Each day offers a fresh start as we get up with recharged accumulators ready for fulfilling the tasks of that day. “The organism usually produces in the course of one day all the substances necessary for the following day,” confirms George Gurdjieff. Let’s say that I’ve verified how slowing down my movements helps me become aware of my movements. This effort has proven productive and, in this respect, is like the healthy seedling of the April farmer. Beginning my day, I plant it in my good earth by allocating to it a certain amount of energy. My organism has the substances needed for applying this aim. Seemingly, nothing can stop me from Being today… except that I’m not the only farmer tilling my field.

“A man sowed good seed in his field,” says the Parable of the Wheat and Tares from the Gospels; “But while the man slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat.” A ‘tare’ is a weed. When young, it so closely resembles wheat that the seedlings of both are indistinguishable. Alongside my aim, there are now other aims feeding on the same nutrients. “Bad moods,” says Gurdjieff, “worry, the expectation of something unpleasant, doubt, fear, a feeling of injury, irritation, each of these emotions in reaching a certain degree of intensity may, in half an hour, or even half a minute, consume all the substances prepared for the next day.” An hour into my day, my success is cast in doubt. Although I began on the right foot, another part in me — an enemy to my work — has introduced an altogether different agenda.

“Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?” the servants ask their master in the parable.

“An enemy has done this,” he replies.

“Do you want us then to go and gather them up?”

“No,” he insists, “lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest we will gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”

The greenery on the floor of the May Labor featured atop this post shows such young and indistinguishable seedlings. In June we will gather and bind the weeds. In July we will harvest and store the wheat. But for now, during May, we must observe them both grow.

Observe the first hour of your day. Which weed habitually saps your good earth? Is it chronic worry? Is it a bad mood? The point is not to let these negative emotions reach a degree of intensity that depletes your good earth. Be patient, recognizing that a newly-formed discipline is inevitably weaker than a long-established habit. If you persist, then in forty days you will be bundling and burning weeds and harvesting and storing wheat. But for now, your May Labor is to photograph the first negative ‘I’ that intrudes into your day, and start formulating a work discipline around it.

Responses

  1. Asaf Braverman Post author

    At the start of my day, my mind will scan through a list of injustices and choose one to perpetuate its feeling of injury. I’ve verified that this ‘I’ can have its way only if I fail to see it. If I’m observant, the power of observation itself puts the negative agenda in an awkward light. Therefore, starting my day mindful of this pattern breaks this pattern.

    1. Maria Clara Olivi

      Ola, Asaf
      The same occurs with me. And this text puts a subtile question: it doesn’t work to put down the negativities because they grow on the same ground where our aims are developing. So only rest us to observe and go on with our aims. We save our energy inside, in our barns and negativities evanesce by theirselves.
      This parable is so clear, a real insight to practice this Work!
      Grateful

  2. ERIC NIELSEN

    Emotions are chemicals. Serotonin, adrenaline, blood acid-base balance, hormones are just a few of these emotion inducing elements. A big part of emotional well being is simply controlling them. Self remembering provides that control by distancing and detachment.

  3. Hannah K

    Dear members, welcome to May! Here are some musical impressions to feed your emotional centres and maybe help you to turn weed-like early morning moods into wheat-like higher states.

    I noticed in the Chartre stained glass window that accompanies Asaf’s post that two people appear to be dancing naked watched by a rather steely-faced soldier. May Day (1st May) was traditionally celebrated throughout Europe with feasting, dancing, and love-making in the woods and this is reflected in the text that accompanies the third movement of Vivaldi’s “Spring” from “The Four Seasons”.

    Allegro
    Led by the festive sound of rustic bagpipes, nymphs and shepherds lightly dance beneath the brilliant canopy of spring.

    Allegro
    “Di pastoral Zampogna al suon festante
    Danzan Ninfe e Pastor nel tetto amato
    Di primavera all’ apparir brillante.”

    Here is the YouTube link:
    https://youtu.be/fUyhMtMgYkU

    Meanwhile Tchaikovsky chose to depict “Starlight Nights” in his piano piece for May from “The Seasons”.

    Here is the YouTube link
    https://youtu.be/q5tIBpKdz8s

    I’m also including this month a link to one of my most favourite pieces of music. It is called “The Lark Ascending” by Vaughan Williams and depicts the flight of the male skylark that, as part of its mating ritual in May, spirals upwards almost vertically until it is just a tiny speck in the sky, and as it ascends it drops this cascade of exquisite song that trills and tinkles like a golden stream of light descending from the sky. As an experiment, try fixing your hearing attention on the solo violin that represents the birds song as if you were riding on its wings and allow yourself to ascend with it.

    Here’s the YouTube link:
    https://youtu.be/ZR2JlDnT2l8

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Thanks for the Music Hannah. (I was not familiar with the Vaughan Williams and enjoyed starting my day with listening to it)

      The two naked dancing people are the constellation Gemini. The Chartres window of the labors of the month also presents the twelve signs of the zodiac. In some of the panels (such as this May one) the two are combined. In others, they are presented separately. Once we finish covering the twelve labors, we will review the twelve zodiac signs from a similar, internal point of view.

      But what you say, which Brant also suggested, is quite possibly what the authors of the window had in mind.

  4. Melissa Sweet

    Dear Hannah and Dean. Thank you both for hosting yesterday’s workshop. You offered so much. I appreciated your obvious preparation, your thoughtfulness, your listening skills and your responses. You energized my excitement for this incredible Work by demonstrating the ways in which it manifests, personally, in each of you.
    Again, I say Thank You. Melissa

  5. Hannah K

    You’re very welcome. Thank you for sharing such an interesting angle. I have been trying your visualisation of realising in the horses when I’m in haste and it works really well

  6. Hannah K

    The first thing my mind does when I wake up after a few seconds of silence is to scan through all the things I need to do before I leave for work. As it remembers where it got up to yesterday it starts to remember more and more things. By the time I actually get out of bed I am usually already feeling overwhelmed, panicky, resentful and self piteous that I have to do all of these things that I don’t particularly want to do. I also compare myself against an imaginary model of super-efficiency and find myself lacking in comparison and then beat myself up for not being better organised. All these negative emotions put my moving centre into a state of haste. I’ve tried writing lists in the attempt to stop my mind doing these morning inventories but it will still do them, not trusting the lists. How to turn this round? Maybe write lists more consciously the night before and then catch the first “I” as it arises before it can start listing the things from memory? I’m not sure. I will have to experiment with this.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Hannah, what you describe reminds me of the Hindu quotation we discussed last week:

      “Deluded by identification with the ego, a person thinks, “I am the doer.” But the illumined man or woman… is not attached; they do not claim to be the doer” – the Bhagavad-Gita

      What needs to be turned around is an attitude. This is not a one-time effort; once a new attitude is adopted, it must be reaffirmed, and reaffirmed, and reaffirmed. We will discuss this in the coming workshop on Catching the First ‘I’.

      1. Hannah K

        Thank you Asaf for your advice and the quote. In fact, just this afternoon, I realised that in order to change my morning anxiety about getting everything done on time I must search for the underlying attitude. I remembered that when I was a child I was constantly told by my parents and teachers that I was disorganised, scatty, always in a dream. Since my teens I have worked very hard at becoming more organised and actually, by now, I’m pretty good at it. I actually always do get everything done in time and I’ve never been late to work. But I still hold the belief that I’m scatty and it’s that underlying belief that makes me so anxious. I don’t trust my organisational skills. But actually if I do forget things it’s not because I’m disorganised, it’s because I’m distracted by negative imaginations caused by this lack of trust. So this evening I have formulated a new attitude; that I am an efficient, organised business woman. I will see if holding that in my head tomorrow morning changes the behaviour of my lower centres.

  7. Jim Vander Noot

    This morning my machine awoke in what can best be described as a state of confusion. Thoughts were racing at an incredible pace, and I was conscious that prior to “waking,” my mind had been reviewing and planning quilting patterns, a carry over from my daily activities this week. So the pace was already established.

    As I got out of bed and went through the automatic movements of preparing breakfast, I became aware that different “I’s” were waking up at greatly different speeds and that my functioning would be impaired until the process completed. This awareness was helpful, as it allowed me to disengage from the internal clamor and haze, and to better observe the state of my machine.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Jim, observing different ‘I’s in us waking up at different times is another good way of verifying that we are not unified. In order to catch the first ‘I’, as the May labor invites us to do, our observer must wake up first. Now that you have seen how our psychological landscape boots up slowly, as it were, each morning, see if you can catch the very first ‘I’ that introduces confusion.

  8. Melissa Sweet

    I am noticing that it is most common for me, first thing in the morning, that I begin to plan my day and imagine that the time I have is too short.
    What follows is the “I ” who believes it must hurry. It even brushes it’s teeth fast. This morning began in the same way. However, a new awareness presented itself. This “I” was able to feel, in it’s body and in it’s emotional center how very harsh it is to live in this way. I am being encouraged, from within, to exchange my habitual way of operating my machine into a way of ” gentleness”. I have already shifted with very little effort, as though this new way has simply been waiting for me to find it.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      You have been working with haste for several months now, so it is a good idea to start tackling it the very first thing in the morning.

      There is a part in us that wishes to be identified. This requires observation and verification. Once you realize that there is a part in you that wishes you to hurry through your day – that brings up this ‘I’ first thing in the morning not by coincidence but by intention – then you gain more desire to pull against it.

      “Watch the head of the serpent, because it is watching your heel.” – The Philokalia

  9. karenclement

    Saludos Everyone,
    For some years now I have been making an effort to remember my dreams and write them down. If I don’t catch them first thing, they seem to dissolve. I have gotten some amazing insights through this observation, sometimes days or weeks later. After that, I silently pray, giving gratitude to the universe for my life. I find this puts a positive spin on the day to come.

  10. Dean Whittingham

    Each morning I thought it was a completely different I, one morning it was being concerned because my arms were numb, the next morning it was worry about finances and the future, the next it was whether I am doing the work properly, and I then realized it is an underlying worry each morning – my machine wants to find something to worry about.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      This is an important observation, and in a sense, the entire aim of the May labor: to verify that there is an intention behind our sleep, that it doesn’t happen by mere accident. (This also came up in last month’s workshop on Taking in Impressions, where you verified that something in you deliberately resisted using the looking exercise).

      “An enemy has done this,” says the master in the parable. If we know there is competition over our good earth, we must work as diligently as possible to use it for our higher aims.

  11. Agnes L.

    I find it interesting that the moment servants noted the tares along the wheat they wanted to pull them out. The master suggested letting things be for a while.
    I wonder if our tendency to get rid of the unwanted prematurely robs us of our precious energy and subsequently takes away from the qualities we want to foster.
    Someone in the comments above mentioned controlling emotions. It is perhaps enough to observe them, as it is my experience that suppressing an emotion creates other difficulties.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Yes, the parable does say this and I appreciate your highlighting it, Agnes. It makes a point of including both the immediate desire to eliminate what we observe and dislike in ourselves (personified in the servants), as well as the need to resist this to ensure a good harvest (personified in the master). This tendency was mentioned in the February Labor, and reminds me of the following quotation of Rodney Collin:

      “Every man’s mind turns out an endless stream of mental waste, which in the ordinary way passes entirely unrecognized… By the process of regeneration… the ‘fresh’ part of the mind, the power of registration, observes its own end-product, that is, the wandering stream of associative thought. The mind is, as it were, divided into two, one part watching the other part.” – Rodney Collin (Theory of Celestial Influence)

  12. Jim Vander Noot

    Yesterday morning as I arose and started the morning routine, my awareness observed an “I” that it named “the nitpicker.” A “dialog” began, making judgments on each impulse and movement taking place, arguing with itself as to whether “I” should be doing this or that in such and such a way.
    A temptation arose to record the observation and move on, but my awareness chose instead to examine this “I” more thoroughly to understand where it originated, and what attitudes allowed it to surface. This led to a realization of how often this “I” manifests and puts my consciousness to sleep. As a result, it is now easier to recognize that “I” and detach from it.

  13. anselmo

    The first negative “I” that intruded my day, was an irritation caused by the alarm clock. The machine wanted to sleep more, to stay in the warm bed.

    In the morning, I observed that the “I”s revolved around the impression people have about me. On one side I thought about recent situations that people criticized me, or future situations/actions that will probably generate criticism in certain people.
    On the other side I had “I”s remembering situations that people had (or probably had) a very good impression about me. That a specific person thought that I am wise, an interesting person.
    I believe those “I”s are based on the attitude that people have to like me, that I have to make a good impression on people, and also the need to be admired.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Now that you’ve photographed the attitude behind these ‘I’s, you can predict that this attitude will be there each morning to plant weeds in your good earth. The specific ‘I’s will change, but the underlying attitude will remain, because it originates from chief feature.

  14. Kalev K

    Morning. Wake-up. The first negative “I”. I noticed that there are just a team of “I”-s, leaded by two most powerful – one is “worker” and another “who needs a rest”. If “worker” set at evening aim to stand up early, then at morning, “who needs a rest” fights against. They both are good, but by my mind, if directed oppositely, then the friction between them makes the “house” quake and this is the root of negative emotion. Or is it?

  15. András V

    I observed about 4-5 ‘I’s or groups of ‘I’s that appear first in the mornings. One of them wants to go back to sleep. Then a group is especially dangerous: they are milling over internal accounts, creating inner conversations based on old resentments and justifying myself. If I cannot catch and stop them in time, they generate extreme negativity that spoils my entire morning. I noticed that with the effort to catch the first ‘I’ a discipline is formulated. I am watchful to these ‘I’s, so I have more chance to stop them. But even this way, there are occasions when I am just capable of faintly noticing that they have taken over control.

  16. Jatinder Singh Joshi

    I observed fear behind the first ‘i’, fear of not able to fulfill my aim of work, then instead of efforts , my machine starts arising thoughts firstly about work and then all type of fears(about health, finance,job) circulates in my mind that leads me to daydreaming, a circle .

  17. Hicham B.

    Every morning is almost the same. I wake up full of energy and feel a certain happiness for that. However, it is a state that last for 3 seconds at most and is overrun by the first I’s: the fear I’s.
    They are then followed by injustice I’s.
    If I don’t listen to them, the internal chatter about different topics takes place in my mind.

  18. Inge Veerkamp

    Almost every day when I wake up, the first ‘I’ appearing wants to know what time it is and the day starts ‘wrong’ if it’s after 06:00 AM! Such a moment is immediately a negative start to me, because that ‘I’ insists in walking the dog at that time…

    So another ‘I’ is rushing to catch up in time. Then ‘I’ number three makes the dog rushing as well outside for only one reason, to be back home in time!!! Isn’t it hilarious?

    If that all works out fine, things get better soon and I get relaxed. Sometimes the next groups of ‘I’s arrive and take their particular place in whatever movie is going to start for the rest of the day.
    So, the way this first hour continues after walking the dog, will depend on the start of the day.

  19. Evgueni Z

    I’ve been struggling with observing the first hour in the morning. For the last couple of months it feels like I wake up “too late”. It’s already a “swarm” of thoughts in my head, so it seems those I’s wake up earlier. I ask myself: “Isn’t it supposed to be a fresh and re-charged state?”

    I also feel somewhat tired right from the beginning even though I sleep 8-9 hours most of the days.

    I’m now reviewing my evening routine to see how it affects my mornings.

  20. Tim

    A few times now I’ve been able to keep my eyes shut in bed after having just awoken. First, thoughts come from somewhere, familiar thoughts but lightly and without force. Then I can feel the moving center as my body pulls me in for a stretch or towards the bathroom. By the time I am in the shower I am with inner talk. The speed and force of the inner talk is strong and automatic. God how boring this inner talk is, its the bloody same stuff day in and day out. I must be the most broken record on the planet! The shower reminds me to remind myself of these things and of the work. A weak work-I comes in to remind me there is something bigger than myself. I remember to think of others in my family, about their day and their challenges. The morning routine goes full bore and I am officially back asleep, making coffee. Walking the family dog next reminds me to remind myself and I try looking at the horizon instead of down. The hour is over and I am off to work. But while I drive I listen to Dr. Maurice Nicoll on youtube which helps tons.

  21. Destany

    My first hour of the day is always slow. I wake up from my sleep sometime around 10 and the first things in my head are something to do with personality. Music, goals, things that happened at work last night, those types of things.

    This is usually when I get up and then grab my phone. My personality relies on it for many things, and I’m not often without it. I usually end up spending the hour sitting in bed while using my phone, or occasionally talking with my boyfriend having the same conversations we always do.

    A lot of the times, at least for me, it’s not heavy negative emotions that drain me. It’s very subtle, quicker than I can catch sometimes, and other times I see nothing wrong with it at all.

  22. Myrto

    Gemini

    The two naked figures holding hands on Chartres Labor of May, have already conquered half of their immortality.
    These are Castor and Pollux, the twins sons of God Jupiter ( in Greek & Roman mythology), protectors of sailors, travellers and horsemen. Their strong feelings for each other, led them to share one whole of immortality, by alternating their days, one to the home of gods, one to the underworld.
    Their picture represents the zodiac sign of Gemini (Twins), the constellation appearing in the night sky over winter and spring months. In May, it appears soon after sunset in the west.
    The constellation is pictured here:

    https://goo.gl/images/5uOL0L

    The two brightest stars are named Castor and Pollux, and can be seen as the heads, whereas the fainter stars form the two bodies.

    Wheats and tares, like the twins, are indistinguishable when young.
    Can we accept this duality? The Twins, spend half of their days to Hades, the underworld. Can we visit this dark side, without fear and judgment?