Introduction II – Maria: The Suffering

Maria Arapostathi, Athens
This is the second part of how Maria encountered Gurdjieff and the Fourth Way. (Read the first part here: Meeting Gurdjieff and The Fourth Way)

The Passage – From the Fat Years to the Lean Years

MariaIt was very pleasant to live in a suite inside that hospital. I remember the strong Yorkshire accent of the “maid”, who came every morning with the breakfast and the mail on the tray, and lit the fire on the fireplace. I remember my part-time job in the city library which was surrounded by a lake; the Irish director of the hospital, who named and recited in greek various greek poets – even contemporary ones – and his wife with her sport Lotus car, to come and pick me up for showing me around. I was surrounded by fresh A Influences, mixed with some seasoning of B Influences through various books. I refer to all these, because the so unusual, unexpected and new circumstances in my life, acted, as I can recall now, as shocks: shocks which surely I needed, though I didn’t know then the work idea of shocks. I remember I was stunned with moments of a new state, unknown to me till then. I am grateful, because now I know it is called, awareness.

The happy years in England passed and it came time to say good-bye to the country that gave us such nourishment and wonderful hospitality, together with the delicate care to our son. It was the first time, you see, that a baby was brought up in that hospital, so every one was thrilled with him. The reasons, therefore, were many to express our gratitude. Firstly to High Above, and then thanks from the heart to doctors, friends and patients alike. I remember vividly the shadow of the castle-like hospital as we left it and set off to our homeland.

“I almost knew nothing about the meaning of what we left behind. The old though, fertilized the new! A new push. A fresh beginning was about to start. I felt that I had become old, and suddenly I became young again.”

That was how I caught a glimpse of myself leaving England, unaware of course about the Law of Octaves and how the so called hydrogens, could play the role of transforming devices within our bodies, becoming themselves old and new again.

My son was almost three when we arrived back in Athens. My first experience, was a deep feeling of strangeness, as if essence didn’t know where it was. I remember saying to myself, “Come on, this is your country, don’t be silly!”. That moment, came into my mind that when I arrived for first time to England and I stepped down on the ground from the airplane. I had a deep feeling of closeness, of a familiar and dear place, like I was to my homeland. This contradiction made me think I was kind of a crabbed person. Because, you see, experiences from essence or from higher centers, can not been grasped by lower functions.

It was the period of very strong ‘musts’ – later I learnt that what are called A Infuences – which started to merge into my life in various forms of dominance from three parts, from my husband and our parents, calling it, falsely, love, which caused negativity, temper tantrums within myself, violence in the marriage, and various things I couldn’t handle properly. I still have the sense of the realization which seized me, that nothing moved except this negativity and that I had no will to change anything. Till then, I would consider silly anyone who would make the statement that man has no will. But then I saw it clearly in front of my eyes. I was almost at the bottom of the well and my so called ‘power’ was humbled. But then, I did not know the meaning of suffering, I had only hints about it.

“We are given suffering because the old needs to be killed, for anything new to flourish.”

The curiosity in these circumstances was that externally, a contradictory thing was happening: everything was going on extremely and unexpectedly well. I was favored by a special law that allowed the civil servants who had been previously turned out by the junta, restored to their posts. So, I regained my position in the Athens University, plus all the years of my absence, calculated as working years. My then husband was appointed as Professor of the History of Medicine at the Athens University and also gained a post at a big hospital, and our social life was first rate! But still was that feeling of being half alive. My soul was thirsty. Everything beautiful pleased me, but only on the surface…I needed something to breathe life back to me.

“Our life is our internal states”

Indisposed and completely helpless, I remember I said to myself, that I let myself be guided by the hands of higher powers. This acted like unlocking a door, and very deep, in the bottom of my soul, something appeared to soothe me and I was sure that I would be granted all the help I needed. I was old and now I became young again!

“Any suffering is arranged, executed and soothed, by the touch of Influence C.”

“All people in the ordinary conditions of life live under two kinds of influences. First there are the influences created in life, desire for riches, fame and so on, which we call influences A. Secondly, there are other influences which come from outside life, which work in the same conditions although they are different, and we call these influences B. They reach man in the form of religion, literature or philosophy. These influences of the second kind are conscious in their origin. Influences A are mechanical from the beginning. If man accumulates influences B, the results of these influences… form in him a certain kind of centre of attraction which we call magnetic centre… If this magnetic centre in man grows, then after some time he meets another man, or a group of people, from whom he can learn something different, something that is not included in influences B, and which we call influence C. This influence is conscious in origin and action and can only be transmitted by direct instruction.” – Peter Ouspensky