Gurdjieff International Review

A Friend In Myself

John Pentland

Question: I feel this need to be trying things. Every day I have to be trying something and sometimes it seems helpful and at the same time it seems like I am trying to pry something open.

Lord Pentland: It seems to me the freedom which I need is not so much to be used up in trying things as in finding some sort of encouraging relationship with somebody else or something deeper in myself which will enable me, while trying these things, to remember why I am trying them. I am constantly trying things, but I forget what the grounds are for trying them, so if I come up with a result, it is not measured against anything. This trying comes from a kind of wish that wants life to be more stimulating, not a wish just to observe life as it goes by.

There are times when I want to make my life richer. Then I need a companion, a friend in myself who will help me remember how to contemplate this or how to try that. Without this companion I try this or that, but I get obstinate and I am going to try in the same way again. What I need is the ability to hear what comes to me alongside myself, as it were, rather than what comes to me either from above or below. It is not so much that I need to follow or be obedient or even to be pushed. I don’t have a strong enough will to carry out the instructions I do receive within myself; I know that I need to call somebody or get up early, but I don’t always do it. It seems I need a companion.

I am not so unsubtle as I make out. I do receive psychic messages. It’s because I have a very weak will that I regard myself as inferior. I don’t think the problem is quite so obvious as most of the textbooks make out.

So what kind of help do I need? I know that if I am on the highway and stalled it is very cozy if someone comes along and offers to push my car, but it is still better if they give me some gas and get me going on my own. It is not much use having a lot of people to work for you or agreeing to be helpful; we need something in the middle. There is something about our relationship in the group that needs to be both separate and enjoined. What we need is this ability to give my attention rather than to be actually joined. I have to come right in the middle. I need encouragement and I need a feeling that it is really true that if I don’t live today, I will miss a whole day.

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This excerpt is from Exchanges Within: Questions from Everyday Life Selected from Gurdjieff Group Meetings with John Pentland in California 1955–1984, New York: Continuum, 1997, and is used here with the kind permission of Mary Rothenberg.

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