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August 5, 2010

Psychological Illusions

Section VII


1. The Ladder of Jacob
“Man is an image of the world. He was created by the same laws which created the whole of the world. By knowing and understanding himself he will know and understand the whole world, all the laws that create and govern the world.” 
(Gurdjieff, in Ouspensky, 1949, p. 75)
   The microcosm of the individual embodies the same laws and dimensions as embodied within the macrocosm.  The inner cosmos of consciousness thus corresponds to the structuring of world orders and dimensions within the larger universe.  The hidden dimensions of the microcosm and the macrocosm allow for existence after death, the many phenomena of psychic science,  cosmic experiences, higher states of consciousness, and ultimately, attaining real I and being a particle of the whole.

     G. I. Gurdjieff’s metaphysical explanations concerning the origins of the Cosmos and the fundamental cosmic laws comprise a fascinating and provocative alternative to the orthodox materialist viewpoints of modern science.  Of particular importance in Gurdjieff’s cosmological scheme is the  Ray of Creation, the hierarchy of successive world orders created and maintained by the fundamental cosmic laws of three and seven.  These basic esoteric principles are found throughout the mystical and religious literature of humanity and they provide a way of understanding which is more sophisticated and subtle than anything provided within modern thought,  science or philosophy, based on a materialist perspective.

     M. Reyner, a Gurdjieff student, describes the Ray of Creation most simply and eloquently:

"Real knowledge ... affirms that the Universe is a living being embodying a succession of levels devolving from a Supreme Intelligence. These succeeding levels form a kind of ladder down which energy is transmitted from the Source, and is returned in modified form in a subsequent ascent.  This is an idea which is implicit in the very word “universe,”which means, literally, turning to unity: and is found in many ancient teachings, notably in the legend of Jacob’s ladder. ... Jacob dreamed of “a ladder set up on the earth and the top of it reaches to heaven; and behold the angels of the Lord stood above it.” (Genesis, 28, 12) The rungs of the ladder represent different levels, which while separate and distinct, permit the transference of energies in both directions. ... The Universe is not some gigantic accident, but a living creation, which is, at all levels, a manifestation of the Deity.
 ... The unmanifest world is the cause of the happenings in the phenomenal world, and one can apprehend the concept of a succession of intelligences of decreasing order in which every level is responsible for the creation of more detailed behaviour of the level beneath.  According to this formulation, the Universe is an ordered structure of world-orders created by the operation of two fundamental principles-the Law of Three and the Law of Seven." (1974, pp. 39-40)

    “The Universe is a living being embodying a succession of levels devolving from a Supreme Intelligence.”  In this view, the laws of nature are the manifestation of higher intelligence and ultimately of the Most Holy Sun Absolute.  These influences descend holographically through different world orders which interpenetrate and sustain one another. The manifest physical world is simply the outermost expression of underlying dimensions and causative forces.   Life did not arise just by accident in a universe governed by unconscious and random forces, but is instead, the manifestation of higher intelligence emerging within/without from higher dimensions.   Life comes from above, rather than from below; or from within instead of from without.

    The Law of Three and the Law of Seven are two fundamental principles which underlie creation, the generation of world orders and all processes of a physical and metaphysical nature.  These archaic esoteric principles are found throughout mystical, occult and spiritual literature, and are articulated by Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, and their students, in Vedic teachings of India, in Kabbalah, Theosophy and mystical Christianity.  These deceptively simple laws offer a profound and deep metaphysical teaching.

     Maurice  Nicoll, a student of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky,  comments: “God is ... first One and then Three and then Seven.” (1975, p. 1386)  This illustrates the arcane principle of how the Absolute, the 1,  manifests a trinity of forces, the 3,  and then a seven fold hierarchy of world orders, the 7.  This image is illustrated by the division of white light by a three sided prism to produce a spectrum of seven colors: 1-3-7.
    Ordinarily, the scientists of new formation and humankind asleep approach existence in terms of dichotomies.  The natural sciences deal with the transformations of matter and energy within time and space; while psychology deals with the mind and the body, conscious and unconscious, between life and death.  In contrast,  mystical schools maintain the triune and sevenfold nature of all things.  These Sacred Cosmic Laws, which Beelzebub refers to as Triamazikamno, and Heptaparaparshinokh,  depict the manner in which the original Unity of the Most Holy Sun Absolute is transformed and differentiated into a plurality.  These principles apply to the movement of inner forces and the crystallization of matter/energy/intelligence within different subtle dimensions of the Cosmos.  These laws permeate ourselves and everything which happens in life and in the Cosmos.  These principles can be studied within the inner world of consciousness and psychology, and in the outer world, both of which exist in relationship to a third unseen, metaphysical world.  These laws are pervasive everywhere, in all phenomena of nature and in all spheres of  knowledge.

    The Law of Three states that every phenomenon, on whatever scale and in whatever world it may take place, from molecule to cosmic phenomena, is the result of the combination of three different and opposing forces. Contemporary thought  realizes the existence of two forces, but is third force blind.  Two forces can never produce a phenomenon, but require a third which is not directly visible, but is latent within the medium within which the interaction occurs.  Gurdjieff states:

“The teaching of the three forces is at the root of all ancient systems. The first force may be called active or positive; the second, passive or negative; the third, neutralizing. But these are merely names, for in reality all three forces are equally active and appear as active, passive, and neutralizing, only at their meeting points, that is to say, only in relation to one another at a given moment. The first two forces are more or less comprehensible to man and the third may sometimes be discovered either at the point of application of the forces, or in the ‘medium,’or in the ‘result.’ But, speaking in general, the third force is not easily accessible to direct observation and understanding. The reason for this is to be found in the fundamental limitations of man’s ordinary psychological activity ... . People cannot perceive and observe the third force directly any more than they can spatially perceive the ‘fourth dimension.’... people cannot observe phenomena as manifestations of three forces because we cannot observe the objective world in our subjective states of consciousness. ... If we could see the manifestation of three forces in every action, we should then see the world as it is (things in themselves). ... The third force is a property of the real world.”(Ouspensky, 1949, pp.7-8)

The third force is latent within the medium within which the opposing forces operate, acting as the neutralizing or reconciling force which mediates the interaction of the opposites.  The third force is latent within the hidden dimensions of space/time. Occult teachings maintain that all things embody such a trinity of  forces, which enter into endless combinations and permutations on different planes of creation.

     The Yin/Yang diagram thought to depict the duality of forces itself contains a tri-unity of forces, the Yin and Yang within the Tao.  Matter and energy require a third force of intelligence or information;  positive and negative numbers have a third neutralizing principle of 0; human beings function primarily physically, emotionally and mentally, with head, heart and hands.  Stimuli and responses require an organism, without which there is neither a stimulus or response.  Whenever we specify the existence of a duality, a trinity can be found if we move beyond the superficial construction of formatory thinking and penetrate to the heart of the matter.  Third force is hidden to us, unless we could “instinctually sense cosmic truths,” as described by Beelzebub.

    The Vedic teachings of ancient India describe creation as occurring after  the white light of Brahman (God) disrupts the equilibrium of the three gunas or the three modes of nature.  Before creation occurs, the three gunas are  in a “seedless” state, perfectly balanced and symmetrical, and hence undifferentiated.  The will or light of Brahman breaks this symmetry in the modes of nature in the first instant of creation.  This symmetry breaking initiates the  differentiation of the plurality out of the Unity.  The One Brahman first gives rise to a trinity of demigods, Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer), Divine Intelligences or demi-Gods which oversee the creation, maintenance and destruction of the universe.   Each demigod rules one of the three modes of nature.

    Dr. R. Mishra (1973) describes the three modes of nature:

"Guna means rope. As a rope binds an object and keeps it under control, so gunas bind all things from atoms to the sun and keep them under perfect control. Cosmic forces control the multiplicity of the Universe ... they are thus classified ...: 1/ Satoguna, protonic force, intelligence-stuff; 2/ Rajoguna, electronic force, energy-stuff; 3/ Tamoguna, force of inertia, mass stuff.
   Substances which are self-shining, self-revealing, and which behave as a unit of conscious energy are called satoguna (the guna of sattva). Substances which are energetic, which have power of attraction and repulsion, and which behave as units of activity, change, and motion are called rajoguna (the guna of rajas). Substance which are units of mass and inertial are called tamaguna.
   Prakriti (nature, or creation) is a rope made of three strands. ... All things are composed of the three gunas and the variety of the world depends on the relative predominance of the different gunas. ... (pp. 21-4)


Three forces (intelligence/mind, energy and matter) are proposed, as opposed to the familiar duality of matter and energy which dominates modern science.  All things are combinations of the three gunas and their numerous generations of causes and effects.  Whereas we usually think of causes and effects, actions and reactions, stimuli and responses, the fourth way introduces a more complex form of analysis based on the idea of triune forces within all things.
    In Beelzebub’s tales, the three aspects of the Sacred Triamazikamno are labeled as the “Holy-Affirming,” the “Holy Denying” and the “Holy Reconciling.”  The cosmic law is described:

‘A law which always flows into a consequence and becomes the cause of subsequent consequences, and always functions by three independent and quite opposite characteristic manifestations, latent within it, in properties neither seen nor sensed.’ (1950, p. 139)

Within the Absolute, the three forces are unified and constitute one whole.  However, as creation proceeds the three forces differentiate and then combine in endless combinations as different worlds and phenomena are manifest.  As Pythagorus stated, all things consists in three.

    The second fundamental cosmic law is the Law of Seven, or of the Octave, or the Sacred Heptaparaparshinokh for Beelzebub.  This principle is also found throughout the ancient wisdom and mystical teachings.   Like the Law of Three, it applies to the creation, maintenance and destruction of all cosmic phenomenon on any scale of being, from a supergalactic cluster, to a human being, to a neuron or a quantum.  Any realm of science, any phenomena of nature, any aspect of the psyche or soul life, must be understood in relationship to interactions of the laws of three and seven in their endless variations.  Gurdjieff comments: “Different combinations of a few elementary forces create all the seeming variety of phenomena.  In order to understand the mechanics of the Universe it is necessary to resolve complex phenomena into these elementary forces.”  (Ouspensky, 1949)

    When the Unity becomes a plurality, it embodies these fundamental cosmic laws in the creation of matters and energies, and intelligence upon the seven planes of being.   These causes and effects descend from divine and spiritual realms into material forms, as higher intelligence and forces condense into matter.  This entails a hierarchy of broken symmetries in higher dimensional space, which precipitates dimensions of being out of apparent non-being.  The three-sided prism separating the seven colors of the rainbow from a unified white light illustrate these sacred principles.
   In terms of creation, Gurdjieff labels the ultimate principle  the “Absolute” and describes the  Ray of Creation as the materialization of seven hierarchical planes of existence.  The Absolute is taken as an eight note, which together with the seven notes of the manifest worlds, gives an octave structure.  The eight note is primary and is the completion of the seven fold scale.  In nature, all things exist in relationship to seven interpenetrating dimensions.  Ouspensky recalled G.’s descriptions:

“The seven worlds of the ray of creation represent seven orders of materiality. ... Thus instead of one concept of matter we have seven kinds of matter ... All these matters belonging to the various orders of the universe are not separated into layers but are intermixed, or, rather, they interpenetrate one another. ... the finer matters permeate the courser ones.” (1949, p. 88)

Within the Ray of Creation, each level of the Cosmos is permeated by finer, more rarefied matters, energies and intelligence of the higher, more inward dimensions.  These matters, energies and intelligence interpenetrate throughout the space/time complex and give rise to outward phenomenon.

    It is essential to differentiate involving and evolving octaves.  The descent of divine intelligence and supernal forces into material creation is an involutionary process or devolution.  In contrast,  the ascent from matter to spirit and the divine, from gross material reality to the subtle planes, is an evolving process.   Whereas modern scientists describe all changes of form or the cosmos as evolution, a mystical perspective suggests a more complex arrangement of involution and evolution, and maintenance.     The overall structure of the universe or cosmos has seven planes of existence, and humanity has it’s place within a particular Ray of Creation.  The planes of existence are related to the seven centers or dimensions of a human being.  People are of seven types, ranging from a human number one, two and three, the physical, emotional and intellectual types, to humans number four, who is glimpsing moments of self consciousness, through to number five, who perfects the lower centers and is established within the higher emotional realm.  Man numbers six and seven can function within the higher intellectual center in the state of objective consciousness, realizing the faculties of the spiritual and divine bodies.  Ultimately, man number eight represents the full awakened masters, such as Christ, who might declare “I and the Father are One.”   These examples illustrate the law of seven and the idea of evolution.
      The ancient Vedic teachings of India articulate these same basic principles.  The  cosmos is composed of Prakriti, the elementary stuff of creation, which is divided into two classes, the Absolute or fundamental, and the relative, of which there are seven grades or subclasses.  Mishra (1973) states: “... prakriti is eight-fold ...  with one fundamental and seven relative subclasses.”  ( p.20)   When the universe is withdrawn into Non-Being, during the Nights of Brahma (Brahma means the creator), the fundamental root principle prakriti is in a potential seed state.  As long as the three modes of nature are balanced and in equilibrium, then Prakriti remains undifferentiated and the universe exists only in a potential state.  When the balance of the gunas is disturbed by the Light or Will of Brahman, they enter into enormous varieties of combinations, all of which are asymmetrical, with one guna predominating over the others.    Seven world orders emerge when the equilibrium of the three gunas is broken and the three modes of nature interact on successive planes of being, through generations of cosmic effects.   Vedic teachings articulate same triune and sevenfold nature of creation, although Gurdjieff’s teaching casts a particularly valuable light on the meanings of these sacred principles.

    The One is divided by the three modes of nature and produces a spectrum of seven colors or seven degrees of Maya.  The Octave or eight-fold pattern in nature includes the seven relative worlds, and the one fundamental out of which creation is differentiated.  In terms of the light analogy, white light is fundamental and the seven colors of the rainbow are relative.  The white light is the One which contains all seven manifest colors within itself.
    In Beelzebub’s Tales, the sevenfoldness of all things is described in relationship to the realms of  nature, all the way up to the Prime Source.  Beelzebub explains:

“.. ‘seven-classes-of-vibrations’”of those cosmic sources, the arising and further action of each of which also arise and depend on seven others, which in their turn arise and depend on seven further ones, and so on right up to the first most holy unique-seven-propertied-vibration’issuing from the Most Holy Prime Source ... .” (p. 476)

H. Blavatsky’s (1888) The Secret Doctrine serves as another source of this ancient wisdom teaching.  In Cosmosgenesis, Blavatsky states that in relationship to the metaphysical process of creation “the triune ... emanate the other seven.”  The triune nature inherent within the Absolute emanate the Seven Luminous Lords, the demigods who inform and sustain the seven dimensions of the Cosmos.  The generation of matter and energy, time and space proceeds as the influences and intelligence descend within/without through higher dimensional space.  The triune nature of THAT and the Seven Divine Intelligences create, maintain and destroy all the matters, energies and intelligence embodied within the Cosmos.  All things have higher dimensional causes manifesting the Sacred Principles of three and seven out of the One.   Blavatsky writes:

“The Great Water (the Deep or Chaos) is said to be seven cubits deep”-“cubits”standing here of course for divisions, zones, and principles. Therein, “in the great mother, all the Gods, and the seven great ones are born.” (p. 674)

The Great Water, the Deep or the Chaos, stand for the primordial root principle of material creation, most similar to the hyperspace and quantum vacuum of the modern physicist.

    Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, Blavatsky, the Vedas, the Kabbalists and many other esoteric teachings articulate these ancient principles.  It is impossible here to fully elaborate these deep mystical laws and to draw their many profound relationships to ideas within modern science and psychology.  Scientists generally consider there to be one material world pervaded by dualities, such as those of matter and energy, within time and space.  A mystical view suggest that a trinity of matter, energy and intelligence manifest within seven discrete, interpenetrating dimensions of cosmic space.

    The inner cosmos of consciousness embodies the same dimensionality as the inner cosmos of the universe.  Further, just as a universe or a human being has a seven fold nature, so also does the Sun, the moon, the planets and the stars.  Any cosmos has a sevenfold and triune nature, informed from within/without by the principles latent everywhere in cosmic space.   The laws of three and seven are archaic mystery teachings which cannot be understood in the usual subjective states of consciousness.  Most importantly, the laws of three and seven can be applied to understanding the chemistry and the alchemy of human beings and the cosmos.

    Gurdjieff describes the fundamental cosmic laws of three and seven manifesting world orders out of the Absolute, through a hierarchy of causes and effects.  This hierarchy  forms the ladder of Jacob reaching from heaven to earth.  As one descends the Ray of Creation, the greater the number of mechanical laws governing life and one’s mode of existence, thus limiting the experience of consciousness.   A human being, as a microcosm of the macrocosm, is simultaneously composed of hydrogens or substances of all of these interpenetrating planes of being.  G. explained: “... man is indeed a miniature universe; he has in him all the matters which compose the universe.”   (Ouspensky, 1949)

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