Stonington Wisdom Gathering Inner Task Given by Cynthia Bourgeault: Day Three

Struggle: Inner Task for the day given by Cynthia at the Stonington Wisdom Gathering, May 29-June 5, 2022

And so our theme of the teaching for the day and therefore for the work of the day is going to be the alchemy of struggle. And I will be unpacking this, also known in the teaching as creating moon in myself. So the inner task for today is very straightforward and immediately at hand: work with struggles as it plays out in you today. Work with it as a potentially catalytic force.

Struggle is experienced almost continuously in a human being. And we’ll look at more of the teaching of this today. It can take the shape, and typically does, of the struggle between like and dislike. That’s usually the presenting prick, but it always goes a little bit deeper than that, because buried not far below the surface of like and dislike is a tension between the urge to grow and the urge to be comfortable, or as Gurdjieff called it between the non desires and the desires.

There’s something in you in a struggle that wants to give up and go with the flow of what’s familiar, what’s habitual, what’s comfortable. And in that process, you will marshal the wonderful skills of self-justification to explain why that choice is actually enlightened. Airtight. Now that’s the problem. It is airtight, but meanwhile, there’s also that little thing of the non-desires, as Gurdjieff calls it, that higher impulse that says no, stay present. You often find this actualized on the movements floor. You know, it’s 10 after four, we got five more minutes of this class and Heather is going to give us 40 positions. Sweet.

And something says, no way, absolutely not, tuned out, out of here. And something else says, stay present, stay present. You can do more than you think you can. So it’s that struggle that we want to look at and it will always play out in you at the same time that something is saying no way, no. Something else is saying, hmm.

So explore that in yourself today. And when I say explore, what I mean is don’t judge yourself. Because to say, I’m going to do what it doesn’t like, that can be just as automatic as going with the flow of your accustomed desires, right? Just as automatic. And it gives you a worse kickback because it strengthens that willpower that thinks it’s competent and can do. So just watch it. The most important point is to catch it.

Like and dislike is a really good place to work with it, because if you don’t catch it right at the moment it happens, it immediately morphs into self-justification. And then you’ve lost the whole thing. And everything in our culture aids and abets that. So watch, and at the moment that any sort of discomfort or tension or struggle begins to appear in you, watch it curiously and see what you can explore.

And if you can find a place in yourself, not out of willpower, but out of something deeper that wishes to stay put, that’s a good thing to know. So play with that. The day gives us plenty of raw materials. Our days are filled with an inexhaustible supply of irritation: all these opportunities to lose “being energy.” So take any of them that happen to fly your way. And in that moment where you really experience yourself in tension between a couple of ways you could turn, hunker down and explore that, starting as we always explore, with sensation. Okay. So that’s the task.

Cynthia Bourgeault’s Stonington 2022 Inner Work Exercise #3

Inner Task Series by Cynthia Bourgeault

Cynthia Bourgeault gave these inner tasks at the Stonington Wisdom Gathering May 29 – June 5, 2022. They were posted to the Facebook Wisdom Community as Inner Work Practices for June 2022.