Of late I have been feeling a great weight upon me, to increase my efforts towards the aim of the work and the payment of my own debt for the life that travels through me, having been given me unbidden and yet which by grace, mercy and justice, demands a payment.
This payment can be extracted through accident, illness and ultimately death of the physical body. These sufferings cannot be avoided–and when Great Nature fails to have a quality of work from a certain number of men (when I use the term and I include woman- as man in this terminology means mankind), then She is required to derive these necessary sufferings from quantity, wars, genocides and pestilences.
One might look on these sufferings as mechanical demands or taxes which cannot be avoided. If one does not pay once taxes, one accrues penalties and interest. In just the same manner, if a man pays his taxes voluntarily he can alleviate much of the useless suffering he otherwise accrues in trying to cheat. This in no way implies that a man should pay more than his fair share, but if one is sad or angry one should realize that these are his own energies turned either inward or outward. And of 7 billion people, how many are feeling the same emotions at the same time?
So one may say that Great Nature requires for mankind a certain pound weight of sadness or of anger. One cannot suppress these emotions without turning them into poisons, so, what is to be done?
A man may feel sadness at the same time that he is glad to be paying his fair share of sadness or grief to the general machinery of the cosmos. This is not a non sequitur. A man who feels anger is also among so many equally angry people that if he were to drop his anger or be angry gladly, Great Nature would hardly notice the difference. So in the general framework, one man may escape what the mass of men cannot. But how could one do this–how could one accomplish this and attain to greater degrees of freedom. One must 1st of all learn how to suffer so that that which befalls man involuntarily he accepts voluntarily, while he studies himself and his untoward manifestations against his brethren–all the rest of humanity.
Then what might come next? Let's take the case of a man who gets angry at his employer, but has to maintain a dignified approach because if he shows anger towards his employer he will lose his job. Such a man will probably get angry at those who he perceives as those who love him, in other words, those closest to him–his spouse and his children, or his friends. They decide that he is an angry man–prone to anger without cause, not realizing that his anger is simply misplaced and he allows for it to be expressed in what he thinks are safe directions.
Such a man paints a pitiful figure. Going through life affected by every little prod or barrier to his desires for pleasure and a life of ease. He may wish to change towards what he thinks is a better person, but as he does not know himself in fact but only in his imagined self, he has no inkling of how to go about it, and thus suffers from what Mr. Gurdjieff calls “The Disease of Tomorrow". He thinks that he can change tomorrow, not realizing that today is tomorrow's yesterday and yesterday is today's tomorrow.
Such a man lives almost entirely according to his animal nature–its instincts, desires and aversions, and I can paint a picture of the disunity of such a man by stating that the man who sets the alarm clock is not the same man who has to wake up to it.
This is the state of mankind at the moment, and is a sad commentary on the workings of the world which we destroyed by seeking pleasure at the cost of suffering correctly. Only great men have found out that the way to bliss is through suffering itself, and the way to heaven requires a descent into hell, as represented by our own unconscious and subconscious drives and urges.
Read slowly. Ponder carefully. Be thankful for every new breath, because it brings with it a new opportunity.