To all my beloveds,
He is Risen! And has invited us now, in the spirit of St. Peter (“where I am going you cannot follow me now, but soon…”) to hit the trail. The bushwhacking is done. The path has been cleared. Time to get underway.
For these forty days that we Christians celebrate as Ascensiontide, he appears among us shining forth from his resurrection body—or as one might call it in Gurdjieffian language, his second or kesdjan body. (And yes, it’s probably a way more subtle body than that, more likely his third or fourth body), but it is at least his second body, and through it he lives and moves among his beloveds, “in the world, but not of it.” He eats, shares final teachings, socializes, bilocates, walks through walls, gives each one what he or she needs to move into the world in completely unconflicted unity of inner seeing and outer doing. And it is their own nascent second bodies that receive this gift and are fed and empowered.
Christianity was literally founded in the second body, by second bodies on fire and fully animated with the light of truth and truth of lightness that they received from their Risen Lord during those forty days. The Kingdom of Heaven, altering the world’s causality “from within” by the very force of its higher coherence and potency.
Each of you also has a nascent second body—in many of you much farther developed than you are comfortable admitting. I know, I know, it sounds conceited and misguided, like claiming to be “permanently enlightened.” But it’s actually way simpler and more humble than that and, god knows, more serviceable. We are INTENDED to be well acclimated to it by the time we’re rounding toward the second half of life, and it is through this body—and only through this body—that the real causal energies—faith, hope, love, gentleness, joy, peace, courage, conscience, compassion, integrity, forgiveness —enter and change our world.
My invitation to you all this Eastertide (and okay, it’s a challenge more than an invitation, and one to which I’m binding myself as well) is to acknowledge, explore, and live out of your second or kesdjan body these next forty days. Get to know it and BE it. Live like you are in World 24, not in World 48*: obedient to its causality, open to its grace. That is the “path between the worlds” that Jesus bushwhacked for us during these three days in the heart of the earth. It will never be more open and assisted than it is now. Almost like a moving walkway.
That breaks down into a few simple (not easy) practices:
- For these forty days, fast completely from the story of yourself. In the end, it’s mostly irrelevant anyway, and its heavy-handed, ploddingly linear causality steals the being-energy you need to stay present at this more subtle level of selfhood. To paraphrase my cellphone, it’s like an app constantly running in the background that winds up draining the battery.
- You will taste your more subtle, World 24 self directly as you learn to remain consistently within your atmosphere. Don’t let yourself be drawn out of your atmosphere, not for a single breath. The place you will always be drawn back to is at best World 48. Usually lower.
- Rest from thinking, analyzing, strategizing—and above all, introspection. Put away the journal for forty days; it is a World 48 cul de sac. What you are to receive cannot be “understood”; it must be directly seen.
- Practice three-centered awareness every day, balancing out your life patterns to include all three centers in everything you do—i.e., not simply sequentially, like three hours of headwork followed by three hours in the garden, but three hours of headwork fully in the body followed.by three hours in the garden not zoning out.
- Pay attention to the movement of the subtle body within you—the kesdjan flow within your outer being body—by daily work with at least one of the Gurdjieff exercises: not ALL of them. Spiritual gluttony of any kind will drag you right back into your World 48 self, and that is exactly what we are trying to dissolve here (or at least, make it a bit more transparent, so as to see through it).
- As much as possible, fast from counting. Do not count breaths, do not count calories, do not count the days left in Ascensiontide. Counting is so, so World 48! It will drag you right back into the deficient mental structure. Do all that you do either through simple, unquantified obedience to the aim you have set, or (when and if it descends) in that rush of timeless spaciousness from that other intensity. But do it, one way or another.
Eat, drink, socialize, be in the world as you see fit. It has been redeemed; it can be rejoiced in. But keep on your toes in accordance with your aim. Do not let “enjoyment” become an excuse for lowering your state of being, any more than you let hypervigilance and spiritual pride accomplish the same dirty trick from the other end.
In forty days (notice how counting is so deeply embedded in the mental/rational underpinnings of our Christian “spiritual” ascesis?) the moving walkway comes to an end and you will have another ten-day stretch (Ascension to Pentecost), without training wheels, to see if you can hold your imaginal shape.
Good luck. Happy Easter. Off you go….
* World 24 and 48: For a description and map of the worlds, see Eye of the Heart: A Spiritual Journey into the Imaginal Realm by Cynthia Bourgeault
You can find a guided recording of the Atmosphere Exercise here.
Cynthia offered our Wisdom community some additional thoughts and responded to questions on this recorded Zoom gathering: Cynthia’s Eastertide Invitation: The Community Conversation Continues – Event Recording.
Please feel free to share your lingering thoughts, questions, and comments below, for the community to ponder together.