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.

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