Original Commentary

By Lee van Laer


From the Zen, Yoga, Gurdjieff Blog, Dec. 30, 2011.


In my general ponderings about the enneagram, essence, conscience, and related topics, this morning, my questions came around to an old subject–that is, being-foods in man and the universe.

Because, as Gurdjieff taught us, man is an accurate model of the universe in miniature, we can readily understand the idea that the universe has three being-foods, just as man does.

It's not difficult to relate man's three being foods to the law of three on the enneagram, and I have done so in this diagram. Each type of food, having a different rate of vibration, is appropriate to a different center, whose rate of vibration is at a corresponding speed.

What we see is that each center has a food appropriate to its own work.

What makes the subject more interesting to me is what happens when we look at the same diagram as applied to the universe. Readers can see this diagram at the following link, which also allows you to interactively toggle back and forth between being-foods of man and being-foods of the universe.

Readers who have been following my recent musings will know of my essays about the connections between the creation and nature of material reality, the flow of time, and my consequent inferences about the relationship between the consciousness of man and the consciousness of God. Let's just say that these subjects are all intimately connected.

The bottom line here is that the universe, like human beings, feeds on the material around it, and is constructed of it. The law of Trogoautoegocrat– I eat myself– is wholly expressed in the enneagram.

Matter itself–elemental matter–is the first being-food of the universe, the material food of the universe, which represents the initial incarnation of the divine in the flow of material downwards through the rate of creation. It's easy to understand how this works: the physical body, or moving center, of the universe, the vehicle through which all of the universe is expressed, is composed of matter. Matter itself represents the Holy Denying force: energy, emitted from the wholeness of God, manifests itself as its own “I am–I wish to be”– a separate entity from God.

Time is the second being-food of the universe, playing the same role that air plays for man. Gurdjieff said to Ouspensky, " Time is breath– try to understand this.” (In Search Of The Miraculous, P. D. Ouspensky, page 213, Paul H. Crompton Ltd. edition 2004.) Given that air is, in man, the "food" of intellectual center, let's take a shot at it, presuming that time plays a similar role in the universe.

The intelligence of the universe, its character and everything it knows, develops only through time. It is the progressive and interactive nature of relationship that creates meaning. The intellect of the universe, its ability to see, think, and understand itself, can only be developed by consuming the medium of time. Matter must surrender itself back into God through time: everything submits itself to time, creating its relationship to the second prayer, "Lord have Mercy." (See the diagram at this link for the position of the two prayers on the enneagram.)

The prayer "Lord have Mercy" is located on the diagram at the same place where Time, the Merciless Heropass, acts as the second shock in the universal octave. Time has no mercy... hence the prayer to the Lord to provide it.

The third being-food of the universe is Love. This force is at the highest rate of vibration, representing the point at which Divine Influence initiates and informs the entire octave of the universe. It corresponds to the food of impressions in man; and indeed, in the essay on the flow of time and its nature (see the above link) it turns out that the consumption of impressions is essential to the identity of Divinity, in its ongoing effort to know itself fully. This subject is treated in more detail in the essay on Chakras and the Enneagram.

Anyway, I thought readers would find this line of inquiry interesting. It's far from a complete work; nonetheless, the suggestions are provocative.

In summing all of this up, it occurred to me that it's possible to distill Gurdjieff's approach into a very few concise words. The Work consists of the following efforts and responsibilities, each one related to its own position on the enneagram in the law of three:

Always Beginning (note "do")
Always Working (first conscious shock- conscious labor)
Always Giving Back (second conscious shock- intentional suffering)

These three principles, applied throughout the development of any object, event, condition, or circumstance, are what we might call right action.

There are some further important inferences to draw here from the nature of time, its position on the diagram, and the sorrow of His Endlessness, but they cannot be addressed in this essay, which has more than enough theory in it already.

On a more practical note, it's hardly a theoretical exercise to try and have a conscious impression of the digestion, breathing, and impressions (especially as they may arrive under the influence of forces above the top of the head.) We are always in the midst of taking in all three being-foods.

To be human– to be a man without quotation marks– is to sense this organically.

I respectfully ask you to take good care.