Just after I finished posting Doorway to Other Worlds, which I have been working on for a couple of months, I chanced to hear Bach’s ‘Sleepers Awake.‘ It took me back at once to my years as an active participant in the Gurdjieff Foundation, and to memories of one of the finest men I knew there, Martin W. Benson. The piece was played at his funeral in December of 1971. Earlier that year, Mr. Benson had singled me out one Sunday morning at the Foundation’s retreat in Armonk, New York, and asked if I would work with him that day.
I’d only been involved in the Foundation for a year, and close exposure to somebody so very advanced in their work was a real treasure. Of course I said yes. We then went out to the driveway, which was gravel, and began meticulously rearranging the pebbles!
As we worked on in silence, he would occasionally say, ‘let’s check ourselves,’ and we would make the inner movement of self-remembering. I was young in the work and my mind was swimming with ideas. I wasn’t here to do this ridiculous, useless task, I was here to learn!
Ah, but I did learn. Eventually, the boredom fell away. By hesitant inches, I began to experience something in me that wasn’t ego or personality, something that seemed new then, but is actually very old indeed.
When a car would come up, we’d step aside and watch all of our work swept away under its tires, then return to this extraordinary Zen garden, the energy of which has resonated down the years in me, and become part of my soul.
Anne says: ‘Real work is the gift you don’t want.’ Her usual way of going to the essence with few words, and in this case absolutely true.