An Expression of Legominism in Christian Language
The Retabel of Isenheim
This article was written in preparation for a talk in the All & Everything Conference in Bognor Regis, U.K., which was held on the 24th to 28th of March 2004.
It needed years to understand what Reshad Feild
meant, when he repeated again and again for us: “Do not underestimate yourself”.
And he spoke also from time to time about periods of 700 years, and about
patterns, which are settled in the beginning of such periods. Gradually I begun
to see, what these remarks have to do with each other. My vision widened from
“working on myself” to seeing the situation on this blue planet in a larger
context. And I understood Gurdjieff more and more. I read “All and Everything”
by the light of this new understanding. Out of the mosaic stones of very
different sources that were given to me patterns become visible. This became a
never-ending process of exciting investigation.
These periods of roughly 700 years divide the 2100 years of the Earth month in three periods – according to the Holy Trinity. Now we are in the beginning of the first, affirmative period of Aquarius, which means: our impulses are needed for the structures of the next 700 years. What a responsibility and what a motivation to fulfil our Partkdolg Duty!
Roughly 10 years ago I began to realise, that The Retable of Isenheim is a perfect example for “Objective Art.” At that time my interest widened out to the brotherhood, which made this most beautiful creation of western “Holy Art” possible. Where did they get their knowledge? How did the knowledge of the “real world” find the way from the antic world - which I found in old Greek art – to the middle age in Europe?
Through my investigations I found out, that in the 13th century the brotherhood of the Anthonites was built at the same time when other brotherhoods developed in the Christian world as well as in the Middle East. When you know what the signs of the Fourth Way are, it becomes clear that the Anthonites were a Fourth Way organization. This took place roughly 700 years ago.
This brotherhood spread out in whole Europe, and became a well-organised, wealthy institution, independent from the pope, with unique privileges. The settlements were by well educated, mostly men with university studies, they were connected to each other, and had a strong hierarchic structure. Their Task – as a “Fourth Way” brotherhood – was the nursing of people with a definite incurable illness. They knew, if somebody has to face his or her own death, then it makes sense to work with them spiritually.
In such an environment, in the beginning of the 16th century at the end of their mission, – according to a common spiritual law – they fixed the knowledge of their tradition in the Retable of Isenheim.
Gurdjieff knew only of one artist in the western world, who was in possession of knowledge about the real world: Leonardo da Vinci. Did somebody investigate his work? Why did Gurdjieff have this remark of him? Three years ago I found in the painting of the “Last Supper” the Enneagram in five minutes! But it is necessary to know about the meaning of the Enneagram and to know, how to look for it. An intellectual investigation for decades is necessary, but it is not enough. I can essentially understand something only when understanding is given through my inner process.
Gurdjieff couldn’t have known the Retable of Isenheim. If he had, he would have seen, that the creator had the knowledge of the objective world and the genius to express his knowledge in the pictures. Of course, the Altar with its 12 scenes is built up on the Enneagram.
We “thought” that the Enneagram was brought to the West by Gurdjieff. We “believe” that he “knew everything”. Isn’t it exactly this in “All and Everything” what he tried to destroy? Every spiritual teacher carries a mask to make it impossible for the pupil to become a “follower”.
What is our relationship to Gurdjieff? Are we like children, who take hold of the hand of their daddy, because “he knows what we have to do”? I am sure, Gurdjieff would be the first, who would send us into life and tell us: “When you are able to take responsibility for yourself, for your inner world, then come again.” A teacher can only work with somebody who is adult and who has lost the childish and naive expectations that a teacher should prepare everything for him. The WAY to go is only possible for those who have reached a “responsible age”.
I would like to introduce the structure of the Retable of Isenheim. To see, it is not necessary at all costs to look for knowledge of the real world in cultures far away. In our heritage there is knowledge. We have to find the key to it. Then we can make an input of its essence for the structures of the coming world – for the next 700 years.