Thursday 17 August 1944, pp. 246-261
At 7:30 p.m., Mr Gurdjieff enters the room.
Gurdjieff: I wonder what you can do well when you are seated like that? It interests me.
Mme de Salzmann: It is enough to look at them to see that they are doing nothing.
Gurdjieff: Excuse me, but of you are doing nothing, there is the numbers exercise. One the chart I gave you, find a path, from the first on the third line, to arrive at your number, so that the total number of numbers through which you have passed makes twenty-seven.
(Mr Gurdjieff jokes about Dr B. who has come this evening, that surely he had no bicycle. He tells Mme S. who has come for the first time, that she will be called “Blonde number 4.” He laughs for a moment with Mlle G. and Y, whom he called Maigriche [slim] and Grassouillette [little plump]. Then he leaves.)
Mme de Salzmann: Who has questions? Give them to me. Who was here on Sunday? Have you done the exercise? What has given you something special?
J.K(ahn?). What do you mean?
Mme de Salzmann: Something you had not known until now.
J.K. No, not me. Before learning this exercise, I had promised, without doing it as an exercise, to represent R. to myself, and to establish a contact with him. That already had been quite strong. The exercise of Sunday added nothing to it. (246)
Mme de Salzmann: So that has given you nothing special. What exercise did Mr Gurdjieff gives last Thursday?
Several: That of feeling “I” separately from the seven parts of the body.
And of keeping in one’s emanation.
Mlle D. I have tried to do this exercise, but I cannot succeed in keeping any attention. Very quickly, I (begin to) think of something else. Can I do this exercise at the same as relaxing?
Mme de Salzmann: You are not prepared.
Mlle D. No, I have done that exercise as my preparation.
Mme de Salzmann: One also needs to prepare oneself for that. One can do no exercise without preparation.
(Mr Gurdjieff returns and Mme de Salzmann translates the question.)
Gurdjieff: It is necessary to prepare oneself. No exercise can be done without preparation, even the exercises of preparation need some preparation. To prepare yourself, it is necessary to relax oneself (se relâcher) in order to calm associations. Only after this can one begin the exercise. One can do it either sitting or lying down. Before anything else, one’s attention should be solely directed to seeking out the three classes of muscles.
(Mr Gurdjieff leaves and Mme de Salzmann explains his last words.)
Mme de Salzmann: He means that one must relax the three layers, the three depths (of muscle) in the body. That is what Mr Gurdjieff means when he speaks of the three classes of muscles, the large, the middle, and the small. One must first relax the body entirely: the muscles. Then you must feel that you (247) relax yet more into a depth, and when you have achieved that, relax once more, more profoundly. Usually on believes that one is relaxed, but in fact there is always a subsisting tension.
Mlle De. Once I am relaxed, do I absorb my atmosphere with my body, or do I just do it member by member?
Mme de Salzmann: At first, be in yourself, and do not emanate. Once you have found your centre of gravity, try to absorb your own atmosphere as best you can. You try to hold your emanations in yourself, to be in yourself. They do not leave you because you are in yourself. Then, try and draw it into yourself, to assimilate them (i.e. the emanations), to reabsorb them. But do not do the exercise all at once. One thing after another. At the beginning, over two or three days if you wish, try only and do not let them emanate.
(Mr Gurdjieff now returns and Mme de Salzmann speaks with him in Russian.)
Gurdjieff: Who has a question? I warn you, not a “fantasist” question, without interest, but a question the answer to which can be of interest to everyone. Not a naïve question. A question good for everyone, interesting for all.
J.E. Monsieur, I would like, instead, to ask a rather particular question, that is what I would like to ask. Having led a rather frenzied life, I am force to withdraw myself, to isolate myself and to lead a very tranquil existence. I am going to have a great change after this life of agitation and movement which has been mine, and I am afraid I am not taking advantage of it. Can you not give me a particular question, a special work for this period?
Gurdjieff: You have lost a lot of time if you have been always occupied with the exterior life and you have not done your exercises. Today, you have to work twice as hard. But (248) for you, I advise you to do nothing at all: put all the exercises to one side. During the first week, only (the exercise) “I Am.” Try to remember yourself not less than once or twice a day. If you forget, if you do not do it twice an hour, punish yourself mercilessly.
Each time you forget, refuse yourself a meal. As many times as you forget, that is the number of times you refuse yourself a meal. If you forget ten times, you skip ten meals. That makes ten days without eating. You should do this task exclusively. Between (those moments) when you remember, do as you wish. Read books of anecdotes, of history, of humorous stories, dance, do all you want, provided that between all your amusements, twice an hour, there has been the “I Am,” and that you feel your whole presence. Afterwards, forget again. But be very honest with the above.
If you forget one, do not allow yourself the next meal. If it is lunch, then wait until it is dinner (to eat). If you forget once in that afternoon, then eat no further (that day). If (you forget) another time (that day), fast the following day. Spend your days like that. I can even help you if you have to miss a meal. It is difficult to fast. I will give you a store of lollies to keep in your pocket: each time that you forget, you eat a lolly instead of having that meal. But it will (only) be a reserve. You are not to have a lolly unless it is when you are depriving yourself of a meal. I am entering into your situation. Because of that, I am giving you an uncomplicated work, an easy task since you are tired. And now ask me what can enlighten you about the “I Am.”
What a quality of feeling, of sensation you should have in your “I am”! It should shake up all your body, all your interior. And in yourself, your very centre, there should be an echo of this shaking.
When you say “am,” you must feel it as if everything was flowing in you, a relaxing, with no tension. When you say “am,” it is like a relaxing which is flowing in you.
“I,” a shaking up. “Am,” it flows in you. (249)
Do you understand? Is it easy? S., do you understand?
S.R. Yes, I have just done it. For the “am,” I have felt something flowing!
Gurdjieff: (interrupts S.R. and reproaches him for speaking so softly that no one can hear at the back of the room.) You are not alone. Your colleagues come to hear you, and you speak as if with your fiancée before you go to the church.