from Gurdjieff‘s “Life is real only then, when ‘I am,’ ” pp. 110-111
For an approximate definition of the first of these three human impulses which must arise and manifest themselves in a real man, one might employ the English word “can,” yet not in the sense in which this word is used in the contemporary English language but in the sense in which Englishmen used it before what is called the “Shakespearean epoch.”
Although for the exact definition of the second of these human impulses in the contemporary English language there is a word, namely “wish,” it is nevertheless employed by you Americans, as well as by the English people themselves, only in order to vary, of course unconsciously, the degree of the expression of that so to say “slavish impulse” for which there are, particularly in this language, a multitude of words as, for example, “like,” “want,” “need,” “desire” and so on.
And as regards a word for the expression and understanding of the third definite aforementioned human impulse, in the whole lexicon of words in the English language there cannot be found one even approximately corresponding.
This impulse, proper exclusively to man, can be defined in the English language only descriptively, that is, with many words. I should define it for now in the following words: “the entire sensing of the whole of oneself.”
This third impulse, which should be sometimes in the waking state of man, one of certain definite manifestations in the general presence of every normal man, is of all the seven exclusively-proper-to-man impulses the most important, because its association with the first two, namely, those which I have already said can be approximately expressed in English by the words “can” and “wish,” almost composes and represents the genuine I of a man who has reached responsible age.
It is only in a man with such an I that these three impulses, two of which are approximately defined in English by the words “I can” and “I wish,” acquire in their turn that significance which I presume; which significance, and the corresponding force of action from their manifestation, is obtained only in a man who by his intentional efforts obtains the arising in himself of data for engendering these impulses sacred for man.
Only such a man, when he consciously says “I am”–he really is; “I can”–he really can; “I wish”–he really wishes.
When “I wish”–I feel with my whole being that I wish, and can wish. This does not mean that I want, that I need, that I like or, lastly, that I desire. No. “I wish.” I never like, never want, I do not desire anything and I do not need anything–all this is slavery; if “I wish” something, I must like it, even if I do not like it. I can wish to like it, because “I can.”
I wish–I feel with my whole body that I wish.
I wish–because I can wish.