Day Lily, June 24
Remembering our understanding of the word person as originally meaning a character in a drama (actually, the primary definition in the OED) we see that personhood is qualified by being able to play a role, that is, have a relationship and be response–able. There’s much to think on here: to be response-able means to have the capacity to respond and form relationship, to not just sit there like a dead lump. It means to have agency. Being has agency; And the aim of Being is not just to have agency, but to always attempt to increase its capacity.
Let us re-focus, however, on the words Supreme Being—that is, an ultimate state of Being—for this particular discussion.
There is an absolute, rather than a relative, state of Being (“God.”) That absolute state of Being is structurally, technically, and mathematically composed and compounded according to the principles I’ve laid out in these essays:
• It’s conscious. That is, it is aware of its environment and has agency.
• It has a physical existence (the cosmos as we know it).
• It has an intellect — an ability to perceive and interpret what is around it and within it.
• It has feeling; that is, a caring, a wish for it to be good, to be right, to be whole and functional and in a sound and meaningful relationship.
This Being exists from the top of the cosmos to the bottom; and we are a functional part of it. So there’s the metaphysical humanist perspective on it.
That entity of Being, furthermore, which penetrates the cosmos from the top to the bottom, has four other elements that drive it which we haven’t yet discussed in any detail:
• Divine (higher) Wisdom
• Divine Love
Of these four elements, the first two, instinct and sexuality, are distinctly Gurdjieff in their nature; but Divine Love and Divine Wisdom, as any metaphysicist will recall, belong to the essential properties Swedenborg assigned to the divine being of God. Of course these corresponds to Gurdjieff’s two “higher centers;” and how peculiar he didn’t name them for what they were, isn’t it? Surely he knew. Perhaps he didn’t want to say that outright to Ouspensky because he knew Ouspensky had a prejudice against religion.
It’s worthwhile to call out the relationship between Gurdjieff and Swedenborg, because they actually expounded a single identical system from two not-so-different points of view. (Any close reading of Swedenborg, to a person deeply grounded in the Gurdjieff practice, will reveal so many points of contact that one may begin to suspect that Gurdjieff cribbed a good deal of his material from Swedenborg without ever telling anyone.)
There is a less nefarious explanation for the similarity between the two systems; Gurdjieff, I believe, was a true original, and his consonance with Swedenborg springs from the source of his revelations and insights, not from a reading of Swedenborg’s material. I will explain that a bit further.
Each of these men used a revelatory set of insights to create a framework (pattern) through which to communicate this consonant metaphysical insight; but they were so uncannily consonant simply because they both came from the same Marian (feminine, gestational, and receptive) source. That is to say, they were engendered by the flow of the divine influence of the Virgin Mary into this level of the universe.
That particular influence is one of the most important ones for mankind; and ought to be the subject of an entire book which I have yet to write and may never get around to. But the point is that all of the material I’ve been writing about and investigating for the past 17 years is all a part of this line that flows from Mary. Gurdjieff served that line as much as the others that have come before him; no wonder women have been so traditionally strong in his work. One might weirdly say he was a man who brought a practical work for the women; the men were an afterthought. We’re perhaps lucky we were invited along for the ride. Of course I’m just kidding around here, but it’s worth thinking about. The points about Gurdjieff’s work being in Mary’s line of work are intensely important, and I would say one will never truly understand the Gurdjieff work until and unless one understands it from the dual point of view of the inflow of the divine mediated by the Virgin Mary, and the receiving of Christ into the heart.
I digress here, but I’ve been wanting to explain that for a long time.
Metaphysical humanism demands more of us than just sitting on our asses appreciating how gratifyingly cosmic we are. That is a thought; and it is not enough. We’re called to participate in this metaphysical humanism according to a threefold set of principles, which begins with the molecular sensation of Being—just as these essays do.
The next installment in this eight part series will publish on September 4.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.