This is an extract from a group meeting in Paris and dates to the 1940's.

Work and Life

Gurdjieff, George Ivanovitch

G: ...You must set aside a special time each day for the work. Not all the time, the Work is a serious thing. You cannot work interiorly all day. You must make a special time and increase it little by little. To this work you give a half hour of the 24 hours. During this half hour forget all the rest, put all the rest aside. It's a little thing. You sacrifice to this time all your occupations, all the work of your exterior functions. Sacrifice everything for your interior work and afterward you can put it aside for the things of ordinary life. You cannot do this work all day.

Q: I think so. That becomes mechanical: I am, I wish to be.

G: You mix, you must not. Don't mix this work with ordinary work. We have two kinds of waking states. For this work, you should have one active waking state. But a half hour of this waking state is enough for the rest of the day, which you live as you have the habit of doing. You can do this? And if you can't do a half hour, even ten minutes is rich for him who can work ten minutes. You must give and sacrifice to this work a special time. You cannot give all your time. Life is one thing, the work another. The substantiality of each one is different: for this work you must be more active.

I've said this many times. When you begin your work, your task, it is your work. You should, even before beginning, relax yourself, prepare yourself, collect yourself. Afterward, with all your being, you accomplish your task. It is a very complicated thing. You cannot do it for a long time. You are soon tired. It takes all your strength; if you do it five minutes too much, you are drained of all strength. It's for that reason that I say you must increase the time little by little, until you are used to it: five minutes, six minutes, ten minutes. Only this system will always give you a good beginning to prepare you for acquiring the state that is becoming to a real man. And if you work a long time, that proves that you do not work with all your being - you are working only with your mind. But as to that, you can do it for a thousand years without gaining anything; it is worth nothing. Work a short time, but work well. Here it isn't the quantity but the quality that counts.

Life is one thing. Do not mix it with other things. Five minutes of good work is worth more than 24 hours of another kind. If you haven't much time, work five minutes. Let ordinary life continue automatically according to habit the rest of the time. What you say does not concern the work. Our life is one thing, the work another thing. Otherwise worthless; remember yourself with all your being. You can't do it for long, you drain yourself. Do it for five minutes, but fortget everything else. Be an absolute egoist, forget everything, your God, your husband, your children, money - remember only the work. Short, but substantial.


Work and the Centers
Most of the factual doing of The Work depends on my strugling against being mechanical and awaken at the same time.
Maybe, the major difficulty I am facing these days is trying to Work not only with the Mind and the Intelectual Center.
Are movements and breathing enough?

Pedro Perrelli, Brazil
added 2004-04-05

Are Movements & Breathing Enough?
Dear Pedro,

We have three basic functions, centers: thinking, feeling and moving. We are human when these all work. When the centers work harmoniously we are 'balanced'. As Gurdjieff says then 'we can work like man'.

For this 'balance' it is necessary that we 'are', that we 'remember ourselves', which enables us to look at the centers and see their functioning. This way we can get to know ourselves. This process is a question of relationship and contact; relationship between what is real in us and its contact to the world we live in and the functions, the centers.

Our movements and breathing are both results and expression of the life in each of us. What is necessary is the contact, the relationship, which has often been called just 'consciousness'.

Reijo Elsner, Denmark
added 2004-04-13