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After our group meeting there would be a meal with G. Gurdjieff, where we proposed toasts to the names chosen by pupils in the group, and sometimes by Monsieur Gurdjieff himself.

For the toasts, G. asked you to choose a name from a list consisting of several series of names, grouped in threes. There were for example: ordinary, superior, arch; zigzag, square, round etc.

G. Gurdjieff called this series the ‘idiots’. This name did not have the negative meaning of the French word, but G. undoubtedly used it to be provocative! It simply meant: ‘someone’.

The toast we drank was only a tiny glass of armagnac or vodka. The women could merely pretend, or just drink a third, as could the men.

I often had the role of proposing the toasts to the ‘idiots’. I observed that the name chosen expressed what one thought of oneself. Sometimes G. Gurdjieff gave someone a name himself, or he changed the ones we had chosen. I noticed that these names corresponded to a character trait or expressed the quintessential nature of the personality.

One day G. said that it was possible to pass from square to round, or the reverse, from round to square, where there are stops. A change of name given by G. Gurdjieff indicated an inner movement to a different level. It was therefore all about work on oneself transforming one's being.

I remembered that in the old traditions, names were given at each stage that the individual passed through: birth, adolescence, adulthood, and events which provoke a change in one’s life.

I chose the name ‘recalcitrant’. I felt myself to be like that and I still do! One evening, when my name was pronounced, G turning towards me, said in a surprised tone: “You, be recalcitrant?” . . . Then he added, affirmatively, “You - be compassionate!” I was surprised, I didn’t see myself like that at all!

And one evening, on toasting my name, G. said to me, “You, Compassionate? . . . But . . . subjective? Or objective?" . . . In this way G. Gurdjieff put everything back into question! . . . I had to understand that I was compassionate’, and subjective? or objective?

~ Solange Claustres “Becoming Conscious with Mr. Gurdjieff”



Questioner: I have tried to use the negative emotions. I have overcome them very well, but I have had the feeling of annihilating them rather than converting them. I do not succeed in using them as a force. I suppress them.

Gurdjieff: You do not suppress them. What happens in you is another impulse which for a short time takes the place of the negative impulse. Thus aside, for a moment. But it is not destroyed. One must do many times "tchik, tchik," in order to destroy them. You cannot ascertain that it is absent—but if you change states, you shall see that it functions more feebly. Thus, you have a program of work. If you have understood, continue to extirpate, to chase away the impulses. But don't be tranquil. You do it serenely. This is another impulse which replaces, too feeble for you to perceive it, and you imagine that you no longer have negative emotions. Only strong vibrations reach your consciousness.

~ George Gurdjieff "Paris/Wartime Meetings"



"Everything is the result of three forces; everywhere there is affirmation and negation, cathode and anode. Man, earth, everything is like a magnet. The difference is only in the quantity of emanations. Everywhere two forces are at work, one attracting, another repelling. As I said, man is also a magnet. The right hand pushes, the left hand pulls, or vice versa. Some things have many emanations, some less, but everything attracts or repels. Always there is push and pull, or pull and push. When you have your push and pull well-balanced with another, then you have love and right adjustment. Therefore results may be very different. If I push and he pulls correspondingly, or if the same thing is done not correspondingly, the result is different. Sometimes both he and I repulse. If there is a certain correspondence, the resulting influence is calming. If not, it is the reverse.

"One thing depends on another. For instance, I cannot be calm; I push and he pulls. Or I cannot be calm if I cannot alter the situation. But we can attempt some adjustment. There is a law that after a push there is a pause. We can use this pause if we can prolong it and not rush forward to the next push. If we can be quiet, then we can take advantage of the vibrations which follow a push.

"Everyone can stop for there is a law that everything moves only so long as momentum lasts. Then it stops. Either he or I can stop it. Everything happens in this way. A shock to the brain, and vibrations start. Vibrations go on by momentum, similar to rings on the surface of water if a stone is thrown in. If the impact is strong, a long time elapses before the movement subsides. The same happens with vibrations in the brain. If I don't continue to give shocks, they stop, quiet down. One should learn to stop them.

"If I act consciously, the interaction will be conscious. If I act unconsciously, everything will be the result of what I am sending out.

"I affirm something; then he begins to deny it. I say this is black; he knows it is black but is inclined to argue and begins to assert that it is white. If I deliberately agree with him, he will turn around and affirm what he denied before. He cannot agree because every shock provokes in him the opposite. If he grows tired he may agree externally, but not internally. For example, I see you, I like your face. This new shock, stronger than the conversation, makes me agree externally. Sometimes you already believe but you continue to argue.

"It is very interesting to observe other people's conversation, if one is oneself out of it. It is much more interesting than the cinema. Sometimes two people speak of the same thing: one affirms something, another does not understand, but argues, although he is of the same opinion.

"Everything is mechanical.

"About relationships, it can be formulated like this: our external relationships depend on us. We can change them if we take the necessary measures."

~ George Gurdjieff "Views from the Real World"



In Cafe Gambrinus. Our Big Talk.

GURDJIEFF: Already you decide to go out from average-ness.

[We speak of the impossibility of turning back. He speaks for twenty minutes then tells us to spend the rest of the day and all the next, thinking only of what he has said.]

Even if you too much spend for this, no matter. Later you can rest. But now must put all aside and concentrate only on this what I just now tell.

[A pause for rest, then he laughs to himself]

One association just go automatically in my brain. You know, this is first time on earth such thing is told in such place. This has been told, but in one year's time and with big preparation — prayer, fast, even enema make before. Also special costume. Here in twenty minutes, in such dirty place, we have told.

KROKODILE: And With such people, Mr. Gurdjieff. (Alice and me.)

GURDJIEFF: Yes. Each thing such as now I just tell, have one theme. And you know, every one such theme have special incense. You must know from old ages man use this incense for make arise state for prayer, for thanksgiving, for Athenian night, for business even. Man long has known which incense make arise impulse for each state.

[Alice speaks of Egypt; amber, peddled there chiefly as an aphrodisiac.]

GURDJIEFF: They not know all. Amber is first thing in all incenses. Is base for every kind. Egypt uses amber; in Persia and Turkestan, the rose; in China, “anasha,” from what come hashish (hemp). On earth this has always been so divided—different base for incenses which produce same results. One other thing also man uses; this poison mushroom, red cap, very beautiful. Everywhere he grow. And when is ready, on red cap from these (pimples) one liquid arises- this man freeze and take. This more strong poison than all what exist. More strong even than opium.

~ "Gurdjieff and the Women of the Rope"

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