There is only one reason that we ought to open, and that is to receive the divine inflow of higher energy, which is love. Emanuel Swedenborg explained that the purpose of will is to act as a vessel for Divine Love (See True Christianity, p. 14 —free copy available in pdf format here); and so we ourselves, and the development of real will — and the development of consciousness — undertake these tasks only so that we can become more effective receptacles for the inward flow of Divine Love. Indeed, this is the only real purpose we have: and this is what being open means.
When I say — as I have, many times — that we are vessels into which the world flows, perhaps it is insufficient. The world flows into us from two directions, if we are open. At first, the world flows into us in the form of impressions from the natural world. We are, if we function properly, "spiritual devices" which concentrate the energies of the natural world — which are in fact extraordinarily dilute, although they appear enormously powerful to us — within our bodies by taking in impressions. All impressions are part of the divine emanation of Love, in varying degree, and as we ingest and concentrate them (the coating of the higher being parts) we become more and more magnetized, attracting more finer particles. Eventually, this leads to the opening of parts which can accept more inflow from the spiritual world, that is, from the direction of heaven.
I explain this in order to clear up some of the obfuscation and unclear language, images, and teachings that were left behind when Gurdjieff died. The greater part of his teaching has been passed on by people who know how to read words, repeat them, and manipulate them, but do not have a correct understanding, an organic and spiritual understanding, within them about these matters. It is possible to develop amazingly sophisticated understandings of Gurdjieff's teachings and still have everything absolutely wrong, if one has not opened to the higher levels of spiritual inflow which are absolutely necessary in order to create any correct foundational understanding.
I know that some people fear that if individuals are told about these things, they will form an imaginary relationship to them. It's a legitimate issue; yet if people are told incorrect things, they will form even more imaginary and quite possibly much worse inner relationships, something that has actually happened with greater and greater frequency over the many decades since Gurdjieff died. So it is important to understand this question of opening in a straightforward way, from the point of view of the material substance of Love, and how to prepare oneself to properly receive it.
Gurdjieff left human beings a teaching that was largely centered around the yogic idea of the development of will. Conscious labor is, in fact, on the order of the development of what he called real will, but he never explained precisely what the purpose of will is. Most people think that will has something to do with an ability to do things or to dominate situations or other people, but the only real purpose for the development of will is to create the vessel that can receive the inflow of Divine Love.
More on this thought tomorrow.
Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.