Culture, Crisis & Creativity

by Dane Rudhyar

3. The Cycle of Man According to
the Symbolism of Number

According to the prevailing beliefs concerning the evolution of mankind, in its first stage humans lived in small groups as "food gatherers," existing on what they could find to eat in their immediate environment. Whether in the beginning this food was strictly vegetarian or included the flesh of captured animals, sooner or later men began to hunt with clubs, spears, bows and arrows, nets and traps.

The use of tools and the eating of flesh most likely increased in importance when human beings, instead of being frightened by fire, as all animals are, began to use and produce it artificially. At this point the process of civilization began. It is probable that humans started to plant seeds and to plough land before the wide use of fire in melting metal began. But in any case, two basic lines of development are essential in the formation and growth of culture-wholes: agriculture and industry. Agriculture—and with it cattle-raising and the domestication of animals—deals with the power of seed-multiplication inherent in vegetable and animal life. Industry is based on the transformation of matter through the use of fire.

In previous books I have discussed the meanings and the eventual results of these two primordial modes of human productivity. Humans, as food producers uses both; but the relative importance of agriculture and industry in the formation, development, and transformation of cultures can greatly vary. Industry, which at first had but a secondary importance, and whose products were mainly concerned with agricultural activities and warfare, has come in recent centuries to occupy a primary role as determinant of the character of the culture. In the Bible, the two lines of human development are sharply differentiated as the descendants of Seth and those of Cain, and the god of life, Yahweh, always favors the former and the pastoral life. The men who use fire and forge weapons somehow end by building cities, which in turn become "dens of iniquity."

According to the Biblical narrative, which simply condenses in a strictly symbolical form long ages of human development, the process of civilization takes a special and far more dangerous form when the Ben Elohim appear among human beings, "marry the daughters of men," and giants are born displaying great powers, sooner or later being used for selfish and perverted purposes. The term Ben Elohim (appearing in Genesis 6) has been translated "Sons of God"; but according to esoteric tradition, these beings "emanated" from the Elohim who, in Genesis 1, are shown to create the Archetypes of male-female human beings. They were "sons" not of Yahweh, the fashioner of physical and biological man, but instead of Elohim, the creator of the universe at the level of the divine Mind. They had within them the "fire"—the power of creation and radical transformation—which characterizes this divine Mind. In that sense, they correspond to the Greek Prometheus, but they are far more precisely related to the Kumaras who, according to the ancient Hindu traditions, brought to animal mankind the "fire" of individual selfhood, at least in a latent state.(1)

With the coming of the Kumaras the process of civilization began to operate at the mental-spiritual level where it essentially belongs. The potentiality of conscious, responsible, and free individual selfhood was "grafted" upon the human species. One might also say that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was fertilized by the coming among men of these "divine" beings. Today, when the coming of "space people" from other planets or solar systems is widely believed in, many people reading these words will probably think that these beings were cosmic visitors. In fact, some esoteric doctrines assert that they came from Venus; but it is not at all clear whether the name Venus refers to what we see in the sky as a material celestial body, or to a transcendent realm of consciousness having a special relationship to the type of human existence having emerged from the Earth's biosphere.

Such a concept obviously can only be accepted with great difficulty by college-trained minds or religious traditionalists; but it would not startle people whose mentality had been formed by any older culture. I shall add that in relation to this present discussion, it does not matter a great deal whether the idea of a spiritual fecundation and potential transformation of the human race by superior extraterrestrial or metabiospheric entities is to be considered a myth or a factual reality which can be related to a definite period of human pre-history. All great myths are based on a few facts. These facts often have left no physical records available to historians, nevertheless they have brought to a focus basic changes in human consciousness and collective activity, and it is such changes that concern us here. The original events in time became interpreted and expanded into symbols of deep and everlasting significance. These symbols always acquire a tremendous psychic power; they move multitudes, and though seemingly forgotten for centuries in a particular culture-whole, they may be resuscitated in a modified form, and new meaning and power may be poured into them. This happens whenever the new collective needs of a people, and now perhaps of humanity as a whole, can be adequately and significantly met by these symbols in their new avataric embodiment.

Today the need that underlies all more superficial problems is to reassess the fundamental assumptions and the religious-ethical dogmas on which Western society, and all the older societies which it has conquered and traumatized, are basing their ways of life, their deep emotional responses and their mental assumptions. This means first of all, a reassessment of the relative value of the way of culture and the way of civilization.

Extremists deny one of these ways a basic significance. Some, following Spengler and numerous other modern thinkers, believe that civilization is essentially evil and that human salvation can come only through an uncompromising return to the land, to "natural" values and behavior, and to more or less local or at least regional cultures depending for their power upon "the Earth-mother"; and this, not merely as a temporary regathering of vital power, but as a permanent way of life for all human beings. Other extremists are looking eagerly to a future in which industrial technology and an ever-greater dependence on the type of thinking on which modern scientific procedures and conceptualizations are based will almost totally absorb and overcome man's subservience to natural conditions and deeply vitalistic and emotional responses.

In the first instance, if extremists had their way, Western technology and industry, and their far-reaching psychosocial results, would be given a secondary importance if not almost totally tabooed; in the second case, agriculture would become almost entirely industrialized and chemicalized, and the whole globe would be made into a vast agglomeration of huge cities, with the natural spaces between them considered mere playgrounds for sophisticated recreation and fun —zones for the release of tension. Should the Earth prove too polluted for human well-being, then the human elite would be shipped away to conquer new planets and bring to whatever life-forms may grow on them the doubtful blessings of our present-day or day-after-tomorrow human civilization.

Between these two extreme positions, a variety of solutions are possible. Whatever they are in practical detail, they should be based on the intuitive realization that a harmonious interrelationship and interaction between culture and civilization will be possible only when man is able to see that both have a definite part to play in the gradual achievement of a state of being which transcends them both. I have already presented such a "vision" of a perhaps distant human and planetary future in my book We Can Begin Again - Together (Part Two). What should be clarified is the way in which the process of civilization interacts with the development of culture-wholes.

Culture forms; civilization transforms. Cycle after cycle, the transforming process of civilization broadens and raises the level of the formative power of culture. Yet, as it performs such a task, it also saps the foundations of the institutionalized patterns of culture-wholes which have become rigid and devitalized. Wherever life operates in organized systems of rigidly structured activity, these systems automatically induce the power of transformation which, at the level of the biosphere, operate as death. But—as already stated—death can be experienced in life. The human mind, when organized by a life-transcending will, can experience death without breaking its basic relationship to the biological organism.

Because it is the product of human activity, a culture-whole can also consciously and deliberately accept the transformation activity of civilization, and retain its basic identity even though it has experienced a collective cultural death. This occurred in China, in "greater India" (Aryavarta), and in Egypt. The Greco-Roman Mediterranean culture-whole was not able to experience death-rebirth, because the shock of Christianity was too radical. It is possible that our Euro-American culture-whole will have the same fate, because the shock produced by modern science and its technology since the Reformation may be too devastating not only to our own and all ancient cultures but to the biosphere itself.

This is possible, but neither necessary nor fated. However, I firmly believe that the possibility of experiencing a death-rebirth process entirely depends on man's ability to clearly envision a metabiological state of existence transcending what until now mankind has assumed to be—and desired to be—the only possible foundation for all cultural activities. That life-transcending state is not civilization as we know it today or have ever thought of it. Civilization is only the necessary means to so radically transform culture-wholes that, after many historical cycles, they may become what seers and prophets have symbolized as the New Jerusalem, the Holy City, or the Gnostic Society of the Age of Plenitude.

Civilization is a means to an end. It kills any living organism which, because it neither can envision that end nor understand its eventual inevitability, is unable to work toward its existential realization. What we need today is neither more civilization nor a permanent and idealized return to nature. What we need is to allow the process of transformation to act so deeply in us, as individuals and as collectivities, that we can lose enough of our sense of bondage to the biosphere and its compulsive drives to gain the vision of the transcendent state, not as a mere ideal but as a planetary reality on an equally transformed or transfigured Earth.

Alas, what today we call civilization, while it inspires us to look beyond our past subservience to biospheric imperatives, also makes it impossible for our civilized minds to picture such a "beyond" except in materialistic and self-defeating terms of physical comfort and technological prowess and power. This is the great tragedy of modern man. His much acclaimed scientific spirit frees him of the compulsions of subrational and subconscious states of mind, only to bind him to an empty rationalism and a quantitative analytical intellect, both of which actually entomb him in a sarcophagus filled with only the mimicry of life. This sarcophagus is the "megalopolis"—the monstrous city.(2)

Numbers as Cyclocosmic Archetypes.

I shall develop further what is implied in the preceding statements, but it seems necessary at first to try to clarify in broad lines the relationship between culture, civilization, and a state of human existence transcending both. To that end the use of a traditional type of numerical symbolism should prove very revealing, provided one realizes that when using numbers in such a manner, one thinks of archetypes and levels of being at which fundamental qualities operate, but not of quantitative measurements and merely intellectual classification. Pythagorean, Kabalistic, and alchemical systems dealt with numbers in such a way, and recent Theosophical or, broadly speaking, occult descriptions of cosmic and biopsychological processes have stressed the importance of this kind of analysis.

Here three numbers are of special importance: 4, 5, and 6. They acquire their most basic existential meaning in terms of a sevenfold frame of reference widely used in the study of cyclic processes, as it is a most valuable foundation for the study of the structure of physical systems of organization and of the sequential phases of their development.

In order to understand the essential meaning of number 7 we have to start from the premise that all forms of existence imply the operation of two basic principles. As these are constantly interacting, a third principle—the principle of relatedness—must also be considered. If now we try to understand how these three principles operate we see that they can be combined in four ways. If A, B, and C represent the three principles, we may have the following combinations: AB, AC, BC and ABC.

Let us say that A stands for the principle of individualization, according to which whatever exists operates as a whole (a unit); and B for the principle of collectivization, according to which units tend to gather into more inclusive combinations. C would then stand for the power that keeps the two principles in a state of dynamic, ever-altered, but fundamentally harmonic relationship. If now we consider this power of harmonization as it acts within the individual, such an action is represented by AC; when operating within a "collectivity" it is symbolized by BC. If we dealt with the physical manifestation of the process, we would have the combination ABC.

There are therefore three basic principles and four combinations. Number 4 refers to the concrete actualization of all cosmic possibilities. This is the square; and, in three dimensions, the cube with its six faces—the perfect Stone whose symbolism is developed in all religious and metaphysical or occult systems. At one level, number 4 therefore stands for the physical world, the Earth, Nature; at another it symbolizes the human person considered as an individualized whole, a microcosm.

A circle can be entirely surrounded by and tangent to six circles of the same size. This is a well-known geometrical design (which any one can test by using seven dimes touching one another) and a profound symbol. If, however, we pass from the static archetypal level of geometrical figures to the dynamic realm of existence in which motion and change are unceasing, we have to think of cyclic processes instead of circles. These processes have three essential phases: beginning, middle, and end.(3) A seven-beat rhythm operates within these processes and the mid-point of the cycle comes during phase 4. During that phase, physical matter is the foundation of existence, and physical bodies develop to the fullest extent possible on solid planets, at least some of which have a biosphere.

Number 4 thus symbolizes our Earth and the fundamental vibration characterizing all life-processes with the biosphere. However, if we can think of the Earth as a cosmic whole encompassing far more than the present physical mass which our senses perceive and our instruments survey and measure, and if we try to imagine the entire cycle of its development, we should realize that in this development, there were three phases which, in terms of time, preceded the present stage 4—or, as American Indians say, "the Fourth World" which human beings are now inhabiting. During these first three phases of the entire planetary cycle an original Creative Impulse gradually becomes more concretely manifested in solid physical matter. The subjective vision and purpose of a creative center of metacosmic consciousness—a Creator, Logos, or Ishvara—infused with an immense, yet finite amount of energy, gradually becomes more explicit, more objective. This vision and purpose "formulate" themselves in cosmic, planetary and eventually biological forms of increasingly denser and more solid matter—mineral, vegetable, animal, protohuman.

We may speak of phase 1 of the cyclic process as purely spiritual or dreamlike. The one original vision retains its homogeneity, though already differentiation occurs at a level we can hardly imagine. Phase 2 begins when the colors that have differentiated from the original one light reflect themselves in the materials that were left from a previous universe and are being "churned" or wheeled around in response to the original Creative Impulse and the energies it released. The dualism of spirit and matter dominates this phase; but as phase 3 begins a power of relatedness begins fully to operate. It is the power of the integrative and formative Mind, organizing matter in direct and immediate response to what now have become definitely differentiated and multifarious expressions of the original creative Impulse. If that Impulse is seen as a creative "Word" (logos), the multitude of "Letters" that were implied in the meaning of the Word are now clearly explicated as definite qualities of being.

It was at the end of that phase 3 of our planetary process that, according to Hindu traditions, the Kumaras entered the planetary field of our Earth and brought to humanity-as-a-whole the potentiality of attaining an individualized type of consciousness and mind— thus, the possibility of relating all experiences to a center of consciousness and, as a result, of developing a sense of independent identity, of "being I." Such a possibility, once actualized, can operate in two directions. Indeed, every new release of power can always be used either constructively or destructively. The use is constructive when it is in tune with the original creative Impulse—or in religious terms, God's Will. It is destructive when, ignorantly or more or less deliberately, it works against the divine Purpose. It does so when it operates for the mere satisfaction and/or aggrandizement of an individualized center of consciousness in which separative tendencies have overcome any deep feeling of belongingness to a whole—a whole in which the individualized self occupies an archetypal function, somewhat as a cell performs an organic role within a living body.

Phase 3 of a cosmic or planetary process refers therefore to a period during which the principle of relatedness and the direction in which it operates are all-important. The end-purpose of relationship, and in general of existence itself, is taking form in the consciousness. What the gradually more structured field of consciousness envisions as life's purpose becomes a determining factor. Thus, the inability to picture a divine purpose for the universe, and for humanity an equally divine condition as the ultimate result of his individualization can have a tragic outcome as phase 4 begins and everything that the mind has pictured tends to become a concrete physical fact. A failure of vision—which at the level of the personal life is often called a "failure of nerves" —almost inevitably leads to destructive results. Phase 4 actualizes in physical, biopsychic terms what was potential during the preceding phases. It concretizes all relationships and brings them to a point at which decisions and choice have to be made, individually and collectively.

In the mythology of occultism (which does not mean that the myths are not based on actual events!) phase 4 refers to the Atlantean period and the struggle between white and black Adepts able to wield the enormous power of a humanity of giants living close to an immensely prolific soil. What made these Adepts of the white and black Paths, was the quality of their vision, which in turn concretized itself either into total faith in the divine Will and Purpose, or into tragic insecurity and the fear of losing control of the tremendous energies inherent in life, sex and imagination—energies which in that period were operating at a level of intensity we can hardly conceive today.

During phase 4 the original creative Impulse given by the Demiurge or Logos can reflect itself in its totality within a human organism, which, as this occurs becomes a "whole Person", an Avatar. The keynote of that evolutionary period is personification. Because human realize that within them a capacity of total response to the creative Word inheres, they unconsciously project this sense of totality upon whatever seems to act independently and purposefully.

The whole Earth, and especially its biosphere, is attuned to this cosmic vibration 4; and so are all culture-wholes rooted in the soil and controlled by the compulsive urges and needs characterizing a biospheric or biopsychic state of existence. Each culture-whole personifies its innermost potential of being as "God". But at the tribal level of social organization this God is only the god of a particular tribe; and the center of the tribal village is not, as tribesmen believe, the center of the whole world. In time, however, the tribal vision tends to become a global, planetary realization of the oneness of mankind, and "universal religions" (as Toynbee calls them) arise. They arise only after new levels of consciousness are reached by a mental-spiritual vanguard of mankind, and geniuses, seers, prophets and God-revealing personages fecundate the collective consciousness of their own or the following generations with flaming ideals and seed-ideas.

This creative-transforming vanguard, though living in bodies resonating to the vibration 4 of the Earth's biosphere, somehow becomes attuned in consciousness, imaginative power, and will to the vibration 5. They herald the eventual appearance of new faculties and a new mind. Through them the process of civilization operates. It operates in culture-wholes that have attained a critical state in their evolution; and we have already seen what this operation leads to.

The important point for us to realize now is that phase 5 in any cyclic process, be it microcosmic or microcosmic, constitutes a dynamic transition between phase 4 and phase 6. The creative Impulse which, after passing through the above-described phases 1, 2, and 3, reached the stage of concretization in physical organisms and personification in human consciousness, has to dephysicalize itself through the operation of mind—that is, of metabiological fields of conscious activity. If we consider the first three phases of the cycle as a "descent" of spirit into matter (a confusing, yet widely used image), the last three phases of the cycle—5, 6, and 7—represent the "ascent" of individualized fields of conscious activity to a planetary or cosmic level of operation. We may speak also of a "universalization" of consciousness implying a conscious and active participation in the planetary or cosmic "greater Whole" to which these individualized fields belong.

The first half of the cycle is involutionary; the second half evolutionary. Spirit involves itself in organic forms which are concrete manifestations of its many and varied aspects—each aspect operating as an archetypal quality of individualized being and relatedness. Then consciousness evolves and expresses itself in always purer, more definite, yet more universally applicable forms of mind and of what Sri Aurobindo called overmind and Supermind, which refer respectively to vibrations 5 and 6.

In the second and ascending half of the cycle, phase 5 corresponds to phase 3 in the first and descending half. Phase 4 is the "bottom" of the cycle. The main task of vibration 5 is to mobilize what had become earth-bound, institutionalized, and static in its inertial worship of the reflected power of the creative origin of the cycle. It is to set in motion what had become self-complacent and set along rigid traditional lines. Mobilization in wartime is a highly disturbing and crucial process for the soldiers-to-be; and wherever vibration 5 acts in a focalized manner —that is, through an individual person radiating a Promethean spirit—the status quo is challenged and a more or less cathartic type of crisis takes place. It may occur in the life of single persons or small groups; but it affects the entire society and culture-whole when their institutions and their paradigms have become rigid and no longer susceptible to gradual, natural modifications or mutations. Then Promethean spirits, whose symbol is the five-pointed star, appear in increasing number, and civilization at the same time opens the gates of the collective consciousness to a new vision and destroys whatever resists radical transformation.

I should stress at this point that while the several phases of a cyclic process are sequential, they also interact and interpenetrate to some extent. The future phase draws to itself the present state of consciousness, while the unfinished business and the failure of vision of the concluded phases permeate the present in the form of memories that tend to revitalize the past—or, we might say, as karma. During the large planetary cycle of the Earth's evolution which began millions of years ago, the vibration 4 gives to the biosphere and to mankind as a life-species its fundamental character. Yet after a certain point in that evolution the vibration 5 also begins to operate. It operates as the process of civilization. This process is to some extent conditioned by what occurred when vibration 3 was the fundamental tone of the Earth and of humanity. If there was a failure of vision during phase 3, as vibration 5 begins to operate as an overtone of the Root-fundamental of our planet, it will tend to be deviated (made "out of tune") by the karma or unconscious memory of that failure.

According to the "holarchic"—i.e. holistic and hierarchical—picture of the universe and its workings, every existential whole at the same time contains lesser wholes and participates in the organic activity of a larger field of existence. This picture is valid in the dimension of time as well as in space. That is to say, every cycle—a unit in the time-process of universal existence—contains sub-cycles. Thus while the large planetary cycle (let us call it the eon) is in its fourth basic phase, that phase has also seven subphases. and each of these has sub-subphases. As a result, a situation may arise in which the eonic process as a whole operates under vibration 4, the subphase operates under vibration 5, and the sub-subphase under vibration 6. Indeed, we live today at a time when this situation is beginning to be experienced by mankind, or at least by a sizeable section of mankind.

It is when vibration 5 starts to operate at any level (eon, subphase of sub-subphase) that the process of civilization begins to affect the consciousness, and eventually the activities and ways of life of human beings. This process operates through "civilizers," individuals whose constitution and character can resonate to the vibration 5. A time came during the fifth subphase of the planetary eon when the vibration 5 could begin to operate. This allowed for the appearance within the planetary field of the Kumaras-Prometheus who brought to humanity the fire of individual selfhood and therefore the possibility of developing a new type of mind freed from the compulsions of the biosphere. These beings, whatever names we may give them, were the first Civilizers. But because mankind as a whole and the Earth were fundamentally operating under the eonic vibration 4, and the coming of these Civilizers occurred in the third subphase of the large planetary cycle, the incoming vibration 5 could operate only at the level of Archetypes (number 3), thus as only a potentiality that could be concretely actualized only at a much later time.

When, during the fourth subphase, the fifth sub-subphase began to operate at a crucial moment in the development of the mythical Atlantis, the process of civilization was given a new and far more concrete impetus. Both its positive and negative (anabolic and catabolic) possibilities were developed by groups of Civilizers—the Biblical "giants"—some of whom used their "vibration 5 minds" to direct the intense powers of a tropical biosphere into destructive channels of self-gratification and tyrannical power-seeking. This led to the war between the "white" and the "black" Adepts which destroyed Atlantis, but also to the first stage in the development of a new humanity in which vibration 5 eventually became a strongly emphasized first overtone of the fundamental vibration of the eonic process still being ruled by vibration 4.

I stressed the word eventually because it was only when the fifth sub-subphase of the fifth subphase began that a large proportion of mankind actually became emotionally and intellectually dynamized at a personal and social level by the power of the Civilizer's mind, vibration 5. This process began around 600 B.C. and it can be related to the impulse given by such great men as Gautama the Buddha, Pythagoras, the last of the Zoroasters, and to the Greek culture as a whole. During the preceding sub-subphases the involutionary first half of this process had taken place. Strictly speaking, the Greco-Latin and Mediterranean period of human history can be considered in some of its outer aspects as operating under a strong vibration 4; yet the power that was released in the sixth century B.C. began to work within the consciousness of a relatively small elite, and basic concepts were provided for a later, more widespread and more concretized development of the Civilizer's mind during the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe. Generally speaking, whenever vibration n operates fully, vibration n + 1 begins to act within the vanguard of mankind.

It is difficult to formulate clearly in existential terms how the whole process operates and the interplay of culture and civilization takes historical-social forms. Yet the archetypal principle implied in the process is extremely simple. It may also be illustrated by a musical analogy.

The sociocultural forms defining the collective way of life, feeling-responses, and intellectual assumptions of human beings within a culture-whole can be analyzed in a manner not unlike the way in which an acoustical specialist analyzes the timbre (or quality) of a musical instrument. He isolates the fundamental tone and the various overtones which, in their combination, determine the specific character of the sounds produced by the instrument; and he particularly studies the relative strengths of these constituting elements within the complex instrumental tones. A family of instruments tends to emphasize a certain set of overtones, sometimes even at the expense of the fundamental or "root-tone"; another family, another set. Every instrumental family can thus be characterized by a particular formula of relationship between fundamental and overtones. Likewise any culture-whole stresses a certain set of assumptions, values, concepts, and feeling-responses which determines its collective way of life—and, musically speaking, its "timbre." Nevertheless individuals may operate in a way which appears to be, and at the higher level of their total being actually is, much in advance of the stage of development reached by their society or even by the human race as a whole. At the biological level of man's common humanity, their bodies—and in most cases, their "personalities," in the usual sense of the word—still experience the normal pressures and impulses of human nature, but the consciousness of these individuals no longer gives to these pressures and impulses the importance and/or the meaning which they have for the average human being. In some relatively rare cases, these men or women have actually transferred the center of their consciousness and therefore their sense of identity from the biopsychic level to a spiritual-mental level.

It is at that level that the great Civilizers have their consciousness focused; nevertheless, if they are to act as a civilizing, mobilizing, and transforming power, they have to use what the culture-whole in which they are born can provide. They have to give a cultural form to their culture-transcending visions or inspirations. Whether in concepts and words, in artistic creations, or in deeds which, as symbols and myths, become the foundations of sociocultural or religious institutions, these creatives must formulate what often is in fact unformulatable at the mass level of their culture. Because they radiate a mental or supermental light upon the opaque and rigid mentality of their contemporaries, one of the almost inevitable results is the appearance of a shadow as deep as the light emanated from their minds or souls is strong. They fascinate a few people, perhaps a large section of their community, who follow them, even at the cost of at least a relative type of martyrdom; but they also usually arouse equally strong opposing forces which focus the inertia inherent in the phase 4 of any cycle.

I repeat that number 4 symbolizes a concrete and solid state of existence. It must be solid in order to generate a sense of security, not for any particular living organism—because the biosphere has no concern for individual organisms which are always expendable—but for the species as a whole. The phase 4 of the human cycle brings the energies and functional activities of life to a point of dynamic equilibrium at which an individual person can reflect the cosmic harmony of the universal Whole. But the kind of material substance which can serve as a mirror is so coarse and so muddied by a constant unresolved (because unconscious) state of conflict that, save in the rare and exceptional cases of "avataric" beings, the reflection is very poor and usually distorted.

As vibration 5 begins to operate at the level of mental activity and creativity, the reflected forms become more definite and their meaning clearer, but vibration 5 almost inevitably induces conflicts and provokes the inertial resistance of the biopsychic level of existence operating under vibration 4, and another kind of problem arises. I am referring here to what often manifests as the Civilizer's "double personality." This occurs because, even if his consciousness has become recentered at the 5 level, it is still operating in a natural body, from whose energies and need the "vibration 5 mind" cannot totally separate itself, except in very rare cases.

That mind finds itself in a state of transition, and therefore of conflict. It is pulled by the memories of past moments of beauty, happiness and fulfillment, yet irrevocably drawn toward a future state which it usually cannot clearly or convincingly envision. Number 5 is a symbol of transition. It can be represented by an up-pointing or a down-pointing five-pointed star—the former, a symbol of "white magic"; the latter, of "black magic."

Civilization is a process of transition. As already stated, it is a means to an end; and that end becomes realized only as vibration 6 begins to operate within the mentalized consciousness of humanity. Civilization fails when vibration 6 does not operate at least as an ideal and some sort of utopian vision. But today mankind is still (and has been for a very long time) operating at the fourth stage of the vast planetary cycle. Thus the 6-inspired vision in most instances remains vague and elusive because unformulatable in biopsychological terms, except through often more confusing than revealing attempts at symbolization; and the ideal inspired by vibration 6, and those extremely rare beings who can transmute or radiate some of its power—Gautama the Buddha, Sankaracharya, the Christ, and a few others, known and mostly unknown— become personalized and institutionalized. Their message is diffused and emotionalized by the glamor of religious worship.

The very few beings, far ahead of human evolution, who brought to our planet at least the "prolegomena"—the prophetic vistas—of its sixth phase, appeared in places where vibration 5 was particularly strong. This was true, for instance, in the India of the Age of Philosophy, and in the midst of the Jewish society that, though worshipping the typically vibration 5 experience of Moses in his encounter with the "I am that I am," nevertheless was still dominated by the rigid legal formulas of the tribal state. The Buddha attempted to desystematize and "metabiologize" Hindu life, still oppressed by a caste system which once, in its ideal form, was meant to reflect the fourfold order of the cosmos as seen from the perspective of a life-centered consciousness. Christ sought to spiritualize, deintellectualize and deformalize the consciousness of the people to whom he had come, and to extol above every other law the principle of universal love. But how little is left of Christ's vision and ideal! And probably how inaccurately understood has been the meaning of nirvana (the state of liberation) which the Buddha sought to convey to his followers, even though, later on, Mahayana Buddhism stressed the ideal of total compassion in terms of an existential reality, which nevertheless had a somewhat remote and rarefied field of application!

On the one hand, whatever the vibration 6 of consciousness brings to the human mind always tends to be physicalized and dogmatized so that it may give a sense of security, transcendent though it be, to a member of our "fourth World." On the other hand, when, through the development of intellectual analysis and objectivity, the vibration 5 succeeds in bringing to a culture-whole a workable sociocultural system making possible the development of individuals in at least relative freedom and equality before the law, it also fosters technological advance, a passion for physical comfort and ego-satisfaction, a craving for social, cultural, and political fame and power, and the uncontrolled growth of monstrous cities in which existence becomes thoroughly artificialized and in the end bitterly disruptive of health, harmony, and security. Then a reaction sets in, and the only form of salvation which a new generation of city-dwellers and suburban commuters can envision is a chaotic return to the "natural" life and a glorified sexual freedom which is essentially not free, because it is an escape from emotional conflicts and from an intellectualized sense of futility or despair.

In saying this I am of course dealing with generalities always susceptible of being modified by conditioning particularities of personal or group living. But at this point in history, not only in the Western world but everywhere on the globe, the need for a vision, in which vast and inclusive currents of human consciousness and activity are seen moving to almost inevitable ends against a cosmic background, seems imperative. These currents actually operate within each and all individuals, whether consciously or not; and it is essential that we should be clearly conscious of what these currents mean and to what they are leading. Understanding is essential, and our physical sciences and our various and conflicting psychological schools do not give us the kind of understanding we need. They are obsessed with particularities, personal case histories and existential data. These, if well treated, may help individual persons to feel better and calm their emotional crises. But today this is nonessential. A greater vision of what existence is and what it means to us all, now, in our global state of crisis, is necessary for human survival. We have to go ahead, not backward. Yet we have to include the tragic past of mankind in our departicularized consciousness, and through an understanding of where this past fits when seen as a phase of the total process of planetary development, to accept it, even with all its tragedies—including our own as individuals.

To do this without being affected by it and emotionally drawn into it is difficult. But, as I see it, this is the only way—not "out," but forward; the conscious way of total acceptance. There is no way out, no possible escape. Even the ideal of living totally, exclusively, spontaneously in the present—the now—can be an escape from the conscious acceptance of responsibility. This is not the way of creativity. A truly creative activity has meaning essentially because it brings forth a new and transforming solution to the problems which the past has tried to evade or failed to meet squarely and fearlessly. The popular Hindu imagery which depicts the universe as the play (lila) of Brahma in which He takes all the parts under a myriad of masks has a beautiful child-like naiveté. It glorifies life in its innocence—the fourth stage reflecting, but only reflecting, the original Edenic unity of all beginnings. It has not yet discovered the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

We must leave the original Eden in order to become Human. He eventually will make of the whole Earth a garden, not a reconstructed wilderness. Within that garden the many castles our many culture-wholes have built, and for a brief time inhabited, will again stand, illumined by the myriad of lights of multifarious human understanding. But Humanity will no longer need any castle, for he himself will be the one archetypal Castle, the great dream actualized, potentiality totally fulfilled on a transfigured Earth in all-encompassing plenitude of existence.(4)

1. I have discussed this point in my recent book Occult Preparations for a New Age (Quest Books, 1975; now free online) and to some extent also in the chapter "Fire vs. Seed," in We Can Begin Again - Together (Omen Press, Tucson, 1974)—a chapter mainly reproducing material published in a long out of print volume Modern Man's Conflicts: The Creative Challenge of a Global Society (Philosophical Library, N.Y., 1946-48). All developed societies embody a dualism of agriculture and industry. Agriculture is based on the power of biological self-multiplication within the vegetable and animal seed—one seed being able to produce a harvest of similar seeds. Industry is founded upon the use of fire and heat in the process of giving specific and utilizable form to raw materials, and of transforming or transmuting them. The two types of activity can be symbolized respectively by Adam and Prometheus, or Abel and Cain.   Return

2. The negative aspect of the civilization process when it produces large cities and agglomerations of lonely and insecure atomistic individuals without communal roots manifests at the biological level in characteristic diseases. The pioneer in the development of so-called "electronic machines" for the diagnosis and cure of diseases, Dr. Abrams, based his system on the concept that all illnesses could be found rooted in three fundamental diseases representing radical alterations of the life-force in the total biopsychic human organism. These diseases—syphilis, tuberculosis, cancer—need not manifest at all in terms of visible physical symptoms, but they exist at the level of "etheric" vibrations in the electromagnetic field of which the body represents only the physically material part. They may never manifest as visible illnesses, but a variety of secondary diseases are, as it were, their stepped-down manifestations or by-products. Hahneman, the founder of homeopathy in the early nineteenth century, had a similar theory referring to what he named "miasmas."

Following Abram's lead I related these three root-diseases to archetypal perversions at the mental (syphilis), the emotional (tuberculosis), and the strictly material-cellular (cancer) levels of the total organism of personality. If cancer is given so much prominence today it is because the negative aspect of civilization in the Western world has poisoned so many of the material substances of the biosphere, and the human body breathes and feeds on such deteriorated chemicals. Tuberculosis spreads most easily in social or personal situations involving great emotional tension and the breakdown of a person's or group's allegiance to ancestral beliefs and the sense of ego-security these bring. Syphilis seems to be spreading mainly in city-aggregations when the abuse, misuse, and perversion of sexual energies results from the atomistic and alienating type of existence to which individuals are subjects. Various skin diseases and inflammatory processes are the secondary or tertiary manifestations taken by that root-disease.

Dr Abrams claimed that smallpox inoculation introduced in the etheric body the syphilis vibration; more recent inoculations may have similar or different results. Abrams was fond of a pun he often repeated: Modern man may think of himself as civilized. One thing is certain: he is thoroughly syphilized.   Return

3. In the Bhagavad Gita, the Supreme Spirit of human incarnation, states in chapter 10: "I am the beginning, middle and end of all cycles." On the other hand in the New Testament, Christ refers to himself only as the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. The difference seems to be most significant, because Christianity devalued the existential middle of a cycle—its physical manifestation in Earth nature. The beginning and end of a cycle respectively constitute its spiritual and sacred origin in the creative Act (or Word), and its final consummation in terms of the Company of the Perfect, the White Lodge of Theosophical doctrines or the "Church triumphant" of Catholicism. Yet the deepest meaning of Christianity resides in the belief that God can incarnate, and has incarnated, even in the midst of an inherently sinful human nature. The tragedy of Christianity results from the idea that this divine Incarnation happens only once in human history. Popular Hinduism believes it occurs at the very close of all great cycles, providing a spiritual foundation for a new cycle; and the more esoteric and metaphysical Hindu doctrines claim that the possibility of incarnation—or "descent" —of the Supreme Spirit can be realized in any individual person having reached an adequate state of development.   Return

4. The terms wilderness, garden, and castle have a deep symbolic meaning as they refer to fundamental levels of human consciousness and man's attitude toward nature and society. Because all that refers to city life dominates the consciousness of human beings, and many people react to the artificiality and standardization of such an existence, "wilderness" has been given a glamorous meaning and the "life of nature" has been extolled at the expense of what the garden symbolizes. Thus a confused picture of the evolution of consciousness floats in the minds of emotionally disturbed and biologically frustrated people dreaming of adventurous safaris and of the exaltation which the "great wilderness" is supposed to inspire.

Actually a dialectical sequence in the successive basic approaches of man to nature, and in general the biosphere exists; its three terms should be well understood. These are: wilderness, productive fields, and gardens. In its truly wild state the biosphere is anything but friendly to human beings. If, during the summer, one goes to the Canadian forests below the Baffin Bay (north of Montreal) one finds oneself in an immense vastness in which small trees without enough space to grow big stand in crowded confusion in a very damp soil on which the snow has barely melted. Mosquitoes and black flies pullulate. Every few miles a river or narrow lake is found. There are no habitations except along the northern railroad line, and no road beside the tracks. When I was there, some forty years ago, I felt that the presence of man was totally unwelcome, and I was swept with a sense of the meaninglessness of man lost in such a wet inhospitable wilderness. An even stronger feeling would undoubtedly be experienced in Amazonian or African jungles, or in the wintry Antarctic or the Sahara.

Life in the biosphere is rough, cruel, totally uninterested in any individual organism, be it vegetable, animal, or human. What we call "life" operates on the basis of the law "eat or be eaten." The ideal of "reverence for life" is senseless in the wild state of nature. Life is violent and brutal, even if at times it can be exquisitely delicate, tender, and pervaded with glamour and possibilities. It is interested only in maintaining as a whole an intricately complex biospheric balance and symbiotic harmony; it cares not at all for what happens to particular single specimens, only to the species. When biospheric conditions change many species disappear. Other species may profit from their disappearance, but nature itself certainly is totally indifferent to their fate.

Only man may care; but even he not at first! He confronts the life of the biosphere with his mind, and in the seemingly totally unequal encounter the incredible, puny David stuns and makes a slave of Goliath, the life-force. He cuts trees, dries up swamps, irrigates deserts, and develops productive fields.

He cultivates the soil; and soon develops a particular culture (and cults) which, like the particular type of cultivation he develops, takes form out of the pressures and opportunities of a particular soil, geography, and climate—and other magnetic and psychic types of conditioning.

While in the wilderness life's drives for survival, expansion, reproduction, and constant adjustment dominate, and the few relatively isolated groups of men can only adapt themselves to overwhelming pressures, in cultivated fields and energies of nature are the servants of men working in cooperative groups and societies. These energies are given a human meaning inasmuch as they are made to serve a human purpose and to satisfy human needs or wants. Unfortunately, this stage of antithesis (man's dominance) following the stage of thesis (nature's dominance), sooner or later takes on a character which gives it a negative meaning. The human master works his slaves so cruelly that they become ill; contagious diseases spread among them which in turn make the master ill and may destroy him and his grandiose unrealistic dreams. Generally speaking, in a dialectic process the stage of antithesis can be ultimately successful only if it reintegrates the once abandoned values of the thesis within an all-encompassing synthesis, a fact which as yet mankind has neither truly understood nor incorporated in systems of logical or social organization. When cultivating man understands nature and its wild spontaneous rhythms, he is able to build gardens.

A garden, in the ideal sense of the term, is the result of the cooperation of man and nature. Ina garden there should be an area of controlled wilderness as well as cultivated fields and orchards. Ideally there should be bird sanctuaries. Everywhere man's genius should help nature to produce in the most constructive manner and in terms of life's own values what is latent and potential in its seeds. Thus the whole Earth could become a garden, which in a sense would reproduce the ideal preexistential state symbolized in the Bible by the Garden of Eden.

At the center of a garden man builds his home which, in the aristocratic tradition of a hierarchized society, is often symbolized by a castle. It should not be a fortified castle, but a structure made of translucent materials through which light penetrates into the man's inner being. It is this same light which, in biospheric terms, initiates the process of life. In terms of mind, it illumines the consciousness of the man who, because he neither fears nature nor is willing to be dominated by its unconscious and compulsive drives, has established a harmonious coexistence with it. Such a man lives a "natural" life; but in that life nature has become humanized. Having transcended the pitiless and compulsive state of the wilderness, it operates as a concert of peacefully interpenetrating energies whose cyclic development at all times is attuned to the rhythms of the harmony of the divine state. Earth nature, fecundated and raised to a spiritual level by the illumined mind and the sacralized will of Man, becomes divine Nature.   Return

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