NOTE: This post contains a detailed proposal I submitted to the Reading Panel of the 2016 All and Everything International Conference to take place at the end of April in Salem, Massachusetts. My submission was accepted and I will be presenting my paper on April 23.
Mr. Gurdjieff said that all possibilities for man come from Above. But what is Above? The idea of Above can have different meanings at different levels. For instance, one of these levels is what is known as the higher worlds and the higher laws governing these worlds. For me personally one of these levels is what we call God. Yes, the God of Religion. I am sure here I am influenced and conditioned by my Catholic upbringing but that is how I am. So, for me the expression “possibilities from Above” translates into “Grace of God.”
Very little has been said about a possible relationship between Beelzebub’s Tales and Grace, as Grace was understood by Saint Augustine in his Treatise on Grace and Free Will and later by the Catholic movement known as Jansenism, in its crash with the Jesuits on the question of Work vs. Grace. As far as I have been able to determine, and I have read most of what has been written about the book, very little has been said on this topic. Of course, it may be implied from the content of this paper that the Living Teaching and the kind of practical work Mr. Gurdjieff brought to humanity, are a form religious teaching or some kind of religion for that matter. However, it is my intention to show that this is not the case and that the teaching can be studied and practiced independently of any religion connotation. All this in spite of the fact that the chapter on Religion in the book, honoring the five Great Messengers sent from Above who initiated the major five religions now known to humanity, is one of the most beautiful chapters.
In order to examine more closely the connection between Beelzebub’s Tales and the Grace from Above, we can take the two pardons granted to Beelzebub by OUR ENDLESSNESS. The first pardon extended only to the descendants of Beelzebub; the second allowed Beelzebub to return to his home in the planet Karatas, a planet near the Center, from which Beelzebub had been exiled. Both pardons came about through the intervention before OUR ENDLESSNESS of two Cosmic Individuals whom Beelzebub had helped one way or another. The first of these two Cosmic Individuals is Archangel Looisos whom Beelzebub had helped in the eradication from Earth of the practice of Sacrificial Offerings. The second Cosmic Individual is the Most Saintly Ashiata Shiemash for whom Beelzebub had done some kind of special work. Here, in relation to the intervention before HIS ENDLESSNESS for the purpose of interceding for the salvation of souls, we can see one particular aspect of the Catholic Teaching in the Hail Mary prayer: “Hail Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the moment of our death.” According to Beelzebub’s Tales we need some form of intervention by a Higher Individual for the attainment of our pardon. But the pardon ultimately comes directly from OUR ENDLESSNESS, from GOD in the form of a Grace from Above. We will also examine the conditions for the passage of the higher being-bodies or souls from Holy Purgatory to the spheres of the Most Holy Sun Absolute. We will show that the most important condition is the sanction of our Most Gracious MAKER-CREATOR.
If the existence of some form of Grace from Above or Grace of God is a reality, as I hope to show, then immediately this raises a very interesting question, namely, why do we need to make efforts? Why the need for conscious labors and intentional suffering as demanded by the practice of the teaching Mr. Gurdjieff introduced? Well, the answer to this question is rather simple. We need to make efforts because there are certain functions and tendencies in our being that we need to clean and/or develop, and for this kind of cleansing or development there is very little God can do for us. It is always up to us. We have to develop certain tendencies and potentialities existing in us by the very same fact of having been born on a planet. It is through the development of these functions that we can serve as helpers to OUR ENDLESSNESS in the administration of the Great Universe. Let us say that the Grace we receive from Above, the Grace of God, is necessary but not sufficient. We have to complete ourselves and for that we need to practice conscious labors and intentional suffering, as the teaching demands. We cannot escape from the actualization of these individual efforts. It may very well be that the alchemists of the middle Ages arrived to the correct formulation. One of their most important principles of living was stated in this formulation: “Ora et Labore.” (“Pray and Work.”).
Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson is a very interesting book. Mr. Gurdjieff claimed that if we put our attention in understanding the whole of Beelzebub, we will have this attention in life. Part of this kind of attention comes from the awakening of the impulse Conscience. The Great Prophet Ashiata Sheimash, in his Legominism concerning the matter of the Terror of the Situation, introduces the idea of becoming a Son of God by acquiring Conscience. He also establishes that the awakening of Conscience in us is only possible through Suffering. I claim that this form of Suffering, which goes beyond what is known as voluntary and intentional suffering, is part of the Grace given to us from Above. In other words we become Sons of God with the help from God. But for that we have to submit ourselves to the Suffering entailed by the awakening of Conscience. Then we become Sons of God and we can alleviate the Sorrow of our COMMON FATHER and help HIM in the administration of the Large Cosmos. This is the central idea of this paper and the one I will elaborate in more details in the final draft of the paper.