Tuesday, March 3, 2015
The inversion of suffering: how I am
Before I embark on other weighty subjects, however, this question, which was begun on the trip and needs to be wrapped up, insofar as any short essay can wrap even a single damn thing up.
In understanding an organic compassion, founded on Being, I seek a durable compassion; something that does not manifest naturally in me, by any means. This durable compassion emerges from what I would call the inversion of suffering.
During a recent exchange with a reader, which was mentioned in a recent post, I suddenly realized that they did not at all have a clear understanding of the difference between inner and outer suffering. This is, of course, a general problem; most people do not correctly understand the question of inward, or spiritual, qualities and continually (as Swedenborg so often explained) confuse the natural with the spiritual, that is, they confuse what takes place outwardly, mediated through the outer senses and personality, with the inward essence of what is.
By doing this one mistakes absolutely everything, since the entire world arises not outwardly but inwardly; a very long subject which, in some ways, my last eight years of writing in this space has centered around. Ironically, even a hardened and unrepentant naturalistic biologist would be unable to dispute this fact, because no sense of the world can ever arise except inwardly; but enough of that. The point I am trying to get to here is that my dear and earnest reader really did not understand the difference between inner and outer suffering; to their credit, they saw this...
but, tarnation! What is one to do about it?
Bosch's most ambitious paintings are in large part an esoteric discourse on inner suffering; and, as we can see from the fundamentally incredible imagery he had to invent to convey it, inner suffering is quite different than outer suffering. True, outer suffering leads to inner suffering, but this is the same thing as the Long Island Expressway: it leads to Manhattan, but it is most emphatically not Manhattan.
In order for suffering to become real in inward Being, it needs to become inverted; that is, suffering of the outer world and its difficulties has to becomes separated from inner suffering, which is not a suffering of the way things are but rather a suffering of how I am.
In suffering how I am, I must also suffer who I am; and this suffering cannot ever be an egoistic suffering based on outward relationships. It is a suffering that arises in the heart of Being, materially formed by the inward flow of the divine. This is to say, in other words, that it is a suffering mediated through Grace alone; it is, as Gurdjieff explained it (and not, in the end, so parenthetically at all) material.
He did not use the phrases about the particles of the divine, the sorrow of His Endlessness, casually; and unless one inverts one's suffering and receives these particles within Being, the entire concept of suffering remains stubbornly formed around objects, events, circumstances, and conditions: outward things and outward forms.
I must emphasis, dearest readers, this is not enough; one must strive with every particle of one's own Being to become open to this inmost suffering, an action that is taken first through exposure to the greatest possible kinds of outward suffering (which must be indulged in before one finally breaks under its pressure) and then an earnest and relentless appeal through prayer.
These things are hardly secret, but what is secret, in its essence, is that these activities must be undertaken organically, that is, from within the most inherent part of one's essence. Approaching the question from personality cannot lead very far. The entire foundation of the "modern" science of inner work Gurdjieff developed—and which he was unable to complete during his lifetime—centers around this premise, a comment I shall expound on in several future pieces.
In any event. Inner suffering is an objective suffering; and this intentional, objective suffering cannot arise unless my suffering is inverted. One of the points of inner work is to realize, as fully as possible, this inversion of suffering. Only when this takes place can any balance between inner and outer suffering arise; and only if there is a balance can the difference be properly appreciated.
That, of course, is merely the beginning. But one must start somewhere; or, to be more precise, one must start...