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“These terrors on account of which you will not hang yourself are admitted by Nature as offensive for your existence, to the extent in which they are necessary to give you the experiences of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. Without them, there could not exist the experiences of which our life is made up. This is the source of the many troubles, griefs, efforts, self-loves, vanities which force man to act, to attain, and have illusions and disillusions. That is what supports life. These same things give us dreams, imaginations, and illusions, and awake the most various wishes in man. And he is always full of them. They give him the necessary impulse and fill his life, and he has no time to feel reality. Often those alms are inaccessible, but man does not see this and keeps on trying and trying. When one kind of trouble passes-another appears. Man's machine has to work all the time.

“And now imagine that you know, that you remember, if only with your head, that you have in one month to die. Exactly in one month. What will remain then of all that has filled our day? Everything that you have will lose its meaning and will count as nothing. And the newspaper with your morning coffee, and the polite greeting from your neighbors on the stairs, your professional work and belongings, and theater in the evening, and rest and sleep-to what purpose is all this?

“But if death will come only in a year or two? Even then, everything will no longer have the same meaning that it had for us before. Involuntarily you ask: if that is so, why should we live?

“Because your life is not for yourself. Your life is necessary to somebody else, who watches over it and takes care of it, that you may be able to live a little better. We take and we watch over the lives of our sheep and pigs. When we feed them, do we do this because we care about them, or for the sake of their lives? No, we make their lives happy and good, and arrange for them all sorts of comforts in order that when the time comes to kill them, we may have better meat and more fat.”

~ George Gurdjieff “Gurdjieff's Early Talks 1914-1931”



‘The arbitrariness of our movements is an illusion. Psychological analysis and the study of the psycho-motor functions as laid down by the Gurdjieff system show that every one of our movements, voluntary or involuntary, is an unconscious transition from one automatic posture to another automatic posture — the man takes from among the postures open to him those that accord with his personality; and the number of his postures is very small. All our postures are mechanical. We do not realize how closely linked together are our three functions; moving, emotional, and mental. They depend on one another; they result from one another; they are in constant reciprocal action. When me changes, the others change. The posture of your body corresponds with your feelings and your thoughts. A change in your feelings will produce a corresponding change in your mental attitude, and in your physical posture. So that if we wish to change our habits of feeling and our habitual forms of thinking, we must first change our habits of posture. But in ordinary life it is impossible for us to acquire new physical postures; the automatism of the thinking process and habitual movements would prevent it. Not only are the thinking, feeling, and moving processes in man bound together, so to speak, but each and all three of them are compelled to work in the closed circle of automatic habitual postures. The Institute’s method of preparing a man for harmonious development is to help him free himself from automatism. The Stop exercise helps in this. The physical body being maintained in an unaccustomed position, the subtler bodies of emotion and thought can stretch into another shape.

‘It is important to remember that an external command is necessary in order to bring the will into operation, without which a man could not keep the transitional posture. A man cannot order himself to stop, because the combined postures of the three functions are too heavy for the will to move. But coming from the outside the command “Stop” plays the role of the mental and emotional functions, whose state generally determines the physical posture; and so the physical posture, not being in the state of habitual slavery to the mental and emotional postures, is weakened, and in turn weakens the other postures; this enables our will for a brief moment to rule our functions.’

AR Orage as quoted by CS Nott in “The Teachings of Gurdjieff - A Pupil's Journey”



Three days ago we were at Fontainebleau with him [Gurdjieff] – Solita, Louise and myself at lunch in his brother's house. He turns on me and gives me a terrible test I cannot understand. I need no notes, for I cannot forget. Only this – to make the picture always complete – he says, "Me in room, ten men, guns pointed at me. A plate of sh[it] on table. Kees [kiss] her or eat that." I do self-observation while his attack goes on and stop flushes or tears and keep my eye on him – eye to eye with him.

Afterwards, looking me in the eye, he laughs, then turns to the others and says, "See, she stare at me like cow stare at new pan door." We all have to think what new-pan-door can mean. Finally we realize he means newly painted door.

"Cow in morning, goes out from barn – live always in same barn, go down same road to field, stay all day and eat. Man, while cow gone, paints door of barn. At night cow come home. Same road he knows, to same barn but now barn has new paint door. Cow stands looking at new paint door. That how she stare at me now. You see?" I have thought of many interpretations of this but the one that seems most right to me is this: His sudden attack of me on a most personal and near theme was the painting of the door, and I, who had felt that he was "my idea of home," suddenly find myself staring at the door he had deliberately painted, behind which door I still knew "home" was, but staring, confounded.

~ "Gurdjieff and the Women of the Rope"



"One morning when I passed through the center of Essentuki, I notice a poster advertising a special evening... Later that day when I walked with Mr. Gurdjieff and Dr. S., I spoke of this quite casually.

"Doctor, you hear? He's inviting us to the club this evening. What? Will you invite us for supper?...

"This was bad. A supper during the inflation cost a tremendous amount of money and I no longer had an income coming in each month. But there was nothing for it but to go ahead with this plan, because I hadn't the courage to say no. That evening I took 500 rubles (in former times a supper in the best restaurant would have come to no more than two and a half rubles) and went to the club. It was almost empty... Now my hell began. Mr. Gurdjieff played with me as if I were a child to whom one wished to teach a lesson. "Well, doctor, since he's treating us come on; it would be nice to start with some vodka and hors d'oeuvres. Then later --" It went on and on. I vividly remember to this day the oranges he ordered, because I did not have the courage to tell Mr. Gurdjieff I didn't have enough money and ask him to lend me some until we got home. How could I get out of the situation? It was agonizing. Finally I decided to tip the waiter and send him to my wife for more money... [F]inally the money was brought and the I paid for everything. The bill came to about one thousand rubles, enough for us to live on for half a month.

"Next morning Mr. Gurdjieff came to see us, and gave me the money I had spent on the supper. This was another extremely painful moment—not from the ordinary point of view, but because I realized I did not know how to behave like a grown-up man. Mr. Gurdjieff had told me so several times, but only now did I believe it. That morning Mr. Gurdjieff was not at all as he had been the evening before; there were not reproaches, no raillery. All he said was that what had happened had been done for my sake."

~ composer Thomas de Hartmann "Our Life With Mr. George Gurdjieff"

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