BOYHOOD WITH GURDJIEFF
IN THE COURSE of the readings of Gurdjieff's book, and particularly in his comments or talks which always followed them, he frequently discussed the subject of love. He pointed out that, in any attempt or effort to get to know oneself, it was always necessary to start with the physical body for the simple reason that it was the most highly developed of man's three centres; it was for this reason that "self-observation" always started by the observation of the body alone. While the body grew automatically and mechanically, practically without supervision, nevertheless it was a more properly developed centre than either the emotional or mental "brains" (or centres) because it did, even if only automatically, perform its proper functions. Most bodily functions were not only more or less compulsive, they were also reasonably comprehensible and therefore not too difficult to satisfy.
In relating the observation of the body to love, he again used the example of the two hands or arms, saying that love could be defined as "one hand washes the other". He also said that the body could achieve harmony within itself when it was used properly, when both hands worked together, and that this was a good place to start on the consciousness or awareness of what love really should be. In order for people to be able to work together, it was necessary for them to love each other, and to love the same aim. In this sense, in order for a human being to function properly and in accordance with his proper humanity, it was necessary for all of the component parts of a human being to love each other and to work together for the same aim -- self-development and self-perfection; the difficult)' was, of course, that given our abnormal habits and education we had no genuine conception of what proper development or "perfection " could be. He warned us against any misinterpretation of the word "perfection", stating that our associations with this word -- our ideas of a "perfect" state -- were improper, and that it was generally better to use the term "development".
The main indication or clue about love that we could learn from the physical body was the physical form of love, in other words, sex. In the primary sense, the purpose of sex was reproduction, which was actually only a synonym for creation. Love, therefore, in any sense -- whether physical or not -- had to be creative. He also said that there was a proper form of what might be called "sublimation" of sexual energy; that sex was the source of all energy and when not used reproductively could still be used in an equally creative sense when sublimated and used as energy for other types of creativity. One of the misuses of sex that had arisen through bad training, the wrong type of education, and improper habits, was that it had become almost the only vital form of human communication. It was possible for people to 'join actively" in other ways than physically; to, as he put it, "touch each other's essences", but human beings had lost this faculty many, many years -- many centuries -- ago. If one was observant, however, it was possible to realize that this "touching of essences" still occasionally took place between two individual human beings, but only by accident, and that it was then almost immediately misunderstood and misinterpreted and descended into a purely physical form which became valueless once it had been expended.
In talking further about relations between individuals, he said that sex, again, was the "highest expression of the physical body" and the only "holy" expression of self that was left to us. In order to achieve any other forms of "holiness" within ourselves, it was profitable to try -- in other areas of our lives -- to emulate this "essence-touching" process; and the completely open "sharing of common truth" between two individuals was almost always "visible" in a compulsive sexual relationship. He warned, however, that even sex -- compulsive as it might be to most individuals -- often dwindled into a simple process which only involved the particular satisfaction, gratification or release of a single individual, instead of both of them, and that in such cases there would not have been any openness or honesty between them.
When asked to define a proper, objectively moral love between people -- one for another -- he said that it would be necessary to develop oneself to such an extent that it would be possible to "know and understand enough to be able to aid someone else in doing something necessary for himself, even when that person was not conscious of the need, and might work against you" ; that only in this sense was love properly responsible and worthy of the name of real love. He added that, even with the best of intentions, most people would be too afraid to love another person in an active sense, or even to attempt to do anything for them; and that one of the terrifying aspects of love was that while it was possible to help another person to a certain degree, it was not possible to actually "do" anything for them. "If see another man fall down, when he must walk, you can pick him up. But, although to take one more step is more necessary for him even than air, he must take this step alone; impossible for another person to take it for him."