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Finding the Connections

posted Jun 2, 2020, 8:58 AM by Jim Turner   [ updated Jun 2, 2020, 9:07 AM ]

June 2, 2020

by Joseph Azize: 

This is from the meeting of Wednesday 22 February 1989. The first question was interesting only because it was asked: “Is it possible that identification is connected with my negativity?”

Mr Adie replied: “Of course, one depends on the other. If you manage to, try and centralise yourself a bit and not identify, your negative emotion will be much less. When you get identified, you’re like a drain wit energy rushing out. It’s being sucked out of you, you turn, and give yourself to the thing. But if you just notice that and just try and contain yourself a little, not a great deal, but a little, and say “Yes, alright, in time now,” you might keep a little energy. Try that. We’re talking now for this hour: during this time just keep quite relaxed. It’s a job for all day and all night and every time I’m a wake. But if I can even remember this, everything changes, everything.

The next question was from Ted, who asked: “My question is, whether it’s possible to be identified with something without knowing that you are identified?”

“That’s the state you’re in nearly all the time,” Mr Adie replied. “Nearly all the time you’re not really conscious of anything; you’re just in imagination being pushed around. See, to know something, there has to be a knower, someone that knows it, and someone who knows they know; this is the point. When that person knows they’re not there, there is a chance for the appearance of that centrality, that collection of force. Otherwise, you are just nothing, swallowed up in identification. All the people walking in the streets, all the people making millions and twisting each other, and having wars, and going to concerts, there’re all nothing. All lost in imagination –  more or less, more or less.”

“I’ve seen something in myself, which is very deep, ambition, and as a result of that, I have said to myself there’s no need to be negative, and I should accept the world and people as they are,” said Ted.

“Ambition, yes,” replied Mr Adie, “but I don’t quite see the connection between your ambition and your ability to accept and be more impartial. Is there a connection there, or have I misunderstood you?”

“No, that’s what I said.” However, Ted did not make clear what the connection, if any, was between his ambition and his acceptance.

“Anyway, what is it now that you wish to come to, to understand more? It’s very important you make the right connection, from what you say.”

“Over the break there have been times,” said Ted, “when I was able to say, to see an all pervasive negative approach.”

“Well, you find yourself in a very negative state, but when it’s all pervasive you don’t really see it; this is the thing. You only see it as you begin to come out of it a little.”

“It seems now that I’m able to be much more freer to be present.”

“Good,” said Mr Adie, “then you need to be present to understand that; how you get it, how it takes place, how to bring it back when it goes, what you connect it with. It has to be connected with three centres. It has to be connected certainly with your emotional centre, you have to be able to have some feeling, otherwise you’re just a thing. You have to have thought, which with some control about the thought, so I have to be able to see how the thoughts, to a certain extent, how they arise or at least when they arise.”

So, I get an idea. And now you know that if you don’t have access to any conscious thought, you’re lost at once. Feeling follows thought, the impulse follows. But if I have not had any thought at all, then I can awaken to find that I have done a ridiculous thing just because I hadn’t thought about it. If people take some thought before they act, as they sometimes do, they don’t make such big mistakes, generally. They may from a point of view, because they can’t foresee the future: I am speaking about profit and loss and that sort of thing, but in general as far as their being is concerned, they don’t make so many mistakes.”

“If we try to think seriously, we ponder. And what is the essence of pondering but to be present in order to try to understand something which I propose for myself? I can think about anything, provided only I observe myself, I am there.”

After a pause, Mr Adie added: “In the state of pondering, part of my energy is purely for my own state. Now, some is allowed for action if you like, and that includes thinking, directing my attention. But the main point is for myself; that way I cannot be swayed so easily.”

“You wonder about the connection between the ambition you saw in yourself and the acceptance of other people you had found? When you have relatively more being, you are separated out from your manifestations: you see this infernal ambition and you see this rejection of other people, and that brings you some freedom from it. Come back to it, see what other people say, everybody has got crises in their lives.”

George Adie on Difficulties in the Preparation

posted Apr 14, 2018, 12:05 PM by Jim Turner

Posted on March 27, 2018 by Joseph Azize

This is from the meeting of 13 July 1982 with Mr Adie.

Part One

The first question came from Claudia. She had been in another group overseas, and had not been long with us at Newport. “I’m having trouble concentrating at all. The preparation in the morning I can’t find any attention at all. I follow my reading a bit, but my attention just goes.”

“How long do you prepare yourself for?”

“Half an hour.”

 “It’s much too long to start with,” said Mr Adie. “See, everyone has different kinds of difficulties.”

 Claudia protested: “I’ve always needed that long.”

 “Well, what do you need it for when at the end of the period you’re in the same state? You see, if you have no attention at the end, then something wants changing, doesn’t it? Now, I have warned you to try and work shorter periods in the day, haven’t I. The preparation will be the same. Did you try what I suggested in the day?”


“Did it work at all?”

“No, because I kept thinking, ah well, soon I was going to stop. There was nothing to begin with.”

“I suggested five minutes every hour. You really need to take note of what you were doing. If you really noticed with care what you were doing, and were open to what was going on for just five minutes, it would be a massive change. But don’t allow yourself to feel harassed about it. If you try, you’re bound to succeed in the end. No effort is wasted.”

“Limit your preparation to seven minutes. Seven minutes. Yes. And during that seven minutes, try and become aware of your sensation.”

“You have sensation. You have only got to put your hand on your leg, and immediately you feel that part of your knee, you feel it at once. Place your hand there now. There is sensation there. Have you got sensation of your hand on that woollen garment?”


“Now, press your feet towards the floor, lightly, there’s sensation there, isn’t there?”


“Now, make you nose flick like a rabbit. There’s sensation there. See you can get sensation, you can clarify. If you do that carefully, with all the different parts of your body, your head, your neck, and your breast, and your arms, and your legs, and you have the clock there.”

“Now look at me again, come on, I was talking to you. You have the clock there and you have seven minutes see. You look at it. You have seven precious minutes, no more. There they are. Now you go all around your body, very fine sensation. You’ve got two feet, two arms, one nose and so on. For seven minutes there is nothing else. You’ve got plenty of time to visit everything: all the little nooks and crannies of your neck, the muscles, the inside of the mouth, the sockets of the eyes, a very fine sensation. In order to do that you got to direct your attention, yeah? Are you set to do that?”


“Just do that. Don’t do anything else. Then when you’re done, finished, read something. Choose what you what, what you’ve found useful, choose to read for the same amount of time, so that you have one quarter of an hour.”

“That’s it, limit it to that, until you prove you have sensation and to some extent that you have control of your attention for that period. Do it faithfully. Feel relieved that you haven’t got to go sitting for the old half an hour. Seven minutes of a real effort. Good”

The next question was from Louis. “Mr Adie, I feel as though lately I’ve been identified but I don’t know with what.”

Mr Adie turned back to Claudia, and said: “Now think about this question. It will help you. Don’t go thinking about your question any more. Pay attention to this question.”

Perhaps Mr Adie gave Louis a sign, because he continued. “The reason I think I’m identified is because lately I’ve been very clumsy, forgetful, and many other things which have been interfering with my efficiency in my work and what I do at home. Also, with the work, the studies, but I don’t seem to know how to look for, what I’m identified with at the present.”

There was quite a pause, then Mr Adie said: “You identify with everything, moment by moment. Someone rings a bell, you identify with that. When they’ve gone away, and you see something that you’ve got to do, you identify with that. Then you get an idea, you identify with that. You are not collected.”

“But the important thing is not what you’re identified with, but the fact that you are identified at all. What are you going to do about that? You’re going to be identified with everything, the present moment you’re partly identified with your question, and me, and the people in the room you can’t help it. But have you got some sensation when as you speak?”


“Well, alright, you’re not totally identified? Is it now possible to relax a little bit more, to be available a little bit more? You see, when you were speaking you were identified with your question. Well, the question is still there, the question is important. Why are you so identified? And now, perhaps not so much. Try like that.”

Mr Adie turned back to Claudia” “Now you have been paying attention to him a little, haven’t you? See, you’re not so identified with your own alleged bewilderment?”


“It’s a bit of a trap this life, in fact, it’s a terrific trap. If we’re going to get out of it there are all sorts of things we have to realise: the possibility of moving is a marvellous discovery, that I can make that slight movement. When something terrible happens to a person, a person that is prone to a miserable state of mind and they’re all by themselves, no friends, it’s very difficult for them, isn’t it?  The bottom’s dropped out of the willow basket. If they only had the idea that one little movement is necessary, everything changes, not totally into something unrelated, but everything changes. It’s like a log jam on a frozen river, you know those Canadian rivers where they have vast rivers of logs lying in the water and when they get down further they jam up? They get one log free and they all start to move.”

“You got be to be very practical. We don’t know, and we don’t realise that we are really caught, so the possibility of counteracting that being caught, just for a second or two, is incredibly valuable. But you wanted to sit at the preparation for half an hour. Later, presently, you’ll be able to have another moment of freedom, but not the same way as the moment before. You can’t work like that.”

“And it’s a great relief to find that I work in the wrong way. I don’t have to doubt my wish, my sincerity, I still know it’s necessary, but thank God it’s not necessary in that way. There’s another way. That’s a great relief, and I can be a little less identified and a bit more poised.”

 “I start to panic a bit when it gets in the head,” said Claudia.

“Yes, that’s also quite useless, quite useless. You want to drop the tummy down and just, all sorts of possibilities are there if you make a very slight movement. Try and see yourself differently. All these head ideas are a sort of rubbish clouted on to me, I can’t brush it all off at once, but at least I know it’s rubbish.”

Part Two

First of all, that word: “clouted”. It comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word referring to a little piece of cloth or metal. Then it came to mean “To cover with cloth, leather, or other material.” Possibly because a clout or small piece of cloth was placed on targets for archery practice, it came to mean “to strike” and “to hit with a blow”. A derivation from archery would explain why a clout is just one hit, while we can speak about a hail of blows and punches.

It is a brilliant word for what Mr Adie was expressing: that formatory ideas are practically attached to us, one by one, little by little, until they form a sort of unnatural covering. What he says is so wise: “I can’t brush it all off at once, but at least I know it’s rubbish.”

I should stress that the advice to Claudia was meant for her and people in her situation. On other occasions, Mr Adie would advise people to sit for longer, but I never heard him allow more than 20 minutes. One recording I have heard has him speak of 20 minutes as the maximum, but again, I am sure that even that depended upon the context. There might be a preparation where one found something of such a nature that one could maintain it for longer. Only one’s experience can be the guide.

It was also interesting to come across this excellent example of how he had an awareness of everyone in the room as he spoke, and could turn to one, and then return to another. And yet all were included all of the time. You had the impression of being in the presence of a master, who could maintain his attention while juggling many balls.

This is one of the advantages of a group: I bring my question but then, after the exchange, I should not become introspective. If I do, there is a great danger I will distort it. The best way to preserve the impact of an exchange is to make an immediate effort to be present. It is the state of presence, rather than the condition of going over it, which safeguards the quality of my thought.

Also typical of what he brought to meetings was how he insisted that as he spoke with Claudia, she move her hand, place it on her knee, and sense herself, and so on.

Joseph Azize, 25 March 2018 (Hosanna Sunday and the Annunciation)

The photo is of a river scene in the spectacular Rhodope Mountains, which link long-suffering Bulgaria and Greece.

Gurdjieff and the Prayer of the Heart

posted Mar 1, 2016, 9:39 AM by Jim Turner   [ updated Mar 1, 2016, 9:42 AM ]

February 18, 2016

by Joseph Azize


Gurdjieff taught that techniques such as fasting, confession and prayer were not only valuable, but essential for any seeker. Gurdjieff gave few indications about prayer, but he knew of and used certain Eastern methods of praying. I can hardly overstate how important moderate and medically safe fasting is in disrupting the coordination of the centres and making possible new physical, feeling and intellectual experiences.

Of particular importance are what are often called the prayers of repetition, such as the Prayer of the Heart and the Jesus Prayer. I prefer to call these “continuing prayer”. Here, etymology is enlightening. “Continue” is derived from two Latin roots, *SCOM meaning “together” and *TA / *TEN, “stretch, hold”.

A “continuing prayer”, then, is one where the attention is held by the praying. Our attention will fluctuate. Yet, the person praying is influenced by the prayer, and the active elements of the prayer (aim, intention, wish, feeling, grace) are augmented by a stretching of the attention. The better our prayer at a natural level, the better the chance of receiving grace, the power of a supernatural level. The aim of the prayer, after all, is to connect us to God.

Our prayer is not useless just because our attention may wander, or I may find I have an unworthy thought. The important thing is to try to bring my thought back. Whether I succeed or not is another thing: but I try. In some notes published as “Notes on Saint John’s Gospel”, and wrongly attributed to Ouspensky, the unknown author wrote: “Earth is enclosed and enwrapped in a great flame of radiant power. The same power is stored inside every living form, waiting for some shock that will set it free.”

The Christian techniques of prayer can provide such shocks, but perhaps as Ouspensky stated on 23 January 1934, these techniques are useless without conscious breathing and fasting (see A Further Record, pp.295-8.) Ouspensky’s comments make sense of some rather cryptic remarks to be found in the Philokalia, especially in Nikiphorus the Monk (see volume 4 of the complete text).  If one means by “useless” completely useless, then no that is going too far. But our prayers are made much more virtuous by these techniques.

Adie’s instructions tally exactly with those of Nikiphorus. Indeed, they make sense of and expand the monk’s deliberately fragmentary and incomplete instructions. Incidentally, Mme Kadloubovsky, who had a major role in the preparation of the English translation of the Philokalia, and who assembled the volume which dealt with the Prayer of the Heart, was Ouspensky’s secretary. In that volume, Nikiphorus is entered under the name “Nicephorus the Solitary”.

It would be irresponsible to provide specific indications concerning continuing prayer, because, as the Philokalia stated on the Prayer of the Heart, and also Mr Adie said, such techniques must be learnt from someone experienced, who can watch the orant (student). Otherwise, a person can become deluded, and imagine that they possess qualities they do not, or worse.

Gurdjieff did have sources. Wherever I have been able to identify such sources, they are in the Greek tradition, especially in the “Neoplatonic” school of Plotinus and Iamblichus. But his tradition has come through Christianity. In In Search of the Miraculous: at p.304, Gurdjieff asked his pupils where the word “I” sounds in them when they pronounce it aloud. Ouspensky stated that he was “entirely unable to evoke this sensation” in himself. Then, said Gurdjieff, there is an exercise “preserved up to our time in the monasteries of Mount Athos.” (Incidentally, Gurdjieff had earlier stated that he had been to Mount Athos, Miraculous, p.36).

In this exercise, Gurdjieff said, a monk takes a certain position, lifts his arms in a certain posture, and says “Ego” while listening to where it sounds. In Greek, “ego” does not mean “me”, it means “I”, or “I am”. Further, there is not necessarily anything of self-will or self-assertion in it. The purpose of the exercise, Gurdjieff explained, is to feel “I” at every moment a man thinks of himself, and furthermore, to bring the sense of “I” from one centre to another. All this material on the “Ego” exercise is given in some 19 lines. Incidentally, the 19th century Maronite monk, Mar Naamtallah is often shown praying in just this posture.

Where does this leave us? I think it is encouraging to reflect that there are methods for prayer and self-development which can and do work. They are not easy, and one must be prepared for real shocks, but the possibility is there. It is also, I think, comforting to reflect that the Gurdjieff methods and ideas do not have to be so divorced from religion as they sometimes, perhaps even too frequently, are. I think that for those in the Gurdjieff tradition, it points them to the authentic preparations and exercises brought by Gurdjieff, and away from the “sittings” of the “new work”. For those of us who have ever had the sense of the continuous prayer and its vibration in the body, it is a much-needed reminder, because as Merlin once said (in the movie Excalibur): “It is the doom of man that he forgets.”


Ibn' Arabi - 'Alone with the Alone'

posted Feb 9, 2016, 1:57 PM by Jim Turner

February 9, 2016

One of the 20th century’s most prolific scholars of Islamic mysticism, Henry Corbin (1903-1978) was Professor of Islam & Islamic Philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the University of Tehran. (Iran)

Corbin’s central project was to provide a framework for understanding the unity of the religions of the Book: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. His great work: “Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi “is a classic initiatory text of visionary spirituality that transcends the tragic divisions among the three great monotheisms.

Corbin’s life was devoted to the struggle to free the religious imagination from fundamentalisms of every kind. 

Mystic, philosopher, poet, sage, Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi is one of the world's great spiritual teachers. Ibn 'Arabi was born in Murcia, Spain in 1165 and his writings had an immense impact throughout the Islamic world and beyond. The universal ideas underlying his thought are of immediate relevance today.

Music: Armand Amar

Free from all of my ordinary fears

posted Jan 12, 2016, 7:35 PM by Jim Turner   [ updated Jan 17, 2016, 12:39 PM ]

January 12, 2016

from Tuesday 8 April March 1986 - George Aide - Originally posted by Joseph Azize 

...“the work is to have the moment, and move beyond it. There is a moment, “now”. It is what it is now partly because of the past. And the future is going to depend upon now. It will be the same as the past has been. But if I can be here now, the future is going to be different. I have to bring myself to the situation. I am in an external situation, but I am not in the one I think I am. What I think of as being the situation is largely erroneous, until I am present. If I am present for a flash I begin to see how things are.”

“There is an awful lot of moral self-punishment and chastising which wrecks our work. If I could only accept that I am as I am largely because of my upbringing. Now I had better do something about this. I have heard something which I think is unquestionably true, and now I am going to try and follow that. With that, a new element can come in. Then all of this has to be digested, because it has its momentum and habit. So as I go on, if I work, these habits are still there, but they’re slowing down, they’re slowing down … and finally they don’t interfere.”

“People do the most horrible things in their family, and outside. If one really saw one’s motives and sees how one behaves about possessions and all sorts of things, one would be quite horrified. But there’s no use saying: “Oh, I’ve been this wicked person!” I haven’t been, I just wasn’t there. But now, because I wasn’t there, I have the responsibility of dealing with the matter. Now I can start to be guilty if I wish, but I will know how to deal with that. So I have a chance. None of these quite terrible things are ever done intentionally. They are done because I am not there. Some automatic arrangement of particles produces that action.”

“If I am there, more or less, I am free from all of my ordinary fears. They are only temporary, in a sort of way. So I am free of that by being there, and the more I am, the more I am free from erroneous thought, and I am free from making absurd deductions and connections. I have a little choice on what I think.”

“My life is very limited, I only gravitate to deal with people I like, while I shun people I don’t know or suspect. So I’ve got this narrow life of people that I think will agree with me or even appreciate me, and I have not time for the others. But as I become more impartial, I find that I can have relation to many people.”

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Subtle Activism: Spiritual Responsibility at this Time of Global Crisis and Transformation

posted Sep 25, 2015, 9:36 AM by Jim Turner   [ updated Sep 25, 2015, 9:45 AM ]


"First we receive the Light.
Then, we impart the Light,
thus, we repair the world."

"David Thomas Nicol interviews Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee for the Subtle Activism Summit, The Inner Dimension of Peace Building. 

Subtle Activism is an emerging subject that explores how spiritual practices can effect not only individual but also collective or global transformation. This interview explores this bigger dimension of spiritual practice, and also how many of these practices traditionally give us access to the inner worlds, where we can work with the forces within creation to help the regeneration of the Earth. It looks at the power of prayer as well as ways of working with the energies of the archetypal world. Finally it explains how we need to bring our connection to the Real into our daily life."


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posted Jun 29, 2015, 7:04 PM by Jim Turner

June 29, 2015

"For consciousness, collection of attention is necessary. Attention is as oil in the lamp. Consciousness is the light. Where there is consciousness things are illuminated."  ~ Mme Ouspensky

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.  In practice, there is."  ~ Yogi Berra      

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."  ~ Phililip K. Dick

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You Cannot Capture Silence. It Captures You.

posted Apr 10, 2015, 10:01 AM by Jim Turner   [ updated Apr 10, 2015, 10:06 AM ]

April 10, 2015

by Richard Rohr

For me, the two correctives of all spirituality are silence and service. If either of those is missing, it is not true, healthy spirituality. Without silence, we do not really experience our experiences. We may serve others and have many experiences, but without silence, nothing has the power to change us, to awaken us, to give us that joy that the world cannot give, as Jesus says. And without clear acts of free service (needing no payback of any sort, even “heaven”), a person’s spiritual authenticity can and should be called into question. Divine Love always needs to and must overflow!

To live in this primordial, foundational being itself, which I am calling silence, creates a kind of sympathetic resonance with what is right in front of us. Without it, we just react instead of respond. Without some degree of silence, we are never living, never tasting, as there is not much capacity to enjoy, appreciate, or taste the moment as it purely is. The opposite of contemplation is not action, it is reaction. We must wait for pure action, which always proceeds from a contemplative silence in which we are able to listen anew to truth and to what is really happening. Such spiritual silence demands a deep presence to oneself in the moment, which will probably have the same practical effect as presence to God.

You do not hear silence (precisely!), but it is that by which you do hear. You cannot capture silence. It captures you. Silence is a kind of thinking that is not thinking. It’s a kind of thinking which mostly sees (contemplata). Silence, then, is an alternative consciousness. It is a form of intelligence, a form of knowing beyond bodily reacting or emotion. It is a form of knowing beyond mental analysis, which is what we usually call thinking. All of the great world religions at the higher levels(mystical) discovered that our tyrannical mode of everyday thinking (which is largely compulsive, brain-driven, and based on early patterning and conditioning) has to be relativized and limited, or it takes over, to the loss of our primal being and identity in ourselves. I used to think that mysticism was the eventual fruit of years of contemplation; now I think it all begins with one clear moment of mystic consciousness, which then becomes the constant “spring inside us, welling up unto eternal life”.

Richard Rohr picture

About the Author: Richard Rohr is a Franciscan friar, an internationally known speaker and author, and a founding director of the Center for Action and Contemplation. The above passage is from his book, "Silent Compassion: Finding God in Contemplation."

From The Huffington Post:

"Meditation is often presented in a way that misses how urgent and central the underlying problem is for each and every one of us: we are all well practiced in a repetitive way of thinking -- and the problem is not what we think nearly as much as our universal entrapment in our own compulsive way of thinking. The problem only becomes clear when we fully realize that we are all victims of the mind and its hard wiring." 

Our Work Requires That We Should Be Present

posted May 3, 2014, 2:02 PM by Jim Turner

May 3, 2014

The work, our work, requires that we should be present. To be present we have to be free from such obstacles as identification, losing ourselves in what we are engaged in. To be present, we have to be relaxed and this brings us to the world of tensions.

Tensions are not something inert, passive, just slowing up our development. We have to observe how they arise. We have to observe that they arise in us from that which is hostile to the work. They represent in us a great force, our denying force. It is the center of egoism in us which defends itself by means of tensions.

It is essential that there should develop in us an active side which sees and experiences the need to relax. Once again, we need to observe, observe our inner gestures of refusal, our clutching at whatever we are lost in. By relaxation we can become free.

The way is clear. We need to learn to make a gesture of relaxation and to learn to renew it.

Mr. Bennett had a word for this – unhooking. We need to learn the art of unhooking, to make a movement of disengagement, or inwardly letting go. To do this we begin with work on physical tensions, letting go literally a hundred times a day. Later we see that to look for and relax only the superficial tensions does not do very much because under the influence of the underlying tensions they quickly return.

This week, wherever you are in this work, resolve to make some progress in the field of tensions. Superficial tensions can be affected by a superficial effort of attention, the deeper ones require work of a more subtle kind. This week set yourself to go deeper, for tensions are the opposition to our work.

Pierre Elliot
Claymont Society, 1976

Wishes Are Controllable

posted Dec 28, 2013, 11:26 AM by Jim Turner   [ updated May 3, 2014, 2:02 PM ]

December 28, 2013

J. G. Bennett
by John G. Bennett, December 20, 1964

Excerpt only from Sunday Talks at Combe Springs pp.10-12

Where is the point at which we are all free, at which we have power to do what we choose? This depends on what we really wish for. This power of wishing is ours and it is never taken away from us. We can wish what we decide to wish. But that decision must be taken by ourselves, we cannot push it off on to anyone else.

We must be sure that we know the difference between wishing and wanting, desiring, or even needing. The way I shall use the word 'wish' in talking to you now refers to the inward decision that every one of us has to take as to what really matters to us. But it does not mean that because we wish for something that we also have the power to achieve it. Nor have we even the power to want, because our wants are divided    one part of us wants one thing and another another; one part desires one thing, another hates it. We cannot get away from this conflict of desires in ourselves, or the changing of our wants: we now want this then forget all about it and want something quite different. This is how we are, but none of this touches a true wish, because wish is where will is anchored. Wish is really the simplest thing because wish can either be to belong where we do belong and to find the place that is destined for us, or it can be a wish to occupy the place that we want, that we desire. In another and a still simpler way of putting it, we either can wish to serve God or we can wish for the satisfaction of our own egoism. It is said that there is no place for two in the soul: it must be either I or God, not both. I say it is at this point that we have full power to wish for what we choose. That is why the place of supreme responsibility is where we have to decide what it is that we wish. None of us need be confused about this question. It does not require any learning, it does not require any particular articles of faith nor belief in this or that creed. It is before and beyond and more intimate than all of that.

So long as this is not faced, life is troublesome. We approve of this or of that, we are affected by things, by people, by their behaviour, by success and failure, by pleasure and pain, but none of these can touch us when we know what we wish. If you see any person who is affected by what other people think, by how they stand in other people's eyes and so on, you must know that they have no stable unchanging wish, and if you find that you yourself are such a kind of person, you must know that your wish is not clear. If you wish for God, for reality, for Truth, for what is right, none of these things will matter. They cannot, because they all belong to the wish that you have rejected; that is, the wish for your own egoistic satisfaction.

Until you have not cleared this question of wish, you will be afraid, because you will not know how to face the future. If you are clear about this, fear disappears, because you know that whatever happens and whatever may come, your wish will remain unchanged. When people have a strong wish they are strong in their lives. We must not forget that the power of wish also applies to people whose wishes are founded on their own egoism. They wish for success, they wish for dominance, they wish to stand well in the eyes of people, and they go all out to get it, ruthlessly. And because of this, they have not got these kinds of subserviences to what people think or to pleasure or pain. They will face being affronted, having to suffer overwork; they will deny themselves, because they know what they wish for.

You know the parable of the Unjust Steward. When he saw that he was going to lose his job, he took every precaution to see that he would be all right, and to everyone's surprise he is commended. Even Christ says that the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. Why? Because it is necessary to know what one wishes for and who does not know what he wishes for is nothing at all, because this is the centre of everything for us. There are many people who can be called children of light, who are sincerely drawn towards truth and reality and yet are all the time looking over their shoulders to see what is going on behind them, or looking at other people to see whether they are approved or disapproved of, or waiting to be commended, or something. They are the kind of people of whom it is said: "The children of this world are wiser than they." When one is really clever, how can any of these things matter?

It may be that we cannot make the image of what we wish for clear to ourselves, but we can, without any question, make the direction clear. By that I mean that a person may say "I wish to serve God, l wish for the realisation of truth, I wish for the love of God, for impersonal objective love" without being able to fully comprehend what these things mean; but everyone can be clear about whether the wish is for himself or for what is right. We must all of us see without any doubt that about this there can be no self deception. When this wish is clear then all the other things will come, and that again is expressed by the saying of Christ: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness... ."Even if you do not really know what it means, this is the direction to which you can turn and the rest will become clear by itself. There has to be an implacable, uncompromising demand of oneself that one will not deceive oneself, because with self deception we fall into every kind of misery. We become afraid, we depend upon people, we have no kind of confidence.

When I say we must be clear about what we wish, I do not mean that this solves all our problems, far from it. We still will want the wrong things, we shall still forget all about it, we still will be drawn towards stupidities. This is how things are, we have very little power over all that. But once we are clear about our wish and return to it again and again to be quite certain that it remains unchanged in us, that we really know that we do not want our own egoism to be fed, pampered, by anything whatever, then we have the extraordinary assurance that enables us to face anything. But as soon as we are again caught by this egoism of ours, every misery enters again. This must be clear.

Copyright - J.G.Bennett and Elizabeth Bennett

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