Liking What We Dislike

We have a walnut tree in our back yard, and about this time of year walnuts come crashing to the ground all day and all night. One of my daily chores this time of year is picking up the walnuts. I do not like picking up the walnuts. Whatever walnuts I picked up yesterday return the next morning — sometimes doubled or tripled in quantity. My habit is to go into this chore with reluctance and complaint. Today, I see this repeating, unwanted task — and I try to use it for inner work. Can I turn dislike into like, not wanting into wanting? I know that if I do this work in my habitual state of “not wanting,” I will lose inner force. There is no enjoyment. There is no energy exchange. But can I turn something around within myself that allows me to do an unwanted task in a different way?

Inscribed in a special script above the walls of Gurdjieff’s study house at The Prieuré in Fontainebleu France are 38 aphorisms, the first of which is “like what it does not like.” Noticing like and dislike, and changing our relationship to both, is our inner work task for this week. Can we find a way to will what we do not want to do? Can we turn dislike into like? If we can find a way to will what we have to do, we will gain force. But if we object to what we have to do, we will lose force. Inner work is about how to gain force.

Maurice Nicoll, Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky (Volume 3, pp. 1117-8):

“Internal considering arises from not doing what you have to do from yourself — not you yourself willing what you have to do. Whatever you have to do, will to do it and you get through the job without becoming negative and so without being tired and without making internal accounts. This is one of the secrets of right work on oneself. Not only that, [this kind of inner work] makes force in you.”

“If I do do what I have to do and all the time think that someone else should do it and that it is unfair that I should have to do it, this will give rise to endless inner talking in myself — a sort of inner muttering and complaining and brooding, for the sign of the negative part of Emotional Center working is that it goes on and on by itself — a sort of perpetual secret grievance that may spread over and darken all one’s inner life.”

“Try to wake up and do what you have to do from yourself, willingly. Will what you think you dislike.”

Posted by Bob Sabath into the Wisdom School Facebook Page on September 28, 2018 for Inner Task Friday .