Crises of Transition - 10
The democratic image is, in contrast, that of the realizable American Dream: every newborn a potential big executive, or even the nation's President — the most powerful man in the world, it is believed. The subconscious (if not consciously admitted and entertained) faith in the validity of such a dream gives a quasi-mystical yet eminently effective power to the image of America. It has become, in the minds of billions of human beings, at least the prelude to a realizable Utopia. The continual possibility of keeping active the drive to the ideal goal, however, requires the perpetuation (through educative processes and parental suggestion) of a quality of thinking, feeling, and behavior necessary for the effective actualization of the Utopia. These requirements undoubtedly have produced an unparalleled sociopolitical and cultural situation; but collective moral restraints, already greatly weakened everywhere under the evolutionary pressure of the process of individualization, today are in a state of collapse. The traditional culture which made the unfoldment of the potentiality of individualized personhood relatively secure, through a step-by-step process with clearly defined transitions (rites of passage), has lost most of its structural and revelatory function. The only effective faith left is centered in the taken-for-granted feeling that "I" Peter or Jane can be anything I want as an ego in control of whatever situation I may personally face.
Nevertheless, in practically all cases such a situation has a social character: it involves relationships with other egos which — whether or not they admit and understand the fact — can be expected to cooperate if the situation is managed intelligently. This is the social way. It is also the way of the ego-mind because it is based on the desire for strictly individual existence, however closely life is shared and benefited by an intimate association with persons within a permissive, loosely structured sociocultural system.
The only logical possibility in that system is majority rule, and the use of statistical computations and polls. These in turn lead to the demand for ever more inclusive and more private information, to uncontrollable publicity, and more or less extreme forms of brainwashing through the forever and everywhere active media. More faith-compelling images are needed, stimulating an irrational faith in an unlimited future. According to such a faith, the proliferation of material images will in time change the level of the human consciousness. It will do so apparently through the eventually unanimous realization that the development of a wonderful structure of interpersonal and international relations can arise from the recognition, by every ego, that its own subjective desires and personal interests can best be served by communication, consultation, vocal discussion from person to person, and compromise.
Today, this possibility seems a forlorn hope, though the social and political process involved in its realization is evidently partially valid. It is valid because, in terms of the Movement of Wholeness, it should be considered inevitable in an evolutionary sense. I am nevertheless trying to evoke a type of faith based on the realization that archetypal solutions are already formed and active to some degree, in some internal ego-transcending manner. It is a faith solidly rooted in a cyclic vision, and in the affirmation of "being" in all possible modes of actualization, whether predominantly objective or subjective. It is faith in and through which Wholeness asserts itself; and there is no level or situation in which Wholeness cannot assert itself. In such an assertion, however. Wholeness does not have to reduce the many-sided yearning for the experience of "beyond" to the concept of an incomprehensible, absolute, yet miraculously intervening God. In Wholeness, every phase of the cyclic motion follows, conditions, evokes, announces, and is transformed into another phase. Nothing is alien to anything; every possibility interacts with every other. Yet there is structural order, invariant and supreme, because Compassion and karma always balance and restore order to the variations aroused by the relative freedom of human desires and will. And this freedom is one of the aspects of cyclic being.
Grounded in such a faith, empowered by a will which focuses an emergent desire for self-renewal, mind can bring to a crisis of transformation the imaginative solution that reflects the archetypal reality of the individual's dharma. Yet an archetype is only a formula of relatedness; it is a structural not an existential factor. A type of person, even more than a particular isolated individual, has to work out and make the formula explicit and concrete. This, however, demands as a prerequisite a process of severance from old solutions which have become obsolete and confining.
Severance, whether as a physical or mental process of disengagement, is nevertheless an individualized experience. It can only acquire an irrevocable character if the subject that seeks freedom has the courage totally to overcome an insistent bondage to past habits of feeling, thinking, and behavior. Disenthrallment requires courage — not only great, but sustained and persistent courage.
At the level of a relatively primitive culture, this courage is implanted in the consciousness by the Elders and the traditional behavior of the community. Had they not long ago stepped beyond the known through the hallowed if terrifying rite of passage, leading to what for them was still the yet-unknown? The candidate to Initiation could indeed find within his or her inner psychic being the faith that would sustain through the ordeal He or she would never leave the sacred field of the tribe's collective psychism: there was no question of belonging or not belonging. The only issue was how well and courageously the series of steps was being taken.
At the level of the individualized person, who has to pass seemingly alone through the varied tests of overcoming which life itself now presents, a different, perhaps greater kind of courage has to be displayed. It demands an even stronger, almost unchallengeable faith in the reality of an individual Soul. Yet our modern religions, and especially our culture, have failed to give a clear understanding of the meaning and purpose of the crucial crisis-situation. What is the potentiality implied in a successful conclusion of the crisis? Where does this individual Soul belong, and how can it be defined in a realistic sense? A superior, because more inclusive, level of reality has to be accepted and intensely believed in. The person in crisis must insistently want to operate at that level, even if he or she cannot fully understand what it implies. At that level the Communion of transhuman Pleroma beings act and have their being. It is the "Commonsoul" of humanity. It is the Soul of the Earth-being.
The individual person who has passed successfully through the radical crisis of total transformation should come to realize that, in a realistic sense, his or her "Soul" is essentially a particular place and function within the vast field of activity and consciousness of the Earth-being. There is no incomprehensible mystery in that fact, even if it has to be understood at a more-than-human level of consciousness. The victorious individual not only comes clearly to "see" what that place and function within the planetary greater whole (the Earth-being) is and has always potentially been; he or she is ready to act and live as a responsible agent for this greater whole.
As this readiness begins to overcome the force of strictly individual desires, a higher form of courage, united with understanding and wisdom, should be gradually experienced. The pull of the place and function waiting to be filled by an individual person acts as the substance and potency of that courage. This courage has to be maintained as an unquestionable state of being. It may take many existential forms, but it always is basically the will to endure and unflinchingly face the ancient karma of failure, without apologies, regrets, or feelings of guilt. It has happened. It is part of the whole. It is being redeemed, and the discord is being justified in terms of the new tone-resonance it created, bringing forth a new aspect of the undefinable reality of Wholeness.
There is no problem in Wholeness, save the belief in problems. Therefore the issue is faith — the quality and inclusiveness of the faith. It must be the faith in the meaning and value of the most extreme polarities of being, of both Unity and Multiplicity. That meaning and value are embodied in the Supreme Person, for in this realization of the archetype of personhood, the two polarities of cyclic being are as completely realized as they can ever be.
Personhood is the Solution envisioned by the Godhead, yet it is not an end in itself, for in it the seed of the Godhead state is implied. That seed will germinate in and through various levels of Pleroma being — a hierarchy of levels and transcendences, a periodic series of crises and overcomings that may mean victory or defeat — both of which have their place, value, and meaning in Wholeness. At every level of being, an experience of Wholeness is possible, but the field the experience encompasses increases at every new level. New situations arise presenting new possibilities.
The issue is always threefold, involving what is desired, what power is available, and what processes mind can discover for the transformation. The basic obstacles are inertia and fear. The enemy is within. The spiritual life is a state of war, and personhood is the battlefield. The weapons are courage and understanding, and the faith that images of victory are irrefutable realities.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1986 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
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