Friday, February 28, 2020

Notes on Laws of the Inner Cosmos, Part III: The Law of Falling

Destruction is essential. Not of buildings and things but of all the psychological devices and defences, gods, beliefs, dependence on priests, experiences, knowledge and so on. Without destroying all these there cannot be creation. It's only in freedom that creation comes into being. Another cannot destroy these defences for you; you have to negate through your own self-knowing awareness.

Krishnamurti’s Notebook, p. 11

The law of falling appears at first to relate to the way in which the spaceship Karnak and its brethren move themselves and passengers about the cosmos; but what it actually describes in inner terms most likely relates to the way in which impressions flow into the body, where they end up, and how freedom from the ordinary action of associations allows the ship (i.e., a human Being) to move in the direction it requires.

Under ordinary circumstances, the law tells us, "everything existing in the world falls to the bottom." Gurdjieff goes on to tell us that the bottom is a stability, or, the lowest points of the regions of space where forces from all directions trend, and are concentrated. These regions are further defined as suns and planets.

Given Gurdjieff's proclivity for likening man's inward state to a cosmos, when he says that "everything when dropped into space, wherever it may be, tends to fall on one or another sun or on one or another planet,” we garner an image of impressions falling into our Being and being lawfully drawn into our various parts – that is, centers. Impressions of different kinds are perceived by different inner minds. 

Gurdjieff’s saint Venoma, in a flight of ingenuity, crafts a method of avoiding the atmospheres (attitudes or predispositions) of the various suns and planets, which otherwise influence the direction in which the impressions flow. The device he uses employs pulses of energy (described as Elekilpomagtistzen, some exotic form of electricity) to destroy the atmospheres (attitudes) around the planets, so that they can’t interfere with the direction of the ship. This is a colorful allegorical picture of using attention to overcome preconceived notions, associations, and attitudes. An indifference to attitude allows an aim and direction for the ship to be established.

What this allegory indicates is that we are by law predisposed to automatically inflect new impressions by association within the parts of our inward being as they already exist. The action of the law of falling is to create the known and to draw all new impressions into it as they arrive. 

The destruction of the known (the action of the Elekilpomagtistzen on the air, gas, fog, and so on of the planets) frees the ship, so to speak, of previous associations. This allows it to acquire an intentional direction not influenced by what is already present in us.

In this sense, we see that the law of falling actually involves what we already are and the way that, by the nature of our ”mechanical“ inner gravity, that automatically influences everything we encounter in such a way that it prevents a change of inner direction. In order to be free, we need to create the unknown: and in fact this is the essence of creation. 

Creation draws the unknown into Being. 

May your heart be close to God, 
and God close to your heart.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.


Capital, Reims

Eventually one comes to understand that life carries a weight and gravity that cannot be avoided.

Hopefully this happens before the last minute.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Great Goodness, continued.

Reims Cathedral, detail. 

February 27.

It's generally not sensed by human beings, but a great Good surrounds us and flows into us at all times.

Our organisms were originally designed by nature to receive and perceive this great Good, and to directly and perpetually benefit from its influence. But something in us has atrophied, and our spiritual senses no longer participate.

Instead, we’re heavily invested in our imagination about life, which constantly drives us forward into a wide variety of insanities.

The truth and goodness of life are always within the immediate range of our attention, if we serve it. We thus serve truth and goodness with our attention; and when we do, it pays us back in every moment ten thousandfold. This is a true thing worth far more than gold.

What both God and life request of us is that we serve with this attention, if we can find it – recover it.

I speak of this great goodness simply because it dwells in the small things which we pay no attention to. Properly understood, there's far more goodness in a grain of dust or a bite of cereal than there is in a nation; and there is far more goodness in the immediate moments of life than any goodness one can find in any other place, simply because there is no other place to look except here and now. 

If I look quite carefully within this here and this now, and I open myself to the authority of the goodness which surrounds me — a goodness which flows naturally from within all Being into all Being – I discover a perfection. It isn’t the Perfection, which is revealed rarely and only in moments of very exceptional Grace, but it is a fraction thereof, and that fraction is always here to feed us if we participate.

It's thus that one needs to learn how to pay quite close and intimate attention to the smallest things around one and the least events which one encounters. It is here that Grace is hidden; and yet, not so hidden after all, if I’m prepared to receive it.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

A very great Good

Royaumont Abbey

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

There is a clarity to everything in life, which is given to us as a most precious gift.

It’s strange that I think of things, material objects, as gifts,  so often not seeing that the real gift—which comes before all the rest of them—is life itself. Well, it’s true, of course, that the things are as beautiful and as worthy as life— they are after all  of life, and what is of life must be as worthy as life itself, in a certain sense. So perhaps my confusion about it is understandable. 

Yet I ought always to understand life itself first as the gift and then understand all the gifts that flow from it. All Blessings can be understood as all these gifts: creation itself, in all its infinite variety. Yet the blessings begin with life, and are, collectively, life. 

So blessings begin with life.

I understand life itself through the presence of God in my Being. We are not separated, He and I, and His presence is a constant support which never waivers or fails throughout both the day and the night. There is no moment separate from God; I am in Him and He in me. 

It does me no good whatsoever to believe this; but it does me very great good to know it. I know through Being; and whether or not this consists of one thing or another—self observation, the great “I am,” understanding, or whatever one wants to call it in the weak moments where one must give things names—it is a truth that flows into Being as inevitably as life itself.

There is not just a great truth which flows from God into Being: there is also a great Good. That Good lives within a man or woman with every breath, if He or She finds their way with God. To be sure, this doesn’t lead to my own inner perfection; but it does put me in touch with a deep perfection I can submit to.

May you be filled with the Presence today.


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Notes on Laws of the Inner Cosmos, Part II: The Law of Associations

…during the preparatory age, there is acquired in the brain functioning of every creature, and of man also, a particular and definite property, the automatic actualization and manifestation of which the ancient Korkolans called the “law of association”, and that the process of the mentation of every creature, especially man, flows exclusively in accordance with this law.

G. I. Gurdjieff, Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson, p. 15

Read the introductory quote carefully, because these words are especially significant:

The process of the mentation of every creature, especially man, flows exclusively in accordance with this law.

Unlike some of the other laws in the book, the significance and description of this law as an inner property needs little further explanation. It shows that the laws definitely have inner aspects; and, introduced as the first law mentioned in the book, we can surmise the author intended to clue us into this idea early. Notably, he says the process of mentation of every creature flows according to this law. This hence includes Beelzebub and fellow angels and devils.

It’s worthwhile to introduce a rather basic idea relative to the laws here: each law invokes the authority of a full octave of influences. Because of this, we can classify and group the major types of associations in a human being using the enneagram:

1. Material Associations. These are not mindful, but fully automatic, associations and are typical of one-brained beings such as worms. They can produce only automatic reactions. Many human beings find the majority of their associations are of this order. The level is typical of what the Buddhists call turning thought. It represents raw material (much like the detritus worms feed on) that can be incorporated and refined into higher forms of association in creatures such as human beings. The level of material associations is related to the eating of solid foods.

2. Desirous associations. The level of association available to two-brained beings such as crocodiles (well known as excellent caregivers to their young.) Desirous associations provoke sometimes powerful emotional responses. Care can arise on this level of association. Like material associations, these associations are fully automatic and a human being can live most or all of a life with just these two levels of association and appear to be a perfectly ordinary being. Related to breathing in air.

3. Conscious labor. (A shock.)

4. Power associations. This level of association is a direct function of thinking center and ego. Mentation at this level, in its worst form, is typically plotting and paranoid; but it can have very great vigor. Power, like the other notes in this octave, has its own subordinate octaves. Manifestations ranging from autism to Machiavellian impulse, in combination with material and desirous association,  the result of various levels of function or dysfunction of power associations. Related to ingestion of impressions.

The simple formulaic way of viewing these three associative levels is 1 + 4 = 2, or Material + Power = Desire. This level of being, and association, is mechanical: a being is affected by external levers of condition and response, not inner actions independent of them. (See the law of falling.)

4. Being associations. These are the first stage of what Gurdjieff calls conscious associations. Associations of Being are self-aware and have the capacity to consciously experience wish and form aim. This is because they’re able to direct the actions of the subordinate levels of association with a conscious aim, as opposed to a reflexive interaction. This is the level of association of the Ternoonald in Beelzebub’s Tales.

5. Purification associations. This very high level of association is Beelzebub’s attainment of the reason of the sacred Podkoolad, which he attained specifically as a result of the expiation of his former sins (i.e., purification.) Associations of purification have attained “freedom,” that is, they have achieved detachment from all ordinary reactions (Meister Eckhart’s Gleichgültigkeit or, roughly speaking, equanimity) and are free of self-inflection (of which more later.) 

6. Wisdom associations. This highest level represents the sacred Anklad in Beelzebub’s Tales. It represents associations of wisdom, that is, associations able to operate at the higher possible level of reason.

8+5 =7; to combine wisdom with Being leads to purification.

May your heart be close to God, 
and God close to your heart.

Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Monday, February 24, 2020

An Honorable Partnership: Feb 22, part II

Floor Tiles, Royaumont Abbey

Another in the series of intermittent posts from my immediate daily practice.

What does it mean to form an honorable partnership with God?

Honor conveys the impression of a great esteem or the highest respect. This relates directly to Swedenborg’s question of what we love the most. If what we love the most is ourselves, that's all we'll ever have. There's no need to form partnerships with others, to have real relationships, if one loves oneself first and above all other things; if I think I am everything, I leave no room for God.
Perhaps it's self evident, but this one simple fact explains precisely how sociopathy works, and why so many people are like this.

Anyway, it's not the intention to list and categorize the world’s ills here. The aim is to discuss what it means to form this honorable partnership with a higher principle.

Unless we can sense God, truly sense God within, as a substantial and physical part of our presence, all we have our theoretical and psychological promises about God's existence. Of course these may convince us to think about God is real and to think that we honor him, but that is like being with one's lover and imagining an embrace, instead of actually embracing one another. Anyone who has felt love clearly understands the difference between these two. What we need to do is embrace God, and that is done physically and with feeling, not through the intellect.

If and when we sense God as a physical presence in us, then we instantly know how much higher and more perfect He is that anything we can imagine. This is the point at which we begin to honor God; and it is from here that we can begin to form a partnership and to serve Him.

One of the secret meanings of Gurdjieff's comment to Ouspensky that everything is material is concealed in this teaching of God’s physical presence.

In a certain way, once God's actual presence is felt through sensation and feeling, even God becomes material – as He in fact is. And even though it, like everything else including ourselves, is a creature of this level, it is the most valuable creature one could have, because with it one knows God is real. One doesn’t need the theories about it anymore. All of that is discarded at once.

May you feel God's presence alive within the deepest parts of your Being today.


Sunday, February 23, 2020

A Great Love, part II

Royaumont Abbey

Readers may have noticed that I have taken to injecting little personal notes from my daily practice between my posts about theoretical matters. 

This is one of them, from yesterday morning.

One is constantly reminded of how easily we forget God and how great His Love is.

There is no force greater than this, yet it often seems to remain hidden from us because of our fallen state.

One can know with assurance that God created the universe with a great Love that surpasses all existence and Being. 

One is able to begin this and every day in a profound humility that accepts this as a fact. It creates an inward harmonic vibration that can help sustain a more permanent sensation, with all the metaphysical help that accompanies it. In such a state, one is always a bit closer to the angels.

The question is whether one is willing to submit, or whether one's ego and self worship is more important than this simple and all-encompassing fact.

The Grace of the Lord is flowing into you now as you read this; and that Grace will be with us all day, whether we form an honorable partnership with it or not. 

The choice in every moment is ours.

May you be well fed today,


Saturday, February 22, 2020

Notes on Laws of the Inner Cosmos, Part I: Introduction

The study of the forty-eight orders of laws to which man is subject cannot be abstract like the study of astronomy; they can be studied only by observing them in oneself and by getting free from them. At the beginning a man must simply understand that he is quite needlessly subject to a thousand petty but irksome laws which have been created for him by other people and by himself. When he attempts to get free from them he will see that he cannot. Long and persistent attempts to gain freedom from them will convince him of his slavery. 

—Gurdjieff to Ouspensky in In Search of the Miraculous, p. 84.

Gurdjieff’s third obligolnian striving instructs us to know ever more and more concerning the laws of world creation and world maintenance. 

Yet discussion about such laws in the Gurdjieff work seems rare. When it’s undertaken, discussion oft presumes Gurdjieff’s proposed laws are external laws, that is, laws that affect outer conditions and circumstances… well, they do sound like it. Examples such as the law of reciprocal feeding (simply put, creatures eat each other) the law of falling (gravity) and the law of catching up (orbit) seem  obviously centered on outer and physical aspects of the universe. 

…or are they?

 We see from various remarks that Gurdjieff made to Ouspensky, especially the above, that Gurdjieff meant us to understand the laws as inner laws, that is, laws that govern the development of our psychology and our Being.

Laws that operate in ourselves can hardly be construed as laws of planetary orbits or gravity, except by analogy. We’re thus led to a suggestion of making an effort to understand law in terms of inner law, not outer. This means we need to see and understand the laws of inner influences, inner forces, and their interactions with one another.

As the progress of these essays develops, I believe you'll see that Gurdjieff's laws are actually one of the "bones" buried in his book; they represent an extraordinarily sophisticated set of analogies that recapitulate his teachings about man's inner life in a cosmological allegory disguised as a story about spaceships, comets, planets, and solar systems. Once one recognizes it, one understands why he chose the vehicle: he's telling us about man's inner cosmos...


of course he's telling us about man's inner cosmos... it's his favorite subject!


It is impossible to study a system of the universe without studying man. 

At the same time it is impossible to study man without studying the universe. 

Man is an image of the world. He was created by the same laws which created the whole of the world. By knowing and understanding himself he will know and understand the whole world, all the laws that create and govern the world. And at the same time by studying the world and the laws that govern the world he will learn and understand the laws that govern him. 

In this connection some laws are understood and assimilated more easily by studying the objective world, while man can only understand other laws by studying himself.

Ibid, P. 75

Gurdjieff’s laws of world creation and world maintenance are reciprocal entities. They apply both inwardly and outwardly. This bears a close relationship to Swedenborg’s doctrine of correspondences, whereby outer objects and animals are correspondences: reflections by material analogy of inner or spiritual conditions and of the nature of God Himself. This brings together structures as apparently diverse as cells and galaxies into a class of objects linked by metaphysical concept: each level reflects the levels above and below it, even as it helps form them. The conceptual framework emphasizes a wholeness or unity of cosmic manifestation and purpose, as opposed to the starkly divided conceptualizations of modern western science.

Leaving the outer cosmos aside for the time being, we introduce ourselves to the idea of an inner cosmos. This cosmos is not just a physical entity in which meaty organs pulse and pump and palpitate; it’s a cosmos of feelings and ideas which have a metaphysical significance.

Couched in the simplest terms, the metaphysical, for a single human Being, is the realm of manifestation that begins at the edge of their own bodies. It’s not just the physical action and reactions that project themselves into this -meta which lies outside the physical body of an individual human being; feelings and ideas (thoughts) which have vibrational, but not corporeal, presences also project into this external physical space—which is thus truly metaphysical, that is, extraneous to the inner physical and psycho-spiritual world (cosmos) of an individual. 

The metaphysical significance of the inner cosmos is only apparent upon its emergence into the realm of interaction and relationship; yet everything that takes place in that (to the individual) metaphysical realm begins within. All of the metaphysical properties which can manifest begin inside the individual cosmos and, collectively, quite conclusively determine everything about the fate of one’s individual cosmos from an outer point of view. 

If you, as a reader, are thinking about the idea that everything formed in life is fixed permanently in place after death—an idea both the dervishes and Swedenborg believed to be true— you aren’t mistaken. In a certain sense the manifestations that leave a human being (externalize) only do so after they have “died”—completed their inward action in a human Being. Once they manifest outwardly—for example, I yell at my child— the results they can produce are fixed, because the deed that they produce is undertaken and cannot be withdrawn.

This particular thought bears much consideration, I think. 

The inward cosmos is thus the only place where things can take shape and change before “death,” death being in this case each instance of outwardness of manifestation. This means we need to understand and become fully responsible for what takes place in us before we manifest, if we wish for “different“ results. Mindfulness is not even the half of it; to be mindful alone is good, but not good enough. Awareness is nothing without aim and intention.

 The inner cosmos of a Being is, like the outer one, governed by law; yet the laws that govern a human being’s inner behavior and conditions are laws of spirituality and psychology, not things falling down or orbiting—again, except by analogy. If we understand Gurdjieff’s laws, as iterated, in terms of allegories relating to inner psycho-spiritual conditions and attitudes, perhaps we can gain a glimpse into the types of insight he felt a human being had the capacity to undertake. 

Today, may your heart be very close to God, 
and God very close to your heart.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Friday, February 21, 2020

A list of Gurdjieff's laws

A list of the laws in the order they're introduced in Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, with the page numbers they're introduced on in the second edition.

This list is published in preparation for the next series of posts. It may not be perfect; there are some laws in the book that aren't true world-laws, but stuff various hasnamusses have made up; and this can be a bit confusing.  I'm not perfect, either, so I may have missed some things.  

1. Law of associations —p. 15
2. Law of falling—p. 66
3. Law of catching up—p. 83
4. Law of Triamazikamno (Law of 3)  p. 140
5. Law called “Heteratogetar”, “the-result-of-the-manifestation-is-proportionate-to-theforce-
of-striving-received-from-the-shock”. P. 169

6. World-law called “Symmetrical-entering”, p. 171

7. World-Law of reciprocal feeding of everything existing p. 172

8. World-law "Troemedekhfe” (reciprocally acting contact) p. 172

9. Law of ‘every -cause-gives-birth-to-its-corresponding-result’ p. 190

10. Law of soolionensius - p. 190

11. GOD forgives everything - this has even become a law in the World. p. 198

12. A certain lawfully flowing cosmic result, existing under the name of “predisposition” p. 237

13. Law of Heptaparaparshinokh (Law of 7) - p 273

14. Cosmic law called the ‘affinity of the number of the totality of vibrations’ p. 279

15. Laws of the influence of different planets of their solar system p. 288

Aka Law of sevenfoldness P. 461
AKA Law of dimensions p.476
AKA Law of ninefoldedness

16. Law of polarity —p 358

17. Cosmic-law-of-the equilibration-of-vibrations p. 388

18. Law of Daivibrizkar—law of the action of the vibrations arising in the atmosphere of enclosed spaces. P.467

Today, may your heart be close to the very God, 
and God very close to your heart.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

19. Law of ty
picality p. 560

20. Cosmic law of 'self-adaption-of-Nature' p. 564

21. Cosmic law called 'Tenikdoa,' or as it is sometimes called the 'law of gravity, p. 728

22. Law of sane logic p. 736

23. Law of ‘affinity of vibrations’ p. 786

24. The Law of combination of colors'; p. 844

25. Law of the reciprocal maintenance of everything existing. 1094/5

Thursday, February 20, 2020

A Great Love, part I

Floor tile from Royaumont Abbey

I’m not going to agree with everyone. 

More often than not, I see I don’t even agree with myself. 

Walk past that. Walk past it from within on a path within; a path defined by consistent aim.

I have two parts, or two natures, which struggle with one another. One is wicked; the other, good. My wickedness always has a strong wish of its own to have its way. It’s my responsibility to form a will which is independent of this wickedness—a will which sees it, and goes against it.

Above all, in any moment—in any day— the question in front of me is how I can deepen Love in myself. 

If I’m able to deepen Love by becoming more open to its influence, what flows into Being from within and without is influenced not by my wickedness, but by Love itself. It has the capacity to permeate Being; but only if it’s attended to.

The deepening of Love within being is related to the permanence of sensation. Deepening only follows on many long years of concentration of inner force. This inner force is a force of Love which becomes more and more concentrated over time. This force lies in the molecules of Being, not in the thoughts or the intellect. It’s a quality of vibration that develops slowly over time. Eventually, it forms a substrate of deposits that are capable of receiving Love in a deeper form.

This Love I speak of isn’t my own Love, which is firmly and (for the most part destructively) attached to this world and its material things. It is the essential Love of God’s Being, which has a particulate nature—it consists of universally distributed materials which penetrate everything.

Deepening Love begins with an inner commitment to this material which flows in. It naturally matures within being to a sensation and a feeling of God’s Love, which is commonly referred to by some as Presence. The word itself derives from the Latin praesentia, meaning “being at hand.” The word is apt because it implies a tactile proximity (at hand) that reminds us of sensation. Yet the word has more depths: it is a combination of prae, before, and esse— to be. In a sense, then, it implies what precedes Being. There is, in other words, the implication of a transcendent form that lies behind Being itself; and that is God.

 So while walking here or there, one comes perhaps to a sense that the sacred is immediately proximate; that by deepening the sensation of Love, one may come into closer contact with that force; and that it may in its own turn feed much deeper parts of Being.

 All in the service of a greater Love, which is what we so certainly need in these times.

Hoping that you find an intimate relationship with Love today,


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Fineness of Being

Jan. 5

We're made of finer materials that have an animated nature we're unable to fully appreciate.

There's no point in trying to invent magical words to describe this material. It transcends our understanding in the receiving of it; already, it demands an understanding that rests on a recognition of my own ignorance. I'm nothing in the face of it; and even though I'm filled with the ordinary world, this tiptoe approach to my own nothingness can become an active service in itself.

I stand on the edge of this world, carrying all the luggage that I live with from day today. 

I find myself with suitcases in hand even as I'm touched within by this finer material. 

I recognize its value and cultivate a relationship with it that becomes more durable over time. 

It reminds me constantly through its presence of how worthless most of what I do is, and how unworthy I am. This doesn't mean I devalue myself. It simply means I understand my value in relationship to a higher force. That is not a taking away of value, but a right ordering of it. 

I'm reminded of how undeserving I am; and this is the general condition that mankind lives in. 


Yet Grace is sent.

This generosity is endlessly merciful; I'm duty-bound to pay greater attention to it, because it brings a whole and perfect lesson about how I ought to respect my own life and treat others.


May your heart be close to God, 
and God close to your heart itself.

Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

No Interference

February 17, part 2

Walking through Times Square just after lunchtime. 

Hubub. A manhole cover. Yellow paint. 

What if self-observation means observing from the self?

Instead of making attempts to see the inner from the outer (can’t actually be done) see the outer from within the inner. Start there.

There is a self that dwells in stillness. It isn’t a creature of reactions to what happens. It’s already here before anything happens. One just forgets about it, mostly.

When this self observes life, life becomes in an instant quite different. One observes from the real self

What flows in is inestimably precious. There is an immeasurable value to every single impression, no matter what it is. I can respect this when I see from within. 

One feels. Only real feeling can bring the real world into Being.

No interference. 

Hope you are most well.