Pain and Work (Wednesday 19 July 1989)

The questions from Kerry and Daniel are among those where the observations stand by themselves as testimonies to the work taking place at Newport.

Marius:   You asked me about pride in my strength, then I forgot about it. I was wondering if you could make comments about that?

Mr Adie:    Well, where is your pride placed?

Marius:   I know, it’s very, very hard to say. It doesn’t want to say.

Mr Adie:   Well, what is the justification for your criticism then, I mean exactly in what is your superiority? This is the point. Where does it lie? It’s a straightforward question, there’s no catch in it.

Marius:   I don’t know.

Mr Adie:   Yes, but you need to know, otherwise you’re biased and you don’t know. Do you think the Leaning Tower of Pisa is biased?

Marius:   In a physical sense, yes.

Mr Adie:   I think it knows, how valuable it is to that town and keeps itself up with that awkward angle … laughter …   But, for this purpose, our object is to get views that you never had, the side views and this; let me get some surprises.

You have the power to change your point of view if you work on it. You might ask, well, why should I change it? And you have the answer: because the conclusions you arrive at, are not real, and the results flowing out of it are very partial, very biased, not reliable; right one moment, wrong the next, and so on.

Kerry:    Today I had a good insight into how I’m controlled by external circumstances. day I had a problem with answering the telephone because I suspected that I would have a person on the other end who’s going to harass me.  Towards the middle of the afternoon I realised, how much my whole day, my thoughts, my actions, the things that I planned to do, were all controlled by this one thing.

Mr Adie:   Alright, you see you’re deeply identified. Then use it! There’s something definite. Think, how are you going to use it?  That’s your problem, you’re unaware, and you’ve come against a massive rock. That’s your problem: you can’t say “Oh God, please come and move this.” You’ve got to see: are you going to borrow under it, push it, scale it? What are you going to do? Look at it perhaps, study it. That’s the material you want, serious material.  

Kerry:   Each time the phone rang, I actually used that opportunity to try and have a better posture, a better presence. I try to be in a better place in myself, I answered it. And each time, I was surprised at how much calmer I was. It was interesting.

Mr Adie:   That isn’t interesting at all, it’s much more important than interesting. You talk about it being “interesting” and you’re taking it down. If you’re serious, it’s more than interesting. Our lives are not “interesting.” It isn’t the work. How could you speak about it like that? Something that has taken you, absolutely taken you, wondering what’s happening with a telephone call. Then you go on to say, “how interesting,” when talking about it now.

Don’t let yourself talk about it, it’s part of your stock and trade in the work. It takes a bit of agreeing with it, but it’s essential you agree and see. Personality is joining in on that and robbing you of real possibility. It isn’t “interesting,” it’s serious, and it’s serious for the person that gives you the call. Do you see the inappropriateness of the word?  

Kerry:   Yes.

Mr Adie:   Shallow, shallow, shallow.  

Daniel:   This afternoon, I injured my leg and it caused severe pain. I noticed how quickly my thought became muddled. It was really like trying to think through a thick fog. Once again I encountered a part of me that was very irritable, very snappy, very demanding and also had a certain kind of self-pity. I didn’t get the adequate right amount of sympathy that I, I had to do a lot of work and the pain got a lot worse. So, I decided that I would lie down, although the pain was too severe to go to the movements, as I was lying down, one part of me decided it was important enough so that I could miss out on the whole evening if I wanted to. But another part immediately recognised the self-pity in that, and yet I continued to lie there. I remembered what you told me about icons, in a very kind of dis-associated disconnected way, I tried to think of something that would have a significance. Immediately I remembered once heard about Mr Gurdjieff’s car accident where he came down to the meal in a dreadful condition; he didn’t eat, but made the effort. And I got out of bed and got dressed on the strength of that single thought and immediately found that the pain was not so bad. One part of me knew it was quite severe but the suffering I had, had diminished quite a lot and I got into the car and came straight up. In a very short space of time thanks to the pain from the injury, I meet all those different qualities which I had thought I was doing quite well with, and I wasn’t, so it’s been a very valuable injury.

Mr Adie:   It’s quite a baffling thing to be able to assess correctly the degree of pain and know it’s correct. It’s very difficult to tell, how much pain is due to imagining that you’re been hurt. In a battle you would be able to have three times that pain and yet race for your life without even feeling it. So, how much is it? It shows it’s very, very much a matter of mind, knowledge and experience.

There’s a very good story of the master, one of the Zen masters who was a fully achieved master. One of his advanced disciples came and looked at him and realised that he was suffering a lot, and he said could he bear the pain for him, and said no. He asked again, he said let me bear the pain, he said no, but you can have one twentieth, and the chap immediately passed out. It’s an interesting thing to see the amount of pain that was being supported by the Buddha, an achieved master. One twentieth was too much for someone not at that level.

One comment

  1. I am an Irishman living in France. Having learned French, i have been intrigued by certain words and their possible etymology. The word for bread in French is “pain.” In the Our Father we say, “Give us this day our daily bread.” I have come to understand that our daily bread is our daily “pain” or suffering. It is the prime source of possibility in our daily endeavour to become more conscious and aware of our true selves. As Gurdjieff said in one of the aphorisms posted on the walls of La Prieure- “The harder the conditions, the greater the results, providing we remember the Work.”
    Additionally, the French word for injury is “blessure.” It seems to me , coming from the perspective established through the Gurdjieff teaching and the great emphasis placed on the importance of sensation or free sensitivity, that those who formed the French language had a clear understanding of the inherent “blessing” that comes with an injury. When someone gets injured, they are obliged to sense the injury. They can no longer pleasantly daydream as before, but instead are drawn constantly to sense the injury. Of course, the automatic response by many of us is to moan and complain about this misfortune. But, if we have learned the lesson preached by Gurdjieff- to remember the Work, even in the harshest of circumstances, then the opportunity and blessing available in injury becomes apparent.

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