Saturday, November 30, 2013

Intonation and atonement

If we intone the name of the Lord, benefits accrue.

This idea is old fashioned; monks may do such a thing, or people in yogic chanting circles; and the Muslims still have a pretty good idea of it.

Yet the attractant Force of intonation is generally out of fashion in the modern world, and when it's cloistered and restricted to special moments and structured circumstances, such as churches, it has little freedom to bring Life into relationship—which is its absolute purpose.

The Name of God is what is meant to be intoned, insofar as it is understood- and that name is a vibration, an intonation, not an appellation.

The Name of God is, in other words, an an inner action. Corresponding vibrations arise.

Like the movements, where the action itself becomes the mediating force between two opposing and equally essential points of view, the action of the intonation is what brings Life into relationship with itself.

Life being in relationship with itself has nothing to do with what we expect or conceive of, because Life itself—that is, the real force of Reality which creates Life—is inconceivable and in fact emanates entirely and wholly from the inconceivable. We can stand on the threshold of this manifestation as active agents and participate, but we are agents, representatives, not the originating force.

This relationship of active Being within the Forces that arise becomes an unanswerable question, in the sense that the question becomes alive and is thus in movement, becoming its own answer. This is what Ibn Arabi was getting at when he suggested that a cause can become the effect of its own effect. Ouroborian, or self-referential, arguments all revolve around such paradoxes; yet the paradox is a Truth. The fact that paradox exists at all points us towards the existence of the unknowable; far from negating itself and Reality, the paradox enlivens the irresolvable nature of truth on this level.

Enough excursions. The point is that we intone within Life; and the force of intonement becomes atonement, that is, reconciliation. It's not coincidental that the two words are related; but the mystery of atonement through intonement isn't understood unless it's born within Life, not segregated.

To be born within Life means to be active in life and to find a moment during the everyday to intone the name of the Lord, preferably when no other are present—not because one wishes to experiment, fulfill an imaginary obligation, or invoke magic, but, as is said in eastern Orthodoxy, because it is meet and right so to do. 

To understand and implement this organically will accrue benefits, insofar as the supplicant applies him or herself; because it involves a certain alignment with the Forces who are appointed to help in inner work.

One could certainly give instructions on such intonement, but in my opinion it's best for the individual to intimately seek the roots of their own inner practice and let this understanding form of itself—since it is natural and innate, if we open to it.

Hosannah.







Friday, November 29, 2013

Mixing the inner and the outer

Human beings constantly confuse outer practices which approximate religion through forms with inner practices, which are religion.

 What we see of religion outwardly, its organization, its structure, is only a reflection. Its poor state in the outward world is a reflection of its poor state in the inward world; and all religion is an inner condition, not an outer one.  In other words, if we don't like what we see of religion, or anything else, it's our own fault that things are this way.

 This has to be taken on the level of individual work, not the collective, because one must personally come to clearly distinguish between the inner and the outward practice, and see how the inward practice is one of receiving the Lord,  and all of the outward practice only derives from that.  The outward practice is only whole and intact to the extent that the inward practice has integrity.

In this way, The Reality is created within by the Lord, and received within from the Lord, and must be distinguished from the outward, which is nothing more than a mirror that reflects this truth.

In standing between the inward force of Truth, in so far as it is formed in Being, and the outward manifestation of life, we must be clear about the two and see them both. One is formed through the organic sense of being and the inward receptiveness to energy from a different level; the other is formed through the blending of those qualities with external arisings. They aren't the same; confusing them is a grave error that constantly takes place, because we think that the outward form is the inward form. This is why Swedenborg said that men see with their eyes instead of their understanding.

Don't spend energy becoming identified with outward forces. Always begin inside, and, without identifying with that, either, be sensitive. Be intimate. There will always be a life lived where the coarse intersects with the fine; the coarse is obliged to be coarse, because that is in its nature; and the fine is obliged to be fine, because that, too, is in its nature. In fact all of the parts always arise and manifest within their own nature. Trying to change their nature cannot help anything; actually, it's impossible. Seeing their nature will, on the other hand, eventually allow them to reorganize so that a right order appears.

The illusion of control is a dangerous one. Outer life is all about achievement; this is lawful, necessary. Yet we don't ever achieve anything in an inner sense; we can only stand ready for change, hope for it, ask for it. We are unable to effect it; for every change that is great (and the change needs to be very great) comes from the Lord, not from us.

We learn to wait, and to ask.

Hosannah.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Meaning is not singular

Following on the last post, in which we examine the significance of inner and outer, I would like to point out that meaning is never a singular thing.

Because of the inner transformational property of meaning, it can never be a single thing. Meaning can't be assigned to something in one dimension; it has an infinite number of dimensions.

Trying to reduce meanings to one-dimensional artifacts is like pulling the legs and wings off flies; the more you pare it down to focus on a single aspect of it's being, the less mobility it has. In this sense, people who say they "fear answers" don't so much fear answers in general, as a single answer. A single answer fails to come into relationship; and relationship is the motive force for Being. 

This is why Gurdjieff's enneagram depicts a circulating universe with principles that influence it to varying degrees and at varying times; always in circulation, always changing. The character and the meaning of any specific object, event, circumstance, or condition is thus in a state of perpetual evolution; and to ignore this is to ignore the idea that we need to live in the river and swim in it. Not subsist on bottled water.

The attraction of bottled water, of course, is that it appears pure; and we feel safe drinking it. But if we persist in this habit, eventually, we begin to think that all water is bottled, and that's the only way it comes. In this way, we may understand the drinking, but we don't understand water.

Announcing the publication of my new essay on Sacro Bosco, the extraordinary sculpture Graden near Viterbo, Italy. Readers can visit this site by using the below link

Sacro Bosco

Hosannah.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The hidden part



In life, there is always a part that is hidden which we call the inner; and there is always a part which can be seen, which we call the outer.

The meanings of these two parts within every situation, and in art, can be quite different; yet it's presumed by humans that the outer is always where the meaning lies. So an artist, or a poet, or a writer can outwardly create a work, achieve something, and think that they understand what they have done; yet in almost every case, what is done actually emanates from an inner and hidden place that is speaking in ways that are not obvious to the outer, which only knows how to take things literally. This is exactly why Christ spoke in parables.

In this way, great works of art or literature are created which appear to say one thing; but in fact in their inner or hidden meaning say something entirely different. The artists, writers, and even the critics may presume that they know what works say, but this is only true if they are inwardly formed in such a way as to understand what the inner, or secret, meaning of the work is when it emerges.

 In this way, many hidden things are said; and they are not at all obvious to those who see them. The inner, after all, is part of a sacred manifestation that is always trying to speak to the outer, but is rarely listened to. The greatest works of art and literature carry enough of this inner content to speak to people wordlessly, subliminally, underneath their obvious outward contexts; and an artist or writer can only be said to understand what he or she is doing in so far as they have a connection with, a contact with, the inner content of both their own being and the meanings that they express.

When we discuss such artists, immediately, figures such as Rainier Maria Rilke come to mind; perhaps da Vinci, or Goethe. But in any event, we always recognize that they are exceptional; and this is because there is an unusual alignment between their inner being and the inward content of their art.

Generally speaking, the science of esotericism presumes — mistakenly – that some "special" people know what this inner meaning is, and that others don't. That is, that there is a cognoscenti whose understanding is superior and lies above that of others. Yet there is no such group or clan; because the expression of the inner and its meaning is a highly personal one, a sacred instance between the higher principle, God, and the individual who perceives it. Although the effort to connect with such an understanding can be undertaken in groups – in fact, it must be formed in community — it always lies within the responsible functions of an individual, not a group, to form a right relationship with the inner that can perceive such content.

Because of the unique nature of the inner, when it expresses itself in these hidden and unknown ways, it undergoes an endless series of transformations as it encounters the Being who sees it. It enters the world specifically to engage in a very intimate process of evolution which involves encounters and transformations with many Beings; this endless unfolding of its truths, which end up being expressed outwardly — in no matter how inept a manner — give birth to endless new forms. This constitutes the great and eternal unfolding of Ibn Arabi's Names of God.

In this sense, no one knows what the content of the piece of art, literature, music, or dance is — it undergoes constant transformation, because, as an expression of the divine, it is capable of internal and eternal transformation even as it manifests. This transformation is not achieved through the sheer presence of gross material substances (again, see the Swedenborg quote) but through relationship with the Being who interacts with it.

An artist may create works of extraordinary significance, and have no idea whatsoever in their own Being of what they have achieved; for such greater purposes are often obscured by the outer, and not readily available to the superficial, ordinary parts of the mind; the effects of such works are impossible to foresee. A good example of this is Van Gogh, who died depressed and convinced that his works had, in the end, not found acceptance or been understood by others. He had no way of knowing that his work would become a transformational body with the power to change how we see the world; his outer being was not aligned with the inner content of his work. And so it often goes; we work for unseen masters, to unseen purposes, yet we think we are in charge.

In this way, the hidden inner purpose of any life or work is not obvious to us as we encounter it outwardly. Behind every manifestation, good or bad, there lies an intention that is invisible to us as we speak and breathe. 

In life, we become responsible to an effort to discover where the center of gravity of that question lies.


Hosannah.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Where Christ was born

 Another meditation on the question of location.

 We prefer to believe that spiritual activity takes place in places; because we manifest within a material world, we want the specifics of materiality to determine the conditions herein. Indeed, from the point of view of a mystical materialism, that's how it works. But Swedenborg insisted that materialism, which he was deeply familiar with — he was, unequivocally, one of the greatest scientists of his era, and perhaps any time — is merely a dim reflection of the higher spiritual truths, and that proximity in the Kingdom of Heaven is determined by state, not by anything we might perceive as physical location.

In the nativity myth, the location — the manger — plays a huge role. Intended to symbolize Christ's humble beginnings, the idea of being born in a place where animals are fed also has esoteric implications that expands to include Gurdjieff's teachings about the ingestion of impressions of life, and man's dual nature as both an animal and a spiritual being.

But in the vernacular, much is made of the location.  The song begins, "away in a manger." We are meant to be impressed with the idea that the son of God was born in this very humble location. So impressed that we make big plastic replicas of it propped on front lawns with lights in them.

Yet "in the manger," it is the action that takes place that's important. A gathering occurs, in which  animals, shepherds, angels, and the wisest men of the age arrive; all of them acquire proximity to the sacred, drawn to it not by the physical location it occupies, but the state it represents. We might liken the Christ child to a force of gravity, a sacred principle of energy that draws us all inward towards God, regardless of our station. And indeed, the Kingdom of Heaven — the state of proximity to the sacred — is an inner state of action that draws being towards it, not a place. In the end, it is useless to try and locate the sacred in any specific place within Being, because the whole of Being itself is, to the extent that it forms inwardly, the manifestation of the sacred, and it can't be localized. There aren't any mangers; Being moves where it will. The Son of Man has no place to rest his head.

 Perhaps the difficulty we have in an inner sense is this question of location, which we so doggedly insist on. If we examine Jeanne de Salzmann's repeated questions about, and challenges to, our attachment to our thought, our habit, what we believe in, perhaps we can see that these are locations, places in which we become stuck — geographies which we insist on gluing everything to. It is the inner geography of our Being that is at fault here — we draw life into this static place, which could be labeled a manger, or a Kingdom of Heaven.  We put pushpins into the sacred and tack it down to specimen boards.

 Hence the sacred isn't a fluid, living experience of Being anymore; it is about the place we are in, not a freedom of movement that's capable of responding to the outer not because of inner place, but because of inner state.

Hosannah.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Kingdom of Heaven


On several occasions over the last week or so, Cynthia Bourgealt and her books have come to my attention; one of my good friends is reading The Wisdom Jesus. Generally speaking,  anyone who studies religion and esotericism in any depth has probably already covered much of the territory she presents, but I thought I would take a look at one of her works, so I'm reading The Wisdom Jesus. For those first introducing themselves to the idea she explores, it seems to be quite good.

 While considering her words, I was struck by the discussion about the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ, she points out, says that the Kingdom of Heaven is within; yet I feel that the words may be misleading, even though they are supposedly the words of Christ Himself.

 There's truth to the idea that the Kingdom of Heaven is within; but the words themselves assign the Kingdom of Heaven a location. Whether we perceive it as being inside us or outside us, it becomes a physical location, a place. Yet it is not defined by place; it is defined by state.

A Kingdom is a condition, not a place. The condition is that in which there is a king and there are subjects. So it is a condition, an order, a special and specific form of relationship. It could be anywhere; because the condition of kingship and that of the kingdom depends on the existence of the king and the subjects, not the location. Because, traditionally, kingdoms always needed locations to exist, we would conventionally think of them as being locations, not conditions; yet it was emphatically stated by Swedenborg that the Kingdom of Heaven determines proximity not by geography, but by state. And in the same way, our relationship to higher principles is determined not by location, but by state. So there is no place for the Kingdom of Heaven to arise, except within Being; and there is no geography of heaven, except in so far as it is defined by the inner state.

When Christ says the Kingdom of Heaven is within, he does not call us to the place within ourselves, but the relationship within ourselves. What is our relationship? We cannot acknowledge any order within us until we see how we are; there has to be a conscious recognition of this order, of the existence of a king — or, at least, the potential for one to exist — within us in order for kingdom to be possible. And we are taught, in every teaching, including Gnosticism, esotericism, and  even "that good old-time religion," that we aren't the king. It is our state, our location, that does not allow for a kingdom to exist. Kingdom comes through relationship, not through discovery of a place.

Perhaps this is the danger of subscribing too enthusiastically to physical yoga practices. They attempt to locate energy quite specifically; and although this is possible, they deceive us into believing that the locations, for example, the chakras, are what is important, and not the relationships between our parts. More specifically, not the relationships between our parts, which are indeed important — but the relationship between our parts and something higher.

We seek a new inner order which will come under an authority. This order isn't locational; it is experiential. So it is the movement of inner experience that creates the question of kingdom, not the fact that we have an inner which might serve as a location for a king.

 More on this in the next post.

 Hosannah.





Sunday, November 24, 2013

The arc and the secret



Today marks the 7th anniversary of the ZYG blog.

I thought I'd mark the occasion by printing a guest essay, a first for this blog. This fine piece expresses, in my opinion, everything that my seven-year effort in this space stands for, and what our work is all about.

The piece is contributed by my friend Richard Hodges. Thanks to Richard for his permission to share it with readership.

The arc and the secret of Gurdjieff’s teaching


Gurdjieff appeared in Moscow in late 1911 to begin the work of establishing his teaching in the world. Now, we are invited to look back over the whole arc of his work, just over a century of rotations of the planetary system that he drew into orbit around him, and ask ourselves: what is the essential core of his legacy? Though we may have been “in Gurdjieff’s Work” for years or decades, we see that to face this question is a challenge. It demands a state of attention far above our usual one. 

Perhaps it could help us to understand that the question seems impossible to answer because what is at the core of The Work is a secret. According to the principle of esotericism there must always be a secret at the core, something unknown, something that we cannot know, that we are not meant to know. We try to approach the core through a variety of means and ways—ideas, movements, sittings, exercises, readings, work with others, music— but in the peculiar non-Euclidean geometry (to borrow a word from René Daumal) that obtains around the deepest truth of things, the more one approaches it, the greater the distance becomes. In recognizing this, we begin to appreciate that something truly extraordinary is at stake. This opens us to new, finer, feelings, and to real ideas, far higher than those accessible to the ordinary mind. An energy enters that is, at last, capable of transforming us, into a new kind of being, one that has a relationship with this core.

All real traditions have an esoteric secret at their core. Because ordinary language cannot define the secret, it is often expressed in the language of symbol, for example the unpronounceable name of God. What is the uniquely Gurdjieffian form of the secret, the symbol that for us represents both the core and its hiddenness? Lord Pentland told us that we must make the body our symbol. Can we perhaps already glimpse, through our repeated efforts to sense the physical body and its currents of fine energy, that there is a second body, a secret body, unknown to our ordinary mind, with which we are gradually establishing a relationship?

How are we to allow this new relationship to develop according to its own laws, without degrading it through formalistic thoughts and efforts that do not rise to the necessary fineness of intent? When we observe what kind of thoughts and efforts actually occupy us, we come face to face with this question, and according to accounts of earlier followers of Gurdjieff, they also have always had to face it. Perhaps here then is another aspect of the secret: that, as we are, we are not capable of really thinking or of really working. To deeply accept this uncomfortable fact is to pass a certain threshold that is a necessary step on the way. It is not just a question of humbling oneself, but of becoming able to abandon, at moments, our vain, self-interested, greedy, willfulness toward inner work. Only then can the efforts that take place in us be directed not by our meaningless personal will, but by a higher will that we do not know, and must not seek to know about with our mind.

We are trying to speak about what cannot be spoken about. We are trying to do what cannot be “done”. We are living under an influence which we cannot see, but only allow to act on us. To the extent that we accept this situation, it makes us members of a secret brotherhood of The Work.

—Richard Hodges, November 2013


Readers who have been following this blog for years know that since its inception, on each anniversary, I change the sign-off for the blog for the course of the coming year.

For the next year, we will simply end with-

Hosannah.




Saturday, November 23, 2013

Light again



Were it not for light, nothing whatsoever would be perceived [idrâk], neither the known, nor the sensed, nor the imagined. The names of light are diverse in keeping with the names of the faculties…. Smell, taste, imagination, memory, reason, reflection, conceptualization, and everything through which perception takes place are light. As for the objects of perception… they first possess manifestation to the perceiver, then they are perceived; and manifestation is light…. Hence every known thing has a relation with the Real, for the Real is Light. It follows that nothing is known but God. (Ibn ‘Arabî, al-Futûhât, 1911 edition, 3:276–77)

A little while back, I wrote a piece on light which was based on some of my own direct inner impressions of the nature of light, combined with inferences drawn from the general sense of things in the world of esotericism and mysticism. The subject is in casual for me; I discussed it as far back in 2003 in my book Chakras and the Enneagram.

Today, I'm having some further thoughts on the matter that I want to communicate.

There may be a misunderstanding.

Light does not necessarily mean what we see with our eyes. Seeing is associated with light; the idea is that “light” illuminates, or reveals, the things that it falls on. 

But as the above quote from Ibn Arabi amply demonstrates, the metaphysical properties of light are such that illumination, that is, revelation, can take place in contexts that don’t necessarily involve the organs of sight. Every one of the senses is capable of receiving an illuminated, or revealed, property of Reality through its own capacities; and as we know, hearing, touch, taste, smell, and sight all have particular and special properties that are distinct from one another in their ability to reveal a property of an object. Otherwise we would not differentiate between them.

Each one of these works with vibrations of one kind or another; thus, “light” is actually a form of vibration, and need not be limited in terms of understanding to photons and their action alone. In fact, to do so is to profoundly misunderstand the nature of light, which can be sensed through the organism in ways that the eyes are certainly not capable of sensing. The eyes, in fact, are relatively weak instruments in some ways compared to the perceptive abilities of the cellular organism. Cells are able to sense things on a much more fundamental level than the eyes, which are grossly larger organs.

So what I am trying to say here is that we can see with all of our parts — not just our eyes, or our intellect. We see with our emotive capacities; we see with our sensation. We also see with our instincts and our sexuality. Roughly speaking, these five lower centers are equivalent to the five senses, although the correspondences cannot be drawn quite so directly. But each one of the centers has a capacity to see, that is, to take “light” into itself.

Broadening the term light to include this much wider spectrum of sensory ability may be confusing; yet there is a fundamental truth in it.

We are immersed in sets of information that illuminate and reveal many different aspects of Reality. Because our organisms have become insensitive, much of this information isn’t available to us anymore; but it could be. To become attuned to the action of light is to become attuned to the sacred properties of matter, within this ordinary life, and to actually live in some form of contact with them. 

This isn’t a rapturous excursion into hills and valleys of bliss; this is an existential condition we encounter, which has a degree of objectivity to it that is not specifically attached to an ecstatic emotional response. It can be; but that is not its functional purpose. 

Becoming attuned to this more objective property of seeing, which penetrates into all the parts of the body in a very different way than what we usually call seeing, brings all of life into question in a new way. It also provides some answers; but every answer is actually just a new question that hasn’t been investigated yet. Because of this, the terms question and answer come obsolete; instead of questioning and answering, we inhabit and experience.

Thus, when I and my pieces with the phrase, “may your soul be filled with light,” I may not be referring to what you see with your eyes; and it may not be bright or shining. 

It will, on the other hand, be deeply formed, and contain information and character that is not of a worldly nature, in so far as we usually understand it.


May your soul be filled with light.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Being of the three centers, part III

 In the last post, I mentioned that Grace is given, and Mercy is earned. This is because on the downward path along the right side of the enneagram, much help is sent. God, after all, understands that he has separated his own Being from himself and sent it on a very difficult journey which should benefit all of Being and even Reality itself if it is successfully completed. He consequently gives an enormous amount of help, very freely, because of His Merciful nature.

 Once the energy is accepted, however, and the progression around of the diagram turns to the point where the individual has acquired responsibility — the note sol —  a different kind of effort is necessary. Now, instead of accepting the conditions one is in and the influence one finds oneself under, which is in the realm and place of natural influences, one enters territory where one must strive to become more like God, since one has acquired the ability to purge oneself of the ego and move closer to God. So energy, in a certain sense, "flows backwards" on this side of the diagram. We discover Being; we seek Mercy.

This  may sound like a complicated idea, but the terms are specific and exact.  We don't need to seek Being because we already have it; we just don't recognize it. Mme. did not talk about the search for Being; she talked about the Reality of Being. To awaken is to awaken to one's pre-existing state of Being. There is no need to seek this; it merely needs to be uncovered.

 Mercy, on the other hand, must be sought, because it is a divine quality that does not belong to man. It is one of the highest principles in the universe, and because it is actually very distant from Being upon its inception (Being is already directly inherent or incarnated (though not fully expressed yet) at re, whereas Mercy occupies the place between si and do, the correct location of the second conscious shock) one must strive to reach it. The fact that it  is ever-present and assured does not mean it is attained without effort. My apologies: this understanding is quite complex and exceeds by its very nature the scope of the present essay.

So, coming back to the question of the two prayers in the work, I am – I wish to be is the prayer of Grace given, and Lord have Mercy is the prayer of Mercy sought. The first acknowledges our condition; the second embodies our search. We inhabit the natural; we search for the spiritual.

 The practice of conscious labor is the inhabitation of the natural with the support of grace. The practice of intentional suffering is the search to emulate the Mercy of the Lord; and one must go a long way towards Divinity before any help meets one from the other side under these conditions.

May your soul be filled with light.

Note to readers:

My new e-book The Esoteric Bosch is now available as a pdf download, and also at the iTunes bookstore as an e-book for the Mac OS, iPad and iPad mini.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Being of the three centers, part II

Jeanne de Salzmann repeatedly says that any kind of tension will block an effort at inner work. While this question can be understood through direct experience, it can also be examined from a technical point of view. This sheds some light on why tension is so much of an issue.

 First of all, take note that tension arises in all three centers. Moving Center tension expresses itself as muscular tension; and most people think that this is the tension that needs to be dealt with, which is why yoga, massage therapy, and so on are so popular. But it only scratches the surface of the tension that we have.

Emotional tension expresses itself as reaction. Intellectual tension expresses itself as argument.

The reason for this is that tension always arises first and foremost in the moving part of the center. It is a physical issue, a physical blockage. it prevents the energy from moving through the center properly because it arises at the beginning of the process, at the note re. While it can be well understood through immediate experience that moving center attention is muscular, the tensions of the other two centers are almost invariably ignored, because the manifestations are not understood as tension.

The tensions arise and prevent the higher energy necessary for inwardly forming — informing — the center through the progression of its parts. That is to say, the tension blocks the shock that ought to take place to unify the moving and intellectual part of the center with the emotional part. That shock is provided, as has been explained in other essays, through the action of Grace, which penetrates everything.

The diagram at this link will give some indications of how both Grace and Mercy affect the progression of energy in the octave. Grace is given; Mercy is earned. Grace is given because, as soon as the divine exits the transcendent Reality as an emanation that forms the material world (the note re) God immediately recognizes the separation and the objectively difficult circumstances that His creation has been thrust into, and immediately, because of His infinitely Merciful nature, sends help — that is, Grace, or, the conscious force that helps with work —  on the very heels of the manifestation itself. That is to say, Grace has the opportunity to enter naturally from the beginning and support the development of the octave. But it is physically blocked at the note re by this resistance of tension.

 This tension is caused, among other things, because of the loss of identity with the Godhead. In the instant of manifestation and material existence, all of creation has already forgotten where it originated, and has to begin a search for it; Grace is actually resisted, even though it is offered so freely. It's perceived as other; and in the initial establishment of identity, other is always to be rejected. It is overcoming this rejection that the passage around the diagram is all about. The rejection of the other in favor of one's own unique identity, even when that other is God, is where ego begins and ends.

The important point to understand here is that every center blocks the entry of Grace, of conscious motive force, that could assist in its internal completion as a three centered enterprise. The centers block the entry of Grace through their tension, which is why Mme. stressed this so much.

 I've heard others assert that some tension is necessary; but those who speak in this way don't understand what kind of tension and what kind of relaxation we are seeking here. For Grace to penetrate the action of a particular center, a very deep relaxation, one that isn't ordinarily available in any way, must arrive. And one of the deep mysteries is that Grace itself can provide this help, if we let it.

More on this tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Being of the three centers, part I

 Repeatedly, in The Reality of Being, we encounter Jeanne de Salzmann making remarks about the idea that centers come to a moment where they participate voluntarily.

 This language has a very specific meaning, and I'm not sure it's properly understood, so we're going to discuss it this morning. But in order to do so we must — alas! — get a bit technical once again.

 Each of the three centers — the moving, emotional, and intellectual center — has, as we know, a moving, emotional, and intellectual part. These parts are connected quite lawfully in exactly the same manner that all of the other structures in the universe are; they are a triad representing the right side of an enneagram.

Several things are illustrated in this principle: first of all, the three parts of each center interact lawfully according to the development of an octave, requiring a conscious shock to bring them together; and secondly, perhaps more important, centers have a higher level of work in order to complete their own inner octave.

This means that after a center connects the inner moving, emotional, and intellectual apparatuses, it moves to a new level of work in which it has to complete the circulation around the octave. When it completes the first triad 142 and has an inner connection, it becomes whole, that is, it moves to the note sol within its own octave and has acquired being.

 Now, I've explained to readers many times that when a center is awake, one does not have to make any effort to get it to arrive in the moment and participate. It has now become a living thing, a consciousness in its own right which has acquired being; and it shows up on its own, that is, it shows up voluntarily — it volunteers. So, if the first triad of my sensation is complete, I don't need to try to sense myself, because the sensation arrives whole. It shows up in the middle of my being and supports my intellectual and emotional state because it is awake and has a wish of its own now.

The point that it has a wish of its own now is important, because the note sol represents the activation not of the physical or the intellectual higher part of the center, but the emotional higher part of the center — this is what provides the motive force, and (fortunately for us) development through the next two notes can proceed without an additional shock (even though an additional shock is always shown, in the wrong location on the diagram.)

 So for an individual center to acquire Being is a major step in inner development.

 All three of the centers need to develop Being in order to engage in voluntary participation. The inner sensation of this is a very specific thing that can't be described accurately in writing, but it's unmistakable, and those who encounter it are always astonished — which leads us to the comment in the Gospel of Thomas:

"Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished, and he will rule over the All."

 This particular comment, which may seem obscure, is actually a very precise and rather straightforward remark about the effort to see the centers clearly and discover how they work. We must engage in inner observation until we understand how our parts function according to the lawful development of the holy Trinity and the octave. We don't need to understand it technically in any absolute sense, but we must develop a very tactile sensation of our inner being and the way in which it functions. (This is, btw, a major point of de Salzmann's teachings in The Reality of Being.) In doing this — we will become troubled. We create friction as the parts recognize one another and see how disconnected they are. Ultimately, this friction leads to the astonishment that results when a center wakes up and begins to participate voluntarily — and when it does, we "rule over the All" — which was never meant to represent some megalomaniac control of the universe, but rather, we become the masters of an inner Self that has a new kind of unity to it. This, as well, is discussed over and over again in The Reality of Being.

 May your soul be filled with light.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The three higher being bodies


Ah, dear ones. 

I hope you don't grow tired of me expanding the dharma on the enneagram. But there's just a wee bit more that needs to be communicated on this matter; and it's my responsibility to publish this so that others can absorb and work on it.

As anyone who diligently studies Gurdjieff's esoteric system knows, the system is whole; that is, it is seamless, and every part is a reflection of all the other parts. We thus learn, perhaps to no one's surprise, that the three higher being bodies themselves comprise a triad which represents the precursor, on its own level, to a passage into Being. 

 What is surprising is that this clearly puts the Divine, in so far as it contacts us, in a specific place on the diagram of an octave; and that place is sol.  What this explains to us is that even God is not complete; God himself is attempting to go further, purify himself, and acquire more wisdom, so that he can transcend his own transcendence. This apparent paradox is actually lawful and necessary; since all things are possible to God, this is also possible, and God is both subject to all laws and beyond them,  in another apparent paradox.

 Another important point in this diagram is that each aspect of man's being is a fractal, or fractional, but whole, representation of all the levels below and above it, and creates a connection between all of those fractions that correspond to it in terms of the rate of vibration above it and below it. Swedenborg called this the law of correspondences.  What it means is that the material body, the physical body of man, is actually the mirrored image of the astral body on this level. In turn, emotion is the mirrored image of the mental body, and intellect is the mirrored image of the causal body. The three principles permeate the universe from top to bottom, because the law of three is one of the most fundamental and primary laws in operation.

Swedenborg understood this in a slightly different way that is in its own right entirely correct, and actually shed some light on the highest levels.  Heaven, you see, is constructed of three levels in ascending order: a physical level, an emotional level, and an intellectual level. Hell, to everyone's misfortune, reflects that structure in the same descending order. So the highest level is divided into three portions in exactly the same way that the lowest level is.

Human beings stand in the middle between these two regions. It is actually a battlefield, because a struggle is taking place to claim the human soul for an ascending or a descending force. The battle is like Tolstoy's most famous novel in both scale and nature, because it reflects the dilemma in War and Peace: every player, even the most powerful ones, believes they are in control of their own destiny, but the forces in action are vast in scale and categorically eclipse the ability of any single entity to affect them. This is, in fact, exactly the way that Gurdjieff described universal forces, and perhaps the root origin of his rather grim prognosis for man's chances of affecting his own destiny.

 We might note here that the development of the astral body is sensed through the arrival of a new vibration in the cells, which will become relatively permanent if the astral body truly forms the connection it needs. This is because the physical body is the mirror image of the astral body; in other words, there is a specific reason that the "sense" of the astral body is connected to sensation, which is mirrored in sound understanding of the cosmological premises. Studying the enneagram can be useful because it precisely explains such things, which are otherwise puzzling or obscure and may be subject to pointlessly superstitious explanations.

In like manner, the development of the mental and the causal body create corresponding increases in the rate of vibration of the emotions and the intellect. The development of the astral body will inevitably lead to the beginning of an understanding of this question; but until that happens, the question remains relatively mysterious.

 May your soul be filled with light.





Monday, November 18, 2013

further notes on the astral body and sacrifice- reaching the note sol


 In order to continue our discussion of the meaning of the transition from fa to sol- from the material to the spiritual, from identification to being — we're going to go back to one of my old favorites, Hieronymus Bosch.

 To underscore the idea that the transition from fa to sol has been known since ancient times, and has always carried the same meaning, let's take a look at the way it's encoded in  The adoration of the Magi.  

As we move around the circle from the top to the right, progressing downwards, we pass through the material realm, completely populated with self-important figures, richly dressed, who all think they are kings. It's only after one has reached the bottom of the circle in the clockwise rotation and begins to move up towards the top of the circle again, in the position of the note sol, that we encounter the penitent, who has adopted an appropriate kneeling position and discarded all of the elegant finery we see on the right, or material, side of the painting. Readers can peruse my commentary in more detail to see about all of the symbolic significance encoded in this progression; the important point is that something has to be given up at the moment one reaches the spiritual side of development. 

The ego is in a different position on the left-hand side of this painting; and the companions of ego are not self inflated monarchs, but lowly animals — what you would find in a manger, that is, where Christ was born.

It may seem counterintuitive to place animals in this position, rather than Angels or more refined human beings, but the animals have a more powerful symbolic content. Bosch made sound pictorial choices here which emphasize the fact that the spiritual side of the inner path, the left side of the Tantric Circle, require submission and humility, and an ability to see oneself as lower.

Let's remember that there are, as we have discussed in earlier essays, four levels of being bodies: physical, astral, mental, and causal. Because each one of them comprises two triads and one individual octave in themselves, there is an act of sacrifice required at each level in order to shear oneself of what has been acquired from the lower levels and move upwards. 

So the surrender, the giving up, the intelligent and inexorable progression towards the higher requires an act of sacrifice not once, but over and over again; and each time, the sacrifice is greater, because what has been gained at the astral level seems much greater than that of the physical level; yet that has to be given up in order to help the mental body develop, and in the case of the mental body, it, too, carries an ego of its own which must be overcome and surrendered in the progress towards the causal body.

Perhaps this helps readers to begin to understand that the act of sacrifice is a perpetual act that takes place on multiple levels and in an ascending order; but all of it is necessary simultaneously. That is to say, it is a complex and perhaps even bewildering environment; so if we have difficulty negotiating the inner path and understanding what we are, it's no surprise.

May your soul be filled with light.



Sunday, November 17, 2013

The life of the astral body

Painting by William Adie

In In Search of the Miraculous, Gurdjieff tells P. D. Ouspensky a good deal about the nature of the astral body; and some of it seems a bit puzzling. 

Why, for example, is the astral body not "immortal," if it represents a higher level of development?

There's a definite explanation for this; it follows on certain definable lawful conditions. But before we go on, read the excerpted material at the above link.

As was explained in a previous post, the four being-bodies in man actually represent, in their own right, an octave of their own; and that octave lawfully recapitulates all the exact same principles embedded in all octaves. As such, each being-body in man incorporates (embodies) a set of notes; but because each being-body is acquired by the completion of two triads, each being body represents not one, but two notes on the higher octave of being-bodies.

This brings us to the question of which notes the astral body represents; and, as can be seen in the original diagram of the being-body octave, the astral body represents the notes mi and fa.

Mi occupies the position of desire, or emotion, and completing the first triad of the astral body—which is the physical, or natural, that is, "default" or given condition of the astral body—represents the motive note desire in the larger octave. The second triad represents fa, the note marking the development of power. Readers will note that a shock of conscious labor, or Grace, is necessary here in order for these two notes to reconcile and pass to sol.

Passage to sol represents the beginning of the triad that belongs to the causal body, and the emergence of true Being in the higher bodies. This demonstrates an important principle: the development of Being, as we can understand it, is lawfully regulated by its own octave, and there are a number of levels of Being—exactly as Gurdjieff explained to Ouspensky. 

In each case, however, real Being is only attained at the note sol of the octave; and this essential principle remains consistent across the entire range of ordinate and subordinate octaves. The reason for this, in general terms, is that it's not until an octave reaches this note that it comes under higher influences and begins an ascent, rather than the re-ordering and integration of the descending forces, which is the work that the first triad is always lawfully engaged in.

The astral body is unable to acquire permanent Being relative to the "master octave" of the being bodies because of the notes it occupies; so, you see, there is a specific reason that Gurdjieff made his remarks to Ouspensky. Thus, while the development of the astral body can remain a "goal" for the yogi— and indeed, it's generally agreed upon in the Gurdjieff work, this is our initial "goal" (even though we also insist, somewhat ironically and perhaps even cynically, that we should not work for results)—it is not enough, that is, development of the astral body is just a first step in the development of Being. 

Those who get "caught" in the infatuations of the astral body and its various interesting paranormal abilities may fail to understand the progression that leads to sol, which involves a new kind of submission and actually giving up what has been attained by acquisition of the astral body—a requirement Gurdjieff alluded to allegorically in his remarks to Ouspensky, which have always been interpreted as a reference to outer work. 

In fact this passage specifically lays out the requirement for this step on the path. The "group" of people referred to in this passage are the inner group working within man; Ibn Arabi's Inner Kingdom. And understanding the nature of this inner group is, in the end, vitally more important than any work in outer groups with other individuals.

The acquisition of Being thus acquires a new dimension; and I'll discuss that a bit more in the next essay.

May your soul be filled with light.



Saturday, November 16, 2013

To grasp without obstacles

Today, I have been sober for 32 years.

In examining an inner process today, I realized that Being has the ability to grasp anything in its entirety in a single instant.

This capacity is rarely used, but it is an inherent one that always resides within Being. And there is an inexorable logic to it.

Because Being is an emanation of divine consciousness, it already knows everything, and has the capacity to understand anything within one moment. Many cases of apparent brilliance in autistic people are there simply because that one part of them functions in direct contact with this particular quality of Being.

We call this intuition without understanding its nature, which comes directly from the Divine inflow. Actually, this capacity is at work most of the time within us, and consists of that part within that recognizes everything before thought arises. There is, after all, an inalienable part of us that belongs to God which cannot be extinguished.

Thought is actually an afterthought; that is, it arises after the intuition has already grasped the situation in its entirety. The body, the physical self, already functions in movement directly from this intuitive capacity, but the mind doesn't. Thought actually obscures the living process and covers it with a perception that is no longer instantaneous, that is, of the moment.

If thought were to stop interfering with this process, we would be left with instantaneous participation, which is much more natural and grasps what is at hand without obstacles.

There's a corollary here: we see Being and knowing as separated processes, but they are actually unified. It's the process of thinking that artificially separates Being from knowing; not thinking in the sense of deep thought, which takes in and creates a new conceptual level of understanding, but the normal thinking which is reactive and which we take so much for granted as all of the thinking that our Presence consists of.

Behind this facade of thought lies a living Presence that is active. My passivity covers this and represses it.

It's intriguing to see this in action, because the living force of perception is so much more adept than thought. Why is the energy of consciousness so readily attuned to identification with the thinking? It's not obvious. It seems as though there's a tendency to seek the lowest common denominator; or perhaps this ordinary thinking is in fact an entirely unnecessary function, as was my perception years ago when I originally saw all of this question "from the top down," as it were. That experience laid all the facts of the matter bare, but it did not disclose the mechanism that obscures us from the inhabitation of our own Being; and if that isn't understood, the essential conundrum can't be penetrated.  

This reminds me of the dream I had last night about catching lobsters; but that is another matter entirely.


May your soul be filled with light.

Why does gravity exist?



In a movements class the other night, we were working with the arms and sensation, and the action suddenly seemed to suggest a very practical question about the nature of gravity and its existence in it.

I asked myself, why is there gravity?

 This has spiritual implications, not just physical ones; and perhaps the reason that physics can't understand gravity is because gravity is a metaphysical phenomenon, not a physical one, and displays none of the conventional properties that we expect to see when fields, forces, and particles are measured with instruments. It is, in fact, one of the fundamental mysteries of physics: what mediates the gravitational force?

One needs to develop a personal sense of inner gravity to investigate this for many metaphysical point of view; and the inner sense of gravity is born within the inflow, the arrival of the divine influence. So gravity is an active or conscious force related to the action of divinity, not some mindless physical property that acts without intelligence. Gravity is, in fact, directly related to the intelligence of God, because it serves as the prime organizing factor for the collection of material manifestations into ordered systems.

The question relates to the nature of suns as apertures opening up from the realm of the Divine. An outflow of the Divine into the material universe takes place, which manifests as light, heat, energy, and the associated creation of matter; but the return of the divine into its original source of arising is mediated by the force of gravity, which exerts a force of attraction back into the divine that is, in the end, exactly equal to the quality of emanation and radiation that takes place as the divine enters the material universe.

If we want to understand this from the point of view physics, we would have to invoke the idea of the multi-verse, that is, multiple universes, of which this one (that is, the one we're in) presents as only one bubble. The idea is in fact correct, when understood from a metaphysical point of view, because each "bubble" universe is a realm of action — only one of an infinite number of them — into which the divine penetrates before moving back into its own source. It is a circulatory system. We might liken it to the alveoli of the lungs, hollow cavities in which the exchange of vital substances takes place. Those who read Swedenborg in any detail and are capable of understanding how sophisticated his correspondence analogies between biology and the heavenly realms are will understand exactly what I am saying here; in any event, our universe is like one of countless cavities in one of the "lungs" of God, in which essential properties of Being are breathed in and out. In this analogy, solar systems are the individual "atoms" that participate in the process — and galaxies are somewhat analogous to to the molecular structures.

 So you see, the nature of the universe is far more organic and mysterious than it appears to be. Gravity is the force that draws all of the material back into the Divine; and it operates not only on a macroscopic scale, where it organizes planets in solar systems, it performs the same function within us.

If we awaken to the sense of gravity in us, not only are we receiving the inflow of Divine influences into our Being; we are also participating in a circulation in which we return them to their source. Because one of our essential responsibilities is to return these impressions to their source, it's important for us to understand, sense, and cultivate our inner sense of gravity.

May your soul be filled with light.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Being, Grace, and mercy, Part IV- Death as a Grace


We live in a universe of contradictions. The Alpha and Omega of the contradiction are our separation from God and our wish to return.

This contradiction takes many forms; in its essence, every subsequent contradiction (and there are an infinite number) arises from this primary contradiction, which is inescapable. All desire, all longing, which arises instantly upon the manifestation of material existence, is a longing for the return to God.

There are two paths to return to God – the voluntary and involuntary path. Gurdjieff actually laid out the schematic for this in Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson,  in which he described a universe which originally allowed everything to automatically evolve back into God. It underwent a catastrophic change that ultimately frustrated this straight or involuntary path, requiring" shocks," or interventions, in order for things to move forward.

This allegory is an abstraction of the difference between a universe of involuntary, or automatic, return to God and one where choice becomes the fulcrum.

 Sufi metaphysical arguments would pose that the idea of return to God is an illusion, simply because nothing can leave God in the first place — everything is contained within Him.  The idea, well known in Zen Buddhism, that nothing can be separated from the Dharma is essentially the same idea; but in the broad sense of metaphysics as we examine them in the context of both of the Gurdjieff work and Christianity, as well as other cyclical cosmologies of the descent and ascent of energy, there is a separation and a return. The reason for the differences in concept arise in the tension between the transcendent and the immanent, which are essentially irreconcilable at this level – except by the mechanism of death.

I could write about this at much greater length, but instead I'm going to try to get at the heart of the emotive questions here.

We are separated from God; and we go through life unknowing, struggling, clearly incapacitated in our ability to understand that separation or its implications. There is a tremendous emotional vulnerability created, which generates all of the fear we feel about ourselves and about life. We have lost our trust.

Yet, God has sent us a guarantee of Mercy, epitomized by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; and we are also guaranteed Mercy through death.

 Death grants us an irrevocable return. This is actually a huge gift; yet, perversely, we have turned it into a terrifying experience that everyone fears. The reason that near-death experiences generally involve an ecstatic encounter is because the return to God is a return to Perfection; and every Being is not just offered this movement back into the Divine, we are required to participate in it. That's because death is not the arrival of something foreign, alien, or inimical to life; it is a return to our own nature. The nature of the soul and of Being is transcendent; it comes from a higher level, and its restriction to a body and a set of habits on this level is a limitation it suffers in order to broaden its experience of itself.

So Death is a Grace.

It is a conscious work undertaken to allow the surrender of consciousness back to its own source.

 I will leave you with that thought.

 May your soul be filled with light.




Thursday, November 14, 2013

Being, Grace, and Mercy-Part III- Mercy

Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey
Photograph by the author

The Mercy of God flows in [all] created beings, and courses through the selves and essences. 

—Ibn Arabi, The Bezels of Wisdom, chapter XXI

Mercy, as I pointed out in a quite recent post, is the higher of God's qualities that becomes manifest in material reality; and Mercy is assured.

This is because Mercy cannot be withheld. If it were left to mankind, Mercy would be in scant supply; for we are fundamentally unforgiving creatures and don't understand what mercy is. Real Mercy flows downward in infinite abundance from the Lord, and is dispensed without regard to circumstances according to His infinite generosity.

God's Mercy exceeds his wrath (cf. Ibn Arabi) in all measures. Any perceived failings of the perpetual operation of Mercy are misunderstandings; because only man has the capacity to be unmerciful. So Mercy, which Gurdjieff called the force of intentional suffering, is not only God's Love for His creation in perpetual action; it represents God's willingness to forever take on the burden of man's transgressions without judgment. Mercy is unconditional; it falls on the worthy and unworthy alike.

Because mankind does not understand either the burden or the obligation he is under, this was acted out both symbolically and literally for mankind by Jesus Christ in His crucifixion. The act was meant as a personal reassurance from God that no Being would be abandoned to judgment alone, but that Mercy would be shown to all. There is an irony, and a tragedy, in man's belief in a supremely or fundamentally angry or judging God, for such a thing is quite impossible. This is why Mercy is assured.

Buddhism understands this concept from the perspective that all sentient Beings will attain enlightenment; and Gurdjieff encoded the idea of the bodhisattva vow into his fifth obligolnian striving.

Mercy, as the second conscious shock, occupies the last position between the notes si and do on the enneagram, and is the Divine force that makes the return to the heavenly realm possible. God, having originally emanated the entire universe and all that is from the depths of His Divine Being, swallows it whole again; in this sense, God takes responsibility for all that he has created and everything that happens. To take responsibility is Merciful; and this gives us a number of clues as to the nature of the action that is necessary in order to return to God.

Everything is required to return; nothing can remain where it is. (see section 5 of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Ibn Arabi for his cosmology of the Return, which is intimately related to the cycles of the enneagram.) There are two kinds of return: voluntary and involuntary. This particular question has a number of aspects too detailed to expound here, but suffice it to say that a deeper understanding of Mercy would engender trust in the Lord, which is actually a very high level of inner development rarely attained by human beings. Trust in the Lord—illustrated by Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son—knows no objective limits if it is fully developed,  which was the original point of the story. Such trust relies on an infallible inner understanding of the absolute quality of Mercy; and we can perhaps agree that, categorically, we don't have it.

Yet Mercy is assured. And this takes place through a perhaps unexpected and definitely misunderstood vehicle, which will be discussed in the next essay.

May your soul be filled with light.

nb. Readers interested in examining more material the subject of Mercy may to turn to chapter XXI of The Bezels of Wisdom by Ibn Arabi, The Wisdom of Dominion in the Word of Zakariaha piece which, despite its brevity, encapsulates an exactly correct understanding of the subject. You will find no better authority.

The preferred translation may be that of R. W. J. Austin, although the one available at the link will certainly do.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Being, Grace, and Mercy, Part II- Grace

Coronation of the Virgin
Vatican Museum

Being, Grace and Mercy are the great forces of the Holy Trinity which drive the engine of the universe; and the second of these forces is Grace.

Grace is inherent; by this we mean that Grace is an inalienable property of all that is. All of creation is imbued by Grace; there is no object, event, circumstance, or condition that is without Grace, because Grace enters all of creation through the original Will of the Lord.

Grace is the force of Gurdjieff's conscious labor, because it represents and provides what he called the "first conscious shock." That is, Grace is the Will of God, which is always and forever consciously exercised—the consciousness of God, penetrating and giving rise to all things. Nothing arises except Grace creates it; and nothing exists except Grace sustains it. So Grace is both Creator and Sustainer; and it is ever-present.

If we somehow think that Grace only enters some situations at some times, and is not eternally present, we err; because Grace is ever-present and in all things, even things we think are the worst of things. Grace cannot be measured by the human instruments of good and bad, for within the Will of the Lord there is no good or bad. We say the Will of the Lord is unquestionable because it comes from a higher level and cannot in any way or measure be subject to human understanding. Grace, when it seems to appear to us, only does so because we are seeing what was always already there; and it is merely a function of our fallen nature and our ingratitude that we do not sense the Presence of Grace and its action in all things and at all times.

When we seek to place ourselves under the influence of Grace and its action, we pray, "I Am, I wish to Be" because to be is to be within Grace; for Being has no other place than within Grace, since that is its primary and functional condition. Grace can't be separated from Being because it emanates from the great and most holy, absolute do of Being; insofar as we -re-align with Grace, we enter Being.

This is the action of God's consciousness within the octave. It supports all of the further evolution that can take place after it; and nothing can take place else Grace is invoked.

Grace is not special, any more than God's consciousness is special; they are inevitable. Grace is, instead, fundamental; its action binds the three lower forces of body, intellect and feeling together, creating a whole that can cross into the manifestation of real Being at sol on the left side of the enneagram. This natural process ought to take place at all times and in all things.

So let's not speak of Grace as though it were distant or unattainable. Let us sense it together in the full and perfect knowledge that it is present now—and that we dwell within it in every moment.

If we're fortunate, once in a while, we may actually sense this with our higher parts.

Grace takes on an infinite number of aspects because of its inherent power to reconcile the right side of the octave, to reconcile the otherwise independently functioning forces of materiality, desire and power.

May your soul be filled with light.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Being, Grace, and Mercy, part I- Being


I should like to discuss Being, Grace, and Mercy, since they are of one cloth and essential in understanding our place.

Today we'll discuss Being; and in the following posts, Grace, and Mercy.

We say we search for Being; yet why do we search?

Being is comprehensive. This means that there is no non-Being, except in God, who perfectly encompasses and embodies all possible aspects of manifestation including, mysteriously, its absence. So Being is comprehensive; asleep or awake, aware or unaware, conscious or unconscious, there is no state in which Being is not already present and absolutely manifest. Being does not depend on our consciousness or Presence; it is already present with or without us.

The question is never whether a tree falls in the forest where there no one is there to hear it, but whether there are trees and forests; and there are always trees and always forests, regardless of the sounds they make, or the silence they emanate.  Being is like this. The entire manifest universe is Being; its movement through Time is being; its infinite aspects are Being. This is what we mean when we say Being is comprehensive; it comprehends, that is, it perceives, it grasps mentally; although this idea is far too limited to properly define it.

We might say it includes all; and this would be closer to the mark. It is the dharma, the eternal manifestation of Truth. Truth and Being are actually and functionally indistinguishable from one another, and one wonders now why this perfect congruence isn't spoken of more often.

We call the congruence between Truth and Being perfect because there can be no separation of the two; they are a mirror that reflects itself. The words that create distinction between them are actually a source of confusion; ultimately, there can't be any difference between the two.

 So we understand completely that the manifestation of reality, as we call it, is perfect, which is why Ibn Arabi referred to God as The Reality, that is, the absolute condition of perfection. It must be understood without any doubt from an inner point of view that this condition of perfection is inviolable, eternal, and infinite, and that there is nothing that can corrupt it. While the mind is only capable of formulating this, the feeling and the body are capable of sensing it directly under the right conditions. This is what is called enlightenment, although there are many degrees of this, and each one of them is partial, because Reality as we experience it is irrevocably doomed to partiality of one kind or another.

In the largest sense of the cycle and of the Absolute, Being occupies the note do on the enneagram,  and represents God the Father in the holy Trinity. It represents the Absolute manifestation of Being, which is distinct from the subjective or relative manifestation of Being which is always represented by the note sol.

The idea that Being is comprehensive is an essential one, because the word has a greater meaning than would be apparent on the surface. —com  denotes synchrony, simultaneity,  and togetherness, and —prehend is related to prehensile, that is, that which can grasp;  so the word means to hold together, to grasp together, to bring together.

Being brings all aspects of Reality together: it is an expression of totality, which is why the word defies any easy descriptions.

Because Being is comprehensive, there is no need to search for Being. There is only the need to become manifest within it; it is already here, and issues an eternal invitation.

If there is a search taking place, we would have to say that Being searches for us.

In the next essay, we will note the relationship between Being and Grace.

May your soul be filled with light.