The following is an excerpt from a Saturday morning teaching by Cynthia Bourgeault at the 2014 Wisdom School: Gurdjieff for Christian Contemplatives: An Intensive Exploration of the Holy Trinity and the Law of Three, held at Claymont, West Virginia.
The Saturday teaching continued an exposition of the mystical insights of Jacob Boehme, that Love emerges from the fiery ingredients of Desire, Agitation, and Desire. Cynthia is also referencing the fourth striving mentioned by Gurdjieff in his book, Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson: “The striving from the beginning of their existence to pay for their arising and their individuality as quickly possible, in order afterwards to be free to lighten as much as possible the Sorrow of our Common Father.”
To know what it means to relieve the sorrow of His Endlessness is basically what Gurdjieff would call the “higher emotional center knowing.” But I think there are things in this map [of Jacob Boehme] that can help us see it. Because if you are following what is being said, the “Endless Unity” had to put, we’ll use the word Himself, under self-tensioning in order to bring forth the possibility of somethingness out of nothing, which would be the full manifestation of what’s in the “Abyss of the Heart of God,” that otherwise would remain unknowable and unstateable, because it can’t be manifested in the terms of the “Endless Unity.”
So essentially, the Divine had to bisect itself, had to put itself into Anguish—are you so far following Boehme—in order that what could manifest out of here is finally, as we experience it here on this planet, the “Heart of the Heart,” of the Divine Intuition of what’s there at the depth, Holy Compassion, love in finitude, the Infinite bound and yet boundlessly free, in the fragile and always breakable boundaries of form. It hurts!
[Coming into consciousness by severing] is what Boehme is talking about, and that condition is what is replicated in every human being and every human life: creation through self-tensioning, though limitation. The Christian, Jewish, and Sufi mystical traditions all speak about this in their own way, and particularly strongly the Jewish tradition understands this as a Suffering of God, that without this kind of self-tensioning, none of this could come into being.
So what it means, in terms of paying off the price of your own arising in order to voluntarily participate in relieving the sorrow of His Endlessness, is consciously being willing to bear some share of this separated, divided, broken, heavy duality which is the cosmic cost, the Planck’s constant if you will, of our arising here, so that love in form can be made manifest.
Eckhart Tolle used the word, the pain body. Creation has a pain body for sure, of human being upon human being who’s foundered on the rocks of the duality, the passion, the anguish, the little kid sitting there waiting for Davy Crocket, the broken romances, the shattered dreams, that has ultimately a kind of collective dimension to it. Because it is people’s lives being dashed on the rocks of the conditions that allow this manifestation to happen at all.
And as we step up to the plate and say I am willing to hold a piece of that with my own life, with my own suffering, there is the sense that when we are companioned in suffering, it is a little easier. And to companion God in the suffering, which is the cost of the arising of anything, so that love can become manifest, is a profound vocation and it takes profound freedom and clarity, maturity and generosity of spirit. And when you can hit it, it really does, as you wear it and bear it, it manifests within you the deepest and most luminous beauty of what a human being can be. Does that make sense?
The “Five Being Obligolnian Strivings” in Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson:
And this took place as follows: “All the beings of that planet then began to work in order to have in their consciousness this divine function of genuine Conscience, and for this purpose, as everywhere in the Universe, they transubstantiated in themselves what are called the ‘being-obligolnian strivings’ of which there are five, namely:
First Striving: “To have in their ordinary being-existence everything satisfying and really necessary for their planetary body.”
Second Striving: “To have a constant and unflagging instinctive need for self-perfection in the sense of being.”
Third Striving: “The conscious striving to know ever more and more concerning the laws of World-creation and World-maintenance.”
Fourth Striving: “The striving from the beginning of their existence to pay for their arising and their individuality as quickly possible, in order afterwards to be free to lighten as much as possible the Sorrow of our Common Father.”
Fifth Striving: “The striving always to assist the most rapid perfecting of other beings, both those similar to oneself and those of other forms, up to the degree of the sacred Martfotai, that is, up to the degree of self-individuality.”
And, here’s a very creative take on this portion of the tale:
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