Sunday, March 29, 2015
infusion with sorrow
—The fourth obligolnian striving, from Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, by G. I. Gurdjieff
With all of the emphasis on thousands of different aspects of Gurdjieff's teachings, the techniques, the hydrogens, the exhortations from Madame de Salzmann, and so on, one sometimes forgets the whole point of this work.
If one understands what is said in this striving, the rest is, in a sense, given. The whole point of consciousness — however one chooses to understand the word — the point of sensation, of attention, of the so-called "freedom" that human beings seek, is to lighten the sorrow of God.
This is not a theoretical proposition to be noodled over intellectually. It is a fundamental engagement of the feeling center with an entirely different level. If this doesn't take place, all other achievements and work end up being pointless.
Unfortunately, from what I've seen, few people seem to directly understand this proposition. Many become attracted to the countless other possibilities that one encounters on the way to this understanding; and they bluster around, at the center of a beehive surrounded by drones and workers, swaggering as though the interesting place they had reached was the destination one is "supposed" to arrive at.
This is a kind of Attention Deficit Disorder: one ends up in one place after another, and each time thinks, aha! that this place is where one was supposed to go.
There is only one way to take in material sorrow deeply into the body; it does not have thousands of variations. And there is only one way to suffer it — consciously — in such a way as to make it a permanent part of one's existence, which is what is necessary if one wants to help carry any weight in this matter.
Even worse, people misguide others. One of my friends — an extraordinarily intelligent man — pointed out to me recently that this work, this "thing" which Gurdjieff left in our anxious little laps, is largely dependent on will — as opposed to works like those of Meister Eckhart and others, which are emphatically works of the heart.
This "Gurdjieff" work, as well, was originally meant to be a work of the heart, but people are always more interested in power than they are in love — betraying love in favor of power is by any measure a thoroughly worn-out cliché among human beings. Hence the path of will, with the many ways of exercising it, becomes strongly attractive to people. Inevitably, abuses arise; magnetism causes people to cluster around supposed authorities, and everyone forgets their own inner work, instead listening to someone else who tells them how it ought to be done.
No one but God knows how it ought to be done.
A flawed work of one's own is always greater than a perfect work that one borrows from someone else. The whole point of inner work is to take personal responsibility, not lean on the crutches that others provide.
Perhaps the most important point in all of this is the adage, above all, do no harm; and yet much harm is often done.
Helping others is no good if you hurt three people to help one; so one has to always work from love and compassion — and this is only possible when one is deeply infused with sorrow. Be cautious with those who are not loving and compassionate in the way that they teach work, if they teach it.
One thing is quite certain. If love and compassion are lacking, nothing else matters. If a man could teach you to move the entire galaxy on its axis without love and compassion, the power would be worthless. The same goes for a man or woman who teaches one how to sense oneself without love or compassion. It's merely a matter of scale.
Infusion with sorrow is the act of taking in the particles of His Endlessness, which, as our good friend Beelzebub tells us, actualize is the possibility of the divine being-impulse of Objective Conscience.
Acting from this capacity, it is not possible to do harm.
Yet ersatz versions of it are by far the norm.