Gurdjieff International Review

Staying with Emptiness

William Welch

The following exchange with Dr. William Welch is excerpted from the transcript of a group meeting on May 5, 1995 in New York.

Question: When I turn to myself and find emptiness, I never get any further. I think something should be there because I turned to look. But how does one try? How does one knock on the door and then continue to stay there even if it doesn’t open?

Dr. Welch: Where is the inner perception that can awaken in me when I’m not in touch with myself? Nothing awakens. And I know the difference, but I’m distracted by my daily life. Instead of staying with the emptiness, I turn away because there’s nothing there. I don’t stay there because it’s difficult to bear or it’s boring or it’s many things. There’s no awakening because I don’t stay there. And I can’t say that I see my emptiness. Rather, I immerse myself in it.

You ask, “How can one try?” so already you have judged it. “Oh well, there I am, empty. I must be somebody very nothing.” Yet it has been suggested that nothingness is an experience I could undertake to be in touch with, without chastising myself, in the same way that I can be in touch with ‘not knowing.’

How to experience the freedom that can come from being free of these things ‘I know?’ I may say I know my emptiness, but I don’t know it at all. I have already judged it and put it away and gone about doing something else…

[The complete text is available in the printed copy of this issue.]

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Traditional Studies Press has published a recording of Dr. Welch reading René Daumal’s Mount Analogue. Dr. Welch saw this book as a many-facetted jewel, and appreciated its poetry, its humor and its truth. He reads it with great gusto and delight. Look for it at:

1 French for Angel.

Copyright © 2007 Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing
Featured: Spring 2007 Issue, Vol. X (1)
Revision: June 1, 2008