Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Six Realms, Part V

The Realms: Realm # 4
The note “sol”

Ibn Arabi referred to the fourth realm as the Resurrection on the awakening earth and the return to the original condition.

Both of these phrases are essential to understanding the transition from fa to sol, which represents a critical stage in Swedenborg’s regeneration from non-Being — the spiritual condition — to Being, a heavenly one. The note sol represents both the heart, or love, and the sun. It represents a point where God’s personal influx initiates the emanation of genuinely loving action, which does not belong to the initiate but only to God. It furthermore represents not just the influx of this action, but an awakening of the awareness of the initiate to the fact that the action belongs to God and not himself.

The awakening earth represents the passage from Earth (the spiritual, as in Swedenborg’s regenerative interpretation of the Genesis creation story) to the heavenly (awakened) state distinct from sleep, or slumber, both of which figure prominently in Gurdjieff’s teaching and Swedenborg’s explanation of man's state before regeneration. In addition, Ibn Arabi has called it the return to the original condition, that is, the condition of a creature of heaven which perceives itself as a creature of heaven,  and not one that perceives himself as belonging to himself.

Swedenborg’s comment on man number four is as follows:
In the fourth stage, love stirs and faith enlightens us. Before this time we may have spoken devoutly and yielded a good harvest, but we did so in a state of trial and anguish, not at the call of faith and kindness. In consequence they are now kindled in our inner self and are called the two lights. —Emmanuel Swedenborg, ibid, §10

Gurdjieff says:
"Man number four is not born ready-made. He is born one, two, or three, and becomes four only as a result of efforts of a definite character… Man number four already stands on a different level to man number one, two, and three; he has a permanent center of gravity… In addition his psychic centers have already begun to be balanced; one center in him cannot have such a preponderance over others as is the case with people of the first three categories. He already begins to know himself and begins to know whither he is going. —Gurdjieff, ibid, p. 71 

We find some interesting clues here regarding the nature of Gurdjieff’s Man number four, when we compare his description to Swedenborg and Ibn Arabi. Ibn Arabi explains to us that man not only awakens, but “returns to the original condition.” Referring to Swedenborg, we understand that the original condition is a condition where “love stirs and faith enlightens us.” We thus see that man number four has acquired a level of emotional enlightenment. One can hardly infer this from Gurdjieff’s dry comments, as recounted by Ouspensky.

His report of the state is almost clinical; but anyone who has had tastes of it will readily report that is nothing like that at all. To know oneself involves, among other things, exactly what Swedenborg reports: love stirs and faith enlightens. The situation sheds some light on Ouspensky’s own nature: a professed skeptic in matters of faith, he was predisposed to edit such intimations out of his reports, and it’s also likely that Gurdjieff skirted the issue knowing who he was dealing with. Nonetheless, this critical piece of information comes into sharp focus once we understand what Ibn Arabi and Swedenborg said about the situation.


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Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

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