“To love, one must first forget all about love. Make it your aim and look for direction. As we are, we cannot possibly love.” ~ George Gurdjieff
TWO KINDS OF LOVE
A TALK GIVEN BY GEORGE GURDJIEFF
AT THE PRIEURÉ
THURSDAY, 24 MAY 1923
There are two kinds of love; one, the love of a slave, the other which must be acquired by work. The first has no value at all, only the second has value, that is, love acquired through work. This is the love about which all religions speak. If you love when “it” loves, it does not depend on you and so it has no merit. It is what we call slavish love. You love even where you should not love. Circumstances make you love mechanically.
Real love is Christian, religious love no one is born with that love, one must be specially trained in it. Some are trained from childhood, others in old age. If someone has it, it means that he has acquired it during his life. But it is very difficult to learn this love. And it is impossible to begin to learn it directly, on people. Every man touches another on the raw, hinders him, gives him little chance of exercising it.
Love may be of different kinds. To understand what kind of love we are speaking of, it is necessary to define it. Now we speak about love of “life.” Everywhere where there is life, beginning with plants (for they too have life) and animals — in a word, wherever life exists — there is love. All life is a representation of God. He who sees the representation will see Him who is represented. Every life has love and is sensitive to love. Even inanimate things such as flowers which have no consciousness, understand whether you love them or not. Even unconscious life reacts in a corresponding manner to each man and reacts to him according to his reactions.
As you sow, so you will reap and not only in the sense that if you sow wheat you get wheat. The question is how you sow. Even literally this is so, for instance with hay. Supposing different people sow the same seeds on the same soil – the results will be different. But these are only seeds; man is unconsciously much more sensitive to what is sown in him. Animals are also very sensitive, although less than man. For instance X. was sent to look after the animals. Many became ill and died, the hens laid fewer eggs, etc. Even a cow will give more milk if you love her. The difference is quite startling.
Man is more sensitive than a cow, but unconsciously. And so if you feel sympathy or antipathy, or you hate another person, it is only because that other person equally sows something bad against you. Who wishes to learn to love his neighbor must begin by practising love in relation to plants and animals. To begin at once to try to love a man is impossible, because the other man is like you and he will repulse your effort. But an animal will dumbly and sadly resign himself, so it is easier to start practising on animals. Who does not love life does not love God.
It is very important for a man who works on himself to understand that no change can be expected in him until he changes his attitude to the outside world. In general you don’t know what must be loved and what must not be loved, because all that is relative. One and the same thing is loved and not loved. Although there are objective things which we must love or must not love. Therefore it is more productive and practical to forget about good and bad and begin to act only when you have learned to choose for yourself.
Now if you want to work on yourself, you must acquire more and more varied attitudes. Except for big and more clear-cut things which are undeniably bad, you have to train yourself; for example, if you like roses, try to dislike them; if you dislike them, try to like them. It is best to begin with the world of plants. Try from tomorrow on plants, to look at them in a way you have not done before. Every man is attracted to certain plants and repelled by others. We have not noticed that till now. First you have to try to look at the plant well, afterward try to analyze and understand why this attraction or aversion is there. I am sure that no one feels or senses it. The mind does not see a process which is genuinely subconscious. If you begin to look consciously, you will see many things and discover many Americas. Plants have the same mutual relations as exist between men and certain relations exist also between plants and men, changing from time to time. All life is connected. I mean by life, everything that lives, all depend on one another.
Plants affect a man’s moods and a man’s moods affect the mood of plants. As long as we live we shall make experiments. Even living flowers in a pot will die from an artificial mood.
A question asked over 30 years ago is even more relevant today...
"In his last years Adie would speak of love of future generations. What would it be, he would ask, to love generations as yet unborn, people who would never be known to us? Could such a love animate us now, to make efforts of self-sacrifice on their behalf?"
~ Joseph Azize in "George Adie - A Gurdjieff Pupil in Australia"
YOU HAVE ZERO ATTENTION
He [Gurdjieff] said to E., "You have zero attention. For ones like you with such dirty life, exists special kind of hell." He described it. All souls there must sit in a lake of merde up to their mouths. They must sit very still, for at the slightest movement, the liquid goes into their mouths. Whenever a newcomer approaches, all the souls call out, "Get in gently, please, be slow and careful." Once a year to commemorate Jesus Christ, a great stone is thrown into the lake and all souls receive the liquid in their mouths."
~ "Gurdjieff and the Women of the Rope"
WHEN A MAN MOVES PARTICLES OF HIS ATMOSPHERE BECOME TORN OFF
Everything living has an atmosphere around itself. The difference lies only in its size. The larger the organism, the larger its atmosphere. In this respect every organism can be compared to a factory. A factory has an atmosphere around it composed of smoke, steam, waste materials and certain admixtures which evaporate in the process of production. The value of these component parts varies. In exactly the same way, human atmosphere is composed of different elements. And as the atmosphere of different factories has a different smell, so has the atmosphere of different people. For a more sensitive nose, for instance for a dog, it is impossible to confuse the atmosphere of one man with the atmosphere of another.
I have said that man is also a station for transforming substances. Parts of the substances produced in the organism are used for the transformation of other matters, while other parts go into his atmosphere, that is, are lost.
So here, too, the same thing happens as in a factory. Thus the organism works not only for itself, but also for something else. Men of Knowledge know how to retain the fine matters in themselves and accumulate them. Only a large accumulation of these fine matters enables a second and lighter body to be formed within man.
Ordinarily, however, the matters composing man's atmosphere are constantly used up and replaced by man's inner work.
Man's atmosphere does not necessarily have the shape of a sphere. It constantly changes its form. In times of strain, of threat or of danger, it becomes stretched out in the direction of the strain. Then the opposite side becomes thinner.
Man's atmosphere takes up a certain space. Within the limits of this space it is attracted by the organism, but beyond a certain limit particles of the atmosphere become torn off and return no more. This can happen if the atmosphere is greatly stretched out in one direction.
The same happens when a man moves. Particles of his atmosphere become torn off, are left behind and produce a "trail" by which a man can be traced. These particles may quickly mix with the air and dissolve, but they may also stay in place for a fairly long time. Particles of atmosphere also settle on a man's clothes, underclothes and other things belonging to him, so that a kind of track remains between them and the man. Magnetism, hypnotism and telepathy are phenomena of the same order. The action of magnetism is direct; the action of hypnotism is at a short distance through the atmosphere; telepathy is action at a greater distance. Telepathy is analogous to the telephone or telegraph. In these, the connections are metal wires, but in telepathy they are the trail of particles left by man. A man who has the gift of telepathy can fill this trail with his own matter and thus establish a connection, forming as it were a cable through which he can act on a man's mind. If he possesses some object belonging to a man, then, having thus established a connection, he fashions round this object an image out of wax or clay and, acting upon it, thus acts on the man himself.
~ George Gurdjieff "Views from the Real World"
FRITZ PETERS REFLECTING IN 1975 ON GURDJIEFF GROUPS...
Most of the persons who are interested in Gurdjieff now – which includes all the group members I have met (and they are legion) – have become “prophets of doom”, I have yet to be convinced that this is essential to the teaching of the Gurdjieff work.
An extremely good example of Gurdjieff’s method is contained in another section of [Kenneth Walker's] “Venture With Ideas”:
“I realized now that whatever Gurdjieff did he did for some purpose and that these lunches and dinners had not been arranged merely for the enjoyment of eating and drinking but to bring us closer together and into more intimate relationship with him. Too much theorizing was tending to make the minds of his London followers too rigid and our behavior too calculated and grim. We were in danger of acquiring the chapel-going faces of Plymouth Brethren and we needed loosening up. If anyone was fitted to bring about this loosening process it was surely Gurdjieff, a man who had always lived life to its fullest, and, as some people thought, to excess. Under the excellent treatment meted out to us in the Rue des Colonels Renards, our faces became relaxed and any puritanical trends rapidly disappeared. ‘It is necessary,’ Gurdjieff reminded us, ‘to know when to be serious and when to laugh.’ He said that ‘sleeping’ man was without any proper standards; he was solemn when it was wiser to be gay; and he was frivolous when it was necessary to be serious. In other words, he had no idea of the true significance and value of the different things he encountered in life.”
If there was one thing that Gurdjieff — in my experience – was not, he was certainly not a “doom-seller”. He was serious, but he did not have a long face about it. Quite the opposite: when he once told me that time was short, and that one’s “salvation” had to be accomplished – if at all – as rapidly as possible, we both laughed when I said that I had decided that a grim face and a heavy heart were not vital equipment for development into a “conscious” or “harmonious” being with, potentially, a soul to be acquired through “conscious effort”.
Why does soul-searching have to be lugubrious? People who are students these days are all desperate about the process, and sighs and groans and guilty consciences are apparently 'de rigueur'. The long face and the whole grim attitude are almost like a uniform.
~ Fritz Peters "Balanced Man"