To speak of Being-Partkdolg-duty without reference to Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson (BTTHG) is like speaking of baseball without ever going to a baseball game or classical music without ever going to a concert. It is an integral part of BTTHG. The term “Being-Partkdolg-duty” was first introduced in Tales. It is then repeated in Life is real only then, when “I am.” It is an integral aspect of the Living Teaching Mr.Gurdjieff brought to humanity in his Legominism All and Everything. To be even more specific, the term appears for the first time in the book on page 104 and continues to appear throughout the book until page 1179.
Here, we are in the face of what maybe the most central essential idea in the Living Teaching that Mr. Gurdjieff brought to us. In this respect, it would be worthwhile to quote from one of the most serious followers of the Living Teaching, namely René Zuber (Who are you Monsieur Gurdjieff,? pp38-39.
How often he voiced the idea that there are only two ways of freeing the man (not yet born) from the animal (who carried the man in embryo): conscious labour and suffering voluntarily undertaken.
This was the Alpha and Omega of his teaching, his final message, the bottle which he cast upon the waters, before disappearing into the ocean.
One would have to be deaf and blind not to recognize that this thought and the Christian tradition are identical in essence.
But what is being-Partkdolg-duty? What are conscious labors and intentional suffering? First of all, conscious labors and intentional suffering are described as the sole possible means foreordained by our common father creator endlessness “for the assimilation of the cosmic substances required for the coating and perfecting of the higher being-bodies.” (BTTHG, p. 792).
During a recent gathering of several students of the teaching of Mr. Gurdjieff these questions were asked. I went with a conviction I knew what being-Partkdolg-duty was and I left with the sensation that I did not know. That to me means that I now understand less which means that I am beginning to really understand. My participation in that gathering was centered on exposing my views on what being-Partkdolg-duty is for me as I saw it.
We cannot approach the understanding of being-Partkdolg-duty by the positive. We have to do it by the negative. We cannot say what being-Partkdolg-duty is because it is never said in Tales. The only time in which the term intentional suffering is specifically alluded to in very clear terms is when Saint Buddha tells His disciples that “the greatest intentional-suffering can be obtained in your presences if you compel yourselves to be able to endure the ‘displeasing-manifestations-of-others-towards-yourselves’.”(BTTHG, p. 242). We can only approach the understanding of conscious labors and intentional suffering in the same way that the impulses of Faith, Love, and Hope are approached: not by saying what they are but by saying what they are not. (See chapter “The Legominism Concerning the Deliberations of the Very Saintly Ashiata Shiemash Under the title of ‘The Terror of the Situation’,” pp 353-65).
And since the teaching in Beelzebub is essentially by example, we can also understand what conscious labors and intentional suffering are by following the examples of beings like Belcultassi, Hamolinadir, Choon-Kil-Tez and Choon-Tro-Pel, Hadji-Asvatz-Troov, Makary Kronbernkzion, and many others. Of course, not by imitating what they did because that by itself violates the injunction Mr. Gurdjieff’s grandmother gave to him before she gave up her soul directly into the hands of His Truthfulness, the Archangel Gabriel:
“Eldest of my grandsons! Listen and always remember my strict injunction to you: In life never do as others do.… “Either do nothing–just go to school–or do something nobody else does.
We do not imitate what others do; we use their examples as a way of bringing conscious labors and intentional suffering to our being according to one’s individuality. Being-Partkdolg-duty is not a theory but an actualization in our lives. We actualize being-Partkdolg-duty by practicing conscious labors and intentional suffering in our everyday life and we share about them with others via examples.
Example of Conscious Labors
Writing this paper is a very good example of conscious labors. All throughout the writing I had to labor consciously in order not to fall prey to the numerous being-impulses arising from the crystallizations in me of the consequences of the organ Kundabuffer, impulses such as suggestibility, vanity, self-pride, arrogance, fear, envy, laziness, and many others. Like Belcultassi I had to work on developing the potency to be sincere with myself and leave behind the lies coming from my abnormalities. I was very lucky that all the time during the editing of this paper I had near me three ladies who have followed the teaching of Mr. Gurdjieff for many years, all the time reminding me to come down to a more normal level of expressing myself. With me, they too labored consciously or tried to in order to produce a final result that would conform faithfully to the real spirit of the teaching of Mr. Gurdjieff.
In writing this post, I became fully aware of how conscious labors demand discipline and dedication. My own experience in this respect resonated with the call from Mr. Gurdjieff for the need of a concrete program of work and how the so-called “disease of tomorrow” affects my life. There were times in the writing of this paper when I had to remember myself again and again of the importance to me of undertaking this endeavor. This experience in conscious labors also showed me the meanings of being responsible and of fulfilling what may be called one’s word of honor. I saw very clearly that the real meaning of one’s word of honor is to complete what one has in one’s essence promised oneself to do. In this sense it became clear that conscious labors come from essence and leads to the fulfillment of the wish of our essence.
Example of Intentional suffering
I was at a faculty meeting at the university where I teach. Another professor who is well known around for his offensive remarks during faculty meetings (he has been advised to attend sensitivity training programs but has always refused and since he is a tenured professor no other way is available to deal with him) referred to me by saying that I had not done something I was supposed to have done. His remark immediately stirred negative emotions in me. It was not the first time this has happened but this time my life of reaction became the center of gravity for hours to come.
That evening while driving home I was submerged in my negative emotions. Why had he told me that in front of my other colleagues? Why had he not called me apart and let me know what he thought about me? These were the questions I was asking myself with my feelings more than my thoughts. The negative feelings lasted the rest of the evening and I went to bed with them.
The next morning, during my morning sitting, I could see how the negative emotions were coming back, proving that old devils know how to reincarnate. I felt very uncomfortable and all I wanted was to get rids of all those bad feelings; but I could not do it. I was the slave of my feelings. It was a bad sitting.
I drove to work with my heavy load. After I arrived to my office, my state of being began to change. My thoughts began to separate themselves from my feelings. For the first time in almost twenty-four hours I was able to think. One of the first thoughts that came to my mind was the idea I had read so many times about enduring the displeasing manifestations of others towards oneself. My thoughts became focus and sharp, to the point that my negative feelings were gone. The more I thought the more my power of reasoning somehow was amplified. It was as if the energy that had been driving my negative emotions had transformed itself and was now driving my power of reasoning. Through my mind passed a detailed review of all the moments I had thought on enduring the displeasing manifestations of others towards oneself. I concluded with a final and simple thought: Given the fact that I had to share part of my life with this person, the source of my negative feelings, I had better get used to endure his displeasing manifestations towards me. At that very instant this simple realization became fixed in my being. I felt liberation. And I also felt sort of an electric current moving through my head accompanied by a pleasant sensation. I felt so light and good that I even thought of searching for my colleague and thanking him for having given me the opportunity to work on myself. That day I gave one of my best lectures. Never again I experienced negative feelings towards my colleague and from that day on I saw him as a friendly person. I have to add that the object of my negative feelings did not change; it was my attitude towards the object that changed.
That evening while driving home I still felt good and my thoughts were still active and clear, although not as powerful as in the morning. I became centered on the phenomenon resembling an electric current that had passed through my head during my morning experience. By association I remembered that I had read in Beelzebub’s Tales something about some “psychic chemical results” but I could not pinpoint the exact context in which these words had been used. I resolved to consult my copy of BTTHG as soon as I got home.
At home I went straight to the Guide & Index to Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson and searched under “psychic chemical results.” Unfortunately, there is nothing listed under these words. (I later checked again and found out that the entry under which these words appear is “Trentroodianos;” but who could remember this word and its connection with the other three words, that is to say, with “psychic chemical results”). I had to search directly into the book. Fortunately, by now I have a good feeling as to where different materials are more or less located in the book. It was not too difficult to find the place where the words I was searching for are located. I found the material I was searching for on pages 242 and 243 of the book. I will now quote the part of that material concerning this paper. Here is:
“… and the greatest intentional-suffering can be obtained in your presences if you compel yourselves to be able to endure the ‘displeasing-manifestations-of-others-towards-yourselves’…
… and so that by frequently producing in their presences this sacred being-actualization toward the manifestations displeasing to them of other beings similar to themselves, there might thereby be evoked in them what are called those ‘Trentroodianos,’ or, as they themselves would say, those ‘psychic-chemical-results’ which, in general, in the presence of every three-centered being, form those sacred being-data, which actualizes in the common presence of the three-centered beings, one of the three holy forces of the sacred being-Triamazikamno; and this holy force in beings always becomes affirming towards all the denying properties already present in them….
What surprised and elated me the most was the connection made between “psychic-chemical-results” and “intentional suffering” through enduring the displeasing manifestations of others towards oneself. I now had a confirmation of my experience of that morning. I became also aware that my experience connected me with the practice of intentional suffering and that for this practice I first needed to engage myself in conscious labors, while in my previous experience in connection with writing this paper, I never experience intentional suffering or, at least, I was not aware of this suffering so explicitly as it was the case with the matter of bearing the unpleasant manifestations of my colleague. This is another indication, at least to me, that conscious labors can exist without the practice of intentional suffering and that, furthermore, intentional suffering must always preceded by some form of conscious labors. The sequence is meaningful and inevitable.
In any case, after my being able to find a confirmation in BTTHG of my experience, I felt real satisfaction. For the third time in my life I had been able to verify a concrete experience using the material in Beelzebub’s Tales.