KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COSMIC ATTUNEMENT
The problem of knowledge has occupied the attention of the most questioning and critical minds in all highly developed cultures. How is man conscious of existence — conscious that he exists, and conscious of what occurs in his environment? On what foundations is knowledge based? Are there several essentially different modes of cognition and as a result, several basically different types of knowledge? And if this last question is answered in the affirmative, could it be that mankind is in the process of collectively developing a new way of knowing what it now needs in order to insure survival and, above mere survival, a full development of man's potentialities which certainly are as yet but partially actualized? This new way of knowing may indeed not be new at all, for a relatively few individuals here and there may have already experienced it. But when they tried to interpret and explain the actual mental process which produced this special type of knowledge, perhaps these individuals (who might be considered mutants) had to use concepts and words heavily laden with emotional glamor and egocentric or geocentric biases; concepts and words rendered inadequate by the fact that they emanated from a type of culture and mental imagery formed by local geographical and racial conditions.
It is not my intention here to build a new theory of knowledge and to present subtle or rigorous epistemological arguments for its validity. All that is intended is to state the problem of knowledge in terms of a holistic approach to existence and to man's relationship to the universe, and to suggest how, if one follows this approach, some of the old concepts can be reformulated and integrated with the cyclocosmic world-picture which seems to best satisfy the needs of humanity at the threshold of a new planetary Age.
Revelatory Versus Sensation-Based Knowledge
The idea that two essentially different modes of knowing and types of knowledge exist was fundamental in the philosophies of old India — and I use the term philosophy in the plural, as did Heinrich Zimmer, to stress the fact that there were and still are completely different "Schools of Philosophy" in India, and not only one type as many people seem to believe. According to the Vedas and the systems of thought derived from these ancient texts, a type of knowledge is available to man which is characterized by the term shruti, that is, knowledge based on "revelation." The other type, smriti, refers to knowledge resulting from the progressive accumulation of information gathered by succeeding generations of men — information derived from sense-observation and generalization through intellectual assumptions and the building of abstract theories.
The smriti-type of knowledge is therefore not only based on the testimony of man's senses and on data furnished by instruments extending the range of our sense-perceptions, but it is conditioned by a cultural tradition, a collective mentality and a particular language. It represents what most people today understand as knowledge. It is the knowledge which modern science seems to make available. Yet the majority of people do not quite realize what is actually implied in our sense-knowledge and especially in modern science; thus I shall try to elucidate what is inferred in this mode of knowing.
As to the shruti-type of knowledge, it has been presented in most cases as a revelation bestowed upon man by God, or by divine and semi-divine agencies mediating between God and man. The problem, however, in such cases of revelation is to ascertain what is meant by God and quasi-divine intermediaries, and whether the human being apparently chosen as a recipient for a revelation is an effectual and reliable transmitting agent. Moreover, we must consider whether what he receives from a divine Source can be formulated in words and images or concepts understandable to the men of the particular culture and society for whose benefit the revelation is apparently bestowed.
We shall deal separately with these two forms of knowledge, but first of all let us stress the fact that the men who believe in the exclusive validity of sensation-based and intellectually or rationally devised systems of concepts in most instances refuse to call any type of supposedly divine revelation a valid form of knowledge. On the other hand, to the religious devotee or the spiritual seer of old, sense-based knowledge is actually a form of ignorance (as Hindu philosophers like Sri Aurobindo use the term). It may have value in everyday life, but from the spiritual point of view this everyday life is itself an illusion, and the testimonies of the senses are ultimately unreliable and deceiving for they refer to a world of unreality (Hindu concept) or a world of darkness and sin (the Christian approach) from which the Soul in man should divorce itself as soon as it can — a divorcing process made possible by the super-sensual knowledge obtained through divine revelation.
This being so, do we have to infer that these two opposing attitudes toward knowledge refer to irreconcilable levels of human consciousness or evolutionary status, or is it possible to see that they can be reconciled and that they are indeed complementary?
The answer to these questions can be found in the fact, stated at the beginning of this book, that man becomes aware of existence in two different ways. On the one hand he experiences the continuous flow of existential activity as if it were a tumultuous and haphazard sequence of unrelated events which pass through and around him, leaving a confusing or bewildering series of impressions or shocks on his whole organism and his senses. He is buffeted by the waves and whirlpools of life whose essential character is that it implies a multitude of ever-changing relationships between existing entities. On the other hand, man becomes aware, either through or beyond this existential tumult, of patterns of order and periodicity, of rhythmic processes and cyclic recurrences, and thus of essential order.
This two-fold character of man's basic awareness of existence is at the very root of the two approaches to knowledge, even at the more cultured and sophisticated levels. Basically one can therefore speak of existential knowledge and of a structural kind of knowledge. Existential knowledge refers to the direct and immediate perception of the passing of events — internal and organismic, as well as external and environmental events. Structural knowledge derives from man's ever growing consciousness of the order inherent in all processes of existence, and from his attempt to learn the mode of operation of this principle of order. What complicates the situation is that both the existential approach and the structural approach can be, and have been, interpreted in different ways, according to man's basic temperament and the character of his particular culture.
Existential knowledge, in its more developed form, deals with the ever-changing relationships between existents and with the activities of these existents within a particular environment and a particular social setup. If these relationships are felt to be negative, frustrating and oppressive, and particularly if their sequence or their implications appear to be meaningless, utterly chaotic and indeed absurd, existential knowledge may become pervaded with a sense of anxiety, fear and defeat. It may indeed take on a very pessimistic character, increasingly so the more emphasized the belief in universal order and divine purposefulness had been in the past of the culture and of the individual person. On the other hand, existential knowledge, even without any postulated reference to a divine or cosmic order, can be colored and glorified by a total acceptance of existence per se and a conscious and serene identification with the continuous flow of events. Man is then contented to keep his mind open to the rhythm of life and the universe, to gather whatever information chance relationships bring to him and perhaps to transfigure his sense-perceptions and internal feelings by the use of his poetic sense and his capacity to discover symbolic meaning in whatever comes to his attention.
Structural knowledge can also take different forms and embody seemingly divergent temperamental approaches to life and consciousness. In its most traditional aspect it is interpreted as divine Revelation; it is then knowledge endowed with absolute certainty and given to consecrated human beings, either by God or by more or less divine or superhuman Teachers. For some cultures, the revelation occurred as a unique event which took place either at the beginning of human evolution on this Earth or with the appearance and the teachings of a "one and only" Son of God, the Christ. In the latter case, the revelation is seen to have taken an essentially spiritual and moral character oriented towards the individual person.
Modern science is also a type of structural knowledge but in a totally different sense, especially in its dependence upon mathematics and logic; yet what has limited thus far our Western science is its insistence on relying exclusively on empirical observations and strictly intellectual procedures along the lines of the old Aristotelian logic. The reason for this exclusiveness is quite obvious, historically speaking, because our modern science developed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as a strong protest against the dogmatism of the Church. As the Church was able to enforce its claim that only religion had the key to the knowledge of the soul and of all spiritual or ethical values, the only field left open to the emerging group of scientific researchers was the realm of material objects and of all that belongs to the realm of sense-obtained data.
Thus the new structural knowledge of science established as dogma the idea that all reliable knowledge could only come through empirical data organized by the rational intellect into laws of nature.
The result of this forced the enquiring minds of men of the Classical European Era to concentrate upon matter, and the intellect proved to be spectacular. Modern technology developed rapidly, and it has transformed the ways of life of mankind. Whether such a transformation will turn out to be an unmitigated success is highly doubtful. It may lead to a nuclear catastrophy and to the mechanization of most human beings. There are, however, many indications that new trends are developing among the most progressive scientists and generalists of our day, and that instead of reducing man to a physical mechanism, future science may be repolarized through a psychological and indeed spiritual interpretation of matter (d. Robert Linssen, La Spiritualite de Materiere, Paris, 1967).
The main points which I wish to make here are:
(1) That the two basic factors in human experience should be included in our approach to knowledge: the structural and the existential, and
(2) That both of these factors should be given their fullest and most positive implications; that is to say they should not be restricted to some special aspect of the total nature of man, for man should be considered as a vast and multi-leveled field-of-existence rather than as the creature of either a personal God or of local geographical, cultural and historical circumstances.
The concept of divine revelation as the foundation of valid knowledge is as limiting as the idea that knowledge is only reliable if acquired through sense-data and laboratory experiments which imply certain more or less unacknowledged postulates. The ancient opposition between revealed knowledge and experimental knowledge must be reinterpreted and given a new meaning; and this I believe can only be done in a way acceptable to modern man, when his mind is freed from traditional biases, through a cyclocosmic type of approach to existence.
Before we discuss this approach in its application to the problem of knowledge, it would seem worthwhile to briefly mention recent attempts to give validity to the concept of revelatory knowledge in the broadest sense of the term.
Revelation and the Collective Unconscious
If there was some kind of divine Revelation at the origin of the development of man's consciousness — a Revelation bringing to mankind the basis of a knowledge originating in a source outside of man's everyday awareness of the flow of existential data — it would seem probable that one should still find ideas, images, or modes of thinking today at least relatively identical in most cultures and religions. Indeed, the comparative study of old and new cultures and religions has shown conclusively that a number of similar ideas, symbols and even ritual forms of behavior have existed in one form or another almost everywhere on the face of the globe. They can be found in the Bible and the Sacred Books of the main religions, in the great myths, the fairy tales and the popular legends of cultures separated by time and space.
However, such a fact can be interpreted in several ways. One of the first interpretations, emphasized during the last century, was that all races originated from one geographical region constituting the cradle of mankind; that there, a more or less coherent whole of ideas, symbols and magic or religious formulas were developed. Later on human races became progressively differentiated as they evolved in different localities, each race or tribe isolated from the other, responding to the influence of its particular environment by creating particular traditions and systems of beliefs and as well, demonstrating specific bio-psychic traits.
This type of interpretation evidently was in accord with Biblical doctrines; it also fitted in with the idea, found in many places, that an Original Revelation had been bestowed upon primitive man by great Beings who had come either from another planet or from a superior sphere of existence. This idea is found expressed in a variety of forms among men of all races, so that it is possible to state that there actually is a "collective memory" — imprecise as it undoubtedly is — of a remote condition of human existence in which divine Instructors taught men the foundations of agriculture and primitive industry, of language and moral behavior, of medicine and all the arts.
The term, collective memory, may however be inappropriate. It may hide more than explain the basic nature of revelatory knowledge. Rather than say that at some special time in the remote past there was a revelation brought by superhuman Instructors, which left its mark upon all succeeding cultures, is it not more logical, and especially more fruitful and stimulating, to speak of an always possible contact between a form of superior consciousness and the minds of particularly sensitive human beings acting under special circumstances? That such a contact is perhaps more likely to occur at some periods of human development than at others may also be true.
The psychologist, Carl Jung, gave this problem a seemingly valid solution, yet one which he was not able or perhaps willing to carry far enough because of his departure from, yet his eagerness to remain at the level of an empirical psychology. He refers the ideas and symbols at the core of most religions and cultures to what he calls the collective unconscious, and gives them the names of archetypes. According to him, these archetypes are "psychic structures" which are inherent in the collective consciousness of archaic humanity, i.e., of humanity still in a non-individualized state of openness to direct contacts with nature. He believes that these psychic structures are direct expressions of primordial instincts in human nature and that these instincts themselves are moulded by the structures and functions of the total human organism.
These Jungian archetypes in many cases refer to the relationship of man with the planet and with its daily and seasonal rhythms. They are, according to Jung, the psychic end-products of a multitude of human experiences repeated through many millennia and, one might say, incorporated into the deeper level of the psyche. These psychic depths, especially today, are outside the usual field of consciousness, because most of the time, man's consciousness is hypnotized by the preoccupations of everyday social life and enclosed within the more or less rigid framework of a dominant ego. This ego wants to remain precisely itself. It clings to what makes it different from others and rejects, or pushes back into the unconscious, that which all men have in common, because to this proud ego, whatever is common appears more or less valueless in the intensely competitive and success-oriented society in which men operate today.
Such a state of affairs is productive not only of often dynamically stimulating tensions but, in its exaggerated form, of acute neuroses and psychosomatic illnesses. It also affects the very nature of the knowledge sought after by the men of such a society. It transforms universities into highly competitive 'multiversities' operating as factories of knowledge under perhaps unofficial, but powerful and ever-present pressures from Government and big business. Nevertheless, a most significant and growing reaction against this atomization of knowledge and the competitively technological goals of official education is developing. Integration of Knowledge (d. Oliver Reiser's book bearing this title), integration of educational departments and fields of research, interdisciplinary conferences, etc. have become ideals toward which to strive. But of course, what is sought is a type of integration which proceeds mostly from separate fields of technical knowledge — thus from an existential type of knowledge based on sense-data and empirical procedures. It is a centripetal type of integration which dreams of establishing, through the convergence of diverse intellectual theories which at first appear unrelatable if not opposite, an all-embracing concept or system of knowledge.
The keyword is thus: synthesis — the last stage of a dialectical process of knowledge. Jung's collective unconscious is, in one sense at least, a kind of synthetic formation, the condensed and unified harvest of all human past experiences. The attempt to show that allgreat religions teach fundamentally the same body of spiritual-ethical truths (Aldous Huxley's perennial philosophy) takes the form today of an ecumenism which seeks to reduce the diversity of doctrines to a unity of beliefs acceptable to all men, even in spite of the cultural and traditional differences feeding their emotional and harassed egos. What is sought is a consciously accepted all-human consensus, a passage from the stage of antithesis to that of synthesis. But can such a passage be accomplished without regard to the thesis? Is it not illogical to hope to reach a synthesis of antithetic viewpoints without incorporating into that synthesis the very essence of the thesis which is the root of the dialectical process of evolution of human consciousness and knowledge?
Because a more or less clear realization of this need to rely upon an original human thesis, a root reality, is felt by many seekers, we often find mentioned the idea, and even more the practice, of a "return-to." But a return to what? This is evidently the basic question; and any answer is likely to be unacceptable to a great many minds, because they are still strongly committed to their own or their culture's position at the antithesis level. The 'return to source' which inspired certain European thinkers always means the return to some particular source — to the alpha state of the cycle of a particular culture, but not to the original state of mankind as a whole.
On the other hand, Jung's concept of the collective unconscious fails to be entirely satisfying, not only because of its imprecision which makes it appear as a convenient screen behind which to hide anything one does not know, but because it offers no answer to the problem of what is at the root of human consciousness. The concept of a primordial Revelation as the root-foundation of human knowledge, and indeed of the human ability to be conscious of being conscious, is a more logical belief; but it is a metaphysical or religious belief which cannot be proved valid except, one might assume, if we undertake to follow certain disciplines for occult-spiritual development which claim to provide the consciousness of the disciple with indisputable and certain knowledge. Unfortunately such claims aremany and varied, and rarely if ever open to objective checks and counterchecks.
What makes the idea of such a primordial Revelation difficult to accept is the personalized manner in which it is so often presented, whether it be in Asiatic or Western traditions. Great events, it is true, do occur through persons; but through rather than by. The person focuses a critical situation in a process of unfoldment of potentiality into actuality — an existential process; but this does not really cause the transformation. The person is an important fact at the existential level; but he is an agent, an instrumentality, at the structural level of understanding. A structuring Power acts through this agent. The agent is, existentially speaking, a Source; but a source is merely a place on the surface of the Earth at which — through which water flows as a result of certain geological structures. What is this structuring Power? I have spoken of it as the Eon. It is the greater Whole in relation to us, men, who represent lesser wholes.
The Cyclocosmic Basis of Holistic Knowledge
The fundamental proposition in the cyclocosmic world-view is that existence is a process of transformation of wholes which are organized systems of activities and are composed of a more or less vast number of components or parts, each of which is in turn a whole composed of many parts, etc. The terms, whole and parts, are interdependent — just as, let us say, mother and child are. One cannot speak of a whole without implying its parts; and to speak of a part indicates the existence of a whole within which it is contained. Likewise no woman can be called a mother unless she has a child; and the existence of a child presupposes a mother — at least in our natural Earth-environment!
I have spoken in a preceding chapter of two basic types of relationship: matricial and associative. I am now considering an even more general and fundamental dualism. There are relationships which link wholes operating at the same level of existence in time and space, that is, whose life-span and size belong to the same scale of magnitude; and there are relationships in which the two terms of the relationship are constituted by a relatively small whole and the much vaster whole of which it is a part. Thus there are two kinds of relationship: of whole with whole belonging to the same level of existence — and of whole to part, and part to whole. These might be called horizontal and vertical relationships, if one wishes to adopt a recently publicized concept; but these terms do not accurately define the character of the relationships. The qualificative, vertical, indeed misses the basic point: the fact that in such a so-called vertical relationship the supposedly higher factor in the relationship actually contains the lower. The same confusion exists if one speaks of higher self and lower self — a very unfortunate way of expressing a most important fact of human existence by the use of an archaic type of symbolism. The consciousness of a human organism is not higher than that of the cells of this organism; it is first of all more inclusive: it is also as far as we can imagine more complex. It refers to a longer span and a larger field of existence.
The consciousness of a living cell in a human body has its own cellular character — whatever that exactly is. The consciousness of a primitive man or a newborn child has its own organismic character which belongs to a different order, an order of great complexity and scope of operation. This primitive man or infant develops beyond the organismic state when he reaches a state of evolution or of growth in which he experiences even more complex associative or horizontal relationships, that is when he is able to participate in a larger whole which we call society — and ultimately on this Earth, humanity. He then relates himself associatively with other human beings who are at least potentially his equals. But at the same time he also finds himself related to the greater whole constituted by his community, his nation and its cultural traditions, and eventually humanity as a whole.
Present-day thinkers, hypnotized as they are by the physical sense-obtained character of what they conceive as 'reality', will object to the preceding statement on the basis that a nation or humanity is not a real existential whole; and people love to repeat, without giving too much thought to the matter, that a society, or humanity, is made up of individuals. They assert that the primary fact, the only real concrete fact, is the individual; the individual alone can be thought of as an entity, while mankind is simply a concept or a category. But is this really so? Is not this attitude of mind a prolongation of the Romantic approach glorifying the individual and of Rousseau's rather absurd idea of a Social Contract at the root of primitive societies?
As a strictly physical organism, a human being is more or less evidently the primary fact of human existence; yet would he survive if alone on this Earth? Is he not an integral part of the human kingdom which occupies a certain place and function in the planetary biosphere, which is itself but one layer in the Earth's total field of infinitely complex, yet closely interrelated and interdependent activities? The human organism's existence depends on the maintenance of a narrow range of temperatures, on the availability of food, on the behavior of animals, indeed on a great many factors which are all related to the extremely precarious balance of terrestrial and climatic variables referring to the Earth-as-a-whole. These are the facts to consider, and the modern mind should forget Adam and his being born alone on a planet made strictly for him and his descendants — except as a myth expressing a very significant view of the evolution of consciousness.
When, moreover, the baby grows into a man, his growth is not only conditioned by the associative relationships he enters into with youngsters of his age or even with older persons; it is moulded most effectively, and most often irrevocably, by factors and influences which do not refer to individuals. They refer to the collective power of the culture, religion and social-economic conditions in his environment — to the language his mind has to learn if he is to think in communicable terms (or perhaps even to think at all!) — to whatever mode of behavior and feeling-response surrounds him which he readily imitates. Family, school, military service, university training, business apprenticeship — all these force upon the growing child various kinds of relationships which do not have the character of equal-to-equal, but of container to content.
The child grows as a social being contained within his society and whatever national-cultural whole he was born into. He is nodoubt potentially an individual; but only potentially so. He is first of all an exemplar of the type of human being his family and his culture imagine as a model of human existence. Society existed before the individual. He is born into it, just as helpless at the psycho-mental level as a baby born in a jungle would be biologically helpless. Only the over-emphasized individualism of our period blinds us to this fact. And as the child grows up into adult manhood, in spite of whatever possibility of asserting his true individuality may exist, the grownup man in the vast majority of cases finds it very uncomfortable not to conform to what society expects of him. As a result he remains controlled by the ubiquitous power of this society and its traditions.
The situation one faces, therefore, as one studies man in his relationship to what contains his physical and psychological-mental existence, has a twofold character. Man, as a biological organism, is contained within the vast planetary field of existence of the Earth; while as a psychological-mental being, as a person, he is contained within a social-cultural field of activities (of thinking-feeling and behavior) with more or less extended boundaries: i.e., a small community, a nation, or at the limit, humanity-as-a-whole.
What we call education — in the widest sense of the term — is a process according to which a particular man and his mental-emotional-physical activities are being attuned to the needs and the aspirations for progressive changes of his society.
This, I believe, is a very basic definition which clarifies much of the turmoil going on in the educational field at present. This turmoil is occurring because we are in a period of human evolution in which an ever increasing number of men and women — many young, and not a few older ones — have come to feel inwardly or to realize mentally that the traditional needs and aspirations of their society, Eastern as well as Western, are obsolescent, if not obsolete and often ludicrous — perhaps even suicidal.
How did this happen? Simply because human society is passing today from a local to a global state of organization. All cultures up to now have been based exclusively on the characteristics of a local environment — small or extensive as the locality may have been. Even the Mediterranean world of the Roman Empire was a local region with reference to the entire globe. Besides, all societies have operated under a regime of scarcity. Now for the first time abundance is possible for every human being, but possible ONLY if mankind is organized on a global scale, even though local ethnic and regional groups retain their root-individuality, becoming as it were the extended family-groups of cultural communities of the future — an important point I believe. However, the moment we extend the concept of society to include all human beings, thus mankind as a whole, something is bound to happen. The container of man at the biological level (i.e., the planet, Earth) becomes identical in scope with the container of human persons at the psycho-mental level (i.e., a world-wide global society). The relationship between a man and the Earth as a planetary whole therefore becomes all-embracing. Humanity begins to see itself as one complex system of activities within the total field of existence of the Earth — perhaps, we might say, as the voluntary nervous system (brain and spinal nerves) of the planetary organism, the Earth. This is made more evident as it becomes more possible for individual men to look at our planet from the outside, thus objectively — just as a doctor looks at a human body, analyzing its complex structures.
What has this to do with the nature of knowledge? A great deal indeed for the man who can think of himself and feel himself as a functioning existential unit in the vast body of the Earth in which all men "live, move and have their being." This man can come to vividly experience his relationship with this planetary Whole in a supersocial, indeed a spiritual sense.
At the tribal level of social organization, man was bound by local life-circumstances and local needs. His aspirations were moulded by a religion stressing local symbols and the power of gods identified exclusively with the tribal community and its ancestral past, and also with the land cultivated by this community. The spiritual was a transcendent expression of the biological, based on a psychic attunement with these gods which were identified with race, land and tradition. Knowledge was acquired through such a psychic attunement. What spoke to the medicine man of the tribe was the divine Power that structured the very way of life of the tribe through almost unceasing rituals. It was structural knowledge as a psychic attunement to the will of the tribal gods. And this is the level of knowledge which represents the THESIS of which we spoke earlier.
The ANTITHESIS developed with the sense of individuality and the preoccupations and claims of the human ego. Tribal gods, expressions of local needs and aspirations, vanished — yet often, to reappear in the Christian world in the form of saints and archangels! The 'one God' answered the needs and aspirations of isolated individual egos no longer able to enter into and still less able to maintain total psychic relationships with other egos, and therefore longing for a dialogue with a divine Comforter and Redeemer. In such a state of consciousness, unidentified with anything at the deeper psychic level except in terms of the peculiar and subordinate relationships of creature to Creator, the mind of man was compelled to seek evidence of a structural order in the world of his sense-perceptions. He was compelled to break up the immediate intuition of order — so vivid in the primitive because so necessary to his inner security — into knowledge of a multiplicity of laws of nature. While he sought to experience love and emotional-spiritual comfort inwardly through his faith in, and his moments of communion with, the 'divine Other,' he strove at the same time — and the more intensely he did so the less did he come to believe in the Presence of God — to find security of mind and the satisfaction of his ego-will in a knowledge of physical laws. The use of that knowledge in terms of technological skill, moreover, enabled him to satisfy his ambition — a tragic ambition because alienated from everything beside its own ego-limitations.
Now however, the hour of SYNTHESIS is coming: Man and the Earth — Man as component part of this vast field of activities, the planet, within which the Principle of Wholeness, ONE, operates, as it does as well in every human being and every existential whole Man and the Eon — Man resonating to the vast cyclic rhythms of the Eon, Man with an eonic consciousness. A new type of structural knowledge is now possible. In a new sense, a concrete and far less mysterious sense, we are able to speak of revelation; indeed, of the possibility of a constant state of revelation, i.e., of eonic consciousness.
Such an eonic consciousness should undoubtedly not be considered an entirely new development. Great creative and inspired minds as well as true seers and prophets have experienced moments of eonic consciousness in which their individual minds, being brought to a condition of resonance to the planetary Mind of the greater whole, the Eon, were able to partake of a knowledge which was transcendent, in the sense that it belongs to a far more inclusive existential whole — the Earth, as a multi-leveled field of activities.
The reader may react to such statements by thinking that I am merely substituting the word, Eon, for the word, God. But so to think is to miss the most fundamental point in the cyclocosmic picture of reality. Here the term, Eon, does not apply to our planet only or to any particular macrocosmic whole. An individual human being is an Eon to the consciousness of the cells of his body. The solar system and the galaxy can be seen as each having its Eon. As there is a hierarchy of existential wholes, so there is a hierarchy of wholes of consciousness. All that is stated here is that the consciousness of any lesser whole can, under certain conditions and in certain phases of its evolution, resonate to the consciousness of the greater whole within which it has its being and, as a result, in the vast activities of which it to some extent participates. In such moments of resonance, man reaches a state of eonic consciousness which to him seems transcendent and supernormal, yet which is transcendent only in the sense that it partakes reflectively of the consciousness which is normal for the Eon. A communication is then established between the consciousness of the greater whole and that of the lesser whole. The sensitive, open and attuned individual is inspired; he 'sees,' he may receive a revelation.
Such a state of communication may arise spontaneously and unexpectedly in the lesser whole, caused by the focusing of the greater whole's attention upon a lesser whole occupying a position which is particularly important — and perhaps vulnerable — for the welfare of the greater whole. Then the lesser whole becomes, as it were, the agent of the greater whole, and thus in some degree (and there are evidently many such possible degrees) an avatar of the Eon.
The lesser whole (man-the-individual-person) can also reach a stage in his development at which his consciousness even in its everyday functioning becomes holistic. That is to say, man may reach, naturally and through his own efforts, a state of consciousness which refers to the synthesis phase of the evolution of human consciousness. He may be able, when faced by any life-situation, to perceive it in its wholeness — thus holistically rather than analytically (in terms of intellectual concepts) or emotionally (in terms of uncontrolled organic reactions or of precedent feeling-responses).
The Problem of Clairvoyance
Such holistic perception can manifest as what is usually called clairvoyance. The truly clairvoyant person, when faced with a stressful situation — either one in his own life or one brought to him for elucidation by friends or clients — 'sees' some kind of symbolic image or scene which somehow reveals (it is thus a form of revelatory knowledge) the character, meaning and perhaps the out come of this situation. The problem, however, which the clairvoyant faces, is how to interpret the symbolic picture or scene or (if a certain type of clairaudience is involved) the often ambiguous statements which register in his brain-centers as words seemingly heard by the ears. This is the problem which often makes the messages of clairvoyants, and of the oracles of ancient times, so confusing, if not misleading.
This problem arises, at the level of the usual type of modern clairvoyance as well as at that of ancient oracles, because what is involved in the process does not as yet actually refer to the level of synthesis, but is still at the level of the thesis; that is to say, the faculty which operates in these cases is essentially archaic, and a symptom of psychic passivity to 'the passing' aspect of time. It is not founded upon a consciousness able to apprehend the wholeness of a cycle from beginning to end — which is what an eonic consciousness should do. Only in an Eon does this kind of consciousness fully and actively operate; but a human mind can either reflect it or resonate to it. Any lesser whole — when sufficiently evolved, open and responsive — should be able to reflect or resonate to at least partial or fragmentary aspects of the consciousness of the greater whole in the cyclic activities in which it participates.
What is involved is a problem of communication — or to use a fashionable term, of information. Channels of communication have to be evolved if there is to be a truly reliable transfer of knowledge. A mere capacity to reflect more or less imprecisely some fleeting aspect of the consciousness of the greater whole is usually uncontrolled and easily unfocused by the ego-reactions of the receiving mind of the 'sensitive.'
An essential factor in such a communication between greater and lesser wholes is whether or not the communicated knowledge is needed. The attention of the greater whole is drawn to the lesser whole, in most cases, only when the latter has a real need for it; just as a person's attention is drawn to a small section of his body (say, an ingrown toenail or a cut) when this part of his total organism requires help as a result of some crisis-producing event. The idea that the Earth as a total field of activities operating at several levels, i.e., as an Eon, is able, under certain circumstances, to affect the life of one of the organisms which are active within this field should be no more strange or startling than the fact that a human body immediately sends antibodies to one of its fingers when it has received a deep cut through which infection-causing microbes could enter and infect the whole body.
Such an idea is startling only to minds that have never thought or refuse to think, of the possibility that the Earth is an organized whole of existence, every part of which is related to, and thus able to injure, every other part. Such a thought runs counter to the concept, deeply ingrained in our Western mentality, that man is a totally special creature — the only creature made in the likeness of God, Creator of all that is. But what pride such a concept reveals! We can assume that only man has what Teilhard de Chardin calls "reflective consciousness," and thus that perhaps only he among all living organisms on this Earth can develop an eonic consciousness. In this sense man is potentially "God-like" in his consciousness; but this does not mean that the Earth-as-a-whole, of which mankind is only a constituent part, does not have consciousness of a planetary type provided we do not think of the Earth as only a mass of material substances. This planetary type of consciousness includes the normal consciousness of humanity; but there is no reason to believe that it does not include other types of consciousness as well, and perhaps the consciousness of forms of existence of which man is not normally aware today.
Indeed the only obstacle to such a type of concept is Western man's exclusive dependence upon sense-based knowledge and upon a set of dogmatic assumptions which characterize his official culture — not to mention his neurotic desire to isolate himself from a universe felt to be alien, just to satisfy his remarkable pride, which is primarily a disguised sense of anxiety and guilt. The realization that such dependence is not exclusively valid is beginning to percolate into the minds of some scientists and thinkers, and the interest in parapsychology is a symptom of an impending change of mind — a metanoia, to use the Gospel's term so badly translated as repentance.
The concept of statistical knowledge, which is now so basic in modern physics, may also have much bearing on an appreciation of what I call structural knowledge in contrast to existential knowledge, as this structural knowledge deals with cyclic processes which affect the behavior of wholes rather than that of individual parts.
The Stuctural Character of Prophecies and Man's Free Will
The basic point here is that while a greater whole experiences its own existence in relation to other existents at the same level of wholeness in existential terms, its approach to the lesser wholes which participate in its inner life is, in most, though not all, cases structural.
For instance a human being is conscious of the organs and cells within his body mainly in terms of the over-all rhythm of their functions, except in unusual instances. A man pays attention to his digestion, his blood-pressure and heartbeat, his sexual responses and potency, but not to how a particular cell of his liver, his heart or his testicle behaves. Even an entire organ, like the pancreas or the thyroid, draws the man's attention only when the over-all functioning of all his organs in their interdependence and polyphonic interplay has become disharmonic. The knowledge which man has of the rhythmic and polyphonic interplay of the basic functional systems of his bodyis a structural type of knowledge. It deals with the balance of anabolic and catabolic activities in the body; and if the catabolic functions prevail — which, let us not forget, in themselves contribute to the health or wholeness of the body — then a danger signal begins to operate which draws the attention of the man and should impel him to 'take a cure' of some kind.
Any knowledge of the balance of two operative tendencies is, in a more or less instinctive or sophisticated sense, statistical. So many 'units of action' operate in one way, so many in another, more or less opposite and complementary. The knowledge acquired can be formulated in terms of percentages; it is the type of knowledge obtained from computers operating in a binary manner, and as well from popular political or economic polls. Such knowledge is only valid in an investigation of large numbers of units or at least, as in the Gallup polls, in relation to units which can be considered representative of a large class or segment of the population. Medical blood-tests and the like also provide this kind of statistical knowledge; they deal with large numbers of cells, bacteria, viruses, etc. They become significant in relation to averages carefully determined through many observations and samplings.
Now let us consider this Biblical statement (Zechariah 13:verses 8 and 9): in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. . ."
What such a statement should indicate to anyone considering it as a true and reliable revelation made by God to his prophet, is that God is not concerned with individual persons but only with statistical averages, that is, with initiating and/or maintaining a certain structural process — a third will be saved, two-thirds destroyed. It is like saying: When autumn begins, so many seeds will have been produced which have in them the potentiality of surviving the winter and of giving birth to a subsequent cycle of vegetation — and so many leaves, which will fall and decay in order to become manure for the new vegetation. Whether an individual person will join the third which will be saved and tested (successfully or not — let us not forget!), or the two-thirds which will be lost, appears to be of no concern to the Lord.
What this Lord — who can here be considered as the Eon, the personalized aspect of some planetary or cosmic greater whole — is interested in is the over-all structure of a process involving large numbers. The atomic physicist uses a similar type of structural knowledge when he ascertains that so many electrons will go one way, and so many the other. He is not really interested in finding out — nor could he apparently do so — what course one particular electron will choose to adopt. Modern physics has given up the idea of tracking down what substance really is; it is satisfied to study the structure of large groups of events.
These are very important facts wherever one can be sure of their validity, for when generalized they give us a fundamental picture not only of the universal process of existence, but of what we may have to understand by the confusing terms, 'freedom' and 'determinism'. If the Biblical statement truly refers to a basic fact of existence in terms of the over-all destiny of such groups of human beings as tribal communities or modern nations, then we can logically conclude that man operates not only in terms of statistical determinism, but also in terms of existential freedom. Considered in the collective sense as mankind, Man's behavior and choices are determined, in broad structural outlines, by the very rhythm of the process of evolution of the entire planet, Earth. But a particular man is existentially free to choose what he will belong to, to determine freely and selectively the type of allegiance he will accept or seek.
A planetary 'Lord,' ruler of the Earth's system of organized activities — of men, beasts and plants; of seasons, winds and earthquakes, etc. — may enter into existential relationships with other planetary Lords, as the Ancients indeed believed, because They operate at the same level in the vast scale of cosmic magnitudes. But in His relationship to these lesser wholes which men represent to Him — as cells in His total field of existence — this Lord would normally think in terms of structural knowledge. An exception might be in rare cases where one particular man occupies a position of control over far-reaching possibilities of development; for instance, perhaps if this individual man were the President of the U.S. and able to press a button which would initiate a nuclear holocaust and thus possibly a fatal crisis for mankind and the entire biosphere.
The consequence of all this is of much interest and presents a real challenge to individuals; for if it is possible for an individual human consciousness to reflect some aspect of the consciousness of the greater planetary whole, the Eon, it is most likely that what would be reflected is the structural aspect of that Eonic consciousness. The existential aspect, involving the relationship of this Eon to other Eons, would almost necessarily be totally beyond man's possibility of understanding. If therefore there are elements of existential knowledge in the revelations bestowed by the Eon (the greater whole) upon a sensitive and well-attuned man (the lesser whole), it is indeed most probable that these would be added to the true and pure communication by the consciousness and the feeling-nature of the human recipient. This would account for the unreliability of so many of such communications.
As to the difficulty of accurately dating the ambiguous prophecies of seers and oracles, it is evidently caused by two different factors:
(1) If a "day of the Lord" equals a thousand years defined for man by the rhythm of the seasons — and in ancient symbolism the term "thousand" should rather be translated as a myriad, or a near infinity — then it may be difficult for the inspired seer or prophet to pass accurately from one time-scale to another.
(2) Moreover, and this is probably the most basic point, if the communication refers to existential facts in the life of an individual person or of a relatively small group, whatever is imparted to the seer or sensitive is always subject to the unpredictability associated withthe factor of existential relatedness. In other words, the clairvoyant may symbolically perceive a structural trend or a statistical possibility; and this is what he would directly receive from the eonic level of consciousness — a structural factor. But this kind of perception would not actually refer to an existential event or series of events. The existential data would be provided by the human consciousness of the recipient of the communication, and might be colored by personal biases, expectations or wishes.
Nevertheless if a genuine state of resonance is induced between the eonic and the normally human levels of consciousness, because a certain event which could occur within one human year may actually occur in a few minutes according to the eonic time-scale, this event may be entirely expectable in terms of eonic consciousness; yet it is presumably not determined. In most cases, we can be fairly certain of what will happen to us within a few minutes; but these few minutes could constitute a large part of the life-span of some microscopic particle. A prophet may predict that a cataclysmic earthquake can be expected in fifty years or it could be one hundred years — a greatly annoying uncertainty! But the Earth-as-a-whole, whose life-span is of billions of years in constrast to our 70 or 80 years of human life, may already register the very first tremor of the quake in its body at the human time of the prediction.
The relativity of the experience of time in terms of the time-scale of wholes whose spatial dimensions and spans of existence vary from the microcosmic to the macrocosmic should be an absolutely basic factor in discussions concerning the nature of knowledge the moment we accept the possibility of communication, in one form or another, between greater and lesser wholes. But if we do not accept such a possibility we are confronted with even more baffling problems which can only be given transcendental or miraculous interpretations and solutions. Religious beliefs and dogmas, and as well basic scientific assumptions usually left unquestioned, have tried to solve these problems in a great variety of ways. But all these complexities can be resolved into a fundamental simplicity if one acceptsthe holistic cyclocosmic picture presented here. Of course this picture represents a bold generalization of the facts of human experience, but so are theism and Einstein's Theory of Relativity bold generalizations. The essential point, as we shall see later on, is not whether such world-pictures are 'true' in an absolute sense, but whether they are valuable — valuable for a particular phase of the evolutionary process of man's consciousness.
Because mankind has quite evidently reached a point in its evolution at which a trend toward synthesis of knowledge is inevitable in view of the rapid development of a world-wide mentality and globally interrelated social-cultural activities, some kind of framework for these efforts toward synthesis has to be formulated. It could be, of course, a totalitarian type of synthesis which would increasingly exclude what does not fit a glorified Science and an all-powerful scientific and technocratic Establishment. But this certainly does not appear to be a desirable prospect, camouflaged as its motives may be by such imposing words as 'democracy,' — 'free enquiry,' etc.
To speak of 'unity in diversity' is to utter beautifully sounding words; but the question is: How? There has to be some kind of integrative principle to reveal the manner in which diverse attitudes to life and approaches to knowledge can be seen to constitute a unity — which actually means a whole. Cyclocosmic concepts constitute such a framework, because to the mind that accepts such a framework, every diverse manifestation of human consciousness, every form of mind, every social, cultural and religious system can be seen to fit into its proper place and to accomplish its valid function during one particular phase or at a specific level of the entire cycle of human evolution. Moreover, as the cycles of human civilization do not all run at the same time and with the same speed or rhythm, and as there are sub-cycles and sub-sub-cycles within the larger cycles, it follows that what is eminently valuable in a certain culture may also awaken significant and valid resonances in other cultures having related problems, perhaps at other levels and in terms of different environments.
I said valuable, but this also means true; knowledge is true, in the deepest sense of the term, only when it is valuable. Knowledge has value in terms of the relation between the knower and the known. Prematurely disclosed knowledge can be deadly to the knower, or at least a source of great confusion. Our wild proliferation of intellectual and technological knowledge may well bring about man's ruin for a time. Yet the rationalistic and scientific approach to knowledge, whether in the Greece of the sixth century B.C. or at the time of the Early Renaissance in Europe, was a valuable approach because it was needed at the time. The satisfaction of an evolutionary need, however, quite often becomes a form of self-indulgence; the originally constructive trend can become uncontrollable and gain a dangerous momentum as it becomes institutionalized and all institutions and bureaucracies develop an unwholesome inertia. They have to become neutralized by complementary new trends against which they of course often fight bitterly.
Still, because the more inert mass of human beings is slow in reaching new levels of consciousness, the old 'truths' and the institutions which crystallized these 'truths' into dogmas may still be valuable for the mass-mind. Einstein's Theory and his fateful formula, E= MC², which inspired the atom bomb project came at its 'time of destiny' in the cycle of our Western civilization which still dominates human evolution as a whole. But the New Physics, with its almost mystical world-view in which material objects are dissolved into waves of energy and light in multi-dimensional space-time, has not yet thoroughly changed the mentality of low-level materialistic science, nor has it been re-interpreted at the psychological and metaphysical levels. The masses of humanity, even though worshipping science and technological achievements (such as the landing on the moon), are still powerfully involved in nearly medievalistic fights between political and religious ideologies.
Now-Feeling and Cyclic Knowledge
I want to make it clear, however, that by applying a formula of cyclic unfoldment one cannot expect to experience directly, as an inevitable result, the unique quality of a particular process of existence itself; any more than Einstein could have been expected to have an actual feeling of atomic power when he conceived his formula. To bring human experiences into a meaningful order does not necessitate having these experiences actually and personally. Two factors in man's consciousness are implied: the immediacy of feeling or realization produced by an experience and the ability to make sense of what is conceived as an existential fact — and thus as a potential experience — by relating it to other experiences and to the needs of the whole person and, perhaps, of other persons with whom one is associated. The experience as such is simply what it is; it is subjective, private and in itself essentially uncommunicable though, if it is a great experience, one may communicate something of its energy-release, its dynamism or tragic intensity, by means of a person-to-person transfer.
However, the experience does not just happen and then is no more. It is remembered; it is formulated, to oneself if not to others. Thus words and concepts must be used; and these imply relationship to a culture, a tradition, etc. — and perhaps a resulting sense of conflict or irreconcilability with the past, and all kinds of secondary psychological by-products. It is then that the concept of cycle reveals its value; for the mind of the individual and its complex mechanisms, always subject to pressures from the ego and the emotions, have to come into the picture. They tend to remove the experience from the natural process of existence and isolate it, to make of it a 'thing in itself.'
At first, in the case of an inner experience which reveals a previously unknown reality, doubts may well arise — a feeling of "What was it, after all?" In many cases a typical reaction follows: an upwelling self-assertive sense of "It was true" (i.e., a fact and not an illusion). If then the experiencer finds himself confronted with the disbelief of others or their seemingly emotional and egocentric opposition, the assertion that it was true acquires in him a fighting strength — unless he allows himself to be brain-washed by his entourage! But this very strength changes the memory of the experience. The experience and what it brought to the consciousness may well cease to be regarded as only one phase of the existential process of actualization of the innate potential of the individual; it acquires a separated, exclusivistic and psychically inflated status — or, if the post-reaction has been negative, a process of subtle self-destruction often begins at the subconscious level.
The value of applying the principle of cyclic unfoldment to psychology and to an interpretation of individual experience is that it is an effort to integrate (or re-integrate) the many components of personality and the elements of the experience in the whole process of individual existence. When we speak ordinarily of self, or soul, or ego, or of any 'complex,' we unfortunately tend to separate and isolate them, and very often we personify them; we say "my soul," "my ego," as if these were the very distinct possessions of a mysterious "I" which can nevertheless in no way be pinned down, and which can be only imprecisely defined by a very transcendental explanation. Also, when we think of some memorable event, happy or distressing, in our life, it usually seems to stand all by itself as an event which has "happened" to "me," yet which is somehow unconnected with and independent of the process of existence which reaches consciousness as this "me."
The cyclic or eonistic approach seeks to discover the place which the event occupies in the overall pattern assumed by the rhythmic flow of existence with reference to that particular person who says "I." It studies the event as a phase of a sub-cycle of the large cycle of personality — as a phase of personality growth rather than as an isolated event. Moreover, this approach seeks to define and understand the function of the various components of personality in the individualized whole of existence which, for instance, carries the name, Peter. By so doing it removes some of the psychological terms — which still carry a certain halo of religious-occult meaning — from the realm of more or less transcendent mystery. It makes them more existentially real, even though their reality can, in many cases, only be experienced through the play of faculties or powers of consciousness which are still mostly latent or barely developing in most contemporary individuals.
The eonistic approach is not necessarily a help in experiencing with an immediacy of feeling these still mysterious components of man's total being; but, when properly used, it should be of immense value in indicating where the experience fits and what its meaning is after one has this experience. For it is after the experience that the mind and the ego get hold of the imprints in the consciousness and begin to interpret or formulate, according to cultural and traditional Images, whatever change or new realization has taken place. The subtle (or not so subtle) desire of the ego for increased self-assurance and prestige can indeed be another factor in the interpretation.
In other words, the eonistic approach deals with the structure of the process of personality-unfoldment — the form which the experiences assume when they are seen as integral factors in this process. The contents of the experiences, the 'feel' of personality or of cosmic impersonality, the elation of the "I am" proclamation or the sense of being one with the universe — these remain untouched, directly and in themselves, by such an approach. Yet the eonistic approach can also most definitely induce many experiences of extreme validity, for it predisposes the mind to respond to unusual impacts and distant influences which otherwise it would not have been able to accept. The experiences it induces tend to be very quiet and very simple, for they are unemotional and by nature inclusive and essentially compassionate. They emerge from the fulfillment of relationships serenely met as encounters induced by cyclic necessity.
The so-called mystical approaches may well lead to effulgent experiences of great intensity and power — experiences which may mean a sudden reshaping of the consciousness, a brilliant illumination of the mind. But the problem they always pose is: "Yes, wonderful — but what now?" Human confusion and psychological tragedy all too often come as the aftermath of the exalted and transforming experience; for once the light has vanished, darkness seems more intense.
If indeed the experience has done something to you, what will you do with the results of the experience, the memory of it? Unless you see it as an integral and recognizable phase of the cycle of your individual unfoldment, unless you can meaningfully situate the elements of the experience and the factors in you which it has affected, the danger that it may greatly unbalance you will always be there, and especially the danger that it may subtly feed or inflate the ego or else dissolve it into a formless kind of psychological 'ectoplasm' susceptible of being pressured into elusive and fundamentally meaningless shapes.
This danger is particularly real today, as the normal collective restraints of old traditions are being shattered by the pressures of a massive expansion of man's field of activity which has rendered obsolete so much that constituted the foundation of our sense of order. Modern man eagerly wants to directly and existentially experience, all that now confronts him; he wants to play with the tremendous new energies his intellect and his collectivized scientific mentality have released. Thus, the great problem for him is to discover what it is in him that provides a secure foundation for his existence, for his individual experiencing of a more than ever bewildering reality — bewildering because the old patterns of steady relatedness have broken down. His problem is to understand what in him can safely and constructively use this new power. He must realize that his ego is neither a secure foundation for nor a reliable user of power of planetary or cosmic magnitude. He must discover and attune his consciousness and his capacity for response to the challenges of his actual personal existence, to his fundamental nature — his self, and beyond this self, to the Soul-field, and still beyond that to the vast Mind of humanity and the total field of existence of Man and of the Earth.
Attunement is always the key to the most basic type of knowledge. In the ancient past, man attuned his consciousness to the great rhythms of universal Life through the intermediary of a mind that either passively and naively reflected the cyclic play of the seasonal life as it was revealed in his local environment, or was totally conditioned by a rigid psychic-occult tradition. Later on man tried to grasp by intellectual-rational means the 'laws' of the universe in an objective and formalized scientific manner. But beyond such an intellectual and quantitative-statistical approach, and by reawakening some of the lost capacities of his earlier evolution, man may now begin to attain a new, more truly conscious state of resonance to That in the field of existence in which he participates.
Man may know beyond mere cogitating and rationalizing; he may see, feel, respond to the great planetary and cosmic Play of forces and powers, and vibrate to the everlasting, though ever-transformed Harmony of existence. That Harmony he had lost — but only to regain it in a truly conscious and participatory sense; not merely in terms of the world of Nature, of materiality and life, but as a direct experience of his divine Source and of the Principle of Wholeness whose presence illumines his total being as well as the universal Whole.
The Planetarization of Consciousness