TO HAVE WITHIN ONESELF SOMETHING LIKE A “SAVINGS BOX”
‘You presume that you have a genuine “I”? No! You have not, because all your ideas and actions are the results of recordings on your reels. You have thirty-three reels; today you say something is red, tomorrow you say that same thing is green: that is because a different “I” is speaking. One may have seventeen “I’s”, another may have more, and some have only three: for eating, for sleeping and for the sexual urge. To have thirty-three may or may not be an advantage—it depends on whether it is worth “winding” on these reels. Suppose a man wants to become, say, a lecturer; it may be a good thing and lead to success because of many of the qualities of his “reel” impressions. Or through them he may instead turn out just a chatterbox—that’s bad. Look at Nicholas; anything he sees or hears he grabs with both hands— shouts about it. Then he hears something else and forgets the first thing, so nothing in him settles down. He “earns” nothing either for himself or for anyone else. When a man has as many reels as there are subjects to talk about, he can’t see daylight, and no wonder if he is hazy about everything.
‘We must learn to absorb from the outer world and give out again, chiefly one impression. One which concerns our chief occupation, and perhaps a few, very few, sidelines. And when we meet people we must refuse to pay too much attention to what they say, but politely, or impolitely, ignore them. As you might put it, let everything go in at one ear and come out at the other.
‘Sometimes there is simply no time to ignore such things politely, for we must run after the object which is important to us if we are to catch it. Now it’s here at hand, we can seize it. Half a minute later it will be too late, out of reach—and someone else into whose neighbourhood it has shifted may grasp it. Then the first man will stand looking at the second like a 'dourak' [imbecile]. He’ll watch him, spy on him and at last will see what he has accomplished. On this foundation, which seems “heaven-sent”, the second has built his life, while the first man only looks on, licking his lips with envy. One must know how to act swiftly, grasp the object and never let go. ... For will there ever be another opportunity? Probably never! And when it’s been lost, a man will try to satisfy himself with some kind of imitation of what he’s lost...“Paradise lost!” According to his talent and intellect, sometimes it may work, sometimes not. But then he, too, will start trying to “preach” about it to others. From preachers like that, Lord deliver us!’
Gurdjieff continued and we listened.
‘There is also another way to succeed in our strivings and longings—less dramatic than the first way. That is to have within oneself something like a “savings box” in which one puts observations and facts collected from one’s life. One meets people who are interesting or useful to one’s particular purpose and accumulates them in one’s “savings-box” like coins, one after another. Then, one day, there will be enough collected to sort it all out, make mental notes, and perhaps—here again it all depends on a man’s other qualities—one may make use of it as a foundation for life.
~ Anna Butkowsky "With Gurdjieff in St. Petersburg and Paris"
GURDJIEFF KNEW THAT ANYTHING OF VALUE HAS TO BE WORKED FOR
It was obvious that Gurdjieff did not wish simply to give new verbal knowledge. He wanted to change, open, develop something in the essence of man which could lead him to the creation of his own inner world and give him understanding. Gurdjieff knew that anything of value has to be worked for. His modifications were intended "to bury the bone deeper," which meant not giving the teaching in an easily accessible form. Beelzebub's Tales yields its wealth only when the reader engages himself with the material. The reader's willingness to experience confrontation and his capacity to question and to wait for an answer are essential for understanding.
~ Louise Goepfert March “The Gurdjieff Years”
THURSDAY, 13 MARCH 1924
Self-observation is very difficult.
The more you try, the more clearly you will see this. At present you should practise it not for results but to understand that you cannot observe yourselves. In the past you imagined that you saw and knew yourselves.
I am speaking of objective self-observation. Objectively you cannot see yourselves for a single minute, because it is a different function, the function of the master.
If it seems to you that you can observe yourselves for five minutes, this is wrong; if it is for twenty minutes or for one minute—it is equally wrong. If you simply realize that you cannot, it will be right. To come to it is your aim.
To achieve this aim, you must try and try.
When you try, the result will not be, in the true sense, self-observation. But trying will strengthen your attention, you will learn to concentrate better. All this will be useful later. Only then can one begin to remember oneself.
If you work conscientiously, you will remember yourselves not more but less, because self-remembering requires many things. It is not so easy, it costs a great deal.
The exercise of self-observation is sufficient for several years. Do not attempt anything else. If you work conscientiously, you will see what you need.
At present you have but one attention, either in the body or the feeling.
~ "Gurdjieff's Early Talks 1914-1931"