Gurdjieff International Review

How To Live Simply?

Michel de Salzmann

The following comments by Michel de Salzmann were made at a meeting in France in June, 2001 and were later recalled and edited by members of the Philadelphia Gurdjieff Foundation group who were in attendance.

How to live simply?

It is a big question. Let the answer come into the empty space that one must create in oneself. Trying to live simply is not the way—we don’t know how. Trying to fix it is filling the space with activity, when what is needed is to empty oneself and allow an answer to appear.

To work, I need to be calmer—not so anxious. You don’t own your feelings, they are given to you—like your body. It pisses when it wants to, eats when it wants to, and so on. These experiences are given to you. You are not in charge of your body, nor of your feelings—you do not know what they mean. So how can you judge what is right or wrong for you at a certain moment? Some feelings may be needed to protect yourself.

You do not know. So let it completely be. Just acknowledge what is—all sorts of movements and energies going on, the body passive, the mind attentive. Aware of body and mind and of that which is always there, above. From there, order appears in the psyche and in the body, through the light that animates them. In that relation, just be. What comes from that is not for me. It is a Cloud of Unknowing, shorn of the narrowly Christian trimmings of that great book.

To be present is not that hard—if you wish. If you earnestly wish to do something—poof—it’s done! So in moments of wishing we could be present, all we need is a more pressing wish.

I am put in question by the fact of two levels, two natures. I am that paradox. I experience it but cannot reconcile the two with my mind. Pay attention to the relationship between higher and lower, between quiet and distracted.

When I am in question, I see that I cannot rely on my memory of Work explanations. Then forget all you know about the Work. Its terms are an obstacle for you now. Avoid this old reductionism. Be new. Only then can you wish with real feeling, with love. That is what you need. Not a technique, not a program of work, but an intense passion to awaken.

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Copyright © 2007 Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing
Featured: Spring 2007 Issue, Vol. X (1)
Revision: April 1, 2007