There’s a famous book called the Art of War. A wise Chinese general named Sun Tzu wrote the book thousands of years ago and it’s considered one the greatest classics of military literature. I love the title because it’s a condensed miniature koan, a magical moniker that calls forth a paradoxical truth related to desire.
As G.I. Gurdjieff taught, whenever you want something the force of your wanting sets off a second force that is directly related to your desire — a force that arises to deny your getting what you want. This is a simple law. Like gravity. It’s nothing personal and it is beyond your ability to manipulate. There is a name to this oppositional side of the equation. Gurdjieff called it the law of denying. These two laws, the law of affirming and the law of denying work like this:
I’ve decided to start a new diet on Monday. On Sunday evening, under the law of affirming, I pull together all my resolve and will power. And then come Monday morning, under the law of denying, I’m gorging on bagels and cream cheese at the coffee shop. What happened?
This diet dilemma was a faulty arrangement to begin with because my intent did not consider the ‘art of war’ which has a secret directive to it that is easy to overlook.
I’ll talk about that now.
Seeing the Invisible
Because our brains are steeped in duality (the Moon/Mercury part of our nature — or the left brain/right brain dichotomy) we miss the one force that would transform the clash between positive and negative. Reconciliation (or neutralization) is the third force or law and Gurdjieff talked about it this way, he said:
“The presence of a third force is necessary, for it is only with the help of a third force that the first two can produce what may be called a phenomenon…” But the problem for human beings, he explained, is that we are “third force blind.”
What is the third force? Well, that’s complicated. I would describe it like this: The third force contains two important components:
The first involves the actual realization that we live life trapped within our tunnel vision of polarity. Good and bad, male and female, liberal and conservative. Blah blah blah. We take this to be reality. But it is missing the perception of the third force.
The second component is that the third force isn’t ‘interested’ in winning or losing, getting or not getting, dieting or not dieting — its essence is that of reconciliation or neutralization. When the paradox of duality is quelled something is then able to actually manifest or appear within the flow of time.
Here is a prayer Gurdjieff gave in relation to the three forces. See what you can make of it and then let me know what you think. It goes like this:
Transubstantiate in me,
For my Being.
A hint is in the word transubstantiate. And also in the word Being, which means presence which means living beyond the confines of one’s personal history with its litany of personal desires which are based on unconscious drives that desire things that have no relevance to the creative expression of your life, as it appears in the moment, right here, right now.
Which is to say that reality is only interested in bringing forth what is fresh, new and pristine — never been seen before. The ego is only interested in ideas and desires that have their origin in unresolved ideas and frustrated desires from the past.
You could say that the third force isn’t interested in the ego’s particular desires or self image. Third force is involved with how presence shows up in real time: In reality. Which of course evokes the planet Saturn.
Saturn and Mars: The Art of War
Just as the Sun corresponds to your physical heart, Saturn corresponds to your ability to perceive reality. When your ass is sitting in a chair, Saturn is the part of your awareness that feels the solidity of the material that you are sitting atop. I don’t know what organ that would be in the body, per se, but let’s just call Saturn your ability to live from what Freud called the reality principle. It’s sobering, but also fulfilling because, well, what good is reading about apple pie if you can’t eat a piece?
So let’s talk about Saturn in Scorpio now because the New Moon eclipse today in Scorpio is our first ‘in the gut’ registration of what Saturn’s entry in Scorpio is about. Saturn entered Scorpio on October 5 to begin a two and a half year transit through the sign. But:
You can’t align with a planet’s long transit through a sign until a New Moon occurs in that same sign. And that’s happening today. This New Moon ignites the organic process of living the transit in a visceral way. Meaning, you can feel the shift under your skin. In your bones. Now you’re really engaged with Saturn in Scorpio, which is to say, in keeping with the theme of the post: The art of desire, the art of war. Now is the time to become third-force aware.
Many of you awoke this morning aware of new aches or pains in your body, or you were waylaid by the content of your dreams last night. Or you’ve decided, after a conversation over coffee with a friend, that divorce is imminent, or getting married is the next step for your relationship. Or that mom is dying of cancer and not simply suffering from a gluten allergy. Big stuff like that.
The ‘art of war’ is the essential style of the sign Scorpio and as the opening epigram from Oscar Wilde suggests: Disobedience — or breaking the law of repetition with its dulling lull of the familiar and the rote — is necessary for progress. Good girls and boys finish last.
But remember the bagel and cream cheese example.
Without awareness of the third force, the reconciling or neutralizing law, there is no evolution. We remain in the jam-up between opposites. Whirling, turning — suffocating. Most of us spend our lives on this hamster wheel. Talking about the Law of Three, Gurdjieff noted to P.D. Ouspensky the following:
“The two forces will either counterbalance one another, or one will completely conquer the other, but, at the same time, [one's initiative] will become too weak for any further action. Thus the two forces will, as it were, revolve one around the other, one absorbing the other and producing no result whatever. This may continue for a lifetime. A man may feel desire and initiative. But all this initiative may be absorbed in overcoming the habitual inertia of life, leaving nothing for the purpose towards which the initiative ought to be directed. And so it may go on until the third force makes its appearance…”
So Gurdjieff is saying here that it’s not so much about the diet or the bagel and cream cheese, it’s about the insight to be gleaned from understanding why diets usually fail or why you aren’t writing the great American novel. Those things are good and fine unto themselves (i.e., losing weight or artistic expression) but within the ‘bigger picture’ they mean very little if you aren’t living life from Being. From presence.
When you are present in your life you are so engaged and involved with the mystery of manifestation — which is what transubstantiation is all about — you can’t wait to see what the next thing is that pops out of you — or in front of you. It’s all good. Even if you’re fat and a mediocre author.
Some folks don’t mind complacency. And have devised elaborate strategies to maintain stasis. Saturn in Scorpio will be a problem for these types because death, another Scorpio theme, has become more emphatic in our collective field now. This is not a prediction, it’s simply a fact.
I follow Saturn to see where he is transiting and then I understand what facet of the reality principle is pressing into everyone’s awareness. Wherever Saturn travels you can feel a pressure pushing into your field. In Libra it’s love. In Scorpio it’s death. Love and death are the two great Awakeners. Both have jump-started more beauty and creativity than we dare imagine.
This is why Mars — as the initiative principle — rules Aries and Scorpio. The Aries side of Mars shows as the libido, the life force pushing onward for the sheer fun of movement; anti-stasis. The Scorpio side of Mars inspires through melancholy and stillness. We see our parents and friends aging, we observe our skin wrinkling, we get off our ass and engage with living our allotment of life to the fullest.
When Saturn changes signs the entire playing field of the biosphere shifts. Moving from a Venus-ruled air sign (Libra) to a Mars-ruled water sign (Scorpio) telegraphs instantly that the time spent philosophizing, contrasting and weighing — to strike the ‘beauty chord’ — is complete. The tools for making art have been defined. The polarity (both sides of Libra’s scales) thoroughly engaged.
Now the martial phase begins. A phase of passive active reconcilliation: the art of war. YAY!
How will you fare? What will you align with? How will the third force operate (or not) in your life? One last secret for today, and it’s related to the Mars aspect of Scorpio and it comes from the biggest teller of open secrets, the poet Rumi.
Here it is:
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.
It will not lead you astray.”
Opening painting:The Battle of the Argonne René Magritte, oil, 1959.