Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The world of appearances

Bumblebee on goldenrod, Sparkill, NY

We look around us, and everything seems pretty familiar. One way or another, things look like pretty much what they look like; and we come to everything with a great big bag bag of assumptions about it.

The majority of these assumptions are formed from things we've been taught. This is this way because of that, so on so is like such and such, and so on. Gurdjieff called these associations.

From the time I was a tiny child, I always presumed that there was something behind this associative world, something bigger than that world, which formed the world we are in. It seemed as though there were a set of magical or higher principles that emanated themselves into this world, creating the extraordinary things we see. I remember being fascinated with plants like the Jack in the pulpit; mesmerized by beetles and frogs, astonished by the variety of the natural world. My mother is a scientist; and even though, from when I was very small, I knew that science purported to explain these things, it was evident to me that they couldn't actually be explained. As a child, I imagined fantastic kingdoms that existed only for the blink of an eye, and manifested when my eyes were closed, disappearing in an instant once they opened again.

Everything that we see in this world is the manifestation of another and much higher truth. That truth manifests itself through emanations; and the emanations are not a physical substance like radiation, which can be measured. They are the emanations of thought, feeling, wisdom, and Being itself. The Sufis would've called at the manifestation of the names of God; emanations emerge from the absolute unity of heaven and fragment into an infinite number of miraculous manifestations, each one of which is divinely influenced and unique. 

 So what we think we see isn't, in fact, what we see at all; and anyone under the influence of higher energies will immediately understand this. One of the things that amazes people so much about hallucinogenic drugs is their ability to reveal this; science, of course, thinks that what hallucinogens do to us reveals imaginary worlds, whereas the irony is that they reveal, by and large, real ones, although the revelations are profoundly confused.

What is perhaps more important about what I'm saying here is that all works of art and all works of man's creation in general represent things that the people who create them may not even be aware of, because emanations of the names of God have a way with the world in which they say what they wish to, regardless of the wishes of the artists. 

That is to say, the will of God is immutable and unstoppable, and no matter what an artist creates or thinks they intend, higher principles are always at work which express intentions that may have nothing to do with what the artist is thinking of or imagines they are doing.

Because of this property of appearances and correspondences, it's often possible to see things about a work of art that may never have been intended by the artist; and indeed, there is a degraded form of this awareness present in the entire world of criticism, which makes its living seeing things in works that were not in the least evident to the maker of the works themselves.

In a broad, sweeping sense, one can understand from this that the earth is not subject to the laws of man; even though we think it should obey us.


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