Email from a friend:
...to share with you the message from Reality of Being that I mentioned... which beautifully expresses what I’ve sometimes tried to communicate about body consciousness.
“We can know God only through sensation. Pure sensation is the name of God—pure, burning sensation. The body is the instrument for experiencing this.” (p. 226.)
Love to all,"
My own notes:
I agree to some extent... but we can know God through more than sensation, within context.
We know God according to the level of our inner development, which proceeds according to the law of octaves. This has been well-known to esoteric science for many centuries: take a look at the passages below from Ibn al Arabi ( who specifically refers to all the subordinate octaves if you understand his passage) and Swedenborg.
The six Realms, or stages of regeneration, referred to here are the notes re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, which all belong to the "realm" of the multiplications – which gives birth to the "realms within realms" referred to by Ibn al Arabi. That is, in essence, Eckhart's world of creation. (Eckhart is another matter entirely because he brought an intuitive Christianity which seeks to leap past everything in a complete abandonment — which requires a kind of spiritual genius not really available to us.)
The six notes have specific lawful meanings—not all of which relate to the receiving of sensation, although that is indeed essential. Sensation, as mme. describes it is actually an initial stage. (While some may not be particularly interested in the iterations of "powers" that Ibn al Arabi describes in Journey to the Lord of Power, the book is quite extraordinary and well worth reading, brief as it is.)
In any event, we are "infused," according to the note that currently predominates in us (we change constantly), by re- materiality, mi- desire (emotion) fa- power, sol- Being, la- purification, or si- wisdom. Salzmann would have call these the "influences" which affect us; an essential part of the Gurdjieff practice is learning how to identify inner and outer influences and properly discriminate between them. Emmanuel Swedenborg would have completely understood why this is necessary; a solid reading of his Secrets of Heaven will explain much of the reason for it. Where Gurdjieff gave us the how, Swedenborg gave the why.
These six realms exist in a hierarchy but blend according to the multiplications. Sensation is but one of the six properties necessary to fully experience Being in its multiple aspects. ( Having said that, I need to advise readers that it is actually at the same time both much more complicated—and more simple, by exactly half—but we will start there and you can think about it for yourself.)
Sensation is what gives birth to Being; but after that, suffering (the higher level of feeling, which exists as desire on the right-hand side of the enneagram at the note mi) and wisdom, which is higher intellect at the note si, are also absolutely necessary... so we need to know God not just through sensation, but also through suffering and wisdom. There is a great danger in subsuming oneself in the annihilation of God as described in the above from the Reality of Being, and al Arabi explains it in Journey to the Lords of Power. It's entirely possible that Jeanne Salzmann knew this; but if she did, it's not explained in the context of this quote, which amply reveals one pitfall of cherry picking people's personal journals and publishing them as spiritual instruction.
There are two separate three-centered "knowings of God" of this kind: on both the natural (right-hand) and spiritual (left-hand) side of the enneagram.
The third three centered knowing of God — the reconciling three centered knowing — belongs to the law of three, not the right or left hand side of the diagram.
These divisions do not exactly correspond to Swedenborg's description of spiritual and heavenly man, which are two different things. But we could roughly say that for those on the path, the spiritual side actually relates to the right hand side of the diagram, and the heavenly one to the left-hand side. Arabi would have described it differently, because when all the religions separated ( at the time the Tower of Babel was collapsed) the religions lost the ability to speak each other's languages. You and I live in that realm; but all the religions are one and all the practices are actually the same.
Note that the shocks and the absolute (the places occupied by the law of three on the diagram) all belong to God and cannot be "used" by human beings — they come from a higher level, and we can only express them.
There is an important correlation between Buddhist practice and Swedenborg's explanation that all motive force and action actually comes from God and that freedom actually means freedom from our perception of self (Buddhism's death of the ego) which opens us so that only the action of God alone flows through us, and we abandon all false perceptions of our own agency.
Of course the subject is much more complicated than that, but if you read Sufi Islam, Eckhart, Gurdjieff, Swedenborg, and Buddhism and understand the way that they connect with one another, you'll see that they are all actually a single practice and that the enneagram illustrates all of them perfectly — illustrates, that is, the underlying principle. Each one of the practices contains an important fragment of the complete understanding, and none of them contradict one another.
I must first make clear to you the knowledge of the matrices of Realms, and what those Realms imply in this place. The.Realms (mowotin) is a term for the substrata of the moments in
which things come to exist and experience actually occurs. It is necessary that you know what the Truth wants from you in any Realm, so that you hasten to it without hesitation and
The Realms, although they are many, are all derived from six.
The first Realm is [the pre-existence in which we were asked the question] "Am I not your Lord?" Our physical existence has removed us from this Realm. The second Realm
is the world we are now in.
The third Realm is the Interval through which we travel after the lesser and greater deaths.
The fourth Realm is the Resurrection on the awakening earth and the return to the original condition.
The fifth Realm is the Garden and the Fire.
The sixth Realm is the Sand Dune outside the Garden.
And in each of these Realms are places which are Realms within Realms, and the realization of them in their multiplicity is not within human power.
—Ibn al Arabi, Journey to the Lords of Power
The periods and stages of our regeneration—both the whole process and individual cycles within it—divide into six, and these six are called our days of creation. Step by step we advance from being nonhuman to being somewhat human, though only a little, then more and more so up to the sixth day, when we become [God’s] image…All the while the Lord is constantly fighting on our behalf against evil and falsity and through these battles strengthens us in truth and goodness.
The time of conflict is when the Lord is at work, and he does not rest until love takes the lead. Then the conflict ends. When the work progresses so far that faith is united with love, it is called very good, since the Lord now makes us likenesses of himself. At the end of the sixth day, evil spirits retreat and good ones take their place. We are led into heaven, or the Paradise of heaven…
—Emmanuel Swedenborg, Secrets of Heaven
For those who keep calendar reminders, and are interested in this subject, there will be a more extensive series of posts on this subject beginning March 27, 2017.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.