Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I've spoken before about the fact that Gurdjieff's God was not a God of unlimited power. He has, for example, no absolute control over time. Yet, even though time brings an end to everything (a fact which Gurdjieff's name for it, the Merciless Heropass, alludes to) he chose to refer to God as His Endlessness throughout Beelzebub's Tales To His Grandson. Not only did he do this, but he introduced a cosmology in which God creates the universe because time is eroding the substance of his place of existence. The obvious inference is that this could bring God to an end.
So here we have a God referred to as His Endlessness, confronted with an even greater force that appears to be able to bring about His Ending. This strikes me as an exquisite and intentional irony: and no accident on the part of Gurdjieff. The very foundation of his cosmology itself was deliberately planted in dualistic thinking on the grandest of all possible scales: endlessness, or infinity, and zero, or, the erosion and disappearance of everything that infinity relies on in order to manifest.
Trapped between the Scylla and Charybdis of His Most Holy Eminence's absolute endlessness and the ultimate, Heropassian threat of nothingness, God is forced to create a universe: a third force that mediates between the two original opposing forces. The universe, moreover, is not just a static object: it is a series of events in motion, a relationship.
Or, if you will (and Gurdjieff also says this) a machine.
This relationship is, furthermore, a force based on awareness. The very act of awareness itself, the act of seeing, is already the whole force that sustains and extends the life of the universe. (Are we asked to subscribe to the anthropomorphic principal? Au contraire; because it isn't all about man. The very matter of the universe is a mediator of consciousness in and of itself; consciousness permeates it at every level.)
In other words, the universe is third force. Material reality and its expression of consciousness is third force. To say that mankind is “third force blind” is to say that man does not understand his relationship to material reality and his own expression of consciousness. Instead of living within, of inhabiting, his awareness, he stands outside of it, in a peculiar separation from his natural place and state.
Jeanne de Salzmann was famous for asking pupils to see their lack. In doing so, what does our existence consist of, and where is our attention located in it? We have thought: the intellect, the thinking center; and we have matter, the material world, the “body” of the universe. We are usually just stuck in our thoughts. Or, we are gratifying the pleasures of the flesh, and what needs to take place is stopped in our bodies. The mind and the body–thought and matter–do not come together. Even if they do, something is missing; there ought to be a glue that holds all of this together, but it's not there.
What is it?
The driver shows up and climbs onto his carriage; but there is no horse. It has wandered off. The driver, impressed with his carriage, doesn't spend much time thinking about the fact that it can't go anywhere without a horse. After all, it's one terrific carriage.
All of this is a roundabout way of saying that what is lacking is feeling. The sensitivity of emotion that could connect our thinking process with the material of our aliveness is not present. We need to see our lack, to be in front of that question over and over again, and understand that the reconciling force–"the universe"–needs to be created in us.
It needs to be in movement.
It needs to be made of feeling.
In this way, we are responsible for the recapitulation, during our lifetime, of the entirety of Beelzebub's Tales To His Grandson. It is not just an allegorical tale about the universe and earth; it is a mirror in which the life of a single man, from birth to death, is reflected.
I respectfully ask you to take good care.