Lately, however, something about this rather glib assertion--which offers us a deceptively easy way to sound profound, and "right," about a proper valuation of the world, the universe, and so on--has been bothering me. And after hearing the phrase from a good friend over the weekend, I have devoted a good bit of time to pondering this question, in the context of both experience and association.
In particular, what interests me here is why we usually don't experience everything as being sacred. On the contrary, the majority of our lives, we perceive that which is around us as ordinary, uninteresting, rather flat. It's only when we have a connection with the higher that the perception changes, and the organism suddenly begins to live in a new and different way.
What, exactly, is sacredness? Does it--can it-- exist independent of other properties? Is it an inherent property of matter? Of religion?
The primary dictionary definition of this word is "connected with God." So when I say "everything is sacred," I am indulging in a kind of pat universalism, in which I am saying that everything is connected with God.
Ho hum, not new news. Not even profound.
Yet we somehow take it that way.
Taken by itself, the contention is even dangerous- as if it were all taken care of, and nothing were up to us. It may invite us to sit on our rear ends and feel hunky-dory about all and everything, because, after all, everything is cool. It's all part of God, and we don't have anything to worry about. More or less like believing that because Jesus died for our sins, we need do nothing whatsoever: salvation is assured by default, as long as we accept Jesus as our personal savior. It's that easy.
Or is it?
For some of us, there is more to it.
We have experienced a hunger, perhaps, which is bigger than our complacency--we have had a moment, or moments, in which a three centered experience--which includes a new kind of feeling--reveals the sacred nature of the ordinary to us.
And that hunger leads us to a more active question inside ourselves: what is this?
So it's the experience of the sacred we are referring to when we use this phrase, not the inherent sacredness of that which exists.
Is the "sacredness of everything" contained within the matter of what is? Is it a default condition? I think not. Rather, the sacred only manifests in accordance with the level of consciousness that is present to perceive it.
So it's not so easy. "Everything" is not sacred. Even more drastically, and more to the point:
Without awareness, nothing is sacred.
This brings us to an essential premise: the nature of the sacred, and the nature of divinity itself, relies on the presence of consciousness. Without that consciousness, the sacred is unable to manifest-- it doesn't exist. So without our own effort-- without a connection--without the stunning, simple fact of this revolutionary new awareness that may be born in man, and other organisms (according, in each, to level and degree)-- nothing is sacred.
The sacred cannot exist alone. It relies, in other words, on relationship to exist. No relationship, no divinity--nothing sacred--nothing.
This does make sense, of course, in terms of material manifestation, because matter cannot exist without relationship. It is built, after all, from relationships between energies. It is in the emergent nature of consciousness, which roots itself in, and evolves from, those fundamental energies and their properties of relationship, that creates the sacred.
In this sense, perhaps, we can approach the idea that the sacred is not a default property. The sacred is an action, not a "thing"- a link to a higher level.
Consciousness in all its myriad forms, on all the levels where it manifests, bears a direct responsibility for the creation and support of the sacred. In the mythological context, we can understand this by seeing that "angelic hosts" have the duty of supporting and worshipping God.
Perhaps even the smallest of practical insights into this question can bring us just a bit closer to the sense of urgency with which Gurdjieff and De Salzmann represented the need for an effort towards consciousness. One might say that in a certain way, God lives only insofar as He lives within the context of relationship to His creation.
And it is in the very maintenance of that relationship--the work man is called on to do, in order to support the possibility of relationship on this level-- that we find the potential birth of the sacred-- the mystical link between this "lump of flesh" called man, and God.
May our hearts be opened, and our prayers be heard.