I haven't doubled down on a blog post in so long I can't remember the last time, but today I will.
Over the last few days, several discussions about how Mr. Gurdjieff told Ouspensky that human beings want Christ to be their teacher, but no one is at that level.
Any serious work on this question from an inner point of view will eventually verify that; and of course, even after that happens, it does not remove from us the obligation of praying to Christ, or the hope that we can draw His influence into our soul.
Yet we can much more certainly rely on the influence of Mary as intercessor; and, traditionally, this has been understood for many centuries. J. G. Bennett sensed this quite acutely and wrote about it several times; and his instincts in this area were very good.
It appears in the meantime that the powerful influence of Mary on the Gurdjieff work has been very nearly overlooked by the lines of work that Jeanne de Salzmann established; and I sometimes wonder whether those of us from those lines understand at all how very powerful Her help can be, and how pervasive Her influence in this work is.
Of course, being "on Her payroll", one might expect me to say such things. Yet it is absolutely true; and yet in Gurdjieff circles one almost never hears Her mentioned — let alone Christ, who is of course the most critical component of understanding the esoteric branch of this already esoteric work.
The Work asks us to listen; but the ignorance on this matter manifests as a deafening silence— proving that silence may not be all it is cracked up to be when invoked by esoteric scientists. One could suppose that the reason for this is that religion makes people uncomfortable; but Gurdjieff did not design his work to make people feel comfortable.
And so here we are. Let us allow the discomfort, if there is any, to expand.
Gurdjieff pointed out, in his early talks, that the inner circle of humanity was what influenced the building of the Gothic cathedrals; and, of course, because Meister Eckhart’s teachings, the art of those times, and nearly everything that happened in medieval society were powerfully tied together in a way that is altogether unimaginable for modern minds, we know that the inner circle of humanity was the motive force behind the great religious developments of the Middle Ages.
That religious development, moreover, was emphatically, decisively, and absolutely centered around the worship of the Virgin Mary. The inner circle of humanity was well aware of how powerful Her influence was and how necessary it is to bring it down to this level.
It may seem a bit askew to speak of this on Easter Sunday; but without Mary, there would be no passion of Christ. We would not have the birth; we would not have the resurrection. She is essential to the process because She is what makes all of God’s intercession on this level possible.
The metaphysical reasons for this are complex and actually get rather boring if one lays them out in writing. It is only the organic experience of Mary’s Grace that really matters here.
For those who are nonetheless interested in a very sound technical treatment of the matter, read Jean Hani’s book on the Black Virgin. Be forewarned that because he is brilliant but rather theoretical, it introduces at least one fundamental and profound error which I'll explain to anyone who intends to read it, if they should so wish. Nonetheless, on the whole it's a thorough piece of work.
In any event, these matters have been much on my mind because it is so necessary to represent Mary, insofar as possible, in every action we undertake. If we all approached our work with the understanding that it is our responsibility to hold up a standard She would approve of, we would at least avoid acting — and then dying — like dogs, an aim Mr. Gurdjieff felt was well worth pursuing.
The passion of Christ and His sacrifice is a Great Matter; and it speaks for itself better than anyone can speak for it. The need for Mary’s influence is different; this is within the range of what we can understand and receive.
Hopefully in this coming year mankind will open our hearts to Her more, and receive Her Grace, so that better conditions come to exist on the planet.
Christ is Risen. Hosanna.
The Isenheim Altarpiece was a transformational artwork for Paul Reynard—it conveyed the suffering, in his experience—and served as the inspiration for a number of his paintings with color fields of similar cast.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.