Inner Work Friday: Week Eight of Eight Week Series by Jonathan Steele

During these last 7 weeks we’ve worked with creating a sturdy foundation to return to through inviting sensation in the lower regions of the body, including learning to wield eros in the undercarriage of the body to transmute our afflictive emotions, not allowing our attention to rise too quickly into storytelling.

We’ve connected to presence through the breath and explored the cave of the heart and the mystery of identity. We’ve worked with the practice of sincerity and have begun to move into holding space for the mystery of relatedness with others through holding ourselves within our own energetic field or atmosphere in order to dabble with what the work calls external considering.

We would be well served to remember that we never graduate from any of these practices. While together they serve to position us to consciously enter into the exchange of divine mercy in offering up our own suffering and lives in service to a higher intention or aim. We are reminded that this has all taken place within a context of self-inquiry in working to discover the distinction between what we’re calling the energy of urgency versus the energy of immediacy. This is a grace to remember.

We now move to carry this octave through to its completion before striking a new ‘do’ with another series of invitations. With much gratitude for allowing me to guide us through these inner-tasks, I leave us with the following exploration of the theme of intentional suffering and an accompanying task for this week:

Mr. Gurdjieff reminded his students that intentional suffering could be entered into as simply as beginning to “bear the unpleasant manifestations of another person.” Now who among us can say we’ve actually done this with any kind of consistency?

From the get go we must see that intentional suffering has more to do with shifting where what we do comes from than merely shifting what we do. It must move from the whole through the postures of gratitude and generosity, passing through the pain and pleasure principle of our preferences, and into the abiding reservoir of an impartial surrender. Not allowing the left hand to know what the right hand is doing. This means not clinging to an outcome while taking full responsibility for the outcome. And though the modality is giving as receiving let’s not move too fast lest we skip we’re we’ve come from these past 7 weeks.

I am more and more convinced that this practice starts with and comes back to contacting coherent wholeness through grounding our attention in sensation-based presence in and through the physical body. Otherwise, we quickly risk slipping into approaching this practice from the energy of urgency manifesting as a kind of martyr syndrome. This coming with the familiar price of an inevitable boomeranging swing toward self-righteous resentment when our “service” goes unacknowledged by those we’re “suffering” for.

Intentional suffering is freely chosen substituted love, mirroring the life of the great saints and the words of the Jewish Rabbi who lived the teaching all the way and reflected it in the spoken words, “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” It operates at a very fine energetic frequency but is accessible.

If we’re truly primed to enter this practice and “act from the immediacy of a spacious now” as Cynthia has described it in the past, we will be able act in a way that is freed from ontologically identifying with any positionality, be it an affirming (read initiating/active) or denying (read receptive/resistant) force in a given circumstance. Where the action comes from will be and bear its weight at a finer frequency than any good idea we can premeditatively plan. Intentional suffering is called forth inside of the energetic field of immediacy.

So, for this week, work to become present to yourself in all three centers. Sensation in the body (start with the feet), calm feelings in the breast, and a quiet mind (sensation in the feet and calming the feelings should help with this). From here contact an aim in the solar plexus to become a Real Human. From a sense of wholeness remain open to bearing a part of the conscious or unconscious suffering within or around you. From this place it probably won’t be hard to find and compassion may flow from your very presence to yourself or to others. Whatever you do don’t run out from yourself. Instead, when you find some action to take or suffering to embrace, consciously take it into yourself through ingesting it into the coherence of your grounded presence. What do you notice? Where is your attention held?

And though again I offer a poem to lead you into preparing for this week’s invitation to practice:

By Jonathan L Steele

Today is not a new day, unless allowed to be…

Today is not a test to be passed, nor a threat to be survived.

Today is not a riddle to be figured out, nor a stage to be performed upon.

Today is not mine to protect, nor is it yours for the taking.

Today demands nothing, while inviting Everything.

There’s no timer indicating Today’s beginning.

Today is.

Today will be what Today will be.

Today can be molded but never manipulated…

It can be shaped but cannot be scrapped.

Today cannot be shared until accepted.

Today cannot be possessed until surrendered to.

Today cannot be wielded until possessed.

Today cannot be observed, unless it includes participation.

Today must be lived.

Today must be dove into.

Today is not an obstacle to overcome…

Not a second chance to redo or undo what’s been done.

Today is like an unfolding dawn, given to expand what is seen.

It includes Yesterday, and Recycles History.

Today demands unknowing yet expels fear.

It invites vulnerability, yet does away with insecurity.

Today relentlessly invites the Now-even while being guided by Tomorrow.

Like intimate companions Today follows Tomorrow, or is it Tomorrow that follows Today?

Today does not hurry, yet neither does it wait.

Today both shakes and fills…

Enter into Today-a boundless inquiry of Mystery and Thrill.

Inner Task Series by Jonathan Steele

Jonathan Steele posted this Inner Task Series to the Wisdom School Community on Facebook from July 2 – August 21, 2021