On one occasion at the beginning of a meeting Gurdjieff put a question to which all those present had to answer in turn. The question was;
"What is the most important thing that we notice during self-observation?"
"Not one of you has noticed the most important thing that I have pointed out to you," he said. "That is to say, not one of you has noticed that you DO NOT REMEMBER YOURSELVES." (He gave particular emphasis to these words.)
"You do not feel YOURSELVES; you are not conscious of yourselves. With you, it observes just as it speaks it thinks, it laughs. You do not feel:
I observe, I notice, I see. Everything still is noticed, is seen.
In order really to observe oneself one must first of all REMEMBER ONESELF (He again emphasized these words.)
"Try to REMEMBER YOURSELVES when you observe yourselves and later on tell me the results. Only those results will have any value that are accompanied by self-remembering. Otherwise you yourselves do not exist in your observations. In which case what are all your observations worth?"
"What else do you want?" said Gurdjieff. "This is a very important realization. People who KNOW THIS" (he emphasized these words) "already know a great deal. The whole trouble is that nobody knows it. If you ask a man whether he can remember himself, he will of course answer that he can. If you tell him that he cannot remember himself, he will either be angry with you, or he will think you an utter fool. The whole of life is based on this, the whole of human existence, the whole of human blindness. If a man really knows that he cannot remember himself, he is already near to the understanding of his being."
--ch 7, In Search of the Miraculous
"This continual consciousness of his nothingness and of his helplessness will eventually give a man the courage to die, that is, to die, not merely mentally or in his consciousness, but to die in fact and to renounce actually and forever those aspects of himself which are either unnecessary from the point of view of his inner growth or which hinder it. These aspects are first of all his false I, and then all the fantastic ideas about his individuality, will, consciousness, capacity to do, his powers, initiative, determination, and so on.
"But in order to see a thing always, one must first of all see it even if only for a second. All new powers and capacities of realization come always in one and the same way. At first they appear in the form of flashes at rare and short moments; afterwards they appear more often and last longer until, finally, after very long work they become permanent. The same thing applies to awakening. It is impossible to awaken completely all at once. One must first begin to awaken for short moments. BUT ONE MUST DIE ALL AT ONCE AND FOREVER after having made a certain effort, having surmounted a certain obstacle, having taken a certain decision from which there is no going back. This would be difficult, even impossible, for a man, were it not for the slow and gradual awakening which precedes it.
"But there are a thousand things which prevent a man from awakening, which keep him in the power of his dreams. In order to act consciously with the intention of awakening, it is necessary to know the nature of the forces which keep man in a state of sleep.
"First of all it must be realized that the sleep in which man exists is not normal but hypnotic sleep. Man is hypnotized and this hypnotic state is continually maintained and strengthened in him. One would think that there are forces for whom it is useful and profitable to keep man in a hypnotic state and prevent him from seeing the truth and understanding his position."
--ch 11, In Search of the Miraculous
The following are some sayings of Gurdjieff, most of which have been abstracted from accounts of meetings taken by him in London and America during the years 1921-24
“There is only one kind of magic and this is ‘doing’ ”.
“All energy spend on conscious work is an investment; that spend mechanically is lost forever”.
“We must destroy our buffers. Children have none; therefore we must become like little children”.
“We attract forces according to our being”.
“Humanity is the earth’s nerve-endings through which planetary vibrations are received for transmission”.
“Everything in the universe has a place in a scale”.
“No energy is ever lost in the cosmic scheme”.
“One twentieth of all our energy goes to emotional and instinctive centres. Self-remembering is a lamp which must be kept alight by energy from these two centres. Our thinking centre is not really a centre, but an apparatus for collecting impressions”.
“Formatory apparatus resembles a hired typist who works for a firm and has a large number of stereotyped replies for external impressions. She sends printed replies to other centres who are the ‘directors’ of the firm and who are strangers to each other. Wrong replies are often sent, as the typist is asleep or lazy”.
“In deep sleep all communication between centres is closed. Our sleep is bad because we do not cut of lines of communication”.
”We have good and bad angels. The good angels work by way of voluntary, active nature and the bad through our passive nature”.
“Mr. Self-love and Madame Vanity are the two chief agents of the devil”.
“Do not be affected by externals. In themselves they are harmless; it is we who allow ourselves to be hurt by them”.
“We never reach the limits of our strength”.
“If we do what we like doing, we are immediately rewarded by the pleasure of doing it. If we do what we don’t like doing the reward must come later. It is a mathematical law and all life is mathematics”.
“Man is a symbol of the laws of creation; in him there is evolution, struggle, progress and retrogression, struggle between positive and negative, active and passive, yes and no, good and evil”.
“Men have their minds and women their feelings more highly developed. Either alone can give nothing. Think what you feel and feel what you think. Fusion of the two produces another force”.
“For some people religion is useful but for others it is only a policeman”.
“We are sheep kept to provide wool for our masters who feed us and keep us as slaves of illusion. But we have a chance of escape and our masters are anxious to help us, but we like being sheep. It is comfortable”.
“He who can love can be; he who can be can do; he who can do is”.
“Sincerity is the key to self-knowledge and to be sincere with oneself brings great suffering”.
“Sleep is very comfortable, but waking is very bitter”.
“Free will is the function of the master within us. Our ‘will’ is the supremacy of one desire over another”.
“Eastern art has a mathematical basis. It is a script with an inner and an outer content. In Persia there is a room in a monastery, which makes one weep owing to mathematical combinations of different parts of its architecture. Real art is knowledge and not talent”.
“An ordinary man has no ‘master’. He is ruled now by the mind, now by the feelings and now by the body. Often the order comes from the automatic apparatus and still more often he is ordered about by the sex centre. Real will can only be when one ‘I’ rules, when there is a ‘master’ in the house”.
“Morality is a stick with two ends; it can be turned this way and that”.
“From the time when man began to live on the Earth, from the time of Adam onwards, there started to be formed within him, with the help of God, of Nature, and of all his surroundings, an organ whose function is conscience. Every man has this organ, and whoever is guided by it automatically lives according to God’s commandments. If our consciences were clear and not buried, there would be no need to speak about morality, for consciously or unconsciously everyone would behave according to God’s commandments. Unfortunately conscience is covered up with a kind of crust which can be pierced only by intense suffering; then conscience speaks. But after a while a man calms down and once more the organ becomes covered over and buried”.
“You should forget about morality. Conversations about morality are simply empty talk. Your aim is inner morality”.
“External morality is different everywhere”.
“You should understand, and establish it as a firm rule, not to pay attention to other people’s opinions. You must be free of people surrounding you, and when you are free inside you will be free of them”.
“To be just at the moment of action is a hundred times more valuable than to be just afterwards”.
“To gain anything real, long practice is necessary. Try to accomplish very small things first”.
“There are two kinds of doing – automatic and doing what you ‘wish’. Take a small thing that you ‘wish’ to do and cannot do and make this your God. Let nothing interfere. If you ‘wish’ you can. Without whishing you never ‘can’. ‘Wish’ is the most powerful thing in the world”.
“To bear the manifestations of others is a big thing; The last thing for a man”.
“In the river of life suffering is not intentional. In conscious life suffering is intentional and of great value”.
“To love one must first forget all about love. Make it your aim and look for direction. As we are we cannot possibly love”.
“Until a man uncovers himself he cannot see”.
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