I'm on my way back home from China today.
It occurred to me that it's a rather sobering job to carry on this effort of presenting material- both personal, and of a broader scope-- in a contemporary voice representing a viewpoint which is, as best it can be, formally aligned with the Gurdjieff Foundation, and the lines of work established by individuals who knew Gurdjieff personally.
No one ever asked me to do this... and perhaps I'm a fool for trying. There are times when I hardly feel up to the task, and no matter what, I am certainly "standing on the shoulders of giants," as Newton put it.
Or at least trying to.
Nonetheless, the effort is what counts. We must all do our best to meet life as honestly as we can in the midst of our shortcomings, without pretending that they either negate our actions, or excuse us from taking any action.
Along these lines, today it occurred to me that man is under an esoteric obligation to engage in creative work.
One of Gurdjieff's "obligolnian strivings" is an ongoing effort to understand the laws of world creation and world maintenance. This striving cannot be undertaken passively or intellectually: the understanding that's called for here must absolutely be three-centered, since anything short of that isn't real understanding. It needs to be organic.
In order to understand in this way and at this level of Being, a specific kind of participation is required. Now, we all automatically and mechanically participate in these laws--in this no choice is offered (short of the absolute refusual of suicide, the danger of which was, readers may recall, why the notorious organ Kundabuffer was originally installed in man.)
However, a mechanical participation isn't enough. We are called on by our Creator to participate actively in the creation and maintenance of worlds- both inner and outer. That is, a call comes "from above"- from a mystery which we are born into, but have for the most part forgotten how to sense-- to participate consciously in the action and consequences of world creation and world maintenance.
This means that man is actually under a cosmological obligation to create. It's not for the glorification of ego, or of humanity (goals we are all too easily lured into believing in, by the largely secular forces of this level), but for the fundamental support of the universal process of evolution of consciousness.
In the arts, we see levels. There are more and less conscious elements. (Poetry, for example, is "more conscious" than prose: it is able to transmit what is inwardly formed at higher rates of vibration.) Make no mistake about it, creative endeavors are all, in one way or another, part of the effort by the universe to raise the level of vibration-- a subject Mme De Salzmann broaches multiple times in "The Reality of Being."
Man, as part of this general effort, is triply obliged to make efforts to create, as a consequence of this obligolnian striving: first, to help himself understand his own inner world (the aim of all artists); second, to help men understand each other (the aim, collectively, of "the arts"); and third, to help men understand God--the aim of mankind.
Even atheists can comfortably sign on to the first and second premise, but perhaps that's beside the point. What we are investigating here is the fundamental obligation and responsibility of men and women to engage in creative activity.
I recall Betty Brown telling me, years ago, that Mme used to say that man's creative activity would be what "saved the planet." And indeed, we all taste something of the essential in the creative act: an undercurrent that reminds us that this is-- after all the uproar-- what life is for.
What we may not see is how vital this effort is to the nurture of not only our own Being, but also that of mankind, and the planet itself.
I hope, insh'Allah, to write a further entry on questions of creative effort later in the week. But this is enough for now.
May the living light of Christ discover us.