Everyone is familiar with octaves in musical compositions. According to Gurdjieff and Pythagoras, they represent a universal law of harmony. Each note in the scale corresponds to harmonious action. The caveat to this law is that in the projects and endeavors we take on, we must be able to correctly manage the issues that can arise at the activity’s corresponding half-tones E-F and B-C (intervals).
Before speaking of the intervals, we must speak of the C, of the first C of the octave. The first C is the beginning of an action, when one starts. What is important when preparing a project for example? It can be cooking or building the gate, cleaning one’s shoes, or making one’s bed.
Are you talking about when you already know exactly what you want to do?
Yes. You have the project clearly in mind, but you have not started it yet.
My main concern is what happens internally, and what to watch out for before you start.
As far as I am concerned, what comes up to me right away when I imagine a project are potential problems.
That’s very good, it’s important: to know that there will be obstacles to overcome.
Yes, it’s really obvious, I know in advance that there will be obstacles. But I do not know where.
I know that I must start by looking, theoretically, at how I will solve the potential problems. I do that before I start. And action only begins when I know how to solve the foreseeable problems, while also acknowledging that there will be still other challenging issues that will happen in an unpredictable way.
Sometimes, when I see a solution, that can be enough. I have a track and it will lead me somewhere, so I can start. If I see that there are insoluble problems, then I would not begin.
First of all, I check my natural impatience with things to do. I learned here to recognize it and I do a check to get rid of it. Before, I was not even aware of being impatient.
Yes, it is a very good idea to take personal limitations into account.
Earlier when I started making a cake, I wanted it to go fast and I did not check if I had everything I needed. I then learned to check to get all the ingredients before starting.
So check that you have everything that is required to be able to go until the second C. What is important in the first C is to aim for the second C, the C superior. The octave begins with a C and ends with a C: this means that we are already aiming for the end when we start.
What comes to me immediately is the overall vision of the project, and also how it will unfold.
You see the mission accomplished.
Yes and a possible sequence.
One important thing is still missing: since we know that there are obstacles, it is the decision to go all the way. The decision not to deviate, neither in the E-F nor in the B-C and not to stop before the end. It is almost the renewal of your existential decision to be with us. I hope that it is the case for everyone here, for his life. It is simply a matter of applying this in a particular field, the desire to reach the end. And this requires mobilization, strength, determination. You have to be determined to do everything to get to the end.
It is interesting; it is as if we were to make each action the whole of life: a microcosm. It is the microcosm-macrocosm relationship, as we find everywhere in nature, in the body…
Absolutely, it’s a metaphor for the whole life, for everything you accomplish … or not.
Cooking to the end is a metaphor for life. At a certain level it is as important as your whole life. When the action is connected to the essential value, it’s even clearer.
Then, when the project has started and we are in action, it runs until it blocks. There’s a time when it stops: at the E-F. For what reason do you think? A tool, an ingredient, a missing piece of information?
The biggest obstacle is oneself.
Yes, clearly. This is an E-F.
At this point, it may happen that we stop everything, and then we start a new project until we reach an obstacle that stops us. Then we start a third project … yes! (Laughs)
It is clearly the identity mechanisms that come into play.
It’s true for companions, it’s true for teachers…
Yes that’s it! It can be in relationships.
And it is also true for cars … The ashtray is full, we change the car! (Laughs)
So what happens for the one who is determined to surpass this obstacle of the E-F?
The first thing, in my case, is to fully welcome the fact that it is blocking.
Does that mean you’re inducing a stop in you?
Yes, absolutely. I welcome the fact that there is a blockage, and I am waiting for something to crystallize. It does not mean that I do nothing, but first of all there is the welcoming of the blockage. And I await that from me arises the action to be made. The time during which I do not know how to get out of this situation can be microscopic, or sometimes it can be longer. What I know is that something will come up. At some point, I know what to do. It can be calling a friend, looking for information, asking someone.
Yes, it requires an extra effort: the linearity flowing naturally from C to E is broken. That means that we really have to look for a solution elsewhere, because the linearity has stopped. It is at this stage that a luminous idea, a creative impulse or the intervention of an external force may arise such as asking someone for help. There may be a lot of things happening in this interval where a creative solution is going to emerge, with which you can then go on up to the B-C.
In any case, it is clear that trying to maintain the linearity does not work.
It is absolutely necessary to be able to stop. Without giving up of course.
This stop can possibly last several weeks or months in some cases. And then, it is really important to keep the goal.
Yes, keep it in the background.
Speaking of non-linearity, for me, one really passes from a moment when one is a zone of knowing, more or less mastered, into a sudden rupture: I do not know anymore, I am in a zone of unknowing. And then I may have to call for someone else, or maybe it is life that will bring me the solution. In any case, one no longer can foresee even with well-laid beacons and a path almost traced.
And it requires a resource that we do not have, otherwise we could have carried on.
Yes, and a resource that comes from outside.
Not necessarily, it can be an insight.
Then one continues, one returns to a linearity until the moment when one arrives at the B-C, the B-C of the end. So what did you observe, what happened at that time?
Additional force must be mobilized.
That’s it: to mobilize an additional force. The continuity, the linearity is broken, and it is essential to mobilize at that moment an extra strength in oneself. This time, it is not an insight or an external resource, but it is in oneself.
It is even easier if we have integrated the B-C as part of the project.
If we do it each time, each B-C becomes easier, it’s cumulative. When it is done systematically, it becomes natural, and one can no longer not perform an entire octave. It’s part of our nature. One is in real life: it is impossible not to perform an octave.
Unless of course there are forces that exceed us completely: we cannot finish the roof because the house has collapsed! But for all that is not force majeure, one accomplishes the octave and in principle there is no question, it goes without saying.
The identity mechanism that in the past prevented us from doing the last B-C was mainly the personal laziness.
There’s also something else: sometimes we think it’s over when it’s not.
Then, it’s about going astray.
It is almost a basic tenet with B-C, to come to believe that we are finished when we are not.
In the group I observed: on the day of departure, there are many more failures at B-C than throughout the whole stay, because people are already in the action of leaving. That is to say that their mind is no longer in the moment.
Yes! But because it suits them not to be in the moment! It’s easier to do without B-C. The B-C is pesky! It must be said, it is often a pain!
I understand from the point of view of identity that B-C is a pain. But when you do it, it’s so rewarding!
In reality, it is not a pain.
It is not a pain at all, it can be a necessary suffering. What ultimately happens is the sense of duty accomplished, and one can only have it then.
For me it is the feeling of feeling clean.
For example I like to organize tango dancing events, but when it’s over, I have to put everything away… It’s one o’clock in the morning when I arrive at home and I still have the car to empty, but when it all over, wow! It is a real satisfaction, it is not the ego that recuperates. I did it as if I was a machine. It’s amazing!
Absolutely! It belongs to the expression of the essential value, it is very powerful and enjoyable… but in a positive way.
It is as if it were the last note that makes everything harmonious.
Exactly! The dot on the i.
The thing that can still happen at this stage is procrastination. It is at the B-C that it is most likely to arise. You really have to totally stop procrastination to have the strength to get to the end.
In this way one remains clean, one does not permanently carry the unnecessary weight of things not worked out!
There is also another element for me: I use to struggle a lot against the things that came to disrupt the smooth running. It was very upsetting. So now I welcome the disturbances, and I also have total confidence that it will work out fine, whatever happens, it will work out fine.
That’s ok, as long as it’s not used as an excuse to procrastinate, or not to mobilize the will.
In fact, it allows me to loosen the tensions that come with the wish to go straight to the goal.
Yes, but behind that, it is still necessary to hold the decision. Sometimes it must be remembered. It is linked with the will, the harshness, the persistence, the pugnacity.
Sometimes you really have to mobilize those forces to accomplish the B-C. And there is the notion of sacrifice too. We really sacrifice all the superfluous of ourselves. One sacrifices one’s personal comfort.
Then the enjoyment of completeness.
It is true that in nature there is no false note.
Yes, it is a false note not to complete the B-C.
When the B-C is regularly performed, there is no longer the idea of procrastinating, there is no longer the idea of not completing the octave. It becomes natural, it is part of real life. From that moment we live in another universe. One lives in two universes in a certain way: in this universe of real life, but at the same time one lives the everyday life where people procrastinate, do not complete the octaves, among other things. Life on this planet is a life of a tightrope walker…
I see clearly that the E-F and the B-C are moments when the identity mechanisms come into play. They are more discreet when everything runs smoothly. In the E-F, it is rather in relation to others: for example, to seek help, and in this case the internal consideration can be very strong: “I dare not ask” it may be because of shyness or pride. And in the B-C it is rather other mechanisms: procrastination or laziness.