The teachings in the Genesis creation story, as interpreted by Swedenborg, reveal a consonant identity with Ibn Arabi’s teachings on the six realms and Gurdjieff’s teachings of man numbers one through seven. These teachings share a deeper identity with yogic chakra teachings; and we can thus see that all of the metaphysical understandings in these systems are closely related. Gurdjieff’s enneagram provides a useful tool for mapping the relationships between all of the systems. Given the definite relationships between the various systems, Gurdjieff’s contention that his teaching was “completely self-supporting and independent of other lines and it has been completely unknown up to the present time” may be true — but only to the extent that it reflects on the teaching method, not on the ideas or metaphysical foundation it rests on. These are so demonstrably and absolutely shared with other important systems that it is possible to trace not just roots, but parts of the trunk and branches.
In my experience, the work of all adepts ought to be aimed at bringing the world's religious practices together and reunite them with the understanding that “there is only one God.” Contests between metaphysical schools and systems in which scholars dismiss one another — a form of partisanship one can find almost everywhere—do not serve God or any of the practices well. A reunification needs to be undertaken.
The consistent use of the image of a Garden between Genesis, Ibn Arabi, and Swedenborg to describe both the process of man’s growth and man’s eventual destination (man number seven ends up in a garden) can't be fully appreciated without reading Swedenborg’s explanation of the esoteric meaning of the word Garden in Genesis as expounded in Secrets of Heaven; and it seems impossible to believe that Gurdjieff’s description of the Holy Planet Purgatory in Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson does not owe a direct, profound, and as yet generally unrecognized debt to this heritage.
A critical feature of all these metaphysical systems revealed by the enneagram — but not iterated in any of the systems themselves, although it certainly should be — is that the interaction between all of the realms is dynamic, not linear. That is to say, the interaction between the realms proceeds according to Gurdjieff’s multiplications: the first state being 142857, then 285714, and so on. This means that all six realms are actually engaged in a complex exchange between states in which a man may at one time or another inhabit any one of them, and they inform one another. Lower states form the foundation for higher ones; higher ones lend assistance to lower ones. An astute student of Ibn Arabi’s system will understand that he was well aware of the dynamic interactions between the forces that drive the universe. The idea that the six realms are dynamically interactive is metaphysically consistent with the idea that they are all manifest on this level, that is, material reality.
Swedenborg’s Secrets of Heaven constitutes an important contribution to the understanding not only of Genesis, but also Gurdjieff’s teachings and the origin of ideas presented in Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, most particularly the chapter The Holy Planet Purgatory. Ibn Arabi’s Journey to the Lord of Power, when read in conjunction with this material, sheds further light on the connections.
Links for free epub download of these two books are below.Hosanna.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.