Someone asked me recently how to reconcile "the" work (that is, the Gurdjieff work) and Love.
Followers of Gurdjieff, personal acquaintances among them, sometimes seem all confused about Love and act as though we should refuse to speak about it or loftily pretend that it is beyond us. Or they pretend it's so precious that if we try to approach it we will break it.
These attitudes are, in my eyes, utterly bogus and likely to prevent us from understanding anything at all about Love. But there you are.
If inner work — any inner work, not just "the" work — is properly understood, there is no need to reconcile it with the concept of Love, since the two are synonymous.
All work is an effort to come into contact with Love — real Love, as opposed to the things our imagination produces, which are always subjective, no matter how much we egoistically love them or selfishly believe in them.
In order to come into contact with real Love, I need to be suspicious of everything — everything, that is, that I am and believe in, subjectively. That is a work for the critical mind.
But it isn't enough to have a critical mind.
I also need to learn to trust my sensations, and open myself to my emotion through that effort. Eventually, these different lines of work blend together and find a point at which they are consonant and harmonically—properly—attuned to one another.
I think the recent post about the work of receiving the finer energy is the most pointed examination of this question one might undertake; yet we have to come to that energy and open to it first.
My wife asked me yesterday how I would advise someone who does not already understand this organic inner connection to come to a better understanding; and that's difficult. You'll note that Mr. Gurdjieff and Mme. de Salzmann each spent a lifetime of work trying to bring people to this understanding, always with limited results. How anyone could possibly expect me to do better, or even come close, is a much more baffling question, even, than how to open to a higher energy.
That being said, each of us is always tasked to pass on everything we can as generously as possible, within the limitations of our own understanding.
The results of understanding are always limited by what people are willing to understand—not what they are able to understand. Ability in human beings is rich; willingness is poor. We would much rather rely on ourselves and trust ourselves than trust anything larger or higher than ourselves; and so all of the wonderful and gracious influences that might touch us remain just out of reach, hovering, so to speak, in exactly the same sphere that our personal angels inhabit, watching us in loving frustration. If we really learn to observe, on occasion we may briefly join them and watch ourselves in loving frustration.
Anyway, I will speak a bit more about this question of how to come to a better understanding, organically, but that will be day after tomorrow.
Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.