We haven’t talked about injustice yet, it’s one of the subjects we can go into here…
It’s played out in everyday life, with all the little injustices that we suffer and that we also make others suffer in our lives. It is a subject that concerns everyone, because no one can naturally have an adapted approach to injustice. It seems obvious that we should not have to suffer injustice. But there is something to be learned from this, for us here who turn everything into gold.
With my work in prison, I am confronted every day with the notion of injustice.
Most prisoners claim to be innocent.
Yes, I’ve only met a handful of people who think it’s okay to pay for what they’ve done, and yet I’ve been around thousands of prisoners. They think it’s unfair, they’re convinced of that.
And the children often feel it too: “But it’s not fair, it’s not fair! He has two bullets and I only have one, it’s not fair!” Probably all children go through the “it’s not fair” stage at some point. Injustice is a creator of identity, an enormous identity mechanism. Injustice is really THE thing to justify everything.
Yes, it justifies war, crimes, revenge…. It’s the generator of all this mess!
It’s a justification for everything. We feel victimized by society, by the family….
So now that we’ve got that figured out, how do you deal with it?
I’ve found my way, but I’m not going to tell you now, because I’d like to see how you handle it when it happens to you.
One day I realized this mechanism in me, and it upset me, it really shocked me to see it. And in that moment I saw that it was a lack of humility on my part. Now, if I feel the feeling of injustice rising in me, I immediately contact the lack of humility. In doing this work, I realized that on some level it wasn’t an injustice, but that it was a construct.
Stop right there for now, I’d like the others to dig in. I think I know what’s coming, but I’d rather we save it for last. It may not be fair, but… (laughs).
I tend to have a first impression that it’s an injustice, but then I think that it’s something that has to happen to me anyway, like all the elements of life, to shed light on a part of me that is still in the dark. I see it as any negative event that happens to me, that falls on the corner of my mouth. Of course it bothers me at the time, but at the same time I say to myself that it is exactly what I need, where I am, to try to clear out perhaps still some reactions that are in my nauseating underground.
M. I think you must also feel particularly…
Oh yes, I feel particularly targeted! (laughs) For me it is often incomprehension at the beginning, but then I say to myself that it is an opportunity to enter immediately into humility…
But this is recent, isn’t it?
Yes, before I was more stuck on incomprehension and reactivity.
Now you don’t care, and you enter into humility, into acceptance, into the thought that you can’t do anything anyway…
Yes, I try to go deeper into vulnerability.
A., you lost a lot of money at one point with your partner in the US. It’s not fair! How did you deal with this injustice?
Yes, but is it really life? Were you able to take it in or was it a buffer?
It took a while.
Of course it can’t pass like that! So how did you handle it? What did you do, what work did you do on the inside? It was the fox that won, it ruined you.
It hurt me.
Yes, but how bad? What are the mental associations for example? “Why is this happening to me?” or “I’m disadvantaged by life… this kind of thing shouldn’t exist”. No revolt in you?
I was rather angry towards this person. I also felt my inability to do anything, to protect myself.
The helplessness! There is no help available.
Powerlessness to do something yourself, but also to be helped. No way out.
I consulted a lawyer, but it was a bit confusing, it was hard to understand what could be done. In the end, it was very good that we couldn’t go any further because the guy became insolvent, so all the effort would have been useless. And I thought to myself that he was finally well penalized!
There was a certain jubilation in you that there was still some justice! (laughs) That’s really petty!
At the same time, I realized that there was nothing I could do about it and that I had to live with it. It’s in the past and it’s not worth continuing to deal with the past. On the other hand, the whole thing had developed on a certain illusion on my part as well.
Yes, there was probably that too. It’s true for everyone, your inner machinery is pointed out for your own benefit, that’s very interesting. Any other examples?
I remember being very touched by injustice when I was a kid, but it took me a long time to find the words and therefore to be able to express what I felt, and that isolated me a lot. Later, when I started working, I discovered the unions, but I always refused to join them because I felt something was wrong. I often demonstrated for various causes, and then gradually I stopped. And for example, I understand the demands of the yellow vests, but I don’t want to go there with signs at all. With some people, I talk about my solidarity with them. I remember that L., a few years ago, made me discover the feeling of powerlessness, and now it is that which inhabits me. At my level I do what I can, but I can’t solve all the problems, I don’t feel like it anymore. But the feeling of powerlessness is very strong for me and it is a way to accept injustice and to start all over again. I’m always in touch with this: “The world is what it is! I may have contributed to it and I take my contribution, but I can’t take the contribution of others.” That’s how I see it.
Is there a notion of taking responsibility at some point for yourself?
Responsibility for my part, for what I have contributed to as injustice, but not necessarily consciously.
Has anyone felt unfairly treated by me here in teaching?
I don’t have any concrete memories, but I think there were times in the early years when I felt unfair. But that was the beginning of a question about myself, because I had started from the assumption that there was no self-interest in you, and so if I felt that injustice I would look inside myself. So it was more of a help.
It can make people leave and cause demands afterwards. It happened with Gurdjieff regularly and in all the teachings: people who leave, then often go to war against the teacher.
Yes, but there is also the injustice that I cause: if I say something unfair to someone, for me it is linked, and it is also interesting when I realize it.
You can’t always be fair, and especially in the education of children, it’s impossible.
But for me there are two different things in injustice: there is the fact of not receiving the same thing as the other and therefore there is a point of comparison, and I notice that I am not very sensitive to that. On the other hand, I feel much more strongly the injustice of being wrongly accused, for example, or in someone’s place. I had a very strong moment of injustice as a child, when I was wrongly accused. I had to pay for something I didn’t do, and that had a big impact on me. There is still a reaction now, I feel it when I talk about it.
Finally I realize that the first time I talked about injustice was this: “wrongly accused”. It means a mistake was made and I’m singled out… bam! It’s happened to me before and I think it’s inevitable.
I haven’t heard the word “necessary suffering” about this yet and it surprises me.
Of course, it goes without saying! You can specify “wrongly accused or not”, whether it’s real or not real: what does that say about me?
To the necessary suffering for me.
Welcoming the necessary suffering is the first thing. Then I observe what I have done to put myself in this situation, and there may be, for example, shame, because I realize that I have made a mistake. But in general, I always arrive at the same point: at some point there is an immense compassion for the other person and for me.
Even when it’s totally and truly unfair, and you had nothing to do with it?
Yes. And in fact there is no separation at all. And that’s what I’ve found to be the most extraordinary thing about this situation and this tool. And, if I have to fight, that’s where I’m going to fight from.
Of course, it makes sense what you just said, you found your solution and that’s good for you. But I don’t want others to think that’s the only way to deal with it. I don’t want to generalize that way, because I think it’s really up to each person to find their way. Don’t stay with it, but look for your own way to deal with it all the way. I don’t do it that way.
For me, the common thread is powerlessness. I find myself with the feeling of helplessness and it brings back a pretty strong emotion, my naivety in the situation. In fact I have something to do with this story…
Not necessarily. I know you’ve experienced injustices where what you just said doesn’t apply.
Yes, that’s true too.
Because as I see you, you are a “knight in shining armor” who goes on the attack when there is something wrong with justice. You fight, you go on a crusade, and that activates a bit of adrenaline every time.
Yes, you mustn’t give up.
That’s exactly what I want to point out in you. It’s the same for me, when there is injustice, I go into “knight” mode. But that’s the way I do it. That’s why it’s up to each person to see within themselves how to deal with injustice.
But the “knight” mode, you engage it only after the internal process of going towards: maybe I made a mistake, the shame…etc.
Because even in what O. describes, I’m sure that at some point, he might pick up his sword even if there is compassion.
Yes, and indeed it happens after the first phase of reception.
There is a first inner phase, and then there is an action towards the world, or not…
Probably if I am faced with an administration that is taking money from me, I will fight.
It’s important to specify, because we could go straight into the counter-attack, without first going through the feeling.
Yes, it is clear, in that case we are going about it the wrong way.
For me, there is a difference between unfairness and injustice. A long time ago, I remember the discussions to establish a fair participation for our stays, and it was impossible because we could not take into account all the factors.
That was the first mention of this topic. We couldn’t achieve equity on our own.
And it doesn’t exist, somewhere. That’s why there is a lot of fighting between people. There is no such thing as equity! In the professional world, for example, a salesman who goes to eat at a restaurant with clients: is he working or is he having a good time? It’s very complicated. On the other hand, there is injustice where I am wrongly blamed, and there I realize that the work of going towards shame is not yet acquired for me, I have to take it up again each time.
Shame or not, because if you are blamed and you really have nothing to blame yourself for…
Yes, but there is still this inner work of “opening up to doubt”, whether I am ultimately responsible or not. For me there is an opening and it is an inward movement. I go to the bottom of the pool and there I really see what the situation is, and I ask myself: do I welcome it, do I feel the remorse, or does it go away and I take out my sword.
For us here, it’s basic what you’re saying here. When someone points something out, we try to question ourselves. Then we recognize, or maybe not… Here we can discuss this, we can testify and have exchanges, it’s a harmonious way to deal with this kind of question. Without preconceived ideas, without concepts, without beliefs. But in everyday life, you are also confronted with injustices.
Yes, and I don’t handle it well.
What do you mean?
I react too quickly: “No, the other person is wrong!” Maybe sometimes the other person is wrong, but I still short-circuited, you know?
Yes, I have observed that. You really have to step back for a few seconds when you get a critique.
And if it’s too late, it’s an opportunity to feel the shame of having reacted too quickly.
Yes, it can be done even after the fact, by reviewing the scene: “I screwed up my answer”.
At the moment, I feel that I feel injustice more in a global situation where I feel very privileged, while others don’t have the tools to deal with what is happening to them; that’s where I feel injustice. And that sends me back to a great “I don’t know, I really don’t know”. It’s as if it forces me to change planes: I live on the human plane, and then there’s another plane where “I’m not” and where I don’t know.
Yes, it reminds me a little bit of the kind of questions I used to get asked sometimes before, during my lectures: “…but all the injustice in the world?”
It often touches me.
Yes, but I don’t feel responsible for it, you’re not responsible either, so address the person who created the shit on this planet. That’s how I treat it. I don’t feel responsible for anything that happens on this planet, it’s not my responsibility. That’s the way I’ve been dealing with it for years now, and for me it’s not a problem anymore. I see it, but I don’t care anymore because I am not responsible. But I didn’t come to these conclusions overnight. I also fought, May 68, etc. The injustice was the main point at that time. Later I could no longer adhere to that and I was considered a traitor because I did not participate anymore.
Overall I agree. But it’s when I meet someone who is experiencing injustice… then I am affected differently.
But it’s the same! Now you are making a judgment. And who do you think you are at this point? If you had lived in India, you would have lost this right away. In India, you lose that right away or you are lost. It’s not possible to live there for more than a week with this attitude: you die! I can tell you that you would die. And then people show you how they do it. It’s amazing how Indians, as a rule, accept their fate. Even the most miserable ones, they accept in a certain way. And I was thinking: “but it exists, is it possible to accept so much misery?” And often you meet someone who is sick, whose wounds you see… and he gives you a smile! It’s incredible!
Ah, that opens me a track. Because I’ve been searching for a while now why I don’t feel injustice. When something happens to me, I don’t feel injustice; it just happens, it has to happen, it’s an obstacle that happens to me, fate. I use an image: I am walking in the forest and a bear attacks me, I will never think that it is unfair! The only thing I do is to run to escape it… I don’t think, “Damn, it was my day off…”.
But most people do. They say, “gee, it was my day off and it’s raining!”
And in relation to India, I’ll tell you a story that happened to me. I was walking in a city in the south of India, it was midday, it was very hot. Suddenly I see a man coming from afar carrying a huge barrel; as I approach I see that he has elephantiasis on his leg. And I think to myself that this is an enormous suffering, the heat, the load, his illness. As a European, I immediately think: “oh the poor guy, what a situation” with a feeling of pity… and we gradually approach each other, and he looks at me, I look at him and I smile, a small smile of a sad European. And he gives me a smile! In my life I have never seen a smile like that, it was pure happiness, he was glowing! Wow! It cracked me in half. I ran into him and started crying, because I realized how shitty I was inside compared to his beauty! I cried, cried, amazing! A wonderful gift of life!
It’s great this story, it puts us in another dimension, compared to what we think of our small justice. We enter in the destiny, in the cycles, in the predestination, in questions that we absolutely do not control. And the more we are in this other dimension, the less the questions of justice-injustice play a role. In consciousness, we are centered beyond justice, in destiny, in what must happen. That’s how I see injustice now. Nevertheless, when I encounter an injustice I set out to correct certain things.
Of course, it happened to me with taxes: if I’m given false information, I’m obviously going to do something about it, but for me it’s of a different order, it’s hyper functional. I don’t feel it as an injustice, I feel it as a mistake. That’s why we didn’t put the same meaning behind injustice, I don’t care about that.
There are different categories of injustice, and this is one of them.
Ok, at this functional level, I do my work on my own and I treat it purely as a functional thing, as a problem to be managed, I manage it, without emotion without anything.
Several years ago, during a meeting, I asked this question: does every human being have the potential to go to the end of himself? And you answered me no, that it was not within the reach of all human beings. And that upset me.
Yes, I understand, it’s not fair…
Rather than injustice, I felt a complete helplessness. And this statement plunged me for a long time into the acceptance of this necessary suffering. Because it wasn’t about justice, it was about fairness. It was much stronger than injustice for me.
So you accepted my word at first, before you incorporated it.
In this regard, Stephen Jourdain said, “Unfortunately, I have observed that most people are not talented enough to reach enlightenment.”
And there is even Jesus who said: “Don’t give pearls to pigs.”
And Gurdjieff: “Most humans die like dogs”.
Yes, but that’s hard to swallow at first, when you start out, there are regularly these questions that come up.
And in fact it refers to the total acceptance, and then you don’t decide anything.
It also refers to the present moment. Right now I’m here with you. Talking about things that happen elsewhere is already a drift.
We are in the fantasy.
(addressing C.) How do you feel about injustice inside when it happens?
I don’t say to myself, “Oh, this is so unfair.” Either it’s a mistake the other person made or it’s a mistake on my part. I don’t see a difference between unfairness and a shit that happens.
But on an emotional level what happens?
Usually when I’m accused I feel very alarmed. Then, if it’s my fault, I try to fix it, if it’s not my fault I’ll try to fight or explain myself.
Do you ever feel helpless? When you’re in a situation where you can’t do anything?
Yes. Oh yes!
Okay. You have to become aware of that. And ideally, there should be an acceptance of the necessary suffering. Do you have a sense of revenge developed in you?
It’s very, very, very developed in me! (laughs) One of my bosses at work treated me unfairly, and I often joked that I saved his life by not punching him in the face. 🙂
So it’s very developed. 🙂
A lot of times if someone does something that I feel like I can get revenge for, I figure if I wanted to, I could beat them up anyway, so that’s enough to take away the need for revenge.
And does that work every time? Or have there been situations where you’ve had to come to blows?
No, I’ve never come to blows.
What if you run into someone bigger than you?
Oh then I say: “Yes Sir!” (laughs)
Can it be a verbal rematch?
No, the few times I’ve yelled at prisoners, I’ve regretted it because I figure they can’t do anything, they have to take it but in the end it’s not very fair.
In fact, it is the love of your neighbor that has saved many lives! There must be many prisoners who feel that, that your heart is present. So, can we say that in your case, injustice is dealt with by your heart?
I feel very close to what he’s saying, and it reminds me of that tax guy that I talked about. It really shocked me personally, because I realized that many times I’ve made judgments about people, when in fact it’s kind of like those prisoners, they couldn’t do anything, they were stuck in their mechanisms. In fact they are not that, they don’t know it themselves, but I know it. That doesn’t prevent me from doing everything I can to rectify the situation, that has nothing to do with it.
I think we’ve already seen a lot of facets, it’s a very complex subject, very diverse. It would be interesting to take stock of everything that’s been said.
It’s a little hard to summarize, but what struck me and what I realized is that there are several levels of injustice. And therefore several ways of treating them. On the other hand there is a common point, it is that if it makes something in itself, the way of treating it is the same one: welcoming of the necessary suffering. But there is a difference in the way to react.
Can we also add that it is a major catalyst for transformation?
Yes, because it’s linked to something so profound at the level of identity, that it’s directly the identity that is at stake in these situations.
It’s not neutral, it’s a bit binary. Either it brings identity into play, or it tips over into something else.
That’s it, I would say digital, but binary is good too. It’s not progressive.
It reminds me of what we talked about last time in relation to shame, it’s kind of the same fuel level. That process, if it’s really done completely, it goes pretty far.
Yeah, I agree.
It propels you into nothingness in a way.
In the unknown, yes. And I’ve noticed in my life that it’s been that too. It’s caused me to make some important decisions about how my life is going to go.
Do you have a more concrete anecdote about that?
For example, I remember that in Germany I had created an association to organize meditation and personal development seminars… and at a certain point I was surrounded by ill-intentioned people who wanted to take over the association. As it was not possible to do it legally, they played on illegal aspects; and that was the end of the association because it had serious repercussions in the organization. And I lived it as a great injustice, which had consequences, because afterwards I went to France to look for an alternative. I have several examples like that in my life, even on small things sometimes. I am a bit like a knight, I exploit all the small ways possible to make justice, even if I am detached, it has nothing to do with it. Maybe it’s part of my core value, it doesn’t come from identity. I’ve realized that even though I often lose out in the beginning, when the octave is over, it’s the opposite. For me it’s miraculous. For example, if I lose money, I end up with as much or more money. I don’t understand why, but it happens very often. Maybe it’s my personal fate, but maybe it can be generalized? That’s the question I ask myself: is it my personal destiny, or is it that when you deal with injustice in the right way, you often come out on top, sometimes much more than you could have imagined?
I have also experienced it many times, it is incredible.
For me it’s incomprehensible, but I don’t see a cause/effect link.
I don’t either, but things work out in such a way that in the end you win.
But is it related to being a “knight”?
Well, look at the people who have it happen, they are “knights”.
I think it’s more about taking responsibility.
You don’t let it happen to you. But taking responsibility to the end, I don’t see how you can do it without being a “knight”, because it implies that you have to fight.
And then it’s the intelligence of life that changes the deal, it’s incredible.
Several times I have had administrative injustices. And I have observed that with the French administration, if you hold out as much as they do, you win if there is indeed an injustice. But you have to hold on.
Yes, and then we often have the right information at the right time, it’s miraculous. And improbable things happen that should not happen.
I have several examples in my mind, whether it’s in extraordinary situations or even in small things. I didn’t imagine that things could change, I went with the flow, I accepted everything, even what was unfair and more than unfair, and even if it could have big consequences; I had no choice, I followed.
But you still fought, you acted like a knight.
Yes, I didn’t sit back and do nothing, even though I didn’t know anything about it.
That brings me back to the action. That is to say, you still get into action.
Yes, you have to set an active program in motion. H. it’s important for you, because sometimes you don’t put the “active” meta-program in motion enough when there are complications.
Any other things in relation to that?
(Addressing wb) The first time I met you, you told a story about divine justice, remember?
Yes, I’d like to finish with that. Can you tell it?
I don’t remember the details very well, but I’ll tell you the gist of it:
There are three people, a rich man, a middle-class man, and a poor man. And they’re arguing about “who should take how many apples”. So they ask the wise man of the village, Nasrudin, to share the apples. The wise man gives 6 apples to the rich man, 3 apples to the middle-class man and 1 apple to the poor man, saying that this is divine justice!
I have another story of the same kind: Krishna goes for a walk with his disciple, they meet a very rich man. Krishna asks him what he wants and the rich man answers: I want happiness and wealth, and Krishna makes him appear very rich, although he is already very rich. The disciple observes this, and then they go back together into the countryside. They pass by the house of a very poor man who had only one cow, nothing else. The very poor farmer was a worshipper of Krishna, and he was honored by his visit, filled with gratitude. As Krishna left, he made a gesture and killed the farmer’s cow. The disciple is shocked, and asks him to explain why he gave the rich man more money, while he took away the poor man’s cow, his only possession. Krishna replies, “There was only the cow between the farmer and me.”
“Look at this Hoça! Allah provides reward for the early bird. Yesterday evening I was heading home tired, with my eyes lowered on the empty road and I promise you, there was nothing in the dust. But my rising early was rewarded in full this morning. I was paid with this genuine shining coin. Meanwhile, the late sleepers, such as you, find nothing. There is some justice in the world.”
“You are silly” answered Nasrudin, “What do you know about Allah’s justice? The one who’s grieving the loss of this coin was on the road earlier, certainly before you. And he was deprived of his money.”