Centres I (VRW)

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SEE: Glossary Gurdjieff

Question: Can one alter one’s emotions by acts of judgment?

Answer: One center of our machine cannot change another center. For example: in London I am irritable, the weather and the climate dispirit me and make me bad-tempered, whereas in India I am good-tempered. Therefore my judgment tells me to go to India and I shall drive out the emotion of irritability. But then, in London, I find I can work; in the tropics not as well. And so, there I should be irritable for another reason. You see, emotions exist independently of the judgment and you cannot alter one by means of the other. [VRW p.79]

As I said, the essence of correct man’s work is in the working together of the three centers — moving, emotional and thinking. When all three work together and produce an action, this is the work of a man. There is a thousand times more value even in polishing the floor as it should be done than in writing twenty-five books. But before starting to work with all centers and concentrating them on the work, it is necessary to prepare each center separately so that each could concentrate. It is necessary to train the moving center to work with the others. And one must remember that each center consists of three.

Our moving center is more or less adapted.

The second center, as difficulties go, is the thinking center and the most difficult, the emotional. We already begin to succeed in small things with our moving center. But neither the thinking nor the emotional center can concentrate at all. To succeed in collecting thoughts in a desired direction is not what is wanted. When we succeed in this, it is mechanical concentration which everybody can have — it is not the concentration of a man. It is important to know how not to depend on associations, and we shall therefore begin with the thinking center. We shall exercise the moving center by continuing the same exercises we have done so far. [VRW 105]

Memory, attention, observation is nothing more than observation of one center by another, or one center listening to another. Consequently the centers themselves do not need to stop and sleep. Sleep brings the centers neither harm nor profit. So sleep, as it is called, is not meant to give centers a rest. As I have said already, deep sleep comes when the connections between centers are broken. And indeed, deep sleep, complete rest for the machine, is considered to be that sleep when all links, all connections cease to function. We have several centers, so we have as many connections — five connections. [VRW p. 119]

I have understood from conversations that people have a wrong idea about one of the centers, and this wrong idea creates many difficulties.

It is about the thinking center, that is, our formatory apparatus. All the stimuli coming from the centers are transmitted to the formatory apparatus, and all the perceptions of centers also are manifested through the formatory apparatus. It is not a center but an apparatus. It is connected with all the centers.

In their turn, centers are connected with one another, but these connections are of a special kind. There is a certain degree of subjectivity, a measure of the strength of associations, which determines the possibility of intercommunication between centers. If we take vibrations between 10 and 10,000, then within this range there are many gradations divided into the definite degrees of strength of associations required for each center. Only associations of a certain strength in one center evoke corresponding associations in another; only then can a stimulus be given to corresponding connections in another center.

In the formatory apparatus connections with centers are more sensitive, because all associations reach it. Every local stimulus in the centers, every association, provokes associations in the formatory apparatus.

In the case of connections between centers, their sensitivity is determined by a certain degree of subjectivity. Only if the stimulus is strong enough can a corresponding roll* in another center be brought into motion. This can happen only with a very strong stimulus of a particular velocity, the rate of which has already become established in you.

The working arrangements of all these centers are alike.

Each one includes a great many smaller ones. Each smaller one is designed for a specific kind of work. So all these centers are alike as to structure, but their essence is different. The four centers are composed of matter which is animate, but the matter of the formatory apparatus is inanimate. The formatory apparatus is simply a machine, just like a typewriter which transmits every impact. [VRW p. 129]

At the same time a man does have thoughts. Every center thinks. These thoughts, if there are any and if they reach the formatory apparatus, reach it only in the form of stimuli and are then reconstructed, but the reconstruction is mechanical. And this is so in the best cases, for as a rule some centers have hardly any means of communicating with the formatory apparatus. Owing to faulty connections, messages are either not transmitted at all or are transmitted in distorted form. But this does not prove the absence of thought. In all centers work goes on, there are thoughts and associations, but they do not reach the formatory apparatus and so are not manifested. Neither are they sent on in another direction — that is, from the formatory apparatus to the centers — and for the same reason they cannot get there from outside.

Everyone has centers; the difference lies only in the amount of material they contain. Some have more, others less. Everyone has some, the difference is only in the quantity. But the centers are the same in everyone.

A man is born like an empty cupboard or storehouse. Then material begins to accumulate. The machine works alike in everyone; the properties of the centers are the same, but, owing to their nature and the conditions of life, the links, the connections between centers, differ in degrees of sensitivity, coarseness or fineness. [VRW p. 132]


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