Thursday, September 30, 2021




March 19, 2021

In our ordinary state, we are animals who think we’re human beings. 

It would be better if we were human beings who knew we were animals.

If that were the case, we'd truly know something, because our organic conscience would then already be awakened. But our organic conscience is buried; under ordinary circumstances we have absolutely no contact with it. The ego has created a substitute conscience within the surface waters of our being, which changes with every ray of light that is reflected from it. It doesn’t absorb the light from within and use that for its work; it only takes light from outside, like a parasite, which costs us nothing and causes us to be as casual with our conscience as a drunken sailor spending his money as he goes from one bar to another. 

In this manner, our conscience gets us exactly what we want: but all we want is to be a drunkard. That is to say, we wish to serve only ourselves; and this is one of the esoteric meanings of Gurdjieff’s use of the term masturbation, which actually has nothing to do with the sexual act, even though it consistently sounds like it. Masturbation is a function of the ego, and it is a function that takes place in what we call the “conscious” state. Association has a great deal to do with masturbation, and this can be better understood from a practical (not psychological) point of view if one studies it more carefully.

Let’s change gears here for a moment and discuss the function of association. Association is very nearly random and operates at light speed. It functions in nearly exactly the same way as a computer does, that is, absolutely mechanically. It consists of the database. When any impression comes in, association automatically and instantaneously compares it to thousands, even tens of thousands or perhaps millions, of other impressions it has stored. What it connects that impression can depends on a number of factors, including what happened just beforehand, with previous impressions have the strongest correspondence, and accident. Previous impressions have the strongest influence, but accident is the predominant form of collision between an immediate impression and its predecessors. It simply a matter of random chance whether the strongest influence happens to pop up first. 

Typically, an impression brushes up against some one or two dozen previous collections of impressions in the first instant and there is always one that has a stronger influence. This is the one that the incoming impression binds to. Again, one can see this function if one has a fortunate moment of insight. Because of the speed of the process, it’s impossible to be there with it all the time; the point is that one has to have an immediate and practical experience of this question in order to understand just how random and mechanical are function of association is. From there we can begin to more strongly reject the immediate effect of associations and step back from them. To be suspicious of them. Taking one step back always allows the possibility for the contact with further material, some of which will usually be better formed than the accidental connections. The issue here, of course, lies in the fact that for most of us we have many mistakenly reinforced impressions — and the more we fall under the influence of the outside world and other people, the more we are likely to have a group of mistaken or broken impressions which reflect lies other people have constructed and fed to one another. Hence the title of my song, “Other People’s Lies.”

Let’s go back to the question of being an animal. We are not human beings. As we are, we are feral. Everything in us responds to animal desire, which is not been trained to do anything other than to get what it wants for itself. A human being begins this way as a child. There is a touching innocence to that state, because it is a rightful state from nature’s point of view and each animal inhabits it without prejudice and according to law. However, because of the intellect, human beings inhabit the state with increasing prejudice in every moment that they exist; and this deviates more and more from any lawful infestation other than the law of egostic selfishness, which is really a kind of summary “anti-– law” belonging to the set of 24 laws that manifest themselves as oppositional law on this level.

So we aren’t even animals. We are animals who have run wild from the state of being animal and substituted it with a different, more malevolent state that cares only about itself, in an intellectual way that permits it to do intentional harm to others, including other humans, all animals, plants, the environment, and the planet itself. Animals are capable of such action. We dream we are human beings but we are not even close to that state as we are. A human being suffers the consequences of their actions from within through the force of a properly matured conscience; and this puts a moral constraint on them far more powerful than any exterior force could create. Yet in our dreams, because we have convinced ourselves that we are “human beings,” we excuse anything we do without care.

The human being who knows they are an animal has developed a respect for that half of their being; and it changes the way we are in relationship both with ourselves and the world.

A human being begins to understand how to suffer.

 May you be well within today.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Being a Real Idiot


March 16.

Going back over the things I write, it occurred to me yesterday that I have shamelessly complex thought processes which most others are (perhaps, after all, for the best) not interested in following. 

For this, I apologize. Writing of that kind is an indulgence; and it’s probable that I engage in it far too much. Yet for me, it’s a kind of exercise. The workouts are intense enough that sometimes even I can’t quite comprehend them once they are done. Exercise in one moment looks quite different when one is outside of it.

It reminds me of CrossFit.  The daughter of W., a good friend of ours, is very good at CrossFit training and I did a series of sessions with her before Covid struck us all and everything shut down. While I enjoyed the exercise and found it interesting, it quickly occurred to me that this is a whole world of very great intensity, and I'll never be fully immersed in it. 

There are realms of thought that put equal demand on the mind.

If you wish to read one of the essays that is, in my intellectual world, “CrossFit training” be sure you’re prepared. That’s all I can suggest.

I think the point is that we need to put a demand on ourselves. There are many people who want to approach the Gurdjieff work with almost no thinking; they believe that everything can come from the body and feelings. While an intelligently intense focus needs to be placed on the body, no doubt, if one tries to approach this work without careful and structured thinking one becomes a “work idiot.” 

It's equally possible to approach this work with too much thinking, all of the wrong kind, which tries to direct everything and become the authority. People like this are “work geniuses.” 

Then there is a third type, the “work feeler” who interprets everything through emotion and tries to line up the other two centers to correspond accordingly.

Work idiots are unable to think and avoid any challenge that demands that the mind be disciplined. Work geniuses do nothing but think and thereby think that they know how to sense and feel. Work feelers act almost exclusively through an emotional center of gravity that emanates a kind of naïve intelligence and makes everything touchy – feely.

Every one of us fits into one of these three types. This is how we are now; and if we see it carefully, we see that each type is woefully deficient in one way or another. Only by pausing and collecting ourselves do we have any hope of getting the types in touch with one another, seeing their weaknesses, getting them to support one another. If all three of these parts were in any kind of harmony with one another, already our work would be much more intelligent than it is. The difficulty is that each of us is automatically, mechanically, habitually and unconsciously invested in our primary work type. 

...Let me just mention here that people generally think the mind is too strong, but in fact it is quite often the very weakest part in a person. This is why it dominates the other centers, precisely because it has no discipline and no proper strength of character. Consequently it runs around all day long like a March hare.

Anyway, there's always some predominant center that believes it knows everything. If the three centers ever come together, the first thing they notice is that they actually know nothing; and if one finds oneself there already this is huge progress, because then one has become a real idiot, and you have to be a real idiot before you can be any other kind of idiot.

Sometimes I am a real idiot. This is where my potential lies. It involves reminding all the other fools in me that they don’t know what they are doing. 

Only a real idiot can have any authority over fools.

 May you be well within today.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Copyright violations

 Copyright violations

Regrettably, I would like to inform my readership that copyright violations of some of my books are being sold on Amazon. This is of course unsurprising; but it takes chutzpah.

My original work Novel, Myth and Cosmos about Gurdjieff’s cosmology as presented in "Beelzebub's Tales", available at the link, has been copyright violated in the book “lessons from Gurdjieff’s cosmology,” which is a piracy of my work. Although they attribute the work to me in their description, the seller has no author's contract with me to sell my work. 

Just for the record, no other sellers are authorized to sell any of my work on my behalf.

It would be much appreciated of readers who may find other copyright violations of my work for sale on Amazon or in other places on the web to just let me know about it.

Warmly, Lee

Friday, September 24, 2021

The Results of My Own Being


 March 15.

It occurs to me this morning that this business of quoting Gurdjieff constantly to one another is diseased.

The more we lean on everything he said, the less we demand of ourselves to understand how things are. In a certain sense, if we follow his own instruction, we should lean on nothing he said; we should reject every bit of it and assume it is ridiculous and wrong until we’ve proven otherwise to ourselves. Even if we conduct a sincere inner investigation and decide one thing he said is true, we must then decide the next thing wasn’t and begin all over again. Even if we decide 90% of what he said was true we must continue to see the other 10% as a skeptic and a cynic, not as a believer.

In this sense, his work is a work against believers and even our own belief itself as it is. 

What the work consists of is conducting an examination from within the results of our own Being.

Since we have already discovered, presumably — unless we are inveterate liars — that the formation of our own being is no easy thing and that we don’t have a clear picture of it from within ourselves, we should already understand that the results of our own being are weak. This should cause us to redouble our efforts. Our efforts can be formed around an increasing understanding of the organic sensation of Being, which is legitimate. Even a glimpse of it reveals the weakness that pervades the rest of what we call ourselves. We must make that organic sensation of our Being permanent.

Ah, that sounds like it should solve everything. 

It’s such a big thing, after all; if I get there, then I am somewhere. Yet in fact that isn’t even true. If I get there, I’ve merely gone from the end of nowhere to the beginning of it. From the beginning of nowhere, maybe I can climb up out of the hole I am in; but at the beginning of nowhere, all I can do is peer “outwards” into somewhere, a place I am entirely unfamiliar with and know, as I discover, almost nothing about. 

Well then — of course I know nothing. One can’t know anything from nowhere.

In this entirely unfamiliar place, all the signposts I established in nowhere are useless. The books I read? Useless. None of them describe the organic sensation of Being. The ideas people have sold me, which I bought like a gullible fool? Useless. 

Those without an understanding of the organic sensation of Being know even less than I, a congenital idiot, know. From the beginning of nowhere, I know I know nothing. They all think they know something; and they can't be convinced otherwise. 

So I'm alone here at the beginning of nowhere. I see that the end of nowhere was the lowest level of hell; and the beginning of nowhere is the highest. Somehow I have to effect passage out of hell and into purgatory. The organic sensation of Being can help me with that; but there is a huge transition necessary within me if I wish to leave hell and enter purgatory.

That transition consists of becoming responsible. In hell, all I ever did was blame others for the fact that I was in hell and refuse to repent for the way that I was. In purgatory, I have to accept my conditions and confess that the punishments I encounter — all of them — are just and deserved. Suddenly I realize they aren't punishments.

They are help.

Fortunately, the tool of the organic sensation of Being helps put me in just such a place. 

Maybe I can become responsible at this threshold of purgatory.

The view from here is quite difficult. All I can see from here to the horizon is suffering. I’ll have to pass through that place in order to go from the end of somewhere to the beginning; and it’s a landscape with no maps, no instruction booklet, no set of classy ethics or those priggish morals I’ve been educated with to guide me.

At the same time, there is an inexorable and lawful ethic and morality to somewhere. I sense this. So I’ll have to learn it. It isn’t in the books or even anywhere else; in fact, even Gurdjieff’s teaching is misleading in this regard, because it is a created thing and what I seek is metaphysical in nature. It hasn’t been created yet in me; and until it is created in me, as far as my own universe is concerned, it doesn’t even exist. In this sense I am an utterly amoral and even immoral creature.

To the extent that I sense any of this, I'm beginning to be attentive to the results of my own Being. Maybe today I can be a bit more honest with myself. Maybe I can see where I am through this faculty of the organic sensation of Being. If this doesn’t remind me of my nothingness, then I don’t understand the organic sensation of Being and I don’t understand the question. The minute that I think I’m already something I’ve taken a step backwards away from the threshold, back into hell.

Perhaps this is too difficult. All the garbage I have swilled throughout the course of my life has made me remarkably unreliable; I change my mind about what I believe every five seconds and I'm far too easily influenced by other people and the things they say. I have little integrity; I have little determination to be as I am. I always want to be something else; and yet it is only by being what I am that I can get from nowhere into a somewhere where I can begin to take responsibility.

May you be well within today.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Bad Candle


Red Tailed Hawk, Sparkill, March 2021. 
This one is around and about with its mate almost daily.
Both of them are very interested in my chickens.

This morning, I find myself beginning life all over again, as I do every day.

Of course I’m born this morning into pre-existing conditions: everything I have ever been, packed in to the metaphysical space of a past that no longer exists except inside me alone. Thrust into the present of the impressions that only I will receive; to everyone around me, receiving impressions of the same moment, they will be different—not just because they’re perceived from a different point of view, but because they fall into a different being than my own and will be weighed and evaluated differently. 

Facing a future that I will be uniquely responsible for in every way because of these preceding established facts.

The birds are singing outside the window. It’s March 14; somewhere around the end of February, all the birds songs started to change and began, in ways that cannot be explained with words alone, to sing of finding a mate and raising a family. One can hear this in bird song in its emotional inflection; somehow, it has nothing to do with the science of the matter, but taps into an ancient emotional wish which the planet itself gives rise to. It’s cosmological in nature; and yet we have trained ourselves to not know such things, even though our organism was designed to sense them instinctively.

In these pre-existing conditions, one of my best friend’s wife is dying of bulbar palsy; by the time this is published she’ll almost certainly be dead. 

I wake up every morning living within these conditions, which reminds me of what is important in life. To live, to feel, and to love to the maximum extent possible— what else could actually matter? Everything in life is pointed towards understanding love. It doesn’t matter how many things I have or how much money I make if I don’t love; the things and the money become absolutely worthless right away in the absence of any love. Health itself becomes worthless in the absence of love. 

In fact, I defy you to think of anything that retains its value in the absence of love. It simply can’t happen.

Yet do we wake up every morning concerned, first, with the quality of feeling within ourselves? No, we don’t. Not in any good way, anyway. Most likely, my habit is to wake up with only one concern about the quality of feeling, and that concern is about whether I feel good or not. All feeling is about me. In this sense I’m a neutron star that has collapsed into a black hole where I suck everything into myself and try to make it my own, instead of understanding the context of my life.

This is a poor quality of feeling. Feeling was designed to bring me outward and into relationship with the world; to develop, as Beelzebub told his grandson, a being-world view with diverse aspects. Of course that world view can’t be formed with a single center, but to simply be in the world and perceive it forms almost nothing. It’s only with the participation of feeling that any whole view can be formed; and there is nothing diverse in a feeling view that is composed entirely out of selfishness. The diversity of awareness under consideration lies principally in the appreciation of others, not myself.

I’m compelled, once again this morning, to understand my life from the perspective of what I owe. I can’t appreciate duty if I don’t appreciate my debt.

I notice many around me who strangely seem to avoid this question, despite notable levels of inner development. Each of them wants to have things their own way, quite secretly and with a concrete stubbornness that resists every effort to dissolve it from within. I only say this because I’m familiar with this part in myself and have been watching it for 20 years now. Anyone who thinks it isn’t in them or that it will go away so easily is too naïve to continue spiritual work. No matter how hard we work to dissolve this crystal that sits so firmly within the depths of our being, it is always there: and it exerts a secret magnetism, a form of charismatic hypnotism that affects anything that gets near it. Every thought that I have, every action that I take, is secretly influenced by this malevolent star that shines alone in the darkness of my own cosmos.

I will have to deal with this; it will be here today as well, attempting to exert its influence over everything I do without being seen. It’s the bad candle that cannot be extinguished.

This is, however, a useful function; because in my effort to be, I need to have an enemy. If I come to know my enemy, it’s the first place where I can develop some respect for the place I’m in and the forces that influence me. So long as I think that my enemy is my friend, I am my enemy; when we recognize one another, however, a mutual respect is born. 

Enemies have the potential for truce. With friends, one lives under the eternal threat of betrayal. 

We grow up and live our inner lives making a long and complicated set of assumptions about what parts of ourselves are friends. Those assumptions are very often mistaken. We begin in weakness; and as we are in weakness, so we act in weakness. We do not have the strength to resist the attraction of desire.

Can I spend this day trying to see every single thing that I want to have my own way? It will surely open my own eyes wider if I succeed in even a fraction of that task. The part that wants that thinks it’s the ruler of the kingdom; and here is where the gate to hell opens with a friendly invitation. Folks don’t understand that hell looks like a really great place; and for the part that wants to have everything its own way, it is. This is never a place I'm sent to: it is always a place where I want to go

This is exactly what desire is all about; and it needs to be contemplated quite carefully.

The geese have just made a big racket on the creek, and the sun is just now rising above the horizon.

This is an ancient place I live in and this kind of thing has been going on for many thousands of years, without the need for man to keep itself healthy. 

Embedded as I am in the many memories of the passage of time—the consummated results of evolution, geography, geology, culture, and history which surround me— I am required to come to this day with an appropriate respect for my place, an awareness of the debt I owe, and a love for the beauty of the life that is given. 

In any single instant I am a representative of the results of all of this; can I live up to that?

This is the question for this morning.

May you be well within today.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Wish and the Force of Holy Denying, Part IV: Bottoming Out


Capital relief from Serrabone

I’d like to return now to the phrase that was quoted at the beginning of the piece, in order to contemplate its importance:

"The ray of creation ends in the moon. Beyond the moon there is nothing. This also is the Absolute—do.”

When Gurdjieff asks us to come to an understanding of our own nothingness, it is actually a request that we take the final step down the ladder to the level of the moon — in the case of the solar system, the note re. In terms of the individual’s ray of creation, we are located at mi, which represents desire. When Gurdjieff says that non-desires should prevail over desires, it’s another way of saying that we need to take a step down from where we are in the octave in order to reach the bottom, where everything comes to rest and the impulse to return is actually born. We’re so filled with ourselves and our own desires that we never reach the place where our wish can become real. We think that we can have real wish from where we are, on this note where desire is born and dominates. Yet real wish comes from beneath us, not above us; and although we may ask for help, that help does not come from our wish. We need to go down to the bottom of what we are, complete the action of the passive force of Holy Affirming by letting go of everything we desire and even destroying within ourselves that belief in our own wish which is formed by our ego — for it is a false wish. And this is exactly what we don’t see: that even our wish as it exists in us now is based on falsehoods. 

This is one of the things that Gurdjieff meant when he said that everything in us is a lie. If we aren’t willing to see this, we see nothing.

The effort to reach into the stillness and the silence of the soul is the effort to step down to the beginning of wish— not to reach upwards for it. We cannot find real wish above us, because that is a prize that doesn’t belong to us. We must strip ourselves, as Meister Eckhart so clearly points out, of absolutely everything we are in order to become candidates for real wish. 

It’s there, at the bottom of the ray of creation, that real wish is born; and we can’t arrive there with even a shred of ourselves if we wish to receive real wish in us. One cannot put new wine into old bottles. New wine, in this case, is real wish; and it only arrives from within the ground of our own nothingness.

This ground of our own nothingness begins in our sensation; and it begins in that place of stillness that receives the entire force of the ray of creation which has now completed its downward movement to the bottom. It is here, where it comes to rest, and everything has been fully received — received unconditionally and without any personal inflection whatsoever — that real wish is born.

This particular observation is important because it applies to every impression we take in individually, as well as the sum total of all our impressions. It should be noted that it is possible for each individual impression to complete the ray of creation and drop down all the way to the bottom where wish can be born. This, however, is a very big thing and rarely achieved. If it ever happens to you, it will produce a sensation of unimaginable depth; and it is not an action you can undertake on your own, so please forget about that if you are even dreaming of it now. The point is that we’re built so that each impression could do this; yet we’re probably never going to get to that point in this lifetime. We can, however, take the sum total of what we are and point it in this direction.

A note: On April 4, 2022, consider the contents of this post in relationship to the post on that date.

May you be well within today.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Wish and the Force of Holy Denying, Part III: Wish and Holy Denying


Capital relief from Serrabone

 Thus, taken from a higher point of view, our entire work and our wish embodies Holy Denying as its essential source of power, energy, and action. It is our wish — it is our effort to return to the source. And, strangely, it positions itself “against” the force of creation. 

This is because the force of creation reflexively resists the effort of its result to return to the source. This is why Gurdjieff calls the action between Holy Affirming and Holy Denying a “clash.”

Creation is told by God, “you must be; and you must be apart from me. This is my natural will. I have done this out of love for you.” This is much like the parent who turns his or her child out into the world on their own out of love for them and their need to develop their own life and being. Hence Gurdjieff’s tendency to drive his pupils away from him, sometimes in what appeared to be actively hostile conditions.

The child, on the other hand, if they are not improperly formed, recognizes the authority of the parent and insists on finding a way through the maze of life back to the parent in order to re-create the family and the love that gave it birth. 

If you recognize the parable of the prodigal son here, you’re not mistaken. The point is that God’s will pushes us away from Him exactly so that we’ll be forced to develop our individuality in order to return. It’s only through the taking on of this responsibility that anything real with any real understanding can be formed in us. 

This takes place through our active effort against the passive force of creation and Holy Affirming. It’s born of a lawful condition, an apophatic demand, in which we must deny God in order to return to the source of affirming. Hence an explanation of Gurdjieff’s term “conscious egoism.” The term deftly encompasses everything about the position we’re left in simply because of the structure of the cosmos.

Every single element of Gurdjieff’s teaching is deeply intertwined with the action of these cosmological and metaphysical forces which we embody in the very planetary and physical forces that we inhabit. It’s our awareness, our consciousness, that is metaphysical; and it is that entity exactly that functions as the third force, that which embodies the action of Holy Reconciling. 

Consciousness is the force that binds the downward movement of Holy Affirming and the upward movement of Holy Denying together. They’ve been separated into two opposing entities; and yet this separation itself is confusing and metaphysically dialectical, because they are actually the same force, just seen as moving in different directions. 

If you read the enneagram counterclockwise, you see the graphic representation of Holy Affirming; and if you read it clockwise, you see the representation of Holy Denying. In this way, you can understand that it is actually the same force. It has been divided from itself only by the action of its impetus and momentum.

The analogy of a salmon once again comes to mind. Born from an egg in a stream distant from the ocean, it swims downstream almost effortlessly into a realm where it feeds and grows. Only at the end of that process does it struggle mightily back upstream to the place where it can spawn; and there it dies. Man’s life and existence recapitulate that life cycle in the same way that the enneagram represents it as a piece of graphic art.

Holy Reconciling, then, becomes a duty and a responsibility, because the ultimate cosmological function is the reunification of Holy Affirming and Holy Denying; and only consciousness can effect that reunification. While the reunification is lawful, it isn’t assured; the force of consciousness arises as an obligation that needs to be fulfilled in order to bring that assurance into life. It can’t be active or passive, because it has a different role; it must reconcile. And in order to reconcile it can’t be interested in its self (the ego); it needs to be objective, to take neither the side of the affirming or the denying as superior, but to take both sides into account and bind them within the truth of their own contradiction.

In a world where our desire stimulates us to take a side—to be active or passive, to be this or that—the lawful duty assigned to us is rather to reconcile these opposites; and that can only be done by being aware and questioning, because otherwise each of the two forces demands that we believe in it wholly. They serve, each in their own way, as a recruiter for their own cause; and because of their inherent nature, neither one of them is lawfully able to recognize the opposing cause without a reconciling factor, which is the agent that has that duty and that ability.

Perhaps it’s quite important here to point out that Holy Reconciling is the only force that has the ability to bind the other two forces together. Without it, the two forces as they are would exist forever separated: God would at once lose everything that creates His being, and creation would lose God. The failure to embody Holy Reconciling is iterated, on our own level, in atheism and mechanistic rationalism. This is an absolutism that acknowledges only the Holy Denying force. On the other hand, for those who acknowledge only the Holy Affirming force, they become religious fanatics — the exact opposite of atheists — and in this way they equally lose God, by insisting on nothing but God at the expense of everything else.

So we can see that mankind’s tendency is not to bind the two forces together, but to insist on an inner condition in which either everything is God — in which case we lose God at the end of everything— or that nothing is God, in which case we lose God right at the beginning. Either way, without the force of consciousness, the end result is the same.

This is not to indulge in moralizing about the two opposing forces, which we easily see at work not just in society and the world at large but also in ourselves; it is also a vision of our failure to understand metaphysical structure we are created within. This was the greater part of Gurdjieff’s exposition to Ouspensky, which is rarely examined at the depth it needs to be in order to understand how dire our condition actually is. At that, the difficulty with Ouspensky’s commentary on the situation is to mechanistic; it does not truly come to grips with the struggle inside the human soul that is so much more deftly embedded in the mythology of Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson. Hence the insistence of those closest to the heart of the Gurdjieff work to focus on Beelzebub’s Tales as the most essential material for a tactile encounter with these questions.

It pays to be clearer on these questions. A touchy – feely approach to the understanding of metaphysical structure is, generally speaking, successfully only intermittently and by accident. If we want to know how to play music, we must become familiar with the scales.

 May you be well within today.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Wish and the Force of Holy Denying, Part II: The Ladder Between Heaven and Earth


Architectural detail from Serrabone

When we consider the question of the effort to reassemble, we must now make it personal by transferring the entire cosmological hierarchy and its functional relationships to the psyche and soul of man. 

This process takes place in a human being: there is a place, as Meister Eckhart makes so clear, where the divine flows into the soul. As we are, we’re quite distant from this place. Our task in life is to return to it; yet everything in life arranges itself against this. There’s a pressure, a momentum, so to speak, that quite literally pushes us down and wishes to keep us fixed in the descending movement of the octave. That wish isn’t a conscious resistance and a rejection of creation, however, but rather a natural obstacle that is formed by the force of the movement of Holy Affirming. We might call it the “anti-wish”: God has invested so much force in the act of creation that it has an automatic tendency to follow its own momentum and continue to create, create, create.

Yet all of this natural force has the lawful property of coming to rest at the bottom with a powerful boomerang effect, a wish to reassemble; and in order for that wish to be fulfilled, a kind of ”cosmic ladder” exists. 

The ladder was already lawfully created by the downward motion, so it is implicit in creation.

This is Jacob’s ladder of the biblical tale, a structure upon which angels (vibrational entities) move both upwards and downwards. As we are, trapped near the bottom of the ray of creation, we have the opportunity to move upwards because a mechanical structure that supports it exists. But it’s much easier to go down the ladder than up it; to go up the ladder, one has to lift one’s own weight (take responsibility) and use will — employ an intention to go upwards. If one is irresponsible and has no particular intention, the automatic impulse will be to go downwards.

There are several metaphysical problems with our inner position. 

The first one, as is already obvious, is that we’re working against the natural tendency of things to go down if we have a wish to move upwards. 

The second one is that we’re not at the bottom of the ladder. This is a critical point. The bottom of the ladder for earth lies at the moon, a place of 96 laws. That is the place at which Holy Denying, the force whose essence is a wish to return to the source, has its origin. It’s the root of being. 

In a paradox with too much dimension to appreciate in any superficial way, this means that we actually have to make the conscious decision to descend the ladder first if we wish to reach the root of the ability to move back upwards. All of the work in the development of “moon” in ourselves a relates exactly to this question. All of the work on sensation relates just as exactly to this question. It also gives an important indicator as to why we initially need to place ourselves under more, not less, discipline if we wish to begin any real work in ourselves.

We need to go back to the source of the force of Holy Denying in order to create a foundation at the beginning of its impulse if we wish to fully embody its effort to move back towards the divine within ourselves. This source, I might note, lies at the bottom of the ray of creation, the lowest point where everything comes to rest and stillness. This is the place where one finds the least resistance to the return — where my wish is born.

This means that we are, quite surely, trapped in a strange place: “one rung up” on the ladder and still in the midst of the downward movement of Holy Affirming. There are intriguing complexities and connections between this position and the development of our egos, which — because they have a certain authority over the downward movement, which is more natural to us — make us think we’re Gods.

We see from this a cogent metaphysical explanation of the ancient adage ”the way down is the way up.” Everything from the point at the bottom becomes a struggle against forces far, far greater than myself. 

Yet there’s an advantage to this place at the bottom of the ray of creation: it’s also the point at which the receiving of the force of the Absolute is the most completed. In this place I’ve been given everything that can be given by God and creation to begin in the act of Being: the effort to develop an individuality that can contain intention, will, consciousness, and an aim to return to the source.

We should remember here that Gurdjieff describes Holy Affirming as the passive force. This is because it needs to do nothing more than exist to move downwards. 

The Holy Denying force is active because it must use will and effort in its attempt to return to the source.

  May you be well within today.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Wish and the Force of Holy Denying, Part I: The Ray of Creation

Capital relief from Serrabone

Gurdjieff considered Holy Affirming and Holy Denying as follows:

'It is evident that we men, like all units existing in the Universe, are formed and always consist of the same three independent forces, by means of which the process of reciprocal maintenance of everything existing is actualized, that is, the following three universal forces. 

'The first of these forces continually arises from causes appearing within the Prime Source itself from the effect of the pressure of new arisings and, issuing from it by momentum, flows out of that Prime Source. 

" 'The second universal force is what this first force becomes when, after having spent the momentum it had, it strives to reblend with the source of its arising, according to the fundamental cosmic law "the effects of a cause must always re-enter the cause. " (Passage from the chapter on justice in Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson.)

Holy Affirming is thus assigned the role of the creative force of God that flows into the universe: the force of creation itself. This places it at the top of what Gurdjieff calls the ray of creation:

The ray of creation begins with the Absolute. The Absolute is the All. The All, possessing full unity, full will, and full consciousness, creates worlds within itself, in this way beginning the descending world octave.  The Absolute is the do of this octave. The worlds which the Absolute creates in itself are si. (In Search of the Miraculous, page 132.) 

Readers familiar with my work on the enneagram will see from this passage how the note si is tied to the sum of material creation. (See The Universal Enneagram.) This represents, in its place in the octave, the reassembly of the force of creation which begins at the “opposite end” of the octave with the note re. 

In the passage from do to re— which is represented, in terms of astrophysics, by the Big Bang — a tremendous amount of momentum is developed, as referred to in the passage. The pressure of new arisings is that selfsame force of engenderment which flows inexorably “downward” throughout the ray of creation.

That momentum comes to rest at the bottom of the octave, which is read backwards in this case, passing counterclockwise from si down to the bottom of the octave at the note re. 

Don’t let this confuse you: it’s actually quite simple. What it tells us is that re is the point referred to where first force has spent its momentum. It is the point of rest. At this point, that force is transformed and begins the attempt to re-blend with the source of its arising. 

This is where the force of Holy Denying originates.

Gurdjieff’s cosmology expounds an essential tension between the Absolute, do, and material creation, si. 

The six notes re, mi, fa, sol, la, si represent, progressively, the progressive reassembly of the force of the Absolute, do, through a complex interactive hierarchy in the iteration and development of vibration. As such, conceptually, everything outside of the Absolute ultimately represents an element in the hierarchy of Holy Denying, that is to say, the effort to return to the source.

From this we understand that in specific (and yet at the same time most general) terms, from the 30,000 foot point of view, the Absolute “is” Holy Affirming and material creation “is” Holy Denying. Yet this is a bit too simplistic; because from a technical point of view, laid out in more literal terms, Holy Affirming is the force that we perceive in action if the octave is read as a descending scale

Holy Affirming is represented that reading of the diagram in which everything flows counterclockwise. In fact the natural tendency in the diagram and in the universe, because of the force of the Absolute and its action in creation, is to flow in this manner. The momentum from the Absolute proceeds from si backwards through all the notes down to re

Once the Holy Denying force manifests at the note re, it has to struggle upwards through the “downward pressure” of all of the forces from above like a salmon swimming upstream in order to spawn if it wishes to reassemble the vibrational complexity of the Absolute within itself.

"The ray of creation ends in the moon. Beyond the moon there is nothing. This also is the Absolute—do.”

This phrase, found in the same passage as the first ones, will become very important, so keep it in mind.

 May you be well within today.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.