I have been pondering what the word "perception" means, as experienced within this context of what we refer to as "consciousness."
No matter how we understand or view "perception", there appears to be a subjective element in it. How can any individual know that what is perceived is accurate, or "true?" They cannot. As I have said before, the best "fact" we can come up with regarding our experience of consciousness is that we are in this body, having these experiences. All of the ideas, assumptions, and conjectures that follow this fundamental recognition are speculative. The very act of assessing our experiences is speculative.
What the heck. Let's speculate a little, shall we?
Extrapolating from this, I attempt to arrive at an asessment of what this thing called peception consists of: where does it arise, and what is it?
Here's a proposal: "perception" is nothing more than relationship, arising as a consequence of the correspondence between organic rates of vibration.
So all perception is relationship. By perceiving, we mean entering into relationship with.
This formultaion posits that every interaction of vibrations in the universe is in fact an act of perception. The vibratory elements in our universe, from quantum strings (if they indeed exist) to atoms, to molecules, to organisms, to planets and galaxies, are all engaged in a comprehensive act of perception.
Let's leave aside for the time being the complex question of the differences between self-aware and non-selfaware perception. The quantity and qualityof our own perception- that is, what type of relationship with our surroundings we can enter into- is determined by our own organic rate of vibration. That is, the level at which the various inner parts of the organism resonate in relationship to each other determines what they are able to correspond to outwardly. Another way of looking at it is to understand that everything in the universe is actually a musical symphony of unimaginable complexity. Once we realize that, Gurdjieff's statement that the entire universe runs on two major laws- the law of three and the law of seven (that is, the law of octaves) begins to make a great deal of practical sense.
What we receive in terms of outer vibrations depends on what we have in terms of inner vibrations. Just as every developing musical structure incorporates new vibrations according to its own established inner logic (pattern and rate of vibration,) so it is also in man.
In an existing musical structure not every note can be admitted if the structure is to retain its existing integrity. As new vibrations arrive, some vibrations will conflict with each other and cancel each other out; some will introduce chaos; some will fit in harmoniously and develop the logic of the structure further. Some will be inert and do nothing. Some will be too loud and overwhelm an existing structure; some too quiet to have any effect.
This is, by the way, exactly the way that chemistry and biology works. If you ponder this for a while you will see that every phenomenon in the observable universe follows this set of laws.
Gurdjieff's enneagram depicts the lawful development of any given octave by describing the progressive rates of vibration that can be allowed to enter based on the starting note. It's interesting to apply this diagram to phenomena on other levels, but the information it gives us about ourselves, what we are, what we can become, is perhaps the most interesting.
What it tells us is that every man is an uncompleted symphony. We have within us an "inner orchestra" that has the lawful potential to progressively develop its level of perception based on the rates of vibration between inner parts. What we perceive- the kinds of conscious experiences we have (which is equal to the relationships we are able to enter into) is determined by our organic rate of vibration.
Gurdjieff's system is a system designed to raise the inner rates of vibration of the human body in a progressive and harmonious manner according to a set of laws. Those various laws and their interactions are actually described by the multiplications, that is, the six iterations of the numerolgical values of the enneagram:
Every state of consciousness that a man can enter into- and there are many of them- is determined by the inner rates of his various vibrations. This understanding was passed down in the yoga schools using the concept of spinning wheels, or chakras. However those schools lost the enneagram, which was and remains the only legitimate key to any objective understanding of how rates of vibration interact in man. Undertaking the study of the flow of our inner energies without strictly applying the information contained in this diagram is useless.
It is in the careful study of our own inner rates of vibration that we can begin to cultivate something "more real" in ourselves. We seek to connect with the organic state of Being, in which conscious residence in this organism is acknowledged. Then we begin to take a more direct interest in the physical processes, that is, vibrations, that determine our psychological state.
Thus we can slowly discover a new relationship with ourselves, and with the world.