Friday, June 28, 2013

The enneagram in ancient art

 While the enneagram itself was hidden from mankind for thousands of years, we can glean some inferences as to just how long ago it was originally discovered and used in esotericism by taking a look at some of the imagery from the earliest cultures we know of.

Below is a picture of an Achaemenian  seal, sixth century BC, showing "Gilgamesh" holding two winged lions or griffins in symmetrically flanking position. (The next 4 images, and the image of three-centered work, are taken from Thomas McEvilley's The Shape of Ancient Thought, a book you absolutely should not be without, at the low, low kindle or price of $3.03! This work is also available at a very low price in the apple bookstore for iPad.)

 Here's another version, this one from Mohenjo Daro,  a city in the Indus River Valley civilizations which is probably approximately 5000 — and perhaps even more — years old.

A Sumerian seal impression yield similar imagery.

Yet another example from Mohenjo-Daro gives us a yogi in the lotus position, flanked by two sets of forces marked by the elemental serpents who curl over them.

 Another fascinating variation on this heraldic device, used in a somewhat different form to depict a  highly elaborated chakra diagram, is found on the walls of the Northwest palace of Ashurnasirpal at Nimrud (present day Iraq,) circa 859 B.C.

This type of imagery is still with us today.

This typical heraldic motif, which we recognize in innumerable variations up through present time, clearly originated in ancient esoteric schools. The original meaning, which is easier to see in the early variations, specifically shows a human being — often interpreted as a hero, or a king — standing between two forces.

Understanding this interpretation is especially important, because it specifically relates to the inner work that Jeanne de Salzmann brought to her pupils during the 20th century as she deepened and broadened the understanding of the "forgotten" work Gurdjieff originally introduced to the West. The symbol shows a human being between two sets of forces, acting as the intermediary. Even more important, the  interaction between the human being in the arms of the animals indicates an interplay of forces; this, also, as a particular aspect of inner work that de Salzmann often mentions in her notes.

It's entirely appropriate to understand the figure standing between the griffins as a hero, but it's equally important to understand that he represents a Yogi: an individual who has dedicated their inner life to the mastery of the path of the Yogi.

When I first encountered this image, the lines of force and the way they were arranged struck me. A few minutes later, I was looking at the following image rendered in Photoshop. 

  The image not only shows the law of three in action; its geometrical construction clearly follows the law, and the arms and legs of the figures map out the relationship of forces depicted in the enneagram. It is, furthermore, a direct illustration of the principle of standing between the higher and the lower, as is necessary in inner work. As such, images of this kind serve as a form of objective art: they embody an esoteric language that can only be understood by initiates, but have a broad appeal to those with no such ideas. In this manner, images of this kind can be passed down for centuries without the essential information being destroyed.

It turns out that the bas-relief from the palace of Nimrud is equally interesting when the enneagram is laid over it.

In both cases, it appears that an underlying structure related to Gurdjieff's diagram exists. Even more interesting, in this diagram, the positions occupied by the conscious shocks are represented by small buckets, or vessels, that is to say, containers for receiving something.

This image bears a direct relationship to a remarkable seal from a 4,000 year old Mesopotamian seal:

The figure on the right hand side bears a serpent on their head, unambiguously symbolizing the movement of higher energy from the top of the head down the spine; due to the repeat of the cylinder, the image is effectively bracketed by intertwined serpents, the traditional ancient emblem of kundalini forces. 

Most important, however, is the vessel the right-hand figure holds in one hand; identical to the vessels held by the figures from Nimrud, it clearly indicates that the person holding it is to be understood as a receiver of higher energies

This particular seal shows three-centered work, with the three centers well defined by individual characteristics. (The first two are intellectual center, indicated by the elaborate costume, and moving center, marked by its wordlessly graphic simplicity. Our right hand "kundalini yogi" represents emotional center, now open to a feeling quality of a higher nature.) Intellect and moving center hold hands, symbolizing the need for the mind-body connection, and subtly referring to a connection with sensation. These three centers are the servants of a higher authority, under planetary, or astral, influences. For me, it seems hard to imagine how a clearer or more concise illustration of Gurdjieff's fundamental principles could be achieved.

Another example of the enneagram concealed within an artistic symbol comes to light much later, during the Northern renaissance in the art of Hieronymus Bosch: The mysterious magus on the right side of the central panel neatly summarizes the positions of the notes, and shock, on the diagram. The indications are that the school Bosch studied in must have been familiar with the diagram, or a version of it.

The implications are that unrecognized understandings from esoteric schools have been influencing art for many thousands of years. There are traces everywhere; one simply needs to know where to look.

One final note. Webb's contention (see The Harmonious Circle) that Gurdjieff's enneagram is somehow derived from Kirchner's 17th century images is, in my eyes, nothing short of ludicrous. A contention of this nature can only be offered by those who don't understand the diagram properly, and who consequently believe that somehow all esoteric works are created equal. 

I'll have more to say on that in my upcoming book on the enneagram and inner work, which focuses on absolutely practical understandings of the diagram in relation to our inner search for Being.

 For now, let's just note that the enneagram depicts principles and interactions that can't in any way be conveyed by Kirchener's sadly static sets of triads, or the Tree of Life. 

May your soul be filled with light.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The wisdom of desire

In examining the octave of desire, we can understand that there are levels of desire that arise according to the inherent nature of the notes in the enneagram. That is to say, there is not one kind of desire; desire has levels, like all other forces.

In the octave of desire, when desire materializes as a crystallization of the absolute, or name of God, it has dropped into the material world and is subject to its forces, like all other material manifestations. Separated from God, its instinctive nature is to return — as is lawful in all iterations of any octave.

Because of its distance from the divine, and its low rate of vibration in its material manifestation, this aspect of desire — let us call it the sacred aspect — is buried. Another way of viewing it is that because of its low rate of vibration, its intelligence is dispersed across such a wide range of objects, events, circumstances, and conditions that it cannot exercise any aim. Under these conditions, at the first note, Re, we can say that all it is able to exercise is what we call urge, which is desire in its animal form.

Moving to the note Mi, desire has doubled its rate of vibration—it has become more concentrated, as Jeanne de Salzmann might say—and understands to a greater degree its need to return to the source. Because the return to the source of its arising is deeply linked to a procreative force, it gives rise to the sexual impulse, and, in mankind, is lust. This is a urge with a much greater degree of force. Nonetheless, it still hasn't acquired an intelligence helpful in directing it.

The third note in the octave of desire is Fa, representing power. In man, the word we use for this is avidity. It is a grasping quality that wants to acquire for itself. This form of desire is entirely lawful within the constraints of the right side of the diagram, where materiality and ego dominate. The word avidity was at first not used much in the Gurdjieff work, but it has enjoyed a minor renaissance since the translators of Jeanne de Salzmann's diaries used it in The Reality of Being. 

And, really, it is the perfect word to describe where we are, where we find ourselves, on the octave of desire. This penetrating observation touches deeply on the Buddhist point of view of man's weaknesses, our grasping nature. But the diagram allows us to position it quite precisely in the development of an inner octave.

So the three stages of materiality in the octave of desire are urge, lust, and avidity. Only when materiality acquires a direction, and then an intelligence, through the shock of conscious labor (always, let us remember, imparted by assistance from a higher energy) can it evolve to the level of Sol, the sun, in which it acquires Being. This is the point in the octave of desire it which wish can become known, because it is the moment where desire emerges from the inexorable mechanical forces of the natural world and enters Swedenborg's spiritual realm.

This level of desire, wish, creates an entirely new relationship in which intentional suffering can enter the action. The level is now under the influence of the sun. Gurdjieff referred to this moment in work as the action of a second order cosmic law under the name of the sacred ‘Aieioiuoa.’ 

His comments, found on page 132 of Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, are as follows: 

"This cosmic law may be expressed thus: everything arising, large or small, when in direct touch with the “emanations” of the Sun Absolute itself or of any other son, undergoes a process called "remorse," during which each of its parts, issuing from the results of one of the holy sources of the sacred Triamazikamno, "revolts" as it were, and "criticizes" the former unbecoming perceptions in the manifestations taking place at the moment in another part of its whole — apart issuing from the results of another holy source of the same fundamental sacred law of Triamazikamno.”

This remorse is the action of purification of desire, which takes place at the note La. And it is only through this action that desire can acquire wisdom.

When we reach the higher levels of inner work, it's difficult to define the forces that the notes on the octave of desire represent. However, it seems quite likely that desire actually becomes a form of humility at this particular note. That is to say, it is a desire that moves away from the ego, rather than towards it. This makes some sense, because in traveling around the perimeter of the diagram, we see that the forces moving up the left side of the diagram trend, in a hierarchical scale, away from the manifestation of ego and towards the surrender of it.

I leave it to the reader to try to understand what the note Si, which would represent the wisdom of desire, may mean. But this should be the goal that a man seeks within himself; the wisdom of his force of desire. 

 Gurdjieff’s statement about a man needing to have his non-desires prevail over his desires relates to this question. Perhaps the wisest of desires extinguish themselves voluntarily? 

Worth pondering.

May your soul be filled with light.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The most elemental quality

 It might be worthwhile to discuss materiality and its place in the whole system.

Those who have studied my interpretations of the enneagram relative to the chakras and the Names of God will know that this quality of materiality appears as the note Re in the development of the octave. The position is exact, and occupies the philosophical and cosmological position indicated by both Ibn Arabi and Swedenborg as foundational.

This is because materiality is the fundamental premise upon which manifestation of the names of God and of Being is placed. Materiality arises as a receiving vessel for the influences from higher levels; this is exactly how Swedenborg describes it, and the entire cosmology Ibn Arabi presents us with is dependent on this understanding as well. It's one thing to speak of the body as a vessel for receiving; and indeed, I have often done this. But one needs to develop an inner capacity to see that the entire state of material reality is a vessel for receiving.

 At its fundament, in its elemental nature, materiality has a sweetness at its root, and this sweetness is formed by the divine influence. When Rumi spoke of musk, he spoke of this scent of sweetness that under certain circumstances can be physically smelled by the senses. It permeates all of reality like perfume, because it is the influence of divine love, and as a higher influence, it permeates all of the higher senses with its perfection of Being. That perfection of being can only be expressed through sweetness. Indeed, the sweetness of fruits, with their perfumed aroma, is a corresponding manifestation of divine love from higher level. Flowers, which are so commonly used to represent the chakras, are equally important expression of this sweetness.

Because divine love permeates everything, this sweetness can be found with a everything to varying degree. There are times when the sweetness is hidden, and not expressed in an outer form; and there are times when the outer form itself is the embodiment of the sweetness, as with this peony in the photograph. The sweetness — which can be sensed with the outer senses under certain circumstances, with the influence of a higher energy arising — also expresses itself to the inner senses, which are very different senses. Gurdjieff referred to these as the six organs which are receivers of varying vibrations, talked about in the last chapter of Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, "From the Author."

 It might be dangerous to try to assign the understanding of the inner senses to specific organs, because the inner senses have a capacity to express themselves in a wide variety of ways that transcend the traditional, and perhaps somewhat limited, system of chakras. Under the right energetic circumstances the chakras expand to encompass receiving mechanisms and expressive mechanisms that don't fit into the traditionally depicted systems. But that is another question; and it doesn't take place except under specific kinds of influences which, it must be admitted, are not frequently active on this level.

To the extent that we develop a spiritual receptivity — which is forever blended with these lower parts that do not have much of it — so, also, do we begin to taste the sweetness at the heart of life, which is the most elemental quality that can be sensed by human beings on this level. I use the word elemental because it has a vibrational quality that is irreducible, that is, it is like gold. Once you have it, it cannot be refined any further.

Materiality, in its entirety, is designed to receive this sweetness, which is the original manifestation of love that creates materiality, a vibration that is present within every material arising — every object, event, circumstance, and condition. Even the worst and most objectively awful conditions for human beings still contain the sweetness. The fact that we manage to turn it into something it should not be is no fault of God's, but only our own.

 Awareness of our materiality also becomes a foundational element in our work. In Gurdjieff's system, his movements are the fundamental expression of our materiality, and represent, in some ways, a starting point for the acknowledgment of the idea that we are, that we exist. This acknowledgment of existence  constitutes a certain formal awareness, and is the beginning of the path towards understanding the sweetness that lies at the heart of Being.

 may your soul be filled with light.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Gravity and Avidity

The author, on a visit to his sister's grave, May 26 2013

We rarely try to equate cosmic forces with what takes place in our inner lives, yet there must be a relationship. If the universe is really a fractal entity, as most of the great cosmologies argue, then the relationship between the acquisition of impressions within me that form my inner solar system and the action of gravity on matter must have a relationship to one another.

I've mentioned on a number of occasions that Emanuel Swedenborg was a prominent scientist as well as a mystic — in fact, one of the most extraordinary scientists of any generation, a fact that seems to be forgotten today. He was, among other things, the first person to explain that planets form from dust clouds around suns, through a process of gravitational accretion.

Gravity has an accretive property. It draws things to itself; we might call it a "grasping" force. Of all the forces in the universe, it is perhaps the least understood in terms of its fundamental structural nature, even though we can easily see its actions as they take place. No one can "show you" gravity, although no one would argue that it exists.  Although Einstein did a pretty good job of suggesting what it is, physically — that is, a place where space deforms — exactly what it represents in terms of cosmological phenomena remains generally open to question.

I'm just having fun here, thinking about this, so readers should understand that these are highly allegorical thoughts. However, if matter begins with an “urge” within the octave of desire, one might call that urge the tendency of things to bind together. 

In a sense, having completely separated from the divine, the first instinct that all particulate matter has is to seek partnership with other particles. This is an automatic and mechanical effort to rebuild towards an energetic state that puts God back together, metaphorically speaking. We are speaking of the reassembly of the severed limbs of Osiris, lived out on an atomic scale.

These particles — which form elements — then have a “lust” for one another, a tendency to bind together and form an enormously wide variety of minerals and complex mixtures of gas. This allegorically procreative act creates substances that attract one another and can eventually accrete into planets, which then, having formed a powerful gravitational attraction, draw more and more matter into themselves.

One might then suggest that when a planet crosses over the line into Being, it forms an intelligence, which then has a wish to become a sun. This is much like what Gurdjieff’s description of cosmological processes consisted of. Gurdjieff’s universe of suns as residences of divinity, with a Sun Absolute as the highest such location, provides a link between the idea of the evolution of matter towards divinity and this question of the evolution of desire.

According to Swedenborg, all of these natural processes are merely mirrors of spiritual or heavenly processes, which are so much brighter and more enlightened than natural processes that they are as darkness to light. He insists, in fact, that our entire universe is what one might call a dark reflection of the heavenly realm. 

Can this relate to questions about dark matter in the universe? I don't know, but it's worth playing around with. The intention here is not to try and prove that spiritual matters have scientific foundations; in fact—LOL!—the idea is actually the other way around. A lot of energy is put into "defending" religion against science, with science demanding that religion show off its scientific proofs, or go home in shame, but what if religion, for once, put science on the defensive and argued — as Swedenborg so definitely did — that all of science, as it is, without any alterations or fiddling about, is actually the manifestation of a spiritual nature? 

In this case, science is an entirely valid, yet lower and subordinate practice. 

Applying Swedenborg's doctrine of correspondences (see the above link), one need not apply bogus creationist arguments in order to validate one’s religious ideas. His liberating ideas on this matter are just as forgotten as his extraordinary scientific skills.

Swedenborg himself insisted that those who preferred to believe in God as being manifest throughout all of the natural universe misunderstood the case, and that all this was just an endless extension of naturalism, rather than a movement into the higher, spiritual realm. Ibn Arabi most certainly would've agreed with him on that particular argument.

I leave it to readers to ponder these questions. Gravity acts both on planets and within us. We draw the impressions of our lives into us with an action that is akin to gravity. 

One last thought. Avidity is related in one way or another to magnetic center. The problem with it is that it is connected to an outer action, rather than an inner one. That is to say, it attaches to materials, instead of becoming a force that draws life into itself in order to grow a seed that can attract the inward flow of higher energies. 

So when we discuss forces of attraction, be they outer things or magnetic center, the forces of gravity and avidity need to be considered.

May your soul be filled with light.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Accepting life graciously

Grace forms a center of gravity and us, insofar as it is given; and if we accept life graciously, it means that we accept life from within this center of gravity.

Life falls into us. Either there is a center of gravity to receive it, or there isn't. Anything that does not come into our center of gravity and encounter the spark of divinity which creates us does not really form much of an impression in us. The effect is for the most part superficial, and can lead nowhere.

I know of forces that can help my center of gravity, that would cause my impressions to be received more deeply; there are special names for them, such as Compassion, Mercy, and Love. But naming them diminishes the experience of them; and it is the tactile, sensate experience of them that must be engaged if the center of gravity is to grow.

So I come into my life each day with my attention focused on my sensation, and in the vibrations of the body itself, its manifestation in this life. 

Into this tangible field of energy come the impressions of life, the interactions that I encounter: as I call them, the objects, events, circumstances, and conditions.

I need to stay close to myself and remember that these are a sandstorm, a whirlwind; that they can distract me from my mission, which is to sense who I am and where I am. If I don't remember myself, I have no strength to resist these influences. And it's only by resisting these influences through the action of attention and sensation that I can put myself in line to come under higher  influences.

Alchemical systems are good, but they are only thought systems; and I must put my attention within the active, living systems of emotions and the body, not just the hypothetical conditions that the mind so often supports.

To accept life graciously is to accept death graciously; and this is the death of what I am now, in order that I might open to something new. The death of the body, which obsesses me, is in fact trivial compared to this question. It's strange, because the death of the body belongs only to the material; and the death of the mortal soul, a far more serious matter, is always a real danger in the midst of these influences.

To live within life is to move towards death; to move always towards the unknown, which emanates from a source I cannot understand.

May your soul be filled with light.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The sensation of life

After nearly 2 years since my sister's death, I've had ample time to contemplate the nature of life and death as we know it — or, as it happens, don't know it.

We are as ephemeral as clouds in the sky, but we don't understand this. Each life is consumed with the conviction that it is indelible. Yet, ironically, in the midst of this conviction, we desperately struggle to do everything we can to preserve life.

We believe that the life of the physical body is paramount; societies, for the most part, treat death as a tragedy, rather than a necessary thing. On the whole, we spend far more time on health food crazes, medical advice, and dubious procedures than we do on spiritual practice.

I can no longer see how death is a bad thing. This is a truth we must live with; that was my first inner reaction to my sisters death, and it has not changed much in the last two years. Most of us wants to avoid this truth; the personality doesn't like the idea in the least. But there is some understanding in the essence, I think, of what death is; and, as strange as it may sound, the essence looks forward to it.

The essence in man, if it forms rightly, is destined for greater things. And the purpose of life is to form a spiritual practice that prepares us for that. Where is the recognition of that in an effort to cling to life?

We are only in these bodies for a brief time; yet, although we claim that our "civilization" has "advanced,"it's clear enough that people understood this fact much better in the Middle Ages that we do today. At that time, death was a more immediate presence, with less technological tools to fend it off. We see a consequent depth of religious practice in those times that is lost today. If you believe in your own death, you prepare for it; but all we believe in is life. That is, we believe in the materiality of life — the note re— and the desire and power that it implies. We are not inclined to move past that into being, purification, and wisdom, which is what the soul needs on its journey from this life into the next.

We need to know the sensation of this life in order to know death. The true sensation of this life contains death; who knows this well? The man or woman who knows this well knows what God knows; and is drawn deeper into themselves, into their sensation, to examine this question and its consequences carefully.

In the granting of each life, a responsibility has been conferred; and it is to look through the body, into the soul. In doing so, we move towards the heart of the matter; and it is the only real medicine available for us.

May your soul be filled with light.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

In this moment

I get the dangerously mistaken impression that I know what my inner work is.

I have an experience and I write about it; or I just remember it, and carry it around. In any event, these experiences begin to look like fixed things that express a truth that is not changing in every moment. But in fact, each moment is different, and each moment requires a unique response. There wouldn't be a need for inner freedom if there were a fixed response that worked in each situation.

So what I write down, and what flows through time and life, is always changing. What I say now is true for now; and yet it is only a single instance of the arising of truth. Truth has an infinite quality, and everything that arises is a part of truth; each truth is unique; each truth is a name of God. So if I attempt to use my predetermined form to interpret the truth constantly, instead of adapting at every moment to the truth of that moment, then the form turns life into a fixed thing, and it cannot find a relationship with truth.

This aspect of eternal unfolding, with a unique quality to every instance, every object, event, circumstance, and condition, is inherent. That is to say, it is the condition

There is a difference between interpretation and inhabitation. Generally, because I always use my thinking to try and understand, I am interpreting. Yet what would be far more helpful to my inner work is to inhabit, which means to live within, not to apply a form to.

Interpretation brings with it a kind of agitation. Once it begins, its fixed nature causes it to become instantly out of synchronization with the active and living nature of the Dharma. Every action after the first act of interpretation becomes one of adjustment, in which I try to fit everything into my interpretation. These events multiply over time, because the more that time passes, the more that my interpretation is out of alignment with the truth of the moment. It veers off the tracks and goes further and further off, until it disappears into a distance where I am frantically scrambling to adjust everything to fit it. Does that sound familiar? Maybe, for example, what the experience of life is usually like?

Inhabitation is quite different. 

I am just here. Everything is simpler. There are a lot of questions, but they are attached to what is happening now, and I can see that I don't ever really know what is happening now. I can be with myself now; but I can't know what now is. I can be still, because in the face of this unknowing, the need for agitated adjustments of one kind or another falls off. It becomes apparent that I can't adjust anything.

But I can be here. 

In my imagination, I frequently fantasize about having control over things, but although this is an amusing way to occupy the mechanical mind, it doesn't lead anywhere compassionate or loving. A real feeling relationship with my inner self begins to understand that there ought to be a relationship with, not control over, life. One of the classic bête noires of science fiction, horror novels, and ancient myths is the desire of the magician or scientist to have power over life itself; and yet, in the end, this always ends badly, even in the cartoon superhero movies of today's world. Somehow, there is an instinctive part of man that has not atrophied yet that senses how wrong this is. Yet although we can understand it within the vehicle of our popular culture and our storytelling, we only understand it outwardly. When it comes to the actual institutions that drive our society, we don't see that they are consistently falling prey to the very weaknesses our storytelling warns us about. And because these institutions are a reflection of who we are within our inner life, they can be no better than we are as individuals.

There is an interview on film with Jeanne de Salzmann in which she comments about the groups in two different countries which she worked with over the course of her life. She said that one nationality was easier to work with than another, because the first was always trying to understand how to work, whereas the second one thought that they already knew how

So she understood quite well — and left as her gift to us — an understanding that the inner work must be a flexible one that changes constantly in response to its surroundings. 

This change must be a sensitive change, rooted in sensation, which uses intuition and feeling to respond. In essence, this is exactly what Zen masters were trying to teach — and she, although she was born in France and the product of her culture and her times — was a true Zen master in this regard.

May your soul be filled with light.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Emanations and remorse

 One of the more interesting passages in Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson is the cryptic remark that Gurdjieff makes  in Chapter 17:

... every arising, large or small, when in direct touch with the emanations of the sun absolute itself or of any other sun undergoes a process called "remorse," during which each of its parts, issuing from the results of one of the holy sources of the sacred Triamazikamno, "revolts" as it were, and "criticizes" the former unbecoming perceptions and the manifestations taking place at the moment in another part of its whole — a part issuing from the results of another holy source of the same fundamental sacred law..."

  Remorse is not something I do, or a work I can undertake. It is the consequence of a force, a material, that is received, and all that one can do is prepare oneself in the hopes that one may receive this substance. Its action is sublime; and its action, as well as all of its consequences, belongs to the higher, not to anything it expresses itself in. We are only alive in the sense that we receive life; and we are only remorseful in the sense that we receive remorse. Real remorse isn't possible without these actions, these emanations, of a solar nature.

All of the ordinary remorse in life has little to do with this particular sensation; it is a mirror, nothing more. The living presence of inner remorse—remorse attached to an  inner, rather than outer, action— is a different thing.

I cite the above passage as cryptic simply because one may not understand, that is, organically sense, specifically what Gurdjieff was getting at when he said this. Like most of the book, it comes across as theoretical — even though it is anything but. Gurdjieff has stated here one of the principal aims of inner work — to open to forces of a higher nature that can effect a transformation in Being. Under the influence of the sun absolute or another sun, such transformation may be possible. Under all of the influences I invent for myself or seek for myself, it is not.

This idea of receiving is critical. I can't do anything. My belief that I am going to work or do this, that, or the other thing is dwarfed in the presence of what is Real. If I wish to encounter the Real, I first have to know that what I believe in, what I assume, is not Real. It exists; but to exist and to Be are two different things. Rocks and slugs and guinea pigs exist. Only human beings have the capacity to Be.

Yet where is this capacity, except in the latency of the self which can receive? I try 10,000 things; and yet when what comes, comes, it is not mine, and I didn't try to get it.

Everything that I try to get — that is the problem.

These "unbecoming perceptions" that Gurdjieff remarks on in our cryptic passage are exactly those perceptions. They are unbecoming because they don't lead towards Being; they are selfish and self-involved. These are the kinds of actions that Gurdjieff spoke of when he mentioned actions and thoughts "unbecoming to three brained beings." Our three parts have the capacity to engage in a much higher kind of feeling activity, but they are basically clueless about it.

The Lord have Mercy prayer is one of the most effective prayers in this journey, which consists almost entirely of waiting patiently, without any meddling, and with a good attention.

 May your soul be filled with light.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Joy of the Lord will Prevail

You'll recall that in The Holy Planet Purgatory, we're told that His Endlessness makes a practice of putting in an appearance from time to time to alleviate the suffering of the higher being-bodies that reside there.

This allegory need not be so far away, on another planet... or, if you prefer, the planet this takes place on is quite accessible to me. It is the very planet I inhabit, insofar as I am willing to submit to forces of a higher nature. All of the characteristics of the Holy planet purgatory are the exact characteristics of where I am now, insofar as a higher energy acts within me.

That is to say, the Lord puts in appearances from time time to time in all of us; He is not a foreign presence.

When we say the Joy of the Lord, we mean, all of creation, everything that is. This is the whole of the manifested universe.

By Joy is meant Perfection, since Perfection is inherent throughout creation.
By Joy is meant Mercy, because the Mercy of the Lord rules above all other forces.
By Joy is meant Generosity, because the gift is unlimited.

When we say it prevails, we mean that it prevails within itself through the act of Being. This is actually the action of the dharma, that is, Truth, which is directly manifest by the nature of its prevailing. It cannot be avoided.

By prevailing is meant no resistance, that is to say, no force can stop it: and this is the essential nature of Truth.
By prevailing is meant not mine, that is to say, a higher Will has become manifest which is not my own: and I surrender to it.
By prevailing is meant peace, since the sins of the world are taken away.

I cannot do these things. But the meaning of the prayer  thy will be done is exactly this meaning.

All of these actions are inner actions that manifest within Being, and need to be understood that way. Understandings that attempts to relate them to outer action confuse the question of Joy of the Lord with what takes place on this level. Outer action is simply what takes place; and that which is attached to it does not come from a higher level, it comes from this level. Although it is meant to lawfully blend with what comes from a higher level, confusing it as part of a higher level — or thinking that it can invoke a higher level — is mistaken; of itself, this outer action is at a low rate of vibration; coarse, we might say. The Joy of the Lord, which affects the inner rate of vibration, is a quite different thing that is unattached.

 We stand between these two levels, but the receiving of the Joy of the Lord creates the possibility whereby this force may become manifest through our outer action — yet only to the extent that the inner action of this Joy informs us.

 Knowing organically, through Presence, that these forces exist, perhaps we are encouraged to be fearless in both our practice and our life.

 May your soul be filled with light.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Joy of The Lord

Readers who have, over the years, followed my many carefully constructed essays regarding the nature of Joy and Sorrow may find some of this confusing. It's important to understand not only the relationship of Joy and Sorrow; it's also necessary at this point to expound on the nature of Joy as it exists within the Divine, which is a somewhat different question.

It is said from on high that the Joy of the Lord will prevail.

This extremely current message is especially important in these times, because many things are taking place that seem quite awful.

Yet we're sent an understanding, from a higher level, that the Joy of the Lord is utterly invincible.

This Joy is forever everywhere, existing at all times and in all places. It is in every object, event, circumstance, and condition, because each of these arising phenomena—no matter what we may think— is constructed wholly of Love.

Human beings are made as exquisite receptors of Love. We are capable of receiving Love not just within the often narrow range of our conventional emotional or average intellectual experience, but within a much wider range of senses which might be called 'extrasensory' but are actually just sensory—yet, paradoxically, unsensed. Even our cells—especially our cells themselves- are designed for the sensing of Love, of this higher energy, and they perhaps above all have a very fine intelligence capable of understanding (in a way that we, in the gross sense of ourselves, often perversely don't!) the absolutely divine nature of this energy.

There is no greater responsibility incumbent upon us than to have an unwavering faith in this Love and to prepare ourselves perpetually to receive this Love. It is the greatest wish of the Lord that we prepare for this, because He perpetually emanates Love in abundance and would like nothing better for us than to ensure we receive it.

All inner work is ultimately preparation to put ourselves in the service of this force. All of the work of receiving an influence, of receiving a higher energy, must be directed at preparing ourselves for the influence, the inflow, of this energy, which is of a very fine quality and a different level of vibration than anything we usually know. In the end, it is not the psychological state... the state of mind... that the energy produces which matters, but the entire state. A direct relationship is possible. But it isn't my relationship within myself, because nothing of this order belongs to me. And I am truly confused about this, because the Joy of the Lord is, for the most part, not a known thing to me.

The Joy of the Lord will prevail because the Love of the Lord will prevail; and it is inevitable, because it is inherent. It is only whether or not I can be open to it that's in question.

The nature of Joy is the essential nature of the relationship between the Reality and creation, because the essential nature of the Reality (which is ultimately unknowable) reaches, or touches, creation through the manifestation of Love, which is characterized first and foremost by Joy. The relationship with the Divine cannot, at its essential heart, be anything other than Joyful.

The reason we find ourselves in a place of suffering and sorrow has a great deal to do with our state of separation; and the reason we are here is for the purposes of purification, that is, the elimination of that which is not fully in relationship with the Divine. Gurdjieff's allegory of the Holy Plant Purgatory is all about this; and de Salzmann's entire work of purifying the emotions also relates to this question.

More on this in the next post.

May your soul be filled with light.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The enneagram, by the book

I've explained on a number of occasions that the development of energy in the enneagram depends in large part on the development of the octaves of energy within the individual centers.

According to Ouspensky, Gurdjieff specifically developed a version of the enneagram showing the centers. This intimates the idea of the centers being applied directly to the notes on the diagram—as I have explained in my numerous essays on the centers and their relationship to the chakras.

Each center encompasses its own octave. The extent to which each center develops within its own octave has a great deal to do with the possibilities an individual can express. This iteration of notes within subordinate octaves is precisely what gives us Gurdjieff's 27 types

More importantly, perhaps, we can see that if an individual developed in even one center to the degree of Sol, La, or Si, this would produce a yogi of extraordinary powers, one who stood apart from other men. 

This would not, however, be enough of itself, because it's only with a balanced development of each subordinate octave that the kind of stable inner evolution Gurdjieff taught can take place. 

Jeanne de Salzmann understood this, and explains it in some detail in section 86 of The Reality of Being:

"In order to provoke a stop, suffering is necessary so that a third force can appear. Then the attention becomes a voluntary — I wish not to be taken, I wish to remain free. at this very moment I feel I must have the freedom to be. I experience a will for freedom. The degree of this will of the attention produces an opening of my body to a finer energy. Everything depends on this opening. I need to feel the energy in my mind and in my body simultaneously with the same force. My attention needs to last and not diminish."

" All the centers are involved. If one reaches fa,  it can draw the others toward fa. all the centers must be in front of the interval for the intensity of vibration to increase. The relation between the centers is the shock necessary to pass the interval, which will never be passed without it. In our working on this relation, a force appears, and we then feel a vibration that opens the door to a different level." (The Reality of Being, page 185.)

In this section, she is speaking specifically of this development of the subordinate octaves on the right side of the enneagram, each one of which ought to develop to the note fa in order for all three of them to be able to pass to sol on the left side. This is a significant part of what harmonious development is all about. Significantly, she associates this particular action with a certain kind of will — that is to say, power, which is exactly what the note fa represents in its essence.

Perhaps more interesting, she goes on to explain that this level of development constitutes a new level of Being- exactly as it should, given the meaning of the note Sol relative to the actual forces, or influences, affecting each note, as detailed by the Names of God and their relationship to the diagram. The note Sol, after all, "means" Being. It represents the moment at which real "I" is formed.

Here we come to the crux of the matter, because at this point she advises us as follows:

"In proceeding further with the octave, the question of the second conscious shock can appear only when I have been consciously present for a sufficiently long time. In this effort of Presence, my feeling warms up and is transformed. It purifies itself, and my emotions become positive." (ibid.) (Italics here are mine.)

Here she specifically indicates that the next step- the note la- is one of purification, exactly as the diagram must read based on the iteration of influences at each note.

The need to understand the diagram as an abstract of inner relationships and inner movement is, of course, essential—as is the need to understand that these relationships are not linear and do not by default follow the traditional channels and paths as shown in yoga, tai chi, and other practices. Only the enneagram provides an accurate, if two dimesional, model of the way inner and higher energies actually relate to one another.

One final note. De Salzmann repeatedly urged us to prepare ourselves for the arrival of higher influences. The word influence means, quite exactly, that which flows into. She was, in fact, using the word in exactly the same manner and for the same reasons that Swedenborg used it three centuries ago—to indicate the inward flow of the divine substances of Love, which are the animating force that creates all matter, and gives birth to life.  I might add, there is only one way of understanding these forces; both their presence and action is agreed on when they are available. Anyone who argues about it does not have a right understanding.    

Sensing and understanding these influences, or inflows, of the divine will help to better understand the diagram from a practical perspective. 

 It's possible to understand this diagram with a number of different layers superimposed upon it, each one of which has a meaning and relationship to the centers; and in some versions of the diagram, the centers fall in different positions, for reasons too complex to explain here. The point is that because the diagram is always in motion, it contains within itself a flexibility that allows a continuous, flowing interpretive ability.

May your soul be filled with light.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The heart of knowledge, part V

  This line of inquiry, which began with a question about knowledge and exactly what it consists of, leads us to a contemplation of Gurdjieff's five Obligolnian strivings.

 It might be worthwhile, here, to note to readers that the first striving is a physical one, related to the moving center; the second one a wish related to the emotional center; and the third one a wish related to the intellectual center. They all relate to the right or material side of the enneagram, that is, the notes Re, Mi, and Fa— from a Sufi point of view, materiality, desire, and power.

The combination of these three forces — these three distinct kinds of knowledge— leads one inexorably to the note Sol, that is, the position of Being... and it is exactly here that we discover the need for an inward payment — an intuition — in order to "pay as quickly as possible for one's arising and individuality."

 Readers of Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson have wondered for many years exactly what this particular phrase means.

How does one pay?

The implications here are clear. One pays inwardly — one pays by attending. This is intimately connected to Jeanne de Salzmann's adage that we must "see our lack." To be watchful, to see, involves placing ourselves in the middle of this struggle of yes and no — this forceful  play of desires within us. We must suffer this. Here, at this point, is where Gurdjieff himself indicates that intentional suffering must take place.

In this context, we see that the effort of acquiring knowledge is what conscious labor consists of. Once this acquisition of knowledge has been undertaken, a struggle takes place between the "old" and the "new" knowledge in a human being. (As it happens, one report I've heard from someone who knew Gurdjieff personally has it that Gurdjieff said, on his deathbed,  not the words, " I leave you all in a fine mess"—Henri Tracol said he did not actually say this—but rather, something to the effect of: "I go back  now to planet Karatas. After this, the war begins between the old ideas and the new ideas.")

When this interaction of old and new impressions is nothing more than an intellectual struggle, very little can result. But when the struggle takes place between old and much deeper and more balanced new impressions, which consist of physical, emotional, and intellectual impressions in a combination, a very new kind of chemistry results. The mysteries of the holy Trinity are involved with this process; and, ultimately, this kind of payment, this intentional suffering, puts us in a position to suffer not only on our own behalf, but on behalf of God.

 So here, perhaps, is one of the hidden keys to the fourth striving.

 In seeing our own lack, and intentionally suffering it , we are called to what Ibn Arabi referred to when he said "The regret of ignorance is the greatest of regrets."

 So we see that this idea of intuition does not allude to instincts about material events in the conventional way that we usually take the word; instead, it points us towards a much higher function. This isn't to say that instinctive intuitions don't exist; rather, taken in the context of spirituality, intuition involves a form of attention that is willing to stand in the center of things and sense what is taking place.

To be sure, it is of a different order of intelligence; connected to conscience, it has the chance to steer us rightly in a way that our intellect and our desires can't. But first, we have to be in touch with it — and we have to be willing to suffer it.

 In a certain sense, having any instinct whatsoever about material events is hardly the point. It is the inward effect, always, that we seek when we seek understanding; just as we seek knowledge for its inward action, not what we can do with it to fix (or break) the material world.

 May your soul be filled with light.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The heart of knowledge, part IV: intuition

Today I want to come back to something I said in part II of this series of posts. Or, more exactly, what Jeanne de Salzmann said on page 181 of  The Reality of Being:

"We have to guard against judging with our mind before we have allowed our intuition, which is at the heart of the experience, to bring us knowledge."

Her understanding was that our intuition brings us knowledge.

But just what is intuition?

 Both the word intuition and the word tuition ultimately derive from the Latin tueri, to watch, or guard. They come to us by way of late middle English (in the sense of custody, or care.) Interestingly, in late middle English, the word intuition denoted spiritual insight or immediate spiritual communication.  So the word has always had a spiritual context. Yet its original roots lie in the act of watching, or guarding.

The word intuition is, actually, connected to the idea of having a wish and having an attention. The action of guarding and the action of watching require both care and attention; so the word is perfectly appropriate to the understanding of the inner quality that is required to bring us knowledge. Yet today's use of the word brings us to some other connotations it has acquired over the years.

An intuition is more than an instinct: it is an inner knowing, a quite definite sense of things that involves more than just the mind. Anyone who has had a distinct and powerful intuition knows that it has both a physical and emotional content. As such, intuition, in the way that it is experienced — not just according to our etymological analysis — is a three centered experience. So, when Jeanne de Salzmann uses this simple expression in this simple sentence, she is actually alluding, with the single word intuition, to the whole practice. Not only does she deftly advise us to pay attention; she advises us to have a wish, and participate in an organic sensation and a feeling quality in order to understand. This, she advises us, is at the heart of the experience. And it indicates how very carefully chosen her apparently simple words are.

The Sufi understanding of knowledge as the heart of Being,  and the heart as the seat of knowledge, are entirely consistent with these points of view. Knowledge — three centered experience — lies at the core of our existence, very close to the force of life that keeps our energy in circulation. And it is this circulation we are interested in; because if it isn't strong in us, we are weak in everything, first of all in ourselves, and then, in life. So intuition is an essential quality required to understand, and then fuel, one's work.

The transformation of impressions in the human being is meant to bring the sensory knowledge — the experience that falls into the body in the form of sensations, emotions, and intelligible thoughts — into a unified entity. This union is alchemical, that is, it causes a transmutation. Taken individually, the impressions, as they fall into the various centers, are of a lower order. The allegorical context is that of base metals. If there is heat, however (she calls it friction in the section "Can Being Change?" from which the quote is taken) these elements can fuse. And it is the distinct inner sensation of the fusion of elements that creates a higher order of experience.

 This fusion takes place, we are advised, because of the friction between yes and no. And perhaps that brings yet another element of mystery into the equation, because we may not be sure of what that means. It cannot, for example, just mean an intellectual struggle between yes and no. The struggle takes place in a different piece of territory; perhaps in a piece of territory which used to be labeled temptation in the religions, but in any event, a piece of territory not accessible to intellectual arguments based on facts. Yes and no only struggle with one another if each one represents a desire; otherwise, they have no attractive force. So it is the struggle between desires and non-desires that comes into play here.

 As I write this, I am following my own intuition to see if I can discover where this leads us. All of the essays on the subject have been of that order; they are experiences in real time in an effort to think carefully about how these things are arranged. I didn't sit down with a prepared set of ideas to expound; readers are along for the ride in an evolving experiment in understanding.

 Is it the watchfulness, the intuition, that helps us to see the struggle between yes and no? It must be. And here we come to the meaning of the second and derivative word, tuition. Intuition is inward tuition, that is, inward payment.  So if we are watchful, if we use our attention, if we pay attention, in a certain sense, we are using our intuition. Our intuition is a form of inward attention that we pay for what we need with.

Will talk about that more in the next post.

 May your soul be filled with light.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The heart of knowledge, part III

 In the previous essay, we explored the idea of a relationship between Ibn Arabi's doctrine of the Names of God, and the question of impressions.

Every object, event, circumstance, and condition constitutes a potential impression. Yet all of these manifestations of reality are not impressions unless they are received by a vehicle — a vessel — into which the impressions fall.

This is a critical understanding related to the first essential truth: We are vessels into which the world flows.

 The Names cannot be known if there are no conscious vessels for them to flow into. An impression only exists if there is a conscious action reciprocal to its manifestation; in other words, if a Name of God (any object, event, circumstance, or condition) arises, it is not a manifest Name unless there is a comprehender of the Name to correspond to it.

That is to say, the Divine arises and is known through a reciprocal relationship. The Divine can only exist by knowing itself.

Ibn Arabi goes to some great lengths (which are admittedly difficult for the average reader to slog through) in order to explain the difference between the manifest and the un-manifest. He does an admirable job of it. But the point is that the manifestation of consciousness is necessary in order for the names of God to be known.

This is why the taking in of impressions is not just a casual event that happens by accident in mankind, but actually forms the entire body of worship, which ought to be taking place actively within the organism at all times in life, not just in churches and temples, meditation workshops, and so on.  To know is to worship; to worship is to know. To know is to pray; to pray is to know.

Every action that man undertakes to acquire this knowledge — that is, to take impressions more deeply into himself and understand them in a three-centered Way — contributes to the Being of God Himself. When Ibn Arabi says that we are appointed as vicegerents, personal representatives of God, he is actually referring to this work of taking in impressions, which we have been deputized to engage in. Because the taking in of impressions — all kinds of impressions — constitutes the acquisition of knowledge, in every one of its various forms, the acquisition of knowledge is essential to both inner work, the development of man, and every sacred activity.

 Because of the unity of all things, we are unable to specifically discriminate between the various kinds of impressions we ought to take in; but we can discriminate on whether or not our inner action is meaningful. That is, as Gurdjieff always emphasized it — the discrimination takes place in the form of understanding life from the perspective of consciousness. This is the first and only real form of discrimination, inner discrimination, which must take first in human beings, end trumps all outer forms of discrimination, which are ersatz.

If an impression arises and exists in the absence of consciousness, it is a passive impression. We can liken this to a phenomenon now well known from cosmological studies: for the period when intergalactic gases exist in unimaginably vast, cold clouds, they are entirely passive. They can't form stars or planets.

Galaxies, however, draw up this inert material into themselves and undergo a transformation through relationship, in which they are recognized by gravity and other elements, and they reciprocally recognize them. This is the material equivalent of the arrival of awareness: a new relationship is formed, and quite extraordinary things begin to take place.

For as long as I am passive towards impressions in my life, they are an inert substance. It is only when there is an active relationship to them and they are taken into me that the formation of the inner solar system begins.

It should be unsurprising to us to see that these question of knowledge, the Sufic system of the Names of God, the concept of Islamic unity, and so on are all connected to this question. By now, it's well established that all events and phenomenon are related.

It is in the nature of the relationships that we can take delight, as we explore all of the interesting connections that exist.

More tomorrow.

 May your soul be filled with light.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The heart of knowledge, part II

Ibn Arabi's insights on the pursuit of knowledge, as encountered in the Futuhat al Makkiyya, are eloquent. Knowledge — of whatever kind — is not to be scorned, but rather valued. In a universe of infinitely diverse arisings, each one completely unique and each one expressing a name of God, it is the sacred duty and responsibility of beings to seek knowledge of the Names of God.

There is an interesting correlation here between the infinite manifestations of the universe — what I call objects, events, circumstances, and conditions — and impressions.

If we understand Ibn Arabi's doctrine of the Names of God — which, as I have demonstrated elsewhere, is intimately tied to the enneagram— we will see the following:

The names of God are uncountable and infinite; yet they exist in a hierarchy, and are organized within a vast and incomprehensible form. We can comprehend portions of the form, but never the whole form, because the form itself embodies a transcendent formlessness, in a mystery that can never actually be penetrated.

The "overarching" names of universal forces that form the hierarchy as expounded in the essay on the enneagram and the Names of God are, in a certain but very real sense, the least of the question; every single arising within the universe that can be known is a name of God, and we can legitimately say that every arising is an impression.

The doctrine of the Names of God is thus, in other words, the definition of the universe as consisting of impressions, each one of which is divine, and constitutes a specific way of knowing God through one of His infinite names. This teaches us why the taking in of impressions is a sacred action. It explains why it is so important; and furthermore explains why conscious organisms have been created to undertake this work. The taking in of impressions is, in fact, both a form of prayer and a form of worship, since every consciously apprehended, ingested, and comprehended impression is an increase of knowledge within the system of the names of God.

Because the infinite, individually arising Names of God are appellations of God, identities of God, we can specifically understand that this action is an effort to remember the Self, since each and every single instance of the conscious knowing of a Name is a remembering of the Universal Self that expresses its Being within the cosmos. The act of self remembering, in other words, can never be separated from an understanding connected to both impressions and the knowing of the Names of God.

It's no coincidence that Ibn Arabi specifically mentions preparation (check the first link in this post) as a critical element in this work. Every kind of knowledge acquired is a preparation for the next kind. In this way, human beings have been given the capacity to "build" a hierarchical inner order that mirrors the hierarchical order of the cosmos, as expounded in the enneagram. This hierarchical inner order must be harmonious in order to be properly understood; hence all the emphasis on balanced development which one finds in Gurdjieff's work.

 The fact that this knowing — this inner, intuitive knowledge — cannot be strictly intellectual should be self evident, since impressions in the universe consist of every kind of impression, not just the ones that an intelligence can produce. Sensation and emotion are equally valid, and must be incorporated into the understanding and knowledge that a human being attempts to acquire in their efforts to prepare.

 One of the most beautiful passages in the quote linked to this essay is the following:

Bringing to be is never cut off,
So objects of knowledge are never cut off,
So knowledges are never cut off.

How can there be quenching?

No one believes in quenching except him
Who is ignorant of what is created within himself,
Constantly and continuously.

And he who has no knowledge of himself
Has no knowledge of his Lord.

 I plead guilty to the art of reconfiguring this poetically, in order to demonstrate the magnificent Dharma of Arabi's  prose. His words are reminiscent— and worthy— of Zen master Dogen's legacy.

 We will continue this investigation in the next post.

May your soul be filled with light.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The heart of knowledge, part I

We cannot be know-nothings.

 Despite all the talk about a movement into a wordless state or place, to acquire knowledge is divine.

Ibn Arabi notes, "God never commanded his prophet to seek increase of anything except knowledge, since all good lies therein... By knowledge I mean only knowledge of God, of the next world, and of that which is appropriate for this world, in relationship to that for which this world was created and established. Then man's affairs will be upon insight wherever he is, and he will be ignorant of nothing in himself and his activities." (Futuhat al Makkiyya, II 370.4). 

 He furthermore mentions,  "...knowledge is for the heart to acquire as that thing is in itself... knowledge is the attribute gained by the heart through this acquisition. The knower is the heart, and the object of the knowledge is that acquired thing."

 It would be naïve of us to presume that the Sufis had some mistaken idea of the physical heart as functioning as a mental brain... they knew better. What they meant is that to know through the heart is to know through intuition, through the feeling capacity — which arises through a connection of the centers.

Although we could say that this knowing is wordless, in fact, it forms a thread of connections to words, and words can be employed in intelligent ways to help illustrate the need to know through the heart. If it weren't for this capacity to form a thread, there would be no fabric woven in the hearts and minds of men. There would be no patterns to discern, and no paths to follow.

Balanced between the impossible knowledge of the transcendent, and the required knowledge of the immanent, the adept is tempted to throw himself headlong into the bliss of the transcendent, assuming that this will somehow excuse him from understanding the immanent. It may seem odd to say this, but terrorism arises from this kind of action; a willingness to destroy and obliterate everything that manifests, in the service of the un-manifest. The idea, which begins with a heartfelt motive, becomes irrational as it is perversely translated by lower impulses. The magnetic attraction of the transcendent — which is a natural phenomenon arising from the heart of love itself — is likely to confuse minds that are not properly prepared to receive it according to their own level. The story of Adam and Eve was originally meant to illustrate this problem. Both Ibn Arabi and Swedenborg consistently (and insistently) stress the need for such preparation.

 So we need to know from within the heart, according to our own nature. We need to know what is appropriate for this world. And to know from within the heart is to know organically—from within sensation—and even more from within a blend of sensation, feeling, and intelligence, which is intellect rightly ordered and aligned with the other parts.

This action is rarely present. Self-study accompanied by a right sensation unmasks the missing elements of feeling that belong in an intelligent exchange; and yet such intuition of the heart cannot be invoked or forced upon a situation. It is a Love that arises naturally. This is the intelligence we seek, and which can be given if we search.

One might think that the acquisition of knowledge puts one above all others, but this is definitely not the case. Ibn Arabi explains this quite eloquently in his passage on the meaning of knowledge and prostration. To acquire knowledge is, paradoxically to know one does not know; and to know that all knowledge comes from a higher level. This is, actually, one of the esoteric meanings of the word understanding, and we can infer quite specifically, from a careful reading of Ibn Arabi, that Gurdjieff took his meaning of the word in large part from these Sufi sources.

 Jeanne de Salzmann well understood the intimate link between intuition and knowledge. From The Reality of Being: "We have to guard against judging with our mind before we have allowed our intuition, which is at the heart of the experience, to bring us knowledge." (p. 181.)

 The idea of an abandonment of knowledge is, in other words, categorically incorrect. We would not have the words and records of the search of the great masters, throughout all cultures and throughout all time, without the effort to acquire knowledge, which both Gurdjieff, Ibn Arabi, Swedenborg, Sri Anirvan, and countless other luminaries considered to be an essential part of one's inner effort. The temptation to immolate oneself in the absolute bliss of dissolution is a dangerous one; one must stand up right in oneself to demand a greater discipline than this.

 May your soul be filled with light.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Movement and purification

 Following up on the post about the hidden ways (june 6), some observations regarding the nature of work on both sides of the enneagram.

 In both the spiritual and the natural realm, a distinct kind of three centered work takes place; put differently, the diagram—and the kind of inner work required—mirrors itself. This is reflected by the two triads 142 and 857. Each one represents a combination of emotional, moving, and intellectual qualities that must harmoniously blend together. However, this three centered work acquires a different set of aspects on the left, or spiritual, side of the diagram.

Work within the conscious, or spiritual,  half-circle of influences begins not with materiality, which is the lowest level of vibration anything can start with, but with a feeling quality, that is, a work from the heart, a sensation of Being from an emotional point of view. The position on the diagram, as well as Gurdjieff's comments, make it clear as to why no real work can take place in the spiritual or conscious arena until feeling enters.

What is most interesting to me about this is that the next position after feeling, or emotion, is clearly purification — and this has to take the place of the physical work, that is, in this case, the movements. So the movements that Gurdjieff brought us are actually intended as a ritual of purification: that is, prayer.

These appear at the level of the throat chakra, which traditionally represents speech. Because the left side of the diagram represents an inversion of the traditional understandings of these things — The transformation of the natural to the spiritual changes and mirrors each of their qualities — it actually represents silence, which implies that the Egyptian god Horus presides over this particular note.

It does, however, still denote language, because Gurdjieff's movements are in fact an extremely complex and extraordinarily beautiful language, a kind of poetry which is written with the body, in conjunction with the mind and the emotions. This is a new language of prayer, not of the mind, but of the body — in other words, an excursion into the exact realm that we consistently refer to when we say that many understandings lie within the range of a language... but that this understanding lies in a range without words.

 The movements are intended to purify; and there are, I think, some interesting questions to explore on this point.

All indications would suggest that once we come to a Being-Feeling sense of real "I," we must inevitably begin to engage in an exchange that includes more than ourselves: and this is why the movements are practiced exclusively in community, in the realm of "we"—the territory that "I" must move into as it surrenders its ego to a higher place. The movements actually represent, in a certain way, Swedenborg's love for one another, which he cites as an absolute necessity in heavenly or spiritual endeavors— along, of course, with a love of God. Put in other words, they are an objective form of unselfishness.

 Anyone who has participated in the movements understands this emphasis, which is explained by the role of the movements in this second phase of work, indicated by its position on the diagram. The movements also represent part of the whole force of intentional suffering — which, among other reasons, is located early in the diagram, in the wrong location, in order to indicate that intentional suffering must suffuse the entire arena of work in the spiritual realm.

 As to the final note Si before Do, wisdom, or knowing, we come here to the highest that can be attained by a human being who is working, as Ibn Arabi explains. But even this must be penetrated by intentional suffering — because the feeling quality with which this side of the triad opens at Sol, mediated by the opening of the heart, sets the dominant tone for all of the work that must follow.

This idea of the shocks—which, of course, are higher influences—"setting the dominant tone" for the work on each side of the diagram is worth pondering at greater length.

May your soul be filled with light.