A pink. Tallman State Park
Thoughts from the morning of June 24, continued
The Cosmic Web
Typically, when Gurdjieffians and other spiritually inclined types start talking about the cosmic web, one is about to be treated to some highfalutin’ woo-woo talk about all of creation and infinity and God and so on. But when I use the phrase here, I’m referring specifically to the illustration in the article found at the link below:
Now, in order to appreciate this article, one doesn’t need to think about missing matter. The only people that it was missing to were the scientists; it’s always been there, and it never went away. Perhaps they should call it unperceived or undetected matter. But of course we are dealing with the Western conceit finding things that are already there and then claiming that we have "discovered" them, as though we were the entity that validated their existence.
But never mind that. Most of the point I’m about to make revolves around their illustration of the distribution of the matter in the galaxy, depicted (in a wild abstraction that has nothing to do with its true “shape,”but is necessary in order to make it possible for our tiny minds to wrap around it) in the shape of a cube. It’s fun to think about the idea that we live in a universe shaped like a giant cube, though isn’t it? It might mean that we ourselves are actually giant cubes, relative to our molecules.
Today, we’re going to try to think outside the box.
If you take a look at our supergalactic cube, you’ll notice several things. One of them is that galaxies — which are represented by the white strands, all of which are concentrations of matter in the form of dust and gas clouds, planets and suns – string themselves together in concentrations that look, visually, all but identical to neural networks. Galaxies, in other words, are astrophysical cells composed of billions of interacting entities (just like the molecules in our cell from the first installment). They form the same kinds of structures — the same kind of order and connection emerges from them — and, we can presume, there are all kinds of extraordinary thoughts and feelings within this structure, along with a thought and a feeling that emerges on the supergalactic level, that is, a thought and a feeling that emerges at the level of the entire universe.
It, like our little cell, is a caring entity; and because care means, above all, grief and sorrow, this particular perspective offers a powerful insight on why Gurdjieff said that the universe was entirely penetrated by God’s anguish, which he referred to as “The Sorrow of His Endlessness.”
What we have here, in other words, is a universe where cells have identities made of sub-identities – where they think and feel and care about what is going on in them, and wish to repair it — human beings are built the same way — galaxies are built the same way — and in fact the entire cosmos is built the same way.
The nature of Being, in other words, is shared on every level, from the following levels in ascending order:
3. Molecular (crystalline)
5. Organic (human/other)
8. Galactic level.
And there you have your octave. This is an octave — a summary entity — of thinking and caring that emerge from physical being. The nature of its action and its essential character may be emergent from bottom to top, but on each level there is a full expression of its nature as it relates to that level. Please remember that the same types of interactions, conditions, challenges, relationships, and so on are reflected in every level. That is to say, if a human being can be lonely, then a cell can be lonely, and a sun can be lonely. This idea bears a relationship to the Sufi doctrine of the names of God, which iterates God according to all of the properties of Being which can be expressed in the universe. But it would be a bit too much to go into that here; simply remember it applies.
For ourselves, we need only be concerned about our physical existence, thinking, and feeling in regard to the (organic) level we are on, the (cellular) level below us and the (planetary, or astral) level above us. This astral level is the same level as what is called the angelic kingdom in Abrahamic and other religious systems.
From this we deduce that it's not just we that exist, think, and care and suffer — it's also our cells, and the angels above us, that in their own separtate but analogous ways do exactly the same thing.
One might note here that the obligations of agency – the concentration of responsibility, as I refer to it in Novel, Myth and Cosmos — place the burden of suffering squarely not just on the shoulders of mankind, but also on the shoulders of all seven levels and the entire universe itself, hence, on God. I can’t resist pondering the dilemma of the Buddhist ideal — which is to escape from suffering — if even God himself suffers. It leaves Buddhism in the awkward position of espousing an escape from God’s own being; and if that fish isn’t too big to fry, I’m not sure which one would be.
The next installment in this eight part series will publish on August 26.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.