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Chapter 11: Remaining Closed to the Lower: A Technique for Transformation

Remember, faith is the opening. Faith means trust, and whatever you believe in, you are open to. An untrusting mind is closed because it is afraid. But unless you trust you will remain closed.

The first thing to be considered is this: which do you believe in more easily, lower things or higher things? You believe in lower things without reasoning, without doubting, without thinking about it. You believe in the lower: the lower is your reality.

When Gurdjieff was just a child of nine, his dying father said to him, “I cannot give you anything except the one deep thing that I have experienced in my life. There is only one thing that I have gained that I can give you as my heritage: whenever someone is angry at you, don’t react immediately. Wait for twenty-four hours and then reply.”

Later on Gurdjieff was to say that this simple teaching transformed his whole life - he promised his dying father that this rule would be binding on him for his whole life. If someone insulted him, scolded him, or abused him, he would remain a witness to it with no immediate reaction - and not only outwardly but inwardly also. He would listen patiently to whatever was being said or done to him and then say, “I cannot react immediately. I will come back after twenty-four hours. This is a promise that I have given to my father. So I will come back after twenty-four hours and then I will react.”

Obviously, he never reacted. He found himself coming back after twenty-four hours and saying, “At the moment I could not react because of my promise. Now, too, I cannot react.”

His whole life was changed by it, because the opening for the lower became closed. Twenty-four hours is too long a period to wait. The mind opens only when there is a certain pressure - and then only for a moment. If you wait, the mind will close again. If you don’t allow the pressure to affect you, then after twenty-four hours the situation will have become cold and dead. Only in a heated moment is the mind ready to react.

Because anger had become an impossibility, Gurdjieff tried this technique in other areas also. For example, sex. Whenever the urge was there, he would wait. After twenty-four hours there would be no urge: the mind would no longer be pulled by the lower force.

After practicing this for years, Gurdjieff suddenly became aware of other openings in his mind. Because energy has to flow, and the lower outlet was closed, it had to find a new outlet.

For example, passing by a church where a mass was taking place, he would just look at the people praying in silence and suddenly the door of his mind would open and he would become one with those who were praying; suddenly his mind would be open to something higher.

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