We talked about vocation and essential value. When you follow the process as you practice it, do you discover your own purpose?
Yes, that’s it.
Can this purpose be put into words?
Yes, it must be put into words. Then, when it unfolds over months and years, it can no longer be verbalized (too complex).
Can you give me an example?
I remember mine was “being present for the other.” Another example: “love ~ peace ~ being one with the whole”.
Is that a purpose?
It has to be experienced on a daily basis, it’s not enough to experience it once. And it can’t be lived as long as the beliefs are there, and when it’s lived, it’s no longer these words.
We probably can’t achieve that goal?
The breakthrough gives a glimpse that is attainable, and then that “essential value” unfolds by itself if you do proper inner work on yourself. It’s almost impossible without being guided by someone who is experiencing it. There are so many traps and shadows that you cannot see yourself, but someone else can point them out.
Yes, I understand. On the other hand, it reminds me of the words of Jiddhu Krishnamurti who said that a teacher is not necessary. What’s your opinion on whether or not a teacher is necessary?
For my part, I don’t consider Jiddhu Krishnamurti as having really “reached” the ultimate. Did UG Krishnamurti say that too?
Kind of. I remember reading something like, “There’s nothing you can do to “get it.” Don’t bother learning from some guru or whatever, you’re wasting your time.”
That’s also true. Just because you’re guided by someone who’s experiencing it, doesn’t mean you can get it. UG says this to people who come to see him, because it is true that most people interested in liberation expect much more from their master than what is realistic to expect. I don’t give multiple public lectures; I choose people who are talented enough to be able to do what needs to be done. They already know that my help is minimal compared to the work they have to do on their own.
Yes. I think the work to be done is so huge that I can only focus on small parts, one by one. Has UG had a master (or masters), as far as you know?
Yes, but he rarely talks about it. I think his essential value is expressed in such a way that people who read or hear him receive a kind of “healthy” shock. But somehow there comes a point when you have to kill your masters to be completely free.
When you discover your essential value, I guess you continue in that direction. Have you observed this?
No, not necessarily. I’ve practiced the process with people who aren’t on an existential quest and most of them simply either resist or forget about it a few hours later.
How is that possible?
I have the same question, but no answer.
I can’t imagine discovering something of such great personal significance and not doing my best to pursue it!
You, yes. But most humans have other things to do in their lives, it’s a question of priority. The other possibility is that the seed sown will germinate much later. Maybe it will. It happened to a friend of mine. He came in contact (through other means) with his essential value when he was young. Then he forgot about it and eventually became an alcoholic. Things got really bad; he lost everything and ended up on the street. Suddenly he remembered his essential value and did everything he could to get it back. Then he got sick and went to the hospital so he wouldn’t die on the street; he felt it was over. But instead of dying, he woke up the next day and realized that his essential value was present and he was free. A few years later we met and he told me this story.
In an exchange with you, I remember you pointed to a belief that has been operating in me continuously. It was amazing, I still find it hard to believe that I accepted the statement “there should be harmony” so completely. I can’t even say that it was a core belief, because it spread to every nook and cranny. It was always there, all the time. When you made me aware of it, it was like a psychological balloon burst… thank you!
These last few days have been different from what I know. At work today, for example, time went by without me being aware of it; I remember looking at my watch and it didn’t mean anything to “me.” I knew what it meant, but it was an external understanding. There is no ecstasy and no such feelings, but I continue to “lose” myself (in the sense of “find” myself). The internal dialogue is there, but it is less credible, more of a background.
Open. Present. Conscious. Awake. Uncontrolled. Without resisting. Without believing. Holding on to nothing. Pushing nothing away. No “best ideas” about how it should be.
The other night, I read a Zen text that struck me deeply: “Centered… The center is the place of experience, but without identification with any aspect of the self that is having the experience…” I took the time to let this new way of being settle in. The emptiness wants to be filled. Things like “There is no need for harmony” try to settle in. But that sentence doesn’t make sense either. Keeping the space open is a practice that requires a lot of attention: “Nature abhors a vacuum”.
The nature of the mind is that it abhors vacuum. Keeping the space open is the best thing to do when such a revelation occurs.
The other day you mentioned that to be effective you don’t need to feel resourceful. Usually when I’m in a “good” state, I’m much better at getting things done. I’d like to keep that efficiency even when I’m not in a “good” condition. How do I do this?
Whatever state is there, we have to accept it first. If it’s a good state, then everything’s fine. If it’s not that good, then act like you’re in a good state. The goal is not that you feel better, but that the results of your activity are the same. This is only possible when you know that “necessary suffering” is sometimes necessary. Doing a good job when you are not in a good condition is part of “necessary suffering.” Little by little, by doing this, you get used to diminishing the importance of your internal states.
I get it. It’s a complete sabotage of all the side benefits one could get from “feeling bad.”
But I bet that “necessary suffering” could cause irritation later on.
No, not if you’re conscious of what you’re doing. The only “problems” that can occur are physical, so don’t overdo it, especially at first. Of course, the body can do its job no matter how it feels. But it’s harder on the body if the right condition isn’t there.
Yes. On the other hand, in my experience, when I “act as if,” after a few minutes I start to feel good again.
Yes, that can happen. But it doesn’t always happen, especially when you’re “working on yourself.” And the periods of time you “act like” might get longer without getting a good condition. The same goes for motivation when it gets weaker, so you act as if the motivation is still there. That too is necessary suffering.
Well, what does that lead to?
It’s necessary so that you can crystallize the non-ego. It accustoms you to being able to physically survive when the identity is gone. Necessary suffering is the suffering of not being able to afford the secondary benefits of “psychological” suffering. Psychological suffering is totally useless, it is mostly a kind of self-pity. It is only by refusing psychological suffering that one can have access to necessary suffering. Little by little, you receive other “benefits” that validate your practice. Necessary suffering leads to being liberated from suffering; psychological suffering won’t bring suffering to an end.
Okay, I get it. What if I find myself in a situation where I used to suffer psychologically, but by accepting this situation, it’s not really suffering anymore?
That’s good. No need to go back, there are always enough other situations in which you can practice “necessary suffering.”
And is it better to deal only with what is up to my strength?
Yes, of course. Be careful and respect your inner ecology, it’s very important.
So the suffering is not more intense than I allow, and as I get used to it, it’s not really suffering anymore.
It’s still suffering, but fragmented into pieces that you can take care of. No more than you need to stay functional.
And in between these moments of suffering, I can also feel pleasant states?
Yes, of course. But know that whatever pleasant states appear, it can’t be forever, the states change. So, whenever you feel good, it’s totally ok, but be aware that it can’t last forever.
The necessary suffering we are talking about seems to me quite different from “normal” suffering. Is it then good to avoid “normal” suffering?
Yes, once you know what “necessary suffering” means, you can try to avoid “unnecessary suffering.”
It’s fun to read! Useless suffering is such a waste! To be thrown in the garbage like a piece of garbage. So when you learn to make a difference, and learn how to deal with necessary suffering, shouldn’t it be practiced all the time?
No, it should only be done when it is necessary. When things are all right, there’s no need. But when there are tendencies to complain, to self-pity, to blame the other or the circumstances, etc., then the necessary suffering is the acceptance of the situation.
Acceptance, when fully lived, seems to make suffering less painful; there is a feeling that everything is ok, and it’s much better than being in a “good state.” Is that what you mean?
Acceptance does not mean that one does not do what can be done to improve the situation. But it would be a second step. First, accept the situation as it is. Accepting the situation as it is also means taking responsibility, completely, for the given situation. Do not blame others or the circumstances. I wouldn’t say it’s “better” than being in a good state. Difficult situations are part of life, as well as “good states.” Fundamentally, at the existential level, there is no difference between good states and necessary suffering. Accepting the necessary suffering must be done every time a negative reaction arises within oneself against someone else or against the circumstances.
Okay. But for example, if a salesman cheats me and my first reaction is to get very angry, that also serves a functional purpose for getting reimbursed. How can I fully accept the situation, and at the same time function appropriately to support my own needs?
First, fully accept and take full responsibility for the situation. Then, of course, it is functionally ok to do what can be done to be reimbursed. And when you do this, the secondary benefit is that you are not clouded by negative emotions; which doesn’t mean you don’t yell at the salesperson if you consider it appropriate.
How do you differentiate the threatened self from the purely functional intention to be treated fairly?
If you go into necessary suffering, then the self is no longer threatened.
Right! I imagine that practicing necessary suffering in this way is like walking on a thread inside oneself. Don’t fall either way.
Yes. From now on, you can practice this in your own situations, in everyday life, and observe what happens. Have you already started?
Sometimes I do. It also means doing the right thing. But walking on that thread requires a lot of attention and self-awareness. I think it will help me to know that it doesn’t have to be done all the time.
It takes a lot of vigilance. And the goal is not to become an expert in this field, but to consciously “produce” a certain amount of energy in order to be able to become even more vigilant. Each time you do this, you “grow” more and more, and the next time you are able to do more or better. The necessary suffering reinforces the vigilance that is necessary to be truly present.
A rather different way of saying the same thing would be: it opens your heart.
Ah… yes! Sometimes I’m aware of the narrow line I have to walk on, but sometimes I’m so lost and confused that I can’t even pretend to know how to walk on that line!
The first thing to do is to be vigilant enough not to allow yourself to get so lost. This is a major goal because when you are in that “perdition” there is nothing you can do but wait.
Okay. I thought “managing your condition” was all about staying on the line. Isn’t that what you meant by mental management?
Yes, that’s how I teach “mental management.”
Can you explain to me the difference between useful suffering (or necessary suffering) and useless suffering?
Useless suffering is everything that can be called “psychological” suffering. Basically, it comes from an interpretation of “what is.” Instead of completely accepting the real situation as what it is, there are all sorts of parasitic thoughts: “Maybe it could be better, I could feel better, have more money, have a prettier girlfriend, etc.” From the moment you only state what is, completely, then the necessary suffering is there. necessary suffering refers to the past or the future; necessary suffering accepts the situation as it is.
Okay. But sometimes it’s not so easy for me to tell the difference.
Necessary suffering is more physical and neurological. You feel it in your muscles. No dreams of better times.
Thank you, that’s a very good indicator. What’s the difference between neurological and psychological?
Psychological is all the different aspects of identity. Neurological means purely physical and hormonal. There are no images, no sounds, just a kinesthetic feeling and no interpretation of that feeling. No patterns that explain things, just stating what is. This is a very important aspect of good self-work. Difficult to face at the beginning, as there is emptiness. No meaning, no meaning. But very effective and basic.
I relaxed into necessary suffering and I remember the feeling was kind of comforting. Is that unusual?
It can even be very happy, very, very happy. It’s a matter of not becoming attached to it; because if you become attached to it, then it could disappear immediately.
Yes. Have we now reached a point where the word “suffering” is also used to describe “bliss?” Can this suffering also be felt as bliss?
Once you have generated a certain amount of necessary suffering, then you are ready to face the void. Staying with the void is the ultimate freedom. In this freedom, you are ready to accept suffering on the same logical level as bliss. And you have to have the same attitude towards both. Beatitude and suffering are temporary phenomena; emptiness is permanent.
This emptiness, is it what you would call the spirit? Or spiritual?
No, it’s literally emptiness. Neither spirit nor spiritual.
Is that why you say your approach is existential and not spiritual?
Yes, that’s right. It’s not spiritual in the way the word is used these days. It’s not the “new age.” It’s ageless.
I was thinking about that today. When you say that emptiness or liberation is “outside of time,” are you saying it because time is a concept and “it’s” outside of any concept?
Yes. And if you want to go further, it’s more timeless than timeless. Time is a concept. Purely functional.
But we’re so convinced that time is a part of reality!
Yes. And it takes a lot of self-remembering to remember that time is a concept.
When you say, “No, that’s me pretending”: who is the “me” you’re referring to?
It is the “I” of my non-identity, my functional “I” that is subordinate to the essential value. The essential value is the son of God in the Christian trilogy. It is me, nothing, becoming someone. Somehow dead, yet alive, functioning and having the gift of the joyful expression of the essential value.
It’s a little hard to understand. So this “me” that you are… is just a functional robot in a sense?
Yes, in a sense. It’s the “slave” of the essential value.
And what is the essential value? Who invented it? Where does it come from?
It comes from the void. It is the embodiment of what could be called the highest or ultimate value that exists in every human being from birth. It is like the imprint, the imprint of God in everyone. It never suffers.
The essential value arises from nothing, as does everything else?
Yes, everything else comes out of nothing, too. The essential value can be experienced and expressed. It’s a kind of direct link to the vacuum. It can be felt.
Like an umbilical cord connecting to the source?
Yes, that’s a beautiful way of putting it.
So it all comes from nothing… Is it always direct? Do some things come from nothing and then some things come from these? Or does everything that exists, right now, come directly from nothing?
If you want to understand emptiness, then you have to be 100% subjective. Your perceptions are the starting point, not your thinking. Now, everything you perceive comes from nothing. It emerges. Then your mind has learned how to code, decode and so on. But in perception at the very source, everything comes from nothing. There is no hierarchy.
So everything, everywhere, is right now and always comes from nothing… How do I work on my perception of that?
An additional tool: reject all generalizations. In perceptions, there are only concrete things to perceive. Not things like the universe, the earth, people. Only concrete things, observable in this moment. You can do that every time you think about it.
What do you mean, “rejects?”
Reject inside you when you start to believe that the universe exists, for example. Or when you think of something that is not present and perceptible in the moment. It is a mental gesture not to believe in the real existence of generalizations every time your mind produces them. Kill these thoughts when they emerge, they have no reality.
Okay. I’ll start now… Do I have to deal with those words on the computer screen, and no longer think there’s a person on the other end?
No, that would be too much to start with. It should be done in a relaxed state. Just kill any thoughts that come up right now that have nothing to do with what we’re talking about.
So kill all the “filling” thoughts?
Somehow there shouldn’t be any more questions in the moment, as long as you do that, right?
You got it…!