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After a pause one said, ‘I find it difficult to distinguish between essence and personality.

‘Each of us,’ replied Gurdjieff, ‘is composed of two men—essence and personality. Essence is everything that we are born with; heredity, type, character, nature; essence is the real part of us. Essence does not change. I, for example, have a swarthy skin which belongs to my type; it is part of my essence. Personality is an accidental thing, which we begin to acquire as soon as we are born; it is determined by our surroundings, outside influences, education and so on; it is like a dress you wear, a mask; an accidental thing changing with changing circumstances. It is the false part of man; and can be changed artificially or accidentally— in a few minutes by hypnosis or a drug. A man with a “strong personality” may have the essence of a child, overlaid by personality. ‘When we speak of inner development and inner change, we speak of the growth of essence. The question now is not to acquire anything new but to recover and reconstruct what has been lost. This is the purpose of development. When you have learnt to distinguish personality from essence and to separate them you will understand what has to be changed. At present you have only one aim—to study. You are weak and dependent, you are slaves and helpless in the face of everything around you. Time and work are necessary to break the habits of years, and later it will be possible to replace certain habits with others. Man is dependent on externals, but externals are harmless in themselves and you will learn to replace influences that hinder your development with those that can help.’

~ CS Nott “The Teachings of Gurdjieff - A Pupil's Journey”



Lack of will-power to accomplish a purpose, or lack of a longing sufficiently intense to lead to concentration on the goal that one is determined to reach—these provide evidence enough of why a man will end as a failure. But when the longing or concentration is strong, it makes a tremendous driving force, sufficient to make possible the fulfillment of the purpose. It can bring about a state of happiness, ecstasy, creative enchantment, akin to the state of intense love of a man for a woman. He can achieve actions which others, not in that state of noble ‘intoxication’ and magical excitement, cannot conceive. Later, when his passion has cooled, such achievements seem inexplicable, even to himself.

~ Anna Butkowsky "With Gurdjieff in St. Petersburg and Paris"



Once, Gurdjieff stopped for a view over a wide valley beyond Orgeval, where Normandie begins and said, "It gives a feeling of wide" – and that was exactly what happened to one when one looked.

~ "Gurdjieff and the Women of the Rope"



Mr. Gurdjieff's relationship with me, although it continued in a surface sense to be the same, lad undergone a definite change which I felt had begun with the previous Christmas. I continued to clean his rooms, bring him coffee, and do his errands, but the easy, affectionate feeling that had existed between us—almost like that of a father and son —seemed to be disappearing; it was as if he had set out to create a certain distance and reserve between us.

When he had talked to me before, whatever the subject of our conversations, he had often referred to the fact that I was still a child and that much of what he was saying was something that I could not, at the time, understand. But with the change, while he still talked to me frequently, his tone was more serious and he no longer referred to me as a boy. I felt that he was beginning to expect me to fend for myself, to use my own mind—that he was, in fact, urging me to grow up.

He often discussed human relations in general, the specific roles of male and female, and human destiny; as often as not these discussions were not directed to me exclusively, but to a group of which I was a member. He took pains to make it clear to us that whenever he addressed anyone on any subject in the hearing of others, it would or could be beneficial for everyone present to listen to what he was saying. Many of us had the feeling that when he addressed one individual he was often talking not so much to that person as to anyone in the group who might feel that the conversation was applicable to himself. We sometimes had the feeling that he was talking to a particular person through someone else; as if purposely not

addressing one individual directly.

~ Fritz Peters “My Journey With a Mystic”

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