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Directives for New Life by Dane Rudhyar.


Dane Rudhyar

First Published

This long out-of-print booklet essentializes much of the material from the larger volume We Can Begin Again - Together. Written in response to the pressing needs of the emergent "counter-culture" of the 1960s-70s, this engaging short work explores the deeper side of issues dealing with individualism, group and interpersonal relationships, education, ecology, social activism and more.


Directives for New Life by Dane Rudhyar.

Chapter Six
The Time For Mutation is Now

It is one thing to envision and formulate, even in their most general outlines, patterns of a new society, and quite another thing to propose "directives" for action during the long and possibly tragic process of transition from the present state of mankind to a global and harmonious condition of all-human existence. Deeply discontented and rebellious individuals, and even more the oppressed and/or starving people of the Earth, long for, or insistently demand action. But what kind of action and at what level? In terms of violence, or of slow political and diplomatic efforts using present-day institutional procedures to radically transform the institutions, or of a vast non-violent crusade hoping to disintegrate resistances and overcome social inertia by the magic of dramatized "love" — or if these modes of outer social activity are considered ineffectual, impractical and at least partially self-defeating, can we place our faith an inner process of transformation? If so, what does this inner process entail?

It should be quite clear to anyone able to think unemotionally and with the slightest historical sense that the imposing of ideals by violent action is a self-defeating operation. Revolutions have changed political structures and to some extent economic procedures by removing forcibly most of the members of the ruling elites, and they have given to another class of people the opportunity to rule; but such a change has always proven to be mostly external. Even when ultimately successful in an outer sense, violence at first breeds more violence, more terror; the basic human drives and the quality of interpersonal relationships are not transformed, at least not for a very long time. If they are even partially transformed or transmuted it is because some groups of persons are able, under the new social conditions, to radiate a quality of being which can demonstrate objectively its usefulness in reconstructing in a new way some of the old values which had been lost in the climate of destructive violence.

We see a good illustration of this process when we look back to the centuries which followed the total collapse of the Roman Empire in the West under the onslaught of Germanic "barbarians." After the breakdown of large estates using slaves and the destruction of waterways and other socio-economic mechanisms of production, and with the cities mostly in ruins, confused and distraught people having sought refuge in the country found themselves in many places without even a rudimentary knowledge of agriculture. In the slow process of reconstruction the Benedictine monasteries, which began to be formed here and there during and after the seventh century A.D., became small islands of safety and human reconstruction in regions left in chaos. Soon afterward, the Celtic monks from Ireland, who had accepted Christianity willingly without destroying what had been Celtic colleges, journeyed to Europe and they also established chains of monasteries which served as places of refuge and re-education while spreading the spirit of Christianity.

These various monastic centers surrounded by villagers to whom they offered security in case of frequent attacks by marauding bands became the "seeds" of the Christian culture of the Middle Ages. This culture united all of Western Europe in a spiritual sense, even under the political pressures of feudal lords forever struggling for power; and it inspired the building of the most remarkable Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals.

Will our Western society also succumb to the onslaught of new "Barbarians," some of whom are in our midst just as Germanic mercenaries were a large part of the Roman armies garrisoned in many cities? Will the Eastern and Western halves of our civilization destroy each other deliberately or inadvertently? Or can we expect telluric changes of major importance, deeply altering the shapes of continents, perhaps as the result of a shifting of the poles, or of some other ecological tragedy producing severe changes of climates? These and other more speculative possibilities have been mentioned. They may not be actualized; yet it seems difficult to see how the momentum of the follies and the blind pride of Western man can be stopped, if no more or less spectacular intervention occurs — which nevertheless would no doubt produce very cathartic results.

There seems to be only one hope for a relatively smooth and progressive solution. It is the hope that the young people who today are seriously involved in their "Great Refusal" to be a party to the type of civilization in which their parents and grandparents operate, will retain their ideals and, developing them in a more mature form, be able to pervade our institutions with their feeling for love, beauty, and peace. The crucial questions are whether or not there is a sufficient number of these young idealists and whether or not their elders, while still in control, will resist any basic change in our "technocracy" and resort to any means to frustrate, pervert or destroy all that menaces their power. Another unknown is the reaction of men returning from Viet Nam — and the result of the drug habit among them as well as among adolescents now in their early teens.

All these factors and the lack of clarity of purpose and more-than-temporary commitments, even among many youths who are aspiring to truly open and love-radiating relationships within a sane society, make one wonder if it is not wiser to be ready for a more or less radical breakdown of our present society — and this not only in the United States. My personal intuitive feeling has been, even before the outbreak of World War I, that our Western civilization has reached the symbolical fall period in its cycle. Many people today expect changes related to a "New Age" more or less validly called the Aquarian Age; and I also believe that in a little less than one hundred years a new cycle will begin. But this is only one aspect of the problem. There is no reason, astrologically or otherwise, to believe that the beginnings of this New Age, or of any cycle, will usher in a general condition of perfect peace, innocence, and ideal togetherness among all men, women and children — who might by then be overcrowding the globe if no catastrophe reduces considerably our world-population. All that might be expected is that these ideal conditions may exist within relatively small groups which in some ways may remain impervious to outer disintegration, as seeds are impervious to autumnal decay.

These seed-groups may resemble what in Biblical lore is spoken of as "the remnant," and also referred to as "the People" (which is also the original name of some American Indian tribes). The allegory of Noah's Ark is also a reference to the existence of seed-groups in which the quintessence of the past is preserved and impregnated with the potentiality of rebirth — rebirth after a radical mutation in consciousness.

The universal tradition of a Golden Age during which "gods walked among men" is another symbol of the seed-state — which, when it occurs, is experienced by only a portion of human life on this planet. The ghosts of the disintegrated past linger on, surrounding this Golden Age condition. Even after the seed germinates under the vernal sun, small and frail germs push through the crust of the soil still covered with decaying leaves. Within the seed, "gods" — the life-energies and the great symbols of the future vegetation — are present. The life-species is active in a focused state within the seed; Man is active within the irrevocably dedicated seed-groups. But mankind may still be floundering in the darkness and materialism outside of it. Still, somehow the power of the seed wins — in due time and season.

A great Parsi Teacher I knew, B.P. Wadia, said some 45 years ago "There is nothing you can do to Kali Yuga; but a great deal you can do in Kali Yuga". And Kali Yuga represents the Age of darkness, but also the period of gestation of a new humanity. No man can stop the decay of a civilization whose cycle is ending. He can only fully understand what this "ending" implies, and make the ultimate choice: to die with the leaves, even if it be a golden death during the "Indian summer" of a culture-cycle — or to experience victory over death in the seed-state of creative togetherness.

We should not be sentimental about natural death; this indeed is the great American sickness! A sentimental attachment to useless and obsolete things — or persons — is one of the greatest obstacles to spiritual living. Jesus said: "Let the dead bury the dead — take your cross, and follow me". Every spiritually conscious personage has said more or less the same words; but Western man, through centuries of materialization of ideals and of institutionalized fear, has cringed before the inevitable cyclic change. The only death to avoid is a useless death for a futile and stupid cause, or the type of artificially and meaninglessly delayed death in sterile hospitals. The true and fertile death is that of the seed; for, out of the torn seed, the new plant rises — new, because within this seed a radical mutation has taken place.

Of course, the truth in all that I have just said in symbolic language depends on whether my diagnosis of the state of the world is correct. Many people may believe that our present world-crisis refers only to a serious, but eminently constructive process of readjustment which would leave unchanged the great basic values of our Western civilization, itself the splendid crown of human evolution; and in order to weather the storms what we need is more rationalism, a greater faith in science and technology, and as well in the God-inspired vision of the American Fathers — and the hard work necessary to convince the whole world that this vision is indeed that of the "New Order of the Centuries" (Novus ordo seclorum) and that American technology is the only way to actualize it.

I reluctantly cannot accept this evaluation of our world-crisis, though I came to America from France fifty-five years ago with great expectations and intense faith in the "New World" sung by Walt Whitman. I came to an America very different from what it is today, yet one in which the harsh karma of slavery and of the wholesale destruction or despoiling of Native American tribes was nevertheless inherent, and in which the industrial virus from Europe had already grown to far more spectacular proportions.

If I am right in my present understanding and evaluation of where we stand now, not only in the U.S. but all over the world, what then can those individuals do, who share my sense of value, my vision and my dedication to the task of paving the way for a new world-wide society?

If these individuals have accepted the destiny of the seed-man or seed-woman, what they must do is to become fully open to the process of inner change which will result in a new mutation within their total person — an inner change, a transmutation of values, of ideals, of feeling-responses, of one's attitude toward work; work performed with similarly oriented and dedicated individuals in a community of spirit, of mind and of love. This means a revolution in consciousness focused within and sustained by interpersonal group-relationships — and not merely the vague, diffuse, emotional revolution in consciousness glamorized today by writers who probably take much too much for granted.

The focusing of the new life within groups integrated by a clear vision of the past and the future, as well as by the present need does NOT mean isolation from society and lack of concern with social and educational issues which could be significantly modified by any form of social action performed within the range of the institutional structures of our present society. In our quantitative society, number matters. One needs not be over-involved in political issues in order to vote or to support and participate in social and educational enterprises. Even if compelled by the necessities of life to work in offices or factories, the radiation of the presence of a future-oriented and dedicated person can effect subtle but valuable changes. Everywhere the key issue is that of interpersonal relationship — and the main effort is to draw individuals who are in a state of transition and a crisis of consciousness away from the subservience to the taken-for-granted traditions of the past and toward experiences of new qualities of thinking, feeling and acting — experiences after which no return to the past is possible.

There is a type of individual person who longs for the challenge of pioneering a "New Age" type of community away from the pull of the big cities and the perversions of the media. Such "communes" are most needed, as matrices for new personal realizations and for the interplay of truly open interpersonal relationships in an atmosphere of cooperative work in a natural environment. They are significant, in terms of the building of a new humanity, to the degree that they are not merely a place of refuge for lost souls and confused minds, but a field for the transformation of the whole person. From these communes more totally dedicated and integrated seed-groups should emerge. But these seed-groups can be formed under any conditions and in any social or racial environment.

The central issue is to bring about an irreversible mutation in consciousness and in feeling-responses.

The first step in such a process is inevitably an inner personal discontent with what is. The second step is openness to and assimilation of new ideas and enthusiasm for stimulating and mind-transforming symbols and images — which leads most often to meeting an "exemplar" and inspirer, and perhaps a guide. The third step is to allow the new realizations, the transforming relationships and the work in common to repolarize in depth all that one has been, and above all the ego that had so long sought for constant self-assertion and glorifying self-images which other persons were called upon to reflect, if not to admire or worship.

Very little can be done alone. Even the seemingly solitary and lonely "genius" depends upon the dynamizing power of human relationships. Even the guru needs chelas to fulfill his destiny. Relatedness is the one basic agent of metamorphosis. The crucial question is what the quality of the relationships will be.

The whole of society is based on relationships. The whole Earth is an immensely complex and integrated field of mutually interacting relationships. Human evolution is a series of changes in the basic character of interpersonal and intergroup relationships. At first, for many millennia man lived and progressed through tribal relationships, much as animals function in colonies, herds or complex societies totally controlled by biological imperatives and compulsive instincts. Then the tribes grew into empires; bloods and minds interpenetrated; and the ego-man arose, jealous of his independence and his relative capacity to control his narrow destiny as an individualized person and as a thinker. Now at least one crucial phase of this revolutionary process of individualization is coming to an end; and it may be a tragic end for a vast portion of mankind, and a radical catharsis for those who will remain as seeds for a future society.

A new evolutionary level of human consciousness is even now seeking to find in men and groups everywhere focal points for manifestation; and at that level the keynote is love — agape, the love of the companions through whom Man may find agents for synthesis and for the harmonization of his myriads of potentialities through cooperative action. This new level of human evolution may not be fully activated in the centuries to come; there may be sub-cycles within larger cycles, and we may witness only the luminescence of early dawn. Yet the challenge is with us, today. It is indeed within us. To refuse to accept it can only mean spiritual defeat for the individual person, and in however small a measure, to mankind.

Everything else is secondary. People are in bondage; large classes of men and women suffer agonizing deprivation or senseless outrages to body and soul. Violence stalks the passers — by on the crowded streets and stinking tenements, or the atrocious battlefields. Yet all this is secondary. It is dreadful action followed by passionate but futile reaction — and this over and over again. It is all part of this necessary, but perhaps unnecessarily tragic, phase of human evolution through which we are living and dying. But now is the time for mutation. It is a basic mutation, just as fundamental as that which led tribal man to form civilizations where minds and individuals learned to think, to question, to gain personal independence, to assert their ego-will and yearn for personal power and lustful excitement.

The mutation of love. The magic power of harmony. The changing, beautiful patterns of togetherness. Creative togetherness. Creative of all-human tomorrows within the vast field of an Earth whose boundaries extend far beyond the merely measurable and merely physical. The beautiful field of a cleansed and transfigured Earth.

By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1971 by Dane Rudhyar
All Rights Reserved.

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