Thursday, July 19, 2012

The essential flaw

In the post Notes on the Nature of Love, I mentioned that Man is unable to sense the totality of God's Love, leading to a great sorrow in God.

This particular question bears on a Truth of a greater magnitude. As Ibn Al Arabi explains, God has two aspects, both of which are real: a transcendental aspect, which is unknowable, and a material aspect, which is not only knowable but (at best, idiosyncratically) known. His understanding directly mirrors that of Dogen in discussing cause and effect (cf. chapter of the same name in the Shobogenzo.) Contrary to some spiritual doctrines (and errant Buddhists) , the material world is not illusory, as Dogen repeatedly reminds us: it cannot be ignored. It is as much a manifestation of the Dharma as that which is ineffable, unexpressed, and unknowable. The essential schism in understanding lies between the known (material reality and all of its infinite expressions of God, or, the Dharma) and the unknown. The known can never, in its entirety, completely know the unknown, even though each fraction of the known is a fragment of the unknowable (cf. Al Arabi, The Wisdom of Exaltation in the Word of Noah.)

This inability of consciousness (man) to know God is at the heart of the creation myth. We ought to remember first of all that the fall of man was inevitable; the story of Adam and Eve was both foreordained and demanded, an inevitable consequence of creation itself, in which all objects, events, circumstances and conditions inevitably arose from the one act of creation.

In the myth, created and [inherently polarized] reality (Adam and Eve) acquires the ability to discriminate, which automatically imposes limitations (polarity) on consciousness. This situation, directly generated by the infinitely fecund (hence, seductive)  properties of material reality (Eve) and inevitably acted on by the material property of impetus (Adam) precipitates an irreparable schism between God and the manifest results of His Creation. The schism is the ultimate source of every subsequent conflict in man's efforts to realign himself with God; a schism actually foreordained by God, and the inevitable result of creation itself. It isn't, in other words, an original sin; it's an original condition.

Gurdjieff's principle genius in understanding this question is revealed in his allegory of Purgatory (Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson) in which he not only symbolically recreates Eden on the Holy Planet Purgatory, but also populates it with the ultimate cosmological results of this eternal striving to return to the source of the Godhead; a striving which is, unfortunately, impossible. The consequent inexpressible anguish on both the part of God and His Creation forms the central feature in this landscape, perfectly mirroring the central tensions in Al Arabi's Bezels..

Without revealing the exact nature of the essential flaw—he was arch—Gurdjieff obliquely indicates that it's the separation itself. The entire allegory of Beelzebub centers around this fall from Grace; as does one of Gurdjieff's admonitions to his followers:

Use the present to repair the past and prepare the future.

The fabric of God Himself was rent asunder in creation. The action of His manifestations within material reality are all meant to undertake a return to God, yet that return is forever impossible. In His effort to maintain the place of His existence, God has been forced into the impossible (for God) position of becoming irreparably separated from Himself, as it were, having to cut one of His own limbs off to save Himself. The known "lower half" of God (man) is left with the task of struggling to reassemble the unknowable whole. In using the present to repair the past, man is not just asked to fix his own life and its flaws. His existence is actually meant to serve as a balm for this ultimate wound of the Lord; consciousness is meant to bind a sundered cosmos back together.  The required eternal action within the now is one of repair.

Not only that, we touch on an even more interesting Truth hidden here: God cannot remember Himself. Man's struggle to self-remember is a microcosmic reflection of God's own very intimate personal struggle to know Himself.

Given the extraordinary levels of philosophical discourse buried in its pages, we must presume that Gurdjieff's Beelzebub is likely far more than the author ever admitted it to be. At heart an extremely humble man (despite his apparent arrogance and bluster, almost all of it an act for the instruction of his pupils) Gurdjieff never openly revealed that Beelzebub is, in fact, a text of divine revelation on the same order as Al Arabi's The Bezels of Wisdom; a text not written, but received, and, with some necessary adjustments, transmitted in the same essential form it was given.

This explains why Gurdjieff more or less ended his writing career with this book; given its revolutionary nature, it was unique and not a reproducible phenomenon.

I respectfully hope you will take good care.

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