From the archives of some theosophical e-mail lists.
Date: Fri, 02 Feb 2001
Jim's exchange with Daniel reminds me of a concept from the Fourth Way teachings that I think applies to many of our discussions and indeed to the basic purpose of the group. First a bit of background; the Gurdjieff Work distinguishes between A, B, and C influences. C influences are Life influences, the daily round of activities that keeps us in a mechanical and deadened consciousness. A influences are Work influences, which emanate from the Conscious Circle of Humanity and help us awaken from our mechanical state. All spiritual traditions originate in A influences, coming from individuals who have attained a level of consciousness described at some length in the Fourth Way teachings. But everything emanating from such persons is immediately and progressively mixed with C influences, and these mixtures are called B influences.
Now each of us is said to be endowed with an inner organ of perception of A influences, called magnetic center. This is like a geiger counter and A influences are like radioactivity; they radiate and it registers their presence. If we heed magnetic center and go where it attracts us, we approach A influences and are uplifted by them. But at the same time, A influences cannot exist as such in the human world so what we are left with is magnetic center attraction to mixed or B influences.
And that's why the world of spirituality is such a tower of Babel. Magnetic center is a rather crude instrument, capable of registering the presence of A influences within B influences and responding to them, but only through a glass darkly. So one person finds that the Pentecostal Holiness church rings his chimes, another chants Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, a third is most uplifted by the writings of Baha'u'llah, a fourth finds the works of Aleister Crowley the summum bonum. All are in some way attracted by the same thing that is present in all these traditions/writings. But all are stumbling blindly, not really knowing why we're attracted to what we are, or how that relates to how others feel spiritual attractions in quite different ways.
I think it safe to say the same thing about Theosophy, Baha'i, Christianity, and the ARE: they originated from the energies of persons who had somehow/somewhat transcended the ordinary level of consciousness, and traces of these origins are left in what we have today. But in every case, those uplifting, transforming, awakening energies have gotten mixed up with the same old same old Life influences ("Mine's better than yours," for example) and dragged down to the point that people can be as easily misled as enlightened by them. Because of this entropic tendency, according to Gurdjieff, the Conscious Circle keeps emanating new A influences to counteract C influences that keep us asleep and mechanical.
Anyhow, back to the topic of discussion, how do people's inner touchstones of truth come to such wildly varying results? I would say that their magnetic centers are feeling genuine attractions to real A influences, but that these are so mixed up with C influences that people's spiritual lives are inevitably corrupted somewhat by misunderstandings and false leads. Thus, magnetic center is absolutely necessary to get us on the path and point us in some direction, but it is totally insufficient to actually get us where we want to go. That takes discrimination, self-discipline, compassion, and insight.