Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Feeling-Basis of Existence— Notes on The Kingdom of Heaven, Part II

Well, sitting here in my studio without a lot to do this morning – Neal is at work in someone’s garden — and having come up with this phrase, the feeling – basis of existence, it seems like it’s worth examining it further.

Spring is here and the redbud outside my studio is blooming. Downstairs, our housekeeper is vacuuming the stairs. Between the beauteous silence of the flowering tree and the vigorous mechanical actions of my housekeeper, there is a stillness that lives within the heart. 

There’s no need to get complicated about it. The stillness is not filled with thinking, which comes naturally and without any strain or effort. Nor is it filled with sensation, which simply serves as the signpost for being, the inward background radiation of the cosmos in its single note of presence, existence, and The Perfection itself.

What permeates all of this is the receiving of these impressions through feeling, which is once again passive and receptive, naturally capable of allowing these things to flow in. There’s always a certain agitation and tension that comes from the natural organic parts, because they can’t help this kind of activity. Each one of us has a different kind of neural tension of this kind: some of it anxious, some of it egoistic, and so on. I can’t escape these parts of myself, because they’re just part of my overall makeup and have to be accepted. Although I could configure my spiritual search as taking up a kind of a battle with these parts, it won’t do me much good. They’re natural parts which the spiritual self needs just as much as anything else in order to grow. Inhabitation of these experiences is far more important than reconfiguring them.

I’m reminded of a comment from the summer 2019 issue of Parabola magazine, which was made by Suzuki Roshi back in the 60s at Tassajara ( see page 77.) He said, 

I don’t really understand you Americans. When you put so much milk and sugar on your cereal, how would you taste the true spirit of the grain? Why don’t you taste the true nature of each moment instead of trying to make everything taste just the way you want it to? Why don’t you taste your own true spirit?

  One could come up with a lot of ways of playing with this idea, but it’s the receptiveness at its core that interests me. This receptiveness is certainly not formed from our mind, which is what wants always to reconfigure everything, and it’s not formed from our sensation, because sensation is the arising of the intelligence of inward being. 

It’s feeling that co-responds to the intelligence of outward being as it flows into us: it’s the receptacle. If you’re interested in biology, you could think of it as the membrane lining the organ of being, which is tremendously sensitive and absorbs all the nutrients of impression through its receptive molecules.  Unfortunately, our lining is usually irritated. We have a form of irritable bowel syndrome of the soul. Instead of digesting what comes to us, we mess around with it and expel it like diarrhea. We never absorb the nutrition that life can give us, because our feeling part is not receptive. It’s inflamed.

I’ll explain this yet another way. 

Intelligence perceives.
Sensation lives.
Feeling receives

These three forces of awareness interact in different orders according to necessity; if you try to arrange them for yourself, you’ll discover that’s impossible. Even trying to perceive them separately from one another becomes quite difficult. It’s only their integration, which must proceed naturally and by voluntary relationship, that reveals the true nature of their action. 

The nature of their inter action forms a single nature; and yet because existence is founded on love, the basis of everything that can be perceived and perceived is a feeling-basis, even though it’s the third force that enters as one attempts to first become mindful in the intelligence, then connect to the body through sensation.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Feeling-Basis of Existence— Notes on The Kingdom of Heaven, Part I

May 4, 2019

I’m back from China as of last night, and contemplating the Kingdom of Heaven within us.

One of the things that occurred to me last night on the plane was that everything Christ told us is true. 

Of course, some of it has to be understood allegorically — literal interpretations of his words that connect them directly to material things too often turn them into crude statements that attempt to put the treasures in them up on earth where they are corrupted.

We can understand “earth” in this sense to be the external, the outer world. Christ speaks to us of our inner world and the way it is arranged; and the Kingdom of Heaven is the inner place of conscious awareness within which our life is received: a spiritual lens with the ability to see into not only our own hearts, but God’s.

 God wants to be with us in every moment of our life and in every breath. It’s His most earnest wish. 

This is a living force that flows into us, not one of the innumerable intellectual constructions we erect around our presumptuous meanings. It is the actual meaning of life, not the theoretical one. And our life does have an active meaning with a deeply emotional base, which forms everything in the end.

I know that there’s a great risk here of getting lost in analysis and, once again, theory, but it must be said that love is the basis of all being and all existence and that there is no other force of creation or of existence. 

Materialistic rationalists don’t understand this; they would have love born of matter, whereas the absolute truth of the universe is that it is love before matter and all else. 

Love is what begins and ends everything; it is the Alpha and Omega. And it is this feeling-basis of existence that human beings were designed to come into contact with.

 Another thing that occurred to me last night on the plane was Christ’s great commandment (Matthew 22:35 – 40):

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

 There is no greater truth than this truth. 

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Quantum State of Being, Part IV: The Creation of Being

 Being emerges through relationship.

It cannot exist outside itself and independent of itself. 

There can be no Being without a priori relationship, because Being alone has no measurement applied to it. Unmeasured, unseen, unencountered and un-apprehended, it cannot exist. It only begins its existence when perception — seeing — enters the picture.

 Perception at our level of consciousness, self observation, engages us in relationship through the action of consciousness in the collapse of the undifferentiated states around us (objects, events, circumstances, and conditions) into fixed and identifiable entities. Consciousness as we experience it, in other words, performs the same function on a macroscopic scale that consciousness does on the quantum level: it takes the unformed and gives it form. Each individual consciousness is, in other words, a representative of a cognitive collapse that defines Being through emergent properties of perception. The same thing that is happening when quanta “form” particles with defined properties as they are observed happens in us, just on a much larger scale. Yet what is formed depends on what is observed; the less refined our observational skills, the less defined and more disorganized our Being is.  

The creation of reality depends on the refinement of observational skills at every level.

Yet it leaves us with the question of the quantum state itself, which was named for the very fact that it was assumed to be granular, that is, discontinuous and formed of impossibly tiny forces, or, energy packages (quanta.)

The quantum state, which I sensed on that interesting morning in 2008, is an egalitarian entity. In and of itself, all quanta are identical to one another and have no separating or identifying characteristics.  

This is true of all things that exist before consciousness perceives them.  There is something; but that something is nothing. This philosophical conundrum is a restatement of the problem of the quantum state. It’s the same as the electron that is in two places at once: something and nothing, or Schrödinger’s cat, which is both dead and alive. Our Being, before we see ourselves, occupies that exact same paradox — in an exquisite irony that can only be changed if we make an inner effort to Be, we are alive… 

and dead.

Before we “observe” the action of an electron, defining its position or speed, there is no electron.  There is simply the possibility of an electron. What there are, are quanta; and their potentialities are multidirectional, that is to say, any quanta can fulfill any role at the point of observation where the presence of consciousness creates its committed existence within the classical state. We won’t find that there are charmed quanta or up and down quanta, for example, because they have zero characteristics prior to the resolution of their Being. In a sense, this answers the question of what happens when a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it: no, there is no sound.

We are much the same way. We’re nothing as we begin (think of Gurdjieff’s command that we recognize our own nothingness.) Presuming an interest in inward development, it’s that very unformed nothingness of Being which we attempt to resolve through observation. 

This is a risky business, because while we do, conceptually speaking, collapse the  unresolved wave/particle duality within our own Being as we develop, what we develop into is unpredictable. Gurdjieff’s way of saying this was to explain that the universe could produce both good and bad individuals — beings with true objective reason and Hasnamusses.  

It’s the question of responsibility, the way we form relationships, and how much we care about others that matters here. 

Care is what imparts the movement that forms gravity and relationship.

The universe is a system of relationships; but it is also a system of sheep and shepherds. Each field of gravity, each individual attractive force of consciousness (idiot), becomes responsible for the lower forms around it; in this way, the sun is responsible for the planets, the planets are responsible for the formations and beings they have, and so on. It’s an independence of multiplicities. All of it forms around one of two alternatives: caring and not caring. Love and no love.  Referring back to Gurdjieff’s Hasnamusses, their chief feature is always selfishness. They deny relationship; whereas Beings of higher reason affirm it.

 The metaphysical reasons for this enter sophisticated territory. I’m not prepared to deal with it in this particular essay.  What matters the most to me is the question of what we care about. Gravity, that ineffable and perfectly refined sense and sensation of Being, can exert a force within intellect, the body, and feeling. In each case, it needs to be well defined and invested in in order for harmonious Being to develop. Our inner sense of gravity is what causes us to care about who we are and who others are; and only by coming into relationship with this force that emerges from the quantum state and creates being can we begin to become human – which is to care on the level we are on.

In this sense, although it is wrong in many ways, we could say that we create ourselves — but only to the extent with which we create ourselves in relationship to other Being. We can believe in ourselves; or we can believe in others, and in God. This is that same dilemma that Swedenborg presented us with in his analysis of the difference between hell and heaven.

There is no being and no consciousness without belief. At the point where the quantum state collapses into classical reality, a choice has to be made as to what one believes in. Belief is at the root of consciousness itself; to try to be aware without believing is like trying to make soup and leaving out the water. Consciousness, in other words, carries the obligation to believe in some thing;  of commitment is made, and perhaps this is the characteristic feature of the collapse of the quantum state. When it takes place, there is a commitment to one thing or another. The die is cast.

 Yet this happens over and over again, an infinite number of times.  Without that arising of awareness, commitment, and then discipline, relationship, and feeling, there is no Being. This brings us to the question of the many Names of God in Arabic systems. These Names of God, or forces, are conceptual entities of attitude and mindset. Not indifferent bits of matter. We live within these forces, which are active and conceptual, metaphysical and fluid. The fact that the forces manifest themselves through the vehicle of particle physics may be of technical interest — especially when it comes to the art of making things — but it has very little, in fact, to do with the question of being itself, and what its purpose is. Mechanistic rationalism might claim that there is no purpose; but I find that explanation purposeless. 

We're creatures of purpose, entities that arise and believe; trying to divorce this capacity and these faculties from the nature of human Being itself is an absurdity.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Quantum State of Being, Part III: Sensation and Quantum Being

Human beings are built with the capacity to sense the action of inner gravity within Being. This is an essential function in order to understand what it means to be human; it’s impossible, for example, to understand even the very first thing about Gurdjieff’s chemical factory and the ingestion of impressions from anything but a theoretical perspective without it. The human being has to acquire this permanent center of gravity — Gurdjieff, in his early years, called part of its function “magnetic center” — which Jeanne de Salzmann referred to as a permanent sensation.

 The word sensation can be misleading, because while this “permanent” sensation manifests as a sensation, without considerable experience, one doesn’t understand that what one is sensing is the gravitational attraction within the molecular and atomic state of being that arises as a direct result of the transition from the quantum to the classical state. 

Conscious labor is a relationship with the gravity of Being.

The more Being one acquires, the more concentrated an awareness of that force becomes. Attractive forces function within the physical body to collect and concentrate what Gurdjieff called “higher hydrogens.” 

 Permanent sensation, which is actually gravitational sensation, gives the organism a physical sense and awareness of its place in the rate of creation. This is because the personal gravity of individual Being anchors one as an individuated manifestation of consciousness. 

That is to say, the action of Gurdjieff’s “I am” performs the same function within Being as the function of universal (fundamental) consciousness at the root of classical reality. 

When “I am,” I recapitulate and participate in that same action on my level. This takes the indiscriminate, undifferentiated (what Gurdjieff called automatic or mechanical) action of consciousness and places it within a field of forces where it has responsibility. Described in physics terms, my wave/particle function has collapsed and I'm now either a wave or particle; but this is oversimplification. The most essential character I’ve acquired isn’t that of a force, function, wave or particle. 

It’s a function of responsibility: an ability to respond. 

Unformed, I’m passive and have no such ability. 

Formed, I become active. 

On a cosmological scale, quantum and classical reality are the holy denying and holy affirming entities that interact with God’s consciousness – the reconciling force — to create everything that is.

 My inward sense of gravity—my ”conscious labor”—places me within Being. Living and functioning more fully as a human being brings an additional set of challenges, duties, responsibilities, and complexities, during which I must never lose that sense. It’s what creates “I am” before anything else happens. 

 One can understand directly from one’s personal inner experience how gravity creates Being within each thing and creature. Gravity isn’t just some physical force that holds things down, makes them full, and pulls them around each other in orbits. It’s the force of intelligent relationship itself, the organizational principal around which all Being is created. Physics hasn’t been able to tie it into  theory because it’s an action of Divine Intellect, not particle physics. 

It’s care; it’s compassion. 

It is, furthermore, the action of Being within its own relative sphere of influence.

 Planets are intelligent beings on a level higher than our own, as are suns; and that human beings function, in the case of the earth, as one of the organs of the Earth’s perception. This understanding was built into many ancient traditions and cultures according to varieties and flavors of interpretation that appear to be allegorical to us today. Yet almost all of them were based, at one time or another, on active perception of the intelligent functions of inner gravity. Every legitimate esoteric and initiate society throughout history has understood this question the same way, even though it has been expressed in a wide variety of theological vehicles from primitive to sophisticated societies. We can’t recognize this today; it was recorded symbolically instead of using mathematics and technical instruments, which is what we are accustomed to associating with “real” knowledge in today’s world. True understanding exceeds the boundaries of any physical science.

If we’re looking for a unified field theory, in other words, it doesn’t lie in the technical analysis of the forces. Consciousness is a greater force than computational mathematics. We should remind ourselves, as we analyze our world that mathematics is not a “real” thing in itself, but rather a descriptive tool to order and assess phenomena which by their very nature far exceed the action of the tool itself.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Quantum State of Being, Part II: Gravity and Quantum Being

 The theory of gravity and quantum Being proposes that all consciousness arises from this root quantum state, which undergoes transition to classical reality through the action of awareness. Because awareness is a fundamental property of the universe, we see a universe form through the perpetual collapse of the quantum state into classical reality. Awareness itself is what discriminates and creates classical reality, so in a certain sense we can say that all of the universe is an entity of awareness which creates itself and begins to exist by performing the function of observation necessary to bridge the gap between the quantum state and the material world.

This means that all Being—everything that can be seen—has already arisen from the fundamental field of awareness that observes. 

This places the action of observation, of seeing, at the root of all cosmological functions and universal conditions.  Creation is an engine of self observation. 

An infinite number of actions of seeing take place throughout what we call the space time continuum at all times; this is, in essence, eternity. The material universe arises from that; and what we observe as gravity within the material world is really the attractive force of Being to other Being.

 Readers of my other work may recall how I’ve explained that even at the molecular level, a form of care is exercised: even atoms and molecules have feelings, no matter how small a scale they operate on. 

We could redefine the word feeling on the atomic level in several ways, one of which means to have an affinity for the other – which is defined by positive and negative forces, Gurdjieff’s holy affirming and holy denying – and the other which means to have compassion, that is, like feeling. This gives us a window into the nature of the third force, Gurdjieff’s holy reconciling. It is, above all, compassionate, because it includes and resolves both the positive and negative forces in its action. If you think about this a bit you will understand why the law of three runs the whole universe — and how it begins to exist instantaneously at the moment that consciousness discriminates and creates its bridge between the transcendental (quantum) and the classical states.

The extraordinary feature of consciousness is that it can know itself. This is, of course, the enterprise that the entire universe is engaged in at every level; and yet once Being arises at a certain functional level of consciousness—the threshold which humanity crosses in its existence—it has a capacity to know this more directly and in a cosmological context, rather than automatically and only in relationship to the function of its own level.

I’ve spent many years writing about the function of inner gravity, the inner solar system, and so on, because our conscious Being (to the extent that we participate in it) is an exact model of everything that takes place throughout the universe in terms of this function of relationship, the action of gravity, the formation and order of orbital systems, and so on. It seems useful to me here to explain the nature of inner gravity in relationship to planetary gravity and solar gravity.

 When Gurdjieff said that the moon is sensation, and that we need it in order to create our individuality, he was referring to the planetary nature of Being:

“The Moon in man is sensation. It is that broken part of the original consciousness of man, and it is that part towards which a man who wishes to work has a primary responsibility; for sensation in man is the growing part of his inner cosmos. The Ray of Creation inside man extends from free attention to sensation.”


The moon is, for the earth, above all a gravitational entity – and his emphasis on the importance of the moon (as well as his entire explanation of the rate of creation) all centers around that understanding. Gravity is not just some physical phenomenon — it is the action of Being within its affirming, denying, and reconciling capacities to form relationships with others and to create more order. It is, in other words, a more conscious force, because it represents the action of the law of three. Because it’s a conscious force, a thought, sensation, and feeling behind the action of the universe itself, it is mediated through intelligent form, which exists within both the quantum and classical state as a wave function. That is to say, it is a movement through the particles that arise through the collapse of the quantum state.

 This predicts that we’ll never find a specific particle that mediates gravity; it is a force of movement, which is imparted by relationship of vibration. Once again, you will probably recognize Gurdjieff’s law of octaves as being deeply rooted in this question.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Quantum State of Being, Part I: The Granular State

With this series of essays, I'll briefly discuss the implications of the Harmonic sense of Being and the Planetary sense of Being in relationship to the quantum level.  Readers will see that in the context of metaphysical humanism, this presents a comprehensive vision of the division between quantum and classical physics, and an understanding of how it relates to our being.

 Readers are asked to go to and read the following post in order to begin this series. 

Then read on:

 When I wrote about the granular state of reality in my post in 2008, I was referring to the fact that the human being is actually able to sense that which physicists call the quantum level. 

This calls for further context and explanation.

Quantum space time is actually (in the context of quantum theory) a granular entity, because the energy, momentum, and the other properties of particles are confined to discrete bits. The word quanta is derived from the Latin quantus, meaning quantity or amount. Thus, strangely, the theory that tells us things are neither here nor there until we measure them — quantum theory — is actually a theory of measurement, roughly speaking. At least as far as the name implies.

 The contradiction between physical reality and quantum reality has always been that there is no physical reality until that measurement — which determines either velocity or location — takes place. What there is doesn’t look anything like classical reality. It can be in two places at the same time. It can entangle with itself so that two “particles” (we don’t know exactly what they are, except that they are forces, so we call them particles) are able to communicate instantaneously without the interference of limitations such as the speed of light.

 And while quantum theory has been good at explaining many different features of the universe, physicists are still struggling to discover the force that mediates gravity – which is presumed to have a feature, in one way or another, that is particulate in nature. 

Or maybe it isn’t. The problem is that we just don’t know. Physicists certainly want it to be particulate, because if it isn’t, things will be, to put it bluntly, pretty messed up.

 Fortunately, there is an explanation, even though physicists probably won’t like it.  In order to approach it, we’ll need to begin here. There’s a direct relationship between the inward gravity of Being in a human being and gravity across the space time continuum.  The phenomenon of gravity and its physical results as we observe them is a macroscopic and material reflection of the inner process that creates reality in the first place. 

The inner process that creates reality is intrinsic to the inner nature of Being of the cosmos itself, as well as the inner nature of Being of its constituents.

Said inner process is a process of consciousness. Consciousness lies at the root of the universe and all of its manifestations. All material manifestations that we observe originate in the discriminatory action of consciousness, which always and forever resolves the paradox between the quantum state and material reality. 

In other words, every single material thing that ever was, is, or will be arises initially because consciousness discriminates at the level of this “granular” state of proto-Being called the quantum state and places what we call “atomic particles” (in reality, there are no atomic ”particles,“ but just forces in multiple states of relationship) into measurable circumstances whereby they acquire definite characteristics that then form new relationships.

These relationships are mediated by gravity, or attraction. When we see positive and negative charges in atomic theory, what we are actually seeing is polarized states of gravity. Gravity is the initial attraction that arises instantaneously at the moment the quantum level is resolved by consciousness. This innate and inherent (i.e., inborn and permanent) propensity for attraction forms the universe of relationships that we now live in.

 I explained some of the function of this universe of relationship in Novel, Myth, and Cosmos; what I’d like to do this morning is explain the function of quantum versus classical reality and the nature of gravity in relationship to the question of Being.

  The general theory of relativity explains gravity as a distortion of space and time. 

Let us propose, rather:

Gravity is the creation of space and time through Being.  

This is a more precise and accurate statement about the nature of gravity. 


Without Being, there is no spacetime  continuum.
Every instance of existence through the manifestation of consciousness creates a state of gravity, or attraction that forms a collective entity. At the basic level, we call these entities “particles” — and yet even those things are collectives. Physicists have verified this by splitting them over and over, only to discover that there is no bottom.  The creation of collective entities formed through attraction seems to take place directly at the quantum level, where individual quanta are differentiated and, in their infinitesimal wisdom, collectively form relationship based on a discriminative faculty of porto-awareness.  

If we want to look at the bottom of the tree of particle physics to find out just how small particles get, we’ll need to look at the level of three quanta, because each subsequent particle of classical reality will, theoretically, be formed of only three quanta which establish the initial relationship that creates the base particles of the universe.  Positive, negative, and neutralizing forces are required for any positions of relationship; and all of classical reality is formed from these positions of relationship.

All further “atomic particles” acquire their existence and further functions from this basic manifestation, so we have a long way to ”go down” splitting particles before we find the foundation; so far, in fact, that instruments will never be able to measure them. It means that many of the interactions that form the universe are taking place on scales that will remain remain forever out of reach to modern physics—or any kind of physics whatsoever.  I would note, however, that said interactions will also follow the form of law in the same way that macroscopic manifestations do. So nothing is entirely random; there’s a rule and a reason at the base.

 Any given collective entity forms relationships and exerts a characteristic of accretion, that is, an affinity for and attraction to other entities which can in their own right also form a relationship. 

Without Being, there is no gravity. Gravity is the personal force exerted by any cosmic entity on any scale, insofar as it represents a collection of awareness. That force is inevitably attractive, because the natural tendency of the dispersed particles, or quanta, of God’s Being have a wish to recombine.

 Gravity, in other words, exists as a bridge between the unrealized but infinite-potential quantum state of pre-reality and the classical world. Gravity and Being are not separate entities, but rather a single manifestation of force representing consciousness.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

What I "Should" Do: On Obligations

Eye to Eye, from the Tympanum at St. Foy in Conques

The word should derives from the old English sceal, to owe. It carries the sense of obligation or necessity.

The word is almost certainly related to the german Schuld, which today means, roughly speaking, blame (responsibility is Verantwortlichkeit), but originally mean responsibility, as in, Ich bin schüldig, “I am responsible.” The word means, in its essence, to owe—what is owed—and presents as a question in itself: what do I owe?

It furthermore expands its meaning only in the context of relationship, presuming as it does that the potential of debt and the absolute of responsibility (the ability to respond) are both present in the transaction of relationship. It’s true: we probably don’t think this deeply about words as we use them; but perhaps we should. They come from deep roots in the cultural, societal and personal tradition of humanity, and using them too casually invites misinterpretations and misunderstandings.

Gurdjieff’s universe and attendant cosmology are founded on principles of responsibility, so we can argue, in the broadest of terms, that Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson is all about what mankind should do—as opposed to what he does, which turns out to be the subject of most of the book. The point is that the book, in its recapitulation of man’s miscreants, misdeeds, and misunderstandings, would miss its mark if it didn’t present alternatives.

Which it does.  

Gurdjieff’s metaphysics is one of caring; for each other, and for a higher good under the obligation that the very fact of life itself places us under. Life isn’t accidental or free; it’s a precious substance bestowed. The jewel in the crown of the universe is awareness itself; consciousness, and not what it perceives, is the most precious object for Beings.

Consciousness is the utmost gift given, and given freely; all other elements of the universe flow through it. It’s valued over all other things. 

There are understated—perhaps unstated— and underlying aspects to Gurdjieff’s teachings regarding consciousness. Receivers (vessels containing) of this force are clearly illustrated as existing in emergent hierarchies, each dependent one upon another; each one is a concentration of the force of consciousness that takes its place, successively, in a harmonic system. Implicit is a single entire consciousness, of which all the other concentrated harmonic waves are subsets; and in addition to the premise of set of scientific laws governing the cosmos, a series of obligations arises. Action within this cosmos, then, is not a random series of accidental events (as mechanistic rationalism would have it) but rather a series of contracts—objects, events, circumstances and conditions which are:

1. Subject to the rule of cosmic laws
2. Obligated to form relationships on specific terms relative to the existence of those laws. 

All this, of course, presumes a set of laws that arise from a source: and that source is consciousness itself, which places every creature possessing it under obligation to its requirements and conditions. Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson is, in summary, a complex series of snapshots of what takes place when a deviation from those obligations takes place. Gurdjieff’s premise is that the whole cosmos suffers from it.

The question of duty and obligation thus expands beyond the immediate, beyond the material, into the metaphysical entity of consciousness itself; and Gurdjieff would have us consider our obligations on that scale, as well as the scale of the immediate. We should, in other words, behave in a manner “becoming to three-brained beings”: we owe this in payment for our arising. Consciousness (awareness) is not free; it comes at a price.

To eliminate the word “should” from our exchange on the way we live our lives, both inwardly and outwardly, creates a relativism that pretends flexibility but actually collapses the balloon of responsibility within which our universe is supposed to exist. The ideas that the word conveys are inherent to Gurdjieff’s view of the universe; and they need to become inherent to our own personal sense of obligations, both inwardly and outwardly, in which we learn how to organically and instinctively meet the debts we owe as conscious beings to that which has given birth to us: both the cells we are composed of (for surely we owe them our attention and respect) and the higher energies which flow through us, without which nothing at all would exist. We stand between these two sets of forces, above us and beneath us, in the midst of a field of forces that ask us to meet both dimensions — the higher in the lower — with an active sense of what we must pay to help each of them continue their own existence, as well as contribute to our own.

 It’s our responsibility, our duty—our obligation—to determine how to achieve this.

We should.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

A Planetary Sense of Being, Part V: The Molecules of Being


A peripheral but nonetheless related subject that brings together the questions of perception, molecular being, and the nature of our existence on earth relates to the reason that the surface of cells within human beings sports active receptors that bind with molecules producing what are nowadays called ”psychedelic“ experiences. 

The word psychedelic was originally coined in 1957, meaning “to make the mind visible.” The meaning is poorly crafted; the word psyche means, more properly, soul, not mind

Psychedelic drugs, in other words, help to make the soul visible—not the intellect. And as those who have taken them know, this is a more accurate description of the effect that they have on Being than on any gross enhancement of knowledge. It tends, rather, to dissolve the bonds of “knowledge” we think we have; we discover how little we actually know about the nature of the soul. Liberated from the conventional restraints imposed by the strict limitations of intellect alone, we discover a new kind of Being.

Human cells have evolved to have surface receptors for substances naturally produced in the body — not concentrated from outside sources and then ingested – that can make the soul more visible. The “chemical factory” within the human body, in other words, has the ability to produce any and all of the molecules that the substances in marijuana, opium, psilocybin, LSD, and so on bind to. 

The difference is that the cell receptors in the human body are specifically designed to receive very slightly different molecules — not the ones in the drugs. The drugs do an interesting and dramatic job of binding to cell surfaces, producing a wide range of psychic effects. However, if the body’s harmonic resonances are better integrated, slowly and carefully developed over a long period of time to raise the levels of inward vibration harmoniously – which was always Gurdjieff’s aim — then the substances that we know so well as psychedelic drugs are produced in our bodies naturally. 

This includes, by the way, a substance analogous to but not the same as nicotine, a drug which mimics the effect of the substances that produce an organic sensation of Being.

 All of these natural molecules produced inwardly and binding to cell receptors are related, in one way or another, to the development of the organic sensation of Being. That lays the foundation for a capacity to concentrate higher substances related to it which then bind to the cell surfaces in lasting ways.

It’s worth noting the way Gurdjieff used the word “coat” to describe the way that substances act on beings — he frequently referred to this action of higher being-bodies:

“Yes,” replied Beelzebub, “on almost all the planets of that solar system also, three-brained beings dwell, and in almost all of them higher being-bodies can be coated. 

“Higher being-bodies, or as they are called on some planets of that solar system, souls, arise in the three-brained beings breeding on all the planets except those before reaching which the emanations of our ‘Most Holy Sun Absolute’, owing to repeated deflections, gradually lose the fullness of their strength and eventually cease entirely to contain the vivific power for coating higher being bodies. “

— Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson,  pages 60 – 61.

 This describes molecular binding to cell surfaces of the various substances related to intensified rates of harmonic vibration. 

In summary, human beings are constructed with a molecular capacity to see and sense their place in the universe and the way in which they’re related to both the moon, the earth, and the solar system. Our intelligence is a tool for perception of place. Hence Gurdjieff’s tremendous emphasis on the words “I am”.

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

A Planetary Sense of Being—Part IV: Gravity and Sensation

Resurrection and Damnation, from the Tympanum at St. Foy in Conques

…my body could be the greatest support for experiencing my existence. It is on the level of the earth
and draws its strength from it. The action of our life is on this level, this sphere, not somewhere up in the air. I have to feel the body on the earth, the ground. I do this by sensation—sensing its weight, its
mass, and, more important, sensing that there is a force inside, an energy. Through sensation I need to feel a connection with my body so deep it becomes like a communion.

Jeanne De Salzmann, The Reality of Being, p. 63 

This Work is a school for developing a new center of gravity.

Jeanne De Salzmann, The Reality of Being, p. 112

In understanding this sensation of Being, and the magnetic effect of its action, we can understand that it creates our individuality and Being in exactly the same way that a planet draws itself together and acquires a magnetic field. It’s related to gravity and the action of attraction:

1. Gravity, one of the least understood forces in the universe, causes an attraction of particles that seems to be unmediated by any visible physical force. This is because gravity develops through concentrations of emanation — metaphysical, quantum-related elements.  

2. Every concentration of harmonic vibrations (emergence of a material entity from the quantum background) involves the invocation of a center of gravity in which waves are concentrated and brought into relationship in intensified ways. 

3. When we develop an organic sensation of being, we are participating in the creation of our own inner center of gravity.

I’ve discussed this in other places; yet it’s important to understand its nature as a cosmological function. When Gurdjieff discussed the idea of magnetic center with Ouspensky, it was then as it is now largely interpreted as a center of gravity that attracted some kind of confluence of ideas

In reality, though, he was talking about the acquisition of the particles of emanation, of the development of an inner sensation of Being:

The result of the influences who  source lies outside life collect together within him, he remembers them together, feels them together. They begin to form within him a certain whole…  The results of these influences collect together within him and after certain time they form within him a kind of magnetic center, which begins to attract to itself kindred influences and in this manner it grows.”
— In Search of the Miraculous, page 200

 Here we find many clues. Gurdjieff is describing the development of organic sensation; this is a precursor to organic feeling, and he says that one first remembers and then feels. It ties the understanding of magnetic center and self remembering to organic sensation, which is the first sensation that can acquire and then feel influences whose source lies outside life

These are those selfsame planetary influences related to the magnetic field of the planet discussed earlier parts of this essay. Magnetic center, in other words, is a function of the organic sense of Being and has nothing to do with simply becoming intellectually aware of ideas about work and ways; it’s about receiving influences, sensing them, and feeling them. 

Here we see a different principle being illustrated, one that re-casts our concept of self-remembering.

To remember is not to think: it’s to sense in order that one may feel.

We encounter here the same ideas Gurdjieff expressed many years later during the war in Paris, that the organic sensation creates one’s sense of individuality. By the time he put it this way, his awareness and understanding of the matter was far more concentrated, first by life experience and then by the war; but the fundamental ideas had not changed over all these years.

We should note, furthermore, the important presence of the word “influences” — forces that flow into us. Jeanne de Salzmann used this word many times; and it was certainly very current when I first entered the Gurdjieff work in the 1980s, when my teacher talked about it frequently. It has fallen out of use, yet it still carries vital information. 

All of this is further related to Swedenborg’s discussion of the inflow, that is, the direct influence of divinity upon our being which is acquired through a sensation and then — more importantly than anything else — an influence of feeling that comes into us and inwardly forms an intelligence that mirrors God.

 The inward center of gravity, created through organic sensation, has at its center a stillness that can receive this intelligence — but feeling will not arrive unless this place is well-formed within Being.

Part five of five of in this series will publish on June 5. 

Wishing the best for you on this day,


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.