The Material Question

Mr. Gurdjieff remained silent a long time, as though immersed in heavy thoughts. Suddenly he looked tired. His eyes rested for a moment on each one of us.

* * *

I am now revising this manuscript from notes of my pupils, sitting in a restaurant in the city of New York, named Childs, at the comer of Fifth Avenue and 56th Street—in the same conditions in which I have always done my writing during the past six years, that is, in various public places, such as cafés, restaurants, clubs or dance­halls; since the manifestations, contrary to my nature and unworthy of man, which are usual in places of this kind, apparently have a beneficial influence on the productivity of my work. And I do not find it superfluous to point out a singular fact, which you are at liberty to consider pure coincidence or even the effect of supernatural providence: namely, that without any intention on my part, but perhaps simply because in my work as a writer I always conform to an exact order, I have finished the revision of this text today in this same city, exactly seven years to the very day since the evening which has just been described.

In order to complete this narrative I will simply add, on the subject of my first trip to America, that although the undertaking was risky to say the least—with a troupe of people not having a cent in their pockets and not speaking a word of the local language, with the programme of the proposed demonstrations not yet completed, and without any advance publicity such as is usual, particularly in America —the success of this tour of demonstrations for the purpose of making known the results of the work of the Institute far outstripped my expectations.

I may boldly state that, if I had not had a serious accident a few days after my return to France which prevented me from going back to America six months later as I had intended, everything I had accomplished on this continent, with the help of those who had accompanied me, would have allowed me not only to repay all my debts, but even to ensure for the future the existence of all the branches of the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man, both those already in activity and those I intended to open the following year.