Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Commentaries on the wartime transcripts: transcript two, part I read only with your head. Do an exercise. Read only a little— a page at a time. At first you must try to understand with your head, then to feel, then to experience. And then come back and think. Exercise yourself to read with your three centers. In each book there is material for enriching oneself. It doesn't matter what you read and it doesn't matter the quantity, but the quality of the way of reading.

—Meeting Two, page 6.

 Why is this kind of work necessary?

My relationship to the world is determined by what is inwardly formed in me. Generally, I'm completely unconscious than anything whatsoever is being inwardly formed in me; everything just happens. Like Napoleon  and the other generals in War and Peace, I sincerely believe that I am in charge of affairs, whereas I am actually being carried along by a current much more powerful than anything I can imagine.

In order to take any real responsibility for my life, I have to be responsible for what is inwardly formed in me, and this involves what Gurdjieff called three centered work. Impressions don't fall deeply into the body unless all three centers participate with one another in effort; and things are not inwardly formed without a deeper relationship to the impressions of life.

This holds true with reading as much as with everything else. The reason that words seem quite different if I read them one year and come back to them four years later is because what is inwardly formed has changed; and thus the understanding of the words is different. I need to read with more of myself participating if I'm truly interested in taking things in more deeply.

It is much better to read a little bit and get a lot out of it than to read a lot and get a little bit out of it. Poetry is based on this premise in exactly the same way: a little bit of poetry that contains a lot of good within it is far superior to a lot of prose that contains a little bit of good in it.

It is the essence of things that matters; and if something has a good essence, one does not need much of it to be fed well. In the same way that the essence of what is written is important, the essence of reading it is equally so. So if I understand, in reading, the way to bring it to my essence — an action which doesn't happen very often, trust me, even with wiseacreing literary types such as myself — then the manner in which it is dealt with becomes more than superficial.


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