The Imperfection of Perfection
When I am working with my musical students on guitar I teach musical theory which is based on very ancient sources – many thousands of years before Pythagoras, whose name means "He who is as a Python" (the snake that kills by squeezing the breath our of it's victim). The basis of this beginning of musical theorem is the concept of Ratio, which is based on the ancient Greek root word Logos.
The word Logos can mean a symbol, such as copyrighted shapes that designate products and companies; Logos can also mean Word, in the sense of a word being an image phenom that is a symbol for something else. It can also be translated into English as the word Ratio/Symbol/Word, which makes the beginning of the Gospel of John all the more interesting, because an equally efficacious beginning might be as follows:
"In the beginning was Ratio, and Ratio was with God, and Ratio was God". This is as fruitful as "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God"
Ratio is defined by the relationships that exist between differing sizes, numbers or shapes. In music, I only need a single string (called a mono chord) to study the ratios of what is known as the Major Scale. Here again we come up against language variants – when I say the major scale I do not mean that there is another scale, because all other scales and chords are developed by means of this one static formula: whole step, whole step, halfstep; whole step, whole step, whole step, halfstep. But this scale interval numbers of 123456 and 7 can start at any pitch so long as they follow the formula WWH, WWWH, WWH, WWWH, WWH, WWWH and so on. On a piano or similar keyboard this is why the black keys come in sets of twos and threes. Now let's return to the word ratio and look at the ratios within the major scale:
1:1 unison, (the tonic) and in perfect agreement with itself – this agreement or agree ability we call consonance, and at the very bottom we have dissonance to the point of what we call noise. The next ratio would be found by stopping the string halfway and allowing only half of the string to sound. This was give us the ratio:
1:2 equivalence, (the octave) and perfectly in agreement with the tonic and sharing its name or designation. Any multiple of two will yield octaves straight up in a vertical line, and always yield even numbers. Then we come upon the next ratio –
2:3 the Dominant (the fifth major scale tone) it is dominant because in a world of unison and equivalence we have no measure, but the dominant is a different tone completely, although it stands in complete agreement with the tonic. Then –
3:4 the Subdominant (the fourth major scale tone). A little bit of arithmetic may help us here; the four is an octave of the two, and one of the threes is above while the other one is below – this is why they are called the Dominant and Subdominant and are also considered perfect in relationship to the tonic.
We have reached the end of the intervals considered perfect, and now I get to ask a rhetorical question: if I state that there is something wrong with "Perfection", what might it be?
The answer is rather simple: Anything that has reached perfection has no reason to change or to move, and is therefore nonexistent. There is nothing in the phenomenological universe we live in that is not subject to change over time as well as in motion relative to all the other factors in the universe. So we need imperfection and asymmetry in order to sustain anything at all. The next ratio is:
4:5 the Mediant (the third major step in the major scale) played along with the tonic it is not perfect. Next we have:
5:6 this is the minor third and contains a good deal of suspicious sorrow when played along with the tonic. We're going to skip the ratios of 6:7 and 7:8 because they are only found within portions of the major scale. The next ratio we find usable is:
8:9 the super tonic (the second major tone in a major scale). It is also what is known as a whole step. Then penultimate, we have the ratio of:
15:16 this is a minor second, or a half-step As the numbers get higher and the notes get closer together they become less and less affable or consonant and more and more dissonant. In the tempered scale that we use in modern music the only more dissonant and ugly combination of notes is found in something called the Tritone, which is also called the Devils Interval, because in the major scale it rests between the perfects of the Fourth and Fifth and is equally three whole steps from the Tonic and it's Octave.
Now if you have followed this simple progression from unison and perfect consonance down to the utmost dissonance, we find that we can utilize these ratios to create what is known as the Major Scale.
1-2-34-5-6-78-2-34-5-6-78 etc. ad infinitum...
Now we should have a look at the words of Jesus as he tells his disciples to "be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect".
The Greek word in the Gospels is 'teleios', which is used 48 times in the New testament, and has multiple meanings, meaning both Perfect or Mature. Certainly Jesus could not have meant Perfect as I have described the Creation, because as we have noted, nothing in the phenomenological universe can be perfect. Anything that was perfect would automatically disappear or become non-existent and this includes the entire Creation.
Mr. Gurdjieff knew this well, as he differentiates the original condition of Creation by the term "Autoegocrat", which means essentially "I govern by myself" – this is a condition which must exist outside of time or space,, or what Mr. Gurdjieff calls "The Mighty Heropass"; the equivalent of the Hindu God Kali, the wrathful goddess who represents the irrevocable destruction of all things through the inexorable movement of time.
And as we have seen through our creation of the major scale by ratio, that a single octave is asymmetrical, which concurs with modern physics in its examination of the big Bang which describes the creation of a minute ratio differential between matter and antimatter, where for every million particles of antimatter there may be 1,000,001 particles of matter. It is that minuscule differential in favor of matter/energy that allows for our universe to exist
Mr. Gurdjieff calls this change from perfection to a cyclic asymmetry by the term "Trogoautoegocrat", a term that means "I Govern by Eating Myself", this symbol for which is called the Oroboros, the pictured of a snake eating its own tail, which by the way proved to be the solution to what is now known as the benzene ring, which opened the door to organic chemistry, discovered by a fellow named Kukulke. This is also the secret of the third force of which Mr. Gurdjieff asserts that we are blind. He calls us "third force blind".
- Mr. Gurdjieff asserts that every manifestation requires three equal and opposite forces to come into existence, which he calls the "Active, the "Passive" and the "Reconciling". They are also known as "Affirming", "Denying" and "Reconciling". These correlate exactly to the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost as well as the parent of this concept of three attributes of reality that braid together to form the Creation which is the Hindu Philosophy of The Samkya (which translates as "enumeration") and which calls the forces the three Gunas, or tendencies, Rajas or active; Tamas or the resistance of Inertia, and Sattva, which sits between them in the same manner as the backwards S in the double fish Yin Yang symbol of Chinese Alchemy, and is considered balanced and "perfect" in the meaning of reconciling and mature.
Physics also describes these three forces, although our Scientists do not know the esoteric or inner meaning of their schemata by the designation of the three forces as Centrifugal, or Shiva, the God of Creation and Destruction both. The Big Bang falls under the authority of Shiva which blows all things apart; Physics' opposite of Centrifugal is for Centripetal, or inward force that is under the auspices of the God Vishnu, the "preserver", who causes gravity and for things to have stability through time. The third force in Physics is something rarely thought about, although without which, centrifugal and centripetal cancel each other out, is The Revolving force, The God Brahma, who has no devotees in Hinduism, but which creates the process of the Trogoautoegocrat, meaning that everything rotates either around itself, like the Earth, which creates the illusions of day and night (although the Sun, which also revolves, pours out radiant energy in all directions at all times), or revolves around some other center, yielding spirals all the way from the fingertips to the galaxies.
Again we are brought home to the Hermetic formula: "As Above; So Below"
Be then as mature as your chosen deity, understanding that "God" may not be as perfect as the usual reading of Jesus' words would seem to apply. Mr. Gurdjieff said it best when he noted that "Angel can teach only one thing; Devil can teach everything" Become as meek as Doves and as wise as Serpents. Drink with the Devil, but leave him to pay the bill.