Sarcophagus from Cyprus
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
When I feel regret, it's a selfish thing. I feel bad for myself and what I did. Perversely, and in a peculiar paradox, I feel bad about feeling bad. It's all about me, no matter how I measure it.
Sorrow is a completely different thing than regret. It's impersonal. It has an objective nature that transcends my personal trials and actions; real sorrow, the sorrow that forms the particles of God, is divorced from creation.
This may sound odd, but sorrow exists before creation. It is uncreated; it has an objective existence that underlies the manifestation of everything that takes place. It is, in other words, an emanation of God, and although we define it in created terms and encounter an experience it from within creation, it is of God Himself.
That which is of God Himself can't be created, because God is uncreated: and this leads me to an insight into the question that was asked of me at a presentation on the enneagram last week.
The question was how we can encounter the transcendent. Given that it is transcendent, that it has no apparent connection whatsoever with any reality we can experience or understand, how can we possibly know we have had a contact with it? The matter seems impossible.
Yet there are clues; and there are objective experiences.
This matter of organically understanding and receiving the particles of the sorrow of God— a phenomenon which only Gurdjieff, so far as I know, ever accurately reported on or described — is exactly just such an encounter. That is to say, even though the transcendent is essentially, before all other things, un-manifest and uncreated, nonetheless, these emanations arise directly from it and penetrate all of manifest creation. So in receiving these particles, one comes the closest that anything in creation can come to encountering the transcendent, the un-manifest, the uncreated.
This is an intimate contact, and the human organism is exquisitely designed and tuned to contain this possibility; which may be, in the end, one of the greatest and most profound possibilities available to mankind from a spiritual point of view. There is little difference, in the end, between the receiving of sorrow of God and Bliss; only the taste of it can explain this paradox, yet it is absolutely true. And it is the taste of it that one wishes for, once one has it in the mouth of one's soul.
One must taste sorrow in the mouth of the soul and swallow it whole. The mouth of the soul is the whole body and all of Being itself; one ought to mark this well, because it represents a truth that can be understood with all the senses and all the faculties of consciousness. That kind of understanding can never be taken away from a man or a woman, once it is earned.
Gurdjieff, of course, indicated that these particles can help "coat" the inner parts of a human being— what he means is that they are deposited, at a sub-atomic level, more or less, that is, at the material point in the body where the quantum state collapses— in such a way as to form objective conscience.
This makes some sense, because my conscience is entirely subjective. This is where regret comes in; it is formed from my own conscience, which is material, created, and entirely of this level. Receiving material from a different level makes it possible for a completely different and impersonal kind of conscience to arise; and that conscience, inspired — breathed in — through God Himself makes it possible for the expression of divine, or heavenly, conscience to be manifest.
This passing of conscience from un-manifested and uncreated Godhood into manifest, created Being ought, in my view, to be one of the chief responsibilities of Beings; yet the matter is so obscure it is barely understood, isn't it?