Note: the blue italics indicate the teacher, in black others participants.

It’s life that decides

“Let life decide, it’s life that decides.”
These sentences (which refer to the existential level) were spoken from time to time at our meetings, and an interesting question was raised: how do we know that “it’s life which decides”?

When I feel that “life decides,” it is associated with acceptance, trust, relaxation. If I am in identification, “I decide” is an act of self-interest based on internal consideration. If I am free from identification, my intention is anchored in the essential value and my decision is based on external consideration. In this case, it can be said that there is no difference between “I decide” and “life decides”.

It is something intimate, which is felt inside.

How do you know that it is not you, but life? For example, who decided not to come, is it life or is it you?

When the case arose, it seemed obvious to me. It was life that decided, and I accepted. I gave a voice to life by not going against what was to happen.
“It is life that decides” because it is omnipotent, it has all the cards in its hands and it distributes the deck. At the existential level I can only decide with my heart, and this decision is an act of faith, trust, love. Life touches me and asks me to listen, without any guarantee, without assurance, it may sometimes ask me to go against my personal interest. In this sense, whenever I decide to accept what life proposes to me, it is an act of love and faith. If I cut myself off from the stream of life that flows uninterrupted, if I decided not to listen to it, then I become insensitive to what it tells me. This can also happen because of lack of love and faith.

I really made one decision only: to live free, to die to myself, to become a living human being.
In my experience of body consciousness, “to decide” does not exist. I answer, without answering, to the demands of everyday life of which I ama part and the whole. This answer is in action, visible or invisible. This response is expressed through me in the tone of my essential value.
“Deciding” contracts me, pull me out from the body consciousness, locks me in the illusion of the ego.

For me, the verb “to decide” does not go very well with “life.” Life jostles me, it mistreats me, it can tear me, at the same time that it envelops me, that it embarks me and that it lulls me.

But sometimes I need to tell myself (or hear) that “life decides.” In this case, it is because I feel the need to open myself differently to what is happening. It is when the stress of choices “this or that?” exhaust me, and I give up, I surrender. I am then taken to this area where there is no longer any distinction between “I” and “life,” at the roots of my being. For example, I can say, “I decide to get involved,” and I can also say, “It’s life that expresses itself.”
Speaking to the teacher: One day, you told me: “You should systematically go in the direction where it is the least comfortable,” as if it were a rule. And when I think about it, I do not understand it.

Yes, but only in case of doubt. When all is clear, there is no question.

Oh yes! I had forgotten “in case of doubt.” Of course, that’s important.

When it is clear, we follow the movement … We would like, sometimes, that it was otherwise, but we go anyway.

Once again, it requires non-procrastination, sincerity with oneself, among other things.

And also a real decision. As far as I’m concerned, when I don’t feel like doing something, I know that’s where I have to go. And it requires a decision, I decide to press the button.

Yes, an effort. When I read Gurdjieff a long time ago, I thought that the effort, the hard work, the perseverance was not necessarily good. Of course, sometimes it’s not adequate to persevere, but the notion of effort in Gurdjieff, now I hear it more in the sense of sacrifice: making efforts to sacrifice something.

Nothing to do with what is usually meant by “sacrifice”.

Indeed, it is the sacrifice of comfort.
Let us come back to the initial question: How do we know that “it’s life that decides”? Is there anything else to say about that?

For me, it’s often linked with an effect of surprise. Sometimes life makes us act, say or think of something, and we are really surprised ourselves, there was nothing premeditated. For me, the surprise felt is a clue that it is life that decided.

Do you have an example? As far as I am concerned, when I speak of “life”, it refers to external events, it cannot come from within.

Yes, I have a recent example: when I talked to N yesterday. It was really life that decided what I told her. I had no choice! Even if I had wanted to stop, I could not have. I followed. For me, it is life that decides, with the effect of surprise that it provokes.

(To the teacher): you say that life is external events, but not only. I would like to take the example of yesterday when N. connected for videoconferencing: there has been quite a long time when we had the choice to speak or not. At some point, you have chosen to do so, in relation to body consciousness, or perhaps to an existential relaxation. So it’s not just outside. Of course, there is the external event of the type “I have planned a trip, and my tire explodes,” and then there is also the degree of freedom that one has, to choose or not at certain times. But the decision can be taken either through the head or in an intimate way: in this case, for me it is the body consciousness that intervenes.

And in my experience, there is also sometimes an external force that decides. Often. I say that “I have no choice,” because there is really something that is not me and that decides for me.

Do you have an example?

I have a very specific example. It was the first time I ever came here. I still see myself walking on the terrace carrying my suitcases, and suddenly I heard, “Now, whatever happens, you cannot backtrack.” It was not my voice.
I’m not the one to decide. It is life that decides, I have no choice.

For me, there are several levels of response.
First of all, I sometimes mean this sentence with a distinction between me (internal) and (external) life. This reminds me of the metaphor of Bertrand Picard, who flew around the world in a balloon and said: “We do not control the winds, we can only change our altitude.” In this context, to affirm that “life decides” is to recognize that one has little power over the elements.
Then, another level of response concerns the life that decides in me, that is to say that one does not distinguish between external and internal anymore … because even if I believe that I decide, since I am part of life, it’s life that decides all the same. In this case, passivity is a trap in which one could easily fall in, a trap of no longer taking responsibility and rolling dice for each decision to take, since it is life that decides.
This corresponds to the expression: “trust in God, but tether your camel first.” In this case, “life decides” corresponds to living in the body consciousness, the essential value, the fluidity – as opposed to making a mental decision and follow my personal interest. But this can also result in a “I want” (or rather, “it wants through me,”) “I want” to fight and do all that is possible to achieve an objective (nevertheless, without attachment to the result). It is here that existential decisions can also be made. Gurdjieff talks about the man who Wants and Who Can – as opposed to the man-machine.

Does anyone remember a glaring example where he decided himself? S. for example, when your father was in hospital: it was a glaring example in which one does not allow life, where one says no to what life imposes.

Yes, there really was a break, a separation.

A panic?

Yes, a panic that excluded everything else.
But I have other examples where I know that it is up to life to decide, when I am in a neutral state, and I do not even care to know what will happen. A state where precisely, there are not all the thoughts that come to weigh the pros and cons. It is a waiting without waiting. I think mainly of the situation with my wife: I do not know what will happen when I go home, and I live a kind of neutrality. There is no scenario that builds up.

So you let life decide.

In this case, it is very clear. On the other hand, there are other situations where, even if it disturbs me a lot, I feel what is the right and appropriate action.

Yes, at that time, there is certainty when one is in body consciousness, and even if it is difficult, one feels that this is what must be done. We are not allowed to lie to ourselves. Sincerity is important, then.

There may also be a primer of “no, I cannot, I will not do it”. And it just takes a little effort to blow that up.
“It is life that decides” refers me to my smallness, my insignificance, my powerlessness which I refuse to admit definitively, but which I manage to realize and then accept at certain moments of lucidity. At the same time, it refers me to my responsibility to let life express itself through me, allowing the expression of those impulses which animate me, in spite of the fear of the unknown, in spite of my judgments, or internal consideration.
I am both insignificant and bearer of a unique treasure that I must express. On a certain level, I have to decide to let life decide. It is a renunciation of myself, a submission to greater than myself. But that does not exclude action, at the service of this drive. On another level, when this renunciation is not even contemplated, “to decide” is to believe in my personal power over life. This is the beginning of unnecessary suffering.

When one goes into necessary suffering, it is obvious that life decides. We welcome, and we really let the answer come, but it may take a while. In welcoming the necessary suffering, there are answers that come from silence.

In a certain way, to make our own choices instead of allowing life to happen is to always to go towards the known … avoiding to go towards the unknown that life proposes to us.

There is another element: when I know that life decides, it is something pleasant, I live it with gratitude, as a gift. And I know how to distinguish between the gratitude that identity can have, and that gratitude that unites with life and completely goes through me. Yet, in the effort I make to follow what life dictates to me – as for me, it is dictated, it is an absolutism in a way – in this effort to surrender to what life asks from me, I do not think to gratitude in those moments. It’s not bound. It is the identity that could create a link, that could reclaim. And that’s dangerous.

Actually, the only choice we have is our commitment to follow life.

And not to be an obstacle to its evolution.

Life offers opportunities, either one follows them or one does not follow them. That’s why the question of personal lies is so important: when one is not in personal lies, one is listening to life.

That’s the answer to the question!

When we remain sincere, life offers us opportunities, it pushes us. On the other hand, when one knows, and pretends not to know, it is the worst.

Yes, the personal lie is to pretend not to know, when you know.

Another way of saying it: one is fucked as soon as there is avoidance of useful suffering. We synthesize everything with this! True, personal lie is simply to make oneself believe that one does not know.

Absolutely! And in the video with Denise Desjardins, Stephen Jourdain always comes back to that: you can lie to others, but not to yourself. It’s essential.
I bear the remembrance in me of the decision I made, when I was still a child, to postpone “when I will be grown up”, and to keep the promise of becoming free and no longer feel separated. I also remember the shock felt, as a teenager, listening to my big brother who had decided to leave and go elsewhere to find inner freedom, when I realized that it was right here, inside of himself.
The existential decision is an act in which I commit to let life decide. It is with determination and resolution that I stand by it, giving up all expectations of obtaining any result. To die to oneself is a prior and obligatory phase in this contract without concession to let life decide. So, it is life that decides that we serve it in action, according to our natural qualities, in expressing our essential value and listening to our heart.
It is only when we are in the decision of letting life decide through our acts, that life decides to animate us through what we are, to serve it by offering ourselves to it in this entire shared responsibility of the “I am,” in the living movement of the play of life.