Mr. Gurdjieff told us very seriously that attention is absolutely indispensable for any work we wished to do with him. If we did not understand that, nothing could bring us to the aim for which we came to him. All of us there already felt that we were more than just a body. We knew that ‘something else’ was in us, and we wished to know: What is that? What have we to do with that? How can we call to it? How can we bring it out? How can we rely on it and not depend only on the body? All this was really a burning question for us, and Mr. Gurdjieff made it clear that if we didn’t study attention—not study in the ordinary way, but putting all our attention on developing that attention—we would arrive nowhere. For this he gave us exercises at every moment...
One feature that all the exercises have in common is that they require all our attention and so avoid the flow of uncontrolled associations that waste our life energy through very stupid, sometimes very painful, sometimes fantastic, sometimes erotic thoughts, feelings and sensations, which we all more or less experience. Mr. Gurdjieff frequently said that ‘conscious labour’ and ‘intentional suffering,’ by reducing this unconscious flow of associations, could prolong life. For those who work on attention and use it in the struggle with associations, who do not forget to ‘remember themselves’—for those people attention begins to be not only the centre of life, but also the factor that lengthens it.
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Featured: Fall 2013 Issue, Vol. XII (1)
Revision: November 1, 2013