Mirror mirror

These are a couple of really good quotes I’ve come across about the trials of seeing ourselves as we are, one is by Jeanne de Salzmann and the other was written by Paul, in Corinthians – I believe he was referencing what Jesus had said. 

1 Corinthians 13:1

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

‘First Initiation’ by Mme Jeanne de Salzmann

You will see that in life you receive exactly what you give. Your life is the mirror of what you are. It is in your image. You are passive, blind, demanding. You take all, you accept all, without feeling any obligation. Your attitude toward the world and toward life is the attitude of one who has the right to make demands and to take, who has no need to pay or to earn. You believe that all things are your due, simply because it is you! All your blindness is there! None of this strikes your attention. And yet this is what keeps one world separate from another world.

You have no measure with which to measure yourselves. You live exclusively according to “I like” or “I don’t like,” you have no appreciation except for yourself. You recognize nothing above you—theoretically, logically, perhaps, but actually no. That is why you are demanding and continue to believe that everything is cheap and that you have enough in your pocket to buy everything you like. You recognize nothing above you, either outside yourself or inside. That is why, I repeat, you have no measure and live passively according to your likes and dislikes.

Yes, your “appreciation of yourself” blinds you. It is the biggest obstacle to a new life. You must be able to get over this obstacle, this threshold, before going further. This test divides men into two kinds: the “wheat” and the “chaff.” No matter how intelligent, how gifted, how brilliant a man may be, if he does not change his appreciation of himself, there will be no hope for an inner development, for a work toward self-knowledge, for a true becoming. He will remain such as he is all his life. The first requirement, the first condition, the first test for one who wishes to work on himself is to change his appreciation of himself. He must not imagine, not simply believe or think, but see things in himself which he has never seen before, see them actually. His appreciation will never be able to change as long as he sees nothing in himself. And in order to see, he must learn to see; this is the first initiation of man into self-knowledge.

First of all, he has to know what he must look at. When he knows, he must make efforts, keep his attention, look constantly with persistence. Only through maintaining his attention, and not forgetting to look, one day, perhaps, he will be able to see. If he sees one time he can see a second time, and if that continues he will no longer be able not to see. This is the state to be looked for, it is the aim of our observation; it is from there that the true wish will be born, the irresistible wish to become: from cold we shall become warm, vibrant; we shall be touched by our reality.

Today we have nothing but the illusion of what we are. We think too highly of ourselves. We do not respect ourselves. In order to respect myself, I have to recognize a part in myself which is above the other parts, and my attitude toward this part should bear witness to the respect that I have for it. In this way I shall respect myself. And my relations with others will be governed by the same respect.

You must understand that all the other measures—talent, education, culture, genius—are changing measures, measures of detail. The only exact measure, the only unchanging, objective real measure is the measure of inner vision. I see—I see myself—by this, you have measured. With one higher real part, you have measured another lower part, also real. And this measure, defining by itself the role of each part, will lead you to respect for yourself.

But you will see that it is not easy. And it is not cheap. You must pay dearly. For bad payers, lazy people, parasites, no hope. You must pay, pay a lot, and pay immediately, pay in advance. Pay with yourself. By sincere, conscientious, disinterested efforts. The more you are prepared to pay without economizing, without cheating, without any falsification, the more you will receive. And from that time on you will become acquainted with your nature. And you will see all the tricks, all the dishonesties that your nature resorts to in order to avoid paying hard cash. Because you have to pay with your ready-made theories, with your rooted convictions, with your prejudices, your conventions, your “I like” and “I don’t like.” Without bargaining, honestly, without pretending. Trying “sincerely” to see as you offer your counterfeit money.

Try for a moment to accept the idea that you are not what you believe yourself to be, that you overestimate yourself, in fact that you lie to yourself. That you always lie to yourself every moment, all day, all your life. That this lying rules you to such an extent that you cannot control it any more. You are the prey of lying. You lie, everywhere. Your relations with others—lies. The upbringing you give, the conventions—lies. Your teaching—lies. Your theories, your art—lies. Your social life, your family life—lies. And what you think of yourself—lies also.

But you never stop yourself in what you are doing or in what you are saying because you believe in yourself. You must stop inwardly and observe. Observe without preconceptions, accepting for a time this idea of lying. And if you observe in this way, paying with yourself, without self-pity, giving up all your supposed riches for a moment of reality, perhaps you will suddenly see something you have never before seen in yourself until this day. You will see that you are different from what you think you are. You will see that you are two. One who is not, but takes the place and plays the role of the other. And one who is, yet so weak, so insubstantial, that he no sooner appears than he immediately disappears. He cannot endure lies. The least lie makes him faint away. He does not struggle, he does not resist, he is defeated in advance. Learn to look until you have seen the difference between your two natures, until you have seen the lies, the deception in yourself. When you have seen your two natures, that day, in yourself, the truth will be born.

7 thoughts on “Mirror mirror

    1. David Wall Post author

      I like it too, I’m finding that there’s a lot of good stuff in the bible. Maybe it’s more like re-discovering because I remember stuff from going to mass and school, but never made a great deal of sense to me back then.

    1. David Wall Post author

      I’m glad you got something from it. I’m enjoying writing a bit more. It’s a hard thing for me to face my own muck too. The stuff around needing to be recognised and all the justifications I make for myself to support it, I see that, well glimpse at it for real and then it feels bad to see myself like that and so I go, no, it’s not so bad, no, I’m OK etc etc which is really another way to get around it (as is sometimes writing about it), so I avoid it, skip the opportunity. Anyway, I just transcribed a bit I just heard from AJ, it’s obviously a topic that’s coming up a lot for me…

      “It’s the ability of the human to construct an illusion that he then believes is reality. This is how we avoid our emotions. What we do in the process of avoiding our emotions is we construct illusions, we construct things that are not true in order to avoid things that are true. And this is how we go about constructing illusions that are not reality. The more illusions we construct and the more intellectual we become, the more we believe our own constructions. That is the sad fact. The more we believe them, the more we live them and the more they become reality. So in the end we finish up constructing because of a denied emotion. We construct an illusion of beliefs, live those beliefs, which then support our denied emotion but unfortunately add to our denied emotion, and make it greater and even more intense, which then supports the illusion even further. And in the end, we have become so far removed from the beginning of the process and believe the life we live now is reality. So almost everyone on this planet right now, believes the life they are living as real, but from God’s perspective, it’s so removed from real as to be a laugh. But the reality is we have chosen this course of action from our addiction to our own intelligence. So we are addicted to feeling intelligent rather than being intelligent. If we were intelligent beings there would be no war on this planet, if we were intelligent beings there would be no war – no one could support it. If we were intelligent beings, there would be no starvation on this planet, who could support it? But we are not intelligent beings so what we do is create an illusion.”

      1. Kathara

        Of this whole post the second paragraph of your comment is my favourite bit. I am not sure I like the text by de Salzmann very much, but that’s maybe because English is not my mother tongue and I don’t understand it correctly. I was going to write a longer comment but I see lunch break is almost over :(. Nb great to see you’re posting again.

      2. David Wall Post author

        Yeah, I noticed the de Salzmann quote a few times posted in the Cassiopaea forum, that’s where I came across it at first. It often surfaces when a new member comes in all puffed up (like me). It might look self-bashing, but that’s maybe when it’s glanced over. From the little I know of Gurdjieff’s ideas, I like (we’ll probably shouldn’t say like in that context), besides, he’s got an impressive moustache, one that I probably couldn’t grow even if I tried!

        Anyway, I don’t have a sense of anything less than a very good command of the English from you, it’s for certain better than most who have it as a first language, and guessing you know at least French and German as well, there’s a real depth to knowing languages in general that for me, only knowing English, I couldn’t claim to come close to.

        It’s great to hear from you again.

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