Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Intentional suffering and the nature of self, part 1

 As I explained two days ago, a man or woman must choose between love of self and love of the good.

 Swedenborg characterized man's influences as being under the agency of active forces — spirits, which are largely evil, and angels, who are good. Gurdjieff almost exactly echoed that statement when he said that a person has an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. In any event, they both saw human beings as being under difficult and even inimical influences. The bad — the evil spirits, the tendency toward selfishness — dominates in man from the beginning, and the struggle has to be undertaken in order to choose for the love of the good, which ultimately points a person in the direction of the love of God.

In Beelzebub' Tales, Gurdjieff told his readers that they must struggle so that their non-desires predominated over their desires. It's important to consider and understand this in light of the fact that man's desires are, according to both Swedenborg and Gurdjieff, essentially under the influence of evil. Our desires are, in a word, selfish; they center around our ego, and are almost exclusively directed at satisfying it. One needs decades of inner study in order to understand this thoroughly; and more decades in order to come to grips with it. To go with our desires is always to choose the love of self, or selfishness, which is, in a nutshell, to choose the bad rather than the good.

Our desires are essentially destructive to others in the outer world. Because they begin from self-love, rather than love of the good, they abandon right attitude towards the world and towards other human beings and God in order to serve themselves. Objectively speaking, every kind of destructive force that human beings unleash begins here. This is why a human being is required to struggle with their desires in order to develop spiritually, to, as both Jeanne de Salzmann and Swedenborg put it (in nearly identical terms) become spiritualized.

One of Gurdjieff's principal instructions to his students — one of the very few things he said they could do, under circumstances where (as he reported it) doing nearly anything was impossible — was to not express negative emotions. Now, in order to understand this more precisely, we need to see that negative emotions means far more than just being angry at people. That's just the surface of what negative emotion means. In essence, emotion is a form of power, or movement, closely connected to what Swedenborg called will. So emotion is what moves us in one direction or another; that's exactly how Swedenborg explained our loves affect us, love for the self moving us toward selfishness and hell, and love for the good moving us towards love for others and for heaven. In fact, Gurdjieff's conception of these forces and the way they act on us was nearly identical, although a failure to understand the idea of negative emotion has obscured this.

Put in these more precise terms, negative emotions are everything that cause us to be selfish. They move us away from the good, and towards the evil. If one prefers less moralistic psychological terms (which is fine with me, but in my eyes simply a way of avoiding the real issue) they move us away from the generosity of Self and into the ego. A negative emotion is anything that serves me instead of others, and the good of human beings in general. All of my desires, in other words, in one way or another fall under the descriptive of negative emotion, since they move me away from the good.

 This may seem like too broad brush to paint things with, but truly, I think not. Gurdjieff's instruction to engage in non-expression of negative emotion was a succinct directive to avoid putting these destructive, self-serving attitudes out into the world. Instead, he asked us to own them — to take responsibility for them, to keep them inside ourselves, and to swallow them. We can't do this as long as we are under their sway, which is exactly how sleep functions — we are affected by them as though in a dream, and whatever desire comes along, no matter how selfish it is, we do it. If one examines life carefully, one sees that the vast majority of human behavior falls under exactly this description.

If we take responsibility for our negative emotion, our desire, we keep it to ourselves. It still has the potential for a destructive force, but it is not expressed outwardly; instead, it becomes a kind of food that we digest, and every time we digest it, it inwardly forms a new kind of Being in us — incrementally, to be sure, but this is a vital activity.

 More on this in the next post.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

a stillness

In fact I will say still more, which sounds even stranger: I declare in all truth, by the eternal and everlasting truth, that this light is not content with the simple changeless divine being which neither  gives nor takes: rather it seeks to know whence this being comes, it wants to get into its simple ground, into the silent desert into which no distinction ever peeped, of Father, Son or Holy Ghost. In the inmost part, where none is at home, there that light finds satisfaction, and there it is more one than it is in itself: for this ground is an impartible stillness, motionless in itself, and by this immobility all things are moved, and all those receive life that live of themselves, being endowed with reason.

 — Meister Eckhart, the complete mystical works, pages 310 – 311

 I sometimes "teach" beginning yoga teacher classes meditation; although, as I always explain to them, no one teaches — all anyone can do is guide you to discover your own work. 

Last week, the senior teacher leading the certification class announced that I would be "giving" the meditation the following Monday, and I corrected her by saying, "no — there will be a meditation session for all of us on Monday, and I'll be there."

 Anyway, we did get together; and at the end of the sitting, just before we stopped, I mentioned that I discover my Being in the stillness of my body.

 This stillness is indeed in the inmost part, which is what inner yoga is all about. And that inner stillness is what the yogis mean when they say that the ultimate aim of yoga is not to keep the chakras spinning, but stop them. For there is a place, which Meister Eckhart mentions here, in which all things are still and perfect: and everything emerges from this stillness and this perfection.

Sometimes, people refer to this as the silence — and indeed, we see that Meister Eckhart refers to the "silent desert." Yet he also says this "simple ground" — and I do like this more. It is a simplicity that we seek; and it is not bereft of things.  When we hear the word silent, perhaps we can hear the word presence, since presence needs no words, yet manifests completely; and when we hear the word desert, perhaps we can hear the word expanse, for the emptiness of the desert provides an endless space with no obstacles into which everything can expand. If it is a void, it is and not a void that terrifies, but one that invites. In avidity, we flee from emptiness out of fear; but in repose, we enter it with confidence. And this is the difference between all of the noise in us, and the stillness from which being emerges.

Perhaps it sounds too limiting to say that we discover our being through the stillness of our body; yet our body is the vehicle for sensation and experience, and we cannot encounter the stillness unless we encounter it within this vehicle. 

It's pointless, I think, to get into complicated arguments about what is material and what is spiritual, what transcends and what is transcended; one simply enters the repose, the stillness, of Being. This spiritual food can be accepted without an argument, and without force; it does not need logic to explain it. 

It brings what is needed for inner development as easily as bees bring pollen back to the hive; cooperatively, and with assurance.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Two choices

Photograph by the author

 People think there are many different choices in life, but actually, there are only two choices, and everything flows from one choice or the other.

The first choice is self-love; and the second choice is love for the good. The second choice is not love for God, because we aren't capable of loving God; this is a distant goal, as Christ explained in the Gospels. But we are capable of loving the good; and the two loves are mutually exclusive. To the extent that we love ourselves, we cannot love the good; and to the extent that we love the good, we cannot love ourselves. One takes from the other. The more self-love one has, the less love for the good can arise; it is common for like to attract like, so the magnetism of self-love is powerful — and we all begin there.

Love must always be made from choice, and so the good must always be chosen, not demanded of us. God has a wish for us to love him; but we are unable to do so, and so we are offered this chance to love the good, which goes in the direction of God. God must allow us to choose, because to force us to love him would be coercive. Therefore, we have the option to love ourselves instead of God; and this goes away from the good. This is the root of all evil (not money — although some of you may be disappointed to hear this.) Egoism, in other words, is where all evil begins, because it goes away from good and towards the self.

I might mention here that all of the sorrow that God has is because He, being infinitely loving, knows He cannot coerce his creation to accept love and go in the direction of love; it must be released to find its own direction, and make its own effort to be loving. This release is in and of itself loving, and the greater part of its love consists in the acceptance and will that allows creation to choose between self-love and love for the good, and for God.

Anyone who wants an explanation for why there is evil can start here. God has to let evil exist, because if he takes it away, he takes away our effort to choose for the good, and forces us to be good — and, as any fool can see, there is never any goodness in  that which is forced, because goodness requires, by default, a voluntary intention.

The contradiction ought to be evident; so the fact that there is evil and bad is actually the incontrovertible proof that there is a God, not evidence that there isn't one. In other words, as usual, human beings have everything upside down and backwards on this matter, which is no surprise.

 We are supposed to choose for the good. This is the option and the effort that life intends for us. Conscious egoism, which was Gurdjieff's explanation of the situation, is a conscious choice for the good. Unconscious egoism is a choice for the self, that is, the bad. It goes against love, and it goes against community, and serves only itself, seeing all others as ones who should also serve it. Love for the good goes in the opposite direction.

Mark this well, because it needs to be seen quite clearly in the midst of being. Every action ought to be questioned from this perspective if we wish to develop.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Memory Loss and the Noumenal Mind

As he slowly slides towards the end of his life, my father is suffering from progressive memory loss. Alzheimer’s runs on his side of the family; nonetheless, he seems—so far, at least—to have avoided the most debilitating forms of the disease. Nonetheless, he fades in and out of this world, withdrawing into a series of hallucinations or dreams which represent, to him, realities. I’ve been curious about these inner situations, and asked him a number of questions about them; it appears he has one foot in another world, one others cannot see or touch. He’s slowly withdrawing from this world, loosening the tethers that bind him to this reality—the one we know and inhabit.

It strikes me that he is being withdrawn from this world into an increasingly intimate inner world; and indeed this is how I remember experiencing his mother as her own Alzheimer’s took her out of this world. There is a progressive drawing inward, as though the mind were leaving this world, and re-entering the mind of God.

This forgetting of self is ultimately accompanied by a gentleness; and if the sufferer is willing to let go without resistance, the personality dies without any anger or remorse. To be sure, a personality that resists this dissolution may become violent or angry (and the stronger the ego is, perhaps, the more likely that resistance); but in general, the dissolution of the phenomenal mind seems to me to be an entirely natural process, and one that is furthermore perhaps even desirable at the end of life. The possibility is, after all, that we let go of everything we are and let God flow into us; and perhaps this is what’s happening here, distressing though it may be to loved ones.

A specific example comes to mind.

Our old friend William (Bill) Adie—a business friend of my father’s— was an important part of our family landscape from the 1960’s onward. Towards the end of his life, he suffered from progressive nonfluent aphasia, a form of dementia characterized by a progressive inability to speak.

Bill was an accomplished artist. Over the course of his disease, his artwork underwent a progressive change that, I believe, reflected a fundamental change in his relationship to the inner and outer world. Because the dementia he experienced was specific in nature and resulted in partial, but not complete, separation from the ordinary or phenomenal world we all share experience of, I believe the nature of his artistic insights can help shed some interesting—and hopeful—light on the nature of inner change during the process of literal, psychological, and psychic withdrawal from the phenomenological world.

In the period of his life during which he was still communicative, Bills’ artwork was consistently geometric, featuring paintings based on landscapes derived from and inspired by the contour patterns found in wood grain. Primarily focused on colors, these striking works were abstract masterpieces which revealed little of the artist’s mind, or created any specific world views which might give us insights into man’s psychic or spiritual life.

As he withdrew, however, and entered a world which was increasingly inner and unable to communicate with the outer world through language, Bill’s paintings began to change. They evolved into deeply spiritual investigations of the human experience, replete with lines of psychic force, generative imagery, and piercing questions about the nature of human relationship. Clearly, the loosening grip of the verbal and external mind on his inner world caused him to embark on a process of transformational discovery that changed his paintings; changed, in fact, not just the form of his paintings, but the very soul of his paintings.

Just what was at work here?

I think what we are facing is a record of the original mind. I use this term in loose reference to the Zen master’s concept of an original mind, the mind we have before we are born. There is a noumenal mind, a mind in and of itself, that relates to what Meister Eckhart calls the mind of God; and this mind can of necessity bear little relationship to the phenomenal mind we inhabit during the course of a lifetime. This original mind is the mind into which the phenomenal mind returns as the soul releases its grip on the body. It is during this period that mind returns to mind; and in doing so, it forgets everything that mind ever was in this world. 

As I watch my father slowly decay into this otherness, which distresses us and we cannot access… it occurs to me that the distress is all our own, and belongs to this world only. My father (like Bill) seems entirely at peace with what is becoming of him; and perhaps this is because his mind is drawing inward towards that intimate contact with God, which we all so crave, but have so little understanding of. 

Of course that mind, and contact with it, must be quite unfamiliar to us; and so how do we know we are not seeing it, active, in this process? In short, we do not; and so maybe there is something far more subtle going on in the world of what we call “dementia” than we can fathom, from the world where we break things into pieces in order to understand them.  


Saturday, April 26, 2014

The naked essence

For your works to live, God must prompt to you in the inmost part of your soul, if they are to live, for there your life is, and there alone you are living... Therefore, Turn away from all things and realize yourself in your naked essence, for whatever is outside of essence is accident...

 Meister Eckhart, the complete mystical works, Sermon 59, page 306-307

 I say with assurance that one crumb from God's table is worth more than all of the gold in the world. Together one such crumb is together all crumbs, because a single crumb is a whole meal and is all meals. If the taste of this crumb were to be taken in in the morning, it would fill one for the whole day, regardless of what happens.

I would say even further that the whole world is not worth this one crumb. Because to taste even one crumb from God's table is to be completely filled with the Presence of God. And this is what we exist for; to be filled with this Presence, and to do the good. One should know this in one's heart.

The idea of perfection is like the idea of this crumb, because one crumb is perfection. The tiniest fragment of what is perfect is completely perfect, and what is perfect is complete. Therefore, if one takes a tiny crumb that is perfect into oneself, if one receives that crumb, what is received is wholly perfect, and no matter how tiny it is, nothing more need be added to it. Such are the gifts of God; and in this way, as I have said before, one taste is a whole meal.

 This morning, as I walked back from the river, I realized that what God sends is impossibly whole and unbearably beautiful; and every time it enters me, I break, and am glad for it. Because it is only in this broken state that I can take in what is real.

It seems strange to realize that I need to become broken in order to become whole; and yet what breaks inside of me is unnecessary in its own wholeness, but necessary in its brokenness. And it is that necessity of breaking, of turning into fragments that no longer resist the power and glory of the Lord, that attracts me: dying in this way, inside, is nothing but sweetness.


Friday, April 25, 2014

To become Spiritualized

 I need to be present to two parts of myself at the same time, and to experience the necessity of a reconciling force between them. 
A new feeling must then appear — a feeling of "I" that is turned toward a greater reality in which I participate and, at the same time, drawn by the world in which I live. 
The call these two worlds requires me to be present, understanding that they cannot exist without each other and that one should be spiritualized by the other. A conscious relation must appear. — 

This question of becoming spiritualized is closely related to the last two posts about the perfections. And indeed, as Swedenborg pointed out, the whole point of life is to become spiritualized.

 To become spiritualized means for the higher influence, the inflow, to flow into ordinary Being and effect a power of transformation. This power is entirely different than all ordinary experience, and so comparing it to ordinary experience or believing that it has something to do with ordinary experience is a grave error. Nonetheless, this is the most common of all errors in the understanding of spiritual matters, because all spiritual matters are routinely degraded to the level of natural or ordinary thinking, at which point they become subjects for speculation or argument. The reason that Gurdjieff called certain forms of understanding and knowledge objective was because they are directly related to this higher level or inflow, and thus not subject to natural or ordinary thinking. Men or women who are under the influence of this higher, or spiritualized, energy may still make errors — error is endemic throughout every level of manifestation short of the absolute — but there is an understanding formed which is quite different than that of ordinary life.

The perfections, or siddhis, as they are described in yoga, are all "powers" related to the spiritualization of the inner parts. Each of these powers ought to form a certain kind of alignment between the ordinary and angelic realms, which allows the inflow function at a more comprehensive level. 

 I think, perhaps, that the dilemma proposed by reading material from Gurdjieff and de Salzmann, as well as their various adjuncts and followers, is that while all of them explained that development is possible, none of them explained in enough detail why it is necessary.

Swedenborg did do this; and it's why a better understanding of the material is formed by reading his commentary on the matter.

As I've said many times, the most important action in order to become spiritualized is to open the heart to this higher energy. One can open the other two primary receiving apparatuses, at the top and the bottom of the spine, and this certainly has an important effect; and ultimately, as all the yoga schools taught, opening all three is essential. This was referred to in ancient times as cutting the granthis, or "psychic knots."  

Yet, if one opens the heart, the other knots must lawfully release their grip — and this is why of the three ways, power (body) , wisdom (mind), and love (feeling), love is the greatest.  So in many senses, to become spiritualized is to come under the influence of love, a point that Jeanne de Salzmann made a number of times in her notes. 

One cannot undertake these spiritual efforts without an understanding that this is what we attempt to develop — a feeling contact through the heart with the center of Being.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

To be completed

Perfection is derived from the Latin perfectus, which means, completed. This is derived in turn from roots that mean "to be done thoroughly;" hence the primary definition of the English word, meaning, "having all the required or desirable characteristics."

Now I am going to have to discipline myself, because this morning I would like to write about what it means to be spiritualized, but I have not finished expounding on this question of perfection, so I feel I should see it to its logical conclusion. We will take up the matter of being spiritualized tomorrow.

In a certain sense, the two subjects are connected, because to become spiritualized is related to this idea of being completed. If one is not completed, one does not have "all the required or desirable characteristics." In other words, there is something missing.

There's no doubt that everyone who pursues a spiritual work believes there is something missing. They may sense it intellectually; or it may penetrate more deeply into being, it may reside far down inside them, in the marrow of their bones. Gurdjieff and Ouspensky offered a wide range of hypotheses on what is missing; and so do other spiritual teachers. The summary of what's missing becomes a list of this, that, and everything.

But what is actually missing is Presence, and Presence is the Presence of God.  This is what perfection consists of.

One can beat around the bush all one wants, or pretend that inner work is not about Love and the Presence of God, but you can be certain that every man or woman who argues this way does not know what they are speaking of. I have met many incredibly brilliant people, some of whom even have direct experience of this Presence, and still don't understand what it is or how it ought to fill them. This is because understanding in men is a weak thing unless it is supported by much higher forces.

As I grow older, I become increasingly aware of the fact that human beings do not understand what they are trying to do in this life. Everyone reduces everything to the idea that the material accomplishments of this life — even the spiritual accomplishments, which are routinely perverted into a form of material accomplishment — are the point of this life, when that isn't the case in the least. It's a shame that there have to be arguments about such things, because every one of them is based on a flawed understanding, and it's impossible to correct this in people. Only the Presence can correct it; and so many block that flow.

Jeanne de Salzmann understood quite well what the point of this life is, and it has nothing to do with the material as our ordinary parts understand it. It has to do with the spiritualization  of the lower parts — everything that we are — by the higher ones, to prepare our Being for entry into a different world which we cannot touch from this one. That world can touch us; but we cannot touch it. Yet we always try to touch it; and every touch we put to it contaminates it, which is why the understanding of it is so poorly formed, even in the best minds I encounter. I can speak of it freely, because I see exactly how it takes place in myself — and I know how it happens in others because of this. To see it is, in some small part, to become free of it — yet this is not enough. Because freedom consists of a complete abandonment which is not so easily available... unless the energy confers it.

 In any event, we are not complete, we are not finished, we are not perfect, without this Presence of God within us.

This past week, a woman with a very good quality who I work with occasionally referred to it as a taste. I explained to her that it is not just a taste; it is a whole meal. And the Presence of God must become a whole meal with in us, it must be a communion that begins and ends always and everywhere.

Otherwise, we don't understand very well.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The perfections

To regenerate our inner self through our outer self would go contrary to the divine design, because the inner self acts as the soul of the outer self, not only in a general way but in every detail. 


The siddhis are perfections, that is, supernatural or magical powers.

These powers are generally characterized and understood as power over outward, or material, things. (See the link.)

I would say, however, that this understanding is generally based on superstitions, hearsay, and a misunderstanding of exactly what the siddhis actually are.

The aim of inner yoga cannot be to acquire supernatural powers that affect the outer. It is inward powers that one seeks; and in fact what one seeks inwardly is not, in the end, power, but rather perfection, so the idea really needs to be understood inwardly rather than outwardly.

The attainment of inner perfections comes through the Lord's action upon Being. Perfections do not come about because of my action, what I do; but they may come about according to Grace. And it is exactly this kind of perfection that ought to interest me in my inner work, because no outer perfection can ever match an inner one.

To receive a perfection inwardly is to transcend outward manifestation; and although one remains in relationship with the outer through a perfection, one also becomes distinct from it, because by its nature perfection confers a heavenly distinction; this is because it has no parallel.

Mark my words well. No outward object, event, circumstance, or condition can surpass an inward perfection brought about by the Lord; and there are as many perfections available to the Lord as there are moments in time, so no perfection ever repeats itself.

This inward perfection I speak of is unsurpassed because of origins, and it is unsurpassed because of its arousal of Being. Perfections contain all things and cannot be contained. Everything that asks for perfections is grasping; so one can be sure that all things attained by grasping are not perfections.

In a given moment, due to its original source of effortless and limitless Being, an inner perfection is whatever it needs to be. Therefore although it is always the exact same perfection, it takes on many guises, according to need. In this way it is easy to mistake perfections as this thing, or that thing, or yet another thing, but a true understanding of perfection lies in the sole acknowledgement of its perfection itself, not the interpretation of it which follows so close on its heels.

One dwells within; and in dwelling within, there is no need to define, other than to acknowledge.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Deeper than the bones

God isn't a thought.

I think I've tried to make this point enough times in this space, but we persist in thinking with the mind as though God were a thought, and this is where our understanding fails. "Scientific" thinkers (incl.  our dear misguided friends, the atheists) think everything is of the mind—and how could they help it? They know nothing else. But God is Nothing; and although I know this seems like a peculiar form of sophistry to those who use their mind alone to understand, it isn't. The inner eye is not of the mind; not of this one, anyway, and anyone whose inner eye is opened will understand this immediately.

Once in a while, during the course of a lifetime, an individual who thinks only with the mind may have the inner eye open briefly; yet few know what this is when it happens. It is described in various ways, but always by the mind that does not know. Because we're dominated by the intellectual mind, we have no real way of becoming free enough to understand with the faculties which are God-given and designed to sense and perceive without the intellect. They lie in the realm of Nothing; and they are Nothing, for they are not of this mind which makes everything a thing.

This is the conceptual mind that Ta Hui warned of: poisonous snakes and fierce tigers.

I can’t express enough this grave danger of believing everything from the mind. The intellectual mind has no actual idea of what life is; and unless the heart opens and the inflow begins, everything that one thinks one understands is inaccurate. Even the most esoteric or miraculous understanding means nothing without the inflow; even the highest form of knowledge cannot prepare a man or woman for what it means to have the inner eye opened and receive love.

The whole point I am trying to make is that life is fundamentally different than what one thinks it is as one reads this. It doesn’t consist of the things one thinks it consists of; the capacities one has for Being are not what one thinks one has. The miraculous qualities of the inner flow of an inward life exceed one's capacity for imagination to a greater measure than they exceed one's capacity for description.

Now, some people may think that the opening of the heart and the inner eye, and the receiving of  inflow of divine love, takes one away from the cares and responsibilities of this world, but it is quite the opposite. All that this action does is take away all of one’s "special" qualities—all those lovely aspects of one’s being that one held so dear and precious and thought were important and significant—and thrust oneself deep into the real world of care and responsibility. In other words, it does not take away the world, but puts one into it.

All of the characteristics and aspects that one thinks one has, that one "owns," good or bad, are outgrowths of selfishness, because to the extent that one thinks one has anything of one’s own, one is already selfish. Through the action of the opening heart and the seeing eye, through the action of the inward flow, one sees that one’s own self ought to be taken away, because it is not of the good

One sees that one ought to be filled with an entirely different impulse that comes from another level, and express that impulse, rather than one’s own impulses. 

And one sees, irrevocably, that Grace goes much deeper than the bones, and exceeds the understanding.

So if one wants to be in life, to live, one opens the heart, one opens the inner eye, and one says yes

In this saying yes, one receives; and in receiving, one learns a little bit how to love.


Monday, April 21, 2014

The DNA of sensation

...thought and will could not exist unless there was a similar action and cooperation between life as it inflows and the spiritual organic structure underlying our brain. Life flows from the Lord into that organic structure. Because the organic structure cooperates, it perceives what it is thinking...

The spiritual organic structure consists of long strands in helixes.

Emmanuel SwedenborgTrue Christianity, 1771

Those who read about sensation—or hear about sensation—and presume that when I speak of this I speak of ordinary things the senses encounter in their day-to-day Being, or even in an unusual moment, may not understand this properly.

I bring this up because a highly intelligent man I know, one with many years of spiritual experience and someone I deeply respect, brought this subject up a few weeks ago and spoke on it. 

He apparently (to me, anyway) had a rather limited idea of what one means by an organic sensation; and all of his analogies and examples of sensation were based on our familiar forms of sensation. The situation worried me, because I realized that people understand this question from their ordinary Being and try to understand it from their ordinary Being, whereas it must be understood from the spiritual Being. And if the inner spiritual Being—the essence, Gurdjieff would have called it— does not awaken, it cannot be understood.

When we speak of sensation— when Jeanne de Salzmann speaks of sensation- we don't speak of a sensation of this level. The sensations of this level are natural sensations, or earthbound sensations. They are ordinary in the sense that they belong to this order of things, on this level.

These sensations are what one expects.

The sensation that de Salzmann speaks of, a voluntary sensation, is an awakened or conscious sensation: not a sensation I have consciousness of—it is very important to understand this distinction!—but a sensation which is conscious by and of itself. 

It is like (to borrow Monty Python's classic riff) the Spanish Inquisition: nobody expects it. (And anyone who has experienced it will understand me when I say that the analogy of the Spanish Inquisition has further implications which we simply cannot go into here.)

This is a very different order of sensation which is deeply connected to the place where, as Swedenborg puts it, life flows into the organic structure. By Life, he means the Lord, and what he refers to is the inflow, which I have often characterized as the organic sense of Being.

It is this sensation of God flowing in to all things that I speak of when I speak of sensation of this kind; and although this sensation does have its own iterations and levels, it is a thing unto itself— ein Ding an such— and whole, measured within the greater context it appears in. It is very distinct from ordinary sensation and in fact completely different than ordinary sensation; and we must not confuse the two or think for even one minute that they are the same thing, or that one eventually begets the other.

When I say that this sensation is deeply connected to the root of Being, I don't just mean that it is connected to the root of biological Being—it's also connected to the root of spiritual Being, and, since biological Being flows outward into life through spiritual Being, it connects to the essential root of manifestation as it arises in the material realm. So this form of sensation feeds Being with a certain kind of food from the angelic realms; and it affects one in exactly this way if it flows inward into Being. That is to say, it has a sustaining and transformational effect on Being. 

Jeanne de Salzmann well understood this property, and this is why she so routinely urged her pupils to understand this form a practical point of view. In a certain sense, given the very material properties of spiritual Being and the consequences of earthly versus angelic influences (inflows), without this kind of food it is, quite simply put, impossible to undertake balanced development in the centers, because this kind of food is a fundamental need and proposition for Being.

This form of sensation flows into Being so deeply that it is quite literally connected to the DNA in the body, since this structure is what receives and expresses its properties. And this is the reason that sensation becomes a distinctly cellular phenomenon, if it deepens sufficiently.



Sunday, April 20, 2014


It follows, then, that our inner earthly self must be regenerated first, and our outer self must then be regenerated through our inner self. This sequence follows the divine design. To regenerate our inner self through our outer self would go contrary to the divine design, because the inner self acts as the soul of the outer self, not only in a general way but in every detail. The inner self is present in everything we say, without our even realizing it...

...the mind of someone who has been regenerated is lifted up to the spiritual level. From up there it sees what is going on in the earthly mind below...

People who have not been regenerated are dreaming; people who have been regenerated are awake. In fact, in the Word our earthly life is compared to a sleep and our spiritual life to wakefulness.

—Emmanuel Swedenborg, True Christianity

 I would like to day to just call attention to the potential to open to the inward flow of divine love.

People live their lives as though there were some purpose other than this in life; but no life can be real or complete unless this inward flow begins. Until then, one is just a machine that goes through the motions. 

The entire purpose of life, from its beginning to its end, is to receive and express divine love in all of its iterations. The reason that the natural world is so magnificent, so intricate, and so astonishing in every facet is because it is a complete expression of divine love. We may call it ten thousand other things; but one cannot undo what it is with words. The inner eye can see it, even if the mind tries to destroy it, and the body takes action against it, and the emotions deny it in fear.

We are here to receive this love; in fact, we ought to be the best expression of it, yet we have degenerated so much that we are become the worst. And only a work that reaches back towards a wholeness of the inner self can repair that damage.

In order for the damage to be repaired, as the love flows into us, it must remain untouched. This is the secret meaning of the Virgin Mary; as the energy of divine love flows into being, my ordinary personality ought not touch it. It should be inviolate, sacred, allowed to work on its own without any interference from me. I need only be present within it and be in relationship with it, passively, in order for it to act in the right way.

To the extent that I receive this love, so it is expressed. And if it is expressed properly, it gradually penetrates into the depths of my being and into the marrow of my bones themselves. I do begin to see what I am; not in the way of the mind, which is the way I have always seen, thinking it was real, but through the heart, which can see so much more accurately and does not make mistakes, if it is under the influence of divine love. To see through the heart becomes a different enterprise; oh, my, how I see all my lowness through this organ.

The whole idea of Christ consciousness is to see through the heart, to open the inner eye. This I sees with all Being, not just through any single organ, esoteric or otherwise; and to the extent that it opens, so I sense the inward flow of love quite directly, and without any mediation.

 Opening the ordinary parts of the heart is not enough. 

A much greater opening is necessary; and only returning again and again to the truth of Being can that opening begin to take place.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

The DNA of Heaven

...thought and will could not exist unless there was a similar action and cooperation between life as it inflows and the spiritual organic structure underlying our brain. Life flows from the Lord into that organic structure. Because the organic structure cooperates, it perceives what it is thinking.

The spiritual organic structure consists of long strands in helixes.

Emmanuel Swedenborg, True Christianity, 1771

 People think of natural structures as being material and different, or other, than God. The idea that everything that arises as a manifestation of divine Being, and that the material world exists solely because of divine Thought, appears to be an abstraction to us. We don't understand that, as Gurdjieff pointed out, everything is material – and in this sense, even the spiritual is material. Swedenborg, an accomplished anatomist and one of the very first to appreciate the extraordinarily sublime functions of human neurological structure, emphasized this so often that I am sometimes tempted to believe that Gurdjieff borrowed this idea from him.

200 years before biology recognized that DNA was structured in helixes, Swedenborg seemingly already knew it and wrote about it. His sources of divine inspiration put him hundreds of years ahead of his contemporaries, leaving him to write about things we still don’t understand properly today; but we can see, from the quote this piece opens with, that he intuited the structure of DNA, long before anyone fully understood the nature of atoms and molecules which, in its modern Western form, had its origins with John Dalton in the very early 19th century.

Readers who are interested in the process of cellular operation can refer to this diagram from an article in the April 2014 issue of Scientific American. It very briefly describes the process of RNA replication in cells. Anyone who studies this carefully, and understands how enormously complex this process is, will immediately see that the idea that it could take place without an innate form of intelligence directing it is absurd. In its own way, the RNA molecule is actually more intelligent than we are — if you put a team of hundreds of scientists in charge of the operation of a single human cell, their collective efforts with all of the computers on the planet would be unable to properly order the process and orchestrate it in real time, and with good results.  Yet this tiny little molecule does all of this work; and in fact it even does a lot more than we currently think it does. It has always worked the same way; DNA and RNA were producing physical structures either identical or even more sophisticated than modern ones even 520 million years ago

Why is that?

In other words, we can see the ideas— and make no mistake about it, they are idea, or thoughts, about structure— that are encoded in genetic material are timeless and unchanging. DNA itself is so highly evolved that the appearance of life so very early in the fossil record raises the question of whether a molecule this complicated and sophisticated could possibly have evolved during the relatively brief span after earth's initial formation.

 According to Swedenborg's understanding, we would have to say that the reason DNA and RNA function at all is because they form the spiritual organic structure underlying our brain. In this view, the process of biology, which appears to be earthly, is in fact heavenly — as are all processes. But the innate intelligence of the divine inflow finds a much more refined and subtle expression in DNA than it does in inorganic structures. This is the point at which the influence of the angelic realms enters into the material; and this is why life is life.

 Because the inward flow depends on organic structures to receive its influences, it’s only natural that the sensation of divine influence begins at the cellular level, and, in fact, even beneath the level of the cells themselves. 

The roots of sensation of divine influence extend all the way down into the molecular level, and under the right conditions, and with the right kind of energies active in Being, can be sensed down to that level. This is an unusual thing, and almost never written about in spiritual literature, since so few people experience it, and even less of them understand it. 

We can, however, be quite certain that Jeanne de Salzmann understood a great deal of it, otherwise she would not have put the great emphasis she did on sensation in her teaching.

More on this tomorrow. 


Friday, April 18, 2014

Coming under influences

This question of coming under influences is an important one. Many years ago, my teacher Betty Brown explained to me that everyone has to come under one set of influences or another; it is impossible to escape. The question is whether one comes under accidental or intentional influences; and we can understand this by seeing that intentional influences are those that help influence inner Being in a positive way, that is, they are related to the inward flow and they help Being to deepen itself.

Outer influences are relentless and often destructive. They don't have much direction. An inward influence, an intension, is quite the opposite, and for the most part, inward influences touch and come into relationship with higher influences in the solar system which are mediated, in the case of earth, either through the moon or through the sun. A human being that comes into relationship with this set of influences, of course, ends up being an intermediary between the two, but inevitably, the solar influence is the more powerful of the two, since that influence flows downward through humanity into the lunar influence. All of the influences, in point of fact, in our solar system are derived from the divine inflow of the sun, which gives birth to everything that takes place energetically in this particular solar system.

Much of this is theoretical and of little use in understanding the direct physical and organic influences that reflect these powers. The only way to do that is to become invested in them, and to see that they do not consist of psychological or intellectual states or questions. In point of fact, they don't consist of anything familiar; yet they carry an absolute vibration of life within them that can be participated in.

 Developing a better connection with sensation is the fundamental step in moving in the direction of solar and planetary influences. I must stress, these influences don't have any magical astrological effect on the events that will take place in a life; but they do have an enormous influence on the inner relationship that a human being has with themselves and with the divine spark of attention that ought to grow within them.

That, in fact, does have "astrological"— which means, according to the laws of the planets— effects, but those effects are effects of attitude, and don't exactly work on the way in which objects, events, circumstances, and conditions are arranged and interact with each other — which is an external affair and ordered quite differently than inner matters.  Matters of scale apply here; the way that influences affect the inner development of individuals and the way that they direct the activity of societies are two different things. An individual has an opportunity to change in a way that a mob cannot.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Artificial Prayer

The prayer of the man who is given Grace is:

Lord, I do not deserve this Grace. Take it from me and give it to other, more worthy souls.

This is real, or natural, prayer.

If we receive Divine Love within our Being, it acts in such a way that we know our lack (as de Salzmann called it) quite directly. And through this real prayer arises naturally; it is the ordinary (lawful) consequence that follows.

But there is more than one aspect to this idea of lack.

Seeing our lack from the ordinary, or worldly, point of view is all we are capable of from our usual perspective: and Jeanne de Salzmann  exhorted us to focus on understanding this principle. Yet we forget, perhaps, that without an inner action of energy we can't see this except through the most ordinary lens; and it doesn't focus well.

To see our lack, however, is an action that does no more than correspond to the action that ultimately takes place; that is to say, eventually seeing our lack leads to a receiving of Divine Love, which both awakens conscience and instills heavenly doubt.

Within heavenly doubt, we see our unworthiness with all of our parts, not just one of them; and this is what leads to the great remorse which is, ultimately, necessary for transformation.

In the midst of this great remorse lies glory; for there is no greater glory than the presence of Divine Love, manifested both within the Being of the individual man or woman, but also—in the moment it arises within individuated Being—in all of reality. Although the book is entitled, The Reality of Being, it might as well be titled The Being of Reality, because the relationship is fully reciprocal and they cannot, in the end, be separated.


What point is there in our inner development; what is it for?

If inner development isn't undertaken with the intention of serving others, it has no use. One can call on divine love and all the angelic realms, but never for one's self; both the effort and the action must to be undertaken for the good of others, and the planet, but not one's self.

The efficacy of the prayer of the man who is given Grace is only evident if I see how it functions when it does not arise naturally. Undertaken from any state outside a state of Grace, it cannot be sincere; and when I say it cannot be sincere, we need to be very clear about it. The man or woman who is outside a state of Grace cannot be sincere, because of course he or she wishes for a state of Grace; and of course this is an organic and natural aim and desire in and of itself, insofar as a person is properly formed from an inward point of view. 

However, when one wishes for a state of Grace, one wishes to be connected to Divine Love; and in that wish, from within that wish, I mean, one cannot wish the wish away

So if I ask for Grace to be given to others and am not already consciously within that Grace, the prayer is insincere. And so it goes with all such prayer.

In this way perhaps I begin to see that all prayer that does not arise naturally from within the state of Grace is artificial prayer; that is to say, it has an artifice to it, it is crafted with my own aim in mind, no matter how it's constructed. 

The natural state of prayer is another matter entirely; for it cannot be insincere, arising as it does from the initial impulse of Divine Love which naturally engenders it.

Ultimately, all Being— all life— and all action ought to serve Divine Love, which is exclusively expressed, among sentient beings, as loving relationship. Yet we are unable to engage in this kind of inner action without the inward flow, the inflow of Divine Love which takes place primarily in the center of Being, through the heart. There is, essentially, no difference between Divine Love and Truth; they are one. And both forces engender the natural state of prayer, which never need care for itself (it is already whole, and thus has no need for care of itself) but is always directed at the care of others.

We ought to direct all our efforts towards understanding this question of the inward flow directly through our inward state of Being; because there is no other reason for inner work. 

Without a sensation of this inward flow, all the other points of work eventually lose themselves, because they have no center of gravity around which to form.


The receiving of Divine Love

The reason that Divine Love can be received in the body and sensed in the body is because it is a material thing.

 This is not an idea; it is a physical fact. But only the opening through sensation can eventually bring this home to an individual, because our understanding of everything is formed through the intellect, and not through Being.

 Because Divine Love penetrates everything, everywhere, its movement is never limited, and its arising can take place anywhere, in any part of the body, or any object, at any moment. In point of fact, it is not the arising of Divine Love that is lacking— it already exists everywhere, and always —, but the perception of it. As I have said before, God can come into your little finger; or he could just as easily come into your nose, or one eye. God, in the form of His grace, His mercy, and His Divine Love, goes anywhere He pleases, and at any time— woe to those who only look for Him where they expect to see Him! Only our suspicions and distrust keep us from living this experience; it is our earthly doubt that corrupts us.

In a certain sense, when Gurdjieff entitled Beelzebub's Tales "All and Everything," what he actually meant was Divine Love. Because, ultimately, the entire book is about opening to the receiving of Divine Love. When we speak of the sense and aim of one's existence, there can be no real sense and there can be no real aim that excludes this fundamental and essential principle.

There is no limitation to Divine Love; and no element of creation is worthy of it. One of the essential realizations that conscious Being comes to, to the degree that it attains any form of real ('three-brained') consciousness, is that no created thing is worthy of the love that has created it in the first place. Meister Eckhart goes to great lengths to try and explain this in many different ways in his sermons; creatures — the word he uses for all created things, be they animals, human beings, or "mere" solid objects — all come, to the extent that they become perfect in God, to the awareness of their own unworthiness and the vast distance between truly Divine Love and their own Being.  In some senses, his solution for this problem is the dissolving of all of the created back into the creator, a concept which shares many aspects with Buddhist principles. Yet here I touch on theoretical matters that are not as important as the subject at hand, which is the practical matter of becoming open to Divine Love.

 One of the greatest mysteries of God, which can only be appreciated through direct experience, is the fact that Divine Love blends selflessly and in unfettered generosity with Being, despite the fact that Being has no objective worthiness. This is, in many ways, the greatest measure of Divine Love, for it loves even though no love is deserved, and it loves even though no love is returned. When we hear the words, for example, God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, etc., they just sound like words — but if they begin to act in our feelings and we understand these words, it is a devastating experience. Devastating in the sense of creative, of course, although I cannot quite explain this in an essay or, perhaps, ever.

So all of these efforts, these yogic and Tantric practices, these efforts to remember the self, the positions, the movements, everything — all of it is an effort to open to the energy of Divine Love, to open the organs of perception so that we can see how absolutely we dwell within this material truth. If we understand this and our life begins here, everything else will flow naturally from it in exactly the right way. Meister Eckhart, of course, explains this in his sermons as well; but the explanations seem arcane unless we have the experience of the inward flow, and it begins to act within us.

  In one way or another, every human being serves as a vehicle for the energy of the angelic realms, and not all of these energies are positive ones. So great care needs to be taken. Not every angel can be trusted; and this is exactly why Gurdjieff populated his book with angels who were fallen, and angels who failed.

Some may think that Divine Love is bliss; but I say that it is suffering.  But this is the best, the most wonderful suffering you will ever do; and you will never regret such suffering, but only ask for more of it.

Think on this.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The angelic realms and Divine Love

Time...Is the only phenomenon that has no source of its arising but, like "divine love", always flows independently and blends proportionately with all the phenomena present in all the arisings in any given place in our great universe.

Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, G. I. Gurdjieff, from chapter 16,  The Relativity of the Concept of Time.

In the previous post, we examined the  essence – question, am I not loving enough?

 Perhaps we don't see clearly that the only real aim in any conscious being must be to align oneself with Divine Love. All things arise from divine love except time; and every material manifestation in the universe contains its appropriate portion of Divine Love. Alignment with Divine Love is what aligns Being with the Good.  Every other esoteric or inner work that an individual undertakes is subordinate to the principle of alignment with this Love.

Divine Love can be received directly within Being through the inward flow. All of the work that Gurdjieff laid down, and which began to find its first maturity and fruition in Jeanne de Salzmann, was aimed at opening man to the higher energies which can receive Divine Love and align his Being with it.  So it seems worthy to make some remarks on the matter.

Divine Love is received in the center of the body. This location is usually referred to as the heart; but it is actually an infinitely small point within the middle of the spine. The spine also contains locations at the top and the bottom of the spine which can receive divine love in varying proportions; and of course divine love can flow inward through the top of the head. But it isn't generally understood that the inwardly-forming-source of Love, the center of its existence and manifestation in mankind, takes place in the center of the body, in the heart.

This is not actually a physical location, although it will be sensed as such a location because of the inherent limitations in one's psyche and body. But the center of the spine, the heart, actually opens into the angelic realms, and if there is conversation with the angelic realms, it will take place here. I say that the point is infinitely small, but it opens into the void.

Mankind was designed to receive this kind of information, but we're blocked. Only through the development of a comprehensive sensation, and then an understanding of the way that it feeds inner Being, will open the feelings in such a way to allow the inflow to proceed in a natural manner. The unfortunate fact is that most exercises and practices attempt to force this process, whereas, if it is to proceed correctly, it can only proceed in a natural manner, that is to say, without any interference whatsoever. In point of fact, because divine love operates in an absolutely natural manner, it is above manipulation.

We all ought to be aiming our work at a much deeper understanding of this principle, because all of the other answers that we seek in our life and our work center around this realignment of relationship with God, who is the supreme source of the emanation of all divine love. There can be no error if alignment with this force is active.

Divine Love manifests differently for different individuals, because all of the angelic realms represent different aspects of it. There are Beings that are closer to God; and Beings that are further away. This is why both Dante and Swedenborg described  the arrangement of angelic forces in heaven as circles within circles, moving ever closer to God. Alignment with divine love determines proximity to God.

These sound like theoretical matters, but human beings were designed to be able to receive this material and align with it. All of consciousness serves this purpose in one way or another. Because of the enormous power of divine love, it trumps every other spiritual effort. If an individual can open once to divine love, and allow the inflow to begin, it instantly causes all of the magnetic particles within Being to realign and point themselves towards God. This is actually the moment of arrival of "the big energy" that Mme. de Salzmann described to Ravi Ravindra in Heart Without Measure. Gurdjieff reportedly referred to it in far more arcane terms when he was speaking with Ouspensky, calling it the large accumulator. (Personally, I object to this kind of terminology, because it makes everything sound like we are dealing with crankcases and steam engines instead of love.)

So our efforts have to be turned towards understanding the connection with the body much more deeply, while at the same time understanding that the aim is to serve the good, and to serve divine love. With the taste of this in our mouths, and our eyes set on this goal, our work will always have a solid guide to it.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The angelic realms and heavenly doubt

 There are vast differences between the earthly realms in the heavenly realms, but mankind thinks only from the earthly realm; and this is because the mind of the mind is capable of nothing more. The mind of the body and the mind of the emotions, or feelings, are both capable of having much more tactile contact with the spiritual or heavenly realms; but our connection between these three minds has been lost and they operate dysfunction only within our Being. So men think from the intellect; and they get into arguments about things. Heavenly realms don't have arguments; hellish ones, of course, do, but that is outside the scope of this essay.

Doubt arises in two different ways in man. Earthly, or natural, doubt arises from the intellect and the ordinary state of being. This kind of doubt often becomes academic; and when it degenerates, which is  a natural occurrence, simply because what is low intends to go lower, it becomes self doubt, which afflicts mankind in ever greater measure. 

Self-doubt is a destructive force. It brings things down. All fear arises from self-doubt of one kind or another; and this is what tears individual men and women and societies apart. This tearing apart or destructive force is both natural and necessary, because creative forces cannot operate without it, but in so far as possible seekers on the spiritual path should avoid self-doubt. It's an unproductive avenue that simply causes us to obsess about ourselves and who we are; in other words, it becomes a downward spiral into greater and greater selfishness. (Gurdjieff called earthly or self-doubt inner considering.) Although self-remembering is one of the most essential tasks in the spiritual realms, the concept itself is easily misunderstood and can be turned into a destructive force all on its own. We should be careful to consider this not just with our intellect, but with our sensation and our feeling as well.

Heavenly doubt is a creative force of upward movement. Make no mistake about it; one cannot be neutral or have neutral intentions. Natural doubt has a negative intention, and heavenly or spiritual doubt has a positive one.  One cannot tread water between these two forces.

Heavenly doubt can in some ways be expressed in a single sentence: 

Am I not loving enough?

 This question cannot be applied as an intellectual exercise, but must be brought to as many moments as possible in a lifetime, as an active principle of inner Being.

Anyone who applies this question often enough in the context of the intersection of the three minds, rather than bringing it up within their thinking mind alone, will begin to see the efficacy of its action almost at once. Heavenly doubt centers around this question of love and its inner application within the context of the outward expression of life. It is a creative force that slowly dissolves the ordinary Being in favor of one that is far more permeable to the angelic realms, who are constantly sending their energies inward towards men and women to support them.

This inward flow of the divine energy is closely related to heavenly doubt; and earthly or self-doubt blocks it. Self-doubt is a form of tension. Everything connected to earthly and self-doubt ends up devolving into fear in one way or another, because it moves away from the angelic realms and from God, and the further the distance from these realms, the greater the fear.

 A great deal more could be said on this subject, but I would prefer that readers contemplate it for themselves at some length, make an effort to both taste and feel heavenly doubt, and see the difference between heavenly or spiritual doubt and earthly or self-doubt.

Moreover, the distinction between natural or material thought, which is always of the intellect, and its ultimately destructive nature when functioning on its own, ought to be drawn in an inner sense so that one sees that all one's "turning" and associative thoughts form a vortex that pulls one away both from heavenly doubt, and the upright self-respect one ought to have within one's being both for oneself and forces from the angelic realms.  If one understands the difference between heavenly doubt and earthly doubt, which can be done through feeling and sensation better than it can the intellect, one takes a step in the direction of balancing the centers. Heavenly doubt creates an inner agency that brings the centers together.

Jeanne de Salzmann referred to this principle as seeing one's lack, but for my own work and for these times, the principle of heavenly doubt carries an equal, but newer, force. In any event, the ideas and the action are the same; and we need to see this question from many perspectives in order to understand it properly. Hence the neologism.

 The unfortunate fact is that the lower realms also attempt to exercise influence over mankind;  And they do so exactly through this self-doubt which feeds fear.  Men and women think such thoughts belong to themselves; they don't see how much they are under influences. But knowing the source of such things helps a human being to make choices in what they align themselves with.

This is a much more complicated subject we cannot deal with here. But readers are encouraged to refer to Swedenborg's observations on the subject.


Monday, April 14, 2014

The source of all and everything

One of the things that Swedenborg made abundantly clear is that the angelic realms continue to work on the instruction of mankind, down to the present era.

Of course, this type of instruction appears to been more commonplace in biblical times; but it isn't forgotten, even today. The angelic realms exist in part in order to instruct the lower orders of Being; and periodically, messengers from these realms arrive, along with inwardly formed messages that need to be delivered to humanity.

While Swedenborg openly stated that his messages were from the angelic realms, Gurdjieff avoided it. Swedenborg was a scientist; he was chosen as a messenger because he had great expertise and precision in a literal report on the situation. Gurdjieff, on the other hand, was the son of a storyteller, and was therefore, logically enough, given the task of passing on an angelic message in an allegorical format.

This whole subject came up several days ago when someone brought up the question of just why Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson is set on a spaceship. The book is a message directly from the angelic realms; hence the very unusual (for its time) cosmic setting. And Gurdjieff was in the end not so entirely subtle about the source of the material: he not only populated the book with diverse creative angels, he made a fallen angel the chief narrator and protagonist.

This was not for literary and allegorical purposes; it was because the source of the material was angelic, and he recorded it more or less exactly as it was originally sent to him. That was the task he was given; and he discharged it without fail. The reason he never made any claims about its source, or reported it as such, was because he was asked not to do so. It was considered more important, by the angelic realms, to have the material inserted into society as an allegorical force that would work on man's subconscious, than a more literal one like Swedenborg's. By the early 20th century, it became apparent to the angelic realms that Swedenborg's effort, heroic as it was, had somehow failed; and so an attempt was made to bring an inner work to the more subtle areas of man's subconscious psyche, or, to be more specific, his conscience.

Hence the book.

It is time, I think, to stop beating around the bushes and fully recognize Beelzebub's Tales as a message sent directly from the angelic realms. It's a divine revelation, meant to instruct mankind in his responsibilities towards God, and to turn him back towards the inward good which Swedenborg laid out in so much detail.  There are few works of this kind in human history; and despite the squabbling over various translations, the book will, I predict, prove to be extraordinarily durable; far more so than we are. Works of this kind takes centuries to achieve their full effects.

The reason that there is so much consonance between Swedenborg's work and the Gurdjieff teaching is because they came from an identical source; and material from the source must always be in agreement. It always works, moreover, for the good; and for those who haven't taken note of it yet, there is in fact a Gurdjieff movement named "I wish to be for the good." That single sentence summarizes Swedenborg's work in its entirety, if it is understood properly.

In any event, understanding Beelzebub's Tales as a sending from the angelic realms is more important than ever now, because we need to come back, in our lives and in our societies, to an understanding that these realms are not figments of anyone's imagination, or inaccessible pieces of territory, but higher levels that seek an active action within the Being of man. Every effort to come into relationship with a higher energy is an effort to open to the angelic realms so that we can receive instruction from them.

 There is really nothing new in the idea that the angelic realms communicate with mankind; or that major literary works and bodies of philosophy have resulted from this contact. Ibn Arabi made it abundantly clear that the source of his material was from them; Meister Eckhart's insights are clearly from this level as well.  Hieronymus Bosch gave us great visual works which are clearly inspired by the realms; and he saw and revealed both the lower and the higher ones. We can include Dogen in the list, although the angelic realm that informed him was quite different due to the society he lived in; and Dante, Swedenborg, and Gurdjieff all followed in those footsteps.

 It's possible to recognize work that comes from the angelic realms;  but only if the right material is inwardly formed in a person. This work is what qualifies as objective art; It shares a commonality of material, theme, and purpose; and in every case, an opening to any angelic influence – the divine inward flow, the inflow — awakens us to the nature of such material. Gurdjieff referred to such affinities as magnetic center. The term seems rather sterile when juxtaposed against the inner richness of the material that it attracts.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

kinder, gentler words

There is a need to understand one's negativity, and, even, to use it properly. It is there to be not only suffered, but employed, for it has its purposes. Jeanne de Salzmann, who was unusually energetic and lively well into her 90s, was once asked where she got all her energy, and replied, "from my negativity, of course."

In order to understand what she meant, one needs to form a quite different relationship to one's negativity, which does not mean that one banishes it. Being negative and being present at the same time is a fascinating exercise, and if one's sensation is entirely invested in it — by entirely, I mean, down to the marrow of the bones, and voluntarily — one sees that it is, like sex, a function. It exists as a truth; and like all of the Names, or manifestations, of God, it is necessary.

I spent the day in Shanghai today (this essay was written on March 15) and wandered into the antiques district at Fangbangzhonglu, an area I have frequented for decades. It is modernizing, and a great deal of the interesting material that used to turn up there is now gone. Almost everything is now fake; but some dealers still carry real and unusual Buddhist artworks, including, on rare occasions, truly extraordinary pieces like this one. They are, unfortunately, insanely expensive and well out of my budget; but the dealer who has these bronzes is kind enough to allow me to take photographs.

The deities here are, like many Tibetan deities, enormously ferocious and negative-looking demons. Of course, there are sound spiritual and traditional reasons for depicting and interpreting these gods, festooned with various skulls and human body parts, as positive — not negative — forces, but it doesn't do much to dispel the impression. The impression is inarguably beautiful, and sinks deep into Being. Wickedness has its own beauties; we forget that.

All of this raises questions about reality, which is comprehensive.

 Being needs to become an objective state, arising from an unassailable organic connection with sensation, in which all of these aspects and facts are included, without disturbing sensation. Being and sensation are so intimately tied together, in this aspect of inner relationship, that nothing can disturb the partnership between the two, even though the ordinary psyche and all its psychology continues to function in an ordinary manner. Awareness finds its position in direct relationship to the organic sense of being, and the psyche just does what psyches do. Awareness does not need to interfere with that; each aspect of Being belongs to itself. One must navigate the territory between the two states within the context of feeling.

One of the chief energies that sustains this action is solar. In point of fact, regardless of the connection between breath and sensation, a yogic matter which I have expounded on in considerable detail in years past, the connection between solar energy and sensation is much more important. The connection between breath and sensation is directly related to the formation of the astral body, that cheerful little entity we were discussing two days ago. But the connection between solar energy and sensation is connected with the formation of the being-body above the astral. When Gurdjieff speaks of the assistance that the action of solioonensius gives to those seeking to perfect their Being, he isn't referring to the question of the astral body. Solar energy can only act on bodies connected with solar matters.

 If one is under influences other than the influences of ordinary life, the difference between being under lunar influences and solar influences can be experienced quite distinctly, without any astrological trappings or Wiccan features.

These influences are related to what Gurdjieff called objective states of Being—objective in the sense that they are no longer under the control of the accidental collisions that take place on a day-to-day basis in a life that is not inwardly formed.