If I become more attuned to this finer energy of cellular attention—an energy that is quintessentially solar in nature— I begin to acquire a completely different sense of life and what it means. This finer energy is what supports and sustains the manifestation of all life on the planet; as I become more aware of it, I don’t see the earth I walk on in the same way, and I don’t see the sun in the sky in the same way. I don’t so much see the sun as feel the sun. In the gnostic gospel of Thomas, this is what Christ means when he says a person who seeks and finds will be astonished. The original word derives from Latin extonare, to “thunder out.”
What Christ originally meant, I feel certain, was that a person can discover and concentrate this inner magnetism. That is to consciously know the solar nature of the power of Being.
I begin to realize that I am part of a completely different enterprise than the external affairs a man or woman generally concerns himself or herself with. Human matters have, in point of fact, almost nothing whatsoever to do with the great work of the sun or the planets; although that connection is certainly possible, we have (as Gurdjieff so eloquently pointed out in Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson) disconnected ourselves so decisively and so thoroughly from this work that we haven’t even the slightest inkling, really, of what it might mean to participate more fully and deeply in it.
The work of the sun is above all a work of Love; and if there is one thing we can see is lacking in mankind as it exists today, it is that very same Love. Magnetism in its gross sense is a material projection of Love, but magnetism also exists in much finer and more concentrated forms than the grossly physical. In mankind we call the automatic manifestation of such finer magnetism charisma; and we recognize its power, even though it’s generally destructive when it arises spontaneously in human beings.
Developing a finer sensation and a more precise attention attunes me much better to the magnetism of the sun’s emanations; I earn the opportunity to understand life from the context of a different level, on whose behalf I undertake work.
By work, I understand several quite specific things, the first of which is to become intentionally aligned with this higher, or solar, energy. In order to do this I cultivate my connection to the energy with this finer, tactile quality of wordless attention; and I participate in an inner intention to go towards that energy. My inward movement draws a reciprocal response from the energy itself; we move towards on another.
The second action of my intention in work is to receive, and suffer, what Gurdjieff called the sorrow of His Endlessness. The sorrow is, of course, that same substance so perfectly expressed by the passion of Christ; yet I think Gurdjieff’s term is a quite good one, and summarizes all of its nature for both Christian and non-Christian peoples. As such we’d best use it.
No one else I know of—no other spiritual teacher—has expressed the receiving of this sorrow as a material substance (particles) in quite the same way as Gurdjieff; and he was only able to do this because he was familiar with this intimate practice of work which I speak of here. It’s not a type of work at all familiar to most spiritual teachers, as we see from both outward teaching and literature. Gurdjieff brought, here, one of the most esoteric and essential points of any spiritual teaching to his pupils. It’s a very high level of inner work—the highest, in point of fact—and it was, in a word, nothing short of revolutionary to disclose a matter this esoteric to the world at large, no matter how elusive a real understanding of it may remain to the average person.
In any event, this work of receiving is also a distinctly magnetic work, since magnetism is what concentrates the power of Love and draws it together in a form that has more material effects on us, and on the world at large. In doing so, magnetism concentrates the power of Being and of consciousness itself into manifestations of Being at higher levels. The world is, at its subtle levels where mankind can’t see it, being drawn into ever deeper and more loving relationships; an intricate web of relationship entirely dependent on this force of Love forms and evolves. All of manifestation and life itself is dependent on this subtle force. Emmanuel Swedenborg, who spent most of his life trying to understand the nature of the world through what was (for his time) a consummate understanding of the physical sciences, eventually understood that this much more subtle force of Divine Love lay beneath and animated all creation.
Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.