September 11, 2017
The only suffering that means anything in life is the suffering that we do not want to undergo.
This difficult question presents challenges, because of course everyone thinks that there is no kind of suffering that they want to have.
Yet the fact is that there are types of suffering we embrace and even crave; and all of those sufferings are tied up with the nature of our desire. Even though those sufferings are tremendously difficult and anguishing, they are mechanical and automatic sufferings, because they are suffering we are willing to undergo.
There is another kind of suffering that we are not willing to undergo. This is a very different kind of suffering and it has nothing to do with our desires. We don't want to have this kind of suffering; it is what one might call non-egoistic suffering and does not belong to us or the external nature of our life.
One of the secret meanings in the difference between desires and non-desires is hidden here. One ought to think about this much more carefully.
It is necessary to suffer a great deal and to suffer, above all, the things that one doesn't want to suffer in order to grow internally. In a certain sense, one must suffer everything in the world. As Gurdjieff explained, all of the world is suffering, and if we develop an astral or even solar sense of Being, that becomes a manifest reality instead of a theoretical or philosophical position. But this doesn't have anything to do with what you think suffering is, so forget about it. Try to find some new sensation of what suffering consists of.
If you get a sense of that, remember that at this point, in one's work, one is required to take it in with intention. There can be no turning away — everything must be dealt with.
Every detail, every scrap of light, every grain of dirt.
The whole question of what love consists of ultimately pivots on this single point. Mark it well.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.