I fed on self-esteem for the first few weeks; then all the nicotine slaves that had lain down at my command, rose up and turned into wild animals. I dreamed so realistically of smoking that I often awoke in tears for having failed to keep the pledge. My concentration was reduced to that of a monkey's, even when trying to do my exercises. It was difficult to formulate this for the master but I knew that I had to tell him. I chose a day when only our Rope was with him; no outsiders to hear what could sound to the unattuned ear like the babbling of an idiot. I told it in terms of my suffering animal that gave me no peace, no respite, not even for his work. "I can't even begin to make all quiet inside, Mr. Gurdjieff . . . not even the preparatory step is possible any more . . ."
He listened gravely until I ran out of metaphors, gestures and breath. Then he leaned back and gave to us all an instruction that sounded like prayer. "This can be a thing for power, " he said. "I will tell you one very important thing to say each time when the longing comes. At first you say it and maybe you notice nothing. The second time, maybe nothing. The third time . . . maybe you will notice something. Say: I wish the force of my wishing be my own, for Being." He thought a moment, then shook his head. "No. Better another way. Force, such as this, has special results, makes chemicals, has special emanations. Better to say—I wish the result of this, my suffering, be my own, for Being. Yes, you can call that kind of wishing suffering, because it is suffering. This same maybe can take force from your animal and give it to Being . . . and you can do this for many things. For any denial of something that is a real slavery."
~ Kathryn Hulme “Undiscovered Country”
YOU'LL NEVER BECOME STRONGER THAN A DONKEY
At that time I became a member of Ouspensky's group. In this milieu, which favoured intellectual pursuits, I was almost ashamed of my exaggerated muscles. All the same, I gradually let it be known to Ouspensky, and later to Mr. Gurdjieff that I had unsuspected possibilities, and I took advantage of every occasion to show off my physical prowess.
From time to time Gyorgi Ivanovitch would say, "Bravo Tchekhovitch!" and I was overjoyed to have again aroused the admiration I felt I deserved.
One day, in front of the others, Gyorgi Ivanovitch declared with great fanfare, "Look everyone! Tchekhovitch has so much strength he doesn't know what to do with it all."
I realized it was now or never: this was the moment to show them they hadn't seen anything yet! Lowering my eyes, and with an expression of extreme humility, I said, "You know, Gyorgi Ivanovitch, I can do even better! During the war I couldn't work out, but now I'm planning to take it up again very seriously, and, what's more, on a scientific basis."
Gyorgi Ivanovitch looked at me calmly, nodding his head. "Very good, Tcheslaw. That's very good."
An egotistical exhilaration began to take hold of me.
"Go ahead," Mr. Gurdjieff continued. "Train. Become stronger and stronger. But you know, whatever you do, you'll never become stronger than a donkey!"
I saw stars. Feeling dizzy, my face crimson, legs like jelly. I looked around, desperate for some way to regain my composure.
That first cold shower was all it took. I never again boasted about, nor even took any interest in, my physical strength again.
~ Tcheslaw Tchekhovitch "Gurdjieff - A Master in Life"