice, and then you have forgotten it. Me, I have not forgotten. Nothing exists for you without that. That or nothing. If you do it seriously, you can create in yourself a ground to build up something new. (But now) there is no base. You are empty. A base is needed. This base is your task.
When you manifest, relax your head. You habitually manifest like a scatterbrain. In relaxing your head, you will stop these manifestations and you will be able to become a serious person. Only such a person can understand our work.
When I see you, you are never balanced. Either self-love or imagination. Always a little bit of psychologism. Never a serious state for repairing the consequences of the past. (311)
Dr H. I have constated a certain number of obstacles, above all following the exercise concerning people and the members of my family. I have noticed that all my acts are marked by a lack of totality. I have noticed that I am not entire in my acts, my manifestations or my thoughts.
Gurdjieff Your manifestations are automatic. One centre or another directs you.
DR H. Then, rightly, I have this feeling of totality when I remember (myself). Is there a means of feeling the states of self-remembering in the actions of my exterior life?
Gurdjieff You already have it. Discharge your task with the participation of both your head and your feeling. Try to manifest nothing without thought. It is a big tsk, and good means for giving you a new tempo. Then, everything will change automatically. For that, there are few medicines. You have to make the decision and do it. For example, give yourself your word to remember and to do nothing automatically without remembering yourself. At the same time, you will be able to constate and to understand many things for future needs.
Rene Zuber Monsieur, I have learnt by a letter that one of my friends has died, he was killed. There was the promise of a friendship, and I realise that I have definitely lost the possibility of developing with him something which should have developed. At the same time, I realise that I am dry, automatic in my relations with everyone. This realisation and the regret that I have concerning this murdered man, (have left me) wishing that I could also have relationships with living people.
Gurdjieff The work will awaken you to different scents (perfumes) of humanity. (312) If you are regretful now, perhaps you are able to suffer. Everyone can die. Awaken in yourself this human factor which you have felt.
You imagine things, you think of nothing, and now something awakens in you. You begin a little to resemble a man. It is the work that has done that. Continue, then. Awaken all the human factors. Now, you are a dirty egoist. You imagine that you are something. You never wonder how I find you. You are a goatskin full of shit.
Mlle E. One occasion allowed me to realise that the most typical reaction of my nature is the worst, my most solid defence.
Gurdjieff A defence against what?
Mlle E. Suffering. I am no longer defending myself. I have suffered from a unknown suffering. Then, I have felt a great tranquillity, the possibility of controlling my spirit and the absence of negation. But in my body, in the natural order, it was such a devastation that I was frightened.
Mme de Salzmann Your question?
Gurdjieff It is a normal thing. When, accidentally, something touches you, it can awaken another factor than those habitual factors, like pride, self-love.
Mlle E. Usually an automatic disruption (arme) comes and stops me suffering.
Gurdjieff But sometimes something happens to you, and these factors no longer function. You, you would like these factors to return.
(to Mme A.) Have you understood? It helps what it should not. (313)
(to Mme E.) When you begin to suffer, think of yourself impartially. It is really you. Do not go back to your usual state, you will always be able to suffer from that later.
(to Mme A.) She must kill precisely all these factors. To begin, it is better when nature helps. But it is necessary to think sincerely about oneself rather than to look away. It is necessary (for her) to exactly evaluate her past life.
Afterwards, you will tell me your opinion, and I will be able to choose a useful chapter for her.
(Gurdjieff speaks in Russian with M.)
L.L. (Louise Leprudhomme?) I would like to speak about my impotence in the exercises. Truly I am only a device for eating and digesting, with and emotion that comes to me from time to time from my powerlessness and this sort of indignity. I go in life with indifference and impotence despite my desire to work.
Gurdjieff I had thought to ask you to come and see me before leaving, so that I can give you some advice. It will be an answer and a way out. Two minutes before going, come and see me in my office.
(end of meeting)