In the Work, we speak of suffering and intentional suffering. There is an important distinction.
Unnecessary Suffering and Inescapable Suffering
Unnecessary suffering is the suffering we inflict on ourselves because of our mechanicality—suffering we incur because of negative emotion, unreasonable attitudes and expectations, ill-will, and so on. All of this can be thought of as suffering that stems from our “self-importance.”
Inescapable suffering is the consequence of the law of accident, inflicted on us by events beyond our control.
Then there is intentional suffering… Orage used the word voluntary instead of Intentional. Gurdjieff had a different meaning for both of these words and he did not use them interchangeably. There is a good example of this distinction in Life Is Real, where Gurdjieff says:
“When he came, in the translation, to the expression used by me, “intentional suffering,” I interrupted his reading, for he had translated the word “intentional” by the word “voluntary.” As I attempted to explain the great difference between the voluntary and intentional suffering of man, there arose a general philological discussion, as is usual in such cases.” (LIR)
Third, we have Voluntary Suffering. This would be the type of suffering that we take upon ourselves in order to accomplish a personal aim, such as an athlete who disciplines himself to win a race or a student who labors to get good grades.
And finally, we have Intentional Suffering. According to Bennett, this would be the kind of suffering that we take upon ourselves in order to accomplish an impersonal or altruistic goal, one that is directed more towards service to others or to the Work, and not for any personal gain. Bennett assumes that this is what Gurdjieff meant by Intentional Suffering.