Saturday, February 7, 2015

Emanations and suffering, part III

From The Temptation of St. Anthony, Hieronymus Bosch

Suffering, in the sense of receiving the emanations of the sun, has little to do with what we usually call suffering; it is a benefit, a boon to the soul, and not a burden. This kind of suffering is an experience a man or woman is, once they know it, eager to acquire, since it has a purifying quality that the soul itself knows from the very first taste.

Every soul instinctively knows that it needs this purification; and only souls who are asleep fail to try to acquire it. The moment a soul awakens it strives first and always to come into relationship with this finer energy. This is the nature of the astral body; it has a natural and unspoken intelligence in such matters. Under the right conditions, one is thereby magnetically drawn towards the right inner action. 

The energy knows what to do.

In Gurdjieff’s allegory of the holy planet purgatory, he makes it clear that God sends His best support to those who suffer on His behalf; and in the opening of the heart and the soul to God, this is indeed most true, even though the idea may seem quite impossible to us.
Now I know that this idea of suffering will seem foreign, even alien, to many; and yet it’s fundamental. Suffering, like inner work itself, must become organic; and this takes place under the auspices and with the assistance of the emanations of the sun. 

It would be called a “magical” process by most people; and yet it is merely—if we dare use the word— spiritual, that is, it relates to factual matters of the soul, which are so very different from the factual matters that dominate ordinary experience. The soul lives in a wonderfully dark place; it belongs there, where it cannot so easily be seen, but dwells in a light so subtle and refined that no natural eyes can ever see it. This, too, is where our heart dwells: in close contact with the soul, so close that they are, as it were, brother and sister.

 Some will probably remember that Gurdjieff once said to Ouspensky that the one thing a person did not want to give up was their own suffering; and of course this sounds confusing, in light of this series of essays. What he meant, you see, was his outer suffering, his egoistic suffering. Almost all of our suffering is egoistic; yet when one encounters real inner suffering, there is nothing of the ego in it — nothing whatsoever.



  1. Good morning Lee,
    Please would you be so kind as to give an example of this kind of inner suffering?
    For example, would the conscientious loving raising of a child connect with this?
    Kind regards,

  2. Judith, this is a very difficult subject to communicate properly in words.

    There is a material yet transcendental inner anguish embedded at the root of Being and the cosmos.

    I say material because it is a substance; I say transcendental, because it objectifies our subjective sufferings and puts them in perspective as idiosyncracies. Inner suffering actually relieves outer suffering, although it is once again difficult to explain this.

    Sorry I cannot explain it better.

  3. Thanks Lee. Much appreciated.

    "Inner suffering actually relieves outer suffering" - yes I have had glimpses. They are almost a "letting go and letting God." Outer suffering ceases when this happens. Perhaps it is a sort of "killing the fish". Something connected then but I have lost it again. Yes, difficult in words.

    Kind regards.


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