Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A glass of water

Paul has recently made some comments about his experience with Mme. de Salzmann, and reports that she rarely, if ever, worked on theory or the ideas, mainly emphasizing the inner action of receiving a higher energy.

I suppose perhaps it puzzles us; yet in another way, it makes perfect sense.

Mme. was a towering genius in the Work for what she brought us, and filled a critical interval with a shock that could never have been passed without her efforts.

Furthermore, she is not gone—she is absolutely and very much with us, and every one of us who follows in her footsteps is actively participating in the work she and Mr. Gurdjieff grounded us in.

The work is like a glass with water in it. The glass needs to be filled; people line up to help fill it as best they can. Some people come with a liter, some people come with a cup; there are others who come only with an eye dropper. There are times of 1,000 men and women with eyedroppers; there are other times of someone having a liter. In the end, if what we have is 1,000 men and women with eyedroppers, then they can do the work of one woman with a liter. Either way, every one of us contributes as best he or she can.

A theoretical understanding can't be achieved before something real is understood in the body. Until that happens, theories don't quite fit together, and they end up smacking up against each other impressively like bumper cars. Everything is in the head. After something real is understood, theories begin to fit together properly, and one truly begins to see that the work is a whole thing. Those who have the ability and the vision to help others see that then become important, but they can't do this without standing on the shoulders of giants.

 Furthermore, your work needs to be strong enough that you know for yourself when something is true. If you can't taste for yourself what is true, work more.

This work is not a solo effort. All of us are working together for something quite extraordinary. None of those who made efforts and died are actually gone; their being and their existence itself is woven into the very fabric of the Work and the planet itself, and can't be lost. This is part of what Krishna meant when he told Arjuna "The unreal has no existence, and the real never ceases to be." Mme. is actively with us and counting on our efforts... don't ask me how I know this; I just know it. A great deal rests on our shoulders... there are cosmic forces helping us that we can't speak to directly, and don't understand. This is where the question of faith comes in, and we have to be strong in our faith when our weak parts begin to doubt.

In the same way that a glass of water needs to be filled, sometimes there are kings that come to the church with rubies and offer them. Then a poor man comes who is hungry and has nothing but a thin copper coin which he puts in the offering plate.  That man will never have what the King has, but God values his contribution in exactly the same way as what the king gave.

 In any event, the interval that was filled with the correct shock after Gurdjieff died has now been passed; and we are within a new moment, where a new kind of effort is needed. So "new"  investigation of theory is necessary, even as we firmly remember that nothing is really new, and remember the limits of theory itself. We are tasked with exploring a new and organic understanding of theory—one that transcends the technological limits of Ouspensky's day—rendering the ideas in a way that meets the needs of today's world, using today's media, and today's communication techniques.

 I remember that when I was a child of 4 or 5 years old, my mother had cigar boxes from her graduate school entomology class. Each of the boxes was filled with the most extraordinary (to a child's eyes) insects, killed and pinned down with labels explaining what they were. Every single one of those bugs was the world's most miraculous treasure to me; I would stare at them for hours, trying to understand how it could be that something so incredible could be produced in this new and unexplained world I was growing up in.

 The bugs, unfortunately, were dead, so although they looked incredible, and inspired my imagination, they had already lost their most miraculous properties.

The Work is always in movement, and—like the bugs—one cannot pin it down without sacrificing its most essential properties.

 With some effort, some luck, a bit of intelligence, and the support of Mme., Mr. Gurdjieff, and the other extraordinary and even more powerful forces which support this work, each one of us must continue to try to add at least one more drop of water to this glass.

I respectfully hope you will take good care.


  1. Another fine and inspiring post. A significant correction though (perhaps because of me). I did not have a 'longtime work' with Mme de Salzmann. I was in a group with Pauline de Dampierre for 5yrs in the early 80's. Jeanne de Salzmann used to 'drop in' on our thurs nite meetings and was v. much a presence in la maison during that time. Pauline was also really her right hand woman. 'Theory' was not a focus then...but everything else went on as 'usual'. groups, Sundays, movements (always with Pauline), summer 'retreats' for a wk.
    Perhaps other groups did things differently - there was Michel de Salzmann, and Henri Tracol...We did not have much contact with them. My 'influence' was that of Pauline (who I last met in 97). She past away not long after. I received a letter from her husband - who was never in the 'work'. I wise and gentle man.

    Anyway just to correct any misconception - not a longtime work with Jeanne de Salzmann but I certainly was subject to her presence. Once knocked in the back opening a door in the house. The door should not have opened out onto the corridor! I was so dismayed - she just laughed (at 95yrs).....

  2. Thanks for clarifying that, Paul. I have corrected the text to what I hope is a more accurate report, accordingly.

  3. Just one note - there was, for a while, a big focus on mechanicality in our group (but not theoretical - exercises etc to 'prove' it) - I guess it was the intro for newbies. We did move on. But I think you are right in your post 'welcome to the machine', that critique has run its course. I met too many people in groups further from the centre who were obsessed by this.

    I am interested in a 'new' investigation of theory. I remember the journal Stopinder which did (altho I don't recall the details have some challenging material...
    All the best.


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