Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Six Realms, Part IV

The Realms: Realm # 3
The note “fa”

The third realm is the interval through which we travel after greater and lesser deaths. (Arabi, ibid, p.27)

This is indeed a mouthful, because it embodies the fact that a shock is necessary here, as well as the transitional nature of this stage, which is divided from movement into the sphere of heavenly being until the shock is applied. In its entirety, this third realm is the one of Gurdjieff’s conscious labor.
It’s interesting to compare Ibn Arabi’s statement, after greater and lesser deaths, to Swedenborg’s:

The second stage rarely comes into play without trouble, misfortune, and grief, which enable bodily and worldly concerns… to fade away and in effect die out. The things that belong to the outer self, then, are separated from those that belong to the inner self… 

His understanding of the second stage, in other words, is identical to Swedenborg’s— it is a place where, if the path is pursued, egoistic cravings lessen and die, at which point man finds himself at an interval. Of course that interval is the interval between mi and fa, but one cannot pass to sol before completing that interval with the shock of conscious labor.

The passage from the third realm, which represents power, or, action on the material plane, to the fourth realm is an essential one, because the first three realms are capable of containing all natural and spiritual action without functional awareness: that is to say, everything about them can be what Gurdjieff called mechanical, or, from a philosophical point of view, theoretical. It is only once one passes from the third to the fourth realm that “real”, that is, heavenly action with the force of true spiritual insight, can begin to take place. It is, furthermore, only the combination of the action of all three of the first three rounds together – what Gurdjieff called three-centered being — that the interval from fa to sol can be passed. It represents a fundamental change in state. This is Gurdjieff’s work of conscious labor.

Gurdjieff, in his description of man number three, points out that the center of gravity of his psychic life is in the intellectual center. In this man, “the thinking functions gain the upper hand of the moving, instinctive, and emotional function; the man of reason who goes into everything from theories, from mental considerations.”  —Gurdjieff, ibid, p. 71

Swedenborg says the third stage …is one of repentance. During this time, at the prompting of the inner self, we speak devoutly and reverently and yield a good harvest (acts of neighborly kindness, for instance). These effects are lifeless nonetheless, since we suppose that they come of our own doing. —Emmanuel Swedenborg, ibid, §9

While the two premises regarding the nature of man number three may appear to differ in some points, the fundamental point — that the work of the intellect, power, and action, is “lifeless.” Gurdjieff uses the word mechanical; they are the same thing. Neither one of them is imbued with the sacred energy, the life force, of God. The actions are still dominated by egoism and a certain emptiness that arises from a belief in the agency of man and his own being. Because everything in realms 1 through 3 is dominated by what Gurdjieff called the “mechanical” world, the descending force on the right-hand side of the enneagram, effects are lifeless.

They all still represent a movement away from God.


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Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

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