Saturday, July 20, 2013

The enneagram, heaven, and hell

 Readers of the last post are undoubtedly asking where purgatory lies in the scheme of heaven and hell.

 We glean this from the structure of heaven as depicted by the diagram. Heaven and hell, lying so close as they do to God himself, are both subject exclusively to the law of three. This is why each one of these regions is divided into three levels — each of which levels, as I pointed out in the last post, is divided into three levels of its own.

But Purgatory is a separate and intermediate entity, so to speak, and as such, is subject to the law of seven — not the law of three. That is because unlike heaven and hell, where developmental possibilities have been completed, purgatory represents a final opportunity for development.  That development cannot be accomplished without the interaction of both laws.

Readers will remember that Dante, in the Divine Comedy, accurately describes purgatory as having seven levels. The Divine comedy is, for all its apparently worldly trappings, a high esoteric text, with many precise revelations about the nature of the cosmos. It is here that we find the definitive description of purgatory is subject to the law of seven; and even though this may not have been a specific subject of Swedenborg's, the implication of development within Purgatory — the opportunity to complete that which is incomplete — assigns the action here to the law of seven.

Swedenborg explained that no soul dies in a state that is absolutely prepared for heaven; all of them who are qualified still need instruction, and this parallels the idea of purgatory in both Dante and Gurdjieff. Because we know that the progression of the law of octaves involves manifestation and submission, we do see an overall correspondence of concept between the three systems.

It's possible to understand of the entire process of creation and evolution as a process of purification; a concentration of coarser elements into finer and finer substances. The interaction of the law of three in the law of seven itself represents, in its essence, and action of purification, since purification has to be the ultimate aim and goal within the circulation of the octave. Purgatory, in other words, represents an octave of its own. Although there is no literal place for it in the diagram, we might conceive of purgatory as a "secret octave," an unseen yet absolutely necessary action that takes place in all souls throughout the process of life, and continuing after the process of death. If we were able to expand the plumb line that separates the two sides of the enneagram, we would discover an intermediary region between heaven and hell that comprises an octave of its own — and this is purgatory.

 Although the diagram is strictly conceptual, it proposes an unusual situation.  While heaven and hell are each directly proximate to God, the level that leads to heaven — purgatory — is the last level on which the law of seven interacts with the law of three. There is no simple way to depict this on the diagram, so we have to make do with an approximation.

A further note about the diagram seems in order. Swedenborg explained that heaven and hell are perfect mirrors of one another — which is, indeed, what we see when we look at the division of the diagram into heaven and hell. So the diagram contains an accurate visual representation of the arrangement Swedenborg described, up to and including the idea that the lowest level of heaven — note Sol — is directly proximate to the highest level of hell, note Fa.

 I've put together a chart mapping the levels of heaven and hell— which, as Swedenborg so explicitly reports, are inner states, not places — according to this system at the following link. Just for fun, I have correlated the "seven" deadly sins to the various levels of hell. As readers can see, there are actually more than seven deadly sins, and I have had to use some creative impulses to make this list sensible. Still, I think people will get the gist of it.

 One could draw many interesting inferences about the nature of Being from this particular arrangement and explanation.  I leave it to the reader to ponder the implications.

 May your soul be filled with light.

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