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.