It's a common thing, in the Gurdjieff work, to talk about working, what working is, how we work, whether we work, and so on. After all, we do call it "the work.".
Right now I am reading a book by a man by the name of Stuart A. Kauffman, "Reinventing The Sacred." Now, I'm not at all sure the sacred needs to be "reinvented" -- although he means well. Nonetheless, this is a complex book with some excellent points, and I am only a hundred pages into it, so I can't say with any certainty where the author is ultimately leading us. He raises many vital questions that anyone involved with religious work or the sciences ought to be considering. And he does have many things absolutely right, among them, that emergence is probably one of the most compelling forces in the universe, a force that remains almost completely unexplained by science at its current level of development.
While I was reading, I came across this quote on page 90:
"If we ask what "work" is, it becomes surprisingly difficult to define. To a physicist, work is force acting through a distance (such as pushing a hockey stick and accelerating a hockey puck.) But chemist Peter Atkins says work is more than this. It is the constrained release of energy into a few degrees of freedom."
The italics are my own. I added them because this is a striking definition of work; it connects the idea of work directly into aim. The point is that the energy in work is aimed at is these very "few degrees of freedom"--yet which of us, if pressed, can say that we know what freedom is? It seems clear that the real use of energy for a good purpose needs to be a use that relates to freedom, but we don't know much about that. And if this particular definition of work does not bring the movements to mind--well, then, what does?
Work involves the gathering of energy as well. So it is not just about the release of energy; it is about acquiring or receiving energy. At the foundation of biological life on this planet (with some very few exceptions we will not cover here) is the act of photosynthesis, which is all about receiving energy and converting it into a form that can be passed on or acquired by other creatures. This model alone serves to prove that a definition of work includes receiving. Stuart Kauffman has not so far included this concept in his book--a surprising omission, considering how much else he has covered.
So in order to work, an organism does not just expend energy within a few degrees of freedom. An organism must first make sure that its mechanism is functioning well and acquire energy. In the biological world, this acquisition usually operates through what Gurdjieff called "the law of reciprocal feeding," but in the metaphysical world of man's higher energies, a man must learn to be open in order to receive energy. It is not until this happens that he can do anything else whatsoever.
This is where Mr. Kaufman and I part company, despite the fact that I admire his book, intend to finish it, and heartily recommend it to everyone who thinks about these matters.
The sacred does not need to be "reinvented" -- it needs to be discovered.
Mr. Kaufmann and the scientific community fully intend to "reinvent" the sacred by using the mind alone -- and he has an excellent mind, no doubt about it. The difficulty here is that the mind alone is unable to comprehend. Understanding consists of sensing and feeling as well as thinking. One can only discover the sacred by combining the three centers so that they all work simultaneously. And the strictly intellectual scientific approach, as it is understood today, just does not and cannot ever understand that.
I will probably comment more on this nonetheless fine book at a later date. In the meantime, I want to mention one other thing.
Today a friend of mine passed on some wonderful notes from a talk by Don Alberto Taxo, a native teacher from Ecuador, who was stressing the very critical moment that the planet finds itself in. Taxo said a number of things that I've mentioned many times in this blog, most particularly, that one of the most important things we can do right now is to develop a sense of gratitude for our lives.
This theme has come up so often in my own work that it is no longer a question, it is a condition.
Taxo's contention is that it is vital for every working --I mean this in the esoteric sense -- organism to reach deep into their sensation to understand the question of gratitude right now.
I totally agree with him. Everything I have been writing over the last two years points towards this effort. We must sense, we must offer ourselves, we must be grateful. This gratitude must spring from a connection to the organism, beginning in the very roots of our being.
Some of you may have encountered this teacher's material already, I don't know. It's making the rounds. At any rate, it's quite possibly true that at this particular moment in the planet's destiny, nothing could be more important than offering ourselves.
The more we are opened, and the more that is asked of us, the more difficult everything becomes. There are forces that align themselves against effort. We must keep going.
This reminds me of something that took place when I was reduced to ashes over seven years ago. Demands were placed on me that seemed impossible, confusing, otherworldly, and I did not understand anything that was happening. At the same time, I saw that I had been given an incredible amount, and along with the demand, Grace was abundant.
I recall breaking down in tears at the steering wheel of my car in a supermarket parking lot. The feeling, sensing, and thinking that were taking place within me had reached a crescendo that can't really be described.
All I could say to the forces that were working on me was, "I will not give up."
When God gives us work, He may well give us work that is beyond our understanding and beyond our comprehension. Of course it will be that way much of the time; how else could it be? At these times we must take a vow within ourselves to go forward with faith regardless of circumstance.
We must not give up.
I say this because I think that what Gurdjieff said in Beelzebub is entirely true. There are many cosmic forces affecting both this planet and the solar system -- let's not bother trying to describe them, pretending that our tiny brains are able to properly comprehend these questions -- that are depending very much on the work of man. Our work is needed. We are needed.
We have not been put here casually; let us not be put here in vain.
May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.