Mayan temple at Hochob, Yucatan, Mexico.
The Maya conceived of the underworld as an extraordinarily powerful force.
The idea of the possibility of broadening man’s consciousness and increasing his capacities for knowledge stands in direct relation to the teaching on cosmoses. In his ordinary state a man is conscious of himself in one cosmos, and all the other cosmoses he looks at from the point of view of one cosmos. The broadening of his consciousness and the intensifying of his psychic functions lead him into the sphere of activity and life of two other cosmoses simultaneously, the one above and the one below, that is, one larger and one smaller. The broadening of consciousness does not proceed in one direction only, that is, in the direction of the higher cosmoses; in going above, at the same time it goes below.
“This last idea will, perhaps, explain to you some expressions you may have met with in occult literature; for instance, the saying that ‘the way up is at the same time the way down.’ As a rule this expression is quite wrongly interpreted.
—Gurdjieff, speaking to P.D. Ouspensky in In Search of the Miraculous
Another passage I hit on during my research on a different matter, which struck me as a second example of statements that appear to be forgotten or glossed over in the rush to develop a magical astral body, Shazam!
I've spoken many times about growing roots within our Being, and feeling oneself through the organic sense of Being.
The above passage gives some specifics about why this takes place, and how it is necessary. We can't understand where we are unless we sense the very atoms in our bodies, which becomes a certain kind of vibration and cellular sensation. This kind of activity is only awakened by the inward flow of being from the sacred sources that connect to the soul. The subtle passages of these energy or so extraordinary that limiting them to the top of the head (the seventh chakra, the traditional yoga location of higher energy, also referred to quite often by Jeanne de Salzmann) is a disservice. The suggestion can lead to profound misunderstandings, even though it has its place.
The point is that the inward flow comes from everywhere within. It isn't physically limited, and it is not subject to the laws that I try to describe. I would say that we are, for the most part, coated in the psychic equivalent of a thick layer of cement, from which every real influence bounces off. Our cement protects us effortlessly, and we love it.
The cement has to break in order for anything real to enter, and this is a psychically horrifying event which destroys everything we believe in and have assumed up to that point. It requires catastrophe; and catastrophe is not built into spiritual programs. On the contrary, almost all of the spiritual programs I've encountered consist of warm, fuzzy ways of making people feel good about themselves in life, or, at least, provide generic platitudes to calm us down.
Anyone who doubts that it is possible to sense the atoms in one's body needs to settle down and spend a lot more time working inwardly. It takes many years to understand this directly, and only then does one begin to see what a fool one is, no matter what one does add no matter where one is.
There is no substitute for finding oneself pinned between the sensation of God and the sensation of atoms, as a helpless individuality.
This is where the sensation of one's own nothingness begins. It cannot be a psychological idea or an intellectual concept; it cannot be a feeling of sorrow about how worthless or useless one is. It has to be an actual sensation in which a form of three centered consciousness and understanding arises: the sensation of atoms, and the sensation of God, as the lower and higher influences — and the seeing of the way in which consciousness lies between these two immense and mysterious forces, subject to laws from both directions, and, for the most part, uncomprehending.
This is not a bleak place, although my mother-in-law characterized it as such over Thanksgiving. (To be fair, what she said was bleak was the idea that man is a machine, which is perhaps slightly different than being nothing—which, I presume, she would find even more bleak.)
In any event, this is one of the richest pieces of psychological and spiritual territory one can occupy, since it is indubitably real and based in a sensation of the body, which is the only real foundation any seed can grow in.