Gurdjieff International Review

Attention Is Our Only Weapon

From the Notes of Jane Heap

You must try very much to realize where you place your attention.


Try to understand more the part that has to be played by your active attention and the part played by your passive or negative resistance.


Put attention inside.

Easy to lose – we know a different moment: a different state in which we realize that everything could be different – then again in grip of something negative and we have practically forgotten just like the memory of a dream – and we start again. There we could respect more and keep more – as long as I am outside myself there is nothing to be done – just nothing. I may sometimes dream that I work, but I am on the surface and I just dream – or something goes a little inside – I know I have shifted my position then begins the experience. Ought to be very, very aware of this – then begins my experience when a current of attention towards inside is undoubtedly established; I shift my position from outside to relatively inside – then begins my experience.


Must be patient now – sometimes know a bit more when I give the wholeness of my attention – not only from my mind but when all parts are called to something deeper.

Try to be permeated by it – this inner movement of attention – when this attention is broken – try to be aware – what you become. This is much more difficult than we have realized in the beginning – however it is most important – but I wish – I wish for this relation of myself to myself.


Exercises in attention and observation precede self-observation. Self-observation only possible with attention. No attention only tension.


The passionate work to acquire active attention is a key to everything. If not, we shall perhaps have something a little different – moments of imagination. Never will we be able to really study ourself...

Do not trust your emotions. Trust if you can your effort. A man cannot trust anything in himself for a long, long time but his effort...

Learn – which is very, very difficult – to appreciate the permanence – permanence of effort.


Question of extent to which you can collect attention – to which you can disengage your attention from various things to which it is caught. Clearer you are about doing this, the more firm you will be about Why you are doing this. Question of understanding necessity of the effort – collect attention – collect it from all functions: mental, feeling and sensation of the body. Collect it from wherever it is and then put it in the hand = collect seriously... Collection of our energy means the collecting of our attention – nothing else that we can collect at all. Key to all our work. Never say – you do not see anything new in our exercise. Every time we begin at scratch – anew.


Attention is our only weapon.


Study functions – look at functions with help of something higher. Look at something lower with help of something higher.

If you can awake creative attention, it may be given that you can look at something higher from something lower.


If attention is on life things, you are kind of person whose force flows into things – only – no attention for higher things – must divide attention... When I actually try to be present in both directions, I know that I have a certain kind of effort to make. If the sense of the quality of the effort required is not clear enough, it is always a question of more presence. If I am lost – if it has not enough meaning for me, it means that I am not present enough. Present – if I were able to see myself it would mean that at the same time I am present to who is seeing and to who is seen. That I have to try and increase consciously – this notion of “bothness” – my bothness – to be both in one direction and another quite opposite.


Now if you keep some attention on the level that is a little different from the functions – something will be understood in the organic circulation of energy – that there is a possibility of working without pulling so hard on energy – what is so terrible is that obligation to give up everything because we need to do a simple piece of moving or thinking – it is terrific, it is like using a source of 1,000 volts to light a little lamp – all the current goes out.


If we try hard enough we can find roots for our attention – to a deeper way to ourselves – using sensation. We know that our attention remains separate from outside processes. We are mistaken in thinking that these outside processes need (with few exceptions) a great deal of attention. Some people take more food than they need – some people use more money than they need. My emotional reactions take all my attention, but are they worth it? The most fleeting thought takes all my attention – it does not need it. Try again and again to become quiet in yourself, to separate definitely from that fact – that I am entirely involved in what I do.


Attention is the only possible instrument for me to use inner energy in an intentional way.

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These excerpts are from The Notes of Jane Heap: A selection of notes made by Jane Heap for talks to her groups on the practice of the teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff, London: a limited edition of 100 copies printed in 1983 for private distribution under the direction of Michael Currer-Briggs.

Copyright © 2013 Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing
Featured: Fall 2013 Issue, Vol. XII (1)
Revision: November 1, 2013