There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies,
but the brightness of the heavenly is one kind
and that of the earthly another. The brightness of the sun is one kind,
the brightness of the moon another,
and the brightness of the stars another….
So also is the resurrection of the dead.
It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious.
It is sown weak; it is raised powerful. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one … As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly,
and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one,
we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.
- 1 Corinthians 15:40-44, 48-49
We now move to the next section of our curriculum, Cosmology – a brief look at the Universe, all creation, and our place and relationship to it. To begin, we start with the great teaching of the Ray of Creation, essentially Gurdjieff's creation myth, embedded with layers of meaning and understanding – a map on many scales. Studying a map like this – just as taking in the impression of an image of a nebula – can be a means of Self-remembering through first conscious shock, because we are looking at ourselves and creation in a whole new way.
"Out of the Absolute come a very great number, perhaps an infinite number of Rays of Creation. Looking down one of these, [namely, our own], we see that out of the Absolute emanate all possible systems or worlds, and from all worlds come all suns, our sun, the planets in our solar system, our planet, the earth, and finally, the moon. These steps in the Ray of Creation differ in the number of laws under which they operate. At the level of the Absolute there is only one law, the unity of the will of creation; in the next world there are three orders of laws; in the next, six; in the next, twelve. On our earth there are 48 orders of laws under which we must live. The only place in the Ray of Creation in which it would be more difficult to strive for liberation would be the moon, which is governed by 96 orders of laws.
"The will of the Absolute is manifest only on the level of all worlds, which it creates directly. The plan or pattern created at that level proceeds mechanically, level after level, until it reaches the very end of the Ray of Creation which is, in our case, the moon. Because we live under 48 orders of laws we are very far from the will of the Absolute. If we could free ourselves from half of those laws we would be one step closer, and if we could reduce the number of laws we live under to only twelve we would be still closer. Moving toward the Absolute by liberating oneself, stage by stage, from the mechanical laws constraining us is the path of self-realization.
"…[T]he matter from which everything is made exists in differing degrees of density. The seven steps in the Ray of Creation may be thought of as the seven levels or orders of materiality, each differing in the rate of vibration; the Absolute vibrates most rapidly and is least dense, and the levels below it become more dense and slower in rate of vibration until the moon, the slowest and densest place on our ray, is reached. Of these orders of matter the finer permeate the denser and courser ones. Thus everything around us and familiar to us is in fact permeated with all the levels of matter that exist, including the Absolute.
"… [quoting Ouspensky] 'Man is … a miniature universe; in him are all the matters of which the universe consists; the same forces, the same laws that govern the life of the universe, operate in him; therefore in studying man we can study the whole world, just as in studying the world we can study man.'"
- Kathleen Speeth, The Gurdjieff Work
Ilia Delio says "Creation is evolution and evolution is creation" and the Ray of Creation describes both. It describes great, interconnected spectrums of unmanifest and manifest, energy and matter, the macrocosm and the microcosm, with the relative density of laws affecting every particle and form and level of being.
A corollary in today's world of the Ray of Creation might be the diagrams of the Big Bang, where we can also see the unmanifest become manifest as increasing complexity. In fact, Ilia Delio writes this in the beginning of her book, Christ in Evolution: "In light of what the new science tells us, [the book of Genesis] might begin something like this: 'In the beginning was God, filled with power and mystery, and God spoke one Word, and the Word exploded into a tiny, hot, dense ball of matter that gave rise to forces and fields, quarks and particles, all joined together like a single strand of thread."
She goes on to say:
"[E]volution is the way life proceeds in the universe. From the simplest structures to complex unions, the emergent properties of life show coherence and unity as life unfolds with increased complexity. … The most fundamental shift in our understanding of the cosmos is the move from a vision of a universe launched essentially in its present form by the hand of the creator at the beginning of time to a vision of the cosmos as a dynamic, unfolding chemical process, immensely large in both space and time. … Evolution helps us realize that God works through the chaos of creation and is less concerned with imposing design on processes than providing nature with opportunities to participate in its own creation."
Of course, Big Bang diagrams do not identify a Source or Creator. What the Ray of Creation makes clear is that once there was a "let there be" from the Absolute, all creation is now and forever imbued with a divine spark, a divine DNA at every level of existence. It is usually depicted this way in the Ray diagram (see below), where we see that 3 – the Trinity – is present at every level of creation, albeit more densely hidden as the orders of laws increase.
Other teachings and implications from the Ray of Creation:
"[The Ray of Creation] is a vast distilling machine to extract the finer from the courser. … [In it], the higher forms the lower so that, if the lower seeks transformation, the higher is there awaiting it. This is one reason why it is a good thing to ponder the Ray often in one's inner thoughts. The Ray is a series of transformations of the finer into the coarser, from the highest to the lowest." (Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, "The Enneagram," Vol. 3, pp. 431, 434)
"[T]he Universe is a vast living coordinated Organism … and nothing is independent and isolated. Everything is created and knit together from the heights to the depths of the Universe by the double action of the Law of Three and the Law of Seven." (Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, "The Law of Seven, Part VIII" Vol. 1, pp. 132-33). Modern astrophysicists have provided new ways of talking about these ancient ideas, which are useful to explore further on one's own.
"What it is necessary to grasp is that creation necessarily implies laws, and this arises from the very fact that three forces are necessary for any manifestation. There can be no creation without laws and this means that every created thing is inevitably under laws – that is, nothing created is free. … [W]e can see that if we could ascend [the Ray], we would pass under fewer and fewer laws – that is, we would gain more and more freedom. Whereas if we were to descend, we would pass under more and more restrictions and so be less and less free. … Man, as he is, is at a certain level in the Ray. But he is created in such a way that he can change his level upwards or downwards and so pass under fewer laws or more laws.
"The next point to consider is that the laws, or forces, or wills, or influences, coming down the Ray have different sources. … That is to say, a being born in World 48 is under 48 laws, or orders of laws, but these laws are not of the same quality – some come from higher levels and some from lower levels. A man, if he knows how, can put himself under one kind of influences or another kind." (Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, "The Law of Three, Part V," Vol 1, pp. 115-117)
We can see that the Earth appears in the Ray and might wonder: Where is humanity? An upcoming email on the side octave of the sun will explore our God-given potential of self-development and further mysteries of incarnation in a Christified universe.
The law of unity is all-embracing.
Everything in the universe is One, the difference is only of scale;
in the infinitely small we shall find
the same laws as in the infinitely great. As above, so below.
- G.I. Gurdjieff
"We are situated in a web of life. The same currents that run through our human blood also run through the swirling galaxies and the myriad of life-forms that pervade this planet: one and the same evolutionary current runs through all – a single self-transcending current of all-pervading energy that brings new life out of seeming catastrophe. This evolutionary current has the inherent capacity to overcome even the biggest obstacles in a sweeping advance from the subatomic particles to human creativity, from hydrogen gas to the human neocortex. From a theological perspective, this means the emergence of human life is contingent on more than evolution of the physical world alone; there is an inner pressure for spiritual transcendence. …
"God is profoundly present to all things, and God is expressed in all things, so that each creature is a symbol and a sacrament of God's presence and trinitarian life. The world is created as a means of God's self-revelation so that, like a mirror or footprint, it might lead us to love and praise the creator. We are created to read the book of creation so that we may know the Author of Life. This book of creation is an expression of who God is and is meant to lead humans to what it signifies, namely, the eternal Trinity of dynamic, self-diffusive love."
- Ilia Delio, Christ in Evolution
- Study the various diagrams of the Ray of Creation and read through this email and/or various Commentaries on the topic. In wonder, allow the impressions to land in mind, heart and body. What questions arise? What is awakened within?
- In daily life, practice scale: How can I see life from a higher level in the Ray?
Attend tonight's class: 7pm Central Time via Zoom only.