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The following is an edited excerpt from a transcript of a group meeting taken by George Adie on Tuesday 3 December 1985, at Newport, Australia. I have prepared this with 13 January 2015 in mind. It seems clear that 13 January was not Gurdjieff’s birthday according to any calendar, although it may have been quite close (Mr Adie believed that Gurdjieff was born on 28 December according to our Gregorian calendar).
However, 13 January is still the date on which Gurdjieff’s birthday, and hence the bringing of his ideas and methods has been celebrated for some 65 years. That is worth remembering with some sobriety. To re-member myself before this event might include making an exertion to more truly realise those ideas and methods in my own life.
Towards the end of this extract, Mr Adie gave the practical hint which, in my judgment, makes this excerpt worthy of being offered for the 13th. In respect of that comment, I would refer you to pp.139-140 of Jeanne de Salzmann’s The Reality of Being. The word tanden is found and explained at p. 47 of Karlfried Graf Dürckheim’s Hara: The Vital Centre of Man. The piece below commences from the end of a reply to a woman who had a two and a half months old baby.
Mr Adie is speaking: “Not everybody has to wait to become a parent, because we’ve all got this infant inside. If only we, even our tough guys, realised that we have a baby inside us which needs attention: an infant of essence.”
“Essence is undeveloped. Look at ordinary life: people swaggering about. Nobody has any real modesty. How much food can there be for the essence? So our essence is shrunk, unless we had exceptional parents and remarkably favourable circumstances. You know about the horse and the carriage? The horsee, which is the feeling, is starved and beaten.”
“Literally, there’s a life in me, but I get so stiff. Where is the baby? Is there any room for the wretched thing to stretch an arm? Again, this message, unless you become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Then a young man brought a question about how he doesn’t really talk to people at work, and reflecting on it, he realised that he sees them as “plastic”.
“It’s very important,” said Adie, “don’t hurry it. Don’t let that thought go. Each of these people has an objective reality. They’re your people. These people belong to a world which automatically flows from what's happening in you. You project it all around you. But there is a lack of real feeling. You wouldn’t see other people as plastic cut-outs if you had any real feeling.”
“I know why: it’s because I am not there,” he replied.
“Ah, yes! But you know those words “I am not there”, and if they appear too easily, you won’t come to your feeling,” said Adie. “What does it mean: “I am not there?” What would be necessary to change the situation?”
There was a pause before Adie added: “But it isn’t entirely true: a representative of “I” is there, and does report that the people seemed to be plastic.”
“That comes afterwards,” the young man shot back.
“It doesn’t matter,” Adie patiently responded. “A representative of “I” was there, otherwise it couldn’t have come afterwards. It notices, and afterwards it tells you, so it is there with a certain continuity, albeit an incomplete one.”
Again, after a small pause, the young man said: “Lately I’ve had some grandiose ideas of helping people; but I see that what I could have given those people at work was some type of human contact, and it just wasn’t there.”
“In your situation,” Adie responded, “you cannot offer that, because I am not there, and they are not there. It’s all unreality. It is both real and unreal. How can that be?”
“Objectively, it’s the reality of my state. But that state has no correspondence with the objective reality, because each of those people is quite different from what I imagine. My view of them is subjective. Maybe they are thinking about how they can help you. They may have ideas just like yours, and they may be just as impotent to put them into practice.”
“But again, I have forgotten the two and a half months child that I am carrying. It’s a good practical thought, you see. We have been told to let the stomach down. Accept that you’re two and a half months pregnant … and if I can accept that, then I have to allow for that. How does it feel?”
“Here is the place, the tanden. This spot just below the navel. This is where I have to bear the possibility of a real “I”, because that is where it is. And with the aid of a certain place, which is where the emotional centre is, eventually that can be established, a real basis.”
“With this alone, I am not stable. It needs the stability.”
“Take the suggestion. Why not use it? I want to relax this part: I want to have some sensation of the tanden.”
“It’s a real work. The difference is that the natural mother doesn’t really have much choice about it. But I have a choice about it. I could have a choice, I need it, even. Well, the root of your understanding is there, so you’d better continue to carry the child, no?”
“After a number of years I have to bring to myself into a place where I can make a decision, otherwise nothing will take place. But how can I bring myself into such a state, a state where it is possible to formulate and make a decision?”
“It’s an enormous thing. But nothing less will allow me to change in the direction of my aim. And if there really does exist this miraculous possibility, I know that I wouldn’t have understood that thought five years ago, and now I realise just that. So, what is necessary to change my state?”
“A hundred things.”
“I only have to remember one, and not to let it go. The other ninety-nine are all connected. And if I work with the one, then the others will all come back to me as I need them. The other elements are all necessary, all connected. When I begin to make an effort, they begin to assemble, and I begin to be able to change my state. And to be able to change my state by my own volition is the miracle!”
“Every person on the path to Hades must have that thought: “If only I had been able to change my state! If only I had put the knife back in the sheaf, instead of using it.” And here we are, with that possibility. So go on.”
Joseph Azize, 8 January 2015