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SEE: Glossary Gurdjieff

[…] the substances which had to enter into the common presences of beings for the coating and feeding of their second being-bodies Kesdjan, namely, that totality of cosmic substances which your favorites call air, might at the same time serve as just such a help coming from outside for the evolution of the substances of the first being-food. [BTG XXXIX, p. 788]

“I wish to explain to you just about that totality of cosmic substances and properties inherent to the totality which, not only in our human life but also in the other external forms of life, is the chief actualizing factor, and which, being the ’second substantial food,’ is nothing other than the ‘air’ we breathe. “The air, from which are eliminated the elements necessary for our life, to be transformed afterwards in our organism into other cosmic substances for the needs of the general universal actualization, like every definite cosmic concentration is composed of two kinds of active elements with two properties, quite contradictory in their totality. “One kind of active element has a subjective process of evolutionary striving, and the other, of involutionary. “The air, like every definite cosmic concentration, formed owing to all kinds of common-cosmic laws and to various ensuing secondary laws depending upon the position and the reciprocal action, as in the given case of our planet, with the other large cosmic concentrations of the totality of substances, acquires and possesses a multitude of specific particularities. [LIR p. 129]

We all breathe the same air. Apart from the elements known to our science the air contains a great number of substances unknown to science, indefinable for it and inaccessible to its observation. But exact analysis is possible both of the air inhaled and of the air exhaled. This exact analysis shows that although the air inhaled by different people is exactly the same, the air exhaled is quite different. Let us suppose that the air we breathe is composed of twenty different elements unknown to our science. A certain number of these elements are absorbed by every man when he breathes. Let us suppose that five of these elements are always absorbed. Consequently the air exhaled by every man is composed of fifteen elements; five of them have gone to feeding the organism. But some people exhale not fifteen but only ten elements, that is to say, they absorb five elements more. These five elements are higher ‘hydrogens.’ These higher ‘hydrogens’ are present in every small particle of air ‘we inhale. By inhaling air we introduce these higher ‘hydrogens’ into ourselves, but if our organism does not know how to extract them out of the particles of air, and retain them, they are exhaled back into the air. If the organism is able to extract and retain them, they remain in it. In this way we all breathe the same air but we extract different substances from it. Some extract more, others less. [ISM p. 188-189]

In reply to a question about the second food, air, Gurdjieff said: ‘There are two parts to air, evolving and involving. Only the involving part can vivify the “I". At present this involving part serves only for general cosmic purposes. Only when you shall have in yourselves a conscious wish will you be able to assimilate this, for you, good part of air, which comes from the prime source.

‘In order to be able to assimilate the involving part of air, you should try to realize your own significance and the significance of those around you. You are mortal, and some day will die. He on whom your attention rests is your neighbour; he also will die. Both of you are nonentities. At present, most of your suffering is “suffering in vain"; it comes from feelings of anger, jealousy, and resentment towards others. If you acquire data always to realize the inevitability of their death and your own death, you will have a feeling of pity for others, and be just towards them, since their manifestations which displease you are only because you or someone has stepped on their corns, or because your own corns are sensitive. At present you cannot see this. Try to put yourself in the position of others-they have the same significance as you; they suffer as you do, and, like you, they will die. Only if you always try to sense this significance until it becomes a habit whenever your attention rests on anyone, only then will you be able to assimilate the good part of air and have a real “I". Every man has wants and desires which are dear to him, and which he will lose at death.

‘From realizing the significance of your neighbour when your attention rests on him, that he will die, pity for him and compassion towards him will arise in you, and finally you will love him; also, by doing this constantly, real faith, conscious faith, will arise in some part of you and spread to other parts, and you will have the possibility of knowing real happiness, because from this faith objective hope will arise-hope of a basis for continuation.’ [NOTT1 p. 114]


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