Only conscious suffering has any sense – G I Gurdjieff
Conscious Effort and Intentional suffering form the foundation of Gurdjieff’s teachings in the Work, Study and Mastery of Self, something I have been fully immersed in. This past year, individually and collectively we were under what he calls the Law of Soolionensius (planetary tension), some of us survived, although barely just, others not so lucky. Suffice to say, the challenges presented were monumental on many levels, and many suffered as a result, still are.
Gurdjieff system is only for a few; my personal opinion is that one has to be sufficiently well grounded in theory of ancient wisdom to fully appreciate his method, however, my wise ol’ teacher always says: everyone gets what they need. I do recommend reading his aphorisms, I have found them to be a potent tool for contemplation.
We are all at a different stage in our process, some, or perhaps few are closer to completing the evolutionary cycle, others may just be starting out. Evolution, as I understand it, is the strive for perfection, perfected human. Every spiritual tradition offers guidance or a roadmap of this path.
The starting point is the recognition or awareness, thorough observation and study of our mechanical nature, the masks and conditioning handed down to us from our beloved mama and papa, and the impressions we acquire from our environment.
It is recognition and awareness of the fact that nothing we say, do or feel is either original or conscious, it is an automatic response to external stimuli. Our mental and emotional fabric is borrowed from others, second hand, none of it comes from our Essence or Being. Evolution is a result of Conscious Effort, there is nothing unconscious or automatic about it.
Some wise ones say that our essence stops developing when we start our schooling, schooling conditions and moulds us into automatons, stifles our creative potential, our natural divergent thinking process. Essence is what we are born with and through which we have the possibility of evolving.
The shift from our automaton nature to one of being conscious of what we say, do or feel, is a process of literally un-educating ourselves from the imprints we have acquired, we have to travel back and consciously develop our essence from the time it stopped developing. Hermetic wisdom calls this the process of unfoldment, the path of Saturn being the first obstacle on this adventure. Saturn for this reason is often called by the wise ones ‘Essence Buddy’.
In the study of macrocosms, Saturn is the furthest planet visible to the naked eye, in ancient wisdom it represents Time, the first sphere of manifestation from the great un-manifest. The sphere that gives shape and form to the Intent of the Divine from the invisible realm, and as such, the sphere that is the gatekeeper of the Laws of Creation. Its symbol is a Triangle, numerical association, number 3. The intelligence ascribed to it is Understanding. Astrology calls Saturn the Great Malefic. In Tarot, Saturn appears twice in the major arcana. The virtue of Saturn is Silence, and its vice is Sorrow.
In our subjective process, Saturn would be our parents, our schooling, and the environment we are raised in. They give shape and form to how we develop as individuals. They are the creators of our mental and emotional patterns, our Ego and Personality. Through them we acquire, what Gurdjieff calls Automatic Reason, or in layman’s terms Sheeple mentality.
The aim of the evolutionary path is to attain Objective Reason, crystallization of something permanent in our Being that survives physical death. It is the sphere of Christ Consciousness, in eastern traditions The Spiritual Body. In Ancient Egypt, this state was known as Immortality
This path is often more challenging for those who have had lives before this, elements that were not crystalized through work done in previous lives, will repeat themselves, in Ouspensky’s terminology this is Eternal Recurrence. This pattern will repeat till we pass the test, so to speak. For those who have a soul, when one dies, it doesn’t always rest in peace. There is wounding, suffering and trauma that has to be cleared on a soul level as well.
Without an Understanding of the influence of Saturn in our process, it’s spell on us is Malefic, hence we experience its vice which is Sorrow. Some wisdom traditions actually discourage starting spiritual work till one has completed their first Saturn return, one has to have sufficient data or life experience before the process of unfoldment can begin.
Given our current state of affairs, on a collective level, the influence of Saturn at least for the foreseeable future will likely be Malefic, however individually, we have the possibility of tapping into its virtue.
The concept of suffering or sorrow is present in most spiritual traditions; the mainstream ones often interpret it literally which is one of the reasons why fear and victim consciousness is woven so deeply in our psyche, and suffering is accepted as Karma or Dharma.
Just a few days ago while sitting by the water, a spider eyed representative of God and his Messiah, with her customary politeness invited herself into my field and took it upon herself to educate me about how Jesus suffered and died for our sins and how she worries about the fate of billions who are not aware of Jesus’s sacrifice for us, and that God will punish them for not following his path. In fact, she thinks that’s the reason there is war and pestilence in our times.
I on the other hand, with my customary bluntness, took it upon my self to educate her about my stance which goes as follows. Firstly, I am at a stage where I have no problems admitting that I am a consciously selfish person, where I dedicate every single moment of my day to study myself, be present with myself and observe all the flaws that separate me from my god-force within. What God has planned for billions I have never met, nor will ever meet, who are not following Jesus is between them and God. I care not one jot and certainly have no time to waste worrying about their fate. It doesn’t mean that I am cold and indifferent to plight of billions, I say this from the awareness of the fact that I am in no position to help anyone from the present state of brokenness I find myself in.
Secondly, I have read a great deal about what the ancients call Christ Consciousness, and how passionate I am about achieving this state. My understanding at this point in time is that this is the sphere of the sacrificed gods of most spiritual traditions, Jesus or Christ being one of many examples. By sacrifice, I am implying, engaging in practices and exercises that will allow one to cast away the illusory garment of the Ego to achieve a state of absolute Grace, so one sacrifices or dies to their old self, the ego, which is what the archetype of Jesus represents for me and this is the version I take inspiration from in my process.
One achieves this state of grace or Christ consciousness through conscious effort and intentional suffering. And I shared various systems that might help her in elucidating what I meant by this. I also pointed out that I am more fascinated by the purported miracles of Jesus which he performed from the sphere of Christ Consciousness, such as walking on water, which is exactly why I was sitting by the water in the first place wondering if I will ever be able to accomplish this remarkable feat.
Obviously stunned by my brute honesty and absolutely clueless about how to respond, she realized there was no way she could weave her web of guilt and fear over me, and so with her customary politeness, decided its best to bid me farewell with a blessing usually uttered by the self proclaimed representatives of God and his Messiah: I pray that you will find the Gods path. I, with my customary bluntness, and with a smile, blessed her with the same prayer.
Mainstream interpretation of suffering traps us in a state of helplessness, makes us accept it as a fact of life, hence we acquire victim consciousness which is the dominant culture. If our Messiahs suffered, so will we, and various fear based mantras are concocted to keep us enslaved in this mindset. This weakens and disempowers us
I certainly have spent years feeling helpless, still have the tendency to fall into this trap, till, my teacher often has to give me a wake up call to pull me out. It is necessary to experience this state, and to recognize it in ourselves in order to study how deeply it penetrates our psyche, but more importantly to eventually recognize that this attitude is an imprint that we acquired from our environment, and that there is a possibility of breaking free from it.
Suffering no doubt is real, the Earth, our wet nurse, is wounded and traumatized, and so by default, as her dependents, are we. Say, if you’ve been a victim of pedophilia, this would break your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual boundaries in the most horrific of ways, and the process of gathering pieces that you lost will require a lifetime of herculean effort to achieve wholeness.
This will throw you in the depths of despair, incredible pain and suffering, especially if your physical body is deformed and diseased, and over the course of your life, you will likely have many instances where your personal boundaries will grievously and repeatedly be assaulted, till the primary wound is healed. In Colombia, they call it the Papaya story, if you don’t guard your assets, someone will always come along and steal your stuff. This fractal of pillaging, plundering and breaking of boundaries is repeated on a planetary, collective and individual level and a source of much suffering.
What’s missing in the mainstream narrative is the fact that suffering on account of wounding and injustice is also optional. It is an emotional state and is experienced at the level of the Ego, meaning how we experience it is borrowed from others, it’s a mechanical response. We are cloaked with a Saturnian or Matrix garment, what the ancients call The Outer Robe of Concealment, weaved with fear, anxieties, guilt, phobias and victim consciousness. where everything external is to be blamed for our internal emotional turmoil and reality. We are conditioned to reenact the crucifixion of Jesus in the literal sense. Our boundaries and defences remain damaged and easily penetrable in this vulnerable state.
After death, there is also the resurrection of Christ, symbolically it represents rising above the Saturnian or matrix veil of negative emotions to reach a higher state of awareness. Jesus walking on water is a symbol for conquering and rising above or own turbulent emotional water. The antidote to emotional suffering as experienced by the ego is to consciously engage in Intentional Suffering, which is why Gurdjieff says only Conscious Suffering has any sense, it is the key that opens the doorway to our Essence. Most spiritual tradition for this reason have exercises and practices that challenge us to break free from our mechanical conditioning, which can be fasting, solitude, physical discipline, vision quest to name a few.
The process of unfoldment is the process of intentionally generating friction, an inner struggle within us, to struggle with breaking out of the mechanical imprints, acquired helplessness, herd mentality, to cultivate the courage to consciously die to our old selves, and it is no easy task. Few pass this test.
The Inner Robe of Glory, where our essence lies, can only be revealed once the outer robe of concealment is cast away with conscious and intentional effort and suffering. The gift or virtue of Saturn can only be understood from the sphere of Christ Consciousness, it is a state of complete harmony and equilibrium in us. It is the sphere of the Sun, where all our imprints are fully illumined. It is an incorruptible state in us, the Gold of Alchemists. A state where you see things as they are, and not under the false light reflected by the Moon.
A state where Forgiveness and Gratitude can be embedded and expressed in the Objective sense, not the mainstream stream fear based disempowering mindset. Forgiveness, is about forgiving yourself for carrying pain, suffering, bitterness, resentment and Gratitude towards those who inflicted the horrors on you, the Malefic agents of Saturn, without their help, you would never care to find the Messiah, the Redeemer within.
The virtue of Saturn as Silence is the ceasing of the inner dialogue of pain, anguish, suffering and blaming others. It is only in Silence that the Laws of Creation of our own Mental and Emotional fabric can be comprehended and Understood. This is the gift of Saturn in our individual process. It clothes us with its illusory garment, and gives us tests, after tests after tests, till we cultivate the courage to tap into our deepest reserves, into our essence, where our innate creative potential lies to cope with whatever challenges are presented to us by the external Malefic Saturnian influences.
I don’t claim to have reached a state of Grace, Harmony and Equilibrium in me, rather that my conscious effort and intentionally suffering is directed towards attaining this state. In recent months, I force myself on a daily basis to redefine perceived challenges and atrocities as Tests. It tells me, with proper preparation, I hold the creative potential to neutralize the Malefic spell of Saturn. I am not suggesting I am successful every time, in fact I fail more than I succeed, but this is the attitude I use now to cultivate inner strength, to empower myself.
There have been epochs in our history where Saturn was revered as the God of Plenty, collectively I don’t foresee the Benefic influence of Saturn playing out, however, individually with proper effort and guidance, anyone who desires, sincerely, has the possibility of making Saturn their Essence Buddy and their God of Plenty.
© Lala Rukh 2021