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Tertium Organum, by P.D. Ouspensky, [1922], at

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In conclusion I wish to speak of those wonderful words, full of profound mystery from the Apocalypse and the apostle Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, which are placed as the epigraph of this book.

The Apocalyptic angel swears that THERE SHALL BE TIME NO LONGER.

We know not what the author of the Apocalypse wanted to convey, but we do know those STATES OF SPIRIT when time disappears. We know that in this very thing, in the change of the time-sense, the beginning of the fourth form of consciousness is expressed, the beginning of the transition to COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS.

In this and in phrases similar to it, the profound philosophical content of the evangelical teaching sometimes flashes forth. And the understanding of the fact that the MYSTERY OF TIME is the first mystery to be revealed is the first step toward the development of cosmic consciousness along the intellectual path.

But what did the Apocalyptic sentence mean? Did it mean precisely what we are now able to construe in it—or was it simply a bit of verbal art, a rhetorical figure of speech, the accidental harping of a string which has continued to sound up to our own time, through centuries and millenniums, with such a wonderfully powerful, true and beautiful tone of thought? We know not now, nor shall we ever, but the words are full of splendor, and we may accept them as a symbol of remote and inaccessible truth.

The apostle Paul's words are even more strange, even more startling by reason of their mathematical exactness. (A friend showed me these words in A. Dobroluboff's From the Book Invisible, who saw in them a direct reference to "the fourth measure of space.")

Truly, what does this mean?

. . . . That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the BREADTH and LENGTH and DEPTH and HEIGHT.

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First of all, what does the comprehension of breadth and length and depth and height mean? What is it but the comprehension of space? And we now know that the comprehension of the mysteries of space is the beginning of the higher comprehension.

The apostle says that "being rooted and grounded in love, with all saints" they may comprehend what space is.

Here arises the question: why must love give comprehension? That love leads to sanctity—this is easily understood. Love in the sense that the apostle Paul understands it (Chapter XIII of the First Epistle to the Corinthians) is the highest of all emotions, the synthesis, the blending of all highest emotions. Incontestably, this leads to sanctity. Sanctity: that is the state of the spirit liberated from the duality of man, from his eternal disharmony of soul and body. In the language of the apostle Paul sanctity meant even a little less than in our contemporary language. He called all members of his church saints; sanctity meant to him righteousness, morality, religiosity. We say that all this is merely the path to sanctity. Sanctity is something more—something attained. But it is after all immaterial how we shall understand his words—in his meaning or in ours—sanctity is a superhuman quality. In the region of morality it corresponds to genius in the region of mind. Love is the path to sainthood.

But with sanctity the apostle Paul unites KNOWLEDGE. Saints comprehend what is the breadth and length and depth and height; and he says that all—through love—may comprehend this with them. But may comprehend what, exactly? COMPREHEND SPACE. Because "breadth and length and depth and height" translated into our language of shorter definitions actually means space.

This last is the most strange.

How could the apostle Paul possibly KNOW that sanctity gives a new understanding of space? We know that it must give it, but FROM WHAT could he know that?

None of his contemporaries ever united sanctity with the idea of the comprehension of space; and in general there was no discussion at all about "space" at that time, at least among the Greeks and Romans. Only now, after Kant, and after we have had access to the treasures of thought of the Orient, do we understand that the transition into a new phase of consciousness is impossible without the expansion of the space-sense.

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But we wonder if this is what the apostle Paul wanted to say—that strange man: Roman official, persecutor of the first Christianity who became its preacher, philosopher, mystic; the man who "saw God," the bold reformer and moralist of his time, who fought for "the spirit" against "the letter" and was of course not responsible for the fact that he himself was understood by others not in "the spirit," but in "the letter." Is it this that he wanted to say? We do not know.

But let us look at these words of the Apocalypse and the Epistles from the standpoint of our usual "positivistic thinking," which sometimes condescendingly agrees to admit the "metaphorical meaning" of mysticism. What shall we see?


The flash of mystery, which appeared just for an instant, will immediately disappear. The words will be without any content, nothing in them will attract our wearied attention, which will merely glide over them as it glides over everything. We will indifferently turn the page and indifferently close the book.

An interesting metaphor, yes: But nothing else!

And we fail to observe that we rob ourselves, deprive life of all beauty, all mystery, all content; and wonder afterwards why everything is so uninteresting and detestable to us, why we do not desire to live, and why we do not understand anything around us; we wonder why brute force wins, or deceit and falsification, though to these things we have nothing to oppose.


In its time "positivism" appeared as something refreshing, sober, healthful and progressive, which explored new avenues of thought.

After the sentimental speculations of naive dualism "positivism" was indeed a great step forward. Positivism became a symbol of the progress of thought.

But we see now that it inevitably leads to materialism. And in this form it arrests thought. From revolutionary, persecuted, anarchistic, free-thinking, positivism became the basis of official science. It is decked-out in full dress. It is given medals. There are academies and universities dedicated to its service. It is recognized; it teaches; it tyrannizes over thought.

But having attained to well-being and prosperity, positivism immediately opposed obstacles to the forward march of thought.

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A Chinese wall of "positivistic" sciences and methods is built up around free investigation. Everything rising above this wall is condemned as unscientific.

And seen in this way positivism, which before was a symbol of progress, now appears as conservative, reactionary.

The existing order is already established in the world of thought, and to fight against it is declared to be a crime.

With astonishing rapidity those principles which only yesterday expressed the highest radicalism in the region of thought have become the basis of opportunism in the region of ideas and serve as blind alleys, stopping the progress of thought. In our eyes this occurred with the idea of evolution, on which it is now possible to build up anything, and with the help of which it is possible to tear down anything.

But thought, which is free, cannot be bound by any limits.

The true motion which lies at the foundation of everything, is the motion of thought. True energy is the energy of consciousness. And truth itself is motion, and can never lead to arrestment, to the cessation of search.


Therefore the true and real progress of thought is only in the broadest striving toward knowledge, that does not recognize the possibility of arrestment in any found forms of knowledge at all. The meaning of life is in eternal search. And only in that search can we find something truly new.

Next: Table of the Four Forms of the Manifestation of Consciousness