The Work says that everything in creation, in the universe, is alive and exists in a hierarchical structure flowing from the Absolute downwards, from the fine to the coarse, called the Ray of Creation.
This was expressed in ancient times in the Emerald Tablets of Hermes Trismegistus as As Above, So Below.
Man exists at a certain level within creation. We exist upon the planet Earth and are a part of nature, a part of the thin film of organic life that covers the globe.
As we are now, we serve Nature's purposes. There is an idea in this Work that organic life acts as a shock, as a kind of transmitter/receiver that emanates and receives radiations from and to this Earth. That is, we transmit and transform certain substances coming from other parts of the solar system and the universe, namely, food.
The Earth is a living organism that is continually receiving radiations from the Sun, the planets, and galaxies --- and is emanating radiations of its own. The Work says that there are two fundamental Laws of World creation and World Maintenance --- one of which is the Law of Seven, also called the Law of Octaves. This Law governs processes within Creation.
The major scale is a model of this law. In the major scale there are two missing semi-tones between mi-fa and si-do. Vibrations and processes do not proceed uniformly at a constant rate but upon reaching these intervals they slow down and are deflected in another direction, or cease altogether, unless a shock is introduced to fill the interval.
This is why there are no straight lines in nature, and why the `best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray'.
Man and organic life serve as this shock in the Sun--Moon octave enabling the continuation and completion of cosmic processes.
Man is only developed mechanically as far as is required for us to serve Nature's purposes.
From pre-history onwards, legends, myths, teachings, and the great religions have indicated that Man has the potential to develop beyond this mere serving of Nature's needs, that Man has a potential for inner growth, of developing something finer and higher than his material sensory experience, to awaken from his sleep.
Existing at a specific level within creation we are subject to certain laws---but we have possibilities of ascending or descending within the Cosmic scale. This idea is illustrated in the Biblical story of Jacob's Ladder.
This work says that to ascend in the cosmic scale we must go against the mechanical downward flow of creation from the Absolute.
Payment is a Cosmic Law: to ascend we pay by conscious labour and intentional suffering.
Among other things, this means sacrificing our mechanical suffering and negative emotions---for example, self-pity, self-love, anger, jealousy, vanity, and so on---and becoming aware of our actual state and our false picture of ourselves. It means developing attention and awareness.
Our payment is also in our striving to make efforts, and in bearing the discomfort and pain of awakening consciousness and conscience. Conscience lays submerged beneath personality. As we awaken we begin to see and to feel the truth about ourselves. We are on the way to knowing ourselves. Know Thyself and Nothing To Excess were carved over the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi in ancient Greece.
Personality is a shell that is built up around our essence. Essence is what we are born with, what is more real in us; personality is all the acquired behaviour and knowledge learnt from our experiences in life after we are born. Both are mechanical on their own levels, and are not ends in themselves. They are means to an end --- of awakening greater consciousness in ourselves.
As we are, our personality is active and our essence is passive. We need to work to reverse this polarity --- making essence active and personality passive.
To begin to work on ourselves towards awakening, we need to follow basic instructions of this Work:
- Formulate aims.
- Do not express unpleasant and negative emotions.
- Do not identify.
- Do not internally consider, externally consider always.
- Do not lie.
- Minimize unnecessary talking.
- Work against imagination.
- Observe yourself.
- Learn to suffer.
- Remember yourself.
- And most importantly --- Verify everything for yourself.
By applying these principles we begin to go against the mechanical flow of life, go against the downward flow of the Ray of Creation, gain emotional force, and produce and store more of the energy needed to begin to awaken.