BOYHOOD WITH GURDJIEFF, by Fritz Peters

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: BOYHOOD WITH GURDJIEFF, by Fritz Peters

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:49 am

Chapter 30

SOMEWHAT TO THE surprise of all of us at the Prieure, the Russian family that Gurdjieff had met in Vichy took him up on his invitation to visit the school. After welcoming them personally, he arranged for someone to entertain them during the afternoon, and then closeted himself in his room with his harmonium.

That evening, after another "feast", the guests were told to come to the main salon at a certain hour, and they retired to their rooms. During that time, he assembled all the rest of us in the salon and said that he wanted to explain, beforehand, an experiment which he was going to perform on the daughter. He reminded us that he had told us before that the daughter was "particularly hypnotizable" but he now added that she was one of the few people he had ever met who was susceptible to hypnotism of a special sort. He described the more or less popular form of hypnotism which usually consisted in requiring the subject to concentrate on an object before hypnotism could be induced.

He then said that there was a method of hypnotism, generally unknown in the western world, that was practised in the Orient. It could not be practised in the western world for a very good reason. It was hypnotism by the use of certain combinations of musical tones or chords, and it was almost impossible to find a subject that responded to the western or "half-tone" scale on, for example, an ordinary piano. The special susceptibility of the Russian girl who was visiting the Prieure with her parents was that she was actually susceptible to combinations of half-tones, and it was this factor that was unusual about her. Given an instrument which could produce audible differentiations of, say, sixteenth-tones, he would be able to hypnotize, in this musical manner, anyone of us.

He then had M. de Hartmann play, on the piano, a composition which he had written that very afternoon, especially for this occasion. The piece of music came to a kind of climax on a particular chord, and Gurdjieff said that when this chord was played in the presence of the Russian girl, she would immedi ately go into deep hypnosis, completely involuntary and unexpected on her part.

Gurdjieff always sat on a large, red couch at one end of the main salon, facing the entrance to the room, and when he saw that the Russian family was approaching, he indicated to M. de Hartmann that he was to begin to play, and then motioned to the guests to come in and seat themselves as the music was playing. He indicated a chair in the centre of the room for the daughter. She sat down in it, facing him and in full view of everyone in the room, and listened to the music intently, as if very moved by it. Sure enough, at the given predicted moment when the particular chord was played, she seemed to go completely limp and her head fell against the back of the chair.

As soon as M. de Hartmann finished, the alarmed parents rushed to the girl's side and Gurdjieff, standing by them, explained what he had done and also the fact of her very unusual susceptibility. The parents calmed down soon enough, but it took more than an hour to bring the girl back to consciousness, after which she was for perhaps two additional hours in a highly emotional, completely hysterical state, during which someone -- designated by Gurdjieff -- had to walk up and down on the terrace with her. Even after that, it was necessary for Gurdjieff to spend a large part of the night with her and her parents in order to persuade them to stay on at the Prieure for several more days, and to convince them that he had not done her any irreparable harm.

He was apparently completely successful because they did agree to stay on, and the daughter even obliged him by submitting to the same experiment two or three times again. The results were always the same, although the period of hysteria after she returned to consciousness did not last for quite so long.

There was, of course, a great deal of talk as a result of these experiments. A good many people seemed to feel that there had been connivance on the part of the girl, and that there was no proof that she was not working with him. Even so, and without any medical knowledge, it was unquestionably true that she had been hypnotized, with or without her cooperation. Her trance was always complete, and no one could have feigned the manifestations of absolutely uncontrolled hysteria which always resulted.

The purpose of the experiments was something else again. They may have been conducted to dramatize the existence of a form of "science" which was unknown to us, but they also seemed, to some of us, just another demonstration of the way Gurdjieff would often "play" with people; they certainly stirred up another series of questions about Gurdjieff's work, his aims, and his purposes. The fact that the experiments seemed to prove a certain amount of unusual power and knowledge on his part was not, finally, necessary to most of us. Those of us who were at the Prieure of our own choosing hardly needed such demonstrations to prove to us that Gurdjieff was, at least, unusual.

The experiments reawakened some of my questions about Gurdjieff, but more than anything else they produced a certain resistance in me. What I began to find difficult and irritating about just such things was that they tended to lead me into a realm in which I was lost. Much as I might have liked, at that age, to believe in "miracles" or to find reasons and answers concerning man's existence, I wanted some sort of tangible proof. Gurdjieff's own personal magnetism was often enough proof of his superior knowledge. He was generally credible to me because he was sufficiently "different" from other people -- from anyone I had ever known -- to be a convincing "super" man. On the other hand, I was troubled because I would always come up against a seemingly obvious fact: anyone who sets himself up as a teacher in any mystical or other-worldly sense had to be some sort of fanatic -- totally convinced, totally devoted to a particular course, and, therefore, automatically opposed to the socially accepted, generally recognized, philosophies or religions. I t was not only difficult to argue with him, there was nothing to argue against. One could, of course, argue about questions of method or technique but before that it was necessary to have agreed on some aim or purpose. I had no objection to his aim of "harmonious development" for mankind. There was nothing in the words that anyone could oppose.

It seemed to me that the only possible answer would have to lie in some sort of results: tangible, visible results in people -- not in Gurdjieff -- he was, as I have said, convincing enough. But what about his students ? If they had been practising his method of harmonious development for several years, most of them, wouldn't it be somehow visible?

Except for Madame Ostrovsky, his deceased wife, I could think of no one other than Gurdjieff himself who had "commanded" any sort of respect by the simple fact of their presence. One thing that a great many of the other, older students did have in common was what I thought of as a kind of "affected serenity". They managed to look composed and controlled or unruffled most of the time, but it was never quite believable. They gave an impression of being outwardly controlled that never rang quite true, particularly as it was easy enough for Gurdjieff to upset their equilibrium whenever he chose to do so, with the result that most of the senior students were always alternating between states of outward calm and hysteria. Their control seemed to me to be achieved by repression or suppression -- I always felt that these words were synonyms -- which I could not believe was desirable or worthwhile as an aim, other than socially. Gurdjieff frequently gave the impression of serenity , also, but it never seemed to be false in his case -- generally speaking, he manifested whatever he happened to want to manifest at a particular time, and usually for a reason. One might well argue with the reason, and discuss his motives at length, but at least there was a reason -- he appeared to know what he was doing and to have a direction; which was not so in the case of his students. Where his students seemed to attempt to rise above the ordinary tribulations of life by affecting a certain disregard for them, Gurdjieff at no time manifested calmness or "serenity" as if it were an aim in itself. He was far more likely to fly into a rage or to enjoy himself in an apparently uncontrolled fit of animal spirits than any of his students. On many occasions I heard him mock the seriousness of people, and remind them that it was essential for any well-rounded human being to "play". He used the word "play" and pointed out the example of nature -- all animals knew, as humans did not, the value of "playing" every day. It seemed as simple as the trite "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" ; no one could accuse Gurdjieff of not playing. By comparison his elder students were lugubrious and morose and were not very convincing examples of "harmonious development" which -- if it was generally harmonious -- would certainly include humour, laughter, etc., as at least aspects of well-rounded growth.

The women, particularly, were no help. The men, at least in the baths and at the swimming pool, did engage in earthy backyard human humour and seemed to enjoy themselves, but the women not only did not indulge in any humour, they even dressed the part of "disciples", wearing the kind of flowing clothing that is properly associated with people who become involved in "movements" of whatever kind. They gave the outer impression of being priestesses or novitiates in some religious order. None of it was either enlightening or convincing to a thirteen-year-old.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: BOYHOOD WITH GURDJIEFF, by Fritz Peters

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:50 am

Chapter 31

THERE WERE TWO additions to the usual "winter" population of the Prieure after the exodus of the summer students in the fall of 1927. One of them was a woman, whom I only remember as being named Grace, and a new arrival, a young man by the name of Serge. There was a certain amount of gossip about both of them. In the case of Grace, who was the American wife ofone of the summer students -- also American -- she interested us because she was not a new arrival but had stayed on after her husband had gone back to America; also, because she was a rather "unusual" student. None of us knew what she was doing at the Prieure, as she had never participated in any of the group work projects, and was also exempt from such duties as working in the kitchen or performing any household activities. And, while no one questioned her status or her privileges, there was a good deal of speculation about her.

Serge was a different matter. While I do not remember any specific announcement from Gurdjieff about his arrival at the Prieure, we all knew, through the "student grapevine", that he was on parole from a French prison; in fact, the gossip was that his parole had been arranged by Gurdjieff personally as a favour to an old friend. None of us had any exact information about him; we did not know what his crime was (the children all hoped it was something at least as lurid as murder) and he, like Grace, was apparently also exempt from participation in any regular functions at the school. We only saw these two "students" (if that is what they were -- we did not really know) at meals and in the salon in the evenings. Grace, in addition, used to make what we thought of as mysterious trips to Paris at frequent intervals -- mysterious only because, in the case of most people, such trips were not only not frequent but their purpose was usually known to all of us.

They both turned out to be very unusual additions to our winter group. Late in the fall, when I was on concierge duty, Grace was brought back to the Prieure in the custody of two gendarmes. She and the gendarmes had an interview with Mr. Gurdjieff immediately after their arrival, and when the gendarmes left, Grace retired to her room and did not even appear for dinner that evening. We did not see her again until sometime the next day, when she appeared once more at the concierge with all her bags packed and departed. We did not learn until a few days later that she had been picked up in a department store in Paris for shop-lifting and, according to the gossip (Gurdjieff never so much as mentioned her name), it had been necessary for Gurdjieff to guarantee her immediate departure from France back to America as well as to pay some large sum to the department store. The mystery of her isolated work at the Prieure was also cleared up at that time. She had spent her time sewing, mostly making clothes for herself, with the materials she had been "lifting" in Paris. She was a topic of general conversation for some time after her departure -- it was the first contact that any of us had ever had with crime in the school.

Since Serge was known to be -- or at least to have been -- a criminal, our attention now focused on him. We had heard that he was the son of French.Russian parents, that he was in his early twenties, but other than that we knew nothing about him. He did not reward our interest by doing anything spectacular -- for several weeks at least -- until, just before Christmas, he simply disappeared.

His disappearance was first noticed when he failed to appear at the usual Saturday evening Turkish bath. That particular Saturday was somewhat unusual for winter-time because of the large number of guests that had come down from Paris for the weekend, among them several Americans who lived in Paris permanently. Although the fact of Serge's non-appearance at the bath was mentioned, no one was particularly concerned ; we did not think of him as a full-fledged member of the group and he seemed to have a special status which had never been defined and which might, therefore, include such eccentricities.

As the next day was a Sunday -- the one day when we did not have to get up and go to work at six o'clock in the morning -- it was not until quite late, sometime before the customary "guest" lunch, that we learned that several of the Americans had lost money and jewels, or both, and that Serge had not reappeared. There was a great deal of talk about this at lunch and many of the guests inevitably concluded that the disappearance of their valuables and the disappearance of Serge were, of course, connected. Only Gurdjieff was adamant, maintaining that there was no connection at all. He insisted firmly, and, it seemed to most of us, unreasonably, that they had simply "misplaced" their money or jewelry, and that Serge would reappear in due course. In spite of the arguments and talk about Serge and the "robberies" everyone managed to eat a big lunch and there was even more drinking than usual. By the time lunch was over and Gurdjieff was ready to retire for the afternoon, the Americans who had been, as they by this time insisted, robbed, could not talk of anything else and were considering taking such measures as calling the police in spite of Gurdjieff's command that Serge was not to be implicated.

When Gurdjieff had retired to his room, it seemed natural enough for this group of Americans to sit together in one of the smaller salons and commiserate with one another as well as discuss whatever action they might take, and to drink during these discussions. Mostly because I spoke English and was also well known to all of them, they sent me to the kitchen for ice and glasses, having produced several bottles of liquor -- mostly Cognac -- from their rooms or their cars. For some reason or other, they began to insist that I should drink with them, and since I felt, as they did, that Gurdjieff was wrong about Serge, I was glad to join their group and even felt honoured to be invited to share their liquor. By mid-afternoon, I was drunk for the second time in my life, and enjoying it very much. Also, by that time, the liquor had fanned our feelings against Gurdjieff.

Our drinking bout was interrupted very late in the afternoon when someone came to get me, announcing at the same time that Gurdjieff was preparing to leave for Paris in a few minutes and that he wanted to see me. At first I refused to go with them, and did not go to the car to see him until he had sent a second person to get me. When I got to the car, followed this time by all my adult drinking companions, Gurdjieff looked at us all sternly, and then told me to go to his room and get a bottle of Nujol. He said that he had locked his door, and now could not find the key, and I had the only other existing key to his room.

I had my hands in my pockets at the time, and was feeling very courageous and also still angry with him. Although I was actually clenching the key in one hand I said, for no explicable reason, that I had also lost my key. Gurdjieff became very angry, began to shout at me, talking about my responsibilities and saying that losing his key was practically a crime, all of which only served to make me more determined. He ordered me to go and search my room and to find the key. Feeling very exuberant by then, and with the key still firmly in one hand in my pocket, I said I would gladly search my room but that I knew I would not find the key because I remembered losing it earlier in the day. Whereupon I went to my room, and actually made a search of the bureau drawers, and then returned to tell him that I could not find it anywhere.

Gurdjieff went into another tantrum, saying that the Nujol was very important -- that Madame de Hartmann had to have it while she was in Paris. I said that she could buy some more at a drugstore. He said, furiously, that since there was already some in his room he was not going to buy any more and, further, that the drugstores were closed on Sundays. I said that even if there was some in his room, we could not get it without his key or my key, which were both lost, and that since even Fontainebleau had a "pharmacie de garde" open on Sundays, there must surely be a similar one in Paris.

All the spectators, particularly the Americans with whom I had been drinking all afternoon, seemed to find all this very amusing, particularly when Gurdjieff and Madame de Hartmann drove off, finally, in a rage without the Nujol.

I remember nothing further about that day except that I staggered to my own room and went to sleep. Sometime during the night I was very ill and the following morning I had my first experience with a real hangover, even though I didn't call it by that name at the time. When I appeared the next day, the Americans had departed and I was the centre of everyone's attention. I was warned that I would be severely punished and that I would most certainly lose my "status" as Gurdjieff's "caretaker". Sober, but with an aching head, I agreed and looked forward with horror to Gurdjieff's arrival that evening.

When he did arrive, I went to the car, like a lamb to slaughter. Gurdjieff did not say anything to me immediately and it was not until I had carried some of the luggage to his room and opened the door with my key and we were alone, that he held up his key, shook it at me, and said: "So, you find key?"

At first I said, simply, "Yes." But after a momentary silence I was unable to contain myself and added that I had never lost it. He asked me where it had been when he had wanted it the day before, and I told him that I had had it in my pocket all the time. He shook his head, looked at me incredulously, and then laughed. He said he would think about what he was going to do to me and would let me know later.

I did not have to wait for very long. It was just about dusk when he sent for me to come to see him on the terrace. I met him there and, without saying a word at first, he held out his hand. I looked at it and then looked up at his face inquiringly. "Give key," he said flatly.

I was holding the key in my hand in my pocket, as I had done the day before, and although I did not say anything, I did not hand it over, but simply looked at him, silent and imploring. He made a firm gesture with his hand, also without speaking, and I took the key out of my pocket, looked at it, and then handed it to him. He put it in his pocket, turned away from me and started to walk down one of the long paths, paralleling the lawns, in the direction of the Turkish bath. I stood in front of the terrace, watching his back fixedly, as if unable to move, for a very long time. I watched him until he had almost disappeared from sight and then I ran to the bicycle rack near the students' dining-room, jumped on my bicycle, and raced down the path after him. When I was within a few yards of him, he turned to look at me, I slowed down, got off my bicycle and went up to him.

We stared at each other silently for what seemed to me a very long time, and then he said, very quietly and seriously: "What you want?"

The tears came into my eyes and I held out my hand. "Please give me the key," I said.

He shook his head, very slowly, but very firmly. "No."

"I'll never do anything like that again," I pleaded. "Please."

He put his hand on my head, a very faint smile on his face. "Not important," he said. "I give you other work. But you now finished with key." He then took the two keys out of his pocket and held them up. "Have two keys now," he said, "you see, I also not lose key." Then he turned away from me to continue his walk.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: BOYHOOD WITH GURDJIEFF, by Fritz Peters

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:50 am

Chapter 32

THE HABITS OF day to day living at the Prieure occupied me to such an extent that I was very little concerned with my "family"' life except for the letters I occasionally received from my mother from America. Also, although Jane and Margaret were permanently established in Paris, since Jane and I had reached a point of no communication, I rarely thought about them. I was brought back suddenly to the reality of my mother when, in early December of 1927, she wrote me that she was coming to Paris for Christmas. I was very pleased with this news, and promptly answered her letter.

To my amazement, only a few days later, Jane appeared at the Prieure for the special purpose of discussing my mother's impending visit. I understood that, in view of her legal rights, it was necessary for her to give us permission to visit our mother in Paris and Jane had come to consider giving us this permission and also to consult Gurdjieff about it, and, doubtless, to find out how we felt about it.

Jane's argument that our serious work at the Prieure would be interrupted by my mother's visit not only seemed to me absurd, but also brought all my questions to the fore again. I had been willing enough to accept the obvious fact that everyone connected with Gurdjieff and the Prieure was "unusual" ; the very word also meant that they were possibly special people -superior to or in some way better than people ""ho were not involved with Gurdjieff. However, \V hen I was confronted with this statement about serious work, I felt forced to make another attempt at evaluation. I had felt uncomfortable about my relationship with Jane for a long time, and it was unquestionably unusual for a legal guardian to visit a school and for her and her adopted son not to speak to one another for almost two years, but this did not, at first glance, seem superior . Since I had no ammunition with which to argue against the statements that I was either "impossible" or "difficult" or both, I had accepted this verdict on Jane's part; but after hearing her arguments about this impending visit I began to think again.

Since Jane's arguments only increased my stubborn deter mi nation that I was going to spend Christmas in Paris with Lois, Jane now insisted that not only did I have to have her permission but that I had to have Gurdjieff's permission too. All of this naturally led to a conference with Gurdjieff, although I realized later that only my continued insistence made that conference necessary.

We met solemnly in Gurdjieff's room and he listened, rather like a judge in a tribunal, to Jane's long account of her, and our, relations with my mother, and the importance of Gurdjieff and the Prieure in our lives -what she wanted for us in the future, and so forth. Gurdjieff listened attentively to all of this, thought it over with a very serious look on his face, and then asked us if we had heard everything that Jane had said. We both said we had.

Then he asked, and even at that moment I thought it very adroit of him, if we realized how important it was "for Jane" that we stay at the Prieure. Once more, we both said that we did, and Tom added that he also thought that any absence would "interrupt" his work.

Gurdjieff gave me a questioning look, but did not say anything. I said that except for the fact that I would not be available to do work in the kitchen or at some other task I did not think that my presence would be missed, and that, in addition, I was not aware of the importance of whatever it was I was supposed to be doing at the Prieure. As he said nothing immediately in answer to this, I continued, adding that he had reminded me on many occasions that it was necessary to honour one's parents, and that I felt that I would in no sense be "honouring" my mother if I refused to see her; and that, in any case, I must owe her a good deal if only because, without her, I would not be alive to be anywhere -including the Prieure.

Having listened to all of this, Gurdjieff then said that there was only one problem that had to be solved: it would be difficult for my mother if only one of us went to see her. He said that he wanted us to make our decisions honestly and individually, but that it would be better for everyone if we came to the same decision -either not to see her at all, or for both of us to visit her over Christmas.

After considerable discussion, in his presence, we arrived at a compromise which he accepted. We would both go to Paris to spend Christmas with Lois, but I would go for two weeks -the entire time she would be in Paris -and Tom would only go for one week, which would include Christmas but not New Year's. He said that he liked the holidays at the Prieure and did not want to miss all of them. I said, promptly, that the holidays meant nothing to me; what was important to me was seeing Lois. To my great delight, Gurdjieff gave the necessary permission -two weeks for me, one week for Tom.

Although I was very happy to see my mother again, I did not consider Christmas or her visit an overwhelming success for anyone. I was very conscious of the opposite positions of Tom and myself -and inevitably reminded of the different decisions we had made some years before when it had been a question of spending Christmas with my father -and as long as Tom stayed in Paris, the fact that he was still determined to leave at the end of one week hung over all three of us like a cloud. And when he did return to the Prieure after one week that cloud was replaced by the cloud of Lois' imminent departure. We talked a great deal about Jane and Gurdjieff, the fact of the adoption, and, perhaps for the first time since the year that we were adopted by Jane, the whole question became important again. For various reasons, most of which I no longer remember, it was evidently impossible for either of us to return to America at that time, but the very discussion of the question made me aware that, were it possible for me to leave France and return to America, I would certainly do so. My relationship with Jane - lack of relationship would have been more accurate, as I had not talked to her for almost two years except for the arguments about Christmas -was my main reason for wanting to leave. In every other way, and in spite of frequently being puzzled by Gurdjieff, I was content enough to be at the Prieure. But at that time, with the entire question of why we were there, the emphasis upon the fact that Jane was our legal guardian, and the impossibility of being able to leave, all coming into strong focus at the same time, I began to resent everything and everyone, perhaps especially my own powerlessness. Lois was excluded from this resentment for the simple reason that she was, at that time, equally helpless and in no position to alter the situation.

Sad as I was when Lois left and I returned to the Prieure, in another sense I was at least temporarily relieved of the pressure of all the questions that had come up. Nothing had changed, and I had to accept the situation, which turned out to be considerably less agonizing than worrying about it in futile attempts to find a way out of it. Even so, the resistances that had manifested themselves actively for the first time that Christmas did not vanish into thin air. I was determined that I would do everything I could to change the situation, even if I had to wait until I "grew up", which, quite unexpectedly then, no longer seemed to be in the distant, unforeseeable future.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: BOYHOOD WITH GURDJIEFF, by Fritz Peters

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:50 am

Chapter 33

My AWAKENING RESISTANCE to what I thought of as the "trap" I wag in had little to do with Gurdjieff or the Prieure itself. I was convinced that had I been a free agent (which, of course, at least implied adulthood) and had told Gurdjieff that I wanted to leave his school, he would have told me to leave at once. With the sole exception of Rachmilevitch, Gurdjieff had never asked -- or tried to persuade -- anyone to stay at the Prieure. On the contrary, he sent a great many people away even when they would have given a great deal for the privilege of staying. Rachmilevitch's case was hardly in point, in any event, since he was paid to be there, according to Mr. Gurdjieff, and even he had only been "asked" to stay. For these reasons, I did not think of Mr. Gurdjieff as an obstacle.

The real obstacle, in my mind, was Jane; and since she was rarely at the Prieure and then only for a day or two at a time, I tended to look upon Tom as her tangible representative. The experience of Christmas with my mother, and our different attitudes and feelings about it, had widened the existing gap of disagreement between Tom and myself. Either Gurdjieff or Jane had arranged for the two of us to share a room at the Prieure that winter, and this new arrangement, of course, was not conducive to increased harmony.

During the years in which we had grown up together, Tom and I had both become accustomed to the use of different weapons. We were both impulsive and impatient, but we expressed ourselves in different ways. When we would quarrel with one another, our disagreements would always take the same form: Tom would lose his temper and would begin fighting -- he had a great admiration for boxing and wrestling -- and I would scorn fighting and confine myself to sarcasm and invective. Now, confined in the same room, it was as if we suddenly found ourselves in the strange position of having had our weapons changed for us. One night when he persisted in his general defence of Jane and his criticism of me, I at last managed to goad him into hitting out at me, and, for the first time in my life, once he had hit me -- it was, I remember, important that he should strike the first blow -- I hit him with all my strength and with the added force that seemed to have been building up inside me for some time. The blow was not only a hard one, it was completely unexpected, and Tom crashed to the tile floor of our bedroom. I was terrified when I heard his head hit the floor and then saw that he was bleeding -- from the back of his head. He did not move immediately, but when he did get up and seemed to be, at least, alive, I took advantage of my superior position of the moment and told him that if he ever argued with me again I would kill him. My anger was genuine, and I meant -- emotionally -- what I was saying. The momentary fear I had experienced when he hit the floor had disappeared as soon as he had moved and I had felt immediately self-confident and very strong -- as if I had liberated myself, once and for all, from physical fear.

We were separated a few days later and no longer lived in the same room, which I found a great relief. But even this was not the end of it. It had also, apparently, been brought to Mr. Gurdjieff's attention, and he spoke to me about it. He told me, seriously, that I was stronger than Tom -- whether I knew it or not -- and that the strong should not attack the weak; also that I should "honour my brother" in the same sense that I honoured my parents. Since I was, at that time, still sensitive about my mother's visit, and about Tom's, Jane's, and even Gurdjieff's attitudes about it, I answered angrily that I was not the one who needed advice about honouring anyone. He then said that the position was not the same -- Tom was my older brother, which made a difference. I said that the fact of his being older did not make any difference to me. Gurdjieff then told me, angrily, that I should listen, for my own benefit, to what he was saying to me and that I was "sinning against my God" when I refused to listen. His anger only increased my own feeling of anger and I said that even if I was at his school, I did not think of him as my "God", and that whoever he was he was not necessarily always right about everything.

He looked at me coldly, and finally said quite calmly that I had misunderstood him if I thought that he was representing himself as a "God" of any sort -- "you still sin against your God when you not listen to what I say" -- and that since I would not listen to him, there was no point in talking to me any further about it.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: BOYHOOD WITH GURDJIEFF, by Fritz Peters

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:50 am

Chapter 34

THE ONLY PERMANENT job that was assigned to me that Spring was the care of a small, enclosed garden known as the Herb Garden. It was a small, shady triangular area near the irrigation ditch that ran through the property, and except for a certain amount of weeding, watering and hoeing there was not very much work to do there. The rest of the time I worked at the same old routine jobs and on various projects.

My jobs, however, were of less interest to me that Spring than some of the events and new arrivals. The first excitement of the year was the denouement of the " Affaire Serge". We learned about it through one of the Americans who had suffered the greatest losses in what we had all come to think of as the "robbery". After the Americans had put the police on his trail, and several months after the actual robbery, he had been caught in Belgium, and although no valuables had been found on him, he had confessed the robbery to the police and some of the jewels had been found in the possession of an Arab "fence" in Paris. Serge had been brought back to France and imprisoned. Gurdjieff at no time made any comment on his failure to "rehabilitate" Serge, and the Americans who had been robbed generally thought that Gurdjieff was at fault for having allowed him to stay at the Prieure in the first place. Gurdjieff did have some defenders among the older students, however, and their defence consisted in pointing out that jewels and money were unimportant -- particularly to wealthy people -- but that Serge's life did have value and that his imprisonment would probably ruin him for life, and that it was unfortunate that the police had been brought into the case. To a great many of us, however, this reasoning seemed to be nothing more than an attempt to maintain the position of Gurdjieff as never being wrong in anything he did -- the common attitude of the "worshipful". Since Gurdjieff took no interest in the entire question, and since Serge was in prison, we lost our interest in the case soon enough.

For a short period in the late Spring I was again assigned to , work on the lawns, not mowing them this time, but straightening and trimming the edges and borders. To my surprise, I was even given a helper, which made me feel like a dependable, experienced "old hand". I was even more surprised when I found that my helper was to be an American lady who, up to this time, had only made occasional weekend visits to the Prieure. This time, as she told me, she was going to be there for two whole weeks, during which time she wanted to be a part of the "tremendously valuable experience" of working at what she called the "real thing".

She appeared for work the first day, looking very glamorous and colourful; she was wearing silk orange pants, with a green silk blouse, a string of pearls and high-heeled shoes. Although I was amused at the costume, I kept a perfectly straight face as I explained to her what she would have to do; I could not refrain from suggesting that her costume was not entirely appropriate, but I still did not smile. She waved away my suggestions as unimportant. She set to work, trimming the border of one of the lawns, with ardour, explaining to me that it was necessary to do this work with one's entire being and, of course, to observe oneself -- the famous exercise of "self-observation" -- in the process. She was using an odd sort of tool or implement which did not work very well: it was a kind of long-handled cutter, with a cutting wheel on one side and a small ordinary wheel on the other. The cutting wheel, of course, was supposed to actually cut the edge of the lawn in a straight line, while the other wheel helped to support and balance the apparatus and to give it power. The use of this implement required a good deal of strength to cut anything at all, since the blade was not very sharp; also, even when it was used by a strong man, it was then necessary to go over the edge that had been "trimmed" with this machine with a pair of long-handled garden shears and straighten up the border or edge.

I was so interested in her approach to this work and also in her manner of doing it that I did very little work myself, but watched her as she worked. She walked very gracefully, breathing in the country air, admiring the flowers, and, as she put it, "immersing herself in nature"; she also told me that she was "observing" her every movement as she worked and that she realized that one of the benefits of this exercise was that one could, through continuous practice, make every movement of one's body harmonious, functional, and therefore beautiful.

We worked together at this job for several days, and although I finally had to actually trim all the edges and borders after her on my hands and knees with the long-handled shears, I enjoyed it very much. I had long since discarded the idea that work at the Prieure was intended to produce the expected results ( except of course in the kitchen) but that the work was done for the benefit of one's inner being or self. I had often found it very hard to concentrate on these invisible benefits, and much easier to simply, and unimaginatively, try to accomplish the visible, obvious, physical task. It was a pleasure to achieve a handsome, straight edge at the side of a lawn or flower bed. Not so with the lady, who when she realized, inevitably, that I was following her and doing all her work over again, made it clear to me that as long as our "selves" or our "inner beings" were benefiting from what we were doing it would not matter if it took us all year to finish the work -- that, in fact, if we never finished it it would not matter.

I liked the lady well enough; I certainly enjoyed being her temporary "boss" and I had to admit that she looked handsome on the lawns, that even though she did not seem to accomplish anything that was visible, she was persistent and reported regularly for work. Also, for all I knew, she might have been doing a great deal of good work on her "inner being". I had to admit that she obviously made a point when she said that the actual results -- on the land, as it were -- were not very important. The grounds were living evidence of this -- littered, as they were, with unfinished projects. All the work of uprooting trees and stumps, building new vegetable gardens, even the actual construction of buildings which remained unfinished, attested to the fact that physical results did not seem to matter.

I was sorry when our work on the lawns came to an end, and although I was dubious about the benefits she had, or had not, acquired in those few days, I had enjoyed my association with her. It gave me a somewhat different point of view about the school as a whole, and its purposes. While I had realized that none of the work was ever considered important from the simple point of view that it needed to be done; that there was, in short, another aim -- the engendering of friction between people who worked together plus possible other, less tangible or visible results -- I had also assumed that the actual accomplishment of the task itself had, at least, some value. Most of my jobs, up to that time, had supported this view: it surely mattered, for instance, that the chickens and the other animals were fed and cared for, that the dishes and pots and pans in the kitchen were washed, that Gurdjieff's room wag actually cleaned every day -- with or without benefit to my "inner self".

Whatever thoughts I may have had about all of this and about her, the lady left after about two weeks, and seemed to feel herself "immeasurably enriched". Was it possible, after all, that she was right? If it had done nothing else, her visit had served to increase my need to re-examine the Prieure and the reasons for its existence.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: BOYHOOD WITH GURDJIEFF, by Fritz Peters

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:51 am

Chapter 35

MY NEXT TEMPORARY job on a project was the repair of the study-house roof. The construction of the roof was a simple affair of beams placed in such a way that they formed a peaked roof, with about eight feet of air-space at the centre between the peak of the roof and the ceiling. The beams were at intervals of about one yard -- lengthwise and crosswise -- and were covered with tar-paper which had begun to leak in various places. The job turned out to be exciting and rather perilous. We mounted the roof on ladders and from then on it was necessary to walk only on the beams, of course. It was also necessary to bring rolls of tar paper and pails or buckets of hot tar with us up the ladders. After a few days of walking on four or six-inch beams we became reasonably proficient at this work and even made a sort of test of skills out of racing along the beams carrying a bucket of hot tar, or balancing a roll of tar paper on our shoulders.

One young American who was making his first visit to the Prieure, and who was not only aggressive and very competitive but who also thought that everything at the Prieure was, as he put it, "a bunch of nonsense", was determined to be more daring, more skilful and more foolhardy than anyone else. After about one week, he had manifested his superior agility to the point where none of us even attempted to compete with him. Even so, he seemed unable to stop showing off and continued to demonstrate his superiority over all the rest of us. His performance began to irritate all of us and to make us nervous; we did not go so far as to hope that he would have an accident -- any accident could have been very serious as it was a high roof -- but we did begin to long for something to happen that would bring an end to this exhibition of bravado.

The end did come, sooner than we had anticipated, and in a much more spectacular way. Later, it seemed inevitable that he would, of course, have been carrying a pail of boiling tar when he did make a false step on to the unsupported tar paper and fall through the roof. The only thing that saved him from very serious injury was that he had fallen just over the small balcony so that he did not actually fall more than about fifteen feet. However, what made the fall a brutal and painful one was that he did not let go of the bucket of tar and was not wearing a shirt at the time. One whole side of his body was very badly burned and covered with hot tar.

As the boiling tar had also flowed down inside his trousers, it was almost impossible for him to walk, so we moved him to a place in the shade while someone raced for Gurdjieff and the doctor. The only remedy -- or, in any case, the remedy that was used -- was to remove the tar from his body with gasoline, which took more than an hour, and which must have been almost unimaginably painful. The young man appeared to have tremendous endurance and courage, and submitted to this ordeal without flinching, but when it was over and he had been properly bandaged, Gurdjieff lashed into him in a great fury for his stupidity. He defended himself valiantly but without making much sense; the argument turned into a stream of invective against Gurdjieff and his ridiculous school, and ended with Gurdjieff ordering him to leave as soon as he was well enough.

While I could not help but feel great sympathy for the American, I did feel that Gurdjieff was completely right, although to revile the young man at that particular time had seemed unnecessarily cruel. I was very surprised when Gurdjieff, the following day, unexpectedly called to me when I was returning from work in the evening and, unpredictable as always, complimented me on my good work on the roof and gave me a large sum of money. I said that I had to admit, in all honesty, that since I was the only person working on the roof who was not a full-grown man, I had done considerably less work than anyone else and did not feel that I should be rewarded.

He gave me an odd smile, insisted that I take the money, and said that he was rewarding me for not having fallen through the roof or otherwise injured myself while I worked on it. He then said that he was giving me the money on the condition that I think of something to do with it for all the rest of the children -- something that would be valuable for all of them. I left him, pleased with all the money I had in my pockets, but extremely puzzled as to what I could do with the money that would be valuable for all the other children.

After thinking about the problem for two days, I finally decided to share it with them, although not quite equally. I kept a larger share for myself since I was the one who had, for whatever odd reasons, "earned" it.

Gurdjieff did not wait for me to tell him about what I had done, but sent for me and asked me, as if he was especially interested. When I told him, he was furious with me. He shouted at me, told me that I had not used my imagination, that I had not thought about it, and that I had not finally done anything valuable for them; also why had I kept a larger share for myself?

I said, calmly enough, that I had come to realize that nothing at the Prieure was predictable and that he had made it clear to me often enough that things were never "what they seemed" to be. I maintained firmly that I had only emulated him. By giving me this totally unexpected large sum of money, he had, along with it, given me a condition and a problem concerning its disposition. Since I had been unable to think of anything "valuable" to do with the money, all I could do was to pass the problem along to the other children -- my injunction to them being that they had to do something valuable with it for themselves. As to why I had kept a larger sum for myself, I said that I felt I deserved the larger sum because it was thanks to me that they had the opportunity to make this important decision about the value of money.

Although he had listened to me without interruption, his anger had not abated and he said that I was behaving like a "big-shot" and that he was extremely disappointed in me ; that I had failed him.

To my own surprise, I stood my ground and said that if I was behaving like a "big-shot" it was because I had many examples of such behaviour to emulate, and that if he was disappointed in me he should remember that it was he who had told me, repeatedly, that one should learn never to be disappointed in anyone, and that, again, I was only following his advice and his example.

Although he told me then that I was, as usual, "sinning against my God" by talking to him in this way, he asked me what I was going to do with the money that I had kept for myself. I said that it was only possible either to spend money or to save it. That, for the time being, I was going to save it since I was clothed, fed and housed and did not need to spend it, but that I would spend it when I found something that I needed -- or wanted -- to buy.

He looked at me in disgust, remarking that what I had said indicated that I had typical middle-class morals and that I had not learned anything at all from him during the time that I had been at the Prieure. I replied, rather hotly, that I was fully aware of those possibilities and that, as to learning, when I looked around me at his other students, I was not convinced that anyone else was learning anything either; that, in fact, I was not sure that there was anything to learn there.

Quite calm by this time, he said that I failed to realize that the value of the Prieure was not necessarily obvious, and that time would tell whether anyone learned anything by being there. Then, for the second time, he said that it was useless to continue talking to me and added that I was not to continue my work on the roof of the study-house but that I would be assigned to other work.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: BOYHOOD WITH GURDJIEFF, by Fritz Peters

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:51 am

Chapter 36

My "OTHER WORK" consisted of several things: clearing various areas of the property of stinging nettles, which had to be done without wearing gloves; working, with one other person, on the construction of a stone house which had been partly built -- and never worked on -- ever since I had first been at the Prieure; and, to my amazement, helping in the translation of parts of Gurdjieff's book from a preliminary French translation into English.

After a few hours on the job of pulling out nettles, I soon learned that with care, by pulling them out by the roots and avoiding handling the stems or leaves, it was possible to uproot them without being painfully stung by them. I also learned, quite incidentally, that they could be used to make an excellent soup. In any case, as I was still pondering about the American lady's remarks about the value of work, the uprooting of nettles did seem to have practical value as well as whatever it might have been doing for my "inner being", since it eliminated weeds and also provided soup.

As to the building of the house, I was convinced that the lady was undoubtedly right -- no visible progress was made on the building so I assumed that all the progress was "spiritual". I was the helper on this job, and my "boss" decided that the first thing we were to do was to move an enormous pile of stone, located about fifty feet from the house, to an area next to it. The only sensible way to do this, he informed me, was for me to stand by the rock pile, throw individual rocks to him, and he would then throw them into a new pile near the building. When this was done, we would use the stones which had been moved to construct partitions or walls inside the building; the outer walls had been erected three or four years previously. I was warned that there was a definite rhythm to this rock throwing which had to be observed as it would make the work much less tiresome; also that in order to keep the proper rhythm it was necessary for us to sing. We only managed to sing and throw rocks for about two hours when my companion and "boss", distracted by something, failed to catch a rock that I had heaved in his direction, and was felled by it as it struck him on the temple.

I helped him to his feet and then walked with him as he more or less staggered in the direction of the main building, presumably to consult the doctor about the effect of this blow. Gurdjieff saw us at once as he was sitting in front of the terrace in one of his usual writing places, and when he heard what had happened, examined the man, pronounced him in no danger, but said that we were to discontinue working on that particular construction. With a rather amiable smile in my direction he told me that it was apparently impossible for me to be involved in any kind of work without causing trouble, and that I was a born troublemaker. Given some of my past experiences at the Prieure I took this to be, if not exactly a compliment, at least praise of a kind.

I was fascinated, however, with the work on his book. An Englishman had been assigned to make a rough, preliminary translation from the French version of the book, and my job was to listen to it and read it and to make suggestions as to vernacular and Americanisms that would correspond as closely as possible to the French version which I was also to read. The particular chapter was on the subject of the continent of Africa and dealt mainly with Gurdjieff's explanation of the origin of monkeys. [1]

What began to interest me much more that summer than any of my daytime tasks were the nightly readings of the sections of Gurdjieff's book, usually in Russian or French but sometimes in English -- depending upon the latest completed translations -- and Gurdjieff's comments on his aims and purposes. In the simplest terms, he would usually reduce what had been written in the chapter that had been read that evening (his comments always followed the readings) to a kind of synopsis or simplification of what he was trying to convey in writing.

I was particularly impressed by his statement that his purpose in writing this book was to destroy forever the habitual values and ideas of people, which prevented them from understanding reality or living according to "cosmic laws". He was then going to write additional books which would prepare the ground, as it were, for the acquisition of new understanding and new values. If, as I saw it, the existence of the Prieure had the same aim; to destroy existing values, then it was more comprehensible. If, as Gurdjieff had so often said, the world was "upside down" then perhaps there was a definite value in what he was apparently attempting to do at his school. It might be quite true, as the American lady had suggested to me, that one should not work for the immediate, obvious result of the particular work one was doing, but for the development of one's being. Even though I was not convinced that Gurdjieff had all the answers to the dilemma of human life -- as someone had called it -- it was certainly possible that he, as well as anyone else, might have them. What he did do was at least provocative, unpredictable, irritating and, usually, interesting enough to arouse questions, doubts, and controversies.

In the course of his talks and comments on his writings, he frequently digressed from the subject of whatever had been read, to talk in general terms about almost anything that either came to his mind, or might be brought up by one of the students. When someone, through some association with the chapter that had been read that evening, brought up the question of the worlds of east and west, and the lack of understanding between the oriental and the occidental mentalities, Gurdjieff talked at some length on the misunderstandings that were created in the world by this lack of understanding, saying that it was due, at least in part, to lack of energy in the east and lack of wisdom in the west. He predicted that a day would come when the eastern world would again rise to a position of world importance and become a threat to the momentarily all-powerful, all-influential new culture of the western world, which was dominated, according to him, by America -- a country that was very strong, to be sure, but also very young. He continued to say that one should look at the world in the same way that one looked at a man, or at oneself. Each individual was a world, of itself, and the globe -- the big world in which we all lived -- was, in a sense, only a reflection or an enlargement of the individual world in each one of us.

Among the purposes of all leaders, messiahs, messengers from the gods, and so forth, there was one fundamental and very important purpose: to find some means by which the two sides of man, and, therefore, the two sides of the earth, could live together in peace and harmony. He said that time was very short -- it was necessary to achieve this harmony as soon as possible to avoid complete disaster. Philosophies, religions and other such movements had all failed to accomplish this aim, and the only possible way to accomplish it was through the individual development of man. As an individual developed his own, unknown potentialities, he would become strong and would, in turn, influence many more people. If enough individuals could develop themselves -- even partially -- into genuine, natural men, able to use the real potentialities that were proper to mankind, each such individual would then be able to convince and win over as many as a hundred other men, who would, each in his turn, upon achieving development, be able to influence another hundred, and so on.

He added, grimly, that he was in no sense joking when he had said that time was short. Further, he said that history had already proven to us that such tools as politics, religion, and any other organized movements which treated man "in the mass" and not as individual beings, were failures. That they would always be failures and that the separate, distinct growth of each individual in the world was the only possible solution.

Whether one believed him whole-heartedly or not, he made a convincing and passionate case for the importance of individual development and growth.

_______________

Notes:

1. Gurdjieff, G. I., All and Everything; (Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson; or an Impartial, Objective Criticism of Man). E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., New York, N. Y
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: BOYHOOD WITH GURDJIEFF, by Fritz Peters

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:53 am

Chapter 37

WHAT WITH ADOLESCENCE, lack of supervision, lack of interest, and just plain laziness, I managed to do as little work as possible in the Herb Garden. I avoided going there except when it was necessary for me to bring various herbs to the kitchen. When the quality of the herbs became noticeably poorer and when I was at times unable even to supply a small quantity of some particular herb, someone must have taken it upon themselves to investigate the garden and report their findings to Gurdjieff.

The result was that Gurdjieff made a personal inspection of the garden with me, walking up and down between all the small beds, examining every plant. When he had finished he told me that as far as he could see, I had done absolutely nothing at all there in the way of work. I had to admit that I had done very little work, but defended myself to the extent of pointing out that I had done some occasional weeding. He shook his head and said that in view of the state of the garden it would be better not to defend myself at all. He then assigned several of the children to work with me in the garden until it was in proper shape, and instructed me as to what had to be done to the various plants: hoeing between the rows, trimming certain plants, dividing and replanting others.

Although the children were very annoyed with me for having shirked my own work and thereby caused them to have to work on "my" garden, they all pitched in and we carried out Gurdjieff's orders very easily and quickly. It was a very small plot of land and it could not have taken us more than a day or two. When we had finished the work, Gurdjieff pronounced it satisfactory, complimented all the other children on their work, and said that he wanted to have a talk with me, alone.

He first told me that I could see for myself that I had not performed a task that had been assigned to me, and that it had been necessary for him to intervene in my work and take measures to repair the damage that had been caused by my neglect. He said that this was a very good example of the way in which one person's failure to accomplish his duty could affect the general welfare of everyone else and that, while I might not think of herbs as important, they were important to him and were needed in the kitchen; also that I had caused him an unnecessary, if minor, expense because various plants had had to be purchased, which would not have been necessary if I had done my job properly.

He went on to say that it was true, in one sense, that the herb garden was not important; what was important, however, was to be responsible and to do one's work, particularly when that work could affect the welfare of others. However, there was another, still more important reason for accomplishing any assigned task, which was for one's own sake.

He spoke again about the exercise of "self-observation" and said that since man was a three-centred or three-brained being, it was necessary to do exercises and perform tasks that were valuable for all three centres, not just the physical or "motor" centre; that "self-observation" as I knew it was a purely physical exercise in that it consisted in the observation of one's physical body and its movements, gestures and manifestations.

He said that there were various important exercises having to do with "self-remembering" which was a very important aspect of his work. One of them was to conscientiously and with all one's concentration, try to remember, as on a movie film, everything that one had done during each entire day. This was to be done every night before going to sleep. The most important thing in the exercise was not to let the attention wander -- by association. If one's attention did wander from the focus upon the image of oneself, then it was absolutely necessary to begin all over again at the beginning each time this happened -- and it would, he warned, happen.

He talked to me for a very long time that morning, and emphasized the fact that everyone had, usually, a particular, recurring problem in life. He said that these particular problems were usually a form of laziness, and that I was to think about my laziness, which took a fairly obvious physical form, as in the case of the garden: I had simply put off doing anything in the garden until someone had taken notice of that fact. He said that he wanted me to think seriously about my laziness -- not the outward form, which was not important, but to find out what it was. "When you see that you are lazy, necessary find out what this laziness is. Because in some ways you already lazy for many years, can take even many years for you to find out what it is. Must ask yourself, whenever you see your own laziness: 'What is this laziness in me ?' If you ask this question seriously, and with concentration, is possible someday you will find answer. This important and very difficult work I give you now."

I thanked him for what he had said and added that I was sorry that I had not done my work in the garden and that I would do it properly in the future.

He brushed aside my thanks and said that it was useless to be sorry ."Is too late for that now, and is also too late to do good work in garden. In life never have second chance, only have one chance. You had one time to do good work in garden, for self; you not do, so now even if you work all your life, in this garden, cannot be same thing for you. But also important not be 'sorry' about this; can waste all life feeling sorry. There is valuable thing sometimes, thing you call remorse. If man have real remorse for something he do that is not good, this can be valuable; but if only sorry and say will do same thing better in future is waste of time. This time is already gone forever, this part of your life is finished, you cannot live over again. Not important if you do good work in garden now, because will do for wrong reasons -- to try to repair damage which cannot be repaired ever. This serious thing. But also very serious not to waste time feeling sorry or feeling regret, this only waste even more time. Must learn in life, not to make such mistakes, and must understand that once make mistake is made forever."
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: BOYHOOD WITH GURDJIEFF, by Fritz Peters

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:54 am

Chapter 38

IN THE COURSE of the readings of Gurdjieff's book, and particularly in his comments or talks which always followed them, he frequently discussed the subject of love. He pointed out that, in any attempt or effort to get to know oneself, it was always necessary to start with the physical body for the simple reason that it was the most highly developed of man's three centres; it was for this reason that "self-observation" always started by the observation of the body alone. While the body grew automatically and mechanically, practically without supervision, nevertheless it was a more properly developed centre than either the emotional or mental "brains" (or centres) because it did, even if only automatically, perform its proper functions. Most bodily functions were not only more or less compulsive, they were also reasonably comprehensible and therefore not too difficult to satisfy.

In relating the observation of the body to love, he again used the example of the two hands or arms, saying that love could be defined as "one hand washes the other". He also said that the body could achieve harmony within itself when it was used properly, when both hands worked together, and that this was a good place to start on the consciousness or awareness of what love really should be. In order for people to be able to work together, it was necessary for them to love each other, and to love the same aim. In this sense, in order for a human being to function properly and in accordance with his proper humanity, it was necessary for all of the component parts of a human being to love each other and to work together for the same aim -- self-development and self-perfection; the difficult)' was, of course, that given our abnormal habits and education we had no genuine conception of what proper development or "perfection " could be. He warned us against any misinterpretation of the word "perfection", stating that our associations with this word -- our ideas of a "perfect" state -- were improper, and that it was generally better to use the term "development".

The main indication or clue about love that we could learn from the physical body was the physical form of love, in other words, sex. In the primary sense, the purpose of sex was reproduction, which was actually only a synonym for creation. Love, therefore, in any sense -- whether physical or not -- had to be creative. He also said that there was a proper form of what might be called "sublimation" of sexual energy; that sex was the source of all energy and when not used reproductively could still be used in an equally creative sense when sublimated and used as energy for other types of creativity. One of the misuses of sex that had arisen through bad training, the wrong type of education, and improper habits, was that it had become almost the only vital form of human communication. It was possible for people to 'join actively" in other ways than physically; to, as he put it, "touch each other's essences", but human beings had lost this faculty many, many years -- many centuries -- ago. If one was observant, however, it was possible to realize that this "touching of essences" still occasionally took place between two individual human beings, but only by accident, and that it was then almost immediately misunderstood and misinterpreted and descended into a purely physical form which became valueless once it had been expended.

In talking further about relations between individuals, he said that sex, again, was the "highest expression of the physical body" and the only "holy" expression of self that was left to us. In order to achieve any other forms of "holiness" within ourselves, it was profitable to try -- in other areas of our lives -- to emulate this "essence-touching" process; and the completely open "sharing of common truth" between two individuals was almost always "visible" in a compulsive sexual relationship. He warned, however, that even sex -- compulsive as it might be to most individuals -- often dwindled into a simple process which only involved the particular satisfaction, gratification or release of a single individual, instead of both of them, and that in such cases there would not have been any openness or honesty between them.

When asked to define a proper, objectively moral love between people -- one for another -- he said that it would be necessary to develop oneself to such an extent that it would be possible to "know and understand enough to be able to aid someone else in doing something necessary for himself, even when that person was not conscious of the need, and might work against you" ; that only in this sense was love properly responsible and worthy of the name of real love. He added that, even with the best of intentions, most people would be too afraid to love another person in an active sense, or even to attempt to do anything for them; and that one of the terrifying aspects of love was that while it was possible to help another person to a certain degree, it was not possible to actually "do" anything for them. "If see another man fall down, when he must walk, you can pick him up. But, although to take one more step is more necessary for him even than air, he must take this step alone; impossible for another person to take it for him."
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: BOYHOOD WITH GURDJIEFF, by Fritz Peters

Postby admin » Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:54 am

Chapter 39

IN SPEAKING OF his methods of self-development and proper growth, Gurdjieff would often emphasize the fact that there were many dangers that would inevitably be encountered in the process. One of the most frequent obstacles was that, at times, the performance of a particular exercise (he was referring to individual exercises prescribed by him for particular individuals) would produce a state of exhilaration or well-being. He said that while such a state of exhilaration was proper to the correct and serious performance of such exercises, one danger lay in our misconception of "results" or "progress"; it was necessary to remember that we should not expect results at all. If we did an exercise expecting a certain result, it was valueless. But, if we achieved a recognizable result, such as a feeling of genuine well-being, even though this was a proper, temporary, result, it did not in any sense mean that one had "achieved" anything permanent. It could mean that some progress was being made but it was then necessary to work that much harder in order to make such "results" a permanent part of oneself.

He referred, frequently, to a sort of riddle: a man, accompanied by three mutually hostile organisms, a lamb, a wolf, and a cabbage, arrives at the edge of a river which has to be crossed in a boat which can only carry two -- the man and one other -- "passengers" at a time. It is necessary to transport himself and his "companions" across the river without the possibility of one of them being able to attack or destroy the other. The important element in the story was that the general human tendency was to try to find a "short-cut", and the moral of the story was that there is no short-cut: that it is essential, always, to make the necessary number of trips to ensure the safety and well-being of all the passengers. He said that in the beginning, even though it would seem a waste of valuable time, it would frequently be necessary to make extra trips rather than to risk any possible danger. However, as one became accustomed to his exercises and methods, one should eventually be able to make only the exact number of trips required and still not endanger any passenger. It was also necessary to recognize the fact that in the case of the man, the lamb, the wolf and the cabbage it would be necessary to take some of the passengers on a return trip which would also seem a waste of time.

He used the same "riddle" as an example of the "centres" or "brains" of man; the man representing the "I" or the consciousness and the other three the physical, emotional, and mental centres. In addition to stressing the fact that the physical centre was the most developed of the three, he said that the mental centre was practically undeveloped, and that the emotional centre, which was partly developed -- but in all the wrong ways -- was completely "savage". He said that we responded to the needs of the body compulsively, which was proper as long as our bodily habits were good ones, since it was necessary to satisfy the needs of the body, or "machine", in the same sense that one would take proper care of a motor car since it was our only means of "transportation". With the emotional centre, since we knew almost nothing about it, the problem was much more difficult. Most of the errors of violence that were committed in the course of life were emotional, since we did not know how to use emotion properly in the course of our lives, and had only learned to form improper emotional habits from the moment we were born. He said that emotional "needs" existed that were just as compulsive as our physical needs such as hunger, sleep, sex, etc., but that we did not understand what they were and knew nothing at all about how to satisfy such emotional "cravings". One of the first steps was to understand that emotion was a kind of force within us. He frequently compared it to a balloon or to the reservoir of air that served to make a pipe-organ function. The pipes of the organ could be considered examples of various types of emotion, each pipe labelled differently: i.e., one pipe would be anger, another hate, another greed, another vanity, another jealousy, another pity, and so forth. One step towards the proper use of emotion was to be able to use the force or "air" in the reservoir in whichever of the pipes was proper or appropriate in a given situation, in much the same way as one consciously struck a certain note on an organ in order to produce a particular tone. If, for example, one felt -- for whatever reason -- anger, when anger was not appropriate to a particular circumstance or situation, instead of expressing anger, it should become possible for us to consciously divert that energy into whatever emotion was necessary or proper at the time. All existing emotions, all feelings, had purpose; there was a reason for their existence and a proper use for each one of them. But without consciousness or knowledge we used them blindly, compulsively and ignorantly, without any sort of control, producing the same effect in our emotional life as would have been produced, musically, by playing a pipe-organ as an animal might play it, without any knowledge, and without music -- simply at random. The great danger of uncontrolled emotions was that "shock" generally produced effects in oneself and in others, and the force of shock was emotional. If from lack of consciousness or knowledge, one felt -- mechanically -- anger, instead of, for instance, compassion, at a time when compassion was the proper emotion, only havoc and chaos could be produced.

Most of the problems in communication and understanding between individuals resulted from just such emotional shocks which were inappropriate, unexpected, and therefore usually harmful and destructive. One of the subtler dangers involved in this was that people frequently tried to use a "shortcut" to the use of proper emotions. While feeling anger, they would attempt to control this feeling and express a different emotion -- such as happiness, or love, or anything except anger. Since, whether we knew it or not, the simulated emotion did not convince other people emotionally, the result was that, in spite of the outward expression, the actual emotion or feeling would have been "recognized" as anger in any case, and having been sensed or felt in this way by another individual, in spite of not having been expressed honestly, it could be even more dangerous as it could only serve to arouse, although perhaps unconsciously, suspicion and hostility.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

PreviousNext

Return to Ancien Regime

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests

cron