Category Archives: Joseph Azize

Using Moving Centre: with George Adie

This edited transcript from Tuesday 30 March 1982 is of a meeting where people brought questions about the study of the work of moving centre. The week before, Mr Adie had suggested that, to gain understanding for their inner aim, they study the work of moving centre.

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The idea was to make a plan in advance to be present and observe a discrete moving centre activity. We cannot completely follow moving centre, it is much faster than the head, but we can make an effort, and that will bring the results we seek. He added that it would be best to take simple actions which (1) involved a sequence, (2) where there was no danger anyone or anything else would be damaged, and (3) which customarily arose in the course of their days. As feasible examples, he gave boiling the water for tea or coffee, getting the mail from the letter box, and the first time in the day when you walk through the front door. When they had time and the opportunity, they should (4) study repetitive actions, as these provide special possibilities for self-study. Examples of this were raking the grass and clipping the hedge. I think that the reasons for these suggestions will become apparent.

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The first question was from Daniel, who tried to observe his sensation, but he did not know why he was doing it, and that had left him without any profit, not even a question.

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It comes back to my purpose,” said Adie. “If I don’t know what my aim is, I don’t know what my question is. Why would there be a question which means something to me without any aim? Perhaps a point of interest arises, perhaps not. But if I am trying to achieve something for a purpose, and it isn’t achieved, then I am surely interested to know why. It has to become simple and clear; as clear as if I cut myself a piece of bread, regard it on the plate, and I ask whether I eat it or not.”

But would any of that matter if you weren’t hungry? It isn’t working to put a brick on the shelf and then take it down again. That isn’t work: it’s no use to anybody. It could be but you’d have to invent some circumstance.”

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However, if you were observing at moments which arise most days, then you would need to know whether the purpose was fulfilled. You would have to have questions. You can’t necessarily answer them, but you can examine them, and there is profit in that. In trying to work in that way, extraordinary realisations will come. I can’t always recount them straight afterwards. Yet, it’s a law that there are. Whether you notice them or not depends on your presence.”

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You have to guard against a sort of tension in your head that makes you follow with your head. It’s as if I think that I can take something in with my head and understand. But it is not like that. I have to understand in the present second. Then, if I have received, I can understand more later on. However, it depends on having been there to receive.”

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Alfred said that during the week he had some feeling, but it was accidental.

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Yes, but all feelings are accidental, in a sense. You are not able to produce feelings at will. What you have is a certain possibility of dividing your attention, of making place for an aim, and having some kind of awareness and intention about it. The feelings will then be corresponding; but you can’t know what they’re going to be.”

Feeling can’t be under compulsion. You can have the idea to be kind, to help a person, while lacking the actual impulse to do so. Feeling is the result of your presence; feeling depends upon presence. Seeing and understanding depend upon presence, they are all interdependent, but the force is feeling in myself force. I can have an idea, but if there is no feeling, there is no force to fulfil. But I want action, I want some process, and that has to have feeling.”

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But what kind of feeling? I don’t know, just like that. My idea of being kind and considerate, that is one thing, that is my thought. But my feeling, what is that?”

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When feeling comes it isn’t really accidental. It is lawful, in process – but it isn’t under your control. It’s lawful and it’s available. Nobody can determine the result of the law of accident. Feeling is always available, but I have to be open to it. It depends on my state, that’s what prevents me from receiving what is available. I have mentioned before about looking through a frosty window at a railway yard. Not very romantic, but it was magical. It hinged on my state. When my state is low I don’t see the life, the light, nothing. I’m lost in my troubles all the time.”

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The condition of the preparation is totally different, and so the experience is different. You cannot remain in that condition and mix in life. As you cannot take the condition into life, so you cannot take the experience. It only comes in flashes. If you remained sitting for another half an hour, it would not maintain itself. But do I have some sort of awareness of the result, the influence upon me?”

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If I leave my room to go to the letter box, there are ages of the higher centres even in that short period. There are tens of thousands of flashes available to me. I go without any words. I wish not to disrupt that feeling, that balance. In that state, maybe worthwhile thought will commence moving, of itself. Then I have to go out, but that has taken place, that thought.”

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Patrick then asked about an observation he had made during the movements class that evening.

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First, Mr Adie asked Mrs Adie if she would like to comment, but she did not, so he spoke: “It was freedom from thought in a moment of balance. You were under different conditions, your attention was divided, and you forgot about the events of the day. I am not used to the kind of thought Gurdjieff’s movements need, and there is my possibility. Those moments of freedom can help me find how I must be placed inside myself so that the thinking brain can take its proper place: acting when needed, not interfering when not. This shows that the moving and instinctive centre together can perform the movements, provided they are allowed to. All our movements are habits: a great variety of habits. Everything is in habitual movement, not only externally but also internally.”

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You can’t do anything without movement. There may be a hundred different movements in getting up from the chair, getting a book, and sitting down again. We never think about our movements in ordinary life: what different kind of movements do we make when getting breakfast. So, which of these are we going to observe? If I say that I won’t hurry in any of my movements, I will fail. But what can I settle for? What can I accept so as not to hurry? If I am making breakfast perhaps I have one piece of toast not two, or I don’t cook breakfast. If you don’t try and think … if you could observe two or three movements that would be a substantial thing. If you’re doing repetitive work it gives you a chance – you can decide to take something small like getting the tools from your bag with your left hand, never the right.”

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Someone said that they’d painted the front door of the house with the left hand. When her husband came home he had to repaint it because it was a mess, plus she’d got paint all over the place. Not so intelligent: to have put their tongue in their left cheek while painting would have been be more sensible. It’s not very comfortable to do that, but you can decide to do it for three minutes. We have spent five minutes speaking about it now, but are we prepared to even sit and think for five minutes of practical ways to apply the ideas? We haven’t yet. It’s like thinking that it would be very nice to have a drink, but then never going and getting the bottle.”

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Take five minutes. Think of something specific and intelligent. Don’t hurt yourself, but a little bit of discomfort won’t be any harm.”

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Andrea said that she had tried to follow the movement of her hand while writing, but kept losing the impetus.

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You say you tried observing the movement of the hand while writing? What sort of movement was it? What do your movements express? Somebody competent? Self-confident? Nervous? Hesitation? Someone who couldn’t care less? If I wish to study, then I can observe. But if I don’t have that desire, then I can’t even follow. Why should I? What is the point?”

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And then I can go further: does the result correspond to the kind of writing that I need to do the job? I don’t aim to have the writing a copperplate writing. But it would be good if my writing was legible. Is my movement producing reasonable writing, without being unduly slow? Does it correspond to the task that I have? How do I move when I’m in a hurry? Hurry is inimical to my observation – I can’t observe properly if I am in a hurry. If I can see the nature of the movement, it will tell me something about the state inside. And then one begins to see the kind of dreams.”

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You find that the work goes better when you observe yourself? Yes. The problem you face is that your work doesn’t mean enough for you. A schoolboy given an algebraic sum, or something in a language he can’t understand, won’t even try if he can’t understand what it’s about. If it looks difficult, it’s much easier to look out of the window. Without some purpose, the idea of trying does not recommend itself to most people. But we apply ourselves to this because we want to find out.”

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And what is the alternative? If I do not wish to control my movements, what chance do I have? It is all connected. I move in accordance with dreams, I move in accordance with my total state. If I am in a good state, unhurried, I move in a totally different way. If I am late, or fearful, the movements are entirely different. I never think of trying to use that to obtain control. We want the quality of life which is possible when I have control.”

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© Joseph Azize, 11 . 2 . 2014

JOSEPH AZIZE REVIEWS: Martin Benson Speaks

Martin Benson Speaks, ed. Carl Lehmann-Haupt, Codhill Press, 2011 (248 pages)

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In previous posts, I have stated my conclusion that the Gurdjieff Work has reached an interval in its historical development. Increasing difficulties are met with in the Work, whether considered at the level of individuals, groups or as a movement. These difficulties are lawful, for now – right now – all are working in the interval. The momentum that once was is now weak, and the new energy which is needed has not yet appeared. Worldwide, the Gurdjieff current and all those in that line, are in the interval of its development.

The great value of Gurdjieff’s ideas and methods is still apparent. But the line of force which came from Gurdjieff himself and his direct pupils has been dispersed, never to be directly recovered. At the interval, indeed, precisely at the interval, new forces are needed, and wisdom is necessary if it is not to be diverted in a new direction, and run the risk of disappearing, or even worse, continuing and becoming its opposite.

Memoirs and collections of talks, such as those in this interesting volume, provide some of the requisite force. Will they provide sufficient? By themselves, of course not. The ideas have to be applied in a balanced manner. Yet, I think that I can be confident that this book will help.

This is the sort of book which puts the content back into the over-used word “interesting”. Too often, that word is used to avoid making unflattering comments, or to hide an inability to articulate certain qualities felt rather than distinctly seen. But this book arouses one’s interest. It provokes further thought, and leads one to pursue further avenues of study.

It is not what I would judge to be one of the first-rate recent Gurdjieff books, such as those by Solange Claustres and Jeanne de Salzmann, or the recently published volume of Orage’s commentaries on Beelzebub. Neither, however, is it at the other extreme with some others there is no need to name. But some of it is very powerful, and even when I am disposed to disagree with Benson, or to be doubtful, his opinion is nonetheless worth examining. Beyond even that, there are passages where he articulates a line of thought I had been tentatively developing. It was delightful to come upon such confirmation.

The great weakness of the book is that it is an apparently randomly assembled collage. Benson does not really emerge: we obtain glimpses of him. We hear his voice but don’t really see him. Hence, perhaps, the title – for it really is just Martin Benson speaking with the bare minimum, if that, by way of introduction.

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The Groups

I will start with what is, for me, the most important example, Benson’s observance of two differing tendencies in the Gurdjieff Foundation groups: the Ouspensky-influenced organisation, and the “sittings” introduced into in the 1960s by Jeanne de Salzmann working in tandem with Bill Segal. Lehmann-Haupt writes:

Martin Benson was a different kind of teacher and his approach to the Work differed from the more psychological one practised by some of Gurdjieff’s other pupils. … He didn’t believe in psychological exercises. He didn’t think you could come to a state of attention by closing your eyes in a quiet place at an appointed time. “You all talk about attention,” he said, “but you haven’t got the power to come to a real attention, just by yourself.” He believed that one had to be put on the spot and shocked before one would be able to attend productively. (12)”

Benson himself is quoted as declaring:

I could almost answer that nobody, sitting in a quiet time, can come to attention. You have to be in a receptive part of attention, and it takes a big shock so that you’re ready to receive it; that will put you into real attention. Now, you may not believe this, but this is what I have come to. The Old Man was capable of giving us the shock.” (78)”

You know why I don’t go to sittings? On account of that. … the reason people go to sittings is the thing I don’t want to go to sittings for. … Instead of arriving at a state of absolute awareness of yourself – what we call consciousness – you may arrive at what we call illumination. This is what the Japanese go in for in Zen. The danger of a process is that one could go so far and never return. … I don’t delve into the Zen thing because I figured out years they {sic} they’re out after illusions not consciousness. (159-160)”

So I suggested last year, “This is not the Gurdjieff Work anymore. We should change the name from the Gurdjieff Foundation to the British Ouspensky People in America Foundation.” Well, Mme de Salzmann almost died when I said that. (171)”

This confirms, or at least lends support for, the view that the “New Work” which Jeanne de Salzmann introduced in the 1960s under the influence of Asian practitioners to whom she had been introduced by Bill Segal, was truly, as it so clearly appears to be, a departure from Gurdjieff’s line. The only question is whether, together with this new practise, she also continued to teach Gurdjieff’s preparation and exercises. There are different views about that. Incidentally, if I understand Benson correctly, he felt that he could help Segal, who was – it seems – too much off with the spirit, and not enough in and caring for the body (p.157). Benson’s way and advice was to “Keep your feet on the earth” (163).

Benson was critical of the Ouspensky groups ( see pages 39, 118 and 192). I am interested in those remarks chiefly because they relate to the question the form of the Work, and how too rigid a form can stifle the content. But an unyielding and even doctrinaire approach to the Work was by no means the exclusive preserve of the Ouspensky people. I knew some people from the Foundation who could have given Ouspensky a few tips in this respect.

To my mind, the issue of change and continuity comes it is an inescapable part of the human condition: we need both. That is, we cannot live without a mix, or perhaps a balance, of change and continuity. We need principled development. But, as stated above, we also need the wisdom to judge when the development is based on sound principles, and when it is a lop-sided development which will lead to the diversion, indeed the corruption of the line of work. We need discrimination to sift the good ideas from the bad. We need courage to stand against a group, when it is necessary, but who has the wisdom to know when refusing to accept the group consensus is merely self-will?

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The Human Condition and the Exercises

This, I think, is true: our quandary before all these questions of judgment is an inescapable part of our condition. Speaking of our condition, Benson provides a hitherto unpublished comment by Gurdjieff which sheds, I would say, a powerful light on our condition:

You know, Mr Gurdjieff would say a curious thing: “The angels are pure, and there is no place for them to go. We on this earth are fallen angels, but we have a place to strive for, objectively and actively to come to.” (138)”

Benson also gives some information about the exercises which came directly from Gurdjieff, and which I have said time and again, are to be distinguished from the “New Work”. In respect of these exercises, and I reiterate that I have recently been informed that Jeanne de Salzmann did teach them to small groups, Benson said:

You never know what you do in these exercises to allow things to happen, allow vital things to happen otherwise nothing will happen. (140)”

This may well be very true: it is not that Gurdjieff’s exercises and preparation furnish any guarantee, but perhaps they allow a certain movement of vital energies to occur which otherwise would not, or probably would not. And that may be sufficient to make these exercises critical.

The book abounds with some most unusual observations. Some of them may just be strange, but others, such as the “salt in the mountain” remarks (127), strike me as quite possibly true, and if so, point to a phenomenon we have been too little aware of. Just recently, a newspaper article in the Sydney Morning Herald, stated, quite in passing, that the indigenous aboriginals of Australia had known that there was something unhealthy beneath a certain are in Kakadu, and refused to live there. It turns out that it harboured uranium deposits.

Another idiosyncratic, but profound comment is about how he ran the Sundays at the ice house at Armonk:

I don’t demand anything, least of all the finished product – or to do things neatly, correctly. That’s not the demand. I make such demands of the natural forces that make their senses vibrate and grow close to nature in the greater sense of the word, to actually feel that they’re alive in order to do better things. (164)”

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Glimpses of Gurdjieff

Little is said in this book about Gurdjieff. One of the anecdotes, concerning Gurdjieff’s remark to the minister at Benson’s wedding, strikes me as rather inconsequential (178-179). But the others strike me as more powerful. Benson has an interesting slant on Gurdjieff’s habit of writing in cafés: it was, he says, in order to steal the “wasted emotions” of the people who were there (173-174). This then starts Benson speaking about the “stealing” exercise, which he also does at p.156, where he curiously says that he could have performed the exercise had he been able to get into an objective state, but that he had never been able to. The passages at pp.123-124 about taking a part of God’s force may not be the same thing, exactly, but neither are they unrelated, and they repay careful pondering.

Another forceful anecdote concerns how Benson approached Gurdjieff at a time when he, Benson, was “suffering tremendously.” Gurdjieff said to him: “You see that skin? That is yours and no one else’s. This is a part of you.” Short, almost pitiless in its expression and conciseness, but how profound. So much of our suffering is predicated upon an implicit attitude that other people have to change or apologise before our pain can end. As Benson goes on to say, in his own voice: “It’s just as bad … to continue feeling bad about the situation.” (48)

Speaking of Gurdjieff, however, the most unexpected piece of information here is that Gurdjieff was involved in two motor accidents while at the Prieuré: the second, and much less serious one, is described at pp.193-196. I had not heard of that one before. The account of it, of Benson’s removing the staples from Gurdjieff’s body, and what Gurdjieff did the day after he returned from the hospital was strangely moving. I wonder why no one else mentions this, or is it just that I have missed it?

I mentioned that there were points in Benson which accorded with ideas I had already had. One of those is the idea that doing has been down played in the Work since the death of Gurdjieff. I expressed that view in those parts which I wrote of George Mountford Adie: A Gurdjieff Pupil in Australia, and illustrated it by reference to Mr Adie’s teaching, Then I read in Benson:

… as it says in the Book of Solomon, ‘Man should rejoice in his works, for that is his portion.’ Do you all understand that? No more, no less. That’s what you leave behind, that‘s your development, that’s you. Is that understandable? (82-83)”

In a curious way, you grow by doing. (139)”

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Miscellanous Points

There are a few errors, e.g. “practiced” for “practised” (12).

More serious than the odd spelling errors, are certain notes which are not just indulgent, or even self-indulgent, but absurdly so: see the anecdote which ends: “Christ, I loved that” (120). I can see nothing to love there.

There is a very strange passage on love, which spans the strange and the inspired. First, I cannot see why Abeldard and Heloise’s romance is “the most tragic love story that has ever existed” (135). But then, Benson’s comments on “love” being a concept which came not from Christianity but from Greece, specifically Plato (135-136), is seriously muddled. Many writers such as CS Lewis may have interpreted Christian love through Greek spectacles, but it is prominent in the Gospels, long before any influence of Greek thought. However, to say that what is valuable is not “love” but “wisdom” is quite stimulating (136). Of course it is a simplification and the result of an abstraction: in reality, love and wisdom must go together, and perhaps even be aspects of the one cosmic force. It is interesting how often people who claim to be straightforward and bluff, not given to intellectual niceties, are in fact more at the mercy of their analyses than the “intellectuals” whom they deride.

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The Ongoing Issue

Now that I am onto it, I cannot lose sight of what I call “the ongoing issue”. And that is this, the Work does not seem to work beyond a limited point. All development seems to plateau out after a period of probably three years, about the length of time it usually takes get a university degree. There are exceptions, of course, but these seems to depend upon a fortunate conjunction of the student and the teacher. This is a large thought, but it is one of those which I found expressed in Benson, and which confirms me in my view. He writes:

I think some people are born with a greater being than other people. They have to be educated, in a sense, not educated in a school, but ‘brought out’. If they stay at it they can understand more and more and eventually become an entirely different person through that understanding. But I don’t think this is acquired so much. (150)”

This seems to be right. Gurdjieff had the power to lift people beyond their deserts, and this gave them a tremendous desire to help others, and a confidence that development was possible. But it just doesn’t seem to be the case that this development is possible for very many of us. And to evolve into someone with the individuality and understanding of Gurdjieff, or even close, seems quite impossible. Benson puts it more bluntly: “I don’t think we have the possibility of reaching consciousness” (154).

But if this is right, then Gurdjieff was wrong. Yet if Gurdjieff was wrong on that point, he still had a point: we can have more consciousness than we enjoy. It may well be that we would never be making efforts towards any consciousness unless we came to believe that we could have full consciousness. And it is even more likely, I think, that if we are not making efforts towards full consciousness, we will sink even deeper into unconsciousness. As Jane Heap used to say, the only difference between a groove and a grave is the depth. As Benson used to say: “The power of forgetting is … the curse of mankind” (80, see also 165).

This, I think, may be the upshot of “the ongoing issue”.

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© Joseph Azize, 27 December 2013

Review, Orage’s Commentary on Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson: New York Talks 1926-1930 A.R. Orage – Lawrence Morris and Sherman Manchester

Orage’s Commentary on Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales to his

Grandson, New York Talks 1926-1930,

is published by  Book Studio, 2013

(363 pp. plus a selected bibliography and an index)

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Gurdjieff’s legacy has reached a critical point. In my opinion, the line which he began, and which those who follow it with more or less faithfulness call “the Work”, has reached an interval or gap. I mean by this what Gurdjieff meant: if the Work is to develop in the direction with which it began, it must cross each interval with the help of forces which correspond to the current with which the movement began. An impulse which is not true to Gurdjieff’s own line will carry it in the wrong direction.

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The first step of this line of development, the note DO, was Gurdjieff’s personal efforts: bringing his ideas and methods, teaching, writing, composing, etc. The second and third steps were, I would say, the work of his direct pupils (the note RE), and then the publication of his writings and music (the note MI). Of course, there is some overlap at each stage: living processes are like that. It is only analysis which distinguishes clearly separated stages: a trumpet does not sound in heaven to announce the end of one and the commencement of another.

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In this case the interval between MI and FA would bear risks if not only because those learned from him in person have almost all died. But the interval is even more dangerous because many important texts remain unpublished. Very few of his pupils, whether second generation or later, have access to all of his talks, transcripts and papers in their original form. Even Beelzebub, upon which Gurdjieff manifestly placed so much of his hopes, has been effectively bleached of colour by what purport to be two retranslations, displacing the text he himself authorised.

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But there is more: Gurdjieff’s method was one of engagement under fluid conditions. Unlike his pupils, he created no institutions beyond the temporary. Even before the motor accident, he had told Nicoll that the conditions at Fountainebleau were temporary. Gurdjieff rarely repeated himself, and he made pupils responsible for passing what they had learned. “What falls from the wagon is lost”. Each pupil had this privilege and burden. It is arguable that too many did not pass on as much as they could have as well as they could have. Some things can only be passed on person to person, others can be indicated or even transmitted well enough in writing – and if they are not passed on that way, may well be lost for ever. Despite the good intentions of those establishing them, could the founding of foundations have effectively served as a corporate substitute for the individual efforts required? And although associations are necessary, perhaps not associations of the type we have seen.

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Whether one agrees with me or not on every detail, my chief point here is that while Gurdjieff founded no religion, sect or denomination, the line of engagement with the ideas and methods he brought needs to be fed. Good records of personal encounters with Gurdjieff, and attempts to develop his ideas in the light of contemporary experience (e.g. the work of Bennett and Buzzell), is vital – without it no engagement would be possible for those who did not know Gurdjieff. That is why books like this one are vital for the entirety of the Gurdjieff Work.

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If the interval between Gurdjieff’s direct legacy (the notes DO, Re and MI), is to be filled to allow note FA (which must be Gurdjieff’s indirect legacy) to sound as it should, then the first three notes should be fully sounded. That is, the ability of the Gurdjieff Work to continue in the direct line initiated by Gurdjieff himself absolutely and necessarily depends upon the full and complete transmission of that legacy. To the extent that this transmission is defective, the direction will veer off into tangents. The Gurdjieff Work will lose its vivifyingness.

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Will this book be accorded the value it deserves? I am not sure. I shall not detail all my reasoning now, but basically, Sophia Wellbeloved’s analysis is correct: “… the Work is now in the process of redefining itself as a tradition.” (Gurdjieff: The Key Concepts, 154) If this is so, then it follows that those within the tradition believe that they have all they need. And if one construes “need” very narrowly, this might be correct. But they do not have all that they could want and can use.

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This is, I repeat, a vital book for anyone interested in Gurdjieff’s ideas and methods. It presents for the first time the two sets of notes made by both Lawrence Morris and Sherman Manchester of the lectures given in New York between 1926 and 1930 by A.R. Orage. Already an accomplished intellectual when he met Ouspensky and then Gurdjieff, Orage was undoubtedly one of the wisest of Gurdjieff’s pupils. This volume furthers the completion of what I see as step 3 (fully sounding the note MI), the publication of Gurdjieff’s writings.

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First, it contains ideas of a quality far higher than what we usually meet with in life. You have to read some of it, and ponder it, to see whether you agree or not. Remain with it, and ask, can these ideas make a difference to my life? Remind yourself of them in different circumstances.

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Second, if you are going to read Beelzebub’s Tales (and everyone seriously interested in Gurdjieff’s ideas should), then, better than any other material I have seen or could imagine, this book provides assistance. Mrs Annie-Lou Staveley must have felt much the same, for when she read the passages which Nott published within his own book, she issued them as a stand-alone hardcover. Nott’s extracts totalled 91 pages out of a 228 page book. That is, the Orage notes, which he edited, form about 40% of his own work. More significantly, the contents of this volume are unedited, and run to 363 pages. Further, more text fits onto each of these pages than it does on those of Nott’s book. I would estimate that this book is at least six times longer than the generous extracts in Nott. It is also helpful that for many of the talks we have two separate sets of notes, those of Morris and Manchester. The comparison is often intriguing.

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Third, Orage’s reading is both individual and exemplary, meaning that it can serve as a model. If Orage can read like an individual, perhaps, we too can. It is a model of relatively conscious thinking. Excluding comparison to sacred literature such as the Bible and some of the Upanishads, the depth of this book invites comparison with Shakespeare (I am now more certain than ever that Jane Heap, as reported to me by Dr John Lester, was correct: Shakespeare was in conscious receipt of esoteric influences. He was also Catholic: see John Finnis and Patrick Martin, “Another Turn for the Turtle”, Times Literary Supplement, 18 April 2003, 12-14).

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To me, Orage’s material here is enlivening. It consists not only of his comments on Beelzebub, but also of his question and answer sessions with his own pupils, and of his remarks on all sorts of aspects of life. If Beelzebub was the cornerstone of “All and Everything”, Orage’s wise insights build lay part of the edifice. At random, I opened the book at p.233 and found this:

the object of these beings in Babylon was …

to make remember. So they decided to introduce

elements into works of art that would cause the

observer to question, to ask what is there strange

about this. Egyptian frescoes produce or provoke this state.

Greek art does not.

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This not only sheds a great light on what many people, not myself alone, have felt but been unable to articulate, it does so with a clarity and force which Gurdjieff lacked. These notes confirm, many times, that Orage had gained an objective understanding, or at least an understanding closer to objective than any of us are likely to achieve. What else but startling objectivity could bring someone to insights such as these, to select but three?

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A mother crying over (to us) a repulsive criminal is enslaved by an earlier actualization.” (p.2)

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The philosopher is a speculator who deals with words. The priest does not even deal in words but in symbols, but their meaning he no longer knows.” (p.165)

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Wholeness cannot be written about.” (p.324)

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I could well believe that not everyone is touched by each of these three comments, but to my mind each of them offers clear evidence of a person whose reason was alive. You would have to be both highly intelligent and discerning to understand these sayings. But imagine the state of Orage’s being for him to coin them.

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How often, since reading it have I wondered, am I enslaved by an earlier actualization? Am I dealing in symbols the meaning of which I am ignorant? I am indebted to Orage and his collaborators: people who were not even alive when he was born.

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With this volume, more useful material is available to those who wish to develop themselves. Only with that effort, only with many such individual efforts, can the Gurdjieff Work as a whole cross the interval before it now.

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Joseph Azize was a pupil of George and Helen Adie, themselves pupils of Gurdjieff, Ouspensky and Jeanne de Salzmann, who developed what they received in their own individual ways. Among other issues, he is currently pondering the question of fate. His latest publication, an academic study of Gurdjieff’s “Four Ideals” exercise, has recently been published in ARIES. Another academic study, this time of Gurdjieff’s attitude to fasting, which incorporates a survey of some medical experts on fasting and starvation, is slated to appear next year in another international journal.

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Joseph.Azize@gmail,com

18 October 2013