- G.I. Gurdjieff
Week 2 Assignments
- Observe and document: “My” ways of complaining
- Observe and document: How “I” stick up for “my” rights.
- Observe and document: How “I” try to please others.
- Observe and document: What “I” believe because it was from something or someone I considered an authority.
Week 2 Transcript
To start our second week, we may review just a little bit of what we have discovered in one week’s work. We’ve been doing the work of keeping a few little notes as to what has been going on in certain areas of one’s existence. Now, some of the things that you have probably discovered is that you have no rights – as much as one has always believed that one has from all the teachings of one’s environment.
From the environment we have also been conditioned to believe as a fundamental thing that every human has free agency or free choice. But if we have observed we found that we may have intended to be peaceful all day – that was our choice – but that something happened and we found that self was in quite a turmoil. One may have decided not to lose one’s temper. That was one’s choice.
But somewheres during the week something happened and the old mechanical adaptation took place and one found one was angry. Some “not-I” took in. So, we may have discovered that at this moment we have no free agency or no free choice. And one may have discovered that self is not one but is really multiple. And we have been taught to believe that we’re one, that we can choose what we do and that we’re 100% in charge, that if we did wrong it was because we knew better, but went on and did wrong anyway – with due thought, consideration and total free agency or free choice. However, if one has done the work of last week we may have discovered already that these ideas are not true, that we have believed something to be true that was not true. We may have begun to see that that expression of vanity, which we defined as having a false picture of self, just may be about correct. And that there is a certain amount of vanity in “me” and that there was quite an effort to defend it.
So we will continue to do the work of last week. But this week we will add on some more material that will give it deeper meaning. It’ll make it easier and will definitely give greater insight into it.
Now in this week we are going to make a drawing, maybe two or three drawings. Let’s take a fair-sized sheet of paper. A regular typing size sheet of paper will be quite adequate. And let’s make a rather large “V” in that sheet of paper. About a third of the way up let’s draw a line across that “V”. And about another third of the way up, two-thirds up from the bottom, draw another one. And from the very point of it, put a little arrow going outward. Now what we are starting to do is draw a Picture of Man as he is designed.
Now we are going to study man as a unit, not his physiology one time and his psychology another time and his biology another time and his Spirit another time – we’re going to put it all together. So now we have our “V” – closed at the bottom, open at the top, and with two lines across it – one, each one, about a third and the other two-thirds of the way up.
Now we will label these four things that we have. In the closed portion in the bottom, the closed triangle at the bottom, the upside down triangle so to speak, we will put PHYSICAL BODY. This represents the physical body. And if you want to and you’re an excellent artist, draw a torso in it, not the head, just the torso. Now in the middle box, the area just above the physical body, let’s put AWARENESS. That is the Awareness Function of the human being. Just above it we will put X in the space that no matter how far you extend those two lines that would still be “X”. It is the unlimited aspect of mind. The Awareness is limited and the Physical Body is limited.
Now from a circle drawn around this, or at least a portion of a circle, arcs around it, which represents and we will label the ENVIRONMENT. Now let’s draw a line, a dotted line from the Environment into Awareness. And we will draw another little dotted line from the Physical Body into Awareness. So there’s two arrows coming into the Awareness – one from the Environment and one from the Physical Body. Both of these will be labeled. The one coming from the environment we will write “Impressions” on it. The one coming from the body we will write “Sensations.” Now all of ‘em are really sensations because they do go through the body to get to the impressions. But certain ideologies we form from the environment without necessarily having a sense of it first. But we will not make a technical point, but there is Impressions and Sensations constantly impinging upon the Awareness.
Now the Awareness has two basic functions: 1) decides what is true and 2) decides what is valuable. We will write these down: “True” and “Valuable.” Now that Information goes from Awareness to X. So we’ll draw an arrow from Awareness to X. And that is what the Awareness evaluates – any impression or sensation as being true or being false.
Now you may have experienced at some time or other having some irritation to the nervous system and have a feeling of ants or insects crawling on the body. You could look and see that it was not true. So one wouldn’t use insecticides or start pickin’ ants off oneself. One has had many sensations that one interpreted as not being true. There is many impressions come into one that one says, “Tis not true.” We might look out and see a rainbow and it looks very much like it’s a permanent structure when one first looks at it. But one knows and interprets it as being an optical illusion due to the breaking up of sunrays and a prism action and water vapor. And one knows that it is not a permanent structure. Sometime when you were young, or maybe even now, we see a moon come up over a mountain or over a hill, and it looks like the moon is laying on the hill or on the mountain. The senses says it is, but we interpret it as that is not the truth. And then we put value on every conceivable thing that one experiences. If you value it as going to gain pleasure or comfort, or value it as something that would produce pain, one begins to act upon it because one has given the impression to X. Now X always does the appropriate thing for the information it receives from Awareness.
Now we’ll send an arrow from X to the Physical Body It always does the appropriate thing for the information it receives. And then the appropriate function of course takes place into the environment and that cycle is completed. Impression comes into Awareness. Awareness has the chore or the attribute or the function of interpreting every sensation, every impression as to its validity of truth and to its value; and that is what goes to X.
X is the Life principle, which no one can define. We do know that if it is not present, the living form ceases to exist. The body begins to rapidly disintegrate and no function takes place, no adaptation takes place. While X is present, if a very hot object should strike the skin, there is a sensation, which one knows as “burn” and probably interprets as being painful and dangerous, and values getting away from it. And X gets away from it and adapts – it’ll make a blister. If the same hot object is put on a physical structure that X does not inhabit, it will start cooking it. But it will not form a blister; there is no adaptation.
At a later date we will take up some further study on the nature and the way X operates. In the meantime let’s leave it without further theories or ideologies. We will try to observe what it does but we will not attribute it any attribute other than it always does the appropriate thing for the information received.
Now let’s draw another “V” very similar to the one we have just drawn. And we’ll label this one different to give us a parallel – something that we can understand by parallel in our everyday existence. On this one, instead of the Physical Body, let’s put “Troops.” And in Awareness, let’s put “Intelligence Corps.” And instead of X, let’s put “Wise General.”
Now, the Intelligence Corps receives information from the environment and it receives information from the Troops. It is well aware of what’s going on in the Troops – the morale, the scuttlebutt as it’s called, the gossip, the various things that the Troops are doing. And it is also aware of the information and what’s going on in the environment. Now it does not tell the Wise General what to do, but it does relate what it considers to be true as it sees it – the Intelligence Corps – and that it also puts value or priorities on what information goes.
If it feels that it is totally immaterial, it puts no value on it, it is not reported. If it is valued, it is reported immediately and the Wise General of course gives the orders down through his chain of command and the Troops carry out his orders. And this aids in the survival and the advancement, or other words, the purpose of this organism called an army…that has a general, it has all his lines of command but he depends for his information on the Intelligence Corps. And the function of course is to advance and survive for the army.
Now, let’s draw this same drawing again with the same attributes in it, the same three divisions and the Function. And this time we’re going to have a little further road map for our observation of self, to see what really is going on and give us an understanding of what goes on about us. We said in our first discussion that when a person had a fundamental purpose of living, that was a basic programming. And that the person then reacted always from that basic programming or basic ideology of what is the purpose of living.
Now in about the center of the line just above the Physical Body and inside the Awareness, let’s make a half circle and we’ll color it dark – black if you’re using black ink, or blue with blue ink – but cover it over. Now this is man’s fundamental purpose of living. It was probably made in the process of being born.
The baby had been existing and somewhat conscious in the pre-natal world, the uterine world, where he floated around in a literal la-di-dah existence. There was no challenges. There wasn’t any sudden, loud sounds because they were all muffled through the many layers of soft tissue and water that surrounded the child. He wasn’t subject to sudden changes in temperature. Even if the mother’s temperature went up and down a degree or two, it was very small. There wasn’t any drafts, there wasn’t anything. He was never hungry because his food was supplied to him before he could be hungry. And no disturbance – he lived in the uterine world.
But birth is a process of dying to the uterine world and being born into the earth world. Now being born into the earth world – which is an entirely different world, nothing of which he was acquainted with at the moment – everything was strange. There was all kinds of unusual sensations, sudden changes in temperature, sudden blows, maybe an irritation in his eyes from having silver nitrate put in his eyes, being restricted by clothing being put on him and any number of other sudden, unusual situations. So the infant, with feeling – of course not with words and we will put words on his feeling – comes to a very basic, fundamental idea as to the purpose of living. He decides something like this: The purpose of living is to regain the non-disturbed state by gaining and by escaping.
And so we will put down below the basic idea: “GAIN” on one side, and “ESCAPE” on the other and let’s see if we can find what each of us started in this world trying to gain and trying to escape in order to gain the non-disturbed state. First, we want to gain comfort or pleasure – that is sensations we like. Another person may not like the same thing that is comfortable or pleasurable to one. But it’s whatever is comfortable and pleasurable to the individual, whatever sensation one can gain. And one wants to escape any sensation one calls “painful.” Now this you might say is the ideal that has been set up, is to regain and have permanently in existence the non-disturbed state by gaining, pleasure, and comfort on all levels and escaping pain.
Now very quickly the infant decides on a course of self-improvement. So let’s draw a circle inside the Awareness, and on the right side of it we’ll put it – right side, my right hand, what’s in front of me…really the left side of this one if it has a face – we’ll draw a circle and put a “1” in it. Now this is the first idea – that the infant had to improve his situation to gain more pleasure, and more comfort, and especially to escape pain. This is another decision, another “not-I.” It decides that the whole way to gain pleasure and escape pain at this stage of the game is something like this: “It is important to have my way now, and the way to get it is to complain.” Now our little one starts by complaining, by crying. Now most of us may at times still use crying when we are really not getting our way. But mostly, we have found more sophisticated methods of complaining.
So we will make us a sheet of paper and head it: “My” Ways of Complaining.” And we will keep track this week of the ways we complain. It may be by pouting. It may be by putting on a hurt front. It may be by over-doing something or whatever the case. It may be by drinking a little too much. It may be by getting out of the house and driving the car very speedily down the street. It may be a number of things. But whatever it be, we will keep a record of our ways of complaining, my ways of complaining.
Now, we’re not going to show these to anybody and everybody. They’re something very personal and for our own enlightenment. And not for the idea, “I’m going to quit it,” or anything of the sort. What we’re doing it is to gain information. Before we can do anything about anything we have to know what’s going on. So, now we want to know the many ways that we complain.
Now, some weeks later – and not too many weeks later – we all learned another technique. When complainin’ didn’t get our way because the parents got tired of the complainin’ and said, “Let him cry! You know, he’s just trying to cry it out – let him cry,” – we found another way. And this one was because the infant felt he had a right to get rid of this discomfort or he had a right to be picked up and cuddled, which we could say was one form of comfort, or he had a right to be fed right now. And of course he begin to stick up for his rights. And in this the baby of course could only cry, hold his breath, get blue in the face and a number of other little tricks that the infant learns. And very quickly his mother learns that he’s just mad, or she’s just mad and doesn’t exactly get carried away with taking care of him. However, he can be so obnoxious with this belligerent behavior and form of communication, his belligerency, that usually it gets some result. So, we’ll have another sheet of paper and at the top of it we will write: “How “I” Stick Up for “My” Rights.” “I” has quotation marks around it and “My” has quotation marks around it.) “How “I” Stick Up for “My” Rights.” And we will record this and we will keep a little running diary, so to speak, a little running log of how “I” complain and how “I” stick up for “my” rights.
Now as this was going along, the infant at least was not in conflict with self. He was only in conflict with the environment. But as we said, when mother has put up with about enough of this angry crying and about enough of this complaining she begins to complain and stick up for her rights. So she insists that the young one makes another fundamental effort at self-improvement. You know, most self-improvement is getting other selves to improve so that “I” won’t be disturbed.
So for number three, let’s put just opposite – on the other wall of the Awareness from “Sticking up for Rights” – and we will put a “3” on it. Now mother by her efforts is convincing by suggestion, possibly physical suggestion, and by producing pleasure and pain and various other sensations in our young one, that this person must make another effort at self-improvement. And this one is: In order to gain the pleasure and escape the pain, it’s necessary to please them. It’s important to please them. Now the little one smiles and grins and does various things because somebody will pet him for that. And he tries to hesitate from his belligerency because that has been bringing pain.
Now that brings a split in the Awareness. So let’s make a dotted line from the top down to the middle of that basic decision that the whole purpose of living is to be non-disturbed to regain the non-disturbed state. Now we have two Awareness’s. So let’s name the one with two ideas in it now, self-improvement “A”; and the one on the other side, “B”. It only has one [circle in it] now. Obviously, “B” is going to be outnumbered quite frequently. And there’s going to be many times when the “A’s” give the idea of what’s true and what’s valuable to X. But, shortly after they get to do it, the “B” side will say, “Now you’re in for it. Now you will get it, and you’re up for troubles now and you did wrong!” And the person begins to feel that basic emotion that was never intended for man, that man is not equipped to handle – he begins to feel GUILT. Another word for it, of course, would be “regret” and so forth. So one is in conflict now.
And of course there is two different ideas – one, one moment and one in another. So “A” gets up and says, “Well, let’s do it!” And maybe the little “B” is asleep and there’s no argument and “A” goes ahead and does it and gives what’s true and what’s valuable to X. And little “B” wakes up and says, “Now you’ve got into it!” And it sends a message to X that things are in a terrible state of affairs and one feels pretty terrible. Or maybe “B” gets up first and gets the word in and that’s the way it’s done and “A” is asleep for the moment, both of them. And pretty soon they wake up and they say, “For goodness sakes, we don’t ever get to do anything we want to do! We just have to do what they want to do!” This is a feeling of course of inferiority, or self-pity, or as the better word today is used – depression. One is depressed. And so the infant very early starts into this – he’s in a state of conflict, he’s in a state of struggle within. He is trying to find a way where there is oneness. So we start very early in life trying to find ONE.
Now a little bit later one is brought into contact with various people in the environment – one, that you must do this in order to please or something terrible will happen. The suggestions begin. “You be good and Santa Claus will bring you gifts. If you are not good, Santa Claus won’t bring you gifts. If you are not good, you will have all manner of trouble. If you don’t please the teacher you will get flunked. If you please the teacher she will give you a good grade. If you cross the street, the policeman will put you in jail. So you stay on this side of the street.” And of course one is sent to school and then the teacher says, “You must go to the principal if you don’t do well,” so the principal becomes a bug-a-boo. But the little one comes up with a decision very similar to this: It is important to believe and do everything I am told by my authorities.
So, we have two more sheets of paper: “How “I” Have Tried to Please” and “How “I” Believed What “I” Believed Because it was from Something or Someone I Considered an Authority.” Now we were all sent to school and had to repeat what was in the book, so we began to believe that the printed word is an authority.
So, suppose we have 4 sheets of paper now, do you not?
One that says: How “I” Complain
One: How “I” stick up for rights.
One: How “I” try to please.
And another one: Why “I” believe this or that or the other. [Because it was from someone or something I considered an authority.]
And that will keep us pretty busy this week along with what we did the first week observing those. Have fun!