|The Law of Reciprocal Maintenance|
This law is defined in Tales. When His Endlessness (God) realises that his dwelling place, the Sun Absolute, is vunerable to time, he creates the universe into which he expels time.
- The Law of Reciprocal Maintenance (called by Beelzebub 'the trogoautoegocrat') functions so that the universe is nourished by an exchange of substances, and this protects the Sun Absolute from the destructive results of time: i.e. change, decay and death.
- The fundamental purpose for the existence of men and the other three-brained beings of the universe is to serve as apparatuses through which cosmic substances are transmuted for the purpose of reciprocal maintenance.
- Organic life, including human beings, was allowed to form on the Earth for the specific purpose of sending emanations to feed the Moon.
From: HubPage by coyjay
In his book Gurdjieff: Making a New World, J.G. Bennett discusses Gurdieff’s belief that one of the purposes for man’s existence on earth is to play his role in the Law of Reciprocal Maintenance. If man does not know his place in the cosmological order his existence is doomed to failure. We have to look closely at this law and see where we are not fulfilling our purpose, and where we obstruct the fulfillment of other essence classes.
Gurdjieff argues that everything in the cosmos is connected. Everything from unorganized energy to The Supreme Creative Will has its place and its function. We cannot understand the functions of powers above a certain level. We just need to know that these powers exist, and that they can have an influence upon our lives if we reach the higher level that is possible for man.
According to Bennett, an essence class is defined by a pattern of possible experience. He gives as an example the division into one, two, and three brained beings. A one-brained being is totally automatic in its behavior. It eats and reproduces. Examples of one-brained beings are worms, insects, and snakes. Two-brained beings are capable of feeling. Animals aside from acting instinctively are also capable of some feeling. As a three-brained being man can act through instinct, through feeling, or through thought.
Bennett constructs a table that presents the twelve essence classes that are necessary for life in the universe. Let me just give the first ten. He starts with Heat, Unorganized Energy, next comes Simples, Primary Conditions of Matter, then Crystals, Static Non-Living Forms, Soil, The Sensitive Surface Layer, Plants, Static Life Forms, Invertebrates, One-brained Beings, Vertebrates, Two-brained Beings, Man, Three-brained Beings, and Demiurges, the Angelic Hosts.
Every essence class has a function in the maintenance of the universe. Bennett argues that since man does not understand this he is acting on the planet in ways that will eventual lead to its destruction. For example, it has taken hundreds of millions of year for minerals and oil deposits to come into being. These deposits have a definite function in the over all maintenance of our planet. Yet, we greedily pull them out of the earth with no thought or care for how this might affect the future well being of our planet.
The soil essence is a nearly living entity composed of silt, dust, and the remains of plants and animals. When the soil loses its life like qualities it turns to desert sand. When it is treated with artificial chemicals its universal function is disturbed. Rachel Carson supports this belief in her book Silent Spring. Bennett argues that by poisoning the soil we are also introducing psychic poisons into ourselves.
The seventh essence class the two-brained animals are just below man in the essence classes. Bennett argues that they are needed to produce the energy that is necessary for cosmic harmony. The animals’ sensitive experience runs the whole range of the lower human emotions. Each essence class ranges all the way from the one above it to the one below it. The higher animals can experience the feelings of fear, excitement, anger, curiosity, timidity, courage, irritation, and contentment. These are the lower emotions of man. The energy given off by the expressing of these emotions is necessary for the maintenance of the universe.
When we kill off millions of animals and take away their habitat, we are leaving a void that has to be filled. Man is the only essence class that can fill this void. Bennett argues that by our disregard for the sanctity of animal life we are condemning our selves to an animal like existence. He believes that this is a major reason for the cruel and violent behavior that has been prevalent in recent times. The energy that is given off by the emotions of anger and fear are necessary for the universal harmony. Since there are no longer a sufficient number of animals to produce these emotions the task has been passed to man.
Unless we understand the Law of Reciprocal Maintenance and see the necessity for respecting the being of other essence classes, the mass of man will be doomed to the existence of greed, violence, war, and economic hardships that we are experiencing today.
The individual man can escape from this animal like existence if he works hard on his being and reaches a higher level. The essence class above man is the class that Bennett calls Demiurge, otherwise known as Angels. Since each class reaches from the class below to the one above, man can have some of the qualities of the angelic class. By “conscious labor and intentional suffering,” man can reach a higher level of being. Once he reaches this level to some extinct he is freed from the lower instinctive urges.
However, man is not separate from humanity. If an individual reaches this higher level of being it is his cosmic obligation to work for the freedom of all life on our planet. By service and sacrifice man can be transformed. And in going through this transformation he gives off the energies that pay for his universal existence. In doing so, he can avoid death and continue to evolve to a higher essence class.
Unless a sufficient number of men reach this higher level, this whole experiment on Earth to produce self-evolving beings will have failed. The universe is an enormous place even on the material level. On the spiritual level it is just as vast. It was in existence long before the coming of man. The universe can survive without man.
Bennett has written a number of books on the teaching of Gurdjieff and is required reading for anyone who would understand the Work.
It will never hurt to increase mans awareness of his/her place in the cosmos, which will provide for a greater understanding and appreciation for our common home, planet Earth.
To understand this concept of a higher ecology we must think of man as a part of the environment. Man is a three-brained creature, consisting of intellectual, emotional, and physical qualities. Each part contributes to both the problem and the solution.
Although we have a tendency to look upon man as being apart from nature mans entire existence is dependant on this world, its animal and vegetable food and it's oxygen and water. Man is so closely integrated with nature that man cannot harm nature without harming himself. But our vanity and self-importance keep us from seeing this obvious fact.
The concept of Reciprocal Maintenance is foreign to most people. Reciprocal Maintenance is a concept that will not only free us from the errors of incorrectly thinking about the world we live in but it will also give us a greater sense of purpose, confidence, and fearlessness. Being fearless is not being without fear but facing fear and use it to our advantage.
Understanding Reciprocal Maintenance will provide us with the knowledge that everything exists for a purpose and that man's part in all this, like all living things, is to transform energy. Your "job" on this earth is to transform energy, that is why you are alive.
We must no longer think of ourselves as being entitled to do whatever we want to the world we live in. This concept that "the world was made for man" is not only incorrect but is the cause of the environmental disasters we face today.
Because of this sense that it is "an inherited right" of ours to (mis)use the planet rather than an "obligation" to take care of it, we have lost touch with the sense and purpose of our lives. Once we correct our erroneous thinking about ourselves and the world we live in we will gain a glimpse our true purpose and acquire a confidence that we have sought but never found. There is no greater confidence than to know ones true purpose in life.
The reason for most of the problems existing in the world today are a result of not knowing, not understanding, and not living within the paradigm of Reciprocal Maintenance.
Man has three types of experience, thinking, feeling, and instinctive. In the ancient Vedic story of the Horse (feeling), the Carriage (instinctive), the Driver (thinking) which are at the service of the "Passenger" or "Owner." The problem is that the "Passenger" has fallen "asleep" and the Horse, Carriage, and Driver go where they please rather than attending to the business of the "Owner." The purpose of the owner is not being fulfilled.
Once one accepts the reality of Reciprocal Maintenance and acknowledges their "condition" as being one of being "asleep at the wheel" they can begin to take action to correct their situation.
No one sets out to make a mistake or do something wrong. A bank robber doesn't think "my goal is to go to prison and the way to do that is to rob a bank." No, they actually think that they will get away with robbing the bank and live happily ever after. We don't set out to destroy the environment. Without a correct understanding of the world and our place in it how can we expect things to be any different than they are?
All living things including man transform energy and either give off or absorb heat. Heat has been considered as an essential condition for change.
Every living thing eventually dies and when it does an energy is released. Man is equipped to not only produce this energy when he dies but while he is alive if he knows how to do so and to learn how to do so one must first understand the reality of Reciprocal Maintenance.
You might ask, "why would I want to do that when I can just live my life as it is, get old and die like everyone else." You can if you want, there's no one stopping you and no one putting a gun to your head and saying "you have to make the effort to evolve and help humanity, the world, and God." But if you do want to make use of your life first you have to find someone who knows how to teach you how to do, and how to be.
To understand Reciprocal Maintenance we need to know about three kinds of relationships: 1) What the thing is in itself, 2) from which and to which it evolves, and 3) how it enters into the evolutionary process.
Man consists of everything that preceded man. Two-brained and one-brained living creatures, plants, germs, and earth. Part of mans brain called the "stem" is in fact a remnant of our prehistoric past and is called the reptilian brain. Man feeds off of almost all things below him, including two-brained and one-brained creatures, and many of the plants that these two and one-brained creatures also feed off of.
The next obvious question is "does something feed off man?" Does Reciprocal Maintenance requires that we assume that man does serve the purpose of providing food for something "higher" than man in the cosmos or is man just the end of the food chain?
To be continued.
From:In Search of the Miraculous, p. 64-66
Somebody asked at a meeting: "How should evolution be understood?"
"The evolution of man," G. replied, "can be taken as the development in him of those powers and possibilities which never develop by themselves, that is, mechanically. Only this kind of development, only this kind of growth, marks the real evolution of man. There is, and there can be, no other kind of evolution whatever.
"We have before us man at the present moment of his development. Nature has made him such as he is, and, in large masses, so far as we can see, such he will remain. Changes likely to violate the general requirements of nature can only take place in separate units.
. . .
"In order to understand the law of man's evolution it is necessary to grasp that, beyond a certain point, this evolution is not at all necessary, that is to say, it is not necessary for nature at a given moment in its own development. To speak more precisely: the evolution of mankind corresponds to the evolution of the planets, but the evolution of the planets proceeds, for us, in infinitely prolonged cycles of time. Throughout the stretch of time that human thought can embrace, no essential changes can take place in the life of the planets, and, consequently, no essential changes can take place in the life of mankind.
"Humanity neither progresses nor evolves. What seems to us to be progress or evolution is a partial modification which can be immediately counterbalanced by a corresponding modification in an opposite direction.
"Humanity, like the rest of organic life, exists on earth for the needs and purposes of the earth. And it is exactly as it should be for the earth's requirements at the present time.
"Only thought as theoretical and as far removed from fact as modem European thought could have conceived the evolution of man to be possible apart from surrounding nature, or have regarded the evolution of man as a gradual conquest of nature. This is quite impossible. In living, in dying, in evolving, in degenerating, man equally serves the purposes of nature — or, rather, nature makes equal use, though perhaps for different purposes, of the products of both evolution and degeneration.
And, at the same time, humanity as a whole can never escape from nature, for, even in struggling against nature man acts in conformity with her purposes. The evolution of large masses of humanity is opposed to nature's purposes. The evolution of a certain small percentage may be in accord with nature's purposes. Man contains within him the possibility of evolution. But the evolution of humanity as a whole, that is, the development of these possibilities in all men, or in most of them, or even in a large number of them, is not necessary for the purposes of the earth or of the planetary world in general, and it might, in fact, be injurious or fatal. There exist, therefore, special forces (of a planetary character) which oppose the evolution of large masses of humanity and keep it at the level it ought, to be.
"For instance, the evolution of humanity beyond a certain point, or, to speak more correctly, above a certain percentage, would be fatal for the moon. The moon at present feeds on organic life, on humanity. Humanity is a part of organic life; this means that humanity is food for the moon. If all men were to become too intelligent they would not want to be eaten by the moon.
"But, at the same time, possibilities of evolution exist, and they may be developed in separate individuals with the help of appropriate knowledge and methods. Such development can take place only in the interests of the man himself against, so to speak, the interests and forces of the planetary world. The man must understand this: his evolution is necessary only to himself. No one else is interested in it. And no one is obliged or intends to help him. On the contrary, the forces which oppose the evolution of large masses of humanity also oppose the evolution of individual men. A man must outwit them. And one man can outwit them, humanity cannot. You will understand later on that all these obstacles are very useful to a man; if they did not exist they would have to be created intentionally, because it is by overcoming obstacles that man develops those qualities he needs.
"This is the basis of the correct view of human evolution. There is no compulsory, mechanical evolution. Evolution is the result of conscious struggle. Nature does not need this evolution; it does not want it and struggles against it. Evolution can be necessary only to man himself when he realizes his position, realizes the possibility of changing this position, realizes that he has powers that he does not use, riches that he does not see. And, in the sense of gaining possession of these powers and riches, evolution is possible. But if all men, or most of them, realized this and desired to obtain what belongs to them by right of birth, evolution would again become impossible. What is possible for individual man is impossible for the masses.
"The advantage of the separate individual is that he is very small and that, in the economy of nature, it makes no difference whether there is one mechanical man more or less. We can easily understand this correlation of magnitudes if we imagine the correlation between a microscopic cell and our own body. The presence or absence of one cell will change nothing in the life of the body. We cannot be conscious of it, and it can have no influence on the life and functions of the organism. In exactly the same way a separate individual is too small to influence the life of the cosmic organism to which he stands in the same relation (with regard to size) as a cell stands to our own organism. And this is precisely what makes his 'evolution' possible; on this are based his 'possibilities.'
"In speaking of evolution it is necessary to understand from the outset that no mechanical evolution is possible. The evolution of man is the evolution of his consciousness. And 'consciousness' cannot evolve unconsciously. The evolution of man is the evolution of his will, and 'will' cannot evolve involuntarily. The evolution, of man is the evolution of his power of doing, and 'doing' cannot be the result of things which 'happen.'
"People do not know what man is. They have to do with a very complex machine, far more complex than a railway engine, a motorcar, or an aeroplane — but they know nothing, or almost nothing, about the construction, working, or possibilities of this machine; they do not even understand its simplest functions, because they do not know the purpose of these functions. They vaguely imagine that a man should learn to control his machine, just as he has to learn to control a railway engine, a motorcar, or an aeroplane, and that incompetent handling of the human machine is just as dangerous as incompetent handling of any other complex machine. Everybody understands this in relation to an aeroplane, a motorcar, or a railway engine.
But it is very rarely that anyone takes this into account in relation to man in general or to himself in particular. It is considered right and legitimate to think that nature has given men the necessary knowledge of their machine. And yet men understand that an instinctive knowledge of the machine is by no means enough. Why do they study medicine and make use of its services? Because, of course, they realize they do not know their machine. But they do not suspect that it can be known much better than science knows it; they do not suspect that then it would be possible to get quite different work out of it."