I’m currently reading Paul Davies’ book “Cosmic Jackpot,” an interesting review of the current state of cosmological theory. The book raises some legitimate questions about just what we know—how much we know—and why we are even in a position to know anything at all.
It’s fair to say that the book covers territory Gurdjieff couldn’t possibly have anticipated, although, one suspects, that like the Buddhists-commensurate adapters to change—he would have found ways to incorporate it into the understandings he passes on in "Beelzebub's Tales To His Grandson."
Several apparently irreconcilable differences of opinion would, however, arise.
For one thing, since space and time are, according to modern physics, inextricably linked in what is called the space-time continuum (both space and velocity affect time, just as time affects space) physics now believes that time and space were probably created together. In Beelzebub, Gurdjieff indicates that time predated space, that is, that time was affecting the Creator himself, forcing him to create space in the form of what Gurdjieff calls the megalocosmos in order to counteract its destructive influence.
In addition, one of the more likely scenarios of creation includes multiple universes (aka the multiverse) which would would imply that the act of creation—presuming we agree there was one—was multifaceted rather than singular.
I recommend the book, which may have the effect of expanding our intellectual awareness enough to help us see that it is insufficient, that is, it's unable to grasp the essential nature of the universe—which may in fact be the whole point of the author’s effort. (I haven’t finished the book, so can’t render an opinion here.)
I am reminded, as I plumb the relatively fantastic conceptual depths of this subject, that we have different faculties within us that can comprehend questions of this nature in a very different way.
Along with every other cosmological entity—sentient or otherwise--we are absolutely legitimate transmitters, receivers and trans-substantiators of cosmic energies in our own right. That is to say, each and every one of us participates, willingly or unwillingly, in the process of exchange of substances—Gurdjieff called it iraniranumange—that first began when the universe was created. In our own case, as with other organic beings (Gurdjieff’s tetartocosmoses, composed of cells, or microcosmoses) we have a nervous system, combined with the unique property of awareness, that allows us to experience the exchange of substances in unique ways.
Taken from Gurdjieff’s point of view, these abilities do not belong to us, nor were we created solely so that we could use them for our own pleasures. They arose directly as a consequence of needs of the planet, as well as the universe itself. This means that man finds himself above all in a position of service in relationship to the rest of the cosmos.
It’s true that man needs to use his intellect to try and understand the type of questions Davies raises. Because of our focus on the intellect, however, we forget that the body and the emotions, too, have intellects that need to be turned to this end. And it is all three intellects that are needed to ask the questions about the universe, incorporating additional parts foreign to the thinking brain.
These parts think in different ways; they sense and understand without words. Instead, their tools of expression are nerves that spread through the body like roots, connecting the organism to itself, and the larger cosmos around it, in ways that Gurdjieff seems to have understood much better than any contemporary science.
When we reach for understanding, hopefully, we reach inward as well as outward—we begin to use parts less familiar to our ordinary thinking—and we sense our connection to, and existence in, this universe more tangibly, as an organism that is a part of it, rather than one set apart from it.
As we live within our Being, we are living within the being of the universe itself: we are both a property of it, and the property of it. It is true that we can acquire something we “keep for ourselves,” but this has to be taken in context. After all, the universe itself is our Self. So what we get for ourselves, we get for the universe.
Of course this, too, is too big a concept for us to wrap these puny things called thoughts around, so let’s just breathe deep, sense life, and go forward with a positive sense of our possibilities.
They, like the universe, may well indeed be endless. We cannot know that, but we can explore it.
May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.