Capital, St. Lazare, Autun
Even the devil himself must be redeemed.
In the great glory of God’s Love, even the fallen—including Satan Himself—must be forgiven and redeemed. Gurdjieff made this the overarching element in his intricate story line. Our work as human beings is to redeem the devil—to redeem all fallen souls. In doing so, we are required to embody the fallen condition, in the same way that Christ became human.
This is another esoteric meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection; just as God cannot redeem His fallen creation and His creature, humanity, without becoming human Himself, we ourselves can’t help in the redemption of the devil without becoming the devil. Put in other terms, it means we must become evil, immerse ourselves in evil, and overcome it personally in order to participate in the great work of redeeming evil on a cosmic scale.
We are thus tasked, in our individual lives, with recapitulating Christ’s effort and sacrifice. Christian understanding has deviated very far from this path, and become its own opposite; for although (per Christ’s own words and teachings) it is doctrinally impossible for a true Christian to adopt any spirit of condemnation or vengeance whatsoever, those attitudes absolutely prevail in fundamentalism today.
This paradox cannot be resolved without understanding the conceptual meaning of the Antichrist: a creature (creation, means of existence) which cleverly poses as Christ’s teaching but actually has nothing to do with it. This has given us the world as we see it today; and it truly is the world of the Antichrist.
Of course there are further deviant elements of Christian doctrine that would have us believe there are sins that cannot be redeemed; and it’s certain the idea that even the most grotesque forms of evil should and must be forgiven basically repels us.
But the nature of Divine Love is such that all of creation, and every angelic force, even the most fallen ones, must be redeemed and returned to God’s Love. I’ve had personal angelic revelations of this matter which leave no room for doubt; but there is no point in recounting them here except to say that the matter is quite certain.
The Buddhist doctrines, in ancient times, interpreted this work of redemption as the Bodhisattva vows; and in the Hindu tradition reincarnation serves as the vehicle for the effort of redemption.
In fact both have elements of truth in them; we are born again and again, lifetime after lifetime, and in each lifetime the elemental nature of our soul works towards a deeper understanding of the nature of Divine Love. In Gurdjieff’s obligolnian strivings, the fifth striving refers to this process:
the striving always to assist the most rapid perfecting of other beings, both those similar to oneself and those of other forms, up to the degree of the sacred ‘Martfotai’ that is up to the degree of self-individuality.
*(“Martfotai” may be derived from the Persian معرفتی— marifati, an epistemic or higher degree of Knowledge.)
The work of a soul is to reach a point, over many lifetimes, where one develops a conscious experience of the need for absolute forgiveness and absolute redemption.
One also needs to see the inherent contradiction between our lives as they are on this level—with all the degenerate elements that cannot be expunged—and this higher purpose which is given to all of us, even if we choose not to embrace it.
If one examines the core of every legitimate esoteric doctrine one will find the seeds of this truth embedded in it. We can’t escape our humanity; but inhabiting it is what offers us a chance to see the contradiction in such a way as to understand what Love and Forgiveness (in their Divine nature) actually require: a sacrifice on the order of Christ’s.
There are functional, structural reasons for this situation embedded in the nature of the cosmos itself, as described in Novel, Myth and Cosmos: The Information of the Soul; and they have of course to do with the nature of relationship, which begins as a “fallen” (dissipated) entity in need of reformation through conscious effort. The fall of Satan is the ancient mythological analogy that cultures developed to personify this cosmological process; and they did this because they understood that although the challenge of the reconstruction of the soul is cosmological, the process is personal. That is, without agents (even Satan must serve that purpose) the process has no representation and no witness. So Adam and Eve ate the apple; Satan fell; and so on. In each case the descent into the material, with its concrete literalism (manifestation as material, subject to law) represents a loss of the Perfection; a fall from Grace.
Paradoxically, it is only in the law of reciprocal feeding—which is, in its cosmological form, the law of the reconstruction of the soul—that God can feed Himself through the exploration and reassembly (redemption) of His particles.
Redemption, however, is not just a myth we tell each other or carve in temple walls. It is a process we're called on to participate in now; and Christ’s message of forgiveness, Love, turning the other cheek is all part of this process. If we examine all the great religions we discover that the redemption of the devil lies at the heart of the question—and in the same way that all of us are a tiny fraction of god, so do we all equally embody a fragment of the devil—who is also a part of God.
We can’t embody the universal process of redemption unless we understand—and suffer— this relationship through human experience.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.