Madame Ouspensky

It’s worth acquiring a recently released book entitled  Saturday Evenings at Mendham: Conversation with Madame Ouspensky. Madame Ouspensky (1878-1961), was born Sophie Grigorievna Volochine in Kharkoff, Ukraine. She met Gurdjieff in St. Petersburg in 1916, becoming one of his first students and a lifelong disciple.

J. G. Bennett wrote that “Mme. Ouspensky was in many ways like Gurdjieff. She had a strong personality, a sharp mind, and a deep understanding of his teaching. (This comes through in the book.) He also noted that “Gurdjieff and Mme. Ouspensky had a very similar sense of humor. They both loved to tell jokes and stories, and they both had a knack for seeing through people’s pretensions.”

The following are selected quotations from Mme Ouspensky that can be found within the pages of the above-mentioned book:

Is a man’s valuation really for the work or is it personal, for himself?

Don’t judge others. Examine yourself. For this, deep self-sincerity is needed.

The characteristic of sleep is that everything happens. It goes by itself, drifts, slides.

Without effort, nothing can come. Everything must be earned.

Imagination is in thoughts. In dreams. In identification. In negative emotions. All are based on imagination, all lead away from reality.

Man is not given free will. But he is given free choice.

We do not understand that sleeping man is in chaos. He starts one line, changes, starts another…

We are what we choose — not what we think about ourselves, dream or intend.

Where aim exists, everything is judged by it.

Following the pleasant and avoiding the unpleasant keeps the machine working as nature requires —that is, making food for the moon.

Results come after a long process. You are like a small boy in the garden who digs up carrots to see if they are growing.

Where your heart is, there your treasure is also.

Realization comes at first by flashes only. It grows gradually as the result of long process, long work.

Work means saving energy. Our System shows us everything is limited. Energy is limited.

It is a miraculous privilege to have heard these ideas at all. We don’t realize the miracle—we see
elephants flying and think it ordinary.

Energy is saved only by resisting, controlling, directing. Resisting happenings, guarding thoughts, need the greatest effort and long
struggle. Man’s possibility is like water which drop by drop wears through stone. Persistence, perseverance, beating always on the same point.

Likes and dislikes mean happenings. Resist happenings.

You don’t know how little time there is. Now is our chance. But for how long?

As we are, we cannot perceive Reality, we cannot even imagine what Reality is like.

If a man justifies all the time, lies, and does not see the harm in it, nothing can be changed. He will remain forever crystallized and nothing more. The crystallization merely becomes stronger. If things do not go up, they go down.

Mr Gurdjieff is our future. We are his past.

All struggle is against imagination. If ‘it’ sees, it is imagination that sees.

Love is a result – it is not an aim.