MEETING & DISCUSSION
Teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff
Thursday, June 30th, 6:30 - 8:00
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, East Liberty
2nd Floor Meeting Room
130 Whitfield Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Discussion: "Where Our Attention Is"
I wish to be conscious of myself. Yet, as I am at this moment, can I
know myself, can I be conscious of myself? I cannot. I am too scattered.
I feel nothing. But I see that I am asleep, and I see the symptoms of
this sleep. I have forgotten the sense of my existence, I have forgotten
myself. And at this moment I receive a shock: I am awaking, I want to
wake up. Then, having scarcely felt the shock, I feel myself taken
again, held back by the elements of my sleep—associations that turn
around, emotions that take me, unconscious sensations. I feel myself
fall back into forgetfulness.
We do not realize how passive we are, always pulled along by events,
people and things. We begin an activity with great interest, fully aware
of our aim. But after a certain time the impulse weakens, overcome by
inertia. Our understanding diminishes, and we feel the need for
something new that will restore the interest, the life. Our inner work
progresses like this in stages, and always depends on new forces. It is
determined by laws. We must get rid of the idea that progress is
continuous in a straight line. There are stages where the intensity
diminishes and, if we wish not to fall back, a force must appear that is
The passive “man” in us, the only one we know, is the one we trust.
But as long as we remain passive, nothing new can appear. We must become
active in relation to our inertia, the passive work of our functions.
If we wish to change, we must look for the new “man” in ourselves, the
one who is hidden. This is the one who remembers, who has a force that
can only be brought by our wish, our will, and must grow degree by
degree. It is necessary to see that a more active state, a greater
intensity, is possible.
I need to recognize that in my usual state my attention is undivided.
When I open to the outside, I am naturally interested in it. My
attention goes there. I cannot prevent myself. If my force of attention
is entirely taken, I am lost in life, identified, asleep. All my
capacity to be present is lost. I lose myself, the feeling of myself. My
existence loses its meaning. So, the first step is a separation in
which my attention is divided.
Our effort must always be clear—to be present, that is, to begin to
remember myself. With the attention divided, I am present in two
directions, as present as I can be. My attention is engaged in two
opposite directions, and I am at the center. This is the act of
self-remembering. I wish to keep part of my attention on the awareness
of belonging to a higher level and, under this influence, try to open to
the outer world. I must make an effort to remain related, an effort of
attention. I try to know truly what I am. I struggle to stay present, at
the same time with a feeling of “I” turned toward a better quality and
with an ordinary feeling tied to my self, my person. I wish to see and
not forget that I belong to these two levels.
We must see where our attention is. Where is our attention when we
remember ourselves? Where is our attention in life? Order can be born in
us only if we enter into direct contact with disorder. We are not in
the disorder. We are the state of disorder. If I look at what I really
am, I see the disorder. And where there is a direct contact, there is an
immediate action. I begin to realize that my Presence is where my
- Madame De Salzmann, "The Reality of Being"
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