Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Tree of the Soul, Part I

'Man' in the proper meaning of his name in Latin means in one sense one who bows and submits himself wholly to God, all that he is and all that is his, looking upward to God, and not his possessions which he knows to be behind him, below him, and beside him. This is perfect and genuine humility: the name comes from the earth (humus ) .  I shall say no more of this for now. 

—from Meister Eckhart, The complete mystical works, The Nobleman, p. 562

This is a comment that, it seems to me, is worth saying a good bit more about. 

The remark has wide-ranging implications relative to the fundamental nature of our being, both in the physical and the spiritual sense. What is of primary importance, however, is to understand how literally this idea of the earth and being is true.

This perfect humility that Meister Eckhart speaks of is born from a physical connection to the body, in the same way that receiving the body and blood of Christ in the body of man is a literal thing, not an abstract or theological understanding. In both cases, an energy from a higher level is received; and in both cases, it propagates through sensation within the body.

Our life itself is soil, or humus; everything that we encounter and experience falls into us like leaves and decays, is digested by the gut of our soul and our psychology; and this leaves a rich detritus of earth, soil formed by the decay of what was alive (our impressions.) This "soil" is a biome, exactly like the earth in which plants grow; yet it's a biome for the growth of the soul, which is like a tree: a stout organism that receives light for further growth. 

Impressions are deposited in the body in such a way that a finer soil is formed within the organism; and the roots of being quite literally grow down into this soil, seeking out those same finer substances which have been deposited through the receiving and decay of impressions. This proceeds exactly according to the laws of world-creation and world-maintenance; so when Gurdjieff asks us to learn ever more and more about these same laws, he is actually asking ourselves to participate ever more and more deeply in our sensation. 

The roots of sensation, which eventually form incredibly fine and intimate tendrils, reach down into and even below the cellular level to gather the fine substances of inner humus, inner earth, and concentrate them by bringing to the level of conscious awareness through organic channels. These substances feed the tree of our Being; they form a trunk, branches, and leaves which spread out to receive higher vibrations. 

This explains in some detail why Gurdjieff said it's impossible to receive the higher influences without forming a corresponding connection to the lower ones; it's in the nature of the tree of the soul and the way in which it gathers nutrients and grows. The tree cannot grow leaves with which to receive sunlight if it doesn't have roots. 

This whole action brings man or woman into closer and closer relationship with God. Humility is the association with and acknowledgment of earth; the accepting of the intimacy of one's inner soil. By seeing the source from which one draws nourishment and grows, one sees one's place; and this, of course, is exactly what Eckhart's comment alludes to. 



  1. maybe some people are doing this without all the theory and references.

  2. I was going to prune one recently (there r a few in the garden) but I had to stop when I climbed the ladder and found a bird's nest in the top, with a few chicks.... :) 'the tree of life'....


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