My third book, Precessional Time and the Evolution of Consciousness is my slimmest (surely a virtue) about how we work with ideas. It has its own conjunctions and disjunctions; where conjunctions are discovered meanings and disjunctions are changes in direction. The book is dominated with the cyclic metaphors of the
Tone Circle of 1st Millennium BC tuning theory (Ernest McClain),
The narrative structure called Ring Composition, found within ancient texts (Mary Douglas) and
The Enneagram brought to the West by George Gurdjieff.
A key power of such cyclic structures is that they belong to a species of Media in which consciousness is both portrayed as a process and freed from the normalising identification with an idea often found in our World View (or paradigm about how “the world” – our environment – works.) As Gurdjieff in particular made clear, identification is part of the world process over which the human mind has to struggle, just like the hero in a mythic tale – within a ring composition – must struggle (as protagonist of the narrative) with an antagonistic force that binds his or her struggle as a demon, dragon, tyrant, etc. preventing a golden fleece, holy grail or other treasure being recovered (Joseph Campbell).
It appears the ancient world had unreasonably accurate knowledge of the size of the earth and its shape: Analysis of ancient monuments reveals an exact estimate for the circumference of the mean Earth, a spherical version of the Earth, un-deformed by it spinning once a day. Half of this circumference, the north-south meridian, was known to be about 12960 miles (5000 geographical Greek feet of 1.01376 ft), a number which (in those Greek units) is then 60^5 = 777,600,000 geographical Greek inches. One has to ask, how such numbers are to be found very accurately within a planet formed accidentally during the early solar system?
John Michell’s booklet on Jerusalem found (in its Addendum) that the walls of the Temple Mount, extended for the rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon, was a scaled down model of the mean-earth Meridian in its length. These walls are still 5068.8 feet long, which is the length of a Greek geographical mile. This unit of measure divides the meridian into 12960 parts, each a geographical Greek mile.
It is said that we are transiting from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius in a backward precession through the 12 zodiacal signs. Examining the numbers that define these Ages is one of the core themes of this book. The basic premise is that stories – some of them handed down orally since Neolithic times – enable us to identify the inner spiritual aspects within our material world and participate in the evolution of human consciousness foretold by ancient myths. The author is greatly influenced by G.I. Gurdjieff and his Law of Seven, albeit with revisions of his own.
Readers such as myself, for whom mathematics is not their strong suit, need not be daunted by the many sets of figures presented in this book. They are important as supporting evidence for the theories presented, and their comprehension is made easier by the use of diagrams. Moreover, the fractions and ratios are often related to musical octaves and the Do-Re-Mi music-reading system.
Gurdjieff first presented his ideas to groups in pre-revolutionary Russia. Amongst his carefully chosen students it was the habit to reconstruct talks and diagrams as much as possible, an endeavour that gave us a textbook of Gurdjieff’s ideas called In Search of the Miraculous (P.D. Ouspensky, 1950). This early form of the teaching wasradically revised and extended by Gurdjieff, now as an author, during the 1920s, producing All and Everything whose part one was Beelzebub’sTales to his Grandson (G.I. Gurdjieff, 1950). Prior to drawing this diagram just after February 1917, Gurdjieff had been presenting ideas about transformation of energies, human and cosmic, using the musical theory surrounding the octave of eight notes. The Diagram of Everything Living was “still another system of classification… in an altogether different ratio of octaves… [that] leads us beyond the limits of what we call ‘living beings’ both higher [and lower] than living beings. It deals not with individuals but with classes in a very wide sense.”
Published in DuVersity Online Magazine “Views” May 2014
John G. Bennett received a very unusual teaching from G.I. Gurdjieff, his early teacher, and from an early student of these ideas, P.D. Ouspensky, who acted as mentor during Bennett’s early development of the ideas then seen in his Dramatic Universe and other books.
The classic form of Gurdjieff’s ideas (c.1916-8) were fortunately reconstructed from student notes from lectures and eventually piblished in Ouspensky’s 1950 book In Search of the Miraculous. What emerged was a vision of everything that existed and how this Whole structure we call the Universe was layered into systems of differing size and how each of these scales of structure had its own type of operation including an intelligence which enables it to do things within its own world and organise its environment.
The commonly held idea of the universe, defined by our scientists, corresponds with structures of distinctive scale, such as galaxies, stars, planets, the Earth’s biosphere and planetary moons. In contrast, human kind used to attribute intelligence and being to celestial objects yet today, there is almost no scientific tolerance for large scale structures having an innate intelligence or being.
Yet it is hard not to attribute an intelligence within large cosmic structures when confronted with the fortuitous structure of the universe in producing life, and life with a degree of intelligence such as ourselves. Also, one has to ask: Why do these structures exist if not to create the conditions within which, at least, human beings can live in such a beautiful and benign environment as our biosphere?