Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mercy and Intentional Suffering

Madonna and child, Jacopo del Casentino, ca. 1320
Vatican Museum

Mercy is, according to Ibn Arabi, the greatest and most powerful quality of the Lord. Of course, for those who have encountered the inner power of Divine Mercy firsthand, there can be no doubt of this; and there is no need to invoke an outward authority to verify it.

Nonetheless.

In the Gurdjieff work, as well as Hesychasm and Christianity in general, Lord have Mercy is the most powerful and efficacious prayer one can invoke; even though (as pointed out recently) there is no need to ask for Mercy, because it is a precondition of existence and underlies the inherent nature of manifested reality. 

Mercy, moreover, as one of the primary qualities of the universe, has a specific relationship with the six universal forces; because it is one of the other three forces which occupy specific places on the enneagram and help to drive the engine of Divine energy as it manifests in what we refer to as material reality, which is all really a single thought in the mind of God.

It is, by the way, worthy of consideration by the readership that what we refer to as material reality is actually only a single thought in the mind of God, emphasis on single, because God has an infinite number of thoughts, and each one is as substantial, eternal, and infinite as the entire universe we inhabit. 

It's a truth Ibn Arabi certainly would have appreciated.

The existence and nature of Mercy is absolutely essential to the development of all octaves because it occupies the shock between si and do. It is, furthermore, very specifically tied into the nature and meaning of intentional suffering.

Gurdjieff explained to Ouspensky that non-expression of negative emotion (which was one of the few things he said man could "do") was a form of preparation for the second conscious shock. And this one simple comment gives an important insight into the nature of the second conscious shock; as he explained, it helps to understand what is necessary; that is, what must take place. Not, mind you, what we do; but rather, what must be done, which is, incidentally, exactly correspondent to the phrase in the Lord's prayer, Thy Will be done—actually, an invocation for the action of Mercy, for it might be said God's Will is, on our level, and in its essence, merciful first, and acquires all other characteristics afterwards.

So how does this idea of intentional suffering relate to Mercy? 

Really, they are not at all distinct from one another. To suffer intentionally is to allow intentionally—to tolerate, to inhabit and understand. In a certain sense, by intentionally suffering, one willingly receives the wrongdoing of one's self or of others: this is accepted suffering, not inflicted suffering, which is a very different thing, frequently and deeply confused with Gurdjieff's original esoteric meaning.

To suffer is to show, in an active sense, Mercy, since one does (in a very small way) exactly what Christ did: one takes the sins of another (nb. that other may be, in an esoteric sense, part of one's own Being) on one's own shoulders and dies for them: that death being the death of the ego which insists, above all, on not being merciful.

Intentional suffering, in other words, directly shares its identity with Mercy, the higher intercessional quality of the Lord: and we are called upon to show that same Mercy in both our inner and our outer conduct, which is in fact the idea that lies not only at the heart of the Gurdjieff work, but the heart of the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic practice. Extending the idea into the east we find direct correspondence with the ideas of compassionate Buddhism; so we all share the call to an inner identity where we attempt to actively participate in the action of Mercy. Real consciousness is inherently compassionate. We're not compassionate because we're not conscious.

To be merciful is, in Islam, the highest of callings; and it is reflected directly in Gurdjieff's intentional suffering, which is, in its essence, an effort towards mediating the action of Mercy on this level.

That action must be undertaken with awareness; for no machine can, by itself, be merciful. Mercy is an essential or embedded property of consciousness, and cannot exist without or be separated from it. 

May your soul be filled with light.   




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