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Jane Heap left for London on October eighteenth — a Black Friday for us who went to the station to see her off on the boat train. She had brought us into the Gurdjieff work, had given us a taste for the indefinable vastness of its aim. I remembered as I fought back tears ( for which weakness she would have chided me) one of her statements that had really put the fear of God in me: "We in this Method are like Lucifers, cast out from the mechanical heaven in which we live." In the stress of emotion my mind flew off in hyperbole, presenting pictures of us falling through empty space, drifting and falling . . .

Her train pulled out, and our group dispersed in different directions. I stood alone for a moment, then a self I had never seen or heard, the self that Gurdjieff was to name Crocodile that same evening, propelled me to the Cafe de la Paix, through its heavy revolving door and directly to Gurdjieff' s table.

He gazed up at me without a trace of recognition. My heart pounded as I recited my sketchy credentials for the intrusion, reminding him that I had once driven behind him to Fontainebleau, later met him in a Child's Fifth Avenue and now had come from Gare St. Lazare after seeing Miss Heap off for London. His boring eyes seemed to be sampling my inner state as I chattered; then, when I had come to the end of my rope, he mercifully invited me to sit for a coffee.

After a period of easy-feeling silence he looked at me and remarked that I had changed; I was "thin in the cheeks," he said. "Now I think you smell my idea, you smell so-o ..." he inhaled deeply. "You can change ten times like that, each time more strong. Then maybe the next change is not 'it' changing, but 'you' changing. Maybe perhaps," he added thoughtfully.

Raptly I watched him squeeze lemon into his black coffee and frugally shake the yellow rind for its last drops. Presently he continued talking in another vein. He had been sitting there thinking. Now I must have rest . . . and I had come in and I was rest. Did I know what he meant by rest? he asked. I imagined he meant "idiot relief" and nodded. Then he asked me if I had ever heard of his "crayfish club" where he took people and "sheared" them. Shearing, I knew, was his colorful term for getting contributions toward his Work. Would I like to be a "candidate for shearing" that night? he asked, and I was nodding in advance of his statement of what it would cost me. Had he read my mind (as some on the lunatic fringe claimed he could do) he would have seen my readiness to pay for a trip to the moon if I could tail along in orbit behind him.

~ Kathryn Hulme "Undiscovered Country"



Questioner: This invites negative emotions to return more strongly. This week has been the best, because I have had some negative emotions. It is dangerous, it is real, devastation is possible, but I have had the taste of what can be a life.

Gurdjieff: Continue. But with the understanding that what you are accumulating is a substantial thing not only for the present, but for the future. This is very important. It is already time to think of remembering and at the same time of picturing to yourself in forms, not words, what is happening to you.

~ George Gurdjieff "Paris/Wartime Meetings"



There exist other influences which affect us most seriously. Every moment of our life, every feeling and thought is colored by planetary influences. To these influences also we are slaves...

The earth and all other planets are in constant motion, each with a different velocity. Sometimes they approach one another, at other times they recede from one another. Their mutual interaction is thus intensified or weakened, or even ceases altogether. Generally speaking, planetary influences on the earth alternate; now one planet acts, now another, now a third, and so on. Some day we shall examine the influence of each planet separately, but at present, in order to give you a general idea, we shall take them in their totality.

Schematically we can picture these influences in the following way. Imagine a big wheel, hanging upright above the earth, with seven or nine enormous colored spotlights fixed round the rim. The wheel revolves, and the light of now one and now another projector is directed toward the earth—thus the earth is always colored by the light of the particular projector which illuminates it at a given moment.

All beings born on earth are colored by the light prevailing at the moment of birth, and keep this color throughout life. Just as no effect can be without cause, so no cause can be without effect. And indeed planets have a tremendous influence both on the life of mankind in general and on the life of every individual man. It is a great mistake of modern science not to recognize this influence. On the other hand this influence is not so great as modern "astrologers" would have us believe.

Man is a product of the interaction of three kinds of matter: positive (atmosphere of the earth), negative (minerals, metals) and a third combination, planetary influences, which comes from outside and meets these two matters. This neutralizing force is the planetary influence which colors each newly born life. This coloring remains for the whole of its existence. If the color was red, then when this life meets with red it feels in correspondence with it.

Certain combinations of colors have a calming effect, others a disturbing effect. Each color has its own peculiar property. There is a law in this; it depends on chemical differences. There are, so to speak, congenial and uncongenial combinations. For instance, red stimulates anger, blue awakens love. Pugnacity corresponds to yellow. Thus if I am apt to lose my temper suddenly, this is due to the influence of the planets It does not mean that you or I are actually like that, but we may be. There may be stronger influences. Sometimes another influence acts from within and prevents you from feeling the external influence; you may have such a strong preoccupation that you are, as it were, encased in armor. And this is so not only with planetary influences. Often a distant influence cannot reach you. The more remote the influence, the weaker it is. And even if it were specially sent to you, it might not reach you because your armor would prevent it.

The more developed a man is, the more he is subject to influences. Sometimes, wishing to free ourselves from influences, we get free of one and fall under many others and so become even less free, even more slaves.

~ George Gurdjieff "Views from the Real World"



“One of Gurdjieff's subtle insights into human nature was his doctrine of ‘chief feature.’ Each of us has a central characteristic that colours all our responses to the world process. It is our blind spot and although we may recognize its manifestations, we do not see where they originate. So long as it works in us mechanically or unconsciously, it is our chief weakness, but when we can separate from it and observe its action critically, it becomes our chief asset. I have recently studied the working of the feature in nearly a hundred students and I am more than ever convinced that it is the key to understanding some of the strangest characteristics of the human psyche.”

~ JG Bennett “Witness”

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