A couple of years ago I met a man called John Bennet with whom I spent a year and a half. I worked with him there until he told me it was time to go.
What type of work were you doing with Bennet?
He had a school in England, and the work…it varied. We did exercises, meditations, physical work, Gurdjieff’s movements. Actually I left there quite confused – I suppose there’s no way out of that. I never had much ability to do any of the exercises or things like that.
It may not have suited you because Gurdjieff’s work is for a particular type, the will type – people who can work hard and very persistently, almost madly – because the whole thing depends on a very deep crystallization of the ego. Once the ego is crystallized then further steps can be taken. But the whole Gurdjieffian system depends on you having a center, a self.
Ordinarily you don’t have a center. In fact Gurdjieff says you don’t have a soul – it is only a possibility; you may die without attaining it. What he calls the soul is nothing but a crystallized self, and crystallized so much so that it takes the position of being sovereign, enthroned, in the crowd of your many selves.
Ordinarily you have many egos, not one, and a conflict continuously going on. Sometimes one is in power, sometimes another is in power; a sort of democracy. A political head is not permanent, so much politics goes on within. So much politics and so much chaos goes on within that you never know where you are, who you are, what you are. Sometimes you have the feeling that you are this, but by the time you realize it that self is gone, is no more in power.
When you have a permanent self then Gurdjieff’s system really starts functioning. To attain that permanent self, one has to do tremendous work, in fact absurd work. Just out of too much work crystallization happens; the work functions out of a chemical opportunity.
For example in many Sufi schools from where Gurdjieff got the point, you have to remain alert for the whole night – for months. The only process to be done is not to allow yourself to fall asleep; it is very difficult. After a few days it becomes almost impossible, but if you can go on and on and on suddenly you realize one day that you are tired no more, that you are no longer feeling sleepy. You are as fresh as if you have been sleeping all the time – a deeper layer of energy has been broken.
We have three layers of energy. One is day to day, routine; you need it for eating, digesting, working, moving. It is finished in twenty-four hours and the next day you create it again. And there is a second layer of energy which is deeper; it becomes available only in emergencies.