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Directives for New Life by Dane Rudhyar.


Dane Rudhyar

First Published

This long out-of-print booklet essentializes much of the material from the larger volume We Can Begin Again - Together. Written in response to the pressing needs of the emergent "counter-culture" of the 1960s-70s, this engaging short work explores the deeper side of issues dealing with individualism, group and interpersonal relationships, education, ecology, social activism and more.


Directives for New Life by Dane Rudhyar.

Chapter Two
A Revaluation of Man's Relationship to the Earth

The most fundamental features of a human society are derived from the characteristic manner in which the members of this society feel, understand, evaluate and express in a variety of actions their relationship to Nature — thus to the planet, Earth, within the biosphere of which they live, and also to their own bio-psychic nature and their body.

For instance, while the American Indians have always felt themselves to be integral parts of their natural environment and sought to live in perfect harmony with it, the basic attitude of Western man — and particularly of our Puritan ancestors and of the Frontier — man, or even the real estate man type — is that man is a special creature made by God to rule over, to transform to his own advantage and indeed, to use as he sees fit, rationally or irrationally, all that exists in this world. The God-created Soul of a man has been given the whole universe as its plaything or as a school to flex his physical or intellectual muscles and learn various lessons.

Very little that is truly effective can be done to transform and heal Western society and its collective mentality as long as this attitude, and the opposition between "this world" (dark and sinful) and "the other world" (filled with radiant Souls and divine Light), retain their powerful hold on Western man's unconscious — as long as they are inculcated, deliberately or subconsciously, on children, if only through the examples given by their parents.

Ever since the first Geophysical Year, international scientific studies have shown irrefutably that the Earth as a whole is an organized system of most closely interrelated and indeed interdependent activities. It is, in the broadest sense of the term, an "organism". The so-called life-kingdoms and the many vegetable and animal species are dependent upon each other for survival in a balanced condition of planet-wide existence; and they depend on their environment, conditioned by oceanic and atmospheric currents, and even more by the protective action of the ionosphere and many other factors which have definite rhythms of operation. Mankind is part of this organic planetary whole; and there can be no truly new global society, and perhaps in the present state of affairs no society at all, as long as man will not recognize, accept and enjoy the fact that mankind has a definite function to perform within this planetary organism of which it is an active part.

In order to give a constructive meaning to the activities of human societies all over the globe, these activities — physical and mental — should be understood and given basic value with reference to the wholesome functioning of the entire Earth, and we may add of the entire solar system. This cannot be done (1) if man insists on considering himself an alien Soul compelled to incarnate on this sorrowful planet, and (2) if we can see in the planet, Earth, nothing but a mass of material substances moved by mechanical laws, and in "life" nothing but a chance combination of molecular aggregations.

Progressive minds today tend to preach that the dichotomy of mind and matter, and of psyche and body, is the great illusion; that one must go beyond such dualities, for "it is all one" and all "energy". As I see it, the Earth is only one organized "field" of activities — and so is the human person — but these activities take place at various levels, in different "spheres" of being and realms of consciousness. The lithosphere is not the biosphere, and the latter not the noosphere or ionosphere. The Earth is not only a material mass. Consciousness in not only "human"; it exists at animal and vegetable levels, and most likely must be latent, or operating in some form, in the molecule and the atom; and all these diverse and in a sense hierarchical modes of activity and consciousness should be seen integrated in and perhaps transcended by an all-encompassing and "eonic" planetary Consciousness.

The concept of a "planetary Mind" should be today readily understandable and acceptable; it would be if men in the Western world were not so deeply conditioned in their thinking by a feeling of uniqueness and proud superiority with regard to all other forms of life — nay more, by a feeling that they do not really belong to this planet and must escape from it, by spiritual if not physical means. To state that it is a basic intractable feeling-intuition is one of these statements which take for granted that our Western and Near-Eastern tradition is fundamentally superior to all other traditions; for what seems to us an "innate idea" or incontrovertible realization is usually but the inbred or unconsciously inherited way of interpreting some far more fundamental fact of man's existence. I am referring to man's insistent drive and capacity for self-transformation, which for many centuries has manifested as an irrepressible urge to emerge from collective reactions to existence and to develop individualized responses in terms of reflective self-consciousness.

This basically "human" drive indeed establishes man's function within the Earth-organism, it is an organic function, very much in the sense that the central nervous system fulfills a definite organic function in a human body. There is nothing absolutely transcendent in the nervous system, in its billions of cells and its chemico-electrical current. Rather, the nervous system is the means whereby a linking process is made possible between two levels of existence, of activity and consciousness: we call these levels, body and mind. Teilhard de Chardin, likewise spoke of biosphere and noosphere with reference to the Earth as an organic whole.

Humanity's function within the Earth-organism is to extract from the activities of all other operative systems within this organism the type of consciousness which we call "reflective" or "self-consciousness" — or, we may also say to mentalize and give meaning, value, and "name" to all that takes place anywhere within the Earth-field. I should add that this field may well extend up to the lunar orbit and thus include what the ancient astronomers called "the sublunar realm". It certainly covers more than what we can see and touch.

This "mentalization" process operates through what we call culture. To each region of, and living condition in the total field of the Earth-organism a definite type of culture inherently corresponds. Each region is the "womb" out of which a specific type of human mentality and culture can and sooner or later will emerge. All these cultures — past, present and future — and their complex interrelationships and interactions are the collective builders of the Mind of humanity; and this means of the conscious Mind of the Earth.

Our Western society — first around the Mediterranean sea, then around the Atlantic ocean — has aroused and focused in the one planetary Mind of the Earth an extraordinarily sharp and emotionally intense type of consciousness, essentially related to the peculiar conditions characterizing the geography and climate of the Mediterranean regions. One should also presumably relate this wave-length of consciousness, in terms of basic magnetism, to the towering massif of the Caucasus, and of its extension through the mountains of Persia and Afghanistan — then later on to the Alps. Likewise the type of human consciousness which developed through the sub-continent of India since the Aryan period can be related to the type of Earth-magnetism which flows from the Himalayas southward, perhaps being polarized by the older region of the Blue Mountains in the plateau of South-Central India near the latitude of Madras and Pondicherry.

Whether or not one is ready to accept, at least as an hypothesis, the reality of magnetic centers on the Earth-centers apparently related mainly to mountains — the plain evident fact is that a culture develops out of the collective experiences of a group of human beings — usually not of the same racial stock — during a relatively long period and in one particular geographical region. A culture expresses in symbols (language, art-forms, myths), gives conscious meaning to, and institutionalizes or traditionalizes collective experiences; it does so through the focalizing agency of individual persons.

Today the symbols and traditional ways of thinking, feeling and behaving of our Western society have lost at least their superficial validity because they are no longer able to give constructive meaning to the new collective experiences of a humanity which has become radically transformed by technology, and which has extended far beyond its original habitat, i.e. the regions around the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Men everywhere are torn apart by the conflict between loyalty to old cultures whose institutions have proven inadequate under the changing situation and their deep-rooted urge to expand their consciousness and reintegrate their shattered mentality around new and all-human symbols and values.

How can this reintegration proceed? Because mankind is now a global reality experienceable by anyone whose mind and psyche are not closed tight by fear, insecurity and sentimental attachment or habits, it should be obvious that the fundamental symbol should now be "the globe". Diverse races, traditions, cultures have to recognize that they are all children of the Earth; then only can we realistically, and not merely idealistically, speak of "Universal Brotherhood". This Earth is "the land" of mankind. It is humanity's only home. We have been able to circle around this home, just like young children who, now able to walk, venture on the ground all around this home. It is folly to promote "the idea of mankind", and to try to find out all it implies, without thinking of the Earth within which this mankind is born and constantly reborn. We know about the anatomy of a human body; but it is only recently that we are beginning to look at the whole Earth and to study its morphology, its telluric processes and the functions of its continents, its one Ocean (falsely divided by separative cultures into many seas), its atmospheric currents and its higher spheres.

Many years ago, I attempted to study the relationship between the shapes of the continents and the character of the cultures which were born out of their subcontinental regions.(1) The larger volume of which this is a condensation discusses such a relationship. I can only mention here the remarkable homological relationship between Asia and Europe, each with three southward directed peninsulas. These peninsulas gave birth to corresponding types of cultures and we can establish a broad, yet very significant parallelism between Indo-China (with its prolonging Indonesian islands) and Greece (also with Crete and other islands) — between India (together with Ceylon) and Italy (together with Sicily) — and between rectangular Arabia and square Spain, lands of strong and passionate people. India and Italy became the seat of the great religions which spread respectively over Asia and Europe, and while India is topped by the concave Himalayas, open widely to northern influences, Italy is crowned with the convex shape of the Alps, closing it in — a good symbol of the personalizing and dogmatic character of Roman Christianity.

An attempt was made early in this century by modern geopoliticians to study the distribution of the land-masses of the Earth and the seas from a global point of view. The English MacKinder and the German Haushofer promoted such a geopolitical approach; but it was for the purpose of conquest and war. And when they spoke of regions in Central Asia at "the Heartland" of the world, they did not mean it in a spiritual sense; all they could think of was how a nation might control politically the entire world of man. I spoke instead of geomorphic approach — of "geotechnics" as a study referring to the constructive management of the resources of the globe — and not only material resources, but human resources, cultural and spiritual.

Indeed the great issue we must face, as we seek to formulate seed-ideas as foundations for a new and worldwide all-human society, is the inescapable need there is — in every field of human activity, personal as well as collective and social-cultural — to replace politics by management. Power (the basic issue in politics) is not to be sought for in the individual unit — be it an individual person, a nation or an institution — but only in terms of the Whole. Energies have to be managed for the sake of the Whole; and not only the whole of mankind, but of the Earth. Resources have to be produced and distributed in terms of the needs of the entire planet. Production and distribution cannot be left to chance and the vagaries of a Market economy featuring the cravings of ego-controlled pseudo-individuals, conditioned by manipulated fashions and selfish interests. Uncontrolled individualism had its purpose in a period of transition (antithesis); but it must be transformed into an organic and functional type of individualism (synthesis).

Such a transformation is certainly a most difficult task. Many will say an impossible task; for the examples of totalitarian countries and totally managed economy which have been recently witnessed are most depressing. But if they led to so many nefarious results, hardly compensated by some very real achievements, it is because these external methods and procedures were started on the foundation of power-politics and under the constant pressure of opposed forces. What is needed, first, is an internal transformation, a radical change of consciousness. It is perhaps the metanoia that John the Baptist preached; but metanoia is not "repentance"! It is a going beyond (meta) the psyche-mind (nous). It is the reintegration of the individual into the whole.

How can this be accomplished? This is, of course, the crucial question and there can be no easy answer. The momentum of political tragedies and military horrors in the use of power for the benefit of privileged groups, or of nations which happen to have large resources and power-greedy ambitious men, is so great that one may easily believe in the relative imminence of a world-wide catastrophe. It may not be a nuclear or a bacteriological war. It may be a gradual poisoning of all that men live by — and of their minds clinging desperately to a suicidal status quo. It may be that the Earth itself will react to the insanity of mankind's behavior, as a human body often reacts to the constant pressure of destructive thinking and feelings in terms of serious illnesses.

It is indeed quite possible that it is too late to reverse the spiritually disintegrative current of commercial Westernization of mankind; unless the new youth, which today refuses to accept the devastating and hypocritical standards of our society, its ruling elites, and so many of its frightened and egocentric adults, becomes increasingly and positively conscious of what it still might do when it reaches a position of social power. But, alas, there are as many young people who have accepted the blandishments of our affluent society; and power-politicians in any field will not easily let go — no more than an individual's ego finds it easy to surrender its stranglehold on the body and the volitional mechanisms when confronted with the vision and promise of a new and greater life dedicated to the Whole, whether we think of this Whole as Man or God.

Yet one must begin the attempt. Even if a tragic and widely destructive crisis should have to be met, this is no reason for despair and a sense of futility.

As fall begins the soil receives not only decaying leaves but small, inconspicuous seeds. In these seeds the future of life is focused. If it were not for them, when spring once more returns, there would be no new vegetation. We need therefore seed-men and seed-women for "the day after tomorrow". We need them not merely as visionary and deeply-centered individuals, but as "seed groups" within which a new quality of interpersonal relationship and a new awareness of what a harmonized mankind could achieve, in cooperation with the Earth and its powers, can gradually develop.

Many youths are moving confusedly, hesitantly, often blindly in the direction of communal living. This motion should become conscious, deliberate, fully constructive and meaningful. It can only be truly meaningful if it embodies a new quality of existence and therefore can demonstrate its validity in concrete and creative facts as well as, in the transformation in depth of the participants in the new communes and "seed groups".

1. Modern Man's Conflicts — The Creative Challenge of a Global Society (Philosophical Library, New York) 1945-46.  Return

By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1971 by Dane Rudhyar
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