from Material for Thought, No. 12, Spring 1990
Present Life: A Dialogue with Pauline de Dampierre” San
Francisco, July 1986
Pauline de Dampierre is a leader of the Gurdjieff work in
Paris. We began our discussion by asking about the possibility
of a spiritual influence entering more deeply into contemporary
the renewed interest in religion today, we are still faced
with increasing levels of violence, greed, neurosis and aimlessness.
One thinks of the growing influence of television and the media,
disorder in family life, the disorders in the sexual sphere,
the pervasive loneliness, and the tragedy of young people and
PD: What you said just now makes me think
of Meetings with Remarkable Men. Dean Borsh puts to Gurdjieff's
father the question: “Where is God just now?” And the answer
that Gurdjieff's father gives: “He is in a forest making double
ladders and on the tops of them he is fixing happiness, so that
individual people and whole nations might ascend and descend.”
don't understand the connection.
is to make us aware of a double movement of life in ourselves:
the current that carries our usual materialist life and another
more conscious life. It points us to the necessity of understanding
the relation that we must establish between those two currents,
and that it is this relation that constitutes man's proper
good. There has always existed the question of those two opposing
currents between which we have to establish a harmonious relation
If we really study the history of civilizations
we will see that this vision of the two currents always had to
be worked for and kept alive. There were periods when it was
strong and radiant and others when it vanished and had to be
rediscovered. And so, perhaps, what in fact has been lost today
is the exact understanding of the necessity for human beings
to establish the right relationship within themselves. In any
case, these two processes are always there and their existence
sounds a call within us. They sound a call because the materialistic
life is not enough for man, and, when he is sincere with himself,
he knows this. He feels a certain lack, something is missing.
He may try to fill this emptiness by turning more and more toward
the material aspect—but the call remains.
today Gurdjieff comes to our Western civilization to reanimate
this understanding. And for that, he brings a new language.
He doesn't speak to us of sin and virtue, or punishment and
forgiveness. He speaks to us first of all about our sleep,
our mechanicalness, and calls us to awaken and to discover
what he calls our being-duty, our obligation to the universe
and to our own being.
in many places, particularly in Beelzebub's
Tales, Gurdjieff speaks of the deterioration of the psyche
of modern man—the deterioration of the impulses of faith, love
and hope, and the tendency toward suggestibility which he tells
us is especially strong in our contemporary culture. In what
way did he hope to reach us, if it is true that our higher
qualities are so degenerated?
PD: There have always been destructive elements
in every culture; what is important are those strivings and impulses
which, in any given era, are most authentic and most able to
support the spiritual search. Perhaps there is less faith today
than in the past, but behind all that is wrong in our contemporary
world, isn't there perhaps an authentic human need to discover
the facts about things? I am certain that in many people of today
there exists this wish to know what, in fact, is true, a certain
honest pragmatism. And so a teaching that leads modern man toward
the inner search must begin from what the individual himself
is able honestly and practically to acknowledge as true about
himself. And what will such a modern man see, if he sincerely
and honestly looks at himself? If he is sincere, what he will
see—of course in a way that is far from clear—will be two levels
of being within himself: on the one level, his state of contradictions
and confusion, and on the other, a finer, purer state which constantly
eludes him, but which he feels he must try to be connected to,
because it is this that can give his life meaning. Whether or
not he starts from the idea of something spiritual does not matter.
Sooner or later, he will be led to it.
doesn't seem obvious to me that a man or woman will find that
higher level. It is true that anyone who looks honestly at
himself will see contradictions, anxiety and confusion. But
is it really true that, just by looking, anyone who is sincere
will discover that other level as well?
full reality of this higher level is obvious, but only when
the necessary conditions are present. In this consists the
difficulty of the spiritual search. It requires time, longing,
eagerness, engagement, perseverance. Maybe in ancient times
man felt called to this by faith. Today, Gurdjieff calls us
by what we are able to recognize as facts about ourselves as
we are, only as glimpses at first, but unmistakable and obvious
if we are sincerely motivated and willing to make the necessary
you saying that the spiritual part of modern man is his attraction
to knowing, his wish to discover the truth, whereas in other
cultures it may have been the inclination toward belief or
devotion? Could it be that the dominance of scientific knowing
in our era points to the spiritual part of modern man that
is hidden under all the excesses and distortions of scientism?
PD: I would say that this wish to discover
the truth may be a part of ourselves that can turn toward inner
development. You can't say that it is the true spiritual part,
any more than you could say that in other cultures the impulse
toward belief or unconditional devotion was of itself necessarily
the spiritual part. But it can be turned toward an acknowledgment—a
practical acknowledgment, through experience—of a higher dimension.
Actually, I would prefer not to use the term “spiritual” for
this higher element, because for many people the word “spiritual” has
acquired the sense of something airy and not quite real, not
quite oneself, not quite in life, not life and not oneself. They
don't think of it as something which might be even more concrete
and tangible than the materialist life we are familiar with.
MFT: What I am asking about are the ways
in which spiritual influence—or whatever term we decide to use—can
actually be introduced into this present culture, especially
here in America.
won't try to make sweeping judgments about America. In any
society some things are more developed and other things are
less developed. The impression of America that always stays
with me is one of good will. And this good will is something
that is close to the inner wish. Or course, it usually gets
swallowed by the materialist impulses within ourselves, but
it is something close to the inner wish.
are speaking of the difficulties of our present culture, but
we must remember that the need for a relation to the inner
life has always been a very, very difficult human problem.
We have forgotten just how difficult it is and how unable in
fact we are to have it. We are told we should turn toward this
higher kind of life and we always assume that we can, if we
really decide to. We imagine that all we have to do is to want
it and we can do it. We haven't really learned that it is a
deeply hidden treasure and that the finding of it is far, far
more difficult than we realize.
When I was young I was very struck by reading
about the lives of saints, who I thought had attained so much,
and yet who felt such distress, who felt still so far away from
what they were called to. Really, this is at the heart of all
traditions—this knowledge that mankind is in a very strange situation,
a very dramatic situation, absolutely incapable, and that something
has yet to be searched for and found. You hear this note sounded
very strongly in the books of Gurdjieff. You don't find that
so much in other teachings as they are known to us—that there
is a certain knowledge, a real science, and that you can't find
that inner life by yourself.
of the sorrows of modern man is that our knowledge does not
seem to have the power to make life better in any enduring
way. And one thing that I hear you saying is that the whole
question of what knowledge is was redefined by Gurdjieff. Knowledge
is a force, or has to do with the relation of forces, and not
just with words and concepts and theories.
PD: There's a knowledge in the mind, but
there's also a knowledge in the heart and a knowledge in the
body. All these have to come together, and that is much more
difficult than we know. So, for the present, let us stay with
the first thing that Gurdjieff asks of us—something that is always
available to us in our daily life, whether in New York, Paris
or Mexico. He asks us to try to “remember ourselves,” to awaken
to ourselves here in our life as it is now. What does this mean?
What is this “self” which it is necessary to remember? What is
this “myself” which needs to enter into my life? When someone
has really understood this, he discovers that it opens him to
what is of utmost importance and value in himself. He feels this
possibility as the central point of his life because it relates
him to what is deeper and truer in himself and, at the same time,
to what is greater than himself and for which he has an authentic
and unforced feeling of respect. But he also sees that he is
always falling away from that, and this begins to be his question.
He feels he should not be out of contact with this quality of
being; he begins to see that his whole life is not in accordance
with those impressions of his own self. So this is really the
starting point. And it is then that the means, the methods, can
be brought. The Gurdjieff teaching contains many methods, but
they are always related to that beginning. And then, by his own
awareness, his own experience, the individual can understand
that this new relation he has experienced has to develop. It
means he has to let it play its part, he has to let it have a
place within himself so that it will develop. And at that point
he will find that inevitably it relates him to something even
higher, broader. So I would say this is the means—this starting
knowledge and the presence of other human beings who have worked
in that direction.
MFT: That opens quite another line—the question
of people. What is needed are people with a certain quality—and
not only books or art—people who are already developed to a certain
extent. I think this is an unaccustomed idea for most of us.
Yes, it is necessary to have books and art and symbols that can
evoke something, but perhaps the most important thing is for
there to be people of a certain quality in the world—so that
people, and not only ideas, would be the call. Is that what you
PD: Yes. We do not see that what we accept
as real with our minds and what we actually live by are usually
quite different things. We may try to find truth in books, in
philosophy, but the sense of reality only comes to us through
what we actually experience in our lives. We are constantly involved
in an outer life which, with all its dangers and attractions,
draws us, because it gives us the feeling that we exist. We constantly
feel compelled to respond to that life and its demands. We may
very well admit that another kind of life is possible, that there
are other capacities within us. But if we experience no trace
of this in the world we actually live in, it will never be real
for us. It will simply remain an insubstantial ideal, which we
know we should pursue—some day, but not right now.
if, one day, we find ourselves face to face with someone who
is actually connected to these capacities in himself, who is
able to let them act in his life—which we can see for ourselves
is a powerful life full of meaning—that can have an enormous
influence on us because it opens us to something quite different
in ourselves, which we have never experienced before and which
gives us a deeper sense of our own existence. Then a new kind
of hope arises within us.
once heard it said that no matter what we did in our lives,
whether we drove a taxi or wrote books or anything else, that
we should do it with the best attention we could. And if we
did, some influence could go out to others. I was deeply touched
by the idea that if one did his best this would bring a kind
of leavening which would allow something real to penetrate
PD: Well, there are always degrees in everything.
Maybe, in a way, to do one's best can be a kind of starting point,
but the question is: with what part of oneself does one “do one's
best”? What if it only serves to make us tense, impatient? What
if we are so eager that while sweeping a staircase we were to
sweep away anyone who happens to be coming down? What if inwardly
we are so proud that we are ready to show the world the right
way to do things? Whereas if we can establish that inner relation
we spoke of, that in itself will eventually bring it about that
everything we do will be of the best.
MFT: Taking it from another point of view,
let me ask you this. As a college teacher, I see that most of
my students have been brought up with television as one of the
main influences in their lives. And so, while I agree with you
about the natural good will of Americans, they have also had
the most passive part of their minds strengthened. For example,
you see so many people going around with Sony Walkmans, which
fill the very bones with loud, sentimental, emotional, or sexual
feelings—the completely passive and automatic injection of emotions.
Or consider what the computer is doing. For example, the checker
in the supermarket now has only to pass the packages over a computerized
electric eye. Everything has become more automatized. Even the
tiny bit of active attention that used to be required to add
up a column of numbers is no longer demanded of people. So there
does seem to be a definite movement toward more and more passivity—or
would you say this has always been the way of the world?
those who created the customs and ways of life of the distant
past understood that people simply felt more in harmony when
they obeyed certain rules of conduct, but while it is true
that such things as television can destroy a certain sensitivity,
even higher forms of cultural expression may not in themselves
be as helpful as one thinks. Even the best music of the past,
even religious music such as Bach's, with all its splendor,
can take us away from contact with that inner presence. So
we can't say that this problem is unique to our time. In all
periods of history, the problem has been there. But we can
say that present-day humanity represents a civilization that
has turned very far away from facing that problem. So in that
sense it is true that we are in a very dangerous situation.
Nevertheless the possibility is still there. It hasn't been destroyed.
It is even nearer than we may think.
course, Gurdjieff does say that things are getting worse in
the contemporary culture, but obviously you're saying that
this doesn't mean the possibility has been destroyed.
PD: It is still in people, particularly in
young ones, who have usually retained a greater openness and
authenticity. But they meet nobody around them who can help them
to understand that a truly developed man might be a “real man.” So
they are tempted to let these qualities feed their momentary
dreams of personal success or of adventurous living or of a society
rebuilt to their liking.
I can tell you that if they do find someone able to awaken
them to this authentic part of themselves and to show them
how it has to grow, they give of themselves with enthusiasm.
They are eager to find out what is needed for its growth in
them and are willing to work for it.
MFT: There's a tremendous amount of fear
and loneliness in the world. Recently, I asked one of my classes
at the university what they felt was the chief problem of modern
civilization. People said the usual things—technology, the atomic
bomb, etc.—but then someone said “loneliness.” I was surprised
and asked the class how many of them felt lonely. Everyone raised
his hand. The next day I asked my other classes. There were all
sort of students, of all ages and backgrounds. again almost everyone
said they felt lonely. There was one man from Nigeria, about
35 years old. He said that when he first moved to England he
could not understand what people meant by loneliness: “I could
never understand because we don't have that word in our language.” And
then he said that since coming to America, after living here
two years, he now understands what it means. I take this to mean
that there's something about our culture that's producing this
thing called loneliness, and that maybe this is one sign of how
far we have moved away from a more normal kind of social environment
that perhaps existed in other cultures.
think this must be true of every declining civilization. Because
a real and strong culture is one in which the whole society
is, to some extent, turned toward this search we are speaking
of. People are helped by others in such an environment. We
are lonely because we have the impression that we are not fully
part of the life around us. But in a strong culture, a culture
which nourishes true values, people feel joy in being included
with others. They participate together in a life that is broader
than themselves. Without that search, and that impression of
being nourished within these cultural structures, we are at
the mercy of the fact that we cannot bear other people. That's
why people are so lonely now. They can't bear what they are obliged
to bear. In a stronger culture maybe something melts in the opposition
between people, just because one is a little bit open to something
different. People can feel that when they work together something
begins to melt.
leads me to ask further about the kind of relationship that
can exist between the guide and the pupil. There are, of course,
many aspects to this question, but I'm only asking about one
of them now, and that is what we could call a special kind
of respect shown to the pupil by the guide, which results in
the creation of exactly the necessary inner and outer conditions
which can help the pupil develop. It's not the kind of respect
that gratifies the ego—quite the contrary.
It's an attention that the guide gives to one's possible self.
And this supports the development in the pupil of a special kind
of respect for himself, a quality of self-respect that is almost
entirely missing in our everyday lives.
you see you already have the real answer to the question of
MFT: But it's a great problem of our culture
that there is so little real self-esteem, so little real self-respect. People
are desperate. The women's movement is only one example of how
contemporary people are desperate for some real sense of inner
worth, and of how they try to find it in their careers or in
art or in social recognition. I'm particularly interested in
how you see the distress that so many women are experiencing
around this question of self-respect. Gurdjieff says that men
and women have equal possibilities in the search, but would you
say that men and women have different kinds of responsibilities,
different roles to play! Or are things equal in all senses?
true that women are not given a real place, but is it not because
there is no one to give them a place? Last year, in the lobby
of an international hotel, I saw a couple from the Middle East
who reminded me of how Mr. Gurdjieff spoke about the good relationship
between men and women in the Orient. I didn't really believe
what he said; I suspected it wasn't quite as nice as he represented
it to be. But as I was looking at this couple I was very struck.
She seemed quite intelligent, though not very impressive outwardly.
At first it seemed to me as though she were enclosed in a very
narrow kind of intimacy that she didn't want to look out of.
Then I saw her husband speak to her with such respect, with
such an inclination to know what she was thinking, that I was
very touched. There was something so strong between them, and
I sensed it was something quite special.
men and women have the same problem: they both need that inner
relation of which we have spoken. If a woman maintains her
attention on what she is doing while placing all her confidence
in that inner relation, it will guide her. It will bring her
a clarity of vision, a true contact with reality. She will
act as a woman and her action will have an uncontested authority.
This leads me to something else I've been
thinking—about aging. It seems to be the general attitude now
that people who are old have less importance; they have no power,
they are less interesting. But if there has been a search in
an aging person's life, we will feel that something we need,
something that is higher than we are, has been served. Then,
even if that person, growing older, diminishes in capacity and
is less able to do things, still we see how he or she attracts
a great deal of respect. Without that, I can't see how one could
attract any real respect.
MFT: That relates not only to the question
of aging, but takes us back to the original question of what
is an influence. We know that people who have really worked on
themselves have an action on others simply by their presence.
Respect is immediately given them, though people may not know
why. Obviously, most older people in our society have not been
called to work on themselves as the main aim of their lives,
and so there is something very difficult about how we try to
force children or ourselves to, as we say, “respect their elders.” It
happened that I loved my grandparents, but if you are a child
and you do not really love your grandparents and you are ordered
to have respect for them, then it's very much like what Gurdjieff
says about the bad education children get—clicking the heels
and all that. There can be nothing organic in that kind of respect.
in a civilization growing old does not attract respect, it
means that in that civilization life as such means nothing.
If life is only interesting when I have physical possibilities,
then life has no intrinsic value. This too is a sign of a declining
civilization. It's a sign that in people, and in the culture
as a whole, an authentic search is not there and people have
nothing real in which to place their faith and hope. One feels
in such older people that, as their automatism is less and
less under their control, there's nothing behind it. When you
feel there is something behind it you can go on feeling respect
even if the outward automatism, even the mind, is not in good
Now, what is it in another person that inspires
real respect? In each of us there is some automatism, a sort
of persistent inner nervousness, a kind of “quivering.” And,
without knowing it, we recoil from other people who have the
same thing. But we are very attracted when we find someone who
has less of this, or none at all—someone very calm, very relaxed
and open to life. When we are with someone like that it helps
us to feel that possibility in ourselves. That's why we have
respect. And the reason we do not inspire real respect ourselves
is because we are a prisoner of that “quivering.” But when we
see someone who is not a prisoner of that, who has unity, we
wish to be the same.
MFT: I'd like to ask another kind of question—about
one's career or job in life. I believe Gurdjieff once warned
someone about the problem of having a career. Perhaps what he
meant is that a career, in the sense of a full commitment to
some role in life, can take too much of your attention and energy.
PD: First of all, Gurdjieff said that we
have to pay our debt to nature, to raise, in our turn, other
lives and prepare them for “adult age.” Saying this, he established
the necessary standard of life for us. Not a “high” standard,
but a solid, responsible one.
If a man is not strong enough to try as best
he can to face his ordinary life, he runs the risk of having
illusions about himself—of believing, for example, that he doesn't
like money and prefers to live as a free spirit because of his
ideals. And he believes this because he doesn't know himself.
He refuses to be measured by a more involved life.
life faces us with very simple, obvious facts. If someone is
overwhelmed by any new difficulty, if any new requirements
make him tired or negative, he won't do well in any aspect
of his life. If he is not well enough regarded he will have
to spend much more strength and effort than another to obtain
what he wants. If he is unable to give his children what they
see around them they will feel neglected and will resent his
is truly useful is to be able to accept that one's limitations
in outer life can act as a hindrance to engaging in the search.
It's very hard to accept this, but I can tell you that this
acceptance can give an extraordinary impulse for development
to both the inner and the outer life.
to the question of what kind of work to choose, there is no
ready-made answer. It depends. A person should examine the
situation and consider why he might decide to do this or that.
But on the whole it can be said that we need a relationship
with the outer world. We need to find something to do that
we care about. We need to be appreciated, we need to feel useful,
to feel that what we do has a value.
is not an easy challenge in a society which is not made for
this inner work, which doesn't understand anything about it,
where people spend all their energy on their careers. So how
who really accept the challenge will have to find a way to
their own equilibrium. They will have to discover how to obtain
what they want and to keep enough time and energy and emotional
freedom for their inner search. They will become wiser, more
apt. And they will develop abilities which have been lying
dormant in them.
an individual who seeks to develop his life capacities must
be sure to keep in his mind and in his feelings the reason
for which he is doing this. He must not allow himself to be
devoured by his efforts to improve his outer life. In this,
he will also be better able to understand his fellow human beings,
because he himself will always be feeling tempted by life, tempted
to go further and further in that direction. And if he goes too
far, life will swallow him up, because life is like that. It
is always pressing us to give more to it.
anything we do, we must never forget our aim, our central,
essential value: to return again and again to this inner presence
which opens us to a broader dimension.
We see from all we have said that this work
has to do with living, an art of living with oneself, with opposite
tendencies—those of our automatism and those which will open
us to another dimension and create a harmony, a balance, and
a better functioning of the whole of our nature.
to answer from another point of view, we can say that our contemporary
world needs those men and women who are engaged in the society
to take the measure of what their lives are and of what their
lives could be.
MFT: The traditions tell us that man is a
slave to the body, but Gurdjieff has introduced the term “automatism,” which
is not part of the language of the ancient traditions. Why do
we not simply say that man is lost in the body? Why do we use
the word “automatism”?
very glad you put this question. What I have seen for myself
is that there are two kinds of automatism in us.
conditions where a better inner contact has been reached, where
one approaches a certain degree of unity, how does it happen
that at moments, while the attention is kept on the necessity
of staying with oneself, suddenly the body becomes extraordinarily
supple and light, permeated by a very fine vibration? By what
miracle does it then do exactly what is required of it in the
most subtle, sensitive way, supporting and reinforcing the
state of presence, rather than resisting it? As though it were
at last free to receive the energy necessary for the finer
automatism to work in harmony with the spiritual aspect of
when the fundamental human question of myself is no longer
there, my force is immediately invested in unconscious movements,
unconscious thoughts, unconscious tensions. I fall asleep:
I believe that I am thinking, that I have desires, but the
truth of the matter is that I am a slave of my desires, my
tensions, and associative thoughts, which drain all my attention
and govern my behavior.
It is only this latter state which Mr. Gurdjieff
calls automatism, a state dominated by the heaviest and most
inert psychic forces. In this situation, the physical body rules
us and it is in this sense that we are slaves of the state of
the body—much more so than when we are simply satisfying its
natural and more balanced needs.
free oneself from this automatism, to open oneself to the action
of this higher quality of life, is our essential duty.
the same time, someone hearing what you say may worry that
it could undermine everyday moral obligations, the obligations
one has just be being part of society. As we know, Gurdjieff
spoke harshly about conventional morality; he said it was a
form of hypnosis and wrong education. Can you say a little
more about the relation between this organic sense of duty
to one's presence and the conventional societal obligations
which are part of everyone's life and upbringing?
PD: First of all, we need to realize that
a person who begins to approach the reality of presence in himself
soon sees that it is very weak, very fragile and transitory,
and he sees that the part of himself that would choose to go
against the conventional morality does not come from that finer
part at all. That is why Gurdjieff said, “Don't change anything.”
conventional morality is part of a certain functioning in myself.
I mustn't destroy it because I have nothing sure to put in
its place. So I will obey it. But if I am present, I will see
what is automatic in my obedience and what is helpful for my
search. I will discover that what supports a better relationship
within myself also creates a better relationship to my neighbor.
For example, I say that I must not lie. I have been entrusted
with this idea. I must not lie. And, at the same time, I feel
that I'm a prisoner of that idea. When I'm speaking to someone,
either I lie or I don't lie, but in either case I have no real
sensitivity toward the person in front of me because I am engulfed
in ideas of what I should or shouldn't do. But if I'm present,
I will be more sensitive to him and find a way that is not a
lie and that responds much better to what he is really asking
think this is an important point that answers people who label
the inner search as narcissistic and helps us to understand
that the work of self-development by no means lessens man's
obligation to his neighbor. At the same time, one has to say
that the thing I am responsible to first of all is this presence
to myself. In the Old Testament, for example, man is commanded
first of all to love God; only after that is he commanded to
care for his neighbor.
is open to pure love, how could he not care for his neighbor?
It can't exist without at the same time evoking love for the
other, for the life around us.
that love is an attribute of the real self, so deeply buried
in us that we have forgotten it.
We have to start from where we are and what
we are. Before even thinking of such an achievement, we have,
as Mr. Gurdjieff said so often, “to prepare the field.” The very
first step is to try to remember ourselves, to be present to
we try, we begin first of all to see our situation. We see
we are a play of forces. We see how weak we are. But when a
higher state of being begins to appear within ourselves, it
brings sensitivity, it brings life. By itself, it brings us
to a feeling for life, wherever it is. It brings a feeling
for life in the other, because it is the same as our own.
states are rare, fragile. They vanish and again we are shut
away from that particular feeling for the life around us. We
may have ideas about how we ought to be, we may have a personal
attraction for this or that person, and so we try to be kind.
And of course we must follow that impulse. It is the same problem
as with morality. We would have nothing better to put in its
place. But we become aware of how cheap is our so-called kindness,
how superficial it is, how little it requires of us. An uneasiness
arises. Why am I so unable to give myself to that openness
to my neighbor? The presence to the other becomes a help for
me to remember my aim. A relation of a very rare quality appears
And so, as we said earlier, the essential
question appears: what does it actually mean, from the state
of being in which I am, to try to be present? What is that “myself” which
I forget and which I have to remember? It cannot be explained
just by ideas and books. It needs to be practiced.
need, first of all, to establish a better harmony between our
bodies, our minds, and our feelings. Those who have searched
in this way will tell you that it has brought them to experience
in themselves moments of a new state, bringing with it qualities
which they recognize as belonging to their true nature: peace,
sincerity, and a sustained wish for a better way of living.
At the same time, they feel that this state is only the first
opening toward a much deeper and greater good.
for evil, what is it really? Obviously, it is those countless
factors which prevent us from serving the good, the first one
being our complete ignorance of what in fact we are.
see, we have returned to the question we began with.