This is from the meeting of Thursday 25 February 1988. It is worth studying not only for what he says about aim, but also for how he leads “Amy” to see the need for an aim, i.e. that her efforts were not working because she had no aim.
Amy: One of my lines of work in the last couple of weeks, has been to try and be present to an impulse I have to argue with my husband or contradict him. It’s something that he’s pointed out and I agree with him but, I’d say it’s a habit.
Mr Adie: It’s not clear. This is something that he points out to you?
Amy: He’s pointed out my tendency to argue.
Mr Adie: That’s quite decent between husband and wife. … laughter …
Amy: Well, I tried to prepare for the possible occurrence of this and really only on one occasion I’d been enough present to have any hope of choice about it.
Mr Adie: Why you do it? I mean, why do you try?
Amy: I suspect it’s something in me that wants to be right.
Mr Adie: No, I don’t mean that. Why do you make this effort to resist the argument? To cease from arguing? Why do you do that?
Amy: Well, really to … I haven’t really clarified it enough.
Mr Adie: Why stop?
Amy: Why stop arguing?
Mr Adie: Yes. If you don’t know what you’re going to get, if it’s not clear why you’re doing it, why do it?
Amy: Well, there’s very good reasons to stop.
Mr Adie: What are they?
Amy: That wasn’t really how I define my effort to myself, I didn’t really, I might have …
Mr Adie: The clearer I can get, the more I can understand my aim, the more likely I’m to be able to fulfil it. And certainly, if I don’t know why, I’m just as likely to miss as to hit.
Amy: Well, I really hadn’t planned to stop arguing. It was just to see what started the wish, the desire to argue.
Mr Adie: Well, yes, but as an academic interest, or as something that really matters? You see, this is very important, this why I ask. We come here to arouse a conscious interest, one which is important and really means something to us. Otherwise, it’s just a sort of psychological problem, not very important. Then, when the time comes, I’ve lost interest or, in any case, the argument is always more important than to say nothing.
Amy: Yes. That’s quite right.
Mr Adie: I must know why, and you spoke lines of work. Well, if it’s one of your lines of work it must be related to a certain aimed for being reality. But again, if I don’t know why I’m working, what hope?
So, what is the aim? We have to have an aim. We have arrived at the point, or long past the point for some, where we must have an aim, because without an aim the work is absolutely impossible. It’s just a theory, misleading, costly, not worth anything.
Without an aim, work means nothing at all because work is necessarily to be able to achieve some really desirable effect, in other words, an aim. I must have that clearly, more and more clearly, and I must wish it more and more. And the process in the work is that I learn by failure. I try and I fail, but I see why I try, and I see why I fail, and I have another go. Eventually, I see how to get over that difficulty, so as far as that is concerned, I pass on to another level. Now that is proven and possible for me. Now I’m again at a loss and I must begin again.
So, I must get clear about it, because now I say, well I really want to be able to have this harmonious atmosphere. And if I can remember that, and still want it, then I can say, well to hell with the argument. But if I’ve forgotten that, then I want to be right. The work is really inner, it is inner work, quite on a different level, a different level from all ordinary things. My self-importance, my ordinary ideas of what’s fair, and all my values go by the board.
I’ve really got no chance unless I take it onto another ground. This is why people who know me in the work don’t understand it and so on. And why for a long time we don’t understand it.
What is my aim? It obviously must be something that I’m inclined to think is possible. It must be something which I am persuaded is possible. I have an idea that it could be like that or it need not be like this, that’s my aim.
Am I aiming for something outside or something inside? Am I just aiming for external conditions? Perhaps I am. But what about the internal conditions? What about the state of my being? Because I exist, here’s the flesh of me, I don’t know about my feeling, my head is always in some rubbish, but nevertheless, here it is. What about the inner state?
I need to wait then, and see what comes, and in the meantime try and remember myself. I begin to have some feeling and sensation. I need to remain aware of this inner and the outer and when I get up I shall get taken, but I don’t need to be taken utterly. I can be taken, but I can remember, sometimes. But if I don’t wish, and if I don’t have moments of affirming and checking and reviving and reminding, of course I shan’t remember, except occasionally by accident or when something threatens me seriously and it sort of shocks me. But I can’t just rely on that.
The illustration is of Vittorino de Feltre, a Renaissance educator