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THE ASTRO-PSYCHOLOGICAL APPROACH TO SELF-EDUCATION

THE WAY OF CHELASHIP

Dane Rudhyar

In preceding chapters, the term "personality" has been defined in the sense in which it is used in modern depth-psychology, especially since Jung clarified its meaning. The personality is the total human being — body and psyche, conscious and unconscious — considered as an organic whole capable of integrated response to its physical and psychical environment, and capable as well of creative self-determination and conscious, significant choice. The "individuality" of the personality is its character of indivisibility and unity, and at least relative uniqueness. It refers thus to the particular structure of the personality. The ego is the "name" of the personality, in so far as it is different from other personalities, that which expresses its individuality and its particular type of structural stability.

The ego is a symbol of unity and the feeling-quality associated with all the conscious experiences which have gravitated around this realization of individual unity and "name-ability." The child comes to know itself as an ego by referring all the ever-changing sensations, moods, and organic feelings to some inherent principle of stability and permanency which correlates into unity whatever is being consciously experienced. And — because any organism is animated by life-energy rhythmically circulating through it and maintaining the integrity of its structure in spite of the constant changes produced by growth and by the impact of the outside world — the sense of ego is not only based on a sense of inner structural stability, but also on a dynamic feeling of individualized power. The ego is not only "I"; it is also the "am" associated with the "I" — the "I am." The sense of ego, however, is constantly modified by inner and outer experiences, pulled by emotional responses and stirred by inner moods of desire, expansiveness, or fear. Thus in normal everyday actuality, the "I am" is always associated with a "this" or "that": I am angry — I am feeling good — l am ill — l am afraid —I am in love, etc. Indeed the realization of one's "I am-ness" unconditioned by any feeling or concept is difficult. It is the goal of many spiritual trainings, such as Hindu Yoga and modern New Thought.    

When an experience reaching the consciousness produces an immediate response of repulsion, fear, alienness, and inacceptability, the memory of this experience is often not allowed to remain within the "field of consciousness" over which the ego rules. It sinks "below the threshold" of the consciousness, into the personal unconscious. The unconscious also contains many factors which the individual has not yet had the chance to experience — either subjectively or objectively. These as yet unexperienced unconscious factors are generic and collective. They are "generic" when they refer to "our common humanity" — that is, to any and all powers which are inherent and potential in every human being born, simply by virtue of his being "human." They are "collective" factors when they are the results of the racial, social, and cultural experience of long generations of ancestors. Thus the generic unconscious refers to those organic and spiritual characteristics which the child will experience as they grow into a mature personality through love and creativity, sickness and suffering, and in any way in which latent human powers become actual to them as a conscious individual. The contents of the collective unconscious — the social and cultural "archetypes" defined by Jung — will also be experienced by the individual as their personality develops in the midst of a social-cultural environment from which they learn to draw (and eventually to assimilate and digest) psychic and mental food. Not all these contents of the collective unconscious will, of course, be assimilated or even encountered in the conscious experience of any one individual. But the more such contents of the generic and collective unconscious are assimilated, the richer the mature personality will be.

The process of maturation and enrichment of the personality is a long one — a difficult one. It is also a dangerous one. "Personality" as an ultimate value and as a quality of radiation, creativity, and independent living is a goal to be reached only when the individual person attains a state of "definiteness, fullness and maturity" (C. G. Jung) — that is, as their bio-psychic organism becomes well integrated and resilient, capable of endurance and endowed with dynamic power — the power to protect and reproduce itself in and through society. When the psychologist speaks of "the personality" they mean this bio-psychic organism structured by the ego (in the body, by the skeleton) and displaying functional unity. When referring to "personality" they mean the quality that radiates from the relatively mature and dynamic individual person — in a sense, the famous "It" of movie and stage celebrities, the power of "projection" which makes for great performers, be it in show business or on the political scene.

Personality, in its fullest sense, is an ideal to strive toward. It is an ideal, just as sainthood in religion and "adeptship" in occultism are ideals. None of these can be attained in early youth (outside of the possibility of "divine" embodiment), though the potentiality of their attainment can be more or less strongly indicated since adolescence. Yet any individual showing tendencies toward self-assertion, independence of thought, and emotional intensity can be "educated into personality." But how, by whom, and to what end? In seeking to answer these most pertinent (and alas! often glossed over or superficially considered) questions, one encounters many difficulties. The answers are not obvious; their validity must be carefully weighed, not only in a general sense, but as well in terms of historical trends and the cultural needs of a society at a particular time, as well as in relation to the readiness of the individual who is to be educated into personality.

Presently, I will briefly indicate three basic types of answers proposed by the old Oriental "spiritual teacher," the modern depth-psychologist (like Carl Jung), and by the as yet unclassified and not clearly defined astro-psychologist who would seek to combine the potentiality for self-education contained in astrology with the attitude of the Jungian or Kunkelian psychologist. But, first of all, I will refer to the historical picture presented today by our modern, typically Western society in so far as the relation of society to personality is concerned.

The relationship of personality to society must always be considered as an essential background for any practical application of psychological ideals and techniques, because no individual exists in a vacuum and no man or woman is ever born as an individualized and mature personality. Every individual person must emerge from the collective womb of society — often, by violence! Throughout their career, the imprint of the conditioning received during this process of emergence will be felt, and will determine the further need of the person. Education to personality is both education out of the social-cultural collectivity of human beings in whose society the individual lives and seeks to reach their goal — and education on the basis of the historical attainments of that particular society. This may seem like a paradox; but in a sense all psychological development is based on paradox, on the reconciliation of opposites — a fact well known to the Ancients.

Our modern society, especially since the industrial and technological revolution which radically transformed the conditions of human existence, is characterized (psychologically speaking) by the constant pressure it exerts toward the "depersonalization" of the average human being. This is perhaps most characteristic (generally speaking) in the United States, in spite of the fact that individualism is the basis of our social system — or possibly because of this fact. Why? Because where people are so busy asserting their rights to their own opinion and their own choice, and "feeling" themselves different from others, they have neither the substantial foundation, nor the time and power of concentration necessary to build themselves as personalities — a slow and painstaking process of natural growth. And, where there is the peculiar optimism and ideological naivetι of the average American type, there is usually little understanding of the essentially "tragic" character of the process of ''individuation" (i.e., of personality development and integration) at the present transitional stage of human evolution.

This depersonalization of the human being in modern Western society does not mean that people do not seek to become individualized as separate and self-willed egos — which obviously they do! It means that these individual egos float like corks on the turbulent tides of modern society and modern production, and have practically no roots through which they can assimilate the real and concrete life-substance necessary to feed the growth of the bio-psychic organism of the personality. To cry out "I," "I," day in and night out, does not help the personality to become richer and more mature. It means an over-stressing of the structural factor in the total personality; but the structure may be both very strong and definite, and. . . empty.

What I call here depersonalization is produced by the lack of substance in the life of the personality. This substance necessary to feed the personality is not to be found by statements of self-will and gestures of ego-pride. It has to be gathered through significant experiences. Gathered from where? From the living of true and vital relationship — with one's fellow beings, with the deeply felt life of the group and culture to which one belongs, with the powers of nature (including the powers of generic human nature), with all that lives and moves on earth and in the vast universe of the sky. The significant experience of relationship — in an intimate, steady, lasting, and concentrated manner — is the only way to develop a rich and mature personality.

Indeed, the peasant who lives a warm communal life with a rich sense of contact with the soil, the seasons, and the other men and women surrounding them, has far greater chance of becoming a rich and mature personality than the office-worker or factory-hand of a modern American city, provided this peasant remains in their limited environment. Because their scope of activity and consciousness are limited, and because the are individualized only in a most primitive way, the peasant's personality will not extend very far. Yet, within its narrow boundaries, it can be deep and full and warm, while the personality of the average city-worker is empty, superficial, and filled only with reflected thoughts (via TV., radio, newspapers, magazines) and reflected emotions (via movies and cheap sentimental stories). They do not feed on a vitally experienced tradition, on the fruitful struggle of the person who lives on the land and mixes constantly with the tragic rhythm of birthing and decay. They are manipulated, tossed around by vast forces in an enormously complex social mechanism which they cannot vitally comprehend, and to which they are unable significantly to relate themselves. Therefore, they can only gain bewilderment and surface-excitement from their experiences. Even if the modern city-dweller happens to be on top of society — as manager of some big organization — they find their days so crowded, their mind so beset by competitive strife and anxiety, their nights so tense, that they have no time to grow as a human being, as a personality.

This does not mean that we should return to the peasant-status; far from it! There can be no vital meaning in a regression to primitive earth-bound roots — except for short periods of bio-psychic recuperation. What is meant is that a new type of root must be found and experienced, That root is what I have often called "our common humanity" — not merely at the biological level of common organic human function, but at the spiritual level of our common "divine" origin and our common purpose: the full realization of "Man" through a global and harmonic society, through an all-inclusive and creative civilization. The way to such a group-realization in which all spirit-inspired and spiritually self-dedicated men and women should participate is the way of education to personality — and, after the mature and creative state of personality is reached, the way in which this wholesome and vibrant personality is used for a super-personal purpose — what I have called the "transpersonal way."* But first, there should be fullness of personality.

*cf. Occult Preparations for a New Age (Quest Books, 1974), Part Three, "On Transpersonal living."

What is meant by this phrase "fullness of personality" has varied a great deal during the last six millenia of recorded history, and it will vary again, following new trends in the evolution of human consciousness and human society. In the India of some three or four thousand years ago, "Forest-Philosophers" began the tradition of transcendental thinking recorded later in the Upanishads (prototypes of the Platonic and Hermetic Discourses) and stressed the essential identity of the individual soul and the Universal Soul. The main emphasis was on the individual's "liberation" from bondage to the bio-psychic patterns of the instinctual and social existence of those days: bondage to sex, greed, anger — and bondage to the rigid rituals of a highly organized and planned society controlled by the Brahmin caste.

Yet, Occidentals and Orientalists trained in Christian thought fail, as a rule, to grasp the full meaning of Hindu transcendentalism as it existed before the perversions and the nearly insane devotionalism of the medieval era (mostly between 200 and 1400 A.D.). The Forest-Philosophers of 2000 or 1000 B.C. were men who had fulfilled all the duties of social living and who, in the last period of their life, sought to prepare themselves to die significantly and in full consciousness, and thus to bring a productive social life to a consciously individualized and spiritually valid consummation. This consummation was, according to their views, the "seed" determining the future re-embodiment on earth after a period of withdrawal in a purely subjective state of being. In this sense, personality was accomplished in death — in that "individual seed of consciousness" wherein the harvest of a life of earth-fulfillment blended with the spiritual essence of the immortal self, atman — immortal, because inherently one with the Universal Self, Brahman. Later on, however, the idea grew that this "great transition" could be made without the disintegration of the physical body. The seed-moment of life-consummation (normally at death) could occur at any time after a degree of personal maturity was reached. To learn to die while remaining alive has been the essence of all spiritual teaching ever since.

In India, the relationship of the spiritual Teacher (guru) to their few disciples (chelas) was a completely personal (or we should rather say "transpersonal") relationship. For the chela, the guru stood as a personalization of God — and conversely God was often called, in one of His aspects at least, Mahaguru, the Great Teacher. What the guru was essentially meant to do for his chela was: 

    1) To arouse to the fullest extent possible (under control and within the limits of physio-psychological safety) the generic and collective powers of the chela's organism, while the chela retained a clear, objective consciousness of them as well as of their own self; in other words, to arouse Man (the fullness of humanhood) in the particular individual person, without the latter exploding under the eruption of unconscious contents into their consciousness. This process is normally a very slow one. In the Hindu view, it takes many lives. But the special training of yoga, under a guru's supervision, was understood to be a short-cut — a dangerous one, even under the best conditions possible, but one which could lead to the greatest attainment a person could desire.

    2) During such a process, a great deal of negative energy was bound to be released, and it was the guru's task to absorb, reorient, and control this energy, which, if let alone, would in most cases lead to personal disintegration, insanity, or death. As a result, the chela could reach a stage of "liberation" from their own past and their race's past (karma).

    3) At the end of the process (or at least of one phase of it, for in a sense it is a cyclic and a very long process) the guru was to serve as a sort of spiritual "catalyst" enabling a basic psycho-spiritual reaction to occur in the chela's total personality. This was understood to imply a mysterious transfer of spiritual power, and was represented or focalized by the guru giving to the chela a "Mystery-Name" — their "passport" in the spiritual realm.

These seem to have been (underneath a complex veil of symbolism) the three basic phases of the process of human metamorphosis. During this process, the chela was led to experience what amounted to death, but also a consequent reintegration of energies on the basis of which a new spirit-polarized personality was constituted. The guru played an essential and indispensable role in this process. Not only did they make it relatively safe — provided all went well; but they alone could give to the chela a certain something — a spark or seed of divinity — which was necessary for the success of the transformation. They were also the link between the chela and the long "chain" of spiritual Teachers who had come before them, thus binding the chela to a timeless Company in which each person is as all, and all are focused into one. The concept of personality takes on a new dimension in terms of man's participation in such a Company. It includes all that has come before in one line of spiritual activity — paralleling at the level of the conscious spirit the mysterious synthesis that occurs in the fecundated ovum within the mother's womb when an embryo becomes one with the unending line of it's physical ancestors, and they live once more in it.

The ancient concept of education to personality was expressed through a vast array of myths and symbols; and it definitely dealt with spiritual powers and bio-psychic energies. So-called "occultism," which inherited these mythological representations and alchemical allegories, essentially deals with the "realm of forces" — which is not exactly a physical realm, yet which operates through the bio-psychic organism of man — thus, through the personality in its dynamic nature. The yogi is not interested in the body as a mass of flesh and bones (at times, pursuing this lack of interest to a senseless extreme), but in the generic (also called "astral") powers inherent in humanhood and thus latent in every normal person.

For the modern psychotherapist of Jung's type, the human body is an integral part of the total personality, but of itself it does not carry the main focus of attention except as the organic foundation of "psychic energy" and as the common basis for the interactions between human individuals. Most psychotherapists do not take care of physical diseases except insofar as they are directly connected with psychical states, leaving all acute cases to the psychiatrist. There can hardly be any real process of education to personality where definite physical illness or acute malformation is an unsolved problem. In ancient times, perfect organic health was a prerequisite for any spiritual-occult training. Today, this emphasis does not have quite the same validity — the less so, the more the mind has become individualized and independent of physical-emotional pulls. Nevertheless, education to personality, even in the modern sense, is still so serious and relatively dangerous a process that basic ill-health in most cases accentuates the element of danger.

A typical series of statements made by C. G. Jung concerning the development of personality is to be found in the last chapter of his book The Integration of the Personality; as the book (which deals largely with the correspondence between alchemical and psychological ideas) does not make easy reading, I will quote a number of significant passages: 

No one can educate to personality who do not themselves have it. And not the child, but only the adult can attain personality as the mature fruit of an accomplishment of life that is directed to this end. The achievement of personality means nothing less than the best possible development of all that lies in a particular, single being. It is impossible to foresee what an infinite number of conditions must be fulfilled to bring this about. A whole human life span in all its biological, social, and spiritual aspects is needed. Personality is the highest realization of the inborn distinctiveness of the particular living being. Personality is an act of the greatest courage in the face of life, and means unconditional affirmation of all that constitutes the individual, the most successful adaptation to the universal conditions of human existence, with the greatest possible freedom of personal decision. To educate someone to this seems to me to be no small matter. It is surely the heaviest task that the spiritual world of today has set itself. And, indeed, it is a dangerous task.

No one develops their personality because someone told them it would be useful or advisable for them to do so. . . . Nothing changes itself without need, and human personality least of all. It is immensely conservative, not to say inert. Only the sharpest need is able to rouse it. . . . The development of personality from its germinal state to full consciousness is at once a charism and a curse. Its first result is the conscious and unavoidable separation of the single being from the undifferentiated and unconscious herd. This means isolation, and there is no more comforting word for it. . . . It also means fidelity to the law of one's being . . . personality can never develop itself unless the individual chooses their own way consciously and with conscious, moral decision. . . . True personality always has vocation and believes in it, has fidelity to it as to God, in spite of the fact that, as the ordinary person would say, it is only a feeling of individual vocation. But this vocation acts like a law of God from which there is no escape. That many go to ruin upon their own ways means nothing to one who has vocation.

To have vocation means in the original sense to be addressed by a voice. . . . It happens to not a few, even in this unconscious social state, to be summoned by the individual voice, whereupon they are at once differentiated from the others and feel themselves confronted by a problem that the others do not know about. . . . The inner voice is the voice of a fuller life, of a wider, more comprehensive consciousness. That is why, in mythology, the birth of the hero or the symbolic rebirth coincides with sunrise: the development of personality is synonymous with an increase of awareness.

In so far as every individual has their own inborn law of life, it is theoretically possible for every person to follow this law before all others and so to become a personality — that is, to achieve completeness. . . . Only the person who is able consciously to affirm the power of the vocation confronting them from within becomes a personality; they who succumb to it fall prey to the blind flux of happenings and are destroyed.

In so far as a person is untrue to their own law and do not rise to personality, they have failed of the meaning of their life. Fortunately, in her kindness and patience, Nature has never put the fatal question as to the meaning of their lives into the mouths of most people. And where no one asks, no one needs to answer. 

These brief excerpts, while they do not deal in detail with the "how" of the development of the personality, should at any rate help to situate the problem from the modern psychological point of view. The warnings given by Jung as to the seriousness of this problem are repeated by Kunkel. They echo similar admonitions, put in even stronger and more awesome terms by the occultist, theosophist, or even Mason, who also (in varied but related ways) deals with this central problem of all human life: the birth of an integral personality in which the individualized spirit (heralded by the "inner voice") meets and unites with the flowering of the bio-psychic and social-cultural life. Kunkel writes:

No one should be lured without urgent necessity to enter this turmoil of creativity and spirituality. If you are allowed to stay where you are, you had better stay. No curiosity, no scientific purpose, no moral duty gives you the right or even the possibility of going through the purgatory of depth-psychology . . . What are the minimum requirements for those who want to make this attempt? From the religious side two things are needed. First, the belief, or at least the suspicion, that there is or may be — as William James puts it — "an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto." And secondly, a certain tolerance towards God, which means our readiness to allow God to be as he wants to be and not as we expect him to be according to our own conceptions, theologies and creeds (and our interpretation of the Bible which we think is the only right interpretation). We should give Him the chance to teach us something new about Himself. On the psychological side we need a certain amount of personal suffering, as we have pointed out; and a certain readiness to admit that something may be wrong in our own inner structure. If these four requirements have not yet been met we should wait. There is no hurry, for the inner situation will be better prepared when we begin some years later. And it is never too late. (In Search of Maturity, p. 234.)

Why these warnings? Because in the process of arousal which follows either contact with a true guru, the first consultation with a psychoanalyst, or the giving of oneself to the "inner voice," all the dark energies of the unconscious tend to be let loose. Everything — good or bad — is stimulated as we seek to reach a fuller consciousness. And, since we usually manage fairly well to ignore the memories of failures or perhaps evil thoughts or actions within our total personality (pushing them back into our unconscious), they are usually the first to be made apparent. This may lead to a sense of panic — even to the confrontation with the ghastly "Dweller on the Threshold" made graphic in Bulwer Lytton's Zanoni. But woe to those — who recoil in horror and try to reverse the process of growth! No one can safely "dis-educate" themselves. Once the door of the unconscious is deliberately opened, once the call of the inner "vocation" is answered, the only way is ahead.

This is not a matter for the psychologists alone. It is indeed time for astrologers to realize that they too, consciously or not, deal with vital energies and unconscious powers when each begins to face their own life in terms of the birth-chart; and likewise when they assume the responsibility of giving psychological advice to other persons — clients or friends. From the Jungian point of view, the birth-chart can be considered an "archetype of the unconscious." It is a visible recording of the inner voice — of what God has wrought for us as a blueprint of what we could (thus, should) become. To earnestly consider this blueprint — this symbolic Name of our fulfilled personality — to give it a determining importance in our everyday living; to know ourselves as a concrete incorporation of its structural harmony — this indeed constitutes a most serious, most vital, and irreversible step.

By taking this step we precipitate upon ourselves as individuals shadows as well as light. Whatever is indicated in our birth-chart becomes more strongly emphasized than before in our actual life. We suffer more. We experience deeper strata of ourselves. We meet fear in a new way. We become more what we potentially are in all directions. No one who seeks to tread the astrological (or the psychological) way of education to personality should ever forget this. To do so without being ready or even conscious of what is at stake is to court the possibility of inner catastrophe as well as outer failure.

 

Astrology and the Modern Psyche

 

Mindfire