Thursday, February 16, 2012

The price of creation

The Crucifixion, Rogier van der Weyden
c. 1460
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Why are there laws? And why is there sorrow?

We are told, in Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, that the universe was created not out of desire, but out of necessity. There was simply no choice, if His Endlessness— God—was to overcome the inexorable influences of time.

Creating the universe out of necessity involves, by default, creating a universe where creatures arise and die. Suffering is an unavoidable byproduct of creation.

God knew this even at the very moment that He created the universe; and He fully understood the all the implications of this and the terrifying consequences He was taking upon himself, even as light first came into being. Gurdjieff gives us, unambiguously, a God of limitations; and in such as cosmology, even God has to pay—nothing comes for free. Christ Himself serves as the primary illustration of this principle.

 Creation put God in a position of responsibility relative to the universe—He became responsible for all of the suffering that was necessary. The laws governing the universe are, in part, a consequence of that responsibility. The relationship is governed by law, not by whimsy, and God has a responsibility to man—and every other sentient being—commensurate to the enormity of the position he has put them in. By law, he must offer help in this objectively desperate situation. And hence the laws that allow for the evolution of awareness. We are led out into the wilderness—but there is a thread tracing the way back.

God spends every moment of eternity pondering the struggle and suffering of his creation. He, like all the rest of creation, experiences remorse of conscience. This force, which Gurdjieff described at some length in his work, is another fundamental part of the universe. So the sorrow of His Endlessness is the fundamental and firmament of this remorse of conscience, which was born in God with creation, and can never be expunged. If freedom from suffering is, as the Buddha maintained, attainable—then the path to that freedom must lead through the remorse of Gurdjieff and Dante's purgatory.

 As particles of the divine, and mirrors of all creation, we are directly consequent and directly congruent to this universal property of remorse. In the same way that God is responsible for the birth and death of all creation, we become completely responsible for the birth and death of our own lives, and all of the action that takes place within them. The Buddhists would call this karma; it doesn't matter what name you put on it. It is a whole thing, and it belongs to the divine as certainly as the divine belongs itself. We are just as responsible as God. We are completely responsible; we are not just representatives. We are agents. We are sent here to take on our part.

 We forget the self; we forget responsibility. We are confused and stumble around, not knowing what remorse is, not seeing that it must penetrate a man, like his sensation, to the very bones. To the marrow. Only by becoming co-respondent, by corresponding, to the remorse of the universe within our own body, organically, can we begin to understand where we actually are.

Of course there is a horizontal action in all of this, and it encourages—nay, demands—that we participate. There is no escape from the horizontal action; but, as Krishna admonished Arjuna, one must never forget the vertical forces of which we are a part, and never forget that we have been invited to participate in them directly. We are not members of the audience in this passion play; we are the cast. And the passion play is not just a theater of man; it is a theater of planets and suns, of galaxies, and of the cosmos itself.

We must ponder the price that was paid for creation. The question is not apart from us and is not a theoretical one; we are living this question in these bodies. It is a question that we can ask with consciousness and love; we can ask it with compassion, with remorse, and with sobriety. It is an easy thing to be drunk on life, or drunk in bliss; it's more difficult to see where we are and how much it cost.

We might take things more seriously if we understood that properly.

I respectfully hope you will take good care.

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