Coffee with Gurdjieff – Michel Conge

Many a time I found myself alone face to face with him, as he used to say, “for a good cup of coffee and to talk about this and that,” without having any precise question to ask him. Then I would say to myself, “This is a moment I mustn’t let slip by.” I would hunt around for some question to put to him. In the end I would say to him, “Sir, how should one understand this or that?” And then the most extraordinary part was not his answers, it was his silences. … They would last for minutes on end. … Then everything inside me would fall apart, my fine words, my eagerness to get an explanation, my wish to profit from being with him, and then … I found myself all alone. Many others had the same experience. There were those extraordinary silences in which one felt like some poor fool asking the wrong questions or putting the right questions in the wrong way. It gave tremendous depth to the talks with him. It brought out the, “knowing-understanding” sequence … and suddenly something was there. One must experience the tête-a-tête with one’s self to feel that one is most of time being passively towed by ones intellectual and emotional functions, but what is important is “to go and see for one’s self.” Gurdjieff did not answer, and by not giving an answer he answered much more.

From Facing Gurdjieff in Gurdjieff: Essays and Reflections on the Man and His Teaching; Needleman & Baker (eds.)

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