one thing - and that is the problem with all the people who are working with the Gurdjieff group and the Gurdjieff school: the problem is of too much seriousness...
Because of too much seriousness you want to be attentive, alert, aware, self-remembering for twenty-four hours; that is against the rhythm of life. Life is very rhythmic and the rhythm is created by the opposites - life and death, attentiveness and inattentiveness.
You cannot be attentive twenty-four hours because that too is losing the rhythm. That′s what people are doing - being asleep for twenty-four hours. That is bad, certainly bad, but to move to the other extreme and to make an effort to remain alert for twenty-four hours is again falling into the same trap - of a non-rhythmic life.
My approach is more rhythmic, so I will tell you one thing: whenever you can be alert and aware, be, but be very playfully. And whenever you lose attentiveness forget about it, don′t be worried about it. And whenever you remember again, good; feel happy.
And don′t think about those moments when you were not aware; accept them as part of the rhythm. Then the tension will disappear, and with the tension disappearing you will find that you are more and more aware, and less and less is the need for that inattentiveness.
My understanding is that when you are too tense you need inattentiveness more because otherwise you will go mad! That inattentiveness is a sort of intoxication, a way to sleep; it relaxes you. So the more tense a person is, the more sleep he will need. But sleeping eight hours in the night won′t be enough: he′s so tense, so anxious, so serious, so tight that he will die or go mad.
There is a natural system so that the moment you are too tense and too serious your body immediately creates a situation in which you fall asleep and you relax. You follow me? When you are less serious and less tense there will be less need for inattentiveness. And a moment comes when a person is totally relaxed; then there is no need for inattentiveness, but in that state there is no need for attentiveness either. They both disappear because they both live together, they are two aspects of the same coin.
A really relaxed person is neither attentive nor non-attentive; he is simply there. He is a sort of presence but you cannot call it attentiveness. The very word attention comes from tension. You cannot say that the man remembers himself because self-remembering means that the self is there. A real man who has come home has no self and nothing to remember. He is simply there; his presence is very simple, non-dual.
So these are the clues for you: first, become more playful about it. That was one of the serious problems with the Gurdjieff group...
Gurdjieff himself was very playful but somehow he gathered very serious people around him and those serious people started interpreting his non-seriousness very seriously. He was a very playful man but they thought that playfulness was also a device that he used to help people to be attentive or self-aware or something.
It is very difficult to find a more playful person than Georges Gurdjieff - almost a rascal! But the people who gathered around...
Maybe it was because it was in the West that the whole trouble was created. Had he been in the East a different kind of person would have surrounded him.
When an eastern method reaches the West, immediately something goes wrong because the western mind interprets it in its own way.
So drop seriousness and start playing with self-remembering - ′playing′ is the word I use for it - just as one plays with a toy. So whenever it is there easily, good; when it is not there easily, then it is not needed. Let this be the attitude.
Never repent, never think that for half an hour you were asleep again - now where are you going to land? Don′t repent - there is nothing wrong in it; nothing is lost because you have eternity available.
Time is not money as people think, because money is limited and time is not limited. And if you miss this life you have another life and another and another. That too is a question in the western mind: they think there is only one life, so much tension is created; hurry and do everything quickly because there is only one life and then comes the judgement day. Their judgement day comes so fast and so soon!
It looks very ugly that god gives only seventy years to a person in which twenty-five years will be wasted in a university, twenty to thirty years will be wasted in sleep.
The remaining will be wasted in eating and defecating and taking a bath and going to the office and coming back home, making love and fighting with one′s woman.
If you observe a life of seventy years it is very difficult to find seven moments in which you can grow; this seems to be hard. And then comes the judgement day!
Indians are more lenient, mm? They say there is life upon life, many lives; there is no hurry. You can throw the watch and simply forget time and move easily. That gives a certain quality of playfulness, ′leela′.
So the first thing: play with the idea of self-remembering. The second thing: never repent. Whenever it comes, good; whenever it goes, that too is good, accept it.
And the third thing: when you self-remember, don′t do it in concentration otherwise you will not be able to be in it for long because you cannot hold that much tension, rather be relaxed. It is not a work! Mm? that is what is wrong with the Gurdjieff group: they call it work. It is not work. It is joy, it is delight, a celebration of one′s being.
Every spiritual tradition has its tiresome literalists, and there are Gurdjieffians who are quite pious and literal about much of the material in Beelzebub.
"It is absurd to attempt to arrive at a literal understanding of Beelzebub; it is a myth, and a myth is an allegorical monster to shock the mind." So said A. R. Orage, who worked closely with Gurdjieff on Beelzebub′s Tales.
Some people reverently intone such Beelzebubian tongue-twisters as "Aieioiuoa" and "Okidanokh" (perhaps not accidentally like "okey-dokey," in common usage at the time the book was written), "Hrhaharhtzha" and "Harhrinhrarh" forgetting that Gurdjieff himself wrote, in Life Is Real Only Then When I Am: "Not having been able to restrain myself, and once again having bared one of my weaknesses, consisting in, as it is said, ′cracking a joke′ at the most serious moments of my writings..." And notice that the last two terms, "Hrhaharhtzha" and "Harhrinhrarh" are largely constructed of the syllables associated with laughter.
According to Nicholas de Val′s book [titled "Daddy Gurdjieff"], while listening to Beelzebub′s Tales being read aloud Gurdjieff sat smiling, sometimes inexplicably "guffawing."