A Note on Self-Remembering

Psychological Commentaries on the Teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky

~Maurice Nicoll

It is useful to make a memorandum in one's mind about what practical work means. The most important thing is self-remembering. You must try to remember yourselves at least once a day, and you must do it willingly, from yourselves. All other work on oneself ultimately depends on selfremembering. Only half a minute is necessary, and even if it consists in nothing else than stopping your thoughts and trying to relax everything, it is better than nothing. Don't think about self-remembering, but do it. At first it is best to do it at some definite time that you decide upon. The first sign that you are doing it rightly is that you have a distinct feeling of force entering you, as if something had opened in you. Immediately you feel this, stop. You must stop instantly, and forget about the whole thing.

Another form of self-remembering is called making "inner stop" in oneself. This is done in connection with self-observation. For example you observe that you are beginning to talk in a certain mechanical way, or that you are getting annoyed with somebody, etc. You then make "inner stop", as it is called, but this must be made completely, as if something were cut off. It does not matter if later on the things you are trying to stop come back. Let me say before going on that all self-observation should be accompanied by some degree of self-remembering. Remembering why you are observing yourself and feeling the presence of the work in your mind while observing yourself is a degree of self-remembering. Actually it brings carbon 12 up to the place in the human machine at that point where the First Conscious Shock can be given. Next comes practical work on the centres. Let me remind you that all work means effort.

Work on Intellectual Centre
Everyone should have intellectual work of some kind. Any form of thinking that requires attention puts you into the conscious side of Intellectual Centre, such as thinking over something you have heard and trying to recall it, reading a book that needs attention, even writing letters or doing your accounts, etc., etc. There is a saying in this work that everybody must move his brains every day.

Work on Emotional Centre
The observation and the inner separation from all sorts of subtle depressions apart from the more obvious negative emotions, stopping imagination, working on negative states, and using your Intellectual Centre to remember exactly what was said, apart from what you imagined: all this is work on the Emotional Centre.

Work on the Moving Centre
Everyone in daily life should have some form of work that requires the use of Moving Centre. Some effort of the body is necessary and must be done willingly. If you do a thing willingly you do it from yourself—that is, you do it consciously; and everything that is done consciously is saved for you—it belongs to you. What you do unwillingly simply because you are told to do it is worse than useless. You have to tell yourself to do things. Again if you do things mechanically you get no benefit for yourself.

Work on Instinctive Centre
This is not necessary at our stage because the Instinctive Centre is far more clever than we are and knows far more than we do, but if something is wrong with the body we must try to help the Instinctive Centre as far as we can. Instinctive Centre regulates the inner work of the physical body and warns us that something is wrong, either by pain or discomfort. One of the worst things is to interfere with the work of Instinctive Centre when there is no cause to do so.

Of course many things have been left out in this short note. But you must all try to make some memorandum of this kind and apply it during the day-time. Remember that when you cannot work on one centre then you can work on another centre. Apart from your general aim you should have more or less three subsidiary aims connected with the Intellectual, Emotional and Moving Centres respectively.