The life force

The Reality of Being / The Fourth Way of Gurdjieff 

~Jeanne de Salzmann 

The life force 

We wish to live, to be in life. From the moment we are born, something in us seeks to affirm itself in the outside world. I want to be heard and seen, to devour the world. At the same time, I do not want to be devoured. I want to be first, always. But all too soon I encounter the resistance of the world, and the basic impulse of self-affirmation has to take others into account. 

My affirming often assumes curious, even though common, forms such as self-pity or a refusal to express oneself. I wish to live, I agree with life. I do everything to live, and this same force maintains the life of my body. I wish for something or to do something, and when the wish appears, this force is here. It impels me toward manifestation. Throughout my life, in everything I do, I seek to affirm this force. There is no act, however small, that is not an affirmation. 

If I speak to someone or write a letter, I affirm this force, I affirm my intelligence. Even if I merely look at someone, it is this force. If I hang up my coat, it is this force. Behind this unbridled affirmation, there is surely something true. This force in me is irrepressible. At the same time, I do not know what the affirmation is based on. 

I believe I am affirming myself. I identify with this force. Yet even though it is in me, this force is not mine. And in affirming it as my own, I do not see that I separate myself from it. In wanting to attribute its power to myself, I cut off its action. I create an inner world that is deprived o f the action of this life force. My sense of "I,” of my self, is heavy and inert. We need to see our childishness in relating to the life force, always wishing to have more. 

The child wants to have, the adult wants to be. The constant desire for "having” creates fear and a need to be reassured. We need to develop an attention in us that would relate the whole of ourselves to a higher force. There is only one source of energy. As soon as my energy is called in one direction or another, a force appears. Force is energy in movement. 

There are different directions, but the source is the same. The life force, the force of manifestation, is always in movement. It has to flow. And I am entirely taken by it, I am swept along. I begin to suspect that I will always be taken if I do not also turn toward another, unknown part of myself.