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.

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