Tuesday, September 4, 2007

worlds and flowers

Today, let's take a look at the relationship between Gurdjieff's ideas about worlds, and the six inner flowers.

The third of the five "obligolnian strivings" which every being should engage in, according to Gurdjieff, is "the conscious striving to know ever more and more about the laws of world-creation and world-maintenance."

Of course there are many ways of understanding this task. The first important way of understanding every task that Mr. Gurdjieff suggests, however, is understanding it from the point of view of our own personal inner work and our own development.

In this regard, let's remind ourselves that to know more and more about the laws of world creation and world maintenance is to not only know about the laws of the universe, the solar system, the planet we inhabit, and so on--all of which are valuable and, in my estimation, indispensable --but to above all know the laws of our own inner world, which we are in the continuous act of attempting to create. (See "the inner solar system".)

In understanding the inner solar system from the point of view of the enneagram, we see that every center, or planet--or flower--within us is the note "do" of an octave below us. That is to say, each center represents a higher authority for an entire world that exists on the level beneath us. So as we begin to take responsibility for the inner life of our various centers, develop a relationship with them, and bring them into relationship with each other, we are engaged in the act of world creation and world maintenance.

Just think about this. It is amazing, remarkable, miraculous.

We ourselves are fully responsible for the creation of entire worlds on the level below us. These are worlds we do not even know about under ordinary circumstances. We do not understand that we engage in the law of reciprocal feeding with these worlds, just as we engage in this same reciprocal feeding with the level above us.

The bliss of the Holy Spirit that can suffuse us as we open ourselves to the higher is a natural product of the movement of energy into us. In the same way, an equivalent bliss arises and resides within each of our centers as we invest ourselves within them, take responsibility for them.

Each center -- each flower that can open within us -- represents the highest force available in the action of the lower world that it resides within and presides over as "do." It provides the necessary shocks for the development of those worlds. In this way, we create within ourselves worlds, that create worlds, that create more worlds. And above us, in our completed development, should we achieve it, we represent individual notes in a larger world.

Whenever I speak of the four great actions of flowers within us--Budding, Opening, Receiving, and Reproducing--I speak specifically of this action of creating worlds, which is a mystery we all have the opportunity to participate in.

Stop for a moment and take a look at every object around you. Every object you see is created by the eternal budding, opening, receiving, and reproducing of flowers in space.

When Dogen says that everything is flowers, he also speaks of this relationship of worlds and of bliss. Let's take a look at a few other quotes from that extraordinary chapter "Kuge" in the Shobogenzo.

The first quote (taken from, like all my Dogen quotes, Nishijima and Cross's translation as published by Dogen Sangha Press) is an eloquent piece of poetic prose describing the law of octaves:

"Flowers in space exist on the basis of unfolding from the ground, and the whole ground exists on the basis of the opening of flowers. So remember there is a principle that flowers in space cause both the ground and space to unfold."

In this chapter he also discusses the law of three: "Because the triple world which we are experiencing now is the five petals opening of flowers in space, it is best to see the triple world as the triple world. The triple world is this real form of all dharmas. It is this flower form of all dharmas; and all dharmas, from these to others beyond imagination, are flowers in space and fruit in space."

We might ask ourselves, why there are so many terms for these locations in the body? Yoga called them chakras; Gurdjieff called them centers; Dogen calls them flowers.

Gurdjieff changed the language of yoga to divest it from associations. He replaced the names of the centers with numbers, so that we would cease to seek them with preconceived ideas, but rather experience them, so to speak, "unadulterated." In the case of the Buddhists, they referred to the centers as flowers because of the infinite bliss that arises within the opening of every flower on every level.

As I mentioned in a post last week, the entire universe is suffused with this bliss. Even Mr. Gurdjieff, whose work nowadays is surprisingly devoid of such references, referred more than once to the bliss that is supposed to be available to every being as they breathe the air.

This is a birth right, dear readers, of our very own which we do not know much about. It should be available in every breath for us, but it isn't. Man dwells within a sea of blissful opening and receiving of flowers of which he is supremely unaware.

Does anyone understand that we can dwell within this possibility at all times? That the bliss of flowers budding, opening, receiving, reproducing, is eternally present within us?

When Mr. Gurdjieff said that there is a heaven and hell, and that they are right here with us now, he was alluding, among other things, to this.

Heaven is within us. Heaven is outside of us. Heaven is where we are now. It is our individual, and collective, failure to take responsibility for our development that has turned it into hell.


May your trees bear fruit, and your wells yield water.

1 comment:

  1. Lee,

    I'm truly delighted by the parallels you make between Gurdjieff's teaching and Dogen's teaching (by the way, I never studied the Shobogenzo but your posts certainly gave me the desire to do it). I felt in what I heard and read sometimes from the people in the work that there were prejudices against buddhadharma. Obviously not all of them. Thank you for this wonderful post.

    In Silence...

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