A Simple Exercise

By way of warning, I will point out that by ‘simple’ I mean ‘uncomplicated.’ I do not mean ‘easy’

Gurdjieff was generally quite firm in his position that until we make serious progress in our inner work, we can’t really ‘do’ anything because we are unconscious and performing as machines running a program. He did relent a little, and agreed that there were a few simple exercises that a student could actually do in the way he defined the term.

The one I work on now is this: For the next 24 hours, do not let yourself express any negative emotion whatsoever.

Sounds simple, right? Try it and see how well you do. See if you can go an entire day without once thinking “Idiot!” in response to someone’s bad driving, or posting something to Facebook to tell everyone how stupid it is, or making a suitably snarky reply to such a post, or feeling irritated when a family member asks you to do something, and so on. You get the picture.

I’ve been working on a daily practice for quite a few years and I find this exercise almost impossible. It’s a harsh reminder just how much we think and live on autopilot. It’s also a great way to discover just how much of our thinking is negative without our realizing it. Doing an exercise like this forces us to face the reality that we constantly judge and criticize others without asking whether our viewpoint is justified by the facts. If we were really thinking and really seeing, we would realize that all our snap judgements are just ego sounding off.

And if your first response to my suggestion is instantly negative, well, you can try again tomorrow.

-= G =-

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