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extract from The Seven Fold Work

John G. Bennett


Affirmative in Oneself



THROUGH THE FIRST LINE of work we can find out about ourselves. We can verify for ourselves -the mechanicality of out lives. We can come to see that we do have a higher and lower nature. We can discover various ways in which we deceive ourselves. We can know our weak­nesses. All of this leads to nothing unless we do something about it. If we rest content with knowledge about these things we will not change.

Struggling with our weaknesses is the essence of work on oneself. It is this struggle that provides the energy that will feed our being. All that we have said about effort belongs here.

The important principle is 'agony' between the affirmative and denying forces in us. One part says yes and another no. The outcome is uncertain, for we have no guarantee of suc­cess in any form that we might recognize. This uncertainty is fundamental, for in reality it opens the way to the deeper aspects of being, beyond the relatively superficial strength we can attain such as in control over eating and laziness. It reaches into the very centre of our selfhood where, event­ually, we have to face the need .to renounce our egoism.

We must not forget that the denying part of ourselves is part of reality and can rightly be called the "holy denying" as Gurdjieff phrased it. Without the element of denial, no triad can be set up and there can be no work. All action comes under the law of three and each of the three forces affirm­ative, receptive and reconciling - is required.

We must also be careful to recognize that although it is in the nature of man to transmit the affirming force; he is not a source. It would not be far from the truth to say that all that a man actually is, is denial: this is the very character of actuality. The higher nature of man is in the realm of poten­tial, in eternity, and stands in the affirmative role to the lower nature which is actual, in time and space.

Struggle is possible when we are separated from ourselves. We experience ourselves in a situation pulled by like or dis­like - this is lower nature - but there is an awareness of this pull and this is the door to higher nature. We are aware that there is something in us that has the potential of being free from like and dislike. Then we have an opportunity. we can pass beyond the state of simply observing what is going on to doing something about it. We say to ourselves, "I will not be slave to like and dislike, I affirm myself on a higher level to all of that. I wish to exist in a deeper way." If it is right, we find ourselves 'caught' between the affirmation and the denial: each are perfectly real and part of ourselves. Sometimes this is hard to bear and we want to escape the tension involved. Sometimes it turns out surprisingly easy, because we have invoked the authority of our inner will or real 'I'. The result in energies is much the same, a reconcil­ing result that enables as to be.

Madame Ouspensky, when asked once to define being, de­scribed it as, "What you can bear." This is the best descrip­tion of all. Bearing the struggle of yes and no in ourselves is also the way in which we are enabled to be.


John G. Bennett/ The Sevenfold Work

Coombe Springs Press, page- 42, 43

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