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

An outline and an evocation
by Leyla Raλl


1. The Arts
  A. Poetry
  B. Literature
  C. Music
  D. Painting
2. Astrology
3. Psychology

APPENDIX 1: Selected Poems
APPENDIX 11: Bibliography



  1. The cornerstone of Rudhyar's approach to psychology is his presentation of four levels of human functioning. These four levels are:

    (a) The biological level, at which human beings operate as strictly biological organisms dominated by the exigencies and compulsions of life. The principle of individuality (ONE or SELF) manifests as variations on the dominant type of the race or people to which a particular human being belongs.

    (b) The sociocultural level, at which human beings operate as persons within complex culture-wholes, almost totally subservient to collective frames of reference. The need of the human biological organism to adjust itself to psychosocial pressures produces the ego, the function of which is to be the interface between biology and culture. The ego gives rise to the "feeling-of-being-I," which is a reflection of the principle of individuality at the sociocultural level. The main drive of the ego is for psycho-social security; it is motivated by fear and guilt and strives to attain personal happiness through the approval and admiration of others.

    (c) The individual level, at which persons, having questioned and become objective to the taken-for-granted symbols and images of their cultures, develop autonomous, independent minds and wills. The principle of individuality manifests as individual selfhood; the "I" is motivated largely by pride in its uniqueness and in its power over circumstances (internal or external), other people, and objects.

    (d) The transindividual level, at which individuals, having transcended their selfish separativeness and consecrated themselves to the service of the whole (humanity or the planetary organism of the earth) operate at the level of the Pleroma.

    These four levels are linked by functions of transition" or "seed functions":

    (a) The seed function between the biological and sociocultural levels is sex. In its strictly procreative aspect, sex belongs to the biological level; yet unlike other biological functions (such as breathing and eating) its operation is not absolutely crucial for the continuing existence of a particular organism. Moreover, other biological functions are intraorganic, while sex is interorganic: it requires the interaction of two organisms. In animals, the relationship between potentially mating organisms is seasonally controlled; in human beings it is controlled and regulated by culture, by religious and secular paradigms and mores. Hence, "life, through sex, develops into culture."

    (b) The function of transition between the sociocultural and individual levels is the analytical intellect, which separates itself from and dissects situations and experiences atomistically. As it develops, it becomes a powerful tool facilitating the process of "liberation" from both the instinctual compulsions of biology and the collective psychism of sociocultural imperatives and taboos. For Rudhyar, the separative and atomizing activity of the intellectual aspect of the mind is a necessary phase in collective and individual human evolution; just as, in logic, the antithesis is an integral part of a syllogism leading from the thesis to the synthesis. But it should be considered only a transitory stage between the compulsive biopsychic activity of the archaic, relatively unconscious and essentially collective mind, and the individually conscious, yet also holistic and unanimistic activity of the pleromic mind which all human consciousnesses potentially interpenetrate. Similarly, the "I-feeling" itself also should be regarded as only a transitory experience; it forms the necessary basis for an antithetic kind of mentality and worldview which eventually should lead to a new synthesis represented by the transindividual level.

    (c) The function of transition between the individual and transpersonal levels is what Rudhyar calls self-consecration to the whole and the development of the mind of wholeness. It is the process of transformation making the I-center of the personality attuned to the functional nature of its uniqueness, its potential contribution to the whole, and translucent to the light and spiritual Quality of the Soul Field. Much of Rudhyar's recent work is concerned with clarifying what is implied in this Path of transformation (at least in its first phases) and helping Westerners to orient themselves toward it realistically and without glamour, in terms of fundamental principles. Concentrating the mind upon these principles should, if done regularly, intently, and perseveringly, develop the mind of wholeness. Yet this transformation requires more than deep feelings and a clear mind. It demands a persistent and steady, though resilient and pliable will. Traditional disciplines and practices having an exotic or fascinating appeal may steady and test the will-to-transformation; but they also may give rise to a subtle kind of ego-pride (particularly at the level of collective psychism sustaining any religious or esoteric group). Ultimate success requires a truly individualized and independent will that does not require collective support. Above all, it demands humility and nonattachment to any result.

  2. Rudhyar's approach to psychology can be characterized as a combination of Jnana and Karma yoga: Jnana yoga in that it seeks to foster and requires the development of a clear, objective mind sufficiently individualized to operate in relative independence from biological urges and collective fashions, imperatives, and taboos — a mind capable of thinking and of understanding the human condition (including one's own) in terms of basic historical, hierarchical, and evolutionary principles; Karma yoga in that, while Rudhyar's philosophy is essentially mental, he is not an intellectual and does not advocate an intellectual approach to living. For him, motion — activity — is the essence of being. In his approach to psychology, will and activity are as important as feelings and emotions.

  3. In relation to particular actions, however, Rudhyar often asks the question, who — or what — is performing the act? This question points out Rudhyar's belief that the role of culture in individual living is far more significant than contemporary psychologies allow. For him, a culture is not an aggregate of otherwise separate human beings who "choose" to relate themselves to one another through a common way of life. Culture is prior to any person or individual born into it, and only through culture can a human being become a person, then an individual. Culture molds and shapes the mind and feeling-nature, at first along collective lines. Especially inherent in Euro-American culture today, there are conflicts to challenge persons to emerge from the dominance of its collective psychism — and the integrity of its collective psychism is fast disintegrating as accelerated individualization undermines what once were integral, powerful religious and cultural symbols. Until a person emerges fully from the culture's collective psychism, it is the culture — its paradigms, symbols, and images — that condition and operate through personal feelings, thoughts, and deeds.
          Yet substituting an alien culture's way of living, feeling and thinking for one's natal culture's does not necessarily constitute individualization; on the contrary, it may merely make one subservient to a different collective frame of reference from the one into which one was born. However, familiarity with another culture's practices, special vocabulary, and way of life may be constructive if it helps one become more objective to the collective psychism of one's natal culture, and if it provides one's individualizing mind with new and more adequate terms in which to formulate one's worldview. But if immersion in another culture's collective psychism is premature or unassimilable, a reactionary backlash may result — one may revert or regress to a less sophisticated stage or unthinking fundamentalism of one's natal culture.

  4. For Rudhyar, another interpenetration of collective and individual development results in the production of characteristic types of persons and individuals at various stages of cultural development. For him, cultures develop according to a dialectical pattern of thesis, antithesis, synthesis. During the second or antithetical phase following the thesis or tribal phase, a culture's development follows a fourfold pattern, which parallels the four levels of human development presented above.
          Each period of culture produces a characteristic type of person that manifests in a positive, negative (passive), and transcendent aspect. Each type requires a characteristic path of individualization represented by the transcendent aspect of the type. The path of emergence conditions the essential characteristics of the emerging individual, and it is usually connected with the transcendent ideals of the culture's dominant religion. The lives and deeds of these individuals, in turn, affect the social and cultural fabric, especially as the process of individualization accelerates and the culture's collective psychism breaks down. While these types operate historically, they are still active today as prototypes conditioning personal and individual psychology.

    (a) The first period of cultural development is concerned primarily with vigorous physical activity, possession of land and of the means of production. The positive dominant type is the Warrior (the Kshatria caste in India) in whom muscular energy, daring, and procreative power prove and maintain authority. The negative of the type is the soldier, serf, or slave, who in the tribal age (thesis) partook of the psychic unanimity of the tribe and obeyed an inner compulsion associated with the tribal god, but who now obeys the outer will of the dominant lord or master. The path to individualization for this type is also one of action and conquest, but action and conquest for a transcendent purpose. This transcendent type is exemplified in India by King Rama, in Europe by the Knight-Crusader epitomized by King Arthur. This type is closely associated with the ideal of chivalry and courtly love in Europe, with the perfect husband-wife relationship in India (Rama and Sita). Krishna stands as the highest symbol of emergence into individual selfhood through transcendent action performed for and as the supreme Self: action without regard for the fruits of action. As the type degenerates, the Knight-Crusader becomes merely the conquistador, whose fateful search for gold breeds violence, cruelty, and greed.

    (b) The second period of cultural development during the antithesis phase is primarily concerned with consolidating, preserving, cultivating, and refining the values acquired during the previous period; with the development of institutions molding collective behavior, feeling, and thinking. The positive of the type is the Priest-Philosopher (India's Brahmin caste), the clergy backed by committees of scholars and academics, able to enforce its decrees with excommunication, imprisonment, or death. The Philosopher-Priest also functions as statesman and diplomat, thus facilitating peaceful intercultural contacts. The negative of the type is the religious devotee compelled to fit into the dominant socio-religious scheme because of personal insecurity and uncertainty — a relatively recent development. This type individualizes via the path of the mystic or compassionate saint — in India, the Forest Philosophers of the Upanishad period, the yogi or sanyassin; in Europe, St. Francis and a host of mystics: all individuals who emerge from the mass patterns of religion and are reborn through an individual experience of spirit. Another aspect of this type is the religious reformer who individualizes through the power of moral rebellion (for example, Luther and Calvin in Europe). In India, the greatest exemplar of this path was Gautama Buddha, who urged transcendence of the caste system and Hindu ritual. With Jesus, love as the supreme law transcended all religious laws, and the subjective feeling of union with the Father transcended all racial and dogmatic boundaries. This type degenerates when the mystic becomes a militant fanatic (for example, militant orders participating in the Inquisition).

    (c) The third period witnesses the growth of trade, the spread of interpersonal and intercultural relationships, the expansion of production, and the stimulation of intellectual faculties. The dominant type if the Trader or Merchant (India's Vaisya caste) — a class of tradesmen, professionals, industrialists, bankers, and international financiers. The essential characteristic of the type is a personal restlessness both feeding upon and fueling the intellect. As cultural and religious exclusivism breaks down, so does the power of collective psychism; each human being must find his or her own security: every man a law unto himself. This, idealized, becomes democracy. The negative of the type is a mass of workers and passive consumers, mere wage-earners without any security whatsoever. The transcendent aspect of the type is the adventurer, the heroes of science or medicine, the visionaries who sacrifice or dedicate their lives to opening new lines of trade, new continents, new horizons. Such geniuses are often human beings in whom abnormal psychology turns creative, persons who use the energy of their frustrations, complexes, and suffering to transcend the norm and emerge as individuals beyond the boundaries of society. They use conflict and struggle evolutionarily, for performing creative acts which are seeds for the future. As the type degenerates, it produces individuals who feed upon and profit from the pervasive cultural dysfunction.

    (d) The fourth period begins on a foundation of social and individual chaos. The negative of the type is the Money-Conditioned individual who achieves a degree of security in a dog-eat-dog world. The anonymous social power of money consumes the minds and passions of all, whether wealthy or without financial means. The first manifestation of a positive of the type is the Man of Service (analogous to India's Sudra caste) — the martyr to a visionary social cause (e.g., the Bab of Persia, Lenin, Ghandi) — the symbol of utter self-surrender, service, and sacrifice. The passive aspect of the type is the Technician — the engineers, production managers, efficiency experts, economists, and statisticians who serve the industrial and electronic machinery of corporate society. The transcendent aspect of the type is the Seed Man or Woman, the creative individual who deliberately and consciously dedicates his or her individuality to the service of humanity, its spirit-emanated and spirit-oriented evolutionary goal.

  5. The challenge facing most Westerners today is to emerge from the sway of the dominant social images of dysfunctional individualism and egalitarianism. The great paradox is that most people demanding individual rights are not individuals at all, but personal egos strongly conditioned by a collective image of individualism.
          For Rudhyar, the ego is not an entity but a complex of interrelated activities, the function of which is to make the adjustments necessary to maintain the biological organism amid the psycho-social pressures in which it has to operate. The ego is conditioned by both biology (the organism's temperament or bio-pychic type) and culture — the social and religious images, symbols, imperatives, and taboos active at the level of collective psychism. It operates as a kind of floating center of gravity in answer to external pressures. It is moved primarily by insecurity and fear. That it can develop and give rise to the feeling of "being I" is a reflection of the potentiality of individual selfhood.
          The "real I" disengaged from family, social, and cultural patterns is what Rudhyar calls the actual center of the "mandala of personality." It is not identical with the ego, but it tries to use the ego's functional activities for its own purpose. While the ego is moved by insecurity and fear, the "I" at first is motivated primarily by pride. It is SELF (or ONE) operating at the individual level.
          "The seers-philosophers of old India have given various names to this Principle. When considered as a 'Presence' (an unsubstantial 'breath') within a human being, they spoke of it as atman. In relation to the whole universe, they usually gave it the name brahman. The great revelation that took form in the ancient Upanishads was that atman and brahman were essentially identical. The same power of integration, the same mysterious, actually unreachable and ineffable Presence, was inherent in all living beings; and as life itself was but one of its particular modes of operation, the whole universe and all it contains were alive.
          "As a Principle of power of integration SELF is present everywhere, but its mode of operation differs at each level of existence. Since a human being functions and is conscious at several levels, SELF has to be understood in a human - being in several ways — biologically, socioculturally, individually, and eventually transindividually. It is best, however, not to speak of a 'biological self' or an 'individual self,' but instead of a biological, sociocultural, and individual state of selfhood. Biological selfhood has a generic and, in the usual sense of the term, unconscious character; sociocultural selfhood has a collective character; and individual selfhood is achieved by undergoing a long and arduous process of individualization. The process of human evolution has so far consisted in bringing the sense of self from the unconscious darkness of the biological nature to a condition of ever clearer and inclusive consciousness through the development of ever finer, more complex cultures and of ever more responsive conscious individuals. A still more inclusive and universal realization of SELF should be achieved when the state beyond individual consciousness is reached — what I have called the Pleroma state of consciousness." ( Astrology of Transformation, pp. 78-79)

  6. For Rudhyar, a psychological complex is a set of ideas, feelings, sensations, memories, etc. which have acquired rigidity and relative independence from the will — that is, from the centralizing capacity consciously to mobilize one's energies and act in a particular, deliberate way. Complexes are based essentially on the memory of defeat — whether the memory is strictly personal in nature or is based on a subconscious memory of previous collective defeats. They originate in a person's reaction to a situation in which he or she feels defeated. The complex grows in strength and inertia as subsequent situations similarly experienced confirm the feeling of defeat.
          A sense of defeat — and therefore psychological complexes — is possible because we live in a culture that envisions life as a battle between opposing forces. For Rudhyar, "Where force meets force, there man must ultimately be defeated; the irresistibly moving forces of nature, either in the physical world or in the psychic realm of the unconscious whose depths are unending and unfathomable, will always in the long run defeat the forces of humanity and especially of an individual person alone . . .
          "Yet there is an alternative. Once we realize that the essential purpose of life for man is the progressive actualization of inner powers inherent in the creative spirit within the individual, the whole outlook is changed . . . Consider an individual permeated with the belief that he is born in order to develop his inner powers through storm and sunshine, pain and happiness alike . . . If he is beaten in any meeting with the mighty energies of nature (inner or outer) such an individual will not acquire a 'sense of defeat, ' however bruised and hurt he might be, as long as he may feel that he has learnt and grown as a personality out of the tragic experience . . . [Such an] individual, setting into operation the inner powers of his being, buries the dead and creates new values." (Astrological Study of Psychological Complexes, p. 5-6)

  7. The aim of a psychotherapy based on Rudhyar's multi-levelled approach to psychology would be to try to unravel the threads of psychological complexes, not merely to uncover their apparent causes, but to try to evoke an understanding of their meaning - that is, what they reveal about the level at which one is operating and therefore the evolutionary possibilities inherent in that position.
          From Rudhyar's point of view, one can move forward only from where one stands, although some positions make forward motion easier than others. Some stances may require a temporary "strategic retreat" that should not be interpreted as a permanent policy of defeat or withdrawal. In a deeper sense, however, for Rudhyar the true "way" is neither forward nor back, but through:
          "Through — small, yet mighty word! Everything is what it is through its opposite. Man experiences through nature. He rises through nature. Not against, but through . . . The hand passes through the water. It experiences the water, the fluidity of it; yet it emerges from it, still a hand-the integrity of a hand, plus consciousness from the experience. Consciousness is through-ness. It is born of thoroughness of experiencing . . . Having experienced to the full, man is 'through' with this particular field of experience, because he has gained consciousness of himself, the experiencer . . .
          "Nature is everything through which man must gain consciousness, and through consciousness an immortal form of emptiness, chalice for the downpour of the Holy Spirit — the light of the Whole. Nature is everything that man must overcome in order to be more than only man. Overcoming is a passing through, not a dismissal. Nature is not to be dismissed before the experience; it is not to be shunned and fearfully avoided. It is to be met in contest within the limited field of the life-experiencer . . . Yet each of the contestants occupies the entire field. The only solution of the contest is for man to enter the whole of nature within the field of experience, to pierce through nature and, emerging from nature and the field, to continue his path toward an ever more total fullness of being . . .
          "As man knows himself through his contest with nature, so does nature realize itself whole by the light of man's victory. It is this light which alone illumines nature. This indeed , is the destiny of all nature: that it can realize itself whole, and thus reach its own fulfillment, only if it is successfully overcome by the man whom it must oppose so that he might know himself by piercing it through, and knowing himself, illumine it by the light of that knowing. In this process nature acts as challenger. It challenges man, yet with the unconscious desire to be overcome by man.
          "The field is limited. Each contestant fills it entirely. There is no way out for man save through and through — or back. To pierce through nature and move Godward — or to fall back, entangled in the fateful advance of natural energies toward chaos." (An Astrological Triptych, pp. 104-07)

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

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