Thursday, May 30, 2019

A Planetary Sense of Being—Part II: A Relationship to the Planet

 Heraldic Angels, from the Tympanum at St. Foy in Conques

The body obeys the attraction of the earth, from which it draws its energy. The subtle force, a finer energy in me, obeys another attraction. 

When the body conforms to the attraction of the earth, the subtle force is freer, as if the two movements complement each other… I must accept this law from which my equilibrium comes, and let these forces act freely in me. 

When I obey the earth's attraction in a conscious way, the subtle force is liberated and my ordinary "I," my ego, finds its place, its purpose.

Jeanne De Salzmann, The Reality of Being, p. 64 

Moving on to the scale in which we live, which is the point of this essay, we see that the organic sensation of being is an awareness-expression of electromagnetism.

Animals are well-known to have a biological intelligence which provides the innate ability to navigate using the planet earth’s magnetic fields. While this is commonly seen and studied in migratory species, the likelihood is that almost all species have this ability in one way or the other. I say this simply because most would argue humans don’t have the ability, yet it turns out it’s definitely present. A recent article on the ability of human beings to sense the Earth’s magnetic field  shows that even mankind has an innate sensation of the Earth’s magnetic field.

What is definitely not known by science is the way in which an inner work can enhance the sensation until it becomes much more active within being, part of the conscious awareness of a human.  This marks the evolution of an astral, or planetary, sensation.

When Gurdjieff used the word planetary, he used it to refer to the world of all the planets of the solar system (In Search of the Miraculous, page 80.)  This corresponds to world 24, one level higher than Earth, which is at level 48 (same page in ISTOM.)  He comments on page 84,

 “If we could free ourselves from one half of these laws, we should find ourselves subject only to 20 laws, that is to the laws of the planetary world, and then we should be one stage nearer to the absolute and its will…  The study of the 48 orders of laws to which men is subject cannot be abstract like the study of astronomy; they can be studied only by observing them in oneself and by getting free of them.

 To expand a little further on this, on page 88 he says,

  The seven worlds of the ray of creation represent seven orders of materiality. The materiality of the moon is different from the materiality of the earth; the materiality of the earth is different from the materiality of the planetary world; the materiality of the planetary world is different from the materiality of the sun, and so on.

 The observational study Gurdjieff speaks above of can only begin within the planetary nature of sensation, which is the first force we can encounter in Being that emanates from an astral level and belongs to it. An esoteric core of the Gurdjieff work has long associated the emergence of an organic sensation of Being with the development of the astral body—an experiential perception, to be sure, but at the same time entirely consistent with the nature of the phenomenon as it relates to Gurdjieff’s cosmology:

 This second body is composed of material of the planetary world and it can survive the death of the physical body…  If a man has the third body… it is composed of material of the sun and it can exist after the death of the astral body. (Page 94.)

 What Gurdjieff is describing here is our position between the moon and the sun, the way in which sensation anchors us to Being, and its foundational nature relative to the receiving of solar influences. Only after sensation concentrates itself sufficiently to awaken and be an actively participating force in Being can it begin to receive and inwardly concentrate the solar influences which Gurdjieff mentions.  Readers wishing to understand this from a theoretical point of view might consider first finishing this essay, then reading the science articles linked in the piece along with all of chapter 5 of In Search of the Miraculous.

Part three of five of in this series will publish on June 2. 

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Monday, May 27, 2019

A Planetary Sense of Being—Part I: The Cosmologically Magnetic Nature of Being

Christ, from the Tympanum at St. Foy in Conques

I wish to become conscious of my existence. If my attention is as usual, dispersed, I feel myself as a form, as matter, a person. When my attention becomes finer and my perception keener, I feel myself as a mass
of energy in movement, a body of energy. Currents of moving particles pass through me, whose movement does not stop. I sense myself no longer as matter with a solid form, but as energy animated by vibrations
that never cease. I feel this energy as if it were magnetized, drawn toward unknown ends. I try to observe this attraction pulling in different directions. I feel that there is no current that is my thought, nor any current that is my feeling, or my sensation, my movement. There is no such thing as each person's thought, each person's feeling. Rather, there is a current of force maintained in a certain sphere by what attracts it and makes it gravitate there. It is necessary to pass beyond.

Jeanne De Salzmann, The Reality of Being, p. 234

In The Sixth Sense, I explained at some length why organic sensation is the essential sixth sense that man needs to develop in order to create a foundation for spiritual being. Without it, the other five senses aren’t enough.

 This sixth sense binds us to the planet through a sensation of Being which is integrated with the magnetic fields of the earth itself. This in turn binds us to other essential magnetic fields that propagate throughout the solar system as the result of interactions between the planets – and of course our own moon — but more than anything else, the sun. A practical experience of this expands on the understanding of man’s place in the Ray of Creation based on Gurdjieff’s theories on the subject. 

After enough experience with sensation, lunar energy, and solar energy, and the way in which sensation integrates with these two influences on the surface of the planet within an individual being, a certain form of objective insight begins to develop. 

First of all, there’s no doubt that what Gurdjieff said about these matters to Ouspensky is true; and secondly, much of the crafted allegory in Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson could only come from a person with direct experience. 

We’re magnetic beings — in fact, electromagnetic beings. Everything that we experience, think, and do arises from electromagnetic fields; and to consider ourselves as being in any way separated from them, both those within ourselves, those on the planet, and those which spread throughout the solar system is fundamentally impossible. 

 What was not foreseen in Gurdjieff’s day was how quantum physics could affect our understanding of this. Some of the things that Gurdjieff said neatly dovetail into understandings that have recently emerged from quantum physics, such as the fact that emanations and radiation are different, and that  emanations propagate instantly.

 What the experiment at the link tells us, in essence, is that the universe at the quantum level is a single entity that doesn’t exist in time (it must be called eternal, Eckhart’s realm of God’s existence outside time) – everything in it is connected instantaneously, irrespective of distance. This is also, of course, supported by the phenomenon of quantum entanglement ( Einstein’s spooky action at a distance), in which particles separated by distance transmit information between each other instantaneously. 

 We emerge from and live within a quantum “soup.”  Although it manifests as separated states of Being, it’s actually a single state. Harmonic resonances across the entire range of energetic interactions are what determine the level of Being: how much awareness is manifest. 

Although awareness is manifest across the entire range of the system of Being (see my posts on metaphysical humanism) it concentrates in nodes across the spectrum.

Greater concentrations of vibration lead to  more intensified instances of Being through intelligent action.

 It’s difficult to understand why the universe is arranged this way, except to say that God created it. Yet we can understand some interesting things about our own nature from an examination of the way our sensation interacts with the foundational magnetism of the planet and the inspirational magnetism of the sun. We stand between the two; and of course this situation is variously alluded to in numerous ancient metaphysical systems. 

Without, however, understanding the organic sensation of Being from a direct and personal point of view, the question remains entirely theoretical.

All of the organisms on the earth are tied to its magnetic resonances. Intelligence in organic life (intelligence must be understood as not being limited to intellect alone)  arises from the magnetic resonance of their microscopic molecular arrangements, along with its interaction with the magnetic resonance of the planet, which takes place on a macroscopic scale. 

These microscopic interactions are so impossibly complex that they defy description; but  if you’re interested in a taste of it, read the article untangling the formation of DNA loops in the March 2019 issue of Scientific American. One can see the inherent workings of an extraordinary intelligence in the action of the DNA molecule; traditionally illustrations of it as spirals on a page are childishly simple and basically useless. DNA is still for the most part completely unfathomable; an organism in its own right, interactive, dynamic, and in constant movement.

 Remember that this extraordinary molecule-creature emerges from quantum fields of magnetic resonation just as much as all of the macroscopic entities (living beings) that it produces; and even though it exists entirely on the molecular scale, a phenomenal intelligence is embedded in it. That phenomenal intelligence, by the way, contains the entirety of expression of intelligence on the scales above it, which is another situation worth considering. This molecule is the package from which emerges all known forms of life, and all of the ways that it can experience and think. 

Every single potentiality that we see in the living world is encoded a priori in DNA itself. If one could truly read the molecule and understood it, one would see that it is a book in which everything that can ever happen in the world of organic life is already written. A true reading of that book would be able to predict every potentiality that organic life can realize in its current form, along with all of the things that it can think and do.

Part two of five of in this series will publish on May 30. 

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Notes on the Inner Meaning of Conscious Labor, part IV

 Intentional suffering involves the servant girl not only learning the language of the household, but agreeing to do all of the work that she is given. 

The house is a huge, complicated operation, with untold numbers of dependents, and that entire community all has to act together in concert to support one another. This means that inevitably some servants — perhaps all of them, at times — have to take on unpleasant and distasteful tasks on behalf of the others. Maybe they need to clean toilets. But no matter what the task is, the servant has to put her particular personal opinions about it aside and discharge her obligations as is required.

Gurdjieff, putting it in his own words, said that Beings everywhere in the universe engage in conscious labor in order  “afterwards to be free to lighten as much as possible of the sorrow of OUR COMMON FATHER.” 

 The idea of suffering comes from a variant of Latin sufferre,  which means to bear, undergo, endure, or carry. If one takes a close look at it, it's actually a combination of the two Latin words suf, to get under, and ferre, to carry,  so it means that one lifts a burden. It conveys the further meaning, imparted in the 1300s, of consent implied by lack of interference, or, as we might say today, to allow.

 I want to remind myself here again that as we discuss all of these ideas, which may begin to sound excessively intellectual, we're always and forever speaking about an inward action undertaken on behalf of God, that is, the higher vibrations that inwardly form all of the matter and Being in the solar system and the cosmos.

It’s clear enough that the comment about lightening the sorrow of our common father is an inference of taking on part of the burden of the sorrow of God, and the word lightening is very specifically used, as opposed to the word — for example — relieving, because it stays close to the original Latin idea of getting under something and lifting it, carrying it. 

Our duty and our obligation is to help lift up the burden of life itself — to raise the level.

If we think about typical aspects of spirituality commonly shared across many different traditions, we will note that compassion and love are almost always essential to it:

He asked, 'How can a man recognize the works of the Holy Ghost in his soul?'

She said, 'By three things. The first is that he daily grows less in the way of bodily things, desires, and natural love. The second is that he continually grows in divine love and grace. The third is that, with love and eagerness, he devotes his labors more to his fellow men than to himself.'

—Meister Eckhart’s Feast, From The Complete Mystical Works, p. 583. 

The following is from the same piece, p. 584:

The maiden said, 'Tell me, Father, how can anyone know he is a child of the heavenly Father?'
He said, 'By three things. The first is, that a man performs all his actions out of love. The second is, that he accepts all things equally from God. The third is, that he pins all his hopes on none but God alone.'

 I think we can quite easily see the connections between Meister Eckhart’s brilliant and intensely Catholic teachings about the nature of the soul and its duty and the beautifully embroidered mythological material which Gurdjieff put in Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson.  He presented us with a devil enlightened enough to understand, honor and admire God’s plan: even the devil loves God, because it is his duty.  This is a delightful complexity I’d like to explore more in some future text.

 Raising the rate of inward vibration through conscious labor lifts the soul towards the type of effort that can indeed lighten the sorrow of both God and our fellow man. Intentional suffering, however, can’t begin simply with outer action, which is automatic and uninformed. It has to begin with a relationship to an inner energy that organically forms a core understanding of and relationship with the type of suffering that we’re required to engage in.

 In my own experience, the contradictions we constantly discover in ourselves arise from a failure to raise the harmonic rate of our vibration in our Being; and this failure, in turn, always rests on the temptation to understand work, in a spiritual sense, first outwardly and first intellectually, instead of first inwardly and first physically. We do not plant our church on the rock of an inward faith; and that faith must arise from an organic vibration, not an idea we have about faith. Faith, after all, arises from Latin fidēs, trust— and trust belongs much more to instinct and to emotion than the other parts of Being. We must instinctively sense, in other words, the nature of Being and its purpose. 

“…almost all the three-brained beings arising on the various planets of our Megalocosmos either know of or instinctively sense the existence of the Holy Planet Purgatory, it is only the three-brained beings on your planet who remain unaware of it…”

 Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, The Holy Planet Purgatory, p. 802.

 We think too much. 

Of course, one could accuse this set of notes of the same pitfall; yet I would remind myself that we think precisely not just in order to think, but also to understand the difference between thinking and not thinking, so that when we decide not to think, we can do it properly. There is a faculty in the inward life that does not think with thoughts at all; and an awakening of the permanent sense of Being, a sensation that does not fail when the mind is weak, offers us a reliable partner in this effort of not thinking, which can exist in us all the time while we at the same time think.

I would remind myself here, as well, that while the thinking part functions perfectly well for what it is good at — thinking — and is absolutely essential to Being, the other two parts are also thinking, even though they aren’t doing it with words. 

The absurdity of attempting to completely extinguish the thinking part as though it wasn’t needed for three centered Being is a profound error; at best, we ought to quiet it down in order to discover how the other two parts work, but we should never try to crush it like a bug.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Notes on the Inner Meaning of Conscious Labor, part III

If we want to understand the concept of duty — an extraordinarily important feature in Gurdjieff’s teaching — and we want to understand obedience and obligation, we must understand it from this perspective, because conscious labor is the foundational entity behind these others. I have a duty to pay; I have an obligation to pay.

 The word duty means a tax or fee, due because of a moral or legal obligation. The word obligation comes from the Latin obligāre, to pledge or bind: and to pledge, in its term, it is a solemn promise, a vow, or a guarantee. 

We hence bring ourselves to the inevitable understanding — instinctively sensed, if the harmonic vibration of Being is intensified — that we both owe something for our Being, our life, and that we are obliged to pay for it.  

Here we see that the term conscious labor is directly tied to Gurdjieff’s fourth obligolnian striving: 

…the striving from the beginning of their existence to pay for their arising and their individuality as quickly as possible…

 Yet this payment does not consist of some outer set of actions, and it does not consist of adjusting one’s thought processes to have a different or better idea about everything. 

Nor is it an adjustment of attitude, although that figures in. 

The payment has an essential metaphysical character embedded in accepting the relationship between Being and the harmonic vibration that creates it: a binding of the physical, this body, with the metaphysical, the harmonic vibration at the foundation of the solar system (and the universe) that creates it. Once again, in terms of yoga references, this relates to the sacred OM,  which Gurdjieff recast as the sacred Aieioiuoa— perhaps a more accurate rendition, since the sound originates in the angelic realms, whose languages are more precise, and captures the sense of movement and the requirement of relationship within cosmic vibration instead of sounding a single tone. But this isn’t to say that OM is bad, mind you: just that it is partial, like the individual branches of yoga that became divided and concentrate on developing specific and separate qualities within Being, rather than engaging in an overall harmonic raising of the rate of vibration.

 Payment consists of coming into relationship with the organic sense of Being, and engaging in conscious labor imposed by the demand of this harmonic vibration and its wish for us. That wish is much more powerful and higher than our own wish, connected as it is with the physical manifestation of the Holy Spirit and the flow of Grace through the solar system and even the universe. 

This labor cannot, in the end, be in any sense of its existence considered apart from intentional suffering, the other essential “shock” within Gurdjieff’s system.  Again, here, there are many different esoteric meanings to this, but I’m concentrating on the one related to the energetic inward work necessary for Being.

In the engagement with the inward rate of vibration,  conscious labor prepares Being for the receiving of even higher rates of vibration by rearranging the harmonic quality of the organism at its molecular or cellular level. I use both terms, because the reorganization is definitely molecular and is sense that way energetically, yet what it changes is the essential nature of the cells and the way they communicate with one another. 

Although the biological aspects of this are probably quite fascinating and could instruct us a great deal about the relationship between harmonic vibration and the arising of life itself, it’s not the focus of this particular essay. The point is that the harmonic rate of vibration of the body can be raised in such a way that the energies corresponds to much higher energies. 

This does not mean that the rate of vibration is raised all the way up to those higher energies, because that would be impossible. One note cannot "become" another note — if we want to use Gurdjieff’s arcane chemical notations, we would say that Sol 12 can’t be the same as Fa 12,  for example, and so on. What his notation means is that the two notes continue to vibrate at their own different rates, but have acquired a character — the numeric 12 — that brings them into harmonic relationship.  And it's this confluence of harmonic vibration that takes place if conscious labor concentrates the substances, the actual physical vibrations within the molecules, that form individual Being. 

It prepares the ground for the arrival of feeling, which vibrates at much higher rates. And although the demand and the submission that’s engaged in conscious labor are essential parts of what help to dissolve the ego, it's only the arrival of feeling as a consonant vibration of a higher nature that truly loosens the tyrannical hold that our ego has on our Being. 

Again likening it to yoga practices, this is the untying of the knots or granthis  that block the flow of energy within Being. These knots, which are variously described as blockages in the chakras at various specific locations, psychological obstacles, energetic disruptions, or what have you, are all in the end manifestations of ego. 

While it may well be possible to cut these knots with various yogic knives, the harmonic approach that Gurdjieff took has an essential intelligence that avoids doing spiritual violence, which puts the development of a person at risk, perhaps even more so than the one-sided development that can take place if one follows only a single path.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Notes on the Inner Meaning of Conscious Labor, part II

The entire work of the human body, in its own inward vibrational evolution, is a perfect model of what takes place in the solar system, just on a smaller level. Those who are interested in yoga and the chakra teachings might want to take note of this, although they may prove to be of somewhat limited value when applied to the cosmological scale we’re attempting to connect with from an inward point of view.

This baseline vibration of sensation, once it becomes a living intelligence, places a tremendous demand on an individual. One must agree, without compromise and in every sense of the word of service, to commit oneself to a relationship with this vibration. 

The vibration — which exists within our Being, but is not of our Being —  is paradoxically of a very high nature, much higher than our own, even though it expresses itself at the root and base of our existence. 

I call this a paradox because this much higher vibration actually forms the foundation of the level below us, which is where our Being has to be rooted in order to grow. Eckhart’s comment about the intellect has a relationship to this, because the spiritual intelligence (which is what he means by intellect) cannot discover and rest within its true nature until it put its roots down in this fundament of higher energy, which rests below ordinary being as a reservoir of life and the fountain from which it springs.

Again, all of this is allegory which does little to convey the actual experience. Nonetheless, the essential point must be restated: it becomes a demand. If we wish to know what it means to serve a master, to engage in the discharge of our duties towards God, we must personally know this energy and meet its demand within us. The service must be delivered without question, at all times, rooting our Being directly in the foundation of life so that we are required to confront our lives in every instant with this presence in us.

One might say that this isn't freedom at all: it's service, the binding of Being to a master who speaks a language we have not yet understood. Yet one knows instinctively through contact with the master that one must obey. 

 Conscious labor is like a servant girl from a crude village somewhere who is indentured and brought from the life of a wild beast or animal, dressed in rags and living in a hovel, into a vast palace belonging to a rich family. 

When the servant girl sees the palace,  much grander than any of the stories she's ever heard, she understands that she has an opportunity to live in this extraordinary environment, which represents so much more than she's ever had. But she must serve honorably in order to do so. She knows nothing about the palace; and when she finally meets the Deputy Steward, to whom she must report, she discovers that she doesn’t even speak the language of the palace. She must discharge her duties wordlessly, learning what is required from him through close observation and an instinctive, intuitive willingness to serve in order to keep her place in this extraordinary and wonderful situation which she knows so little of.

 Again, this is just by way of analogy, and entirely inadequate. When demand arrives in the form of a harmonic vibration that inwardly forms spiritual Being, one must consciously work to come into association with it at all times. 

This labor is not a labor from the direction of the sensation, which is (or ought to be) already present at all times; it is a labor conducted from the direction of consciousness and intelligence to be in relationship. The aim of a permanent sensation of Being is to begin this work, which is not in any sense of the word mature when one discovers it and sets out to engage in the work that’s necessary.  It is exhausting and designed, from its inception, to destroy everything one believes about oneself, one’s attitudes, one’s opinions, and so on. If the relationship is soundly formed, it progressively undermines and dissolves every egoistic tendency except those most essential to the conduct of every day life — those which are needed for the psychological health of Being and which, more importantly than anything else, are not destructive towards others. This is the manner in which a harvest is conducted: the unworthy parts of Being are discarded, while the worthy ones are collected together and concentrated. That which is not needed is thrown into the fire.

 Conscious labor, the relationship with a spiritual harmonic of Being, demands that every penny be paid. When I mention that we're always demanding a prenuptial agreement, my point is that we believe our exchange with spiritual Being is transactional and that we should both get something from it and be allowed to keep whatever we wish. 

Yet the real transaction of conscious labor is to show up willing to pay everything, and to understand with every shred of one’s Being that one will pay, and pay, and pay, and that one must pay God every shred of one’s Being—

without ever expecting a single thing in return.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Notes on the Inner Meaning of Conscious Labor, part I

Intellect's object and lodgement is essence; not accident, but pure unmixed Being in itself.

Meister Eckhart, Sermon 3

If I were to rephrase this in other terms, I might say: 

Intellect’s aim and center of gravity is essence; not automatic association, but residence within its own unadulterated nature.

 In any event. As is so often the case, I find myself taking notes based on extended experience and the results of pondering its essential nature.

The term conscious labor — a unique invention of Gurdjieff’s, playing a central role in his explanation of the law of octaves and the nature of what human beings are required to engage in in order to develop spiritual Being— has many meanings according to level. It is, unfortunately, the natural tendency to interpret this within the context of the mind and automatic association.

 I say this because of the powerful and nearly unavoidable habit, sometimes weirdly believed to be the only and even absolute approach, of using the intellect to try to understand the Gurdjieff work in particular and spiritual work in general. 

You cannot know God with the mind; that is, at least, with the average mind of every day being. God is not rooted in thought or ideas, nor is God found within comparisons and associations. 

Hence the apophatic tendency, which is to find God by defining everything that God is not: He isn’t, apparently, anything. At least not anything material. The point is that you can’t think your way into heaven — yet this is what we always try to do. As I’ve put it recently to many others, I demand a prenup — an agreement beforehand that everything sacred will submit to my intellect as it arrives, and, as long as it agrees to do that, well then, we’ll agree to conduct this search for the inward understanding of heaven together. Just on my terms, that’s all. Heaven has to arrive without me giving up what I have.  If this reminds you of the parable of the rich man entering the kingdom of heaven, there we are.

 Conscious labor carries a meaning related to the development of a higher rate of harmonic vibration within Being.

The development of a permanent sensation of Being — an understanding of one’s Being that’s firmly grounded in the sensation of the cells and molecules, in the vibration that takes place within the living reception of life in the body — is the foundation of a harmonic vibration for conscious labor. The body receives life: Swedenborg’s inflow,  de Salzmann’s influence. While what’s called “higher energy” — Eckhart’s Holy Spirit — is the force of Grace itself, the physical vibrations it imparts, which are slowly concentrated over many years, enhance and deepen this harmonic vibration of Being.  Anyone who doubts that the nature of being itself is fundamentally grounded in vibration has ignored everything quantum physics teaches us; no more really need be said on that subject.

The first aim of any extended spiritual effort must be to understand this from an organically intelligent point of view. 

Zen Buddhism calls this “having the marrow” of the inner work — that is, one doesn’t just ”have” (that’s how they say it)  the flesh, blood, or bones—each of which is a product of the fundamentals of sensation — one has the marrow, which is the place from which it arises, in the same way that the marrow of our bones creates blood. It’s the heart of the matter, and the essential place from which all of the life that flows into the rest of Being arises. We could liken it to a base note or undertone that anchors the sounding of an entire symphony; we could liken it to the beginning of mortality, which expresses itself as its own, opposite, life, in the root of our Being. There, life and death are inseparable.

 This is a physical vibration, not a thought. It can’t be reduced to thought. It can’t be grasped by thought. Yet it begins in the fundament of intelligence, so it expresses itself as intelligence from the instant that it’s encountered. And it exists before “my” Being: it's that selfsame essence within which intellect ought to dwell, an unspoken essence of intellect that is first itself, without any words. Intelligence before the words: a vibration of Being.

This relates to conscious labor in the following way: to engage with this vibration, to have it concentrated within Being, is to receive the emanations within the solar system of the sun itself, which are (for our purposes) eternal; the sun is always emanating at one level or another. It creates a baseline; everything that’s harmonically aligned with this solar emanation of energy vibrates along that same baseline. 

The fundament of spiritual Being depends on a vibration — an organic sense of Being — that first acquires the capacity for vibrating at that baseline. It then receives a wide range of energies that vibrate at higher levels, as the sun does the work it can and must do to help raise the rate of vibration throughout the rest of the solar system.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

March 14

March 14

There’s a point at which the questions about what inner work is don’t seem so interesting any more; one works quite simply, without constantly testing, fearing, or challenging the idea of work.

Don’t think about it.

There are days when enough sensation is concentrated to produce an inner harmony. This harmony vibrates at a rate that receives feeling. 

It requires an effort; nothing ever becomes tangible without a corresponding demand. Yet to those who have, much is given; and what this means is not that much ease and goodness is given, but that much material for inner work is given. One is charged what the traffic will bear; and one pays almost by one’s intuition—as a duty and an obligation, and never in order to get anything.

This becomes clear enough with time; but patience is necessary, because the merchant who calculates in this exchange never goes away. The best one can do is keep a very close eye on him.

We inhabit our lives as duty and obligation, not to ourselves, but first to life itself; and then to others. If one isn’t prepared to give one’s Being to life itself first as the primary obligation, and then to others, one can’t prepare for any other possibility of inner action. 

Life itself: already that greater part of God, which may seem elusive. 

The kingdom of heaven is proximate; we’re nearest to it, even in the least of things, if we but knew it. It lies within us; this is where God has His fondest and most intimate wish to dwell. God has no greater love than love of His creation. I can be close to that through the duty and the obligation of my daily work, which is my daily bread. 

A vibration to become attuned to.

So no matter how high or low I find the oscillations of self rising or dipping, I remember this harmonic of Being. It’s sweetness; it’s love. 

It’s also sorrow and effort. 

Regardless of its nature, the obligation is to be invested in it.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

A Harmonically Distributed Sensation, Part VIII

Capital, Moissac
One of the reasons that solar energy, the emanations of the sun, was cited by Gurdjieff as a powerful impetus to enter work for those who undertake their Being-duty is that, properly received, it directly enhances the ability of an organism to sense itself. Human beings who undertake an inner journey always need to begin with alignment with the lunar energies; but ultimately, we seek to come under the influence of solar energies, which is why Gurdjieff once announced that he was in the solar energy business. This isn’t a theoretical matter either, but it can’t be appreciated as an organic question without sufficient inner development in the area of sensation. Once one comes under the influences, they are unavoidable, which creates a new kind of demand.

The entire planet is under this influence, yet it’s likely, I think, that only human beings have lost the ability to sense and feel, in a direct and conscious manner, the influence of the sun, which is constantly working in one way or another to support our inward spiritual effort. This takes place on the spiritual level, not the natural one, and our only familiarity with the sun relates to its natural manifestations — heat, light, photosynthesis, and so on. We don’t understand it as a higher being with the ability to form relationships throughout the solar system. Yet as what one might call “microbes” in the digestive system of the sun, we play, collectively, a central role in its own health, even though it is nearly impossible for us to see that individually.

 I’d like to think a bit more about this relationship between our own microbes, which are essential to every part of our being from our digestion to our psychology, and the relationship we have to the sun, because the analogies by level are very exact and quite accurate. To say that we are cells in the sun’s sensory system, or in the body of God, is not quite as accurate as saying that we are microbes – independent entities – with the duty of serving as assistants in that body. Our own well-being depends on it, as well as the well-being of the level above us.

Going back for a moment to the influence of the sun, it’s worthwhile to keep a close—even daily— eye on the space weather website. Because it closely tracks the various types of solar events that are signals of beneficial emanations of solar energy, such as coronal holes, sunspots, and CME’s (Coronal Mass Ejections, known as solioonensius  in Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson), one can know using scientific observations when events that can benefit our inner work have taken place. It is true— not by analogy, but literally — that conditions for inner work improve, sometimes dramatically, when such events take place. 

Different types of events provide different kinds of emanations that, once sensed or felt, support a variety of inner processes related to spiritual development. All of this is closely related to the many complicated explanations of such matters that Gurdjieff gave in his book. Trying to figure all of those things out with the mind first and then understand them is less effective than working through sensation to become more open to the influences. If that happens, understanding develops naturally, rather than as a forced product of intellect.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Monday, May 6, 2019

A Harmonically Distributed Sensation—Part VII

Capital, Moissac

She has only automatic mind, she not understand that of mind is two kinds and she quite not have real mind mentation.”

Gurdjieff and the Women of the Rope, 2012 Book Studio, page 188.

The overarching theme of these essays, when I began them, was the distribution of sensation throughout the body as a single expression of Being.

 The aim is to understand this energy as a whole form of independent consciousness, manifesting without words. This has a great deal to do with the above quote.

Attempting to understand this from the perspective of how a limb feels, or the energy in my spine or my feet, is helpful. But the permanent sensation of Being distributes itself throughout Being on the cellular level in such a way that it “fills” all the body. It becomes a resonant vibration that penetrates all of one’s awareness as a fundamental consciousness which is clearly separated from the part that thinks.  Understanding from any other perspective is fragmentary.

Understanding it, furthermore, from this practical point of view will explain, without words, a number of inner relationships that remain obscure and theoretical under other conditions.

We have the potential to become related to this field of energy. A real work of inner relationship begins with the manifestation of this energy, and being in a committed relationship with it requires a different kind of effort from within. This effort can’t be explained with words, but only sensed. It relates to what Jeanne de Salzmann repeatedly calls a demand.

 This word demand derives from the Latin demandare which means to hand over or entrust. In its turn, the two Latin roots that create it mean to formally order

Understanding the word from this point of view is helpful in sensing the gist of what she means by it. We  hand ourselves over to the sensation — our awareness of being,  the manifestation of harmonic energy. We begin to understand it as a duty: that which we are obliged by God to undertake as Beings. 

This is worth a great deal of pondering, because it clearly relates to Gurdjieff’s phrase Being-Parktdolg-Duty. 

Being-Duty itself, which touches a wide range of subjects, is deeply rooted in this question of a responsibility to our sensation.  

It isn’t so much a duty of beings as a duty to Be.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.