Lee van Laer 2016
created on the iPad Pro using procreate
As I said in the last post, one can definitely understand Gurdjieff's comments about time in the context of Meister Eckhart's teachings on eternity — that which lies outside all time and all creation, that is, God — and Swedenborg's principal of the connection to the divine, the inflow.
The inflow is, of course, quite literally an influence — the direct flow of divine or higher energy into Being. This is not the same as the energy that is acquired through breathing, which the Chinese call qi, and which is actually a lower form of energy connected to the formation of the astral body. Yoga and qigong have a fascination with this energy, which can produce interesting results and allow the manipulation of the physical world (to some extent) but doesn't actually do any of the things people claim it does — you'll notice that people who practice qigong for health and up, pretty much, dying within the same number of years that the rest of us do. It's the same with yoga. Get over it. There are more interesting things to consider here.
The flow of Divine energy into Being is a form of much higher energy. Founded in the organic sensation of being, the inflow nonetheless makes itself possibly only through the action of even higher energies still. This energy is the energy of Divine Love and Wisdom, which flows into the body as the Holy Spirit. It was called prana in the ancient yoga schools, because it is quite literally the force that gives life. We might, technically, understand qi as the energy of the lower octave rising up to meet this energy of the Holy Spirit which descends from above — traditionally represented by a descending dove in Christian painting.
This particular inflow, the inflow of Divine Love and Wisdom, which is what Swedenborg taught about, produces a different set of results, largely centered around emotional suffering (receiving the sorrow of His Endlessness, according to Gurdjieff) and the development of compassionate Being. What is germane to the question relative to our discussion of time is that it arrives from outside of time, that is, it comes from that place which Meister Eckhart would have said is beyond creation. It is, in essence, eternal — so, to the extent it is received, it imparts perceptions of the eternal to the Being that receives it.
While one can easily understand the nature of things from Gurdjieff's chemical factory and the idea that energy with a higher rate of vibration causes a corresponding slowing down of the sense of time, this is a rather technical way of viewing it. Swedenborg's explanation of the inflow and its relationship to the eternal, which we can receive and participate in, is a more tactile perspective on the question, at least in my opinion.
There are other aspects to this energy that seem to be completely missing from some of the Eastern energy practices such as qigong. More on that in the next essay.
Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.