The above picture was made by David Blake, son of Anthony G.E. Blake, one of John G. Bennett’s closest friends and collaborators. It is a small part of his project of a “virtual Djamichunatra.” For more details on the Djamichunatra which Bennett and his students, see his book Witness. In my forthcoming study of Witness and its message (I shall post details when they are available), I say much more about it.
A.G.E. Blake has performed the valuable service of recalling that Bennett had seen his work as being to develop a new form of worship (also hinted at in some of Bennett’s books, but often overlooked – Anthony is able to isolate and emphasise this). I understand this to mean a new form of entering into heightened sensitivity to the divine or higher worlds. For that, of course, I need a change of being. This is, or was, or can be, one of the aims of the Christian Divine Liturgy.
How, then, to develop a new form of liturgy which can facilitate the raising of my being so as to be more conscious of the higher worlds?
Gurdjieff brought his movements and his contemplative exercises. Perhaps they include this purpose in themselves. Perhaps the Subud latihan was something like that, at least when administered by people like Subuh and the Bennetts.
Bennett developed some of his own exercises, and these may have been part of that effort to develop a new form of worship. But I suspect that his greatest achievement in this regard was the building of the Djamichunatra at Coombe Springs. Before commencing its construction, he had visited the Middle East and taken the measurements and made sketches of mosques and tekkies, finding some remarkable correspondences among some of those buildings in which he most felt an atmosphere which we might call sacred. He guided the work of the architects and builders. He obliged them to make powerful being efforts, to do what seemed impossible, to not make a decision unless all agreed (which meant a harmony among their states), and to aim to produce an objective work of art.
I wonder if he did not succeed in helping to midwife the Djamichunatra, for in Witness, he tells how some of them could sense that the building itself began to direct its construction. When one considers what the ancient Semitic theology called “typology” tells us of the building of temples and churches, this means that a pattern on a higher level had begun to act directly on our level. Perhaps there was even something of a miracle about it: the laws of a higher cosmos began to act in a lower.
That is, Bennett stumbled upon an extraordinary phenomenon:the relatively conscious construction of a certain building could instigate a process in which more than the combined efforts of the people involved were poured. Hence, a new place of worship appeared on the earth, in which previously known forms such as Gurdjieff’s exercises and movements acquired a new potency. Perhaps the work to develop new forms always shares this quality of continuity with previous efforts.
This is why the deliberate demolition of this building was an act of barbarism which has impoverished all subsequent ages. Hence too, the value of David Blake’s work.
I call for those in the Bennett line to band together and to build another Djamichunatra.
Thank you. I know of something suited to being there. Who to design it and where?
Not many people are in so good a place as yourself to answer these questions and take action. It is an honour to develop our teachers’ work.
Worship? Very strange word to use ..worship to me conotates religion… .. Did you think the Djami was a church? I never read that Mr. B wrote nor said it was a place if worship…. more an enclosed space to concentrate psychic energy.
I deal with Bennett on worship and the sacred in the forthcoming book. A church is an enclosed space to concentrate psychic energy, but not all such places are churches.
Like my friend Jack, I was on the 2nd course at Sherborne (72-73) Through some act of Grace, I’ve had numinous dreams since I was 19, that have come true not just symbolically, but literally. I am in an ” awakened” state when I dream them. I haven’t talked about this in almost 50 years. My father passed from COVID in May of 2020, which I had experienced in a dream , as a joyous thing, and indeed he passed quickly and mercifully. Soon after I had another “awake” dream, in which a 12 – sided solid spherical figure appeared. I knew it was important, but not why. I did some research and found in Sacred Geometry it’s called a ” dodecahedron” . I was told it represented ” heaven” the universe, etc.
A few months ago, I found a large, glass figure. My companion Kate said it was a Christmas ornament she’d gotten from a friend awhile ago, and had just found again. It had 12 sides.
I mentioned all this to a special friend who had lived at Beshara, the Sufi center a few miles from Sherborne while I was there, and later. He said Reshad Feild, who was in charge of Beshara at the time had suddenly commissioned a 12 sided sacred space, intersected by another, I believe an 8 sided figure called an icadron (sic)
So when I read your comments above, I felt this resonance.
Wait ! There’s more ! So back at Sherborne in 73, late in the course, Mr. Bennett came in the Horse Parlour for a class. He drew an hourglass ⏳ shape on the blackboard, and asked if anyone could say anything about it? No one did. I raised my hand, he nodded, and I said “It’s missing a couple of dimensions.”
He handed me a piece of chalk and pointed to the board. So I started trying to fill in this multidimensional figure.
Bennett asked, ” Who told you about this? How do you know this?”
I explained that a couple of years before in my Berkeley, Cal G group , I had been meditating and suddenly this multidimensional hourglass ⏳ figure had appeared in front of me, vividly. I could see how all it’s facets interrelated, and it was supernaturally beautiful and explained and revealed itself all at once. It felt like I examined it for an hour , but I later realized it must have happened in a microsecond, a flash. That I had entered eternity for that instant, where there was no time. Like the dodecahedron, as much as it revealed, there was a sense that there was more to understand about it’s universe of potential.
I handed Bennett the chalk back, and I waited for him to comment, but he didn’t say another word.
As you know in the last few mangled years there has also been a quickening, an acceleration and pulling together of what many of us can now see as a new consciousness trying to take shape for humanity, to reach down and meet us and save the planet. Like the Djamichunatra.
Connecting threads (mycorrhiza) even more, Chris who commented above sent me your book on John Lennon. I’ve interviewed all the Beatles, plus George Martin and their amazing engineer Geoff Emerick ( I was actually an informal consultant to a friend at Newsweek who did one of the last Lennon interviews, and submitted questions and gave him some spiritual literature, some of which came from pieces my friend Robert Fripp wrote for Musician Magazine. John responded to them , and said some profound things, which were later in 81 published as a paperback, ” Strawberry Fields Forever” , which I doubt you saw. I’d come to the conclusion that the Beatles themselves were a kind of matrix that acted as a channel for a higher energy to enter our generation . A Naqsbandi Sufi musician I knew in Turkey also perceived that, ( he was also a fan of Ornette Coleman and Bob Dylan, but that’s another story and this is rather long already, but I was moved to write it.
I don’t know how or if these multidimensional pieces will come together or reinforce each other. I am no architect, but maybe in a sense we are all architects in this cosmic enterprise. Praying for revelatory instructions.
I guess I have to read your Lennon book now. I ‘ve been putting it off for reasons that are hard to articulate, and it’s getting late here.
Vic Garbarini , In NYs rural Hudson Valley.
Thanks. No, I hadn’t known of your book, but I have ordered it in. Thanks once more, this is great.
Bennett wrote that a sacrament is an act in human beings can participate, and at the same time is beyond our understanding and consciousness. He said the Christian sacraments continue to be real although the Church as an institution has been and is full of flaws.
The sacraments are contained in a liturgy, a form of worship. The aim of the liturgy is to facilitate a change of state in the worshippers – as you say, opening the sensitivity to something higher. This can remind us of what is possible: we could “visit higher worlds.”
Perhaps the main thing that’s been lost is the understanding that worship is an effort. To be receptive rather than merely passive is an effort. If I am not in the space and time within which the liturgy is proceeding, nothing can happen. I did my duty, I went to church, I performed the prescribed gestures. If I was in a daydream the whole time, perhaps with a vague expectation that “something” would happen to me, nothing did happen. Maybe I will go to a more spectacular church where my attention and reactions are more forcefully manipulated. Still nothing. I have to bring myself into the moment, somehow. Then I might catch a glimpse.
A change of state can be wonderful, but it’s temporary. A change of being comes more slowly. The seed is hidden under the soil of ordinary experience for a long time, until after diligent and persistent preparation it emerges unexpectedly into the light of day.