talks with gurdjieff
george ivanovich gurdjieff (1866-1949)

prieuré, february 9, 1923

as it is with everything, so it is with movements. movements are performed without the participation of other parts of the organism. such movements are harmful for the organism. it is useful for its consequences. i emphasize for its consequences. but, for the particular scale to which the organism is accustomed, every movement which exceeds this scale is harmful at first, for a short time. movements become useful in the future if they are accompanied by proper calculations.

movements, taken as work, can be divided into the following categories:

1) when one takes the peculiarities of a man's constitution into consideration, both those present now and those which may be likely in the future.

2) when breathing participates in movement.

3) when thought participates in movement.

4) when a man's old, constant, unchangingly characteristic movement takes part.

only if movements are connected with the things which i have enumerated can they be useful for ordinary, everyday life.

i separate the idea of everyday life from the idea of life connected with work for self-perfection and inner development. by everyday life, i mean a normal, healthy life.

for our work, apart from the four categories i have enumerated, we have to join our normal feelings and sensations with movement, as well as the special feeling and special sensation which we are aiming to acquire. this other sensation should be acquired without destroying the sensations already present.

so there are four conditions.

thus you see that to make a movement truly useful we must gradually join with it all the above-mentioned other movements of a different category. you must realize that only then can a movement be useful. no result can be expected if even one of the conditions mentioned is lacking.

the easiest of our movements is that crude organic movement which we are able to do (which we have studied already). the movements we have been doing so far are those that all people do, and everyone can do them. and although the movements we shall be doing may look complicated at the first glance, they can easily be done by everyone if they are sufficiently practiced.

however, if we begin to add these movements one of the conditions i mentioned, it will prove much more difficult and will no longer be possible for everyone. and if we gradually add to it several conditions, such a movement will become possible for only a very limited number of people.

in the end, in order to make a beginning in achieving the aim for the sake of which we began to study movements, it is necessary gradually to join to the movement which proceeds in us the conditions i spoke about.

now, to begin with, it is essential to pick out the more or less appropriate types. together with this we shall gradually study and practice the second condition—that is, breathing.

at first we shall be divided into groups; later we shall divide groups themselves, and in this way shall come to individuals.