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.