External Considering (as an aspect of acceptance)

The term External Considering comes to us from a man called Mr Gurdjieff who was a famous Sufi who lived about 60 years ago, and who was one of Abdullah’s teachers.

External considering starts with thinking of others and wanting to be helpful which is an important part of being a good son or daughter or friend.

All of the world’s great religions teach external considering.  The Dalai Lama says: “Nirvana may be the final goal, but at the moment it is difficult to reach. Thus the practical and realistic aim is compassion, a warm heart, serving other people, helping others, respecting others, being less selfish.”

In the book The Quest part III, Abdullah is asked the question:

Q. Would tolerance be the first thing we need to learn for external considering?

To which he answered.

A. Yes, but understanding is the most important.

So as well as just being tolerant and kind towards other people we also need to try to understand what they need. For example, what if someone had a hard time and so you sent them some money, thinking that was being kind, but what they really needed was someone to talk to?

Abdullah tells us that external considering is a discipline we have to learn, and is part of making our body obedient. If we are busy getting angry or feeling sad or scared or annoyed then we might not notice when someone needs a hand, or we might not care what they need because we are too wrapped up in ourselves, too selfish, only thinking about what we want. These things are called ‘inner considering’ and they are the opposite of ‘external considering’.

Abdullah’s painting of External Considering, which is part of his series on the Teachings of Mr Gurdjieff, also shows us that we should recognise that we have God in us, and that other people have God in them, so when you are helping others you are serving God.

Abdullah wrote the following text to explain this painting: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  This golden rule is a part of external considering but in external considering one should not worry about what they do to you.  We all have to work on ourselves and other people are to be used as a shock to wake us up.  Work on external considering is vital if one wants to overcome one of the consequences of organ kundabuffer and that is selfishness.  The painting shows that it comes from a high source and is of the earth.”

The first story is another well-known one from the Christian book of Luke, and is commonly known as “the Good Samaritan”, but it is really about at least three men, not just one.

A Jew set out on a journey to walk from Jerusalem to Jericho. After not having gone far a band of robbers appeared and beat him up, leaving him half dead on the side of the road.

A Jewish priest happened to walk that way soon after, and seeing him lying half dead on the road, he crossed over and passed by on the other side.

Then a man who worked as a helper in a Jewish temple came along the road, and saw him lying there. He went over and had a closer look but then also decided to just keep on walking past.

A little while later a Samaritan came along the road. The Samaritans had been at war with the Jews and had been treated very badly by them, but when the Samaritan saw the Jew lying injured, he went to help him.

He gave him some water and some food and then put him on the back of his donkey and led him to an inn. Then he paid for him to have a bed for the night so he could rest in comfort and safety. The next morning the Samaritan had to leave early but he paid the inn owner extra and told him to look after the injured man, and said that if he needed more money he would pay more next time his travels brought him near the inn.

Abdullah says: “Remember in the parable of the good Samaritan how the man changed something that was absolutely lousy into something on a very high level. The Samaritan took it from being a small action into a very very big one.”

The second story is another well-known story from the book of Luke. It is commonly known as “The Prodigal Son”. Prodigal means wasteful. The story is actually about two sons, not just one.

A man had two sons and the younger asked his father to give him his inheritance early, which the father did. The younger son had a big going-away party and then went away and had a good time in a faraway city spending all the money his father had given him.

And when he had spent it all, he had no money to buy food so he had to get a job. But the area he had gone to had become very poor because there had been no rain for a long time and the only job he could get was working on a farm feeding pigs. The pay was so low that he had eat some of the pigs’ food otherwise he still wouldn’t have had enough to eat.

Then one day he thought, my father pays his workers more than this and they have plenty of food. So he decided I will go back to my father and tell him that I realise I have behaved very badly towards him and towards God and that I’m not fit to be his son, but I will ask him to give me a job with the other workers on his farm.

So he made the long journey back to see his father and when he was just coming down the road to his father’s place, his father rushed out to meet him and gave him a big hug.

And the son said to him, Father, I have behaved very badly towards you and towards God, and I’m not fit to be your son. But his father said don’t worry about that and gave him some new clothes and called to the cook to put on a huge feast, saying “my son was dead but now is alive again” and everyone was very happy with much singing and dancing.

Now the farmer’s other son was working in the fields that day and when he got home he saw the celebrations and when he found out why he was very angry and refused to come inside. His father came outside and asked him to go in and join them, but he said to his father, I have worked for you for many years and I always did what you asked me, but you never celebrated like this when I came home from the fields.

His father said to him, you are my son and everything I have is also yours, but we should celebrate because your brother was dead and now is alive again.

Both of these stories are mentioned by Abdullah in the Quest in the chapter on External Considering. He says that if you realise that in this story the father represents God, then you can see that this story is an example of God externally considering Man.


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