Before moving forward, I’d like to pause and summarize what was covered previously. We have been talking about two sides of a human being. On the one side, which we call the outer person, are the familiar concepts of knowledge, truth, personality, ego, the horizontal timeline of life, often referred to as World 48. On the inner side of a human being we have Good, Essence (also called true self), higher realms, World 24, what Jesus/Yeshua refers to as the Kingdom.
The bridge between the two we might call the vertical scale of Being. It’s important to remember that we are talking about inner transformation. Maurice has said that humans are out of balance—we value knowledge too much related to our level of Being. We heard that understanding lies in the union of knowledge and Being. Maurice talks about valuation: the Teachings can exist in everyday life, merely as personality—knowledge in the memory. Or the Teachings can exist as a higher realm—born from emotional valuation leading to understanding and the transformation of Being.
The Teachings can become so valued and important that they begin to have the intensity of meaning belonging to even higher realms. False self will begin to collapse, and a person will become “as a little child.”[i] Maurice says that the purpose of the Wisdom Teachings of all esoteric Christianity is to raise our level of Being. The remainder of this article is devoted to Maurice’s teachings on raising the level of Being—what work might enable that change in Being, and what understanding might result.
Valuation of the Teachings
The Teachings Are Not Added to Life, They Are Life
In Volume 3 of the Commentaries, Maurice gives three talks on the Gurdjieff idea of a Work Octave. If you are not familiar with the Gurdjieff idea of “octaves,” perhaps think of this as the process of doing something, from beginning to conclusion—the order in which manifestation happens. This is another cosmic process, with scale and levels echoing down through creation. Whenever a new direction or task is undertaken, even in our inner psychological world, a new octave begins.
Maurice makes an important assertion: the first note, or first step, is passive. In our example, which is beginning the process of work on Being, Maurice is saying that instead of beginning with an action, we are beginning with something passive. This passive note is valuation of the Teachings, and the valuation must be strong before we can get much further along the path. “I want to live from Good” is a statement of valuation—and Maurice is saying that the starting place for me to live from Good is not active doing something but is passive valuing.
Why would this be so? Because doing is the territory of our outer intellect/knowledge/ego, and valuing is the territory of the inner Being, our Essence, our emotional center—the heart. It is the inner where we want to work, and the path to higher Being goes through the heart. Maurice asserts that one of the supreme objectives of our work is to awaken the Emotional Center—that part of a person where the heart resides, the heart as an organ of spiritual perception. Our valuation of the Work must become emotional. Maurice refers to the impure state of the Emotional Center, calling it a “marvelous source of negative emotions and general unhappiness.”[ii]
Purifying the Emotions
So, we work— “real, practical, hard work—against negative emotions, by non-identifying with them, not consenting to them, not believing them, separating the feeling of ‘I’ from them.”[iii] Realizing the truth of the Teachings and awakening the Emotional Center makes it possible to continue work on Being.
Maurice states that if the Emotional Center “begins to work aright, it marvelously supplies us with what we lack and gives an inner source of force that I cannot explain in any words.”[iv] We work on purifying the emotions, to polish the lens of the heart from identification, judgement, and other forms of negativity. “Blessed are the pure in heart—in these evangelical words is expressed the idea of the purification of the emotions.”[v]
In the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, there is a passage from Dialogue One, with Yeshua speaking to his students after his resurrection, before he leaves the physical realm. For me, in this short and intense statement Yeshua describes the situation we are talking about here—the imbalanced emphasis on knowledge and personality, the need to work on Being, and the pathway through the heart:
Attachment to matter gives birth to passion without an Image of itself because it is drawn from that which is contrary to its higher nature. The result is that confusion and disturbance resonate throughout one’s whole being. It is for this reason that I told you to find contentment at the level of the heart, and if you are discouraged, take heart in the presence of the Image of your true nature. Those with ears, let them hear this.[vi]
Maurice gives advice on how to value the Teachings: The quality of our effort is of more use than mere quantity of effort. Our work is based on inner sincerity. “One effort arising out of inner sincerity and unshakable valuation of the [Teachings] will produce a change of Being and shift a person’s position in the universe.”[vii]
Restated in another quote: “The [Teachings] cannot be a function of life. I say that valuation is love. You must love the [Teachings] to feel them. A change in the quality of the love (valuation) always represents a change in the level of Being.”[viii] “If you do not value the Teachings as one of the most important things you have ever met in your life, the Teachings will simply pass into your ordinary level of Being and will become twisted and distorted and useless.”[ix]
Maurice relates valuation to some of the parables/Logia, such as the merchant who found the one pearl and gave up everything for it, or the man who found a treasure hidden in a field and sold everything he had to buy that field.[x]
A true human being can be compared to a wise fisherman
who casts his net into the sea and draws it up from below full of small fish.
Hidden among them is one large, exceptional fish which he seizes immediately, throwing back all the rest without a second thought. Whoever has ears let them understand this.[xi]
In all three examples of valuation—the pearl, the treasure, and the exceptional fish—something was given up in exchange for the newly discovered value. We will return to this idea later.
“The [Teachings] lie in parts that have to be joined together by means of understanding (remember understanding combines knowledge with Being). If all these parts are fitted together by understanding and valuation, the [Teachings] form a new and organized apparatus in you. The [Teachings] are actually a whole and complete organism which is given little by little … but the whole of the [Teachings] must be formed in a man. This can be thought of as another body if the man lives the [Teachings]. Then it will control the man he was.”[xii]
When you give birth to that which is within yourself,
what you bring forth will save you.
If you possess nothing within, that absence will destroy you.[xiii]
The Teachings will gradually, according to our inner valuation, give us force. We separate ourselves from life and its events so that we are not eaten at every moment by life.
“This work is about practicing non-identifying.”[xiv] Maurice notes the connection to a teaching of the Gospel: it is as if we are given a seed—if a person has valuation of the Teachings, the seed will grow and more will be given. If a person does not value the Teachings, even the seed will be taken away.
To the one who has something in hand, more will be given.
To the one whose hands hold nothing,
Even that “nothing” will be taken away.[xv]
Your Being Attracts Your Life
There is a phrase that appears in the index of the Psychological Commentaries seven times: Your Being attracts your life. This phrase may be very familiar to students of Gurdjieff, but for me it was new and startling—one of those quotes that floats in from a higher realm and immediately captures attention and valuation.
Maurice begins with an intellectual explanation of this as a starting point: If our Being is represented by a point on the vertical scale of Being, then our life will be represented by the horizontal timeline passing through that point. If the vertical point of our Being changes, so too will the horizontal timeline of our life.[xvi]
I can also see how changing that vertical point of Being might cause a sense of disruption or turmoil as the familiar landscape of one’s life changes. Yeshua could be describing this situation in Logion 2:
If you are searching, you must not stop until you find.
When you find, however, you will become troubled.
Your confusion will give way to wonder.
In wonder you will reign over all things.
Your sovereignty will be your rest.[xvii]
Related to this idea of life in relationship with level of Being, Maurice offers a short talk on prayer—on the nature of the requests we make of the Universe and the responses we receive.[xviii] Once again, knowledge and Being enter the picture.
We might ask intellectually for one thing, while our level of Being is asking for something else, through its negative states. Maurice says that our full request (prayer) contains both thought and will—thought coming from knowledge and will coming from desire or valuation. We only will what we desire, what we value. Our Being attracts our life—and attracts the response from prayer.
I think that prayer can be formulated thoughts spoken to God, or can be our level of Being, or what we wish and value our level of Being to become. Maurice adds that “you must not wait until you have the force to do something, but must act as if you have it already, and then you will attract it. To wait until you have the strength and understanding to do something makes it impossible to do it.”[xix] One more paradox!
The theme of horizontal time and vertical Being can be compared to Yeshua’s continuous invitation to stand and enter his Kingdom—that Kingdom being internal, in a place beyond the temporal daily timeline. Maurice states that “The passage of time does not transform a thing. All things get older in time, but this is not transformation. Transformation does not lie along the horizontal line, but is a necessity in the vertical line.”[xx]
Maurice and Yeshua are speaking the same language in this regard. Maurice continues: “where the horizontal line cuts the vertical line marks the point of our level of Being, and what we experience in time is the result of our level of Being.”[xxi] This illuminates some statements I’ve heard Cynthia Bourgeault say, and have long held in myself, waiting for more understanding:
His student said to him, “So, tell us, then, what our end and destiny will be?”
“Have you already discovered your origin, so that you are now free to seek after your end? It is only at your source that you will find your destiny.
Blessed are those who come to stand in their place of origination,
for it is there that they will know their end—never tasting death.”[xxiv]
To read the other posts in this series, follow these links
Part 1: Living from Good: Hearing the Voices of Yeshua and Maurice Nicoll, Part 1
Part 3: https://wisdomwaypoints.org/2023/11/living-from-good-hearing-the-voices-of-yeshua-and-maurice-nicoll-part-3/
[i] Commentaries v1p58.
[ii] Commentaries v3p1081.
[iii] Commentaries v3p1081.
[iv] Commentaries v3p1081.
[v] Commentaries v3p1083.
[vi] The Luminous Gospels p66.
[vii] Commentaries v1p206.
[viii] Commentaries v2p525-26.
[ix] Commentaries v2p729.
[x] Commentaries v3p1078.
[xi] The Luminous Gospels p11.
[xii] Commentaries v1p217.
[xiii] The Luminous Gospels p31.
[xiv] Commentaries v4p1287.
[xv] The Luminous Gospels p21.
[xvi] Commentaries v1p101.
[xvii] The Luminous Gospels p9.
[xviii] Commentaries v1p154.
[xix] Commentaries v1p158.
[xx] Commentaries v1p105.
[xxi] Commentaries v1p106.
[xxii] Commentaries v2p419, v2p564, v3p812, v4p1311, v5p1528, v5p1714, v5p1760.
[xxiv] The Luminous Gospels p15.
Bill and Sarah recently closed their Gallery of Smoky Mountain images after 15 years in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. They currently live in the mountains of western North Carolina, in the small town of Brevard. They devote each day to their Wisdom journey, in whatever form that takes.
All images courtesy of Bill Britten