THE FIRST THING TO REMEMBER IS YOUR NOTHINGNESS
Questioner: I have the impression that I cannot prevent myself from using the forces given to me by the Work in order to be superior with the people whom I meet.
Gurdjieff: You are a small person. One aspect in you has grown. Six others must also grow. After this, you can imagine that you are not as others. You must not forget that the first thing to remember is your nothingness. You have a lot of imagination. If you have the knowledge of your nothingness, this idea of yourself will show you better that the others have surpassed you.
~ George Gurdjieff "Paris/Wartime Meetings"
WE ALWAYS REACT
"Unfortunately, we always react. For example, if I am angry everything in me is angry, every manifestation. I can learn to be polite when I am angry, but I remain the same inside. But if I use common sense, why should I be angry with someone who gives me a disapproving look? Perhaps he does it out of foolishness. Or perhaps someone turned him against me. He is the slave of someone else's opinion — an automaton, a parrot repeating other people's words. Tomorrow he may change his opinion. If he is weak, I, if I am annoyed, am still weaker, and I may spoil my relationship with others if I am angry with him, making a mountain out of a molehill.
"You should understand and establish it as a strict rule that you must not pay attention to other people's opinions, you must be free of the people surrounding you. When you are free inside, you will be free of them.
"Outwardly, at times, it may be necessary to pretend to be annoyed. For instance, you may have to pretend to be angry. If you are struck on one cheek, it does not necessarily mean that you must offer the other cheek. Sometimes it is necessary to answer back in such a way that the other will forget his grandmother. But internally one should not consider.
"If you are free inwardly it may happen sometimes that if someone strikes you on one cheek, you should offer the other. This depends on a man's type. Sometimes the other will not forget such a lesson in a hundred years.
"At times one should retaliate, at other times not. It is necessary to adjust yourself to your circumstances—now you cannot because you are inside out. You must discriminate among your inner associations. Then you can separate, and recognize every thought, but for that it is necessary to ask and to think why.
"Choice of action is possible only if a man is free inside. An ordinary man cannot choose, he cannot form a critical estimate of the situation; with him, his external is his internal. It is necessary to learn to be unbiased, to sort out and analyze each action as though one were a stranger. Then one can be just. To be just at the very moment of action is a hundred times more valuable than to be just afterwards. A great deal is necessary for this. An unbiased attitude is the basis of inner freedom, the first step toward free will.”
~ George Gurdjieff "Views from the Real World"
THE "EMBLEM" OF AN ESOTERIC SOCIETY
"He [Gurdjieff] went on to the caves at Lascaux. The long drive tired him very much, and his legs were beginning to swell ominously. But he insisted on going down into the caves. As he stood looking at the paintings, he seemed completely to belong there. He explained various symbols, and especially the strange composite animal, which he said was, like the Sphinx, the "emblem" of an esoteric society. I said: "Symbol?" He rejected the correction. "No. Emblem. At that time there were societies with special knowledge, and each society had an emblem by which the members recognized each other. Same way as we have." He said that the deer were the totems of individual people. By the number of points on the antlers you could know the degree of attainment of the man they represented."
~ JG Bennett "Witness"