Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Big fish, little fish

The picture here may not seem to have anything whatsoever to do with the title of this post, but it does, because the question today is about the relationship of levels.

The old saying goes, "Big fish eat little fish." We have all heard it. What we don't hear very often is the following: "Big fish need little fish."

In Gurdjieff's cosmology, we encounter a phenomenon -- common to every level of the universe-- called the law of reciprocal feeding. In fact, in Gurdjieff's cosmology, this is one of the most essential laws, since when God was forced to alter the structure of the universe, the fundamental change he made involved this law. (Those of you who are interested in more detail on this should read the chapter "The Holy Planet Purgatory" in Gurdjieff's magnum opus, Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson.)

The law of reciprocal feeding does not just mean that animals eat each other, which is the obvious and visible manifestation of the law on this level.

It means that levels feed each other.

Every level needs the levels below it in order to exist. if we study the enneagram, it clearly shows us that within any given octave, energy from an outside source -- " Do", a note that represents a connection to, and contact with, an octave on the next level-- is required in order for the octave to "evolve," that is, to complete itself and contribute its energy to the next level.

So in the act of "feeding on" the level below it, the higher absolutely has to share something of itself in order for the level to be complete.

This fact deserves careful pondering, because there are subtleties and intricacies to it worthy of much consideration.

We have already learned, on our own level, from biological processes that apparently hostile predator/prey and host/parasite relationships are not always as simple as they appear, and can be nearly indistinguishable from commensalism and symbiosis. (for example, Helicobacter Pylori, an apparently inimical stomach bacteria which causes peptic ulcers, appears to be absolutely necessary in the human stomach; it plays a key role in the regulation of digestive acidity.) Put in other terms, as any biologist would tell you, it's often very difficult to tell where one organism ends and another one begins. There are even examples of creatures from two different kingdoms combining to create a single organism. I speak here, of course, of the symbiosis between fungi and cyanobacteria which create the organisms we call lichens.

We could take numerous fascinating side excursions into biology to investigate this question (Click here for one) but let's cut to the chase.

There is a message of great hope embedded in the enneagram, and the Gurdjieffian cosmology itself.

That is that under the right conditions, we are lawfully entitled to receive support from a higher level. If we were to put it in religious terms, we would say that God and man are inextricably linked. God needs man. And man is not only entitled to receive the blessings of the Holy Spirit if he engages in right work, right thought, and right action--

it is a requirement, based on how the universe is ordered.

In this way we see that "manna from heaven" is not just a possibility but a birthright. Not something we gain by luck or favor, but something that is, like every other phenomenon in the universe, required by law.

Paramahansa Yogananda said much the same thing; in his experience, if man called in a right way, God had to answer. This is why he used to tell his followers that religion was, more or less, a science.

So if you find yourself sitting, looking at your inner state, and someone looks back at you...
accept it with joy.

No matter how far away we are from heaven, help for our inner work is always no more than one heartbeat away.

It's a law.

May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.

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