Twelve Phases of Human Experience
VIRGO - Page 1 of 3
In Virgo, the evolving consciousness of man is mainly occupied with analyzing, reacting against or developing further all that occurred during the Leo period. In Leo, we saw a type of adjustment in which the Night-force as yet hesitant and un-sure in its social adjustments often compels the individual to over-stress his own emotional projections. Having found a foundation in his home and "taken root," the individual is confronted with social responsibilities. He must participate in society on the basis of his home and his personal independence. He came of age symbolically at the summer solstice. Now he must play his part in society. He must produce, beget, create. He is poignantly aware — even if not clearly conscious — of that
"must." He pushes himself. He assumes the responsibility of management. He sets policies. He is full of himself, radiant in his fatherhood — but he is not accustomed as yet to act in terms of social responsibility. His adventuring often leads to failure; his cocksureness, to blundering. He is hurt; his pride, wounded. He has given out so much that his body feels the wear and tear of overwork, overemotionalism — perhaps of excesses of all sorts. And if the Leo type is a woman, child-bearing and its consequent tasks may have led to bodily strain and psychic weariness.
Thus the discharge of home and social responsibilities may have left very deep marks. Procreation and creative activity, work and excessive enjoyment may have posited serious problems. In short, all is not well. What can be done about it? Questions without end arise in the confused mind. Who can give adequate answers? One must go on working, producing, teaching, investing, creating. That is the very essence of social living. But how can one go on with strength and faith vanishing? Who can teach the technique of activity in ease, of work without strain?
At this stage, the Virgo phase of the unfoldment of consciousness begins. It begins with a question mark. It may end with true Illumination at the fall equinox, as Libra begins. It should end with a greater understanding of the meaning of the social process, of the nature of the Night-force. It should end in beauty and peace, or at least in social adjustment.
Productive activity on the basis of strict individualism and emotional self-expression presents to man a riddle. How can physical and nervous exhaustion, emotional tragedy and disillusionment be avoided? In essence this is the question which man everlastingly asks of the Sphinx; and there is a fitting tradition which says that the point of the Zodiac which ends the sign Leo and begins the sign Virgo carries the symbol of the Sphinx. This mythical creature which still faces today the sands of Egypt has the body of a lion and the head of a virgin — this is indeed the meeting point of Leo and Virgo. It symbolizes the answer to the eternal query which we have just stated. What is this answer?
The answer is two-fold; yet the two sides of it should be integrated and that integration, difficult in practice though simple in theory, is the very secret of the Sphinx, which is two beings in one. One side of the answer refers to the wear and tear produced by the impulsive and stressful type of activity and its dramatic gestures. The answer can be summed up in one word: Technique. The other side of the picture deals with a repolarization of the emotional nature itself. Technique and emotional repolarization are the two keys to the secret of the Sphinx.
A technique is a method based on fundamental principles, the application of which enables a man to perform his work with ease, with a minimum of wear and tear, waste or destructive strain, and in the shortest time possible. The worker who understands thoroughly the foundation of the method and has built its mode of application in the very structure of his muscular, nervous and mental behavior — is a master of technique.
Technique must be learned. Barring very unusual cases, it must be learned from one who is a "master of technique." Thus he who wants to learn the secret of smooth, easy and supremely effective performance has to become an apprentice. He must become objective to his own ways of behavior. He must analyze them and refuse to be blind to their defects. He must be absolutely honest and un-glamoured in the evaluation of any performance: his and others also. He must learn to criticize dispassionately and without prejudice. He must be keen in discrimination. He must be "pure."
Purity is a much misunderstood term, loaded usually with confusing ethical and traditional images. For water to be "pure water" means to be water without any sediment, dirt or organic substances such as microbes and the like. It is to be nothing but what the chemist describes by the formula H20. Likewise, for a man to be "pure" is to be "nothing but" what he is inherently and by the right of his own individual destiny.
When a man contains in his nature elements and desires which "do not belong" to the pattern of his essential individual character and destiny, these factors act as "impurities"; and they cause psychological conflicts and breakdowns. If there are particles of dirt or water in gasoline, the performance of the car's engine is uneven and hectic. It causes wear and tear in the engine. Likewise, a man usually collects throughout his childhood and his school-days all kinds of "dirt" or substances foreign to his true individual nature. The alloy of his character contains impurities which will destroy the smoothness of his life-performance. Complexes, born of youthful frustrations and resentments or fears, act as water in the gasoline. They lessen his usable energy. They disrupt the delicate adjustment of his psychological and mental "carburetor." He gets it "out of tune" and his forces are wasted in useless strain and in unproductive expenditure of energy.
Technique means a method to eliminate all impurities which lead to waste of power; to make of the worker a "pure " agent of production, without conflicts, complexes or fears. A master-technician is absolutely sure of himself, because be knows that within himself there is nothing to inhibit, confuse or disturb his performance — nothing in his physical and psychological mechanisms, nothing in the flow of his power from source to point of effective distribution. His hands are sure because his nerves are steady; and his nerves are steady because his psychological nature is clear and unencumbered with waste products or crystallizations born originally of fear.
Technique is thus based on "purity." It also depends on potency and skill. Potency means that the performer has been born with unimpaired organs of action through which the universal life-force can flow in a condition of relatively high potential; it means, even more, that such life-potential has not been used up. Thus the symbolism of the "Virgin" — who is "pure" and "potent," because unpolluted and filled with unused energies.
Skill, born of adequate training, comes last. In a sense, training would not be so necessary, or at least the length of it could be considerably reduced, if the apprentice were really pure and potent; because the life-force, flowing then at maximum intensity and without corruption, would have the ability to adjust itself rapidly to any new situation. Unfortunately men today forget that fact. They put all the stress upon mechanical training; whereas, if all personal obstacles were removed and the individual had real potency, the most complicated mechanism could be mastered with a very small amount of practical experience. Life is intelligence. Men have obstructed that inherent intelligence by social and personal fallacies; thus they have to substitute tedious training for it. But give life a real chance, through a couple or more generations, and miracles could happen.
This is obviously not meant to lessen the value of training, but only to show that at least half of the apprentice's task is to clear himself from hindrances; the rest is relatively easy. Thus self-purification is the essential means to technical. In mastery. Man must become again a "Virgin." The past must be forgotten, eradicated — remaining only as an "essence of experience" giving depth to consciousness, but not affecting the structures of mind, emotions and body with crystallized memories which always mean blockages, thus waste and ineffectiveness. Self-revitalization ensues — the re-opening of the deep well whence power may once more flow through renewed channels of release. Then familiarity with new devices, from which skill will almost automatically follow. True skill however is not based on habits and memorized rules, but on the ability to adjust oneself immediately to any and all situations and to the requirements of any and all mechanisms.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1943 by David McKay Company
and Copyright © 1970 by Dane Rudhyar
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