The Three Forces
Every authentic spiritual transmission has as one of its principal understandings that the universe contains and is run with only three forces, which braid together in more and more complex levels to create the phenomenological universe.
In Sanskrit these are called the Gunas -- a word which can be translated pretty well as "tendencies." In the Christian faith, this same idea as formulated as The Holy Trinity.
In the Chinese model, there appear at first glance to be only Yin and Yang, the pair of opposites, but they too understand fully about the three forces. The third force is called the great ultimate limit or Tai Ji, and it appears as the backwards S in the famous yin yang symbol which is also called the symbol of the fishes.
In each of these formulations, it is easy to see the pair of opposites, and the other force is much more difficult to see. As Mr. Gurdjieff put it, we are third force blind.
Let's look at the Christian model: no one knows where the concept of the Holy Trinity came from or where it started, but seemed to arrive full grown. And I'm going to tell you plain and simple that the Christian Trinity came from the Egyptian understanding. After all, they built a lot of things with triangles -- I think they are called pyramids?
In the Trinity we have Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The Father is the unknowable Lord of all -- the Creator. The Son represents the creation -- the manifest universe, and the Holy Ghost represents the love that exists between them. It's not hard to see that in a relationship between two, the love that exists between them is pretty damn invisible to the naked eye.
The most important model of the three forces is the one contained in the Hindu branch of knowledge -- more specifically in the philosophical viewpoint known as the Samkya, a word meaning enumeration.
The Tantras (a word the root of which means warp and woof -- the weave of the universe --also a series of writings containing details about tantric practices and thinkings) say that the root of error is the number 1 -- that one is the number of delusion. This doesn't make for a very good prognosis on monotheism and monotheistic religions, but try to follow the logic:
The Creator is primordial, being before number.
One cannot know itself; it therefore has to create a second. Then the two can know each other, and this knowledge forms a third element. It stands between them but is completely separate (and completely invisible); therefore the first number is three.
Mr. Gurdjieff calls these three forces or tendencies by multiple names, but the gist remains the same, and it is the same gist as in the Samkya. It is so crystal clear that Mr. Gurdjieff is teaching the Samkya, that by the time we are finished, you will understand exactly what I mean by that.
Mr. Gurdjieff calls these three forces active, passive and neutralizing. Sometimes he prefers to call them active, resisting and reconciling. In Sanskrit they are called Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. I'd better explain these terms. In an ordinary explanation -- something like a grade school version of a subject which could be a doctorate dissertation, Rajas and Tamas could be considered as the pair of opposites; Rajas stands for activity and Tamas stands for inertia. Sattva is the balance point between them and is considered luminescent.
In the kindergarten version of the Gunas which most people follow, Sattva is more highly valued than either Rajas or Tamas. This is idiotic. One needs both activity as well as resistance. If one had no Tamas, matter would have no mass, and if you had no Rajas, everything would be dead and unmoving. In either condition you would have no Sattva, because Sattva is the balance between Rajas and Tamas. In fact, you can't have one without having all three. That's the whole idea, and there is no third created by the other two -- all three have equal stature. For any of them to exist, they all exist.
Now, in addition to these descriptions I am going to add a more unusual one: we are going to call these three forces by the following names. It doesn't matter which force gets attached to which name. I doubt that you knew the names a half an hour ago so what difference does it make what we call them now?
We are going to call them centrifugal, centripetal and revolving. All three forces we are going to associate with the names of the three Hindu gods. I could attach them to the Christian Trinity but the Hindu application, which is not really Hindu anyway but quite a bit more ancient -- the famous perennial wisdom which is called the Sanatana Dharma, is more fun.
The centrifugal force, that is, the force which acted during the explosion which we call the Big Bang, and which tends to make things disintegrate, we will call Shiva -- God of creation and destruction, life and death.
The centripetal force, that is, the force which tends to make things coalesce and become what they are, and that which helps things to stay what they are, we will call by the name Vishnu.
Between these two forces, one pushing out and one pulling in, somehow somewhere, there was introduced a little spin, which turned into the third force, which is the source of all action, and which is a revolving force in the dance between the two other forces. Although it is invisible, it is responsible for all action, movement, change; because otherwise the two other forces of centripetal and centrifugal would cancel each other out. This force we will call Brahma.
Now, it is really important to see that these three forces or tendencies are real; that they act in the real world of phenomenon and that they effect us all the time without us noticing it.
I will give you an example of how I am under the influence of the three forces:
My name is Richard. I have a personality constellation and behavior and behavioral patterns and I have some bad habits I would like to change, but for whatever reason, I don't seem to be able to change these bad habits. This means that I am under the centripetal influence called Vishnu, who in his coalescing and stabilizing role, acts like gravity to keep me as I am. Let's be plain about this. These forces are as real as gravity, and when you know where to look for them you can see their actions quite easily. So I wish to change but the power of stability -- of centripetal force, of Vishnu, works to keep me as I am.
As I go through time, I find forces in my way which demand that I change. I would rather stay as I am -- it is more comfortable and I find change to be unpleasant. But there is a force which is as real as any other force which is making demands on me to change. It is a centrifugal force which at some time in the future will act strongly enough that I will so to say, come apart at the seams. That will be called the physical death of the organism, or a least of the food sheath section -- what Gurdjieff calls the planetary body (perhaps ought to be better known as the Earth body -- because there can be another body which would be more properly known as the Planetary body). This force we will call Shiva.
Then there is an invisible force -- a third force. It is called Brahma. It is the revolving force. The one that makes things have space and time -- that makes things change but remain the same -- like the Earth which has a new day every time it turns but guess what? Every day is the same day. There is no "more than one day." There is no time and there is no space. But we think that there is. That's the action of the third force called the Brahma -- to make us think that we are going in a straight line when we are not. This is the reason why we are said to be "third force blind."
You may find it interesting that in Hinduism there are devotees of Shiva and there are devotees of Vishnu, and they like to fight amongst themselves as to who has the better God, but there are no devotees of Brahma. No devotees of Brahma. As you should be able to see from above, the revolving force is invisible and it requires training to recognize it.
I hope you've enjoyed this refreshing break from chemistry. We will return to chemistry, and we will be touching on many other subjects, because Mr. Gurdjieff said the following, and I agree with him:
"In order to know everything, a man needs to know very little, but in order to know that very little, he needs to know a great deal."
For fear of boring you I will apologize first, and then I'm going to repeat myself:
This teaching -- this exposition -- this explication of ideas, is practical. It is not philosophical theory. Let's review the only two concepts which we have so far presented.
One: Everything you look at, touch, hear, see, taste, smell or otherwise experience might as well be called Hydrogen, since hydrogen amounts for 88% of the universe. Start calling everything you look at, smell, and taste, hear or feel, a Hydrogen. No matter what it is -- it is a Hydrogen.
Two: There are Three Forces at the bottom of everything, working at every level of the universe, and these three forces account for every law that you are under, all the way from gravity to getting a parking ticket. Start looking for these three forces in everything that happens to you or that you see. These three forces are:
Centripetal: things are trying to stay as they are.
Centrifugal: things are trying to change
Revolving: there is the experience of time and space.
It really couldn't be any more simple. Enjoy your study. I'll talk to you soon.