Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sorrow and sensation

Sarcophagus from Cyprus
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

Gurdjieff never said he was working towards enlightenment.

In point of fact, he uses the word a grand total of once in Beelzebub’s Tales, when he says that Saint Buddha intended to enlighten the reason of human beings:

Well, my boy, during my detailed study of that religious teaching, I also discovered that when this Sacred Individual had become coated with the presence of a three-brained being of that planet, and had seriously pondered how to fulfill the task laid upon him from Above, he decided to accomplish it by the enlightenment of their Reason. 

(page 219)

I bring this up strictly because the aim of Gurdjieff’s teachings is not enlightenment; it is to learn how to share the burden of the sorrow of His Endlessness; that is, the sorrow of God.

Let me emphatically say, therefore, that anyone who knows where this work will take one is lying if they say they want to go there; furthermore, anyone who undertakes this work thinking they will get something that they will like is in the wrong work. 

This work will not give you what you like; it will give you what you need, and that is a very different thing. Purgatory is exactly what one needs; and no one sets out to a place of suffering thinking to themselves, wouldn't it be nice to go somewhere where I could suffer more?

Folks treat this like it is a theoretical question; but it is anything but. Inner work, properly undertaken, leads to this question of suffering, which is a material question and not an emotional one. Feeling comes into it, yes; but the foundation of suffering is material, and it is not connected to external material things. 

Ah, it is so complicated to explain this.

The finer energies that Gurdjieff describes to Ouspensky only produce bliss and specialized higher states of consciousness as a byproduct; otherwise, generally speaking, the finer they are, the more sorrow they bring. Gurdjieff did not describe the sorrow of His Endlessness as a burden casually; it is a weight to be carried, and the more that one's heart opens, the more weight one is expected to lift.

Because of all this, the consequences of this work deviate considerably from enlightenment works which presume freedom from suffering, bliss, joy, and so on and so forth. It is not a work to turn us into radiant beings that will spread happiness all around us as we scatter rose petals at the feet of our white gowns. 

A much more inward and mysterious process occurs; and one has to be willing to trust this, without thinking of angels and devils and the like. They may appear; they may not. What is certain is that sorrow will come; and it must be suffered intentionally.

Stop for a minute and return to sensation. Then try to feel, really deeply feel, for a moment, through the precise nature of vibration in the body, what the feeling that lies beneath this finer energy is.

Perhaps one can be touched for just a moment by an exercise of this nature.


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