GILLES B. I have a question which does not interest everyone on the conditions of life in relation to the work. May I ask it? When I lead an animal life, passive, which I consider to be bestial, I have more lively impulses in the direction of the work. When, on the contrary, I lead a life which I consider to be more intelligent, I perceive myself as having fewer impulses. I would like to know if it is something fleeting, to avoid putting myself in these conditions, or whether it is something true, and in this case I should form my life according to these conditions.
Gurdjieff: It is true. That which you call animal is that which is true. Nature has given you a taste. That which you call intelligent is shit. The animal is nature. Sometimes, it happens that you are what you are. It is that which you call an animal. Objectively, it is better. Try to live as an animal for twenty-four hours. Moreover, what you call animal is also objectively shit, a nullity, zero. In general, you are always an automaton. However, use this taste, for it is necessary to have the sensation of what you call animal. It is too little developed in you.
GILLES B. It seems to me to be a certain form of carelessness (laisser-aller). (250)
Gurdjieff: I do not know. Leave that. In this form, you are true. It is good ground for the future, for a true future, for the future of a true man. I know that. It is the ground you need. It is a base, and from this base you will have a chance of not remaining the shit you are, but to become a true man.
But pardon me, what I say is not for everyone., it is for you alone. The others can take it for information. It is subjective, special to him. Not everyone has to try to be an “animal.” For him only is it necessary to become an animal.
(Mr Gurdjieff and Mme de Salzmann speak in Russian)
(to J.B.) And you, his brother, tell me impartially, do you understand? Do you agree with me?
Gurdjieff: You are not angry?
J.B. No, it is exactly how I would have answered him, if he had asked me. (Laughs)
Gurdjieff: (to the doctor who had wanted to ask a question) What, doctor?
Dr Aboulker: Monsieur, when I try to sense myself independently of others, I have a feeling of loneliness. I would like to ask if that is normal.
Gurdjieff: Yes, doctor. I am going to answer you quickly: our aim is to come sooner or later to being alone interiorly.
Dr Aboulker: In the past, when I would feel my loneliness, it was a worried loneliness. Now, I am no longer worried. I ask myself then if in the feeling of loneliness I have now, there is not a hidden self-contentment that would be blameworthy? (251)
Gurdjieff: A dog like that can certainly hide itself.
Dr Aboulker: How can I try to rid myself of it?
Gurdjieff: Parallel with that, you must critique yourself, and at the same time, whether in the past or in the present, you remember things in yourself which can create in you remorse of conscience.
Dr Aboulker: You told me to try and see the nullity of other people. With some people, that is very easy, (but) with others it is less so. Theoretically, one knows that they are nullities, but one does not succeed in (really) apprehending that.
Gurdjieff: Let this serve as your measure: the measure of your slavery in respect of the different types.
Dr Abouker: That is true, there is type of person on which I completely depend. I have never yet been able to see through them.
Gurdjieff: It is the result of your education. You must uproot all those factors which have been put in you by your nullities of teachers, father, mother, who knew nothing and prepared your slavery to all types (of people). Kill that, and parallel with this interior loneliness, realise again your own nullity and the nullity of others. In whatever concerns your (own) nullity, it is more difficult, for it is necessary to be sincere with yourself. That is something very difficult, ten times more difficult than being sincere with others, because in general one rejects everything which is disagreeable so as to no longer see them.
It is necessary to learn to be merciless with yourself. It is the principle thing. You need to convince yourself of that, and then to struggle. It is the conscious knowledge (la connaissance) of our nullity which will give us the wish and the force to change ourselves, and to become other. Salvation lies there, and nowhere else. Of that, also, one can say: “To the extent that one does not die, one cannot be brought back to life.” Conscious knowledge (La connaissance) of our own nullity leads a man to salvation. (252)
Mlle D. You gave me an exercise to struggle against the pity that I feel for people more unfortunate than myself, because it is the pity of a slave. I have seen, in doing this exercise, that I also have this pity for myself, and I try to inspire pity in others. How can I punish myself for this pity?
Gurdjieff: Continue the exercise. That will lead you to better understand yourself. If I tried to explain it to you with words, I could do nothing to make you understand. Continue, and you will understand more. You have understood a half. Continue, and you will understand my answer fully.
(Mr Gurdjieff jokes with G.F. to whom he presents Blonde number 4.)