—From The Reality of Being, Jeanne Salzmann, # 51, To Organize
Recently I encountered an individual who wanted to emphasize a romantic trope about how all paths are different, everything is relative, and so on.
This person has a great deal of conversance with the Gurdjieff ideas. They're a friend.
Yet the way they presented these ideas verged on sophistry; and this wish that we have to make everything relative and subjective is dangerous.
All paths are identical in a certain sense. Everything is governed according to law when it comes to development and evolution; and this is true in both the natural and the spiritual world. One can no more escape the consequences of law on this level, or any level, than one can undo the fiber of the universe and then re-weave it into a new form. Maybe God can do that; I don't know. But people can't.
Yet I see human beings constantly attempting to achieve such works using their mind, because they don't like the universe the way it is and they want everything to be an exception for them in particular — even though the way they usually present is as though the exception were universal, and meant for everyone. The sneaky presence of the ego in these statements is always overlooked.
The law of three and the law of seven strictly constrain the possibilities for human development, and every individual on this level, regardless of their own individual and inward level of development, is on the same turning wheel and subject to the same laws. Even if I have developed to say, man number six, I'm still on this level and subject to its laws in exactly the same way as man number two. So we have a certain equivalence, we share the exact same path, even though we find ourselves on different points of it and may have different levels of understanding. I can't travel to man number six without going through man number two; and he can't get to where I am without going to man number six, because it is part of the same path.
I don't really like to use these man numbers as analogies, because the whole concept seems stuffy and outdated (even though it has an obvious validity) but here it is appropriate enough to remind everyone that there are hierarchies and that everything fits into its place according to a set of laws and principles that can't be changed by wishful thinking.
The minute I think that everything is flexible and relative, I'm tempted to make an exception for myself (which is what everyone wants) and believe that, in terms of development, all things are equal.
Nothing could be further from the truth; and if one does not understand what the laws are and how to obey them — obedience being the most important feature of an intelligent understanding of the path — one can't really go anywhere. Ego function is almost entirely dedicated to producing such states in people. It's how it preserves itself. This is why a human being that wishes to develop must subject themselves to an outside obedience. It's only through this than any freedom can arrive; that freedom is also always constrained by law.
It may sound strange to say that freedom is attained by obeying the laws; but this is the same everywhere. The moment that I choose to disobey the laws, I risk imprisonment. And we all want to disobey the laws, because we would rather serve ourselves than God.
This subject will be of interest to those interested in studies of the enneagram and the question of why Gurdjieff said man has six—and not five—senses.
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The Sixth Sense
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.