Chuck asked: “Mr Adie, during the recess an incident occurred with one of my stepsons that resulted in a nasty argument. A lot of things were said that were unnecessary, on both sides. Things were said to me which I knew were true, but I took umbrage at being told. In return I wanted to hurt him, even though something in the back of my mind was saying, “you shouldn’t be doing this,” I went on doing it. The situation was left in limbo for a period of time. I felt inside that I should be man enough to walk up to him and say, “I’m sorry.” But I couldn’t do that at the time. And you yourself came to hear of the incident, and said that something must be done. It was done. It was almost as if the prod was there to say, “do the right thing man go and do the right thing.” And reconciliation came about because of it.
“Almost at once,” Mr Adie said.
“Instantly, in fact. I certainly felt relief, and I felt the other party did, too. Pondering this event, one wonders, what is this devil that is inside me that immediately I was confronted with truths that I know to be true, I couldn’t say, “yes, you’re right, everything you say is true?” Instead, I immediately went on to the attack.
“Yes, there was a certain false pride there. When I am identified with a false image of myself, it is as if he was talking to this important person, and so to speak in that way cannot be tolerated. What is the self-image? Perhaps that Chuck is a very nice fellow, but there are limits. He’s quite willing to have a joke but there’s a certain point beyond which he will not accept levity. People are to see that that is very clear. He’s a sort of iron man: he shan’t take it. There are limits for Chuck, whereas there are no limits to our stupidity. It can cover the whole sphere.”
“This is patently pride. It’s absolutely clear. It’s just pride, one of the seven deadly sins. It is related to what Jill was talking about, of course. Evidently. We mentioned that everybody has it, don’t worry.”
“With my case,” Chuck added, this is something twenty-five years down the track. How long one carries this stupidity forward, and how does one?
“Why twenty-five years? How old are you, now?”
“Fifty years down the track.”
“I was thinking of the son-in-law,” said Chuck.
“You mean you have a history with him?”
“Yes, that certainly makes it a little bit more difficult. In the long run, it doesn’t matter though. As you have found, he is quite capable of recognising the gesture of reconciliation when it’s offered.”
“Sometimes,” Mr Adie continued, “I have to do something although it nearly chokes me. I have to do it. There’s no good in allowing it to remain undone. I cannot get what I need in this life unless I accept the terms. Otherwise, I’m going to hang on to my complaint, my negative emotions, my arguments, and, in that way, I never have what I need. I have to swallow, then I can be free.
Chuck went on: “The interesting thing is exactly that, that I felt free, freedom that something was lifted of my shoulders. I could stand upright and look people in the face again.”
“Yes,” said Mr Adie.” One gets into a tense state. We bow down. It’s very important to take what opportunities arise, there are opportunities because of the work. If it weren’t for the work, they’d just be unpleasant circumstances, but from our point of view, they have to arise because being ordinary humans, they do arise in everyone’s life without exception in some form or another. So each of those things these an opportunity, if I take it in that sense, like now, now I have the chance, then you go, you have to go.”
“But if you do, it’s not the same afterwards. Once you’ve known the ability to turn yourself around and to go in this better direction, you know it’s possible. After that, I may need to do it several times and repeat. Still, sometimes once is enough. In any case, even if it’s very difficult, I gain so much from one victory, and later efforts reinforce it.”
“Take jealousy: how can one deal with jealousy? Jealousy is always possession of something that I never had, and couldn’t have. It’s always possession of the impossible. How on earth can I deal with that until I relinquish my grip, my identification? Then I see. I relinquish something I could never have had. I relinquish something which wasn’t mine, then it changes, changes the situation.”
“Well, we haven’t come here to joke anyway, we came here because we’re serious people and it’s not surprising that there are difficulties.”
Mr Adie alludes to rather than sets out Gurdjieff’s ideas about pride and identification. There is some interesting material in Nicoll. But without identification with a particular self-image, false pride could not exist in us. Mr Adie says that, and that is the real point. The hard part of seeing this is that our false self-image is so prevalent that we can’t see it. For us, it is reality. We think of ourselves a particular way, and imagine that this is how I really am. To doubt that is to doubt my own existence. But perhaps my existence is more naked that I have thought.
What he says about jealousy is also valuable. I understand “jealousy” as being identified with what others have or are, and desiring it with negative emotion (although the emotion may seem like laudable ambition to me). “Envy,” on the other hand, I take to be the state of being identified with what others have or are, and desiring that they did not have it.