Virginia Woolf, after visiting the octogenarian Thomas Hardy, came away with the impression of ‘one delivered of all his work’. Jesus, at the end of his short life, says: ‘Father, I have done the work which Thou gavest me to do.’
Like Jung, I believe that each of us comes into this world with a blueprint of the person we are meant to be. The tragedy is that so many people do not manage to live their lives to the full. To do this requires work, a word that was central to the teachings of George Gurdjieff, an influential spiritual teacher of the early to mid-twentieth century. He taught that most of us live our lives in ‘a waking sleep’, but that, with work, it is possible to achieve our full potential.
The writer, Katherine Mansfield, who studied with Gurdjieff in the last year of her life, wrote, ‘I want to be what I am becoming. There are no limits to suffering – one rows one’s boat into the darkness. If only one can accept, there is a landscape to be discovered, to be one’s true self without the personal, to be afraid of nothing.’