Trinity and the Law of Three
A New Arising
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Guest writer and CAC teacher Cynthia Bourgeault continues exploring Trinity and the Law of Three.
From a metaphysical standpoint, the Trinity is primarily about process. It encapsulates a paradigm of change and transformation based on an ancient principle known as the Law of Three—or ternary metaphysics, as we saw yesterday. This principle was developed by the Armenian-born spiritual teacher, G. I. Gurdjieff. (I became familiar with the Law of Three through ten years of participation in the Gurdjieff Work.)
The Law of Three, according to Gurdjieff, comprises what he calls the “Laws of World Creation and World Maintenance.” The basic foundational principles are:
- In every new arising there are three forces involved: affirming, denying, and reconciling.
- The interweaving of the three produces a fourth in a new dimension.
- Affirming, denying, and reconciling are not fixed points or permanent attributes, but can and do shift and must be discerned situationally.
- Solutions to impasses or sticking points generally come by learning how to spot and mediate third force, which is present in every situation but generally hidden.
Let’s consider a simple example. A seed, as Jesus said, “unless it falls into the ground and dies, remains a single seed” (John 12:24). If this seed does fall into the ground, it enters a sacred transformative process. Seed, the first or “affirming” force, meets ground, the second or “denying” force (and at that, it has to be moist ground, water being its most critical first component). But even in this encounter, nothing will happen until sunlight, the third or “reconciling” force, enters the equation. Then among the three they generate a sprout, which is the actualization of the possibility in the seed—and a whole new “field” of possibility.
The entire Paschal Mystery plays out as a fairly straightforward configuration of the Law of Three. If you assign affirming as Jesus the human teacher of the path of love; denying as the crucifixion and the forces of hatred driving it; and reconciling as the principle of self-emptying, or kenotic love willingly engaged, then the fourth, new arising revealed through this weaving, is the Kingdom of Heaven, visibly manifest in the very midst of human cruelty and brokenness.
Gateway to Silence:
Behold, I make all things new. —Revelation 21:5
Adapted from Cynthia Bourgeault, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three (Shambhala Publications, Inc.: 2013), 15-16, 24-25, 74.