Tuesday, August 5, 2008

shadow and substance


Keeping in the tradition of this blog, I am posting from the business class lounge in Seoul, South Korea, on the first leg of another one of my journeys into mainland China.

I want to begin by apologizing to the readership for my failure to publish my structural essay before I left on the trip. The subject matter is complex, and I decided to divide the essay into two parts, including a "warm, fuzzy" part that simplifies it and discusses it in more practical terms. That second portion is not finished yet, and there is no point in rushing something on a serious matter into print.

I hope to have it finished within this week, at which point it will be made available. There is no harm, however, in discussing a little bit of what it's about.

We are taught in the Gurdjieff work that everything proceeds according to the law of octaves. This means that every set of events represents the evolution of energy according to a set of laws of vibration. The argument would not be unfamiliar to physicists, and proponents of string theory in particular; according to them, the entire universe -- all of reality -- arises from what we might call meta-cosmic strings which vibrate at different rates. Anyway, all of that is extremely technical. The point here is that everything that precedes inside us is also subject to the law of octaves.

The essay's premise is that every center has its own inner octave, and that the octaves of all the inner centers are closely interrelated in an unexpected way.

The details should be left to the essay. The open question that can be asked outside that context is, how do we sense this question in our own bodies?

The question cannot be left as a theoretical one. If we are going, as Jeanne DeSalzmann suggested, to "stay in front of our own lack," the lack we ought to be staying in front of is our failure to sense this process in ourselves. We don't bring our attention to the question of the inner rate of vibration. That action involves a much closer inspection of the organism and its process.

In attempting to approach this, we struggle with the difference between shadow and substance. Too much information on the matter stimulates our imagination; the danger is that instead of truly experiencing our inner state, we will imagine we are doing so. This danger is all too prevalent, and everyone in the work falls victim to it somewhere along their own path. The whole point -- one of the whole points -- of working in groups is so that we can help curb each other's imaginary impulses.

On the other hand, not enough information causes us to completely overlook this question, to not even understand where the question lies, and to fall into a soft, mushy, and relatively undefined territory where we become satisfied and even complacent with insufficient efforts. We don't understand that we need to be working with a more exact, more clear, more awake and aware understanding of this question.

...

In a stunning example of synchronicity (or is it something more?...) my good friend rlnyc left a comment on the last post about how our work extends down to even the quantum level. He is absolutely correct; the forthcoming essay already discusses this.

Many will believe that this is an analogy, but it is not. The processes that drive the emergence of classical reality from the quantum level are the exact same processes that cause a manifestation of Being to arise from the intersection of consciousness and matter. It's necessary to understand this from direct experience; no amount of writing about it will do.

I must confess, after rlnyc's post, the prospect of putting this information out in front of readers gets me so excited that I am tempted to race off, finish the essay right now (I don't have time, because my flight will be called in a half an hour or so) and slam it onto the Web.

Fortunately for all of us, I'm unable to do that. Instead, it is possible for me to offer this brief excerpt from the essay.

Laws, the enneagram, and quantum theory

...Just a brief "aside" here to point out that the law of three, as viewed within the enneagram, corresponds to momentum. The law of seven corresponds to location. In the same way that the existence of a particle “magically” emerges from the dialectical tension of quantum uncertainty (velocity versus location) through the agency of an observer, the existence of Being within man emerges from the effort of the physically observed interaction of the two laws. In this sense, in order for being to emerge, a man has to actually inhabit his own enneagram. Unless his awareness observes the process of interaction, the emergent potential of Being-- which represents "reality," rather than the illusion man perpetually dwells in -- goes unrealized. He continues to dwell in an unresolved “quantum dialectic” which represents potential, blocked by contradiction.

The relationship between the enneagram and the broad concepts of quantum uncertainty and emergent classical reality is perhaps an unexpected one. Nonetheless, the principles confirm Gurdjieff's contention that this diagram describes everything, if one only knew how to read it. Is it truly surprising that the process of Being arises in the same way at every level? Being, we discover, is a lawful phenomenon embedded at the root of reality, and reaching all the way to its apex.


For now, friends, that's all... but I look forward to continuing the enterprise from China, where postings will continue... with or without progress on (or completion of) the essay.

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

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