Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A subtle fragrance

This morning I cut a single hyacinth, among the flowers that I brought in to work. It only has seven little blossoms on it, but it is filling my entire office with its subtle fragrance.

These so very few flowers, and the scent that accompanies them, have changed the entire atmosphere of the workday. Even when I am not looking at them, their presence makes itself known. The scent may be quite invisible, but its effects are direct, immediate, tangible.

I am reminded of how the law of seven, along with the law of three, permeates everything existing.

This law, like all the laws of world creation and world maintenance, is invisible. You cannot take a law and slap it on the table and look at it. Mathematicians are able to describe some laws using numbers, but even then, the laws themselves are abstractions.

No one knows exactly why the laws exist at all, let alone why the laws exist as they do.

This makes the creation of a universe within time that causes things to appear and act as they do even more remarkable. "Accidentalists" would have it that everything that takes place in the universe is random, but cause and effect clearly aren't random at all. All of them follow the various laws. Hence, a determinism exists at this level of what we call classical reality. That is to say, everything has to be exactly as it is, based on what has already been just before it. As Gurdjieff put it, "for one thing to be different, everything would have to be different."

So here I am, surrounded by innumerable arisings according to law, permeated by law, existing within the law. All of these things are facts, yet none of them seem to explain a yellow vase-- purple flowers--this subtle fragrance that enters the body and penetrates down into the deeper parts of myself.

Should I be interested in the laws, or interested in the experience?

The intellect is obsessed with laws. We want things to be ruled according to law, we want predictability. We want life to be fair... of course we have not done a very good job of that. Our use of law in the absence of understanding has caused us to destroy a great deal of what we lay our hands on, both personally and in the larger sense of mankind's collective activity.

Yet while all of the truth we encounter inevitably arises within the context of law, the inherent nature of human experience seems to somehow lie outside of it.

In the New Testament, Paul repeatedly indicates in his letters that law alone is not enough to complete a man. Paul brings us back to this question we have examined before, faith.

I think that faith relates to the inhabitation of our environment, rather than the reductive analysis of it. We could easily present an argument that "law" represents, to Paul, mechanicality. It is automatic, and needs no conscious thought to give it validity.

Faith is personal and requires initiative. Law is impersonal, and does not.

This leads me to another thought which I had last night. When the universe was originally created -- a somewhat botched job, as we learn in "The Holy Planet Purgatory--," God was apparently unable to anticipate some of the consequences. (And if anything were to endear God ever more to our hearts, fallibility ought to.) The universe, we learn, was originally created so that the law of seven functioned mechanically, without the intervention of any outside forces. After things did not work out so very well -- a collapse of the situation, described as calamitous by Gurdjieff, took place--the evolution of the octave could only proceed properly with the intervention of outside forces, that is, the law of three, which comes from a higher level.

There is a reflection of this idea in the Christian Bible. The new covenant that Christ brought between God and man represented an intersection between this level and a higher level. One might say that Christ represented the law of three, intersecting with man's law of seven and providing the shocks that are needed to raise our level.

Whether one chooses to see it this way or not, the fact remains that in Gurdjieff's cosmology, the fates of God and of his creation were intimately intertwined from the very beginning, and became even more so once the law of seven became dependent on the Law of three for its proper evolution.

As I sit here, dictating this text and smelling the hyacinth, it strikes me as though this subtle fragrance represents an intersection between myself and something higher. There is something inestimably fine and beautiful about the vibration of this scent, and I feel an inner support that derives from it.

It is as soft and in tangible as God Himself; and perhaps, after all, it is God Himself, in ways that I am fundamentally unable to understand.

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

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