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Image copyright 2003 by Michael R. Meyer. Drawing by Dane Rudhyar

THE ESSENTIAL RUDHYAR
An outline and an evocation
by Leyla Ral
1983



I. FOUNDATIONS
II. CONCEPTUAL FORMULATIONS
III. RUDHYAR'S
INTEGRATION OF
EXPERIENCE AND CONCEPTS

APPENDIX 1: Selected Poems
APPENDIX 11: Bibliography









II. CONCEPTUAL FORMULATIONS

12. HUMAN EVOLUTION & REINCARNATION WITHIN THE CYCLE OF BEING

At the symbolic Noon of the cycle of being, life produces the biological species Homo sapiens natural Man, the result of the "triumph" of the principle of Multiplicity over the principle of Unity, which is then at its lowest ebb. The resurgence of the principle of Unity represents a radical reversal of the Movement of Wholeness and refers to the beginning of the "descent" and focusing (involution) of a set of truly human (that is, mental) potentialities which Rudhyar calls Anthropos, the archetype Man. On the one hand, this archetype is inherent in the creative Word (Logos) beginning the existential process at Sunrise. On the other, beginning at the symbolic Noon, it is "fixed" into the "soil" of evolving earth-materials by a series of avatars acting as agents for the Movement of Wholeness and the "descending" archetype Man. These avatars also can be considered "projections" into the world of existence of the compassion of the Godhead state. They "graft" the potentiality for truly human development mind and the potentiality of individual selfhood onto the "stock" of Natural Man.
      The beginning of this process is symbolized in the Greek myth of Prometheus, who bestowed the gift of divine fire (mind and the capacity for self-consciousness) on nascent mankind. Similarly, the traditions of India speak of the coming to earth of the Kumaras (also called Agnishvattas, vehicles of fire, and Manasaputras, progenitors of mind). Such an event is said to have occurred in the remotest past, presumably millions of years ago. Also mentioned are lesser avatars appearing throughout the ages. In successive epochs and periods (cycles within cycles within cycles, each of which, while a phase of the cycle of being, also passes through a complete cyclic pattern itself), successive avataric personages restate and reveal successive aspects of this mental potential. Rudhyar relates this process of mental fecundation to what he calls the process of civilization (see section 16 to follow).
      While the beginning of this involutionary process is an "event" of planetary scope, the evolutionary aspect of it proceeds at different paces and places in different epochs. At first human evolution proceeds primarily collectively, through the development of a series of successive and simultaneous cultures which Rudhyar, in order to stress their objective and organic character, calls culture-wholes. Culture-wholes are born, mature, and disintegrate, much as biological organisms do; in the process, they leave a "seed harvest" and wasteproducts (karma) to their successors.
      On the one hand, culture-wholes are rooted in the particular climatic, geographic, and racial "soil" of a group of biologically related human beings, whose consciousness translates these environmental and biological characteristics into symbols. These symbols feed the development of what Rudhyar calls collective psychism. Collective psychism is to the integration of a culture what the life-force (prana or chi) is to a biological organism: a culture-whole is a psychic organism integrating and molding the activities and consciousness of its human members. At first collective psychism is an "overtone" of the biological relatedness of the people; the members of the culture-whole develop a strongly exclusivistic attitude and consider anything that was not born within their life-space and of their bloodline, anything that does not act, feel, and think as they do, foreign and a potential enemy. Taboos and myths arise on the basis of collective experience and deeply felt needs; collective wholeness is projected and deified as the tribal ancestor or god.
      On the other hand, such a unifying image embodies a spiritual impulse or archetype emanated through an agent for the archetype Man, an avatar. Such a figure or personage may be an aspect of the harvest of a previous cycle of culture, a "seed" in which a basic "mutation" (a "grafting" of a new aspect of the creative mental potential inherent in the archetype Man) has taken place. (Rudhyar refuses to discount the nearly universal traditions according to which divine kings or instructors brought language, agriculture, and the arts to nascent mankind; "seed being" summing up the harvest of a previously "flowering" cycle of culture would indeed seem "divine" to the relatively crude "raw materials" of a nascent culture-whole. The avataric personage's deeds and teachings ("divine revelation") become the foundation for the developing culture's religion its "collective soul" which becomes a most powerful factor in the lives and psychomental development of its members.
      Functioning within culture-wholes, human beings become what Rudhyar calls persons, "specimen" of a culture that is, human beings whose minds, psyches, and behavior are molded by and function almost totally within the culture's collective psychism, within the taken-for-granted frame of reference of the culture's language, myths, symbols, images, religion, and way of life. For Rudhyar, without participation in a society and its culture, there can be no personhood; without active or passive participation in a culture-whole, a human being is merely a biological organism, a member of the species Homo sapiens with the potentiality for becoming a person but potentiality is not actuality.
      The behavior and consciousness of a person are structured and "managed" by an ego which for Rudhyar is not an entity but a set of functional activities. For him, the ego constitutes an interface and mechanism of adjustment between the human biological organism's instinct for survival and the psychosocial pressures of its cultural and family environment. The development of an ego presupposes the existence of both a powerful environment and a subjective principle seeking to manifest as personhood.
      This principle, ONE or SELF, is the "presence" of the principle of Unity in the multiplicity-dominated existential organism. It is what is at the root of the "feeling-of-be-ness" distinct from other "I"s. At the strictly biological level of human organization, it has an instinctual, generic character experienced as a sense of organic wholeness (the "wisdom of the body"); it manifests as a particular temperament (that is, as a quality of vitality associated with such biological factors as body type). At the psychosocial level, the ego develops a particular form according to the way the particular temperament interacts with prevailing psychosocial pressures, presumably also reflecting the individual subjective principle.
      Eventually, as a culture-whole complexities, and especially when it interacts with other culture-wholes structured by a different type of collective psychism and way of life, it begins to be affected by the process of individualization. Through the introduction of alien beliefs, concepts, and practices (via travel, commerce, conquest, or invasion) the integrity of the culture's collective psychism begins to break down and to lose its capacity to mold, hold together, and dominate the consciousness of its members. Persons of a rebellious or critical temperament, or whose egos have developed cynically or insecurely in reaction to the breakdown of cultural paradigms, mores, and norms, are the first to respond to this process which is polarized and dynamized by an increasing "descent" and focusing of spiritual Qualities, which may be considered the many "Letters" of the original creative Word. These Qualities seek a one-to-one relationship with and eventually total embodiment in a sufficiently responsive human organism and individualized mind. As the process (involution-evolution) accelerates, individuals emerge from the cultural matrix. Their minds and wills become at least relatively autonomous and independent from both biological compulsion and collective cultural imperatives; they become increasingly able (potentially, that is) to respond to the spiritual Quality seeking eventually to manifest concretely through them.
      The process of individualization, however, involves many dangers and pitfalls. It is inherently tragic and inevitably generates tension, conflict, strife, and a sense of isolation and alienation (dukka in Buddhist terminology, angst in German). As collective controls break down and would-be individuals break free of them, the "individuals" clamor to "do their own thing. " But more often than not , their "own" thing is merely a diametrical opposition to what they feel as binding collective forces. Their striving for "liberation" is usually an emotional, more or less blind reaction of the ego seeking to emerge from the cultural womb or, more ambiguously, to legitimatize or even aggrandize itself in the eyes of a collective system it purportedly wants to repudiate.
      Eventually, the process of individualization must lead to the Path of transformation. Sooner or later, individuals tire of conflict or realize its inherently self-defeating nature and results. Individuality must be seen as valuable only within a greater whole to which it contributes constructively. The individual may envision this greater whole as humanity or the planet earth, or he or she may relate it to the spiritual Quality (often called the "higher Self" in contrast to the personality or body/mind complex or "lower self") attempting to establish contact with him or her. For while the spiritual Quality represents the highest quality of individuality potential within a human being, because it is a highly differentiated "Letter" of the original creative Word it is an aspect of the greater whole Anthropos, the archetype Man.*
      A spiritual Quality's attempt to establish a one-to-one relationship with an individualized person operates cyclically and constitutes for Rudhyar the true meaning of "reincarnation." In its process of differentiation, a spiritual Quality seeks and establishes various degrees of relationship with a series of human personalities, whose lives are linked in that they are all related to the same spiritual Quality. The process has as its goal, as its fully actualized symbolic Sunset, the total union or "divine marriage" of a spiritual Quality and a fully adequate individualized person totally embodying its meaning and function. Thus, from Rudhyar's point of view, reincarnation is not the periodic reappearance of the same person, nor is it actually reincarnation. Strictly speaking, from his point of view, there is only one full incarnation the one that culminates in complete union, the "divine marriage."
      Rudhyar believes that, collectively speaking, mankind today has reached a point about halfway between the symbolic Noon and Sunset of the present cycle of human development. Thus, the most significant factor operating in human evolution today is the gradual rise of the principle of Unity. It manifests, on the one hand, in an increasing individualization of human consciousness and activity in response to the increasing "descent" and focusing of spiritual Qualities; and on the other, as an increasing "planetarization" of it that is an increasing capacity for human beings to be detached from a particular local space and racial temperament and to operate (at least potentially and in consciousness) in terms of the whole planet earth.
      Particular individuals (and cultures) may be "ahead of" or "behind" the "norm" defined by their position within a particular subcycle and sub-subcycle. Individuals significantly ahead of the collective pace already have reached the condition of Illumined Man. In their togetherness, they constitute what esoteric traditions call the White Lodge, which Rudhyar refers to as the Pleroma the collectivity of illumined, formerly human beings whose centers of consciousness interpenetrate and resonate in unanimity of purpose but retain the individuality and functional nature of the particular spiritual Quality each represents. These illumined beings (Masters, Mahatmas, Elder Brothers of humanity) are always ready to guide, assist, and test those who seek to tread the Path of transformation leading to the state of Illumined Man and to the transindividual level of the Pleroma. Thus, for Rudhyar, while the Pleroma is a phase of the universal cycle of being, it is also now, and it is also in the making now. The dharma of all human beings is to aspire to participate in that making by becoming attuned to what is represented by the now definitely waxing principle of Unity.


* Archetypal Man, in turn, is a reflection of the Logos according to some ancient philosophies, the "image and likeness of God." Yet this "image and likeness" is potential in mankind as a whole; it may not be actualizable in all newborn babies.  Return



By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1983 by Leyla Ral
All Rights Reserved.



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