II. CONCEPTUAL FORMULATIONS
In line with the image of the earth's psychosphere and noosphere
, another new and striking concept which Rudhyar presents deals with the relationship between what he calls the process of civilization
and the many culture-wholes which are born, mature, and decay and which bring their cyclic harvests of symbols, institutions, and art forms to the gradual development of the earth's psychosphere. For Rudhyar, civilization is a planetary process bringing separate cultures into contact with one another, thereby creating a psychic-cultural ferment into which new potentialities of mind can be released. Hence the process of civilization refers to the development of the earth's noosphere.
In contrast to culture, which is local, exclusivistic, and anabolic (Vishnu), the process of civilization is global, inclusive, and (at least in its early stages and in relation to exclusivistic and inertial cultural structures) catabolic-transformative (Shiva). It operates by quantum leaps to release new mental energies, which fecundate and are absorbed by the psychomental substance of a culture-whole. The noetic function of the culture-whole is to embody the new mental quality. But cultural structures usually develop such strong inertia that they resist transformation and often pervert or actualize only partially the new mental possibilities. Thus, for Rudhyar, human cultures cyclically rise and fall and often fail to perform their functional roles, but the all-human process of civilization continues nonetheless.
The process of civilization and the process of individualization are closely related. In one sense, they are two ways of interpreting the same process — civilization from a planetary perspective; individualization from the point of view of particular cultures and human beings. In another sense, the process of individualization is stimulated at first by the interaction of civilization and culture. When a culture-whole produces persons with minds sufficiently formed to respond to the principle of individuality, the process of civilization releases what Rudhyar calls a new mental Tone or vibration, and the process of individualization begins to affect both the culture and sensitive persons.
In all-human, planetary terms, the beginning of the process of individualization can be traced to what Greek tradition depicts as the Promethean gift, which Rudhyar refers to the beginning of the avataric process. In terms of our present cycle of human development, he relates this turning point to the beginning of what Hindu chronology calls Kali Yuga — the death of the avatar Krishna (3102 B.C.). As the process of civilization and mental individualization seems to operate in 500-year cycles (and in general according to what theosophists call vibration Five), the process of civilization reached another significant turning point about five 500-year cycles later — the sixth century B.C., the time of Pythagoras, Gautama Buddha, Lao Tze, and the last of the Zoroasters.*
In the Greece of the sixth century B.C., the new mental vibration took form in the glorification of reason (nous) and the principle of measurement. In India, the Buddha taught the transcendence of the caste system and the power of the human mind to detach itself from the forms of existence that engendered dukka.
Five 500-year cycles later brings us to the beginning of our own tumultuous century, which so far has seen the intermingling and destruction (or at least de-structuring) of all the world's cultures through two world wars and the technological developments that allowed human beings to realize the interchangeability of matter and energy and to see the wholeness of the earth-globe from space. The latter especially has fecundated the human mind and imagination with new possibilities, many of which are concentrated in the terms "transformation" and "transpersonal."
Other significant turning points in the process of civilization in the interim are represented by the monotheistic reform of Akhnaton in Egypt and the period of the Upanishads in India — both in the second millennium B.C. During the latter, the concept of atman (the spiritual identity of a human being) was developed and its identity with the universal Brahman was proclaimed; Akhnaton announced the correspondence of the Self within man with the Sun-disc. Return
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