Here is a excerpt from the book of a meeting with Gurdjieff on Thursday, January 19, 1943 that was read at the launch:
D: Mr. Gurdjieff, can our work be helped by prayer, and how can we pray?
Gurdjieff: You can only pray with your three centres. At the same time, praying is an exercise. What interests me is not your prayer; it is your concentration with all three centres. Your prayer does not go any further than your atmosphere. When your prayer can go as far as America, then you will be able to pray even to the president of the United States.
D: How can I pray with the three centres?
Gurdjieff: Today you must do something serious for the future. Learn to concentrate, not only with one centre, but with all three. You have to think, sense and feel at the same time. That is what is important. For this, there are different exercises. You can sing, pray, do anything you like, but with the three centres.
Here are some brief remarks about the Gurdjieff Work that were presented at the book launch:
I have been asked to say a few words about the teaching Gurdjieff brought. An impossible task really, because the teaching is vast. It will only be possible to give the briefest taste of it.
We might say that Gurdjieff’s message begins with the declaration that “We are all asleep!” That we are asleep to our real nature, and we don’t know it. And when we read this statement in a book, or hear someone say it, we don’t believe it.
Sometimes we have an inkling of what our real situation is. It could be the appearance, for a moment, or an hour, of a new state — as if we suddenly have a glimpse behind the veil — and we experience a subtle quality of impressions hitherto completely unknown to us. But soon everything else has conspired to return me to my ordinary state. Nevertheless, such moments leave their residue. And a longing for the life they represent can reappear, in quiet moments, over a lifetime.
It is my feeling that every one of us has had, or will have, such a moment during their life. A moment like that is a kind of partial arousal from sleep—but I am not strong enough to fully awaken.
Gurdjieff said that by oneself one can never awaken. The forces, both external and internal, are too strong for one man or for one woman alone. But he also says that a group of people, with a common aim, if their wish is sufficiently strong, and their work is of the appropriate quality, can, over time, awaken together.
Gurdjieff recognized that there are three major psychic centres in each person, having to do with thought, emotion and sensation (or movement). However, in each of us, these centres are unequally developed. Early on, each of us began to specialize in one of them at the expense of the other two, and so — we all grew up lopsided. Ordinary sleep occurs when all three centres are quiet. Speaking roughly, what we usually call “being awake” occurs when our most developed centre is active while the other two are silent. True wakefulness, the kind that Gurdjieff is speaking of, happens only when all three centres are active, and functioning with the same degree of alertness.
Right away you can see the difficulty. To approach the state of balanced psychic activity that Gurdjieff is speaking of, I must turn much of my attention away from the most developed centre, exactly the centre I usually turn towards, the one I usually give all my attention to, and on which I depend for all my support — and engage the other centres. It goes against the habit of a lifetime. This is why one person alone is insufficient. It is why a group is needed.
If our three centres could operate together, in harmony with each other, with equal intensity, then a new life, a new meaning of being awake, would appear, carrying with it entirely new possibilities. And Gurdjieff tells us that even this balanced state of awareness is not the whole story. Further development is possible for a human being leading him or her towards the fullest possible development. Gurdjieff tells us that the difference between a human being who is fully developed and an ordinary person can be greater than the difference between an animal and a stone.
Well, thank you. This is as much as I wished to say tonight.