Centres II (VRW)

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SEE: Glossary Gurdjieff

When I spoke of machines I called normal work a manifestation of a man — which implies all three centers taken together. This is his manifestation. But owing to abnormal life some people have other levers, which become formed outside centers and which provoke movement independently of the soul. It can be in the flesh, the muscles, anywhere.

Movements, manifestations, perceptions by separate centers are manifestations of centers but not of man, if we bear in mind that man consists of three centers. The capacity to feel joy, sorrow, cold, heat, hunger, tiredness is in each center. These postures exist in every center and may be small or big and different in quality. We shall speak later about how this happens in each separate center and how to know to which center they belong. For the moment you must bear in mind and realize one thing: you must learn to distinguish the manifestations of man from the manifestations of centers. When people speak of a man, they say he is wicked, clever, a fool — all this is he. But they cannot say that this is John or Simon. We are accustomed to saying “he.” But we must become used to saying “he” in the sense of he as body, he as essence, he as personality. [VRW p. 139]

To govern oneself is a very difficult thing — it is a problem for the future; it requires much power and demands much work. But this first thing, to separate oneself from oneself, does not require much strength, it only needs desire, serious desire, the desire of a grown — up man. If a man cannot do it, it shows that he lacks the desire of a grown — up man. Consequently it proves that there is nothing for him here. What we do here can only be a doing suitable for grown — up men.

Our mind, our thinking, has nothing in common with us, with our essence — no connection, no dependence. Our mind lives by itself and our essence lives by itself. When we say “to separate oneself from oneself” it means that the mind should stand apart from the essence. Our weak essence can change at any moment, for it is dependent on many influences: on food, on our surroundings, on time, on the weather, and on a multitude of other causes. But the mind depends on very few influences and so, with a little effort, it can be kept in the desired direction. {VRW p. 148]

And all this is because only one center is working — for instance, either mind or feeling. Yet you must learn to listen in a new way. The knowledge you have had up to today is the knowledge of one center — knowledge without understanding. Are there many things you know and at the same time understand? For instance, you know what electricity is, but do you understand it as clearly as you understand that twice two makes four? The latter you understand so clearly that no one can prove to you the contrary; but with electricity it is different. Today it is explained to you in one way — you believe it. Tomorrow you will be given a different explanation — you will also believe that. But understanding is perception not by one but by not less than two centers. There exists a more complete perception, but for the moment it is enough if you make one center control the other. If one center perceives and the other approves the perception, agrees with it or rejects it, this is understanding. If an argument between centers fails to produce a definite result, it will be half-understanding. Half-understanding is also no good. It is necessary that everything you listen to here, everything you talk about among yourselves elsewhere, should be said or listened to not with one center but with two. Otherwise there will be no right result either for me or for you. For you it will be as before, a mere accumulation of new information. [VRW p. 169]

You believe you are not satisfied with yourself. I push you. You are quite mechanical, you cannot do anything, you are hallucinated. When you look with one center you are entirely under hallucination; when with two you are half — free; but if you look with three centers you cannot be under hallucination at all. You must begin by collecting material. You can have no bread without baking; knowledge is water, body is flour, and emotion — suffering — is fire. [VRW p. 192]

But, as we have said already, the difficulty is that, owing to wrong modern upbringing and the fact that the lack of connection in us between body, feeling and mind has not been recognized from childhood, the majority of people are so deformed that there is no common language between one part and another. This is why it is so difficult for us to establish a connection between them, and still more difficult to force our parts to change their way of living. This is why we are obliged to make them communicate, but not in the language given us by nature, which would have been easy and by means of which our parts would very soon have become reconciled to one another, would have come to an accord and, by concerted efforts and understanding, would have attained the desired aim common to them all. [VRW p. 223]

The power of changing oneself lies not in the mind, but in the body and the feelings. Unfortunately, however, our body and our feelings are so constituted that they don’t care a jot about anything so long as they are happy. They live for the moment and their memory is short. The mind alone lives for tomorrow. Each has its own merits. The merit of the mind is that it looks ahead. But it is only the other two that can “do.” [VRW p. 232]


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