“I Work With What I’ve Got”

Lord John PentlandIn complaining once to Lord Pentland, whom Gurdjieff put in charge of The Gurdjieff Work in America, about some group leaders in the Gurdjieff Foundation (San Francisco) where I had been studying for a few years, he responded tersely but with a smile: “I work with what I’ve got.” Shortly thereafter he made me a group leader, which over many years and often with great inner suffering demonstrated to me some of the many dimensions of what he meant.

Today, almost all of those who were with Gurdjieff, whom I will call here ‘The Old Ones,’ have passed on. I, like so many others, miss The Old Ones, especially those with whom I worked to varying degrees. That is human nature. And yet, those, like me, who were with Lord Pentland and the other Old Ones must recognize, if the help we received means anything at all, that we are now “the old ones,” whether or not we stayed with a genuine Gurdjieffian organization (I did not). And there is a huge responsibility that goes with that recognition.

Some recognize the full implications of this, of course, and some don’t. Some imagine that results will appear some day in the future if they just keep doing the work that was given in the old days by The Old Ones. Others realize they need to rediscover in their own being and in their own way the ever-renewed work of awakening for themselves right now, taking advantage of all that they learned and actually understood with the help of The Old Ones, while at the same time calling upon their own inner resources, explorations, and discoveries to move forward.

Finally, then, those to whom awakening from sleep is foremost in their lives realize that they must work with what they’ve got. That’s really our only choice no matter whom we claim as our teachers. And we all have far, far more than we imagine. We just need the courage to see and welcome, without self-deception, the living truth as it actually appears in our lives, not as we think or believe it should be. This is not easy, but it’s the only authentic choice we have.

Copyright 2015 by Dennis Lewis

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