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Having already experienced almost every kind of physical toil and discomfort as soldier, sailor, farmer, labourer; I considered that the Prieure had nothing to teach me in this respect. But it did not take more than two or three weeks for me to begin to see that I still had much to learn; to realize that I did not know how to do physical work —as a man and not a machine. I had been told to ‘chop’ stones, and with four girls I spent ten days breaking limestone rock into small pieces the size of a nut. It was a contrast to working in the shady walks of the forest with the men; in the hot sun it became monotonous, dull, and wearisome, and my feelings began to revolt. I worked spasmodically and nervously. Gurdjieff came along one day, with the doctor, Stjoernval. ‘Why you work so nervously?’ he asked. ‘It’s a result of the war,’ I said. ‘No!’ he replied, ‘I think you always like this. Watch Gertrude, see how she works. All your attention goes in watching the clock, listening for the dinner bell.’ The next day Dr Stjoernval said to me, ‘You know, Mr Gurdjieff says we should learn to work like men, not like ordinary labourers. Like men, not like machines. Try to save your energy while you are chopping stones. You waste much energy in resenting what you are doing. Make a list of thirty or forty words in a foreign language and memorize them while you are working; at the same time try to sense your body and notice what you are doing.’

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



“This transformation of substances in two directions, what is called evolution and involution, proceeds not only along the main line from the absolutely fine to the absolutely dense and vice versa, but at all intermediate stations, on all levels, it branches aside. A substance, needed by some other entity, is taken by it and absorbed, thus setting the transformation, the evolution or involution, of that entity. As I have said, everything is in motion. No motion follows a straight line but has simultaneously a two fold motion: circling round itself or falling in the direction of the nearest center of gravity. This is the law of falling which is usually called the law of motion (gravity has no real existence). Thus everything either absorbs, eats something else, or itself serves as food. This is what reciprocal exchange means. This reciprocal exchange takes place in everything, both in organic and inorganic matter. These universal laws were known in very ancient times. We can come to this logical conclusion on the basis of historical facts which could not have taken place if in the remote past, men had not possessed this knowledge. From the most ancient times people knew how to use these laws of nature and control them. This artificial directing of mechanical laws is magic, which includes not only transformation of substances in the desired direction, but also resistance, opposition to certain mechanical influences based on the same mechanical laws. People who know these universal laws and know how to use them are magicians. There is white and black magic. White magic uses its knowledge for good, black magic uses it for evil, for its own selfish purposes.

“Like Great Knowledge, magic which has existed from the most ancient times, was never lost, and was always the same. Only the form in which this knowledge was expressed and transmitted changed depending on the place and epoch. For instance, now we speak in a language which will no longer be the same two hundred years hence, and two hundred years ago language was different. In the same way the form in which Great Knowledge is expressed is barely comprehensible! to subsequent generations and is mostly taken literally. In this way the inner content becomes lost for the masses. In the history of mankind we see two parallel and independent lines of civilization: the esoteric and the exoteric. Invariably one of them overpowers the other and develops, while the other fades. A period of esoteric civilization comes when there are favorable external conditions, political and otherwise. Then Knowledge, clothed in the form of a teaching corresponding to the conditions of time and place becomes widely spread.”

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



He leaves the room: "Now you all titillate until I come back." When he returns, he hears Alice saying, "And my eyes close when I do this exercise, and I look inward...

He tells us about inner vision – something very important in this work. Alice has this faculty psychopathically – he tells her she must do it exact from opposite. "Do this only when you have conscious wish to do, as now is, you do automatically. Just do opposite way around."

~ "Gurdjieff and the Women of the Rope"



In the cafe where Gurdjieff used to ‘hold court’ a great many people began to come to him. They used to seat themselves at his table or at one next to it in order to put questions to him or to listen to the questions put by others. Out of the considerable number who came filing in as if through a turnstile, besides Ouspensky and myself four other people settled down to become regulars. This situation lasted for several months, with daily meetings between Gurdjieff and his ‘Six’.

One evening we were at Phillipoff’s, as usual occupying our customary two tables. We were in the midst of a discussion on how, when you were in conversation with someone, you should strive not to lose your own individuality in listening to the other person—what Gurdjieff called ‘drowning’ yourself in him—but must keep your critical faculties clear so that you could still judge what the other person was saying.

Suddenly, in the middle of our talk, a young man came into the cafe in a very boisterous manner. He made straight for our tables where, however, there was no vacant place. Not knowing who this might be none of us moved up to make room for him, and so after a moment he seated himself at the empty neighbouring table, separated from Gurdjieff’s own by the one at which most of us pupils were sitting. Not at all embarrassed by our reception, he now, equally boisterously, broke into our conversation.

‘I should like you to give me some exposition of the subject you meet to discuss here, the gist of your theory and practice! Your purpose I already know.’

There was a silence. Gurdjieff did not even look at the young man, seeming as if he had not noticed him; but the slight movement of the corners of his mouth showed us very well what he was thinking of the newcomer, who now repeated his question, though with rather less assurance.

He asked, with a shade of anxiety in his voice, if we could here and now tell him what we had been doing to attain the purpose which ‘someone, somewhere, some time’ had told him we were after. In fact, could he learn about it now, at once?

Gurdjieff, still not looking at him, said in a lazy kind of voice (I had expected an angry one), ‘Young man, although this is a cafe and open to everyone to enter, these two are our private tables. So all I shall tell you is that all these six people you see here have spent their time with me from noon till midnight or even later, every day for months past. They come here seeking that very thing that “someone, somewhere, some time” told you about. If you think it will be of any use to you, I will just tell you that I know that these six people understand enough for them to know at least that they are on the road they want to take. But to understand that, they must have walked part of the road already. They know the purpose, they know the way... they are satisfied by that and don’t ask “When will the end of the road be reached?”—They are satisfied just to be on the road and though it brings hardship it also brings experiences that ordinary life cannot give them.

‘Am I right?’ He turned to us. All six of us like one man, fervently shouted ‘Yes! Yes!’

‘You see, young man? . . . And these are highly educated people: people of the world. A well-known doctor, a famous writer, two prominent engineers, one member of the Senate and this young lady, a splendid musician preparing for the career of a concert pianist. They are all well-read, are travelled, have studied different schools of esoteric thought, attended universities—in fact, they are extraordinarily gifted people. But in all this time they have never asked me what you asked just now... And here you are, wanting an answer when you have hardly been here ten minutes! Anyway, even if I did open that door for you, and give you a glimpse of a new world behind it, you would not understand a thousandth part of what we discuss here and what we are trying to achieve.

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



GURDJIEFF: Ah, thees very important theeng. She have shame—shame with mind for how is all of self. Now perhaps this shame will go in all centrum and then she realize how is? She realize her insignificance as man.

And what is? Ees sheet. Then she die-man must die to resurrect. But cannot die until realize insignificance. So I say that she have twenty-five percent possibility— is twenty-five percent along way to die, because she have shame, and if this shame proceed from mind to other centrum, then she will know what she is, how is her insignificance. Know insignificance of self is extremely difficult; example, like try imagine one's own death. Can imagine Mr. Smith being killed, but never self being killed. So it is with insignificance. Can know this about other person, but not about self.

~ "Gurdjieff and the Women of the Rope"

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