January 2021

Our farmer pushes open a gate and ushers in the new year. Standing at the threshold, he looks back at the previous year, forward at the coming year, and out at us. This middle face looking at the present moment is our starting point. Today is what it is because yesterday was what it was; if we want tomorrow to be different, we must make today different. So what shall we change today? What do we want — what is our aim?

Throughout January, students were posed this question and offered different approaches by which to answer it. One approach was the division into essence and personality. Essence is who we really are, our innate attractions, strengths, and tendencies. As it rubs against life, essence becomes covered with personalities that help it adapt to life’s demands. However, these personalities overgrow and assume independent, false identities. They cover essence so thoroughly, we have difficulty discerning what we genuinely want from what we have been taught to desire.

Therefore, the labor of setting aim is one of digging to the root of what brought us to this work. It is also a labor of trial and error. Our immediate aims almost always stem from personality. Their limited relevance and eventual disappearance proves their superficiality. On the other hand, aims that stand the test of time originate from essence. With a tighter grip on what we really want, we stand a much better chance of sustaining the consistent and intelligent efforts required for inner work.

You must learn to make super efforts. If you do not make super efforts it is because you do not have an aim.
Gurdjieff