Engines of Our Nature, a Conversation with Pauline de Dampierre

“The weighing of souls,” detail from a Last Judgment tympanum at Autun Cathedral (Burgundy, France), c. 1130.

The weighing of souls, detail from a Last Judgment tympanum at Autun Cathedral (Burgundy, France), c. 1130.

“ … If a person were to stop all his outer and inner movements at a given moment in order to see what is acting in him, he would nearly always feel a tendency which has about it something narrow, something heavy, something with a negative aspect that tends to be against, to be egoistic. All that is usually going on unseen. But if he tries to awaken to what is going on in himself, to be sincere, he will be able to witness, in addition to what could be called the “coarse” life in him, another life of another quality–much subtler, much higher, lighter–that is also part of himself. The contact with this other quality of life helps him to have a quieter presence, as deeper vision. And he feels an urge at that moment to be open to a quality of this sort that would have a force that would be a center of gravity. He begins to search for a way to serve what he feels would be his real being.

Then he begins to really know that if he lets his attention, his interest, be taken by his automatic tendencies, it deprives him of contact with that other source of life he is searching for. It could be said that there is a continual tendency to sin, in that sense. When these sins are spoken of as deadly, it means that these tendencies–if they are allowed to rule–at every moment deprive the human being of the possibility of turning towards this real life.”

Pauline de Dampierre, an excerpt from “Engines of Our Nature” a conversation we had with her in PARABOLA Vol. X, No. 4 and reprinted in our Spring 2015 Issue on Sin. This issue is available to purchase here. If you have enjoyed this piece, consider subscribing.

Pauline de Dampierre was a young attorney-turned-journalist when she met the spiritual teacher G.I. Gurdjieff in Paris during WW II. She went on to lead Gurdjieff study groups in Paris and elsewhere for the rest of her life.