talks with gurdjieff
george ivanovich gurdjieff (1866-1949)

new york, march 13, 1924

self-observation is very difficult. the more you try, the more clearly you will see this.

at present you should practice it not for results but to understand that you cannot observe yourselves. in the past you imagined that you saw and knew yourselves.

i am speaking of objective self-observation. objectively you cannot see yourselves for a single minute, because it is a different function, the function of the master.

if it seems to you that you can observe yourselves for five minutes, this is wrong; if it is for twenty minutes or for one minute—it is equally wrong. if you simply realize that you cannot, it will be right. to come to it is your aim.

to achieve this aim, you must try and try.

when you try, the result will not be, in the true sense, self-observation. but trying will strengthen your attention, you will learn to concentrate better. all this will be useful later. only then can one begin to remember oneself.

if you work conscientiously, you will remember yourselves not more but less, because self-remembering requires many things. it is not so easy, it costs a great deal.

the exercise of self-observation is sufficient for several years. do not attempt anything else. if you work conscientiously, you will see what you need.

at present you have but one attention, either in the body or the feeling.