On the Being of Art
A central part of this topic is related to the world of Being1, how we engage with this realm and how we can be aware of it, or relate to it, in different ways in our experience and understanding. It can be difficult not to reduce the world of Being to the world of function, such as when we are attempting to see something of the ‘inter-connectivity’ present within a work of art, where each element appears as the whole, or appears to express the whole, and where each element also appears as participating in an intimate form of relation.
In the realm of Being, there can be a greater sense of ‘interpenetration’ between different elements or aspects of a piece of art and so the sense of boundaries between ‘things’ can be diminished, and yet at the same time there is this greater sense of ‘identity’ in the realm of Being, where every ‘thing’ has its own being and individuality. This simultaneous greater individuality and greater interpenetration of elements can produce a functional picture when we are attempting to gain some notion of what is going on in this realm of Being. This functional picture can regard the different elements in a work of art as separate entities which come together in order to produce the work of art and the quality it may have. This coming together can then be put into terms of a system of relationships and proportion, which is seen as necessary to produce the artwork. The quality of Being then gets related to a process of ‘arrangement’, being taken as a result of arranging separate elements. The inter-connectivity of a piece of art, its ‘self-relationship’, is then taken in a sense of ‘objects’ and spatial relation or interaction. Proportion and ratio then become a matter of the comparison of ‘objects’.
The pebble may be taken as having a certain form of relation to the mountain upon which it sits, and this relationship may be considered in spatial terms, a relationship arising out of the spatial nature of objects, etc. Another form of relation may be considered in terms of being, where it is the relation of being that gives rise to the spatial relation. The mountain and pebble have a relation of being and it is this that then determines the spatial form of their relation. A relation of being, and beings, is not then a spatial relation. A relation and interaction of being-elements is not a relation of objects, and hence there can be confusion as to how being is differentiated and how there are being-interactions and relations. The ‘sameness’ of being can be present regardless of functional variations, and the variation of being can be present regardless of functional sameness or similarity. I am reminded here of something that a pupil of Gurdjieff said, the pupil being J.G. Bennett, and this is to do with energy and matter. The energy of petrol is not contained within its material form, but rather the energy gives the containment of/to the material form. It is the juxtaposition of the different natures of function and being that gives rise to the sense of ‘paradox’ in how a certain element, or part of a work of art, can also be the whole. The ‘paradox’ concerns how a part can be the whole, and vice versa, whilst retaining its individuality and individuation.
The apparent limitation of having a ‘2D’ surface and still-shot image, such as in a drawing or painting, etc., enables there to be a kind of concentration and a repeated re-engagement and re-entry. A glance, that may be fleeting in moving life, can be met repeatedly through an image. There can be repeated ‘confrontation’, the repeated experience of confrontation, in which this very confrontation itself can be highlighted. That everything ‘has’ being, its own being, can be so obvious as to be overlooked, and yet in recognising this being there can be the difficulty of not reducing this being to some ‘thing’. The confrontation is so obvious and yet so overlooked, why? What on earth is happening in this confrontation? What it is that is confronted may be the ‘story’ of the action through which a ‘world’ is created and re-created. The being-elements of a piece of art co-operate to produce the finished work of art, and yet this co-operation is not that of separate things acting in time. The world of being is ‘living’ and yet it is not populated by ‘living beings’. Being is a strange communion and community.
A work of art may then be seen as a co-operation and coalescence of worlds that are of different natures. The piece of art then exists in multiple worlds. A piece of art is not then so much a ‘thing’ to be engaged by the senses in order to produce certain experiences, but rather, the piece of art is a means whereby the different sides of our nature are brought together in an action that creates a ‘world’, an ordered and intelligible experience. What is depicted in any piece of art is the action whereby ‘worlds’, or ‘a world’, is created, and this action is participatory. What is depicted is the action of participation, the participation in ‘world creation and world maintenance’. Each work of art is a recapitulation of the original act of creation, and this original act is ongoing. We can participate in this ongoing action, and each work of art is thereby both a contribution to this ongoing creative work and also a way in to this contribution for others. As you gaze into the art, the art also gazes into you. Man may be the measure of all things, but it is through art that Man measures and appraises himself, in the mirror and scale of Being and Eternity.
Sacred Image in the Work.
What is a Sacred Image? What is involved in the making of a Sacred Image? What is involved in the action through which an image becomes Sacred; becomes related to, and regarded as, Sacred?
Firstly then, what is ‘Image’? It is often taken for granted that an image is simply a ‘picture’ of something. People can con-fuse the image itself for the medium of its expression and representation. The particular medium of expression of an image, say oil paints and canvas, etc., is what the attention is generally drawn to and confined to. The image itself is not ‘made out of’ or ‘built up from’ the elements involved in the particular medium of expression. The image does not simply consist of what is ‘seen’ in or through the given medium of expression. The image that is represented through an oil painting, for example, is not simply made out of the canvas and the bits of paint upon it. The image is not formed out of these elements and contained within them.
In another way of saying this; the particular painting and all that is in it, is contained within the related image, rather than the image being contained within the painting. Not only is the finished painting contained within the image, but also, the whole action that is involved in the making of the painting is contained within the related image. The produced piece of work, and the action involved in its arising and making (both ‘within’ and ‘outside’ the person), are both part of the image.
We can ask ‘where does an image exist’? What realm does image exist in? What is the nature of image, its ‘materiality’?
Even in the simple sense, when asking ‘where does image exist?’, we can see that a particular image does not exist solely in the different forms of its expression. The image of Christ, for example, does not only exist in the number of paintings and art works that represent him. We can say, well the image had to arise and exist in some person’s ‘mind’ before it was made externally visible in some form. Here we could perhaps say that image is ‘of the mind’ or ‘mental realm’, and hence it does not have the same kind of nature and limitations as that of ‘physical’ objects and processes. We could also say that the image ‘enters’ the ‘mind’ ‘from’ ‘somewhere’, and so we could also perhaps say that, in itself, the realm of image is ‘beyond’ the ‘mind’, in a realm that is relatively ‘above’ the ‘mind’. In this latter sense, we might say that it is image which ‘structures’, ‘organises’, and ‘orders’ the ‘mind’, and thereby, the total experience.
If we take image itself as being involved in the process of the production of pictures and artworks, then we can see that it has this aspect of being an active influence which organises and co-ordinates the various different elements so that something can be done and produced. These various elements include the external materials and processes as well as the internal states, perceptions, and realizations, etc. The ‘non-physical’ nature of image enables it to do different things, and if the ‘laws of space and time’ as we know them are relative and applicable to ‘things’ and ‘bodies’, then we might consider what extra ability image has in relation to ‘space’ and ‘time’. The image, or the realm from which it operates, need not be confined to an individual person’s ‘mind’, the relative extra dimensionality of image can enable ‘systemic’ properties, such as we might relate to the form
of ‘waves’ rather than ‘particles’, etc.
What makes an image Sacred? We might say that what is sacred is so because of its degree of truth and reality, what is really true is sacred, etc. We might also consider that what is sacred is that
which is really valuable and needed.
A sacred image is considered as having a certain power of its own, a power connected with that which is seen to be depicted in the image and involved in the inspiration for its creation, etc. A sacred image of Christ can then enable a possible connection with the reality of Christ. The creation of, and engagement with, a sacred image can then enable a connection with possibilities that are generally inaccessible or un-actualize-able to a given person. The creation of a sacred image, or also the engagement with a sacred image, can provide a ‘space’ or ‘containment’ to the general experience and functioning such that a connection with something of a different order can be made. This could also be thought of as the increase in ‘ableness’. In relation to the nature of different worlds and cosmoses, this added ableness would be connected to the interaction of different worlds, such as is related to the nature of ‘miracles’; where something of a higher world manifests
in a lower world, etc.
If I equate myself with an ‘object’ this can lead to trouble. I should be responsible with the images that I entertain, inner and outer. It may be a mistake not to respect objects and images, to see them
as ‘less real than oneself’, etc.
When I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, the mirror ‘in-forms’ me of my visual appearance. I may then react to the presented image by wishing to brush my hair, and again the mirror informs or guides me in how to do this, it is active and I am passive in this sense. The mirror object and image enables me to do what I could not otherwise do of myself.
People may see that objects and images can be imbued with meaning, a person may put ‘faith’ into an object or image. This is usually taken as being initiated by the person, the object or image is seen as simply a passive medium through which a person can ‘concentrate’ or ‘focus’ their energy and potential towards some realization. It is not generally considered that such an action is initiated by the object or image itself, that the object or image actually ‘stands above’ the person and the person is actually ‘standing under’ or ‘under-standing’ the object or image. It is then the image or
object that imbues the person with meaning and potential, etc.
It is not for nothing that images and objects, as spatial and geometric constructions and configurations, have been linked with the Angelic realm, or intelligence, which is seen as standing above man, or above his general mode of ‘mind’. The ability to fashion objects and images, and along with this the discovery of the laws and principles of geometry and mathematics, has been considered as a gift or bestowal from such Angelic realm. It is seen that it is only thanks to the ‘order’ in the Angelic realm, of cycles and patterns or proportion and ratio, that man can ‘think’, or experience and know, etc. Such an ‘order’ provides the ‘stuff’ or framework of ‘mind’ and
Gurdjieff’s own magnum opus ‘Beelzebub’s Tales’ could be considered to be a Sacred image itself. Gurdjieff mentioned his ‘whim’; this being the introduction into human life of a ‘new conception of God’. We could see this new conception as a new Sacred image. Man may be called to participate in the creation of the new sacred image for his age. This new image would not only need to express the essence of the contemporary age, but would also need to accommodate the major sacred images from the past. We might see that the Work itself, the idea of the Work, may
be a part in this process.
If we had to put our understanding of the Work, what it means to us, into a sacred image, then what would this image look like? What would be involved in its creation? The image would have to be our own, in the sense that we could not simply use the pre-existing images that we have inherited from the Work, such as the Enneagram, etc. In another sense, we could ask if we could create an image of our ‘thinking’, an image showing the nature of thought, showing the nature of
our own experience of thinking.
What could the creation of such an image do for us? There is the idea of ‘revelation’ through ‘enactment’ or ‘performance’. In making something, what is made can reveal to us more than what we put into the making of it. The whole can be greater than the sum of the parts, etc. In the making of a sacred image, or its engagement, what is attempted to be represented can become a direct reality in one’s own experience. The making and representing can then become the Doing and
There are many expressions of ‘mentation by form’2 and ‘conscious/objective art’3. We can find different means of access to, or stimulation and exercise of, this part of our nature. I just want to add that my use of the term ‘image’ is not limited to what we generally mean by this word. By ‘image’ I mean an ‘active form’, and such a form could have no ‘visual’ expression or visual means of apprehension. An active form is a certain kind of organizing influence or ‘pattern’ or ‘template’. In the way mentation by form is talked about In Beelzebub’s Tales, it is expressed as the ‘natural mind’ which is influenced by our geographic surroundings, which consists to a large extent of the ‘patterns and cycles’ of nature. In this sense, this mode of mind could be said to be mainly centred in the body and in the sensation-feeling relation.
Imagination; sacred and profane:
As Gurdjieff said, the general action of ‘imagination’ is disturbing and hindering. Here, ‘imagination’ means any kind of general thought/thinking which is simply automatic and played out with little to no consciousness and intention (technically we could define the general imagination as the work of any centre when uncoupled to some degree from the other centres). Imagination, in itself, is a function given to Man which has a significant role to play in his own development and in his role in the cosmos. In the Fourth Way, very difficult exercises were given for the head brain, which included the exercise and development of intentional imagination/visualization.
The inner-image capacity of the Head Brain4 is required in order to enable the manifestation of Conscience and aim, the capacity is used as a means of aligning the centres with a given intention. The authority of the head brain is actualized via the ‘inner emanation’ of an ‘image’, to which the other centres may submit and obey. The head brain can connect with a higher source of order and authority, and its duty is then to embody this order and authority by the creation or arising of an ‘image’ or ‘vision’. The head brain then has the work to hold this image before itself and emanate and communicate this to the other centres/brains. To be able to do this, requires that there is the ability of the head brain to divide its attention between the inner image/vision, and the intention of emanating this to the other brains/centres, and the general environment and general functional activities of the brains/centres. Development of the brains enables the attention to be present and sustained in the two different worlds, as related to the ‘inner and outer’ worlds of man.
The ‘Word’ and ‘Logos’ can be seen as an emanated command, this command contains an ‘image’ within it which expresses the command to/at the given level at which the command is received. The ‘Word of God’, or ‘Theomertmalogos’ in Beelzebub’s Tales, manifests at each level as a source of striving for evolution and perfection. This is expressed in each being as a form of ‘image’ and ‘ideal’ to which they strive and which serves a source of order for their action.
The Image of Being, and Being of Image.
‘Visualization’ exercises are a part of the Work of the transformation of the ‘Head Brain’ and ‘Thinking Centre’. They are also involved in the Work of developing the connection between the ‘Mind’ and ‘Feelings’, so that this may be utilized more intentionally and productively.
A significant part, and stage, of development concerns the ability for an ‘image’ to be present in, and ’emanated’ from, the ‘head brain’ with intention and ‘authority’. The ‘image’ is emanated into the ‘surrounding space’, and this space being that of the other brains and centres.
An ‘image’ is communicated to the other brains and centres intentionally, or said another way; the ‘image’ serves as the means for the intention to be communicated to the other brains and centres.
Significant Work may be needed for such a potential of the ‘head brain’ and ‘thinking centre’ to be actualised. The ‘image’ of the head brain is a means of exercising ‘authority’ over the other centres. This meaning, that such an ‘image’ is used in order to ‘command’ the other centres to act as One Whole, in a given direction according to the intention.
The ‘image’ then not only serves as a means of communicating the nature and content of the intention to the other centres, but it also serves as a means of ‘organ-isation’ and ‘coherence’ that enables the other centres to act together in line with the intention.
The ‘image’ itself provides a source of a degree of ‘order’ from which the other centres can draw. The ‘image’ is relatively of a ‘higher world’ and ‘higher energy’ and can thereby be such a relative source of ‘order’.
It can take significant Work for the medium and material of ‘mental image’ to become tangible in such a way that it can be worked with more intentionally and creatively. The material and energy of ‘mental image’ is a material, just as any other material; though evidently the nature of the ‘thought-image’ material is quite different to that of the general physical materials encountered in general life.
The properties of a material can determine the way in which it can be worked with and manipulated, etc. It is not for nothing that, here, the ‘mental-image’ ‘substance’ has been compared to such as water, in terms of a physical material analogy.
Working with the material of ‘thought-image’ requires the development of ‘sensitivity’ to this material, and this is no different than when working with any general physical material and medium. Working with the ‘thought-substance’ also requires the development of attention and ‘concentration’.
Not only is the ‘thought-substance’ ‘slippery’ to the general hands, and thereby hard to Work with, but the nature of the connections with the other centres, and their ongoing associations, can also make such Work difficult.
The ‘thought-substance’ itself is of a ‘fluctuating nature’ in the general man, and along with this, such ‘thought-substance’ is continually being ‘diffused’ and ‘diluted’ by its ‘attraction’ to the activity of the other centres; this also including the external sensory flux and inner organic flux. To be able to ‘collect’, direct and emanate such ‘thought-substance’ takes significant Work.
It should be seen here that the term ‘mental image’ is quite a loose term. There may be a greater or lesser aspect of actual ‘image’ involved, and this meaning that the intention of the ‘head brain’ may or may not have a particularised image involved in its work.
The intention may be expressed in a definite image, or the image may have a more ‘abstract’ nature, but in either case the intention is specific and not ‘vague’. It is this lack of ‘vagueness’ and intensity of ‘concreteness’ that is part of what enables the ‘head brain’ to actualise its potential towards the other centres.
One might consider what is the actual nature of such an action that is involved in the intentional use of the ‘thought-substance’. What is the nature of the action involved in the intentional use of ‘mental-image’, what is one actually doing, etc?
There are various ways and means of exercising this capacity for the intentional use of ‘mental-image’, for developing the current ableness. There are various exercises for developing the ‘visualization’ potential but using one’s own initiative here is likely the best course.
In terms of the Work, Gurdjieff gave various ‘visualization’ exercises, and he mentioned the kind of ‘abilities’ that can be acquired and developed through the practice of such Work, using himself as an example.
It may be considered that the Work involved in developing this potential of the ‘head brain’ and ‘thinking centre’, is a Work of Being. It is Being that is involved in enabling the full potential of this ‘visualization’ capacity; as mentioned regarding the communication with the other centres and the provision of a possible source of order from which to draw to enable the ‘mobilzation’ of the totality towards a ‘whole/full manifestation.
Being is involved in enabling the lawful relation or communication of different aspects and levels. Being concerns the ‘how’ of how a command and authority is exercised and actualized at lower levels. Being concerns the level of organisation of the medium, which enables it to be the means and host to various levels and qualities of action.
Without a corresponding Being, or ableness of Being, such things as higher energies and finer impressions of a serious order would ‘shatter’ the given ‘being-functioning’. Man is not able to bear much reality in this sense, and hence the requirement for the transformation of suitable ‘vessels’.
In terms of developing the sensitivity and ableness towards the ‘thought-image substance’, Gurdjieff has also spoken of this in the context of the realization of the ‘third world’ and ‘Real Inner World of Man’5. It has also been mentioned in the context of the Work to ‘unify’ the three separate and conflicting wills that express though the three brains and their general contrary and opposed natures and impulses. In Beelzebub, Gurdjieff mentions the Ancient ‘Schools for the materialization of thought’.
The work mentioned has been connected with the work of connecting to, and establishing oneself in, the ‘Kesdjanian’ world. This being a necessary step in the work of providing a means and vessel for ‘Objective Reason’ and the ‘Soul’; as related to the next ‘highest being body’ above such ‘Kesdjan body’6.
Symbols, Diagrams, and Images.
Symbols, images and diagrams, as modes of Art, are dependent upon our level of being in order for them to operate, or for us to use them effectively. Without bringing our ableness of being into their use and contemplation, they can remain limited in their use and effect in us. Bringing one’s being into the symbols can involve putting one’s being into the symbol, so to speak, as involved in providing other means of representation and expression for contemplation, and bringing one’s being can also refer to bringing the symbol into oneself in terms of mirroring the action of the symbol in one’s own being-mentation.
Here, we have to be able to engage with the form of the symbol so as to be able to apprehend its mode of action. Engaging with the form of the symbol or diagram does not refer to establishing a set of labels and terms for the aspects of a diagram/symbol and then pondering on the nature and relation of these terms. The true contemplation of a symbol, in terms of the bringing of one’s own being into it, is a direct engagement with it such that there is no level of ‘abstraction’ going on in the general sense of the term, abstraction here referring to the process whereby terms or elements are used to refer to other things in order to come to some insight. In the true contemplation of the symbol, all the separate terms and labels are lost, and what is there is a direct engagement of a ‘movement’ that is apprehended directly in one’s being through direct participation. Such participation can be a unitive blending, and yet participation still implies some individuality and relation, etc.
It can be helpful to bring the body into one’s engagement with symbols, and this is connected, in one sense, with the Gurdjieff ‘Movements’. We can also ponder images and symbols through the body and bodily movement. Exercises in mentation by form can also aid the development of the use of images and forms, and this exercise can develop the understanding of such things as geometric figures, where another level of their comprehension opens up. Such things as geometric shapes have a being or level of information that goes beyond images and rational conceptions of numeric relations and such. Developing the use of image and symbol inside myself, through my mind and body and feelings, enables a greater form of engagement and participation in regard to
external symbols and images and their contemplation and use.
Working with the Prayer of the Heart and Hanbledzoin7.
To aid the effectiveness of the practice of the Christian Prayer of the Heart, there can be the use of an ‘image’. An ‘image’ may be focused upon and brought into the sphere of the Heart. In the general practice of the prayer, we may focus upon Christ, we may think of Him and the related qualities that we may connect with Him. These thoughts may or may not have some images connected with them. The use of an actual ‘image’ in the prayer may help to keep the ‘mind’ focused in the desired direction, and it may also help to intensify the action of the prayer itself and its results.
‘Images’ can be means of intensification and concentration, but of course, they can also be distractions. The difference may lie in the quality of the image, in the sense of how involved we are in its formation and persistence, as well as how this image is actually ’embodied’ and connected to the somatic awareness and processes. To be more effective, the ‘image’ needs to become ‘real’, which is to say that the ‘image’, or what it refers to, must become a real living presence in one’s ‘inner world’, a living presence ‘in’, or connected to, one’s Heart.
It is the very relationship between the Heart and the ‘image-making’ capacity that can be a means to true creativity, a means to the invocation of the ‘real’. A ‘representation’ may become a ‘living, breathing’ entity or presence, through the Heart’s potential to ‘breath life’ into the ‘nostrils’ of an ‘in-animate image’. It is possible that our particular associations towards a given image can hinder the process, hinder the potential of bringing the image to life. For instance, perhaps I have some truck with ‘Christianity’ due to my previous life experiences, and hence I may find difficulty in the use of the image of Christ. In this case, I may simply have to find another image to which I have the same form of intended relationship. The image has the need to be one which stimulates ‘conscience’ and which also bears ‘authority’. A kind of ‘secular’ image here, which can have the equivalent utility, can be that of ourselves as children. This particularly being the case if there is the notion of the connection between the ‘child’ and our ‘essence’.
In beginning the prayer practice, there is the need to establish a connection with, and presence in, the ‘subtle realm’. There can be issues here when attempting to describe this or trying to point another towards this realm. This is because, compared to the experience of the general state and functioning, the ‘subtle realm’ has a degree of ‘synesthesia’; meaning that the kind of division and distinction of the three main functions, experienced in the general state, is not present in the ‘subtle realm’. There is a different form of relation between ‘thought, feeling, and sensation’, and here we may see the nature of ‘worlds’ and ‘laws’; where the ‘higher’ has a greater form of synthesis to what appears as separate and discrete in a ‘lower’ world. The ‘subtle realm’ then has aspects of thought, feeling, and sensation, but they are experienced in a different form of ‘unity’.
In the kind of ‘numerical’ and ‘geometric’ expression of development and alchemy, the ‘fourth’ is the ‘square’, wherein there is a form of unification between the separate and discrete elements of the ‘three’ or ‘triangle’. In the four, the ‘sameness’ of the three distinct elements of the triad is realized, the common element in each and their common source/origin. In a kind of analogy to the multiple discrete senses, the subtle realm would be akin to the experience of the various senses as ‘one’ sense. We could picture this as something like the ‘essence’ of sense being realized, the essence from which the diversification of the different senses arises.
One may imagine what it would be like if the apparent ‘barriers’ between the different senses were collapsed. To some, this may appear as some kind ‘homogenised’ sensory ‘soup’, and it may be pictured as a greater state of ‘confusion’. This is because our general experience of ‘order’ and ‘intelligibility’ appears to be based upon the very separative and discrete functioning of the different senses. The apparent differences and boundaries between the different senses appear to give a ‘scaffold’ upon which, or through which, there can be an ‘ordered’ and ‘coherent’ experience. A sudden dissolution to the apparent differences and discrete nature of the senses could then appear to leave one in a greater state of confusion.
One could imagine even the simple kind of confusion that could arise if only even two of the senses became ‘merged’, for example, if ‘taste’ and ‘sight’ ceased to be distinct and became ‘one’. The general imagination cannot portray the nature of such an experience and can only provide an attempt at representation; the general imagination would attempt to put sight and taste in some form of altered relation whilst still presenting them as distinct and discrete ‘entities’ in themselves. To the general experience, the synthesis of sight and taste would provide a ‘new’ ‘sense’ itself; something different to either sense and different to any state of ‘combination’ and ‘relation’.
The greater form of synthesis and unity present in the subtle realm can be expressed in the same way relative to the three functions of thought, feeling, and sensation. A ‘new’ function itself may be experienced, different to thought, feeling, and sensation as they are present in the general experience.
In order to begin the work of directing one’s attention towards the ‘subtle realm’, there has to be a degree of ‘separation’ from the given functions. This particularly applies to thought and feeling. The attention has to be directed towards ‘that’ which is present beyond the level and activity of the general thoughts and feelings. Comparatively, the general thoughts and feelings happen on the ‘surface’, or ‘outside’, of the subtle realm, and hence the subtle has the connotation of the ‘finer’ in terms of degrees/gradations of ‘coarseness’. In beginning the practice of the prayer, the attention has to be able to connect with this finer level, and this can practically involve ‘speeding up’ the attention such that it can distinguish between ‘subtle’ and ‘gross’.
In the Work of the Fourth Way, we can also speak here about ‘inner octaves’8, where there is a whole octave of a higher level contained within one single note of a lower level octave etc. Another level or layer is required to be discerned ‘behind’ the given level of thought and feeling and their movements, and it is this other level or realm that can be the host to the mentioned image. This other level, ‘behind’ the given level of thought and feeling and their movements, has been connected to the ‘heart’ precisely because it is ‘closer’ and more ‘intimate’ to oneself. There is also a degree of physiological connotation to the word ‘heart’ because the process involved in accessing and utilizing the subtle realm has physical results and can alter the sense of ’embodiment’ and physicality etc.
Even in the first attempt to connect to the subtle realm, visualization can be used. One may imagine that ‘something’ is present ‘below/behind’ the general surface of experience. If one imagines the ‘content’ to experience, of thought, feeling, and sensation, as a kind of ‘surface’, then one imagines that there is ‘something’ behind or beneath this surface. This is something like suggesting that there is another ‘channel’ to one’s experience that one is not currently registering, there is another level of ‘content’ that is not being picked up. To suggest this, is also to suggest that the form of ‘looking’ for this unnoticed content must be different to the general kind of looking and noticing, and the general form of effort involved in this. To see the ‘subtle’ requires a subtle kind of seeing. In our general form of experience, we could relate this kind of subtle seeing to something like ‘looking out of the corner of one’s eyes’ rather than looking with a direct gaze, etc. We may see that even the suggestion that there is something present that is going unnoticed can evoke a different form of attention and ‘looking’.
In suggesting that there is another level of content present to experience, we can give this a vague ‘location’ or ‘direction’ towards the physical heart and chest. Let us say that, ‘within’ the chest cavity there is another order of ‘space’, and within this space there is another form of experience. This ‘inner space’ of the chest contains a whole other environment and experiential world. Let us suggest that within this space there is a whole other experience present, such that not only is there the given experiential world of the senses and the related thoughts and feelings, but there is also this other world with its own relative content and environment. This is then like saying that one has two worlds of simultaneous experience; the given ‘gross’ experience and world and the ‘subtle’ experience and world. To the physical conception, this means something like saying that one is ‘in two places at once’, each with its own environment and content, etc. It is suggested that the physical chest is a form of gateway and connection to this other subtle world, it then being a means of connection and co-presence of the two worlds.
The centre in the chest may be seen as a means of the connection and relation of thought and feeling, through this centre thought and feeling are ‘made aware of each other’ and are able to influence each other. In the Work, it is ‘hanbledzoin’ that is the means of intentional connection between thought and feeling. ‘Hanbledzoin’ is then expressed as involved in connection with the ‘subconscious’; this being related to the ‘subtle realm’ itself. This connection with the subconscious is expressed as involving an alteration to the physical blood flow, and this is evinced through the centre in the chest.
Not only is the sense of physicality and sensation altered through the contact with the subconscious and subtle realm, but this realm itself also has its own form of substantiality, the ‘stuff’ of this realm has its own kind of ‘sensation’ and ‘feeling’. To work with the ‘stuff’ of this subtle realm has its own kind of ‘sensation’ and ‘feeling’. Part of the ‘stuff’ of this subtle realm is ‘hanbledzoin’ itself, hanbledzoin being the ‘blood of the spirit’ or blood of the ‘second body’ in Gurdjieff’s terms. In the forming and holding of an image in the subtle realm, it is hanbledzoin that is used and exercised, just as it is in accessing such a realm in the first place. Hanbledzoin can be seen as the operative ‘sameness’ between thought and feeling, and hence it has been connected with the ‘dream realm’ or literal ‘stuff of dreams’.
‘Dreams’ may be considered as consisting of the work of images and feelings, a co-ordination of image and feeling such as to give rise to a particular experience and experiential world. Hanbledzoin may then be seen as involved in the creation of the inner world and its condition and activity etc. It may be seen as the link and means of interaction between the real ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ worlds of Man.
It is the situating of an image in the subtle sphere of the heart that can provide a source of remembrance, a source of order for the general thought and feelings and external manifestations. The presence of an image at this level provides a means of the reconciliation and neutralization of the general opposing and divided functions. The image provides a means for the energies of the functions to be directed and transformed to one’s own account. The image is a formation of one’s own true aim. To the extent that the image can be experienced as a real living presence, it can exercise real authority over the functions and manifestations. But, for the image to be real, it must be invested with one’s own ‘spirit blood’.
This investment is often depicted as a form of ‘sacrifice’, and this may be seen as an expression of the form of effort involved, in which the attention has to be ‘withdrawn’ from the ‘gross’ in a particular way. The ‘force’ of ‘desire’ and ‘suffering’ has to be re-directed into energizing/magnetizing the image, and the work of this re-direction itself may be depicted as a particular kind of suffering and sacrifice. The result of this re-direction may also then be expressed as true ‘bliss’ and ‘joy’. This being in the sense of the realization of the image, which may be an expression of real positive feeling and value, and also in the sense of the establishment of a foundation which is independent to the fluctuations of the gross world and functions and their related ‘suffering’ and ‘negativity’ etc. The mentioned ‘joy’ and ‘bliss’ may also be expressions of the realization of a real inner authority which may give guidance, thus also giving real meaning to any suffering. Hence here the idea of the ‘liberation’ of being a ‘slave’, such as with the Apostles who became ‘slaves of Christ’ and who were thereby enabled to ‘consciously suffer’ their fates.
‘Suffering’ is quite different when it is done in the presence of the Master with His decree. In the strange nature of Man, he must be involved in the creation of the Master through the formation of His image, which image may then be impregnated and transubstantiated into the real deal. The communion bread has to become the real body of Christ, and this requires some Miraculous ‘yeast’ and ‘leven-ing’ process. This process is dependent upon the bread or communal wafer, which is, or can bear, the ‘image of likeness’ to the real Divine body. With a Man’s creation of His own Sacred image, using his own blood to enliven it, he must then submit to the authority of such an image. It is the acts of ‘testament’, to the reality of the authority, that make the true ‘blood covenant’ between Master and Slave. Conscience is required both to be able to stand (in) the Light and also to be able
to obey the command to manifest and enact it.
Internal Mandala: an exercise in ‘Mentation by Form’.
The creation of an ‘inner Mandala’ may be considered as an exercise in the use of ‘Mentation by Form’. The ‘form’ in ‘Mentation by Form’ does not really refer to ‘picture’; which is how some people may interpret the term. This is to say that ‘Mentation by Form’ goes beyond simply ‘thinking in pictures’. However, in the creation of an internal ‘mandala’ we may gain some connection to this mode of mentation and establish some practical competence in its usage.
A ‘mandala’ has generally been considered as a ‘geometric construction’, and this construction or figure often has ‘fractal’ properties. There is often a form of ‘repetition’ and ‘recurrence’ in the figure or construction. The ‘same’ pattern may be reflected at multiple levels or scales, etc. We may see here that even in the ‘geometric’ sense, the ‘mandala’ displays a particular set of ‘laws’ which we may associate with such things as ‘proportion’ and ‘ratio’, etc. In terms of a ‘mandala’ having a ‘fractal’ nature, it may be seen that the ‘mandala’ then conveys a particular form of ‘motion’. This ‘motion’ may be expressed as the ‘entering and re-entering of the ‘whole’ into the ‘parts’, along with the ’emergence’ and ‘re-emergence’ of the ‘whole’ in the ‘parts’. A particular form of relation between ‘whole’ and ‘part’ is expressed. In the ‘contemplation’ of the ‘mandala’ we can enter this form of ‘motion’ ourselves and be ‘in-formed’ by it.
In the creation of an ‘internal mandala’, we may construct and hold before us a particular inner image. This image could really be of anything and need not be an explicit ‘geometrical’ construction or figure. Once this image is established in the attention, it is then ‘doubled’ so that there are now two images of the same thing. Each of the two images is now attempted to be held simultaneously in the attention with equal clarity. After the two are established we then ‘double’ again, giving four inner images of equal clarity which are each attended with an equal ‘portion’ and quality of attention. We can proceed in this wise for as long as we wish and are able. Another form of this ‘doubling’ can be present in the following way. Instead of ‘doubling’ the image, in terms of producing another duplicate of the original image, we ‘divide’ the original image such that it now contains within it ‘two fractals’ of the original image which come to compose it. One way of conceiving this is to suggest that the original image now contains two ‘smaller’ images within it, two smaller images of the original image are held within the original image without losing contact with the original image. In this form of ‘doubling’ it may be necessary to begin with a simple image. To express something of this nature and process, we now have pictures which are composed of smaller versions of the whole image, for example, a particular person’s face is created by using many smaller images of the same face, which images come to serve as the ‘pixels’ which form the whole image.
The kind of ‘friction’ and resistance that can be met with when attempting this form of work can be useful to us. If persisted with, this friction can reach a culmination in which there is a radical shift in the operative form of attention. There is no longer the same form of relationship between the given attention and the images. The images are no longer worked with in the same way or from the same ‘position’. We may ‘become one’ with the images such that they are no longer experienced ‘from without’ as something of a separate ‘2D surface’. The images can come to be experienced from ‘within’ such that one enters the images and experiences them from ‘within’ the images themselves. The images then acquire a different kind of ‘dimensionality’ As mentioned before, this can express in the sense of entering into a form of motion, being one with this motion, and experiencing this motion from within the motion itself. A form of energy can be liberated through this kind of work, a form of energy which enables what was previously difficult or impossible to become easy.
This kind of work can radically alter our given form of relationship to our ‘inner world’, along with developing the capacity to use this ‘inner world’ more intentionally. The ‘consistency’ of the ‘inner world’ can change, becoming more ‘substantial’. The ‘inner world’ then becomes ‘more real’ in terms of something which can be engaged with in a more real way. What may have previously been at the level of ‘image’ becomes a ‘tangible’ reality that is more akin to the experience of the body and physical world. The ‘inner world’ can acquire a ‘tangible weight’ which enables a greater ‘dexterity’ of ‘thought’. This is to say something like, ‘thinking becomes embodied’, or conversely, ‘we become embodied in thinking’, embodied in the inner world. We may see this as the formation of an ‘inner body’, as used in the direction of thought. This ‘inner body’ also concerns the operative relation between thought and feeling, which is to say that for our thinking to become more tangible, there has to be a more intimate relationship between thought and feeling. The substance of feeling is intimately involved in the inner world acquiring greater substantiality and dimensionality, proceeding from a realm of ‘vague images’ to one of ‘real being’. We may see this process as what is meant by the term ‘the materialization of thought’; as used in Beelzebub’s Tales in reference to
an ancient School.
1)The term here is being used in a way that is concurrent with J.G. Bennett’s usage. Bennett was a pupil of Gurdjieff and produced various works on the Fourth Way. His definition of the terms ‘Being’, ‘Function’, and ‘Will’ can be found in his books ‘Deeper Man’ and ‘The Dramatic Universe’ volume 1.
2) The term ‘Mentation by Form’ is introduced by Gurdjieff in his book ‘Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson’ in the first chapter called ‘The Arousing of Thought’. It is basically postulated as another mode of ‘mind’ and ‘thinking’ which operates at a level that is prior to ‘verbal’ thought.
3) The term ‘Objective Art’ can be found in the book ‘In Search of the Miraculous’ by P.D. Ouspensky. Different kinds and levels of art are expressed as being related to different levels and degrees of Being, such that humans of different degrees of Being produce quite different works of art. The difference here is in what the works of art ‘are’ and what they ‘do’ rather than their apparent ‘content’ as pieces of art. Objective art is said to be engaged equally by every being, though each engages with a work of objective art according to their level of Being.
4) The term is given By Gurdjieff in ‘Beelzebub’s Tales To His Grandson’ when speaking of one of the three brains that compose man’s being, the other two being the Spinal Brain and the Feeling/Solar Plexus Brain. The three brains give man his Triadic nature, which, in The Work, is what enables man to be ‘made in the image of God’ and gives him his unique potential for transformation. Man is referred to as a ‘three-brained being’ in Beelzebub’s Tales.
5) The Real Inner World of Man is defined in Gurdjieff’s book ‘Life is Real only then, when “I am”’. It is expressed as the third world which can be created from the intentional interaction of the first and second worlds; these being termed ‘the outer’ and ‘the inner’ worlds respectively. Roughly, the first world corresponds to the ‘senses’ and the second world to the ‘mind’ and ‘feelings’.
6) Definitions of the ‘Kesdjan body’ and the ‘highest being body’ can be found in Beelzebub’s Tales, as can ‘Objective Reason’. The Kesdjan body is roughly equivalent to both the ‘Astral’ and ‘Mental’ bodies of Theosophy/Anthroposophy.
7) The term Hanbledzoin refers to the ‘blood of the kesdjan body’ as mentioned in Beelzebub’s Tales. It is also mentioned as the means of connection between thinking and feeling which can come to be used and engaged in a more intentional and conscious way.
8) The Octave and the Law of Seven/Heptaparaparshinokh are presented in ‘In Search of The Miraculous’ and ‘Beelzebub’s Tales’.