Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Glory, Grace, and Mercy, part V: Glory, Grace & Mercy and the Enneagram

Lord Jesus Christ, through your glory, grace, and mercy, help me to honor and obey.

In order to understand the action of the forces of Glory, Grace & Mercy on mankind, one needs to turn to the enneagram and see the place of each force in relationship to the circulation of the entire diagram. They embody the law of three in action, and this belong to the integers 3, 6, and 9, although the numeric relationship is not so important to understand.

Glory occupies the position of do, the absolute; it is the alpha and omega, the beginning and end, of all things and all creation. Creation begins in glory and is emanated from it, which is why all creation is inherently glorious: it takes its original nature from Glory, which is perfect and embodies all aspects of perfection. Because creation is one step removed from this absolute perfection of glory, it accurately reflects that perfection in all of its manifestations, but it cannot attain it.

Grace occupies the position of the shock between mi and fa, that is, the position of the number 3, or conscious labor in Gurdjieff’s system. A little thought on the matter will reveal that of course Grace is the conscious labor of the Lord. This is the outside force that assists the development of the octave in this position. The conscious labor of the Lord consists, in its essence, in the embodiment of being, or “I.” That is to say, when we become persons, individuals, we embody the Lord as reflections of His glory; and in that embodiment (our own incarnation into the material) we take on the role of God; we are, as Ibn Arabi says, His vicegerents, that is, His personal representatives on earth.

The significance of this is that we are personal representatives, that is, our persons represent His person; we take on the burden of Being on this level on behalf of the Lord.

This is a critical point which must be fully appreciated in order to understand the full cycle. Remember that Gurdjieff speaks of the sorrow of His Endlessness; this deeply theological concept, which I have written about many times, takes on a new aspect here. The reason that personhood, embodiment of being, is a burden is because of this universal and all-pervading sorrow; in accepting personhood on behalf of the Lord (being born) we tacitly agree to assume the burden of sorrow which is carried by His Endlessness. This responsibility to suffer is deeply embedded in the act of living itself; and the act of living is furthermore a task, a work and a responsibility specifically because of this. All of this can be discerned by understanding the action and meaning of conscious labor.

Mercy occupies the place of the second conscious shock in the enneagram, that is, the shock that ought to be placed between the notes si and do. Of course it is “misplaced” at the number 6, between the notes sol and la. But no matter, for now. The important point is that just as Grace bestows and informs (inwardly forms) Being on the descending (right) side of the octave which represents our struggles in incarnation and the material world, so in just the same way does Mercy purify and inform our spiritual being on the ascending side of the cycle. Mercy relieves us of suffering; that is to say, Mercy, in the end, takes away personhood by returning us to the source from which we came.

 In this sense death is, as I have said before, the culmination of all Grace and all Mercy and actually represents the greatest and most merciful benefit the Lord can bestow upon us. We are relieved of the burden of personhood through death; having done the work of the lord in life, we are rewarded with death, whereupon God takes the burden of sorrow back upon His own shoulders, in exactly the same way that Christ shouldered this burden.   

Our initial agreement to shoulder the burden of the sorrow of His Endlessness is involuntary, or unconscious; and indeed every part of creation plays out its part in the commission of joy and suffering whether it wants to or not. What differentiates man from other parts of creation is his ability to consciously accept the burden of suffering through intention; this is the most essential lesson of the Christ, and relates directly to Gurdjieff’s intentional suffering. The aim of existence, in the path laid out around the periphery of the enneagram (it is actually a three-dimensional and inner path, but for purposes here, one simplifies it) is to reach the point of conscious acceptance, which also, by the way, represents alignment with the Will of God, since travel around the circumference of the diagram (or, through the octave) is above all other things a journey towards this higher principle.  

Conscious acceptance is attainable—but its chosen assistants are Glory, Grace, and Mercy, a triumvirate of forces all meant to help lift us upwards towards God. 

In this sense our existence is forever played out within abundance, for these three Holy forces permeate all of creation at every level.


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