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Journey to Essence

Exploring God and Consciousness

What is Cosmic Consciousness?
G. I. Gurdjieff

"On one occasion, while talking with Gurdjieff, I asked him whether he considered it possible to attain cosmic consciousness, not for a brief moment only but for a longer period."

"I do not know what you call 'cosmic consciousness,'" said Gurdjieff, "it is a vague and indefinite term.  Anyone can call anything he likes by it.  In most cases what is called 'cosmic consciousness' is simply fantasy, associative daydreaming connected with intensified work of the emotional center.  Sometimes it comes near to ecstasy, but most often it is merely a subjective emotional experience on the level of dreams.  But even apart from all this before we can speak of 'cosmic consciousness' we must define in general what consciousness is."

"How do you define consciousness?"

"Consciousness is considered to be indefinable, and indeed, how can it be defined if it is an inner quality?  With the ordinary means at our disposal it is impossible to prove the presence of consciousness in another man.  We know it only in ourselves."

"All this is rubbish," said Gurdjieff, "the usual scientific sophistry.  It is time you got rid of it.  Only one thing is true in what you have said: that you can know consciousness only in yourself.  Observe that I say you can know, for you can know it only when you have it.  And when you have not got it, you can know that you have not got it, not at that very moment, but afterwards.  I mean that when it comes again you can see that it has been absent a long time, and you can find or remember the moment when it disappeared and when it reappeared.  You can also define the moments when you are nearer to consciousness and further away from Consciousness.

But by observing in yourself the appearance and the disappearance of consciousness you will inevitably see one fact which you neither see nor acknowledge now, and that is that moments of consciousness are very short and are separated by long intervals of completely unconscious, mechanical working of the machine.  You will then see that you can think, feel, act, speak, and work without being conscious of it."

The Ground of All Being
Rowland Croucher

We tend to think of God as a big man with a beard, or some sort of powerful "person" like a human being, although one who can do amazing things.  This is just the childish version, it is conditioned in our thinking by a pedestrian approach to religion.

There are religions that don't have a "God" per se, such as Buddhism.  Essentially, there is no reason to think of God as a person, certainly not one with a corporeal body.  That image, which is hinted at in the Bible, is merely metaphor.  Depending upon the religious tradition, however, one can have very abstract views of God which have nothing to do with a father figure or a mother figure.

There is a more abstract way to think about God: that is "transcendental signifier" or the notion of a metaphysical first principle that organizes everything into a metaphysical hierarchy.  This is the more sophisticated view of God, and most of the works of the great Christian philosophers hint at notions of God in these abstract terms.

Anselm defined God as "that which nothing greater than can be conceived."  He ended all of his arguments by saying "this thing we call God", as a means of keeping the exact nature of God open ended.  This is because God is beyond our understanding, as the Bible says, but we can leave a "place marker" for the concept of God by understanding that the ultimate logical function of the God concept is that of the transcendental signifier.

The Ground of All Being

One of the sophisticated concepts used by great Christian theologians is that of "The Ground of Being".  This concept indicates, not that God is the fact of things existing, but that God is the basis for the existence of all things.  God is more fundamental to existing things than anything else.  So fundamental to the existence of all things is God, which God can be thought of as the basis upon which things exist, the ground of their being.  To say that God is the "Ground of Being" or "Being itself", is to say that there is something we can sense that is so special about the nature of being that it hints at this fundamental reality upon which all else is based.

The phrases "Ground of Being" and "Being itself" are basically the same concept.  Paul Tillich used both references at different times, and theologian John McQuarrey prefers "Being Itself," but they really speak to the same concept.  Now skeptics are always asking "how can God be being?"  I think this question comes from the fact that the term is misleading.  The term "Being itself" gives one the impression that God is the actual fact of "my existence", or the existence of my flowerbed, or any object one might care to name.  Paul Tillich, on the other hand, said explicitly (in Systematic Theology Vol. I), that this does not refer to an existential fact but to an ontological (the nature of being) status.  What is being said is not that God is the fact of the being of some particular object, but, that God is the basis upon which being proceeds and upon which objects participate in being.

In other words, since God exists forever, nothing else can come to be without God's will or thought, and since there can't even be a potential for any "being" without God's thought, all potentialities for being arise in the "mind of God", and in that sense God is actually "Being Itself."  I think "Ground of Being" is a less confusing term.  God is the ground upon which all being is based and from which all being proceeds.

How Can "a Being" be Being Itself?

Part of the confusion stems from a misunderstanding of what is being said.  I say that God is "necessary being" not "a necessary being," not because I forgot the "a" but because God is not "a being."  God is above the level of any particular being that participates in being, but exists on the level of the Being, the thing itself, apart from any particular beings.  There is "Being", and there is "the beings."  This is a crucial distinction, but it leaves one wondering what it means and how it could be.  I think the answer lies in the fact that God is ultimate reality.  God is the first, and highest and only necessary thing that exists, and thus, had God not created, God would be the only thing that exists.  Could one somehow ponder a universe in which God had not created, in which God was all that was, one might well ask "what is it to be in this universe where there is only God?"  In such a universe the only conceivable answer is "to be is to be God."  In that sense God is Being Itself.

This may not sound very orthodox, but it is extremely orhtodox.  God is not just a big man on a throne; God is not the Zeu Patter(Jupiter,"Sky Father") of pagan mythology.  The great theologians of Chrsitian fatih, the Orthodox chruch, and theologians such as Paul Tillich and John McQuarrie, believe, as Timothy Ware (The Orthodox Chruch, New York: Pelican, 1963) quoting St. John of Damascus says, "God does not belong to the class of 'existing' things; not that God has no existence but that God is above existing things, even above existence itself".  The Jewish Virtual Library tells us, "The name of God, which in Hebrew is spelled YHWH, is difficult to explain.  Scholars generally believe that it derives from the Semitic word, "to be," and so means something like, 'he causes to be.'"

Most people, when confronted with the phrase "being itself" assume that it means that the fact of our existence is the same as God.  Naturally, that would be a nonsensical notion.  How could the fact that this desk in front of me, the computer I am writing on, and the lamp that illumines the screen, the mere fact of all the things I see around me and I myself existing be God?  Some have concluded that by this Tillich meant that God is just a symbol for the fact of existence.  But I will argue that this is not at all what Tillich, or any other theologians who use this phrase, mean.  We, as temporal beings, limited by our finitude, cannot help but think merely of the fact of existence as the nature of being.  But being must be more than that.  The argument stems largely from the work of the great theologian Paul Tillich who said that God is "being itself," above and beyond the mere fact of any particular being.

The "G" Word
James Parkison, Solid Rock Vista

"With man's overall failure to properly understand and apply the esoteric ideas embedded in religion, another system is introduced to mankind in an attempt to convey new meaning." Listen to the audio.

A History of God
Karen Armstrong

A History of God examines the concept of God in the three major monotheistic religions from the days of Abraham to modern times.  Through analysis of historic and holy texts, and in incorporation of ancient art and artifacts, this 90 minute program explores the evolution of the Deity written about in the Bible and the Quran.  The evolution and intertwining of various Christian, Jewish and Islamic interpretations of God are also addressed.  Watch the video.

The Primacy of Consciousness
Peter Russell

This video series is a beautiful presentation illustrating that the fundamental nature of reality is consciousness.  Watch the videos.

"The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious.  He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.  To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness." — Albert Einstein

Numinous
The Presence of Divinity or Other Worldliness

Numinous is an English adjective describing an aspect of the power or presence of divinity, or "other worldliness".  The word was popularized in the early twentieth century by the German theologian Rudolf Otto in his influential book "Das Heilige".  According to Otto, the numinous experience has two aspects: mysterium tremendum, which is the tendency to invoke fear and trembling; and mysterium fascinans, the tendency to attract, fascinate and compel.  The numinous experience also has a personal quality to it, in that the person feels to be in communion with a "Holy other".  The numinous experience can lead in different cases to belief in deities, the supernatural, the sacred, the holy, and the transcendent.

Etymologically, numinous comes from the Latin word "numen", which originally, literally meant "nodding", but was associated with meanings of "command" or "divine majesty".  Its earliest known use as meaning 'divine majesty' dates to the middle of the seventeenth century.

Rudolf Otto's use of the term, as referring to a "characteristic" of religious experience, was influential among intellectuals of the subsequent generation.  For example, numinous as understood by Otto was a frequently quoted concept in the writings of Carl Jung and C. S. Lewis.  The notion of the numinous and the "wholly other" were also central to the religious studies of Mircea Eliade.

"Mysterium tremendum et fascinans", or "fearful and fascinating mystery", is a Latin phrase which Rudolf Otto uses in The Idea of the Holy to name the perception of an "awesome" (fascinating and full of awe) sense of mystery which was a feeling common to all forms of religious experience.

Mysterium tremendum is described in The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley in the following: "The literature of religious experience abounds in references to the pains and terrors overwhelming those who have come, too suddenly, face to face with some manifestation of the mysterium tremendum.  In theological language, this fear is due to the incompatibility between man's egotism and the divine purity, between man's self-aggravated separateness and the 'infinity of God'".

"Nostalgia for paradise" was a term also used by Mircea Eliade to help bring understanding to the numinous.  This idea was based on the theory that a person has a sort of longing for perfection or paradise, which creates a platform for experience of the numinous.

Carlos Castaneda deals with a related concept in his books dealing with a particular Native American tradition of sorcery.  According to the teacher Don Juan Matus (whose existence has been questioned) there is just such an inconceivable dimension of human existence whose presence may be sensed but neither grasped by the senses or any rational framework.  He refers to this as the "Nagual".  This Nagual (a guardian spirit among Mexican and Central American Indians, believed to reside in an animal) is a power that may be harnessed by a shaman or sorcerer, a 'man of knowledge' who has undergone an arduous spiritual training.

"Knowledge is frightening, but if a warrior accepts the frightening nature of knowledge he cancels out its awesomeness.  Knowledge is a most peculiar affair, especially for a warrior.  Knowledge for a warrior is something that comes at once, engulfs him, and passes on." - Don Juan Matus, from Tales of Power, by Carlos Castaneda

It has been described as an "intense feeling of knowing there is a something which can neither be perceived by the senses or completely understood with the mind alone."  This "knowing" can befall or overcome a person at any time and in any place: in a cathedral or next to a silent stream; on a lonely road; early in the morning or in the face of a beautiful sunset.  Similarly, unpleasant or frightening scenes or experiences can lead to a sense of an unseen presence of ghosts, evil spirits or a general sense of the presence of evil.  Visions or hallucinations of god, gods, the devil or devils can also happen.

The idea is not necessarily a religious one.  Noted atheists Carl Sagan, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have discussed the importance of separating the numinous from the supernatural.

Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain
Our Reality is Created Out of Thought

If you have a golf-ball size consciousness or read a book with a golf-ball size understanding, when you wake up in the morning you will have a golf-ball size wakefulness.  But if you could expand that consciousness, the more understanding you will have, and when you look out with more awareness and wake up, you will have more wakefulness...it's consciousness...and there's an ocean of pure, bright, vibrant consciousness inside each one of us, and it's right at the source and base of mind, right at the source of thought, and also at the source of all matter.

There is no "matter" as such.  All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom into vibration, a vibration that holds this minute solar system, the atom, together.  We must assume that behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind.  This mind is the matrix of all matter.

The solidity of the world seems totally indisputable as a fixed thing that you can see and touch.  Your body is also reassuringly solid, but beginning with Einstein, modern physics has assured us that this "solidity" is a mirage.  All of physical matter, everything we have around us is the result of a frequency, and what this means is that when you amplify the frequency, the structure of the matter changes.

What this self-contained system is is a hologram and everything within it is an expression of that hologram.  This is one of the great characteristics of a hologram is that every part of a holographic picture is a smaller version of the whole.  It's as if reality is so connected that when you look at one small part you can see things about other parts, that the entire whole is contained in the part.  You can't divide reality up because you are trying to cut up a hologram, and we can't find where one particle is because it's always a reflection of all particles.  In a hologram, the whole pattern is complete unto itself, and if you were to take any little portion of this whole out and examine it closely you will see the entire patters repeating itself again, and again, and again. Anywhere within this pattern if we were to change one aspect of any one of these little holograms, that change would be reflected throughout the entire system.

Quantum physics has revealed what the ancient masters knew, that matter does not exist.  The fact is that the substance of the universe is consciousness therefore it is the quality of thought and behavior that is important.

We should be very careful about what we believe about the future.  The more we attach to a belief system, the more we help to create it by believing it.  The great clairvoyant Edgar Casey said that reality is created out of thought and that every thought, like a spider spinning a web, starts to build and build.  At the sub-atomic level, reality behaves in accordance with the expectation of the observer.  And this is remarkable because everything in the universe is composed of these sub-atomic particles.  These atoms are whirling at lightning speeds around huge empty spaces, and the particles are not material objects.  Rather, they are fluctuations of energy within an infinitely huge field of energies.

Science is now showing us is that when you change the field the atom is in that you literally change the atom itself!  And we're made of these atoms, so when we have feelings we're changing that field, changing what connects everything together, what everything is made of and we are literally capable of altering our physical reality.  Once you understand the nature of reality and how it works, and what the physical body is—this biological computer—which is consciousness, then it suddenly brings into crystal clarity why the world is structured as it is.  People look through their eyes and they think "this is the world", but it isn't, it's a tiny, tiny frequency range within a field of infinite energies.

It is the act of consciousness that actually creates the building blocks the universe is made of.  It's the act of us observing the world around us that is creating and allowing us to create as we go in a participatory universe.  Everywhere that consciousness explores with the expectation that something will be there, that exploration, that act of observing is the act that creates something for us to see; we are actually building this universe as we go.

Consciousness is the programming language of the universe.  We are consciousness conductors.  That's what we do and that's what we are.  Consciousness comes through or emanates from us.  When you switch off your brain and get sucked into the main stream consciousness illusion, you must understand that you are being used, and this is because we create reality.  If you are manipulated in a certain way, and your thought-energy field modulated in a certain way by others, then what is created through you becomes not ours but someone else's, someone else's reality creates and affects your reality.  So, what would happen if you decided to take control of your thought-reality?  As regards the mind, the seat of thought-energy, what we are dealing with is some kind of operating system that can literally create worlds, and this operating system called the mind, can be hacked by others hi-jacked by other people's words, thoughts, ideas and concepts.

Consciousness Drives the Universe
There is an Ocean of Pure Vibrant Consciousness Inside Each One of Us

Consciousness is what drives and shapes everything. This means ultimately everything in the universe and that even matter is consciousness in the most subtlest and dense form.

The Inner Meaning of the Gospels
From "The New Man" by Maurice Nicoll

"All sacred writings contain an outer and an inner meaning.  Behind the literal words lies another range of meaning, another form of knowledge.  According to an old−age tradition, man once was in touch with this inner knowledge and inner meaning.  There are many stories in the Old Testament which convey another knowledge, a meaning quite different from the literal sense of the words.  Many parables are used in the Gospels.  As they stand, taken in the literal meaning of the words, they refer apparently to vineyards, to householders, to stewards, to spendthrift sons, to oil, to water and to wine, to seeds and sowers and soil, and many other things.  This is their literal level of meaning. The language of parables is difficult to understand just as is, in general, the language of all sacred writings.  Taken on the level of literal understanding, both the Old and New Testaments are full not only of contradictions but of cruel and repulsive meaning.  If all these stories, allegories, myths, comparisons and parables in Sacred Scripture mean something else, why can it not be stated clearly what they mean from the starting−point so that everyone can understand?  Why veil everything?  Why all this mystery, this obscurity?

The idea behind all sacred writing is to convey a higher meaning than the literal words contain, the truth of which must be seen by Man internally.  This higher, concealed, inner, or esoteric, meaning, cast in the words and sense−images of ordinary usage, can only be grasped by the understanding, and it is exactly here that the first difficulty lies in conveying higher meaning to man.  The object of all sacred writings is to convey higher meaning and higher knowledge in terms of ordinary knowledge as a starting−point.  The parables have an ordinary meaning.  The object of the parables is to give a man higher meaning in terms of lower meaning in such a way that he can either think for himself or not.  The parable is an instrument devised for this purpose.  It can fall on a man literally, or it can make him think for himself.  It invites him to think for himself.  A man first understands on his ordinary, matter−of−fact or natural level.  To lift the understanding, whatever is taught must first fall on this level to some extent, to form a starting−point.  A man must get hold, of what he is taught, to begin with, in a natural way.  But the parable has meaning beyond its literal or natural sense.  It is deliberately designed to fall first on the ordinary level of the mind and yet to work in the mind in the direction of lifting the natural level of comprehension to another level of meaning.  From this point of view, a parable is a transforming instrument in regard to meaning.  As we shall see later the parable is also a connecting medium between a lower and a higher level in development of the understanding."  Read The New Man by Maurice Nicoll.

Church of Conscious Harmony
www.ConsciousHarmony.org

The Church of Conscious Harmony exists for the sole purpose of facilitating the spiritual journey for people who want to make God-devotion the center of their lives while living in the ordinary world without the aid of monastery walls.  Our aim is to provide the focus, the teaching and the community support required for individuals to grow in self-awareness from the illusion of separate and separative existence to the fully enlightened experience of conscious union with the living God.  Our basic teaching stands on two legs:

1. The traditional Christian contemplative practices of silent meditation and active prayer.

2. The Esoteric Christian school of the Work of G. I. Gurdjieff, and the Psychological Commentaries by Maurice Nicoll.

Though we are firmly founded on these teachings, we are not limited by them or to them. We are free to reach deeply into all religions and spiritual traditions for insight, wisdom and inspiration; using these gifts to illumine our own religious roots and to enliven our spiritual practice.

Though we necessarily employ dogma, theology and ritual, we use these tools solely as a means of assisting individuals to attain personal experiences of God's presence and activity in their lives. We encourage all people who worship or study at CCH to engage in intentional daily spiritual practice and study, realizing these to be absolutely essential requirements for becoming aware of and receptive to God's Transforming Grace.  We also encourage loving service to our human family.  Ultimately, CCH is a community of individuals who acknowledge their absolute dependence on God and humanity.  Listen to Recent Sunday Services.

If you have any comments or questions please e-mail Click for Email Address.

I trust that your journey through the GurdjieffWork.com website will lead you back to your Essence...back to your 'Real I'.

Know thyself,



Jeff Meyers
www.GurdjieffWork.com

The beginning of spiritual transformation is to observe your own psychology in action.

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