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Invitation to Pain

A very profound statement by Dr. Maurice Nicoll is, “We cannot change the events of life; we can only change our reactions to them.” In Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff, Dr. Nicoll says that a great deal of what brings pain in our lives comes from what he calls internal considering. This is a form of inner accounting. Say someone has insulted me, cheated me or for that matter passed a comment about me. In such a case, I am settling accounts with him all the time, putting him in his place in my imagination. Nearly everyone is a victim of this form of daydreaming, or as my teacher would call it brooding.

The law of karma says that nothing in life is a coincidence. It is something within us that invites every event in our lives. The shastra calls this ‘samskaar’ or memory patterns. If these patterns change, the events of life change automatically. Every person has a whole library of samskaar and what we call ‘sadhna’ is the effort made to change and be free from these patterns. These patterns express themselves in our reactions to events and so by changing our reactions, we change the kind of events in our lives.

One pattern which causes the greatest pain is known as ‘pitru’. Normally it is thought to mean ‘forefather’, but it also means an unfulfilled desire that is causing pain in our lives. This is actually a deeply embedded pattern in the unconscious mind. Again, ‘pitrus’ are of two kinds - one in which an unconscious desire has to be appeased, and the other which has to be done away with because it keeps pestering us and upsetting our lives.

Internal considering is of the second kind. Many a time a sense of justice is attached to it, giving us a sense of righteousness, making it all the more dangerous. So if someone has taken my money, I tell myself I have a right to ask for it. Yes I may have a right to ask for it but not to brood over it.

Yes, this inner accounting is what brings the most pain in our lives.