Prelude and Basic Themes - 1
The purpose of this book is to bring to a more concrete and experiential level
fundamental concepts of the philosophy of Operative Wholeness, which I outlined in metaphysical form in Parts One and Two of my recent book, Rhythm of Wholeness
. To fulfill such a purpose, I shall rephrase in more psychological terms some of the ideas previously formulated, and define what is involved in characteristically "human" situations at the level of personal experience, yet without losing sight of the all-inclusive frame of reference, the cyclic Movement of Wholeness.(1
Some of the implications of this cyclic structure and the manner in which it should be approached have required a more complete treatment, and the first chapters of this book are devoted to such a process of elucidation. The concept of structural invariance and the way aleatory developments resulting from individual "free" choices are reabsorbed into the cyclically unfolding pattern of the Movement, will bring, I believe, a deeper understanding of the twin factors of spiritual Compassion and karma. These acquire a new and revealing meaning when related to the ideal of personhood, and the appearance in the earth-field of the Supreme Person — prototype of the state of personhood — at a crucial moment in the planetary cycle. According to esoteric traditions, such a turning point initiated the evolution of humanity and the possibility of radically new types of situations and experiences beyond the compulsions of biological instincts and strictly animal behavior.
In order fully and constructively to deal with the possibilities inherent in human experience, it is necessary to understand the several factors operative in the situations human beings are facing. To most modern minds, an experience implies an experiencer — a "subject" who "has" an experience and therefore is, in some manner, separate from and exterior to it. Such an implication, however, need not be considered valid. The main theme of this book is that this assumption is not valid, even if it is most difficult to avoid at this present stage of human evolution. The basic issue is whether one better understands the process of human evolution in terms of a series of characteristic situations
, each referring to one phase of the Movement of Wholeness, or according to the old religious scenario in which spiritual entities (Souls or Monads) somehow emanate from "the One" (God or the Absolute), descend into matter, and eventually, if all goes well, return to their original Home, once more absorbed into the One.
The latter may still be today an almost inevitable interpretation of the type of situations which developed when the strictly human period of our planet's evolution began — thus, when it became possible for a human being to choose between alternative responses to events on the basis of personal desires. Yet this interpretation need not be considered the one "true" interpretation revealing the essential function which humanity can fulfill if it allows the potentialities in its nature fully to develop. What these potentialities actually are can, I believe, be realistically defined only if one understands what is implied in the human condition, definable as "personhood," on the basis of the great cycle to which I have referred as the Movement of Wholeness.
What is to be meant by being a person? Why are human beings today determined to operate as autonomous individuals characteristically able to make responsible decisions? Another question inevitably follows: How does a person arrive at what he or she considers a valid basis for the decision? This basis evidently depends on the particular nature of the choice being made; yet, whether or not the person realizes it, any
decision implies the acceptance of an approach to life and the meaning of existence which has metaphysical and/or religious roots.
Most religions or spiritual philosophies assume as an incontrovertible fact of inner experiences (particularly in states of intense meditation or ecstasy) that human persons are essentially spiritual entities (Souls or Monads) that, having emerged from "the One" (God or the Absolute), return to their source after a long and dangerous "pilgrimage" through a series of material states. Individuality, and therefore a state of at least relative separateness which allows for basic differences in beingness, are the essential factors in the human condition.
From the point of view of the philosophy of Operative Wholeness presented here and in preceding books, the possibility of making individual choices indeed characterizes the human condition. This possibility acquires its most valid and constructive meaning if these choices are understood in terms of a cyclic series of situations in which many factors are involved. This is in contrast with the responses of individual entities to essentially unrelated events encountered during their mysterious "pilgrimage" — events which happen to
them, but from which they are essentially separate.
The word situation
will be more precisely defined in a forthcoming chapter, as will the triune nature of human experiences provided by the series of situations possible at several levels of being. A relatively new meaning will be given to what is to be understood as the "subjective factor" in the experiencing process — one of three factors inherent in such a process at every stage of the cyclic Movement of Wholeness. Before this is attempted, several points implied in the concepts of Wholeness should be clarified: cyclic motion, structural invariance and symmetry, and the relation of spiritual Compassion and karma to the destructuring variations produced by individual human choices. They belong to a substratum of assumptions which cannot be proven or disproven, yet whose acceptance or rejection gives a definite orientation to all human choices, and indeed to everyday behavior and feeling-responses.
One of these most basic assumptions has to do with the universal experience of change common to all human beings. Common as it is, this experience nevertheless can be reacted to and interpreted by the philosophical and religious mind in several fundamentally different ways. The apparent unexpectability of so many of the changes human beings experience may be taken as an indication that existence has an essentially random character, even if the mind is now able to perceive, control and use many patterns of sequential events in terms of cause and effect. Another possibility is implied in the ancient and traditional belief that a changeless Reality, Being or Absolute Principle "is" beyond the multitude of experienced changes, as the source of an ever-present, even if not perceived and understood order. Many philosophers claim that without It there could be no stability or security for the development of human consciousness, and indeed no solid basis for individual or collective choices. A third possibility, however, can be formulated by differentiating structural processes
from existential happenings
within the experience and particularly the concept of change. There may be order and structured development within the sequence of ever-changing states of being, but not as the result of the "creation" of that order by a Being transcendent to a world of change and uninvolved in its unfoldment A permanent inherent structure may be postulated as the invariant foundation of an all-inclusive cyclic series of transformations of states of "being-ness" (the Movement of Wholeness); yet such a structure may allow a great many variations during the human period of the cycle because a third factor is also included which is able to re-establish the temporarily disturbed order.
Such a factor operates in two ways: as quasidivine Compassion and as karma. Understanding both the manner in which the possibility of readjustment may be actualized and the function of the state of personhood in this process is, I believe, of the greatest importance at this crucial phase of human and planetary evolution. In this phase the collective patterns which all cultures have imposed upon the development of human consciousness are crumbling, and so the intense desire to be an "individual" dominates the world-stage.
In the last chapter of this book a suggestion concerning the real nature and purpose of the current crisis will be given, and a brief Epilogue will evoke the ever-present meaning and reality of the situation in a mythic form.
1. Rhythm of Wholeness
was written in Palo Alto, California, during the years 1981-83. It was published in 1983 by Quest Books, a division of the Theosophical Publishing House in America. It contains a Prologue and four Parts: "The Philosophy of Operative Wholeness"; "The Cycle of Being"; "The Cycle of Man"; "In the Spirit of Wholeness." A previous book, The Planetarization of Consciousness
(Aurora Press), was written in San Jacinto, California in the summer of 1970, after I abandoned several earlier versions, including one in French. An introductory statement of some of the ideas developed in the book was published as a small volume entitled The Rhythm of Human Fulfillment
, written in 1966 and reprinted in 1973 with some additional material (Seed Center, Palo Alto, California); this small book is now out of print. Return
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