Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Time and Necessity
Less than three months ago, she was still alive. Aside from my own premonitory dream, there were no indications that she was about to die.
Blending seamlessly with the experience of standing there, knowing that the elemental remains of her body were under the earth in front of me, were the results of my numerous recent contemplations about the nature of incarnation and time.
We learn from the story of Christ–and other divine parables– that divinity repeatedly incarnates itself and is made manifest in the midst of man and his affairs. It seems like a special occasion; furthermore, it often seems, the way the story is told, as though it is a favor being done for us.
In fact, the incarnation of divinity is a necessity. The Divine must manifest in the midst of material reality; if there are any cosmological lessons to be learned from the vast expanse we traverse when reading Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, it is that the higher must repeatedly descend for contact with the lower. Not only do all the messengers who visit Earth to try and straighten mankind's affairs out do this; Beelzebub himself recapitulates the process over and over again during the course of the book.
The nature of existence and the flow of time required the creation of material reality, and required the manifestation of the Divine within it. All of this because of the nature of Time. Time inexorably consumes everything; As Gurdjieff tells it, only by balancing the relationship between divinity and time with the material universe was it possible to preserve the nature of divinity itself.
The entire Passion of Christ, in which he ultimately- and unconditionally- accepts his fate in the garden of Gethsemane represents an acknowledgment of the inevitability of incarnation and all its consequences. God accepts his own suffering through expression and material reality in order to make the universe whole. In His effort to overcome the destructive nature of Time, all of God is repeatedly and forever given to us in this sacrificial act of embodiment and, afterwards, surrender.
In examining the history of known religious avatars over the last three thousand years, no other single act has ever more fully recapitulated the relationship between the divine and man, or completely illustrated the functional nature of the cosmos in relation to its ongoing creation and destruction, than Christ's sacrifice. The passion does not belong to Christianity alone: incarnation and surrender are at the heart of the universal order, and Christ's action, on an esoteric level, describes not just the parameters of Christianity, but also that of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and every other legitimate religious practice.
The Divine incarnates in order to know itself, integrating both the understanding and actual process of time into Its own nature. In the original nature of the universe, before the establishment of the cosmos, Divinity and Time were opposed to one another in separation. A third force became necessary. The universe as we know it is that third force; and in its entirety, it is the complete expression of the Divine, manifest.
Matter is the eternal incarnation and reincarnation of living truth. Here we come close to touching on one of the overarching meanings of the Dharma.
Is this all theoretical? I think not. Go stand at the grave of a loved one, sense yourself, and contemplate.
We are all immediate and perpetual participants in this process; it is not an abstraction, but the immediate expression of every moment of our own lives. Our sensory tools– the body, thought, emotions– are specifically designed to collectively sense the nature of this question and our relationship to the whole.
These questions stand close to the nature of being-foods and the universal octave. They are also directly related to the Buddhist investigation of form and non-form. In order to visually clarify the relationship between Gurdjieff's enneagram, form, non-form, and the Dharma, I have created the following diagram
(click the link) which is directly related to the diagram of being-foods in the universe.
As readers will see, the enneagram provides a useful visual reference for the nature of relationship in the central questions of form and its meaning. This graphic should put to rest, in some ways, many of the questions about whether there is– or isn't– a form in spiritual work. The question is much like the beginning of a Persian fairy tale: there is a form, and there isn't a form. Both of these things are true, and both are quite necessary.
But there is also something else.
We talk about Time, the Merciless Heropass, as though it were somewhere else, and us not already in it. We talk about the Divine as though it were something other than ourselves, and the universe as we encounter it.
Yet here we are, right now, in this very moment in the middle of everything– right at the heart of the action.
I respectfully ask you to take good care.