Sunday, October 26, 2014

Work knows itself

"This proves that you do not know what you are looking for. You interest yourself in these questions without partaking of your instinct... I understand why you do not advance... up to now, your instinct was isolated. It never took part in your work... Something in you remains apart; it looks. Another part in you does something else; you work without instinct. Everything works; head, feeling, except that which must."

—Gurdjieff, Transcripts of Gurdjieff's Wartime Meetings, p. 27 

Interesting, no?

We don't hear much about instinct as a part of inner work... and yet it must be. In this sense, instinct is not what animals have—it is a natural or intuitive way of thinking.

That which is intuitive is inward; an inward teaching, or tuition; and it is accurate or unerring.

In this passage Gurdjieff alludes to those parts of ourselves: those inward and hidden parts, submerged and not damaged by our ordinary reasoning, which can still influence our work in a positive way. That is to say, there is an inward part in man which knows the way; and we're not in touch with it. If the inward flow of the divine awakens, I know much better what this intuition is; and above all I need to understand, physically, that it isn't a psychological process or a system of guesswork and hunches. It's very easy to confuse intuition with hunches, but it's nothing of the kind in this case; it consists of an inner certainty.

If one doesn't understand at once what this intimate and absolutely reliable quality of inner work is, one hasn't found that within one's self which one can trust; that trust must, once touched, reveals itself as so deep and so irrevocable that the entire organism, throughout its sensation of itself, aligns perfectly and at once with that direction, in the same way that magnetic particles will all almost instantly point the same way once they come under the influence of a magnet. Instinct is like this; it is magnetic and directional.

So I must look for the inklings, the glimmerings, of that which is magnetic and directional in me, the part which emanates from an unseen source but is nonetheless so absolute trustworthy that I know at once, as it arrives, that it has authority. Under this influence, I face in a new direction which is quite inward; I know for the first time where I am and what I am doing. No thinking is required here in order to know what work is; under instinct, work knows itself.

If I don't know the work that knows itself, I don't know real work. Real work does not doubt itself; it is at once confident and aligned. I can be in either moment; work that knows itself is not always or forever available. Only intimacy and many years of submission bring me closer to an unrelenting contact with this quality of effort; and it's the wooing of a lover that brings it closer, not the sweat of a blacksmith.


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