Beyond Individualism

The Psychology of Transformation

by Dane Rudhyar


PART TWO:
THE SOCIAL-COLLECTIVE MODE

5. The Pattern of Differentitation & Conflict

b. The Priest and the Philosopher

The social function of what I call here the Priest Type, whatever name its representatives have in their particular religion, is to maintain the integrity and the tradition of a culture. It is not a spiritual function, in the sense in which I use the term, spiritual, i.e., as referring to a creative, originating activity.(1) It may be a proselytizing function if the religion of the culture has an expansionistic character, especially during the growth of the society; but essentially, the Priest Type is that of 'the Preserver' —the second aspect of the Hindu Trinity, Vishnu. It is true that in any religion the priest deals with individual persons and caters to their supposedly spiritual needs; but what is actually meant by such needs is the ability to function adequately and wholly within the particular culture in which these persons are born, and therefore to use their biological and psychic energies in a 'cultured' instead of a 'wild' manner—or, more crudely stated, in a human rather than an animal and instinctual way.

The functions of both the Ruler and the Priest Types is to stand as impressive and efficacious symbols of the development of functions of the second order; thus, of the triumph of culture over biology. Both are charged with the responsibility of making sure that biological-instinctual drives are at least contained within, and whenever possible transformed by various types of socio-cultural devices—on the one hand by laws, regulations and physical punishments, and on the other hand, by sacraments and a pervasive kind of morality having been formulated or at least implied in an original Revelation. This Revelation is derived from the quality of the life, the actual deeds and the pronouncements of the Avatar or Prophet, and of the great 'seed men' who lived and died just before the cycle of the new culture-whole began—thus during the last period of a preceding culture-whole.

These facts should be fairly obvious when we consider a particular culture-whole born in a specific locality and developing within a more or less definite region—which may or may not be the place of origin. If transposed to the larger field of the planetary evolution of the whole of humanity, the extension of these facts should provide with us a rationale for the traditional belief in the existence of superior beings from a previous evolutionary life-scheme who gave to nascent mankind an 'Original Revelation' from which what has been variously called 'the universal Wisdom-Religion', 'the great Tradition' or 'the perennial philosophy' had initially been derived. What does not seem clear to many people using these terms is that they refer to the planetary evolution of mankind as a whole all over the globe, and not to any particular and localized culture-whole (or in Toynbee's sense, Society or Civilization). These two levels of development should not be confused, even if any fully developing culture-whole tends to develop along lines similar to those operative within the much larger field of the global evolution of mankind.

By virtue of its function, the Priest Type is conservative. It is a 'religious' function, because it literally 'binds back' (religere) the developing functions of the second order to a creative Source, a transformative descent of the Holy Spirit which, I repeat, antedates the concrete beginnings of the culture the priest serves. A religion opens a particular path for the transformation and rebirth of persons born within a particular culture; however, if a person succeeds, primarily by his or her own strength and determination, to reach the consummating and also consuming end of that path, he or she becomes suspicious to the priesthood. The mystic is not welcome in institutionalized religions, especially if a more or less hereditary or class-conscious priesthood has become involved in the politics of social power. If tolerated and glorified after the mystic's death, the mystical experience has to be formulated in terms of religious orthodoxy in order to be fitted into the socio-cultural scheme.

Generally speaking, the development of functions of the fourth order, in whatever way they operate in the unusual person, has to be translated into terms of functions of the second order in order to be acceptable to the religious institutions. Similarly, any new and superior way of releasing physically operative power is at first blocked by existing social-economic institutions profiting from or used to the old method until they can absorb and control the production and effective use of the new type of energy. In most instances, the reluctant acceptance and implied change occur only after a social crisis made the need for new sources of power imperative. Sometimes, the religious priesthood seems to welcome the individual who, through the traditional methods has achieved what these methods were meant to produce when originally outlined. When this occurs, however, the question is whether the achievement really has a universalistic, all-inclusive character. As seen from the point of view of fully developed fourth order functions, it may have only a relatively universalistic character—just like the statement by intellectuals in ancient Rome that nothing human could be alien to them had actual validity only within the range of an enlarged, yet limited, Mediterranean world.

The important point here is whether the universalism of functions of the fourth order can ever be reached without a full development of the localized and limiting functions of the second order; and in all but at least relatively exceptional cases, the answer seems to be that without a firm socio-cultural foundation, the fourth level of functional activity cannot be actually reached, even though there appears to be a direct connection between the biological and the spiritual. Even if there is such a connection, what is implied is that the biological level may reflect the spiritual. A reflection, however, is not an active creative reality. In order to reach the creative reality of the fourth level of functional activity, a human being should not only have developed socio-cultural values, but also have become 'individualized' through the operation of functions of the third order. Such an operation begins at the collective level of cultural and social processes with the development of a Philosopher type.

In socio-cultural terms, the Philosopher type is also that of the Scholar. The Philosopher is the person who either belongs to a 'school of philosophy' or starts (or allows to form) such a school. As it grows in influence, the school tends to become institutionalized into what in the Western world we call a college or university. Literally speaking, a 'college' deals with a whole system of 'laws'; and by law, what is actually meant is a method allowing us to comprehend and use for our own individual or collective purpose the order we believe to be inherent in nature and the universe.

While the Ruler and his priesthood simply seek to preserve and enforce the outer forms of the collective life-ordering derived from a previous creative Revelation, the Philosopher seeks to understand and to adequately formulate either what he feels to be behind the Revelation, or the order he perceives or intuitively realizes to exist in the universe. The Philosopher's endeavors imply the development of a more or less objective mind. At first he may be mainly an 'apologist' for the official religion of his culture; but eventually, the drive toward objectivity in understanding leads to the development of intellectual process of comparative and psychological analysis, and the critical faculty develops. Sooner or later, criticism unavoidably implies crisis; that is, a 'decision'—a 'cutting away' from a taken-for-granted acceptance of intellectual paradigms, religious dogmas and moral imperatives which represent at the socio-cultural level what biological instincts and taboos had once been at the totally compulsive level of biology and tribal organization.

A particular type of Philosopher arises whose function it is to initiate a process of socio-cultural transformation at the level of ideas. In one culture, he is Socrates forcing the intellectuals of his day to question everything. In another, he is Nietzsche announcing the "twilight of idols" and "the death of God"—the God of our Christian-European culture with its roots in a but partially understood ancient Greek culture. To this type belong these who start, and often over-indulge in the 'higher criticism' of religious records—and psychologists like Freud and his school of 'reductionists' trying to prove that the assumed greatness of revered products of their slowly dying culture 'merely is', or is 'nothing but', a more or less aberrant manifestation of some biopsychological functions.

After these crisis-inducing philosophers-muckrakers have done their necessary—even if catabolic—work, another aspect of the Philosopher Type enters the stage of the by then highly disturbed, if not conflict-racked society. These philosophers try tentatively to integrate the original themes of the culture and the new values promoted by the crisis-philosophers. They are the first 'seed men' of the culture-whole, and though their culture may stay alive for a long time after their deaths, some of their realizations may be transferred (as 'seed ideas') to the future culture-whole, at least in a radically modified form. Plato and Aristotle belong to that type—Plato trying to combine the power of the Orphic-Pythagorean tradition and the challenging character of the discursive intellect (the function of transition leading from the second to the third order) whose development Socrates pioneered; Aristotle emphasizing the implication of the new function and its potential universalistic character—thus paving the way to the future emergence of the Scientist type.

At first, the Scientist is still very close to the Philosopher in his endeavor to provide an intellectualized and rationalized model of the universe; but as Baconian empiricism supersedes the intuitive and metaphysical rationalism of the Greek philosophers, and an experimental methodology excludes from the field of scientific validity all that transcends or diverges from the sense-data and mathematical "rigorous thinking" (Bertrand Russell), the Scientist gives up any form of reliance upon what he calls philosophical speculation. Yet in time, as we shall see, the very achievements of science and its progeny, technology, produce situations which irresistibly impel the greatest scientists to ask not only philosophical, but metaphysical questions; a 'philosophy of science' seeks to answer these questions.

In order to understand what Western science has brought to mankind, we have to integrate its function within a larger process dealing with the expansion of interpersonal and intercultural relationships. This expansion is spearheaded by the appearance of new types of human beings in which a new aspect of archetypal Anthopos seeks its full and differentiated development. The French word commercant, unfortunately missing from the English language, expresses most precisely the basic function of this type. Through persons of this type, a 'commergence' of human activities and. individual or group interest takes place through 'commerce'—which means through interchange and trading. The term, business, refers only to the externality of the process—i.e., the fact that it keeps people 'very busy' indeed. They are busy exchanging goods and services; but one can only exchange what one possesses.

Commerce and the expansion of human activity it engenders require products to exchange and trade with. As a result, what could be called the Producer Type acquires a specialized importance. Productivity takes on a character and a meaning which basically differs from what it was in the archaic Ages. It becomes industrialized, and this gives it a seemingly unbounded and almost infinitely expansive character which has very basic repercussions on the wholesome development of the human person. Commerce and productivity act as powerful agents in the wholesale process of individualization; and we saw already that this process essentially characterizes the Age of Differentiation and Conflict (antithesis).


1. Cf. my book, Culture, Crisis and Creativity (Wheaton: Theosophical Publishing House, 1976).   Return

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