Saturday, July 21, 2012

Notes on the Nature of Conscience

Certainly, we've been given descriptions by Gurdjieff of what conscience is.

But why does conscience exist? What's it for? And what is it about the awakening of conscience that makes it so indispensable to the development of right impulses and right relationship in man?

This question is related to the nature of things. Conscience is, in its totality, the summation of all the feeling-perception a man or woman can have about the world they inhabit.

Since the essential purpose of man is to act as a perceiving organ for God, the action of conscience is the perception-in-totality of everything that can be sensed within the context of the "individual universe" manifested by a particular human being.

There are two kinds of real conscience that can be sensed by a human being. One is conscience-earned, conscience arising, ultimately, as the result of what Gurdjieff called conscious labor and intentional suffering. The other is conscience-given: conscience as bestowed directly on a human being through the action of Grace.

 The first kind of conscience is a known conscience; the conscience or feeling-perception of everything that is known. This conscience, knowing itself, embraces and contains the world. This type of conscience, which comprehensively embraces specific objects, is the aim of the Gurdjieff method. It constitutes a wholly valid, yet contingent, fractal expression of Being-Feeling arising within the comprehensive form of God.

The second kind of conscience is the conscience of all that is unknown; and this conscience is quite different, because within it, all knowing is dispensed with in favor of a knowing that contains all and everything, yet is empty of the world. This is an unattached [uncontingent] conscience, because its action is Divine and thus utterly free of specific objects. [Perhaps Gurdjieff was consciously alluding to this second type of conscience when he assigned Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson the alternate title of All and Everything.]

Confusion between these two types of conscience-experience probably accounts for many of the doctrinal differences between disciplines that claim there is, or is not, a silence, transcendent rapturous void, or nothingness from which everything emerges and into which everything returns.

Both types of conscience are manifestations of God (as all things are manifestations of God) but they aren't equal manifestations of God. Of the two, the latter is of the higher order, because it is a descendant impulse from God, rather than an ascendant one. The ascendant impulse, however, has the power to attract its sibling form, and, unlike conscience-given, lies within the ability of man's effort to produce.

One consequence of conscience is the understanding that all things contain all events within them. The experience of conscience, whether earned or given, reveals the singular Truth that all events and circumstances wholly contain all other events and circumstances within them. This can be sensed either consciously or unconsciously, according to level. Thus a wave, or a grain of sand, contains all of the history of the cosmos—and God—within it, but is unable to sense this. Yet a human being can sense exactly this, if conscience functions properly. This is the point at which the sensation of the sacred becomes a specific, rather than hypothetical, action. And it is also the point at which God knows himself within the action of his subordinates or servants.

It's probably a difficult idea to ingest and digest, but consider the idea, for example, that green leaves or a wave on the beach contain all the actions of the holocaust in them. They are irrevocably bound together in the absolute expression of reality; one not only implies, but requires, the other. Unknowingly, all of material reality participated in, participates in, and will continue to participate in this whole relationship. It may imply contradiction (how can beauty and death be the same thing?) yet a human being can both perceive and resolve that contradiction, through conscience.

I respectfully hope you will take good care.

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