A Capital from the Cathédrale Saint-Lazare d'Autun, France.
Photograph by the Author
from The Reconstruction of the Soul (not yet published.)
Intelligent compassion is a solar force.
It can’t be born of a force that which is to take and keep. That is outside its nature; and the forces that wish to take and keep for themselves, while they have a certain inalienable right to do this (it is lawful and natural for them) cannot understand intelligent compassion because it lies completely outside the realm of their being and nature.
If I don’t come under a new set of influences, I can talk about intelligent compassion all I like. I can read the Vedas and the Stoics and Plato and Swedenborg and Gurdjieff, and I will probably — if I am attentive and make an effort — be able to say a lot of clever things about these matters. There is a habit among men of doing exactly that; reading philosophy and thinking they know something. Our whole society is built on it. But reading philosophy is useless. The only way that one can employ philosophy of any kind as a help in inner work is by suffering it. It is this practical action of suffering, of feeling humility and remorse, within the action of philosophy — not the idea of it — that can change Being. And the action of philosophy, oddly enough, does not take place in the thinking, but rather in the sensing and the feeling.
Too few philosophers understand this in the first place; philosophy schools have popped up all over the place through the centuries, but for each of the real ones, there is an inner or esoteric core in which this question is understood, and it isn’t so often discussed in words, because it is wordless. Now, among the ideational philosophers (people who wish to work with their minds first and then everything else later, if they have time) it is fashionable to say we shouldn’t name this or we shouldn’t name that — which is utter nonsense. A true philosopher is required to name everything they possibly can, because unless one does so, one is unable to see and identify and know within oneself the truly nameless things when they finally appear.
This dilemma underscores how seductive and misleading philosophy can be, and how often human habits use it to misdirect what is actually necessary.
This idea of intelligent compassion is one which knows its place. It is a distinctly solar force and the instant that any Being comes under it, it exerts an action that entirely subjugates self-love and vanity, because they are lower forces without any power whatsoever to manifest when a higher force aligns them. They may still be able to exert a certain mechanical action, but it is essentially powerless.
One needs to re-align one’s Being in a certain way in order to understand this, of course, but there you are. A human being must make every effort to first prepare themselves for the receiving of solar influences within being, and then worry about the place of self-love and vanity. One cannot do this the other way around. If one uses the mind to say “I am vain and self loving,” the fact may be established in that center, but the solar system that wishes to orbit around this center of gravity lacks mass.
Mass is acquired through sensation and feeling.
We prepare ourselves for intelligent compassion through the inflow. This is the flow of the divine particles of Being which are perpetually emanated by our own sun and all the other suns of the cosmos. Unless Being opens to the inflow, everything that takes place in a human being is theoretical.
This sacred inflow must be prepared for by many decades of difficult inner work in which one ruthlessly observes one’s habits and weaknesses, and allows them to be what they are.
This does not mean that one entirely succumbs to them or says to oneself, “okay, do anything you want.” It is an action whereby one is present as they take place, which already does more to change them than any intellectual intention. But the point is always to become open to the energy, not manipulate the conditions of Being.
If we are fortunate and angelic forces notice us enough to lend assistance, eventually we do open to the energy. Even then, self-love and vanity have their own way with things a good bit of the time. But intelligent capacity grows in direct proportion to our willingness to suffer what we are and be honest with ourselves about it.
Intelligent compassion is a universal force, that is, it is not sent in one direction, “from” myself towards everyone else in an action of unselfishness — although that is of course a component of its nature. Intelligent compassion is directed in every direction, and emanates from the center of one’s personal inner sun towards oneself as well as others.
This is because it is formed of elements of particles of the Creator, as Gurdjieff would have called them, that is, those particles that engender remorse of conscience and a sense of the sorrow of the Creator.
Intelligent compassion, in other words, is the seed of becoming a representative of the creator, what Ibn Arabi called a vicegerent, or appointed official, of God.
As such an appointed official, exercising intelligent compassion, the intelligence we are privileged to acquire is one which sees our place; and the compassion we are privileged to acquire is to suffer along with the rest of creation.
We suffer ourselves for what we are; and we suffer on behalf of others because they cannot help what they are any more than we can.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.