The following is a
portion of text that typifies an exchange between an
older and younger student of the ideas put forward by Gurdjieff.
The subject matter concerns our assumptions of self-awareness.
"...So the Work consists in a long time of not doing things,
according to the instructions laid down so clearly
in the Work on its practical side."
"Then do you mean that we can do nothing at all?"
"Yes, you can do one thing: you can remember yourself.
That is the only thing said on the positive side of 'doing' in this work.
Everything else is a process of not doing, not behaving mechanically."
"How can I remember myself?"
"By realizing that you never remember yourself."
"But I am sure that I always remember myself."
"You may be sure that you always remember yourself,
but just notice whether you do."
"But I always do what I do consciously."
"Do you always speak quite consciously, knowing exactly
what you are going to say?"
"Yes, I am sure that I do everything consciously and
I am quite aware of what I am saying and doing all the time."
"In that case, you must observe sincerely and see
whether it is quite true. If you are sincere with yourself
you will find that you do and think quite mechanically
and that for the greater part of the day you are not
aware of yourself at all."
"I do not agree with you."
"Well in that case, you must practice self observation.
It is only through self-observation done sincerely and
uncritically that you can come into the standpoint of the Work
in regard to yourself. If you take yourself for granted as being
a conscious person who does everything consciously and deliberately,
you are not able to connect yourself with this Work.
This Work will fall on deaf ears."
"What is the object of self observation?"
"The object of self observation is to make you aware of the fact
that you are not in any way what you think you are.
The object of self observation is to show you by direct experience
that you are really a mechanical person who cannot help doing
what you do at every moment and that if you really want to change yourself,
which is the object of this Work, you have to realize this."
"Isn't this an extremely depressing point of view?"
"Then why should I take up this Work?"
"I see no reason why you should if you are
quite satisfied with yourself as you are."
"I always think that introspection is a very morbid thing."
"I agree with you, but this Work does not teach introspection
but conscious uncritical self-observation.
Introspection is mechanical: observation is conscious."
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