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.
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.