Movements Seminar

by Pauline Tiben

Under the direction of Wim van Dullemen, a five-day Movements Seminar took place from 9 July through 13 July 2000 in the early 17th-century Buikslotermeerkerk in Amsterdam. The approximately 40 participants included people from Germany, England, Norway, South Africa, America and Israel. What's more, the Dutch had come from all corners of the Netherlands as well. An unusual atmosphere!
The extent to which participants were familiar with the movements showed quite some variation as well. For some people, it was all virtually new, others were more experienced. As for me, I was one of the people for whom it was fairly new and this five-day introduction to the movements has left a deep impression on me of its scope. The movements form a very practical, and objective, means for studying yourself, the universal laws and for the discovery of truths. In view of the participants' reactions, this registered with everyone to a greater or lesser degree.
About this learning process, Tinky Brass (who has a lot of experience with the movements) had the following comment: "Mr. Ouspensky said: 'The Work does not begin on the ordinary level of life.' The movements, similarly, have a quality that is not on the ordinary level of life - fine energies need to be generated, which takes time and practice in particular circumstances. If you think of the movements as an undiscovered language where first one has to learn the alphabet, then the vocabulary and grammar, then practice with native speakers en eventually, when an idiomatic understanding of the new language is achieved, experience the treasures of its poetry revealed, you will see that it is possible to achieve very little on a five-day course. What can be achieved, and what makes it worthwhile, is that seeds can be sown. How long these take to germinate is in the hands of the individual."
Besides inner effects, I had the impression that a particular external effect is noticeable in the long run. It struck me that people who have practised the movements for a longer period have a relaxed, or supple, accuracy in their everyday, physical movements. This may well have something to do with the fact that by means of the movements, a connection can be made with the body, so that communication between mind and body is finally started off. Wim van Dullemen once evocatively compared the body with a stray dog, traipsing the street in dull loneliness. Again and again, he pricks up his ears hopefully to listen for his master's voice.
But no, he never hears him, and disappointedly he lumbers on. One of the effects of the movements can be that you will gradually get hold of a dog whistle with the right pitch.
What could definitely be called a privilege during this Seminar was the fact that we could listen to Gurdjieff's music as performed by first-class pianists. Normally, a performance level like this can only be heard in a concert hall, but we had a five-day private concert as it were. Thanks to these people, the beauty and meaning of Gurdjieff's music was given all its due.