talks with gurdjieff
george ivanovich gurdjieff (1866-1949)

all our emotions are rudimentary organs of "something higher," e.g., fear may be an organ of future clairvoyance, anger of real force, etc.
(prieuré, july 29, 1922)

prieuré, november 1922

all exercises that may be given in the institute can be divided into seven categories. the center of gravity of the first category is that they are specially for the body. the second kind, specially for the mind. the third kind, specially for the feeling. the fourth kind, mind and body together. the fifth kind, for body and feeling. the sixth kind, for feelings, thoughts and body. the seventh kind, for all three together and our automatism. it must be noted that we live most of all in this automatism. if we lived the whole time by centers alone they would not have enough energy. therefore this automatism is quite indispensable to us, although at the present moment it is our greatest enemy from which we have temporarily to free ourselves in order, first, to form a conscious body and mind. later, this automatism must be studied for the purpose of adapting it.

until we are free of automatism, we cannot learn anything else. we must do away with it temporarily.

certain exercises are already known to us. for example, we study exercises for the body. the various tasks we have done were elementary exercises for the mind. we have not yet done any exercises for the feelings—these are more complex. at first they are even difficult to visualize. yet they are of the foremost importance to us. the realm of feeling comes first in our inner life; indeed all our misfortunes are due to disorganized feeling. we have too much material of that kind and we live on it the whole time.

but at the same time we have no feeling. i mean that we have neither objective nor subjective feeling. the whole realm of our feeling is filled with something alien and completely mechanical. there are three kinds of feeling—subjective, objective and automatic. for example, there is no feeling of morality either subjective or objective.

the objective feeling of morality is connected with certain general, orderly and immutable moral laws, established over the centuries, in accordance both chemically and physically with human circumstances and nature, established objectively for all and connected with nature (or, as is said, with god).

the subjective feeling of morality is when a man, on the basis of his own experience and his own personal qualities, his personal observations, a sense of justice entirely his own, and so on, forms a personal conception of morality, on the basis of which he lives.

both the first and the second feeling of morality are not only absent in people but people even have no idea of them.

what we say about morality relates to everything.

we have in our minds a more or less theoretical idea of morality. we have heard and we have read. but we cannot apply it to life. we live as our mechanism allows us. theoretically we know that we should love n., but in actual fact he may be antipathetic to us—we may not like his nose. i understand with my mind that emotionally also i should have a right attitude to him, but i am unable to. somewhere far away from n,m i can in the course of a year decide to have a good attitude toward him. but if certain mechanical associations have established themselves, it will be just the same as before when i see him again with us the feeling of morality is automatic. i may have established a rule for myself to think in this way, but "it" does not live like that.

if we wish to work on ourselves we must not be only subjective; we must accustom ourselves to understand what objective means. subjective feeling cannot be the same in everyone, since all people are different. one is english, another a jew; one likes plover, and so on. we are all different, but our differences should be united by objective laws. in certain circumstances small subjective laws are sufficient. but in communal life justice can be attained only through the objective. objective laws are very limited. if al people had this small number of laws in them, our inner and outer life would be a great deal happier. there would be no loneliness, nor would there be unhappy states.

from the most ancient times through experience of life and wise statesmanship, life itself gradually evolved fifteen commandments and established them for the good of individuals as well as for all peoples. if these fifteen commandments were actually in us all, we would be able to understand, to love, to hate. we would have levers for the basis of right judgment.

all religions, all teachings come from god and speak in the name of god. this does not mean that god actually gave them, but they are connected with one whole and with what we call god.

for example: god said, love they parents and thou wilt love me. and indeed, whoever does not love his parents cannot love god.

before we go any further, let us pause and ask ourselves: did we love our parents, did we love them as they deserved, or was it simply a case of "it loves," and how should we have loved?