The following material is a selection from a working draft chapter in Reflections on Gurdjieff’s Whim by Keith Buzzell.
Gurdjieff’s conception of Okidanokh represents a major aspect of his effort to reconcile science and spirituality. As such, it plays a powerful role in his new conception of God in the world. The manner in which he accomplishes this reconciliation is quite ‘oblique’ or indirect and one has to read his complex elaboration with considerable care and attention to see how thoroughly he has blended the ‘way’ of science and of potential transformation with the ‘way’ of the spirit.
“. . .only one cosmic crystallization, existing under the name ‘Omnipresent-Okidanokh,’ obtains its prime arising?although it also is crystallized from Etherokrilno from the three Holy sources of the sacred Theomertmalogos, that is, from the emanation of the Most Holy Sun Absolute. “Everywhere in the Universe, this ‘Omnipresent-Okidanokh’ or ‘Omnipresent-Active-Element’ takes part in the formation of all both great and small arisings, and is, in general, the fundamental cause of most of the cosmic phenomena and, in particular, of the phenomena proceeding in the atmospheres.
“. . . the Omnipresent-Okidanokh obtains its prime arising in space outside of the Most Holy Sun Absolute itself, from the blending of these three independent forces into one, and during its further involutions it is correspondingly changed, in respect of what is called the ‘Vivifyingness of Vibrations’ according to its passage through what are called the ‘Stopinders’ or ‘gravity-centers’ of the fundamental ‘common-cosmic sacred Heptaparaparshinokh’.
From these two quotations there are several observations that can serve as primary points to explore.
~ Okidanokh is the Omnipresent–active–element present everywhere throughout the Universe.
~ It is crystallized (from Etherokrilno) from the Three Holy sources of the sacred Theomertmalogos (the emanation of the Sun Absolute) outside of Holy Sun Absolute.
~ It is a blending of the three independent Holy forces into one force.
~ It undergoes a corresponding involutional change (in respect to the ‘Vivifyingness of Vibrations’) as it passes through the gravity centers of the fundamental common-cosmic sacred Heptaparaparshinokh (the Ray of Creation).
~ It takes part in the formations of all arisings and is the fundamental cause of most of the cosmic phenomena (especially those proceeding in the atmospheres).
Gurdjieff’s conception is an allegorical approach to a paradox which presents the ultimate concerning moments of creation. The central aspect to this paradox concerns two contrasting issues:
~ endlessness as the primal image of a single Will which is infinite and wholly self-determinant
~ The image of the Universe coming into existence in stages or in steps which progressively restrict or ‘automatize’ the resulting events and processes
Theomertmalogos is a result of the Will of endlessness directing the action of the forces of the two primordial laws (Triamazikamno and Heptaparaparshinokh) from within Holy Sun Absolute ‘outward’ into the space of the Universe. The Will which directs this action is pure and unconditioned; it is ‘free’ in the ultimate sense of the word.
Okidanokh arises outside the Most Holy Sun Absolute from the blending of the three independent forces into one. Okidanokh is, therefore, at least one step removed from the pure Will, which is directing the action of the forces of the two primordial laws. The image arising from this description could be understood as having features resonant with both the Ray of Creation and with the hydrogen table. The highest level willsfrom within itself (World one – endlessness) the forces of the changed Laws of Three and Seven to be emanated from within Holy Sun Absolute (World Three) into the space of the Universe (World Six).
With this movement, from World One through World Three to World Six, there has been a passage from the level of the immediate and free Will of the Absolute to a conditioned expression of the Will in World Six.
“. . . . as has been said already, the will of the Absolute is only manifested in the immediate world created by it within itself, that is, in world 3; the immediate will of the Absolute does not reach world 6 and is manifested in it only in the form of mechanical laws. Further on, in worlds 12, 24, 48, and 96, the will of the Absolute has less and less possibility of manifesting itself. This means that in world 3 the Absolute creates, as it were, a general plan of all the rest of the universe, which is then further developed mechanically. The will of the Absolute cannot manifest itself in subsequent worlds apart from this plan, and, in manifesting itself in accordance with this plan, it takes the form of mechanical laws.
The fact that Okidanokh “obtains its prime arising in space outside of the Most Holy Sun Absolute” represents, for us, the passage from World Three (a World created by the Will Itself) to World Six. The “mechanical” expression of the laws will increase progressively in restrictiveness from the level of World 12 to World 96. We understand that “further involutions” noted in the above quotation to refer to the descent, stepwise, through Worlds 12, 24, 48, and 96 and the corresponding changes in the ‘Vivifyingness of Vibrations’ to be the lowering of the frequency of vibrations as Okidanokh passes downward through the octavic steps of the Ray of Creation into increasingly more dense materiality.
There is also an interesting resonance between the corresponding changes in the ‘Vivifyingness of Vibrations’ in the involutional motion down the Ray of Creation and the octavic description found in the ‘hydrogen’ table. The resonance is not exact because the hydrogen table is a conception, which joins the Absolute – Sun – Earth – Moon in three successive octaves. As a result, there is no specific identification of World Six (the World of All Suns) or of World 24 (the World of All Planets). Nevertheless, the passage of the energies down the Stopinders, or ‘centers of gravity’, in the three octaves echoes the passage of Okidanokh in its “further involutions.” It is also notable that Gurdjieff’s conception of the ‘hydrogen’ table includes two “step-downs” in the form he applies to the studies of three-brained beings, (see p 174 ISM or reproduce as illustration here). These step-downs can be understood as referring to Worlds One and Three (the Will of endlessness and Holy Sun Absolute, which are inaccessible to man’s “ordinary powers and capacities.”)
The Ray of Creation is a single octave which encompasses the whole of Creation. The same could be said of the “fundamental common-cosmic sacred Heptaparaparshinokh.”
Illustration of Ray of Creation and Common Cosmic Heptaparaparshinok – here.
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The expression “Three Holy Sources of the Sacred Theomertmalogos” (the emanation of the Most Holy Sun Absolute) could be understood to refer to the actions taking place in World Three, which establish the primordial pattern of the Great Laws for the entire Universe.
If we take Holy Sun Absolute to be World Three, it would seem consistent to also identify it as the Being of endlessness – with World One referring to the Will of endlessness. Thus, the expression “I Am” becomes a compressed statement of the Will and Being of endlessness. The existent Universe becomes, in this view, the creative expression or outflow from ‘I Am’.
It is important to emphasize the involutional changes in the Vivifying of Vibrations of Okidanokh in its passage down the common-cosmic sacred Heptaparaparshinokh (the Ray of Creation). At each Stopinder or center-of-gravity the level of vibration changes; it slows to a lower level of vibration. This is consistent with the three octave Hydrogen table, where, for each successive hydrogen category there are three notes in an octave (do – si – la, la – sol – fa, fa – interval mi, mi – re – do) and these notes are named as carriers of the active, passive and neutralizing forces. At each step, the Holy Reconciling force (3, +) becomes 1 (+) for the next lower triad, echoing the action Gurdjieff describes as “Djartklom.”
“. . . then the ‘Omnipresent-Active-Element’ does not blend, as a whole, with such a new arising, nor is it transformed as a whole in any definite corresponding place–as happens with every other cosmic crystallization in all the said cosmic formations–but immediately on entering as a whole into any cosmic unit, there immediately occurs in it what is called ‘Djartklom,’ that is to say, it is dispersed into the three fundamental sources from which it obtained its prime arising, and only then do these sources, each separately, give the beginning for an independent concentration of three separate corresponding formations, within the given cosmic unit. And in this way, this ‘Omnipresent-Active-Element’ actualizes, at the outset, in every such new arising, the sources for the possible manifestation of its own sacred law of Triamazikamno.
The “cosmic units” being referred to in this quotation are the results (the plus/minus) of the prior three octavic notes. Okidanokh at this new lower level, divides into the three forces which then determine the kinds of interaction that can occur at this level of the hydrogen table. For instance, mass first appears as protons, neutrons, and electrons. As the energy falls, these masses (i.e., cosmic units) continue to be present but then interact, via the lower frequencies of Okidanokh (i.e., electromagnetic waves) with each other to produce the next lower level of mass-based materiality (atoms).
Each descending ‘hydrogen’ category, having a lower vibrational level (a more dense materiality), will participate in lower energetic actions. The actions themselves are, however, all manifestations of Okidanokh. We can reasonably conclude that Okidanokh has many, many levels of force and function, being the enlivening influence (Omnipresent-Active-Element) in the appearance of “all both great and small arisings” and the fundamental cause of most of the cosmic phenomena.
the nature of okidanokh
“‘But since. . . the participation of that third part of Okidanokh existing under the name of “Parijrahatnatioose” is artificially excluded from the said process, then this process proceeds there just now between only two of its parts, namely, between those two independent parts which science names “Anodnatious” and “Cathodnatious.” And in consequence, instead of the obligatory law-conformable results of the said process, that non-law-conformable result is now actualized which exists under the denomination of “the-result-of-the-process-of-the-reciprocal-destruction-of-two-opposite-forces,” or as ordinary beings express it, “the-cause-of-artificial-light.”
“‘And this phenomenon is no longer there, only because by my last pulling of a certain lever, I introduced into the process of the clash of two component parts of Okidanokh, a current of the third independent component part of Okidanokh, which began to blend proportionally with its other two parts, owing to which the result derived from this kind of blending of the three component parts of the Omnipresent?Okidanokh?unlike the process of the non?law?conformable blending of its two parts?cannot be perceived by beings with any of their being?functions.
“. . . amber is one of those seven planetary formations, in the arising of which the Omnipresent Active Element Okidanokh takes part with all its three separate, independent, sacred parts, in equal proportion . . .
“In our youth all such ships both for intersystem and for interplanetary communication were still run on the cosmic substance ‘Elekilpomagtistzen,’ which is a totality consisting of two separate parts of the omnipresent Okidanokh.
“. . . a reinforced blending of the sacred active element Okidanokh was proceeding in the atmosphere above that locality, or. . . there were great thunderstorms. . .
“They named the totality or the separate parts of this substance, sacred just for them, differently at different periods, and at the present time they name the result of the blending and the mutual destruction of two parts of this omnipresent substance ‘Electricity.’
From the above quotations it is possible to discuss the nature of Okidanokh in the following respects:
~ The triad of Okidanokh is Anodnatious (+), Cathodnatious (-) and Parijrahatnatioose (+) see illustration below
When present in equal proportion, the three aspects of Okidanokh appear to convey the attribute of impartiality or non-reactivity to the specific formation. This understanding is resonant with Gurdjieff’s placement of amber in his discussion of the “Third Space Drive” and the Akhaldan symbol. The impartiality derives from the fact that when all three aspects of Okidanokh are present in equal proportion there is no reaction to the external presence of any other source of one or two of the forces (it is non-conductive, functioning as an insulator). An analogy to to our inner world would apply here, for when one is in a state of ‘amber’, one is insulated and does not react automatically. For example, if a person is manifesting in some negative way toward someone and if that someone is impartial to their manifestation, that would be an example of the highest level of Partkdolg duty (to not react to the negative manifestations of other people towards oneself). One is insulated– (one is non-conductive — neither plus nor minus) — one is simply impartial to both.
~ “Elekilpomagtistzen” appears to be a barely disguised form of the word electromagnetism.
~ Thunderstorms are now understood to reflect the complex equilibrating process between separated negatively and positively charged particles; a process referred to as charge separation. An electric field is induced that is dependent on the separation of the positively charged earth or cloud and the negatively charged component in the clouds. When the electric field reaches a certain strength, an electrical discharge (the bolt of lightning) occurs either within clouds or between clouds and the Earth. Sufficient energy is generated by the electric field to produce, at times, high energy gamma rays in addition to visible light. Thus, lightning is a dramatic example of one of the powers of electromagnetism. The striving to reblend of the Anodnatious and Cathodnatious, which is inherent in the nature of the Holy-Affirming and Holy-Denying forces, leads to a result (a reconciliation); the production of light (electromagnetic waves of visible and other frequencies).
Okidanokh and modern science
At the end of the 19th Century, modern science stood on the edge of a sharp divide. On the one hand was the conviction by many scientists that the laws governing the Universe were basically understood, needing only a ‘fill in’ of relatively few areas. On the other hand, there stood scientists who harbored disturbing questions concerning the nature of recently discovered Roentgen (x-ray) and radio waves, of radioactivity, of black box radiation/absorption and of the many implications of Maxwell’s equations which unify electricity and magnetism. In addition, the existence of the ether (the proposed medium for photonic [electromagnetic] waves) had been seriously called into question. Into this fermentative environment (circa 1900) entered Max Planck’s early quantum theory of the units (or quanta) of action, which theory underpinned essential aspects of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. From a strictly deterministic perspective on causation that was pervasive in 19th century physics, scientists were suddenly confronted with observations and theories that confounded their previous views and, simultaneously, opened multiple doors into the quantum world of uncertainty, of the simultaneous nature of wave and particle, and of the limitations of statistical predictability.
Throughout the two centuries since Newton’s Principia, the only forces found to be operative in the Universe were gravity and electromagnetism (unified by Maxwell’s equations in 1873). The gradual discoveries of the Strong and Weak Nuclear forces as primary forces in the Universe were not to take place for several decades. Notably, the neutron was not ‘discovered’ until 1932.
In 1916, with the publication of the General Theory of Relativity, the nature of the force of gravity was called into question, as Einstein proposed that the curvature of the space-time continuum ‘produced’ the phenomena scientists identify and describe as gravity. This perspective appeared to place gravity into a derivative role rather than a primary role as a fundamental ‘force’ in the Universe.
In the early years of the 20th century, the dominant role of electromagnetic phenomena in the physical and chemical processes taking place on the Earth was well established. Gravity, as a fundamental force, was somewhat displaced into a secondary role. Suns, planets, man, animal and plant life were understood as manifestations, at varying levels of energy, deriving from the primary force of electromagnetism.
The above is a brief outline of the major scientific perspectives in physics which were present during the early years of Gurdjieff’s manifestation as a teacher.
It should not be surprising that Gurdjieff would make use of scientific discoveries and the technological derivatives that flowed from the then current insights into the physical nature of the Universe. Electromagnetism had emerged as the clearly dominant and primordial influence in all scientific perspectives and, as his goal included bringing the search of the science of the West and the wisdom of the East together, it would be essential to include the current scientific views in the elaboration of his ‘new’ cosmology. The concepts and the technological implements (i.e., the light bulb, dynamo, batteries and wiring, etc.) that appear in the chapters, “The Arch Absurd” and “The Arch Preposterous,” are vivid testimony supporting Gurdjieff’s placement of electromagnetism at the pinnacle of world ‘forces’. What is truly remarkable is that Gurdjieff’s conception of Okidanokh, while including the fundamental + and – of electromagnetism, goes beyond these two aspects and incorporates ‘light’ (the photon) as the reconciling influence. That the photon plays this role in all electromagnetic phenomena, was not understood in the early decades of the twentieth century, making Gurdjieff’s statement all the more remarkable.