Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The voluntary participation of all three centers, part III—" I am" is not enough

Sparkill, NY
 What exactly is this... self remembering?

 Prepare yourself. Here comes the heresy.

 "I am” is not enough

Perhaps one has learned many different exercises of this kind — one says it while breathing and sensing parts, one says it in movements, or so on. 

Yet one has to have this "I am” in all three minds – and until one knows what that means,  one is just using the mind in elaborated ways to achieve imitative results. This is not a bad thing; it basically consists of the "as if” exercise — but it is not enough, because each part needs to come to its own “I am.”

 Each center has a will of its own. When we speak of developing will, we may think that this is a consequence of three-centered work; yet before that takes place, a three centered work of its own needs to take place within each center in such a way that that center develops its own will. 

When a center comes to work with the other centers under the influence of its own will, this is what is called the voluntary participation of that center. 

So when the sensation works directly with the mind, it appears under the force of its own will, without being called, so that there is a union of wills between the mind and the body. The emotions, when they come, function in exactly the same way:

“…it very often happens that the additional sensation connected with self-remembering brings with it an element of emotion.” (ISOTM, P. 188.)

When all three of these wills appear, they contribute to what would be called real will, three-centered will, which can generally give a person a true direction in life. That true direction is balanced between enough force to move the process forward, and enough intelligence to know what it is, and enough compassion to guide right action. Absent the willing participation of any one center, outward action is never inwardly formed in this way; so when the inward state emerges outwardly, it's deficient.

 The self consists of three parts, each one of which has an equal force in directing Being. This doesn't mean they are infallible; even when acting in concert — especially, in point of fact, when acting in concert — understanding is always yet one more step away from the situation one is in, and one must constantly struggle and suffer within the context of Being.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A struggle against negativity

Contact zone between the Palisades basalt and the Newark Basin sandstone,
Nyack, New York (banded area)

June 24, Shanghai

It's quite interesting to me over the course of a lifetime to see how persistent and strong the working of inner negativity is. It has so many different features; and it spends so much time trying to tell me destructive things about myself or the world around me.

Why do human beings have an entity within themselves that attempts to destroy the positive meaning and value in life? This is an essential question. It is so deeply tied to all of our suffering, both personal, social, and existential. And it seems so unnecessary, perhaps. Do animals have a feature like this? I'm not sure. Certainly one can see some forms of pessimism and depression in some animals, especially when they are taken out of their natural habitat; and perhaps this is a clue to where some of our depression and negativity comes from.

 I see in myself a strong urge to goodness, a belief and even a sensation and a sensitivity for what is good. When I say sensation and sensitivity, I speak of an organic urge to goodness, not a philosophical one. That organic urge is a feeling – urge, one based in the feelings that goes directly against the negativity that arises in them. So there is a polarity in my feelings which I struggle with, that is, my conscious awareness is required to position itself between the positive and negative feelings about life and myself, and to make a conscious effort to choose the good. That is to say, I can't just sit there and watch. Within myself, I must choose to affirm the good if I want the good to prevail.

This reminds me distinctly of Jeanne de Salzmann’s comments at the beginning of the (still unreleased! Alas) movements film  of the 1980s, in which she said that everything is always in movement, either going up or down. We cannot stay in one place; we must choose either one or the other. 

This is interesting when considered in light of Gurdjieff’s comments to the effect that one cannot just go up; one's awareness must also go down:

 “The broadening of man's consciousness and the intensifying of his psychic functions leaking into the sphere of activity and life of two other cosmos is 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 cosmos sees; in going above, at the same time it goes below.”

— In Search of the Miraculous, P.D. Ouspensky, pages 206-207.

 There are complexities to this statement that deserve entire books; yet in the narrow focus of this essay, to a certain extent, he implies here that our awareness must extend not just into the good, but also the bad.

If we study Sufi ideas (I am, as always, thinking of Ibn al Arabi) or the observations of Meister Eckhart, we see that bad is a necessary thing in order for us to understand good; and that the lower, that which goes against God, is provided so that we can have a choice and exercise it. In other words, we can't go towards good if we don’t have evil to see and discriminate against. The downside of this is that we cannot just have evil outside of us as something objective which we watch and comment on; we must also have it inside of us. Because of this necessity, the devil comes in the door; and we must cohabitate if any real choice is to be made.

 In a very practical way, I find myself observing these two opposing forces in the active arising of my awareness; and I see that my rational thought, my “coarse” thought, that is, ordinary thinking, has little power over the negative. It is feeling-based; and feelings have a great deal more power than rational thought, no matter what rational thinkers think about it. If rational thought had the power, human action in the outer world would reflect rationality; and we can see that it rarely does.

 Note; it does not work that way. It is feeling that has the greater power in it, and feeling is dominated by polarity of the kinds described here, not by rationality. Feeling, in point of fact, generally manipulates rationality to get whatever it thinks it wants; and it is this one-centered localization of ego and being within feeling— not thinking, as is so commonly believed within some spiritual disciplines — that creates the force of destructiveness both in an inner and an outer sense. It's not just that we have everything "coming from the head,” as Gurdjieffians so dismissively summarize it; things actually come mostly from the feelings and then use the head to explain and rationalize them.

This action of an active relationship to feeling, whereby I see not only the negative feelings but then see the rationalizations that attach themselves to them, is important. I have to be willing to dwell within the devil in me and form a relationship with Him first if I want to understand anything about being less negative. In the first place, I have to allow Him to be negative without reflexively deciding that this makes me a bad person. In a way, I can allow the negativity in myself to be expressed without becoming that negativity; that is to say, I acknowledge it and its place and admit that this is truly how my negative part is, but that there is an alternative. Yet I can't just think my way to it; there must be a safe place, a piece of neutral territory, in which a spiritual action can take place that does not succumb to the negative action.

The organic sensation of Being provides this opportunity, because one can reside in the Being of the body, the cellular and molecular sensation of life, in an objective sense that is not attached to feeling or thought. There is actually a fundamental and subtle joy in this capacity; it provides a support that does not attempt to establish a philosophical or moral value, but rather an organic sense of truth that is based in reality, that is, the physical truth of being. The physical truth of being has no inherent negativity; it has an objective sense of life. This objective sense of life can be of great help in coming back again and again to a quiet center of gravity that stands against my negativity.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The voluntary participation of all three centers, part II

Sparkill, NY

I pass this information about sensation on because I see that the permanent sensation, the organic sensation of Being, is so often misunderstood. 

One can go a very long way into the ideas and preparatory work and get completely lost if one does not keep one's attention firmly placed on this question. Many groups, many group leaders, and many well-meaning individuals with a very sophisticated understanding of the Gurdjieff work manage to go far without awakening the organic sensation of Being. Sometimes they even awaken the other parts which are not foundational and can produce interesting results; but Gurdjieff himself warned about the futility of such work in Chapter 9 of In Search of the Miraculous, and his reservations about such work stand to this day as legitimate ones.

 The whole point of the Gurdjieff process, if it's properly understood in an organic way, is that it is a whole thing, a sphere that contains all the necessary elements of work in it. My recent essays about the meaning of the "coating' of the higher being bodies shows, in a small sketch, the wholeness of the process and the way in which every part correctly contacts with every other part. One can't take just one part of it and presume one has done enough; all the parts must be brought together within a person and they must understand the connections between them. This means that a very active thinking part must participate, that is, one must exercise the intelligence and help it develop agility. 

Unfortunately, once again, many branches of work have arisen where individuals prefer shamanistic approaches in which they loftily (and repetitively) claim nothing can be explained, there are no words, no one should try to answer anything, and so on, blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately this kind of psychobabble, which is often originally inspired by legitimate blissful experiences, has become all too common, and folk imitate one another in it. These are not just examples of laziness in the intellect — although they are quite definitely just that — they are also dangerous ideas that prevent individuals from a healthy development of intellectual center, which needs to be challenged to develop in new and more critical ways, not invited to fall ever more soundly asleep in the delusional belief that nothing can be understood on our level.

To that point. I had an argument with a friend of advanced understanding recently in which they invoked much higher ideas, cosmologically "top level" ideas, about how there is no good or evil. While this idea is essentially true, it is true at a level that retains no significance for those of us at our level. Where we are, there is good and evil; and while it's equally true that at a certain level, nothing can be understood, this does not excuse us from making the effort to understand at the level we are on. 

Not in the least. 

A devotion to nothingness will lead to nothing.  We have a habit of arrogating philosophies at levels well beyond ourselves and slapping them on to our understanding like Band-Aids. Don't do this.

 Everything takes place within an ordered hierarchy in our cosmos, and the development of Being must be built on an intelligent, material, and compassionate foundation constructed of balanced elements of all three materials. This is the same thing as saying that hydrogens 48, 24, and 12 need to participate; and for each of these three faculties, or centers, they have their own hydrogens 48, 24, and 12 that build them. 

If one doesn't lay down the corresponding structural substances that allow one to receive the next level of substance, no matter what direction the structure is erected in, eventually it becomes top-heavy or unbalanced in one area or another and is subject to toppling. 

Gurdjieff's admonitions to Ouspensky about the ways which accidentally (or otherwise) ignore these principles still stand. In our own case, the structural necessity is acquired first through sensation. Everything else comes later.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The voluntary participation of all three centers, part I

Over the last month or so, I've run into a number of conversations about the nature of impressions, what they consist of, how they affect us, and so on.

There's a particular relationship between impressions and sensation that needs to be expounded on. Gurdjieff said to Ouspensky that in order for impressions to be properly transformed into what he called “higher hydrogens,” that is, substances that can  feed the higher spiritual bodies, (coat the higher being-body parts) the attention of self-remembering needs to be brought to the place where sensations enter. ( see chapter 9, p. 188, of In Search of the Miraculous.)

Ouspensky, who never fully understood this point of work, nonetheless had glimpses of it:

Later, when I began to learn to divide attention, I saw that self-remembering gave wonderful sensations which, in a natural way, that is, by themselves, come to us only very seldom and in exceptional conditions.  (ISOTM, p. 120.)

 But the point here is there is no real, durable, or permanent self remembering without the voluntary participation of sensation. I speak here not of the sensation which is invoked, whereby “I” actively work to sense myself (an effort by the mind to sense the body) but the effort whereby the body works to sense the mind. This involves a union of the two centers which alone makes real self remembering possible. All other efforts are just preparation for this type of self remembering, which is based in sensation and its contribution to the effort.

Only when this type of sensing takes place can the emotions find the place and come in to help the work in the way that is necessary so that the transformation of impressions into higher hydrogens can proceed.

 This is why I say that one must not just take one's inner work seriously; one must take it organically. There is a need to awaken the capacities of the organism. It has to become interested in a work in the same way that the mind is interested.

Exercises to shut down the mind (meditation, for example) are only of just so much use in developing this capacity. Something fundamental must change within Being for the permanent sensation of Being to evolve. The entire book The Reality of Being is essentially about preparatory work for this change. It takes many years; and even after that, it takes many years more to acquire what is needed for further work.

Any ideas that one “understands" how to work, or what self remembering is, in the absence of this fundamental understanding of the permanent sensation of Being — the organic sensation of Being — are just dreaming, and need to be put completely aside.  Up until this faculty develops, everything is just preparation, no matter how intense it is.

 My own teachers understood this well and warned me about it long before I understood the question properly.  Then again, I worked in a group where the exact and uncompromising aim of the leaders was very specifically pointed towards this understanding, because they already understood it, and they understood it as fundamental. That is, they understood that nothing whatsoever which was real—durable—could take place within anyone until this particular aim was achieved. The effectiveness of their work of many decades concerning this matter was such that those who stayed in the group all achieved this understanding, almost without exception, to one degree or another (for there are degrees); and all of the surviving  original group members are still in unison on this point, remarkably so.  This all took place, of course, during the years when Jeanne de Salzmann was still alive, providing a different center of gravity than exists today.

Imagination about the process of preparation itself often leads to an excessive reliance on an intellectual interpretation of the process, which leads to lots of theoretical analysis, intellectual argument and discussion, and, generally speaking, an emotional severity that has no place in real inner work. This emotional severity arises because of the wrong work of centers, which become quite frustrated when work takes place in this way. An increasing reliance on misplaced understandings of discipline, order, and hierarchy results. 

The majority of people who achieve something in inner work fall victim to this in one way or another. It's easy to see who they are. What is certain is that those who develop properly always work with compassion and love, not distance, dismissiveness, and misplaced intensity. A person who is working in the right way creates a measured, positive, loving, and open atmosphere around them. Above all, perhaps, the intellect takes its right place, not shut down or shut off, but fully participating with clarity and insight.

The need for balanced development is paramount. Things can go wrong even if one develops the organic sensation of Being; relying too much on any one center for one's work creates a weakness. We need to engage in a daily and nearly perpetual discipline of self examination within the context of three centered work to remain sensitive to what parts need more support. If a successful connection between the mind and the body is achieved, it generally turns out that the emotional part needs a great deal of work in order to find its place within the context. 

Once it begins to participate in the right way, one begins to understand what intentional suffering consists of. This is voluntary suffering, that is, inward suffering that offers itself as a sacrifice — not the suffering connected with outward life, which is a different thing.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Perfecting the higher being-bodies, Part IV

Once we understand the meaning of this phrase, coating and perfecting the higher being-bodies— an understanding, I might point out, that is readily available if one thinks carefully about it — we see how it actually unlocks a key to the entire range of inner work.

 The being bodies are "perfected" — made complete, accomplished, without flaw — by being connected to one another in a reflection of the ray of creation. The process thereby assumes the cosmological dimensions of inward planetary and solar system formation; and the place of suffering and compassionate forgiveness become apparent in the revealing of relationship as the essential part of the process of reconnecting all the different centers.

Three brained beings, in other words, are not just tasked with reconnecting the three brains they have in the ordinary planetary body — the task is to reconnect all the brains, in every being body, and thereby reassemble the cosmos in the exact same relationship that His Endlessness intended when the cosmos was created.

 What I find most fascinating about this discourse is a result I did not anticipate when I set out to write this piece. That is the point of how relationships function, and how absolutely essential compassionate forgiveness is to the healing of all relationship, which is always flawed. Compassionate forgiveness is, if you will, another name for Mercy — and so the idea of coating the higher being bodies is actually, once one understands it completely, a path to understanding why Mercy is the greatest quality of God. None of the structure could function, you see, without Mercy: if relationships are to be whole within the context of all the flaws built into every part, they can only do so through this property, which must be reciprocal.

 It's a mistake, I think, to focus on the higher levels as though they were important at the exclusion of the lower ones. The cosmos, with all of its implications, is an entire entity, and one can't take any of the parts away without damaging that wholeness. The point of coating the higher being bodies is to reconnect the wholeness, not go and inhabit a loftier individual part of it. In a very real sense, inhabiting and encompassing the entire range of spiritual and human experience involves a willingness to inhabit all the parts of it — the higher, the middle ground, and the lower. All of the parts need to be brought back together in relationship, with compassionate forgiveness, in order for Being to reach its full potential.

 This idea of an inward compassionate forgiveness, which ought to be global, ubiquitous, and comprehensive, is an interesting one. One begins to get a taste of what that means when digesting the Sorrow of His Endlessness; in that simple act lie lessons that one cannot write down in words.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Perfecting the Higher Being-Bodies, part III—A relationship with the other parts

Perfecting the Higher Being-Bodies— Part 3 of 3

 In the last post, we examined the idea that the perfecting of the higher being bodies through the coating of their exteriors had a meaning in terms of their experience of relationship.

Readers of Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson will remember, if they closely follow Gurdjieff's cosmology and the creation of the universe, that the principal difference between the universe where time was eroding the place of existence of His Endlessness and the new universe where the effects of time were counteracted was a universe of relationships, where, instead of everything proceeding automatically and His Endlessness relying only on Himself and His own presence for His existence, an evolving hierarchy of relationship came to be. This is, so to speak, a cosmological perpetual motion machine; yet it relies on relationship to drive the engine forward.

The description of the relationship between three brained beings and the perfecting of their being, along with the description of the higher being bodies, is one above all of relationship. This relationship is formed materially, but participated in spiritually. That is to say, substances form the foundation, but energies mediate it.  The conceptual basis for it is thus a mirror of the natural universe and its processes; it just presumes, like Swedenborg, that the natural universe is a support foundation for a spiritual cosmos that is both invisible and needy.

I say that it is needy, simply because relationship is not just an option: it's required. In order to maintain itself, the universe needs relationships that arise through consciousness; and every level of consciousness needs to have relationships with the levels above and below it, or the universe cannot exist or have meaning. It is the "coating" of being parts, throughout the universe and at every level, that creates the connective tissues that bind all of being together.

Of course, when we hear the word perfecting today, we don't think of it just in terms of completion or accomplishment. It means, roughly speaking, without parallel, needing nothing in addition, flawless.

The implication here is that the act of relationship leads us towards the potential for flawlessness- and this is certainly a conundrum, because relationships are marked, above all, by their flaws, aren't they?

There's another interesting dynamic here, because the way that we learn to suffer the flaws of relationship is through forgiveness — that is, compassionate attitude. In this way, we see that perfection is deeply related to compassionate inward attitude in ways that are not necessarily apparent unless one understands the nature of Gurdjieff's cosmology. Everything must come into relationship; relationship is difficult and flawed; flawlessness arises only because, in the end, of compassionate attitude and forgiveness.

 This carries a great price for every being, because the ego has to be surrendered by degrees and in increments for every grain of compassionate attitude and forgiveness that's earned. That payment — that inward tuition, that intuition — makes no sense at all to egoists, who see no need for such payment.

But for those who do see the need, it is the most precious coin of all.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Perfecting the Higher Being-Bodies, part II- a delicious creme filling, woo hoo.

Nation Museum, New Delhi

 Perfecting the Higher Being-Bodies— Part 2 of 3

We return to this idea of coating the higher being bodies, and why it is a "coating" and not a creme filling—ahem—as with something like what eclairs have in them, for example.

The higher being bodies correspond somewhat directly to Gurdjieff's higher centers — which he explained were already fully formed and man, just not connected to our ordinary consciousness. They don't, in other words, need to have a creme filling — they already come with one. What is lacking, in point of fact, isn't the content of, for example, the astral body, mental body, or causal body.

What is lacking is the connective tissue that binds them to one another.

 This connective tissue is what is needed in order to create a bridge between the various bodies. The word "religion" means, in its Latin derivation, to bind fast — to reconnect, to connect to. So religious practice is an effort to reconnect the ligaments of the various being bodies, physical, spiritual, etc. In this sense, to coat the higher being- bodies is to form the connective tissues on the outside of the bodies that allow them to communicate with the bodies above and below them. (Take note that this explains the need to make connections both above and below the level one is on.)

 One might say, extrapolating from Gurdjieff's comments to Ouspensky, that we already have that delicious creme filling of the Divine in us — we just can't taste it.

 While the tone here is irreverent, the question is deadly serious. The matter of becoming reconnected to the higher parts of ourselves is a serious one, a sacred activity; and although this activity is entirely unnecessary (one can live one's entire life and die without doing it, and not really notice the difference) it brings the richest and most extraordinary possible experience of life to those who make the effort.

But why, we might ask, does is this idea of reconnecting — of "coating" the exterior parts of the higher being bodies, the bodies that contain angelic and heavenly levels of inwardly formed intelligence — called perfecting?

 To perfect means to complete, or make whole; to accomplish, to finish. While we can understand this in terms of attainment — to accomplish something is to attain it — the idea of finishing or completing may be more appropriate to consider here. After all, the higher being bodies are not, in themselves, complete as they are: they require coating. That is to say, even though the higher levels are higher — superior to the lower ones — they cannot find their accomplishment or their wholeness within their own self. It's necessary for them to become coated with the ligaments that bind them to the lower (and other higher) parts.

What does this mean?

What it means is that the higher parts do not find their accomplishment, their completion, their perfection, within the limits of their own existence.

They must enter into a relationship with the other parts.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Perfecting the Higher Being-Bodies, part I- what is a body?

Mahakala (protector Deity)
National Museum, New Delhi

Perfecting the Higher Being-Bodies— Part 1 of 3

What does it mean to "perfect the higher being bodies?"

 A reader asked this the other day, and I thought the question deserved some examination.

 We must, I think, begin with the comments that Gurdjieff made to Ouspensky on the matter. The precise descriptions that he gave in this section — of a physical, astral, mental, and causal body — are lacking in Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson; but the two ideas of "coating" the higher being-bodies and "perfecting" the being parts, or the reason, occur in the book quite a few times.

 In order to examine this, it's worth considering what the meaning of a body is in the first place.

 Although I sometimes find myself skeptical of the obsessive use of word etymology (though I practice it myself) I think, in this case, it's worth looking at the precise definition from the Oxford English dictionary:

I. 1. The material frame of man (and animals). — The physical or material frame or structure of man or of any animal: the whole material organism viewed as an organic entity. 

 I think that we can safely agree this is the primary meaning Gurdjieff assigns to the word. As such, an "higher" being body is an organic, whole material organism superior to the ordinary physical body. The idea presumes not just a physical entity superior to the ordinary physical body — and we must take it as empathetically physical, since material components from the air are used to "coat" the astral body — but a consciousness which inhabits that body. The body is, after all, a dwelling place; and what Gurdjieff proposes here is a successive series of dwelling places for consciousness, each, owing to the identity of its different body, obtaining its own separate consciousness. It is (once again, emphatically) a Russian – doll concept, with one consciousness nested inside, and "beneath", the next.

So the bodies presume a material existence, although not on the physical plane — as the chart from In Search of the Miraculous (see link) indicates. These bodies do not "grow" naturally, automatically, and on their own (although there are some processes that automatically contribute to their growth.) They grow by being "coated" with substances. That is to say, there are material atomic, molecular, and chemical processes that take place within the physical realm associated with the growth of these bodies. Gurdjieff made much of this with his talk about finer materials; and we can see a direct and essential connection between the discussions in the chemical factory chapter of ISOTM and the discussions of coating the higher being bodies in Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson

 To be coated means to be covered; and since the choice of words is specific and repeated, we must assume that the word has to mean what we know it means: a coating lies on the surface of something, and does not penetrate into its interior. This is an interesting proposition, because our ordinary understanding of bodies is that materials penetrate into their interior. The "coating" of which Gurdjieff repeatedly speaks appears to be an essentially — forgive the use of the word, I am sure you will feel it is heretical — superficial process.

 Now, this has implications that will only become clear with more discussion, so for the time being, ponder this question and we will take it up again in the next post two days from now.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Glory, Grace and mercy and the Law of Three, Part IV: Gurdjieff and Paul's 1 Corinthians 13:13

Glory Grace, and Mercy and the Law of Three are a whole teaching that brings everything together; and it has some remarkable consequences if properly understood. 

As has been explained before, Glory, Grace, and Mercy correspond to Holy Affirming, Holy Denying, and Holy Reconciling; or, in a different sense of the terms, taken from a more secular or philosophical point of view, ideation, manifestation, and relationship. 

All three of these different explanations of the terms whereby the Law of Three manifests represent aspects of the great forces that turn the engine of the universe: the Absolute, Conscious Labor, and Intentional Suffering. See the above chart of correspondences, since they are important to understanding the structure of this discourse.

This leads us to what I feel is a worthwhile question about Paul's letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13:13) and Gurdjieff’s statements about faith, love, and hope in his passages about Ashiata Shiemash’s teaching. 

Paul says:

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

One can reason, with little doubt, that Gurdjieff was referring, in oblique but definite terms, to Paul's words when he took up the same subject; the connection is obvious: 

—Paul’s teaching of faith, hope, and love in Corinthians is considered essential to Christian understanding. 
—Ashiata Shiemash’s teachings are equally essential to the trajectory of Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson.

Now then. There’s a specific reason that  Gurdjieff changed the order of these terms to faith, love, and hope, and it relates to the progression of the law three as it is iterated on the enneagram. He did it quite intentionally; and here's why.

The chart which shows the correspondence of terms shows us, in our map of correspondences, that faith represents the absolute; love represents manifestation; and hope represents relationship. 

That is to say, while faith represents concept, idea, and the intelligence of the Absolute, love represents its embodiments, or physical manifestations, in the universe; and it's hope that represents relationship, that is, the feeling property or emotional component of the Holy Trinity. So if the three terms are to be properly understood, they must be used in this order: faith, love, and hope.

Understanding this is essential in terms of understanding the overall manifestation of the Absolute, insofar as we are able to know it. 

In my book Chakras and the Enneagram, I pointed out that the entire universe is constructed of love, that is, that all physically manifested objects—all of creation—are created out of the substance of love. This represents God's conscious labor; and it equally represents the embodiment of the universe. 

Readers familiar with Swedenborg's works will note that he has reached exactly the same understanding. No other understanding can be reached, since the fact that physical manifestation arises the expression of material love is a fact, not a hypothesis. 

This is why love actually has to come before hope in the equation that Paul proposed.

We can thus take Gurdjieff’s discourse about faith, love, and hope as a corrective to Paul's letter to the Corinthians. From a certain point of view – the perspective of this level – of course Paul is correct; love is the greatest of all things, because it wholly represents the creation manifest which we reside in. 

Yet ultimately love cannot be the greatest of all three, because all three are equally important. To say that love is the greatest of the three is equivalent to saying that Jesus is greater than the Holy Ghost or God the Father, which is clearly incorrect from both a doctrinal, theoretical, and theurgical perspective. Love is God’s great action of creation (conscious labor); yet hope (intentional suffering) is what may bring us back to Him.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Glory, Grace and mercy and the Law of Three, Part III: honor and obedience

If we’re able to consciously sense the three forces in us, and at least have the beginning of an understanding of how they act within our own being, we see that in our daily lives and our ordinary activities, we perpetually and continually embody all three of these forces, because they’re integral to the movement and momentum of all arising manifestation and relationship. 

I am born of an intellect, so to speak; I manifest that intellect through the exercise of energetic forces; and I suffer the consequences of that manifestation through emotional being. 

In each action of life, human beings embody Glory, Grace, and Mercy, as they steadily rotate through the different positions they successively occupy in the diagram. That progression is, furthermore, orderly; forces cannot manifest outside their lawful context, or in a position other than the one that currently belong to:

Glory (faith) gives birth to Grace, which gives birth to Mercy. 
Grace (love) gives birth to Mercy, which gives birth to Glory.
Mercy (hope) gives birth to Glory; which then must give birth to Grace. 

Each of these forces act in concert with one another in the successive iterations where, to all appearances (to us, that is) they change their nature. But they each have a three-centered nature; so their nature never changes, it is just the aspect of their nature which dominates in the position we find them in that undergoes a change. 

It's like looking at an object from different points of view; the globe may have different aspects and appearances on different sides of itself, but it is still a whole, single sphere. 

Those who have read my book on Glory, Grace, and Mercy (free) will recall the place of honor and obedience; and one might ask, where do these fit in this picture? One doesn’t, after all, see them in the diagram as named forces. 

In order to understand honor and obedience, one has to understand it from the point of view of the natural and spiritual side of the diagram. 

On the natural side of our lives, under the influence, as we are, of materiality, desire, power, we honor by recognizing that conscious labor binds these three forces together in a field of awareness that acknowledges the truth of our position within the material embodiment of the universe. 

The left, or spiritual, side of the diagram embodies obedience, which is the consequence of the acknowledgment on the first side. 

That is to say, through being, purification, and wisdom, we obey the commandments of God, that is, our manifest spiritual destiny. 

Jesus Christ fully embodied this particular aspect of the diagram. But he could not do so before He first experienced the conscious labors of mankind, that is, he became human. 

So I honor with my natural parts, and obey with my spiritual ones; and each one of them involves embodiment and acknowledgment of the three separate internal forces which are bound together within the action. 

To honor is a three centered work of conscious labor acknowledging materiality, desire, power; and obedience is a three centered work and bodying being, purification, and wisdom. 

So we have two three centered works embodied within the enneagram, each one of them driven by the three centered forces of Glory, Grace, and Mercy, which rotate throughout the situation as an engine driving the evolution of being forward.

Readers may find the following link to be of interest:

 40 reasons to serve Mary


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Glory, Grace and mercy and the Law of Three, Part II: ideation, manifestation, relationship

Let's talk about the three aspects of each of the three forces a little bit.

Glory is ideation.

It represents the intellect of God. The intellect of God has three different aspects: an intellectual aspect, a physical aspect, and an emotional aspect, in that order. 

When we understand the Glory of God, we understand it first as the transcendent intelligence that give birth to all things, both things that can be thought of, and things that cannot be; indeed, the majority of its nature lies beyond what can be thought of and is in the realm of what cannot be thought of, since this original realm is infinite, inaccessible, and forever shrouded in mystery. 

Within the Glory, we might say, anything and everything that can be thought of is not God. 

Yet everything that can be thought of it as thought emerges from this unknown realm becomes manifest Glory. 

The Glory is an abundance; that is, it is infinite and forever springing up out of itself in a fountain of fecundity. It is the absolute and essential creative force. This gives birth to what is called the Perfection, which refers to the conscious awareness of all things as they embody materially—that is, a sense the Presence of God. Yet this has not only the conceptual and intellectual nature that we are discussing here; the Glory also has a physical nature, which consists in the embodiment of the material itself; and an emotional nature, that is, a feeling nature, a sensitivity. 

This sensitivity is the tactile contact we have with all things material, which give birth to affinities and relationships. 

Affinities and relationships constitute the emotional part of the intellect of God.

Grace is manifestation. 

It begins with its physical nature, that is, the energy that's actually sent into the material realm from the realm of the divine in order to inwardly form relationship between various aspects of creation. 

Grace begins as a physical energy that flows, that is, a force embodied in substances and materials; yet it must then embrace the emotional aspect of its being, which consists of relationships and affinities. 

Becoming embodied as energy, it's born as conscious labor; conscious labor is the essence of the physical aspect of God. 

It gives birth, as it evolves in its rotation clockwise around the diagram, to intentional suffering, that is, the suffering of relationship that arises as a result the flow of the energy

Ultimately, conscious labor and intentional suffering — this physical and then emotional evolution of force — has to complete itself in a return to the intellect of God.

Mercy is relationship.

It begins with intentional suffering, that is, on the spiritual side of the enneagram. Beginning with intentional suffering—that is, an emotional relationship born of seeing of the sorrow of all things—and rooted in the essential practice of God's greatest gift, forgiveness, this force starts out already ascendant to the intellect of God, and moves directly into it in its second iteration; only after that do its material results arise in the form of further conscious labor. 

Of the three forces, Mercy most fully embodies the complete story of how the rotation is effected and how the forces relate to one another, because it begins with suffering, embodies God's will through intellect, and then continues to work again by engendering conscious labor. 

This is why Mercy is considered to be God's greatest attribute in Sufi systems; in a certain sense, it better represents the conceptual framework of the homeward path than the other two forces do. This is one of the reasons that the passion of Christ is considered to be the most important story in the Christian tradition. It is the story of intentional suffering; and indeed, as a practical abstract of God's Mercy, it is all-encompassing.

Looking at this from a related point of view, if we look at the right and left hand sides of the enneagram, we can understand that conscious labor — Grace — occupies the natural, or physical, side of the enneagram, and intentional suffering – mercy – occupies the left or spiritual side. In this sense, our conscious labor belongs to the world, and our intentional suffering belongs to God. 

Both are necessary; and it's impossible to have one side without the other, if a balanced development is to be achieved.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.