SELFHOOD AND RELATEDNESS
No existent is born alone. He takes form within, or emerges out of something that is already existing in a particular environment, and he is born in the midst of numerous existing wholes that, directly or indirectly, react to his appearance into the world. This most basic fact of existence implies that the moment any new entity is formed and occupies a place in space it is inevitably in relationship — potential if not actual relationship with other entities. As an existential whole he is powered and sustained by a self; he is a unit of existence because in and through him the integrative power of ONE (or SELF) operates. But his original selfhood is challenged, or assisted, in the actualization of its potential of existence by what a great many relationships bring to his growth.
Thus we can easily see that two basic factors are operating in the process of existence: one factor refers to the selfhood of the existent — the other, to the inevitable fact that he finds himself related to other selves. Selfhood and relatedness are indeed like the two foci of an ellipse. The curve of existence is shaped by the interaction of these two factors, which constitute two centers of attraction, each exerting a very basic pull. The two pulls may often appear to act in opposite directions; yet both are necessary for the full development of the process of existence.
In a moment we shall come back to this interaction; but first we have to recognize another basic fact: the existence of two types of relationship, which I call matricial and associative.
Before the child can be born as a relatively independent organism, able to operate in the environment of the Earth's biosphere and develop as a conscious person, this organism has to pass through a prenatal process of embryonic growth. This process is made possible and sustained by the assimilation of chemicals drawn from the surrounding membranes in the mother's womb. Such a process of assimilation represents the working out of a specific type of relationship between the growing embryo and the body of the mother within which this growth occurs. We can call such a relationship a matricial kind of relationship so as to differentiate it from another category of relationships which occur only after birth. In this matricial type of relationship the mother's body is the positive, active factor while the embryo is the passive and receptive pole.
Normally, the relationship is smooth, unconscious or instinctual, and completely under the control of the formative forces of the human species, and the particular genetic 'code-script' determining the more individual characteristics of the organism-to-be. As this matricial relationship reaches its natural and preordained fulfillment — provided, of course, no destructive impact has disturbed the relationship — what was, just after impregnation, 'seed potential' of existence is actualized as a human organism capable of a relatively autonomous kind of existence after it leaves the womb and starts breathing.
Once the baby breathes, he becomes relatively independent as a biological organism. He requires food — normally the mother's milk — but milk, or even some substitute food, can be given by some other person, or by an animal. The baby becomes an 'existent' with a gradually increasing degree of autonomy. As this occurs, he finds himself confronted by (and no longer enveloped in as in the prenatal stage) other existents. He must establish relationships of a new type with these existents (other human beings, animals, etc.) — associative relationships. What characterizes these associative relationships is essentially that they imply at least some degree of mutuality; that is, they lead to a more or less conscious interplay of actions, reactions, more actions and further reactions between the participants in the relationships. Also they imply some sort of challenge to the newborn; and these challenges normally increase in intensity, acuity, extension and complexity as the baby grows into a child, an adolescent, an adult.
However, the fact that the child is confronted with the need to associate with other existents does not mean that he no longer experiences matricial relationships. These take another form; they are transferred to the level of the psyche — of the mind and the feelings. After birth the child is still enveloped in a kind of womb, but this is a psychic matrix constituted by the social, cultural and religious body of collective traditions which have structured and which permeate through and through his family, then his school environment. Thus, while he meets other persons and living things in terms of associative relationships, there are still some persons to whom he is related in a matricial sense, because it is through them that the power of the enfolding social-cultural environment manifests in a most focalized manner; these persons are 'feeding' his developing consciousness with psychic and mental 'foodstuffs.'
The mother is the most important among these persons, because she not only takes care of the baby's physiological needs — thus continuing in a more complex and diversified manner to play the role once performed by her body during gestation — but after birth she also holds, in a sense, the child within the warm psychic embrace of her love. The whole family at first is much like a psychic womb to the growing baby. The father is not just another person but he, too, in an indirect way, feeds the growth of the child by (usually) gaining the social power — money — which provides food and the satisfaction of other primary needs. Thus the mother focuses upon the infant the capacity for love and care which is inherent in all biological matrices — in all females who have given birth to a progeny — and the father focuses upon the child the male power to provide food by the exercise of his strength, his skill and his cunning, and, at the human level, his intelligence.
The relationship of the child to his mother and father is thus of the matricial type. Yet there is in such a relationship a basic ambiguity, for the parents are not only providers of what the child needs biologically and at the most primary psychic level of his unfoldment, they are also individual persons. In the first role they exemplify what the psychologist may call archetypal figures, that is, they do not appear to the very young child as individual persons but as essential aspects of the life-process directed toward him. They fulfill a direct function in the formation of the generic human being.
Yet sooner or later, the developing mind and ego of the child will perceive the presence of human persons through the mask of the archetypal figures. Once the archetypal character of the parents vanishes, or at least becomes transparent, the child can enter into associative relationship with them. But this transition from one type of relationship to another is often confusing to the child, and in some cases, traumatic.
The difference between matricial and associative relationships is that the former operates largely as an unconscious and compulsive factor, while the latter refers to the conscious level of the gradually building ego. Any environmental influence which moulds the development of the child's personality in a way analogous to that in which the mother's body fed the embryo in the womb has, at least to some extent, an unconscious and compulsive character. The child unconsciously absorbs group-feelings and collective mental images. They feed his consciousness. Something in him may already want to react negatively and rebelliously against them, much as a mother's milk may in some cases poison the baby's organism. But the young child is not conscious of what it is within him that forces such a negative reaction; it may be an organismic reaction, rooted in the vibratory character of his 'self.' In most cases the child will push such reactions out of his growing and as yet unsteady field of consciousness. In this manner, complexes are gradually formed — complexes which probably always arise at first from a negative reaction to a matricial relationship.
The child indeed feeds on the contents of such matricial relationships; and his ego-formation can be poisoned by them. It is not only a question of imitation, though children do seek to imitate their elders and the friends who impress them particularly. The child unconsciously absorbs the substance — psychic and mental — of his family, social and cultural environment, and later on of his school environment. Here too the child's relation to the teacher has an archetypal and matricial character. This relationship can also become ambiguous, if largely undeveloped and unconscious emotional or sexual factors enter into the relationship. Indeed associative and matricial relationships constantly affect each other during the process of ego-building. Conscious responses to associative relationships interact with unconscious (or semi-conscious) reactions to psychological-mental materials which pass, in a kind of psychic osmosis, from the social-cultural womb of community and tradition to the psyche or inner life of the youth. These collective psychic materials often interfere with the conscious responses of the growing individual and thus a rebellious trend may develop, or the ego may collapse, defeated.
The building of an ego which structures and integrates the diverse contents of the field of consciousness is essential; the more so, the greater the variety and intensity of images and experiences which affect the senses and the capacity to give feeling-responses to encounters with other human beings, or even with other non-human living organisms, like pets or plants and in general, Nature. Matricial relationships should provide not only a sustaining, but also a selective power during the development of the child. Perhaps the greatest problem facing young children in our technological society is the abundance of impressions, images, and the variety of relationships with heterogeneous types of human beings which confront their nascent organism and consciousness. This problem becomes even more crucial as a result of the loss of the archetypal character of the parents — and of most teachers during the school years.
Matricial relationships operating at the psycho-social level are needed to provide a secure container within which the consciousness of the child can develop steadily and without an unassimilable abundance of images and adjustments. The field of consciousness must have boundaries or else consciousness develops in a chaotic manner and without the ability to give a definite value to all the impacts and contacts with which it is bombarded. It needs examples of order, harmony and steadiness in order to gain an appreciation of structural factors. It needs archetypes as principles of order. However, it is difficult for parents and even teachers to be exemplars of order and steadiness and to perform archetypal roles in our human world in a state of radical crisis of transformation. A fantastic and probably unwholesome stress is placed upon 'personal' relationships, upon personal spontaneity, permissiveness, and individualism at any age and under any conditions — though in fact, or perhaps because of this fact, our modern technological society leads, perhaps inevitably, to a depersonalization of human existence.
It is certainly true that the 'individuality' of the child should be allowed to express itself; but one essential question is rarely asked because of the psychological confusion between ego and self: Is the child actually born as an 'individual?' He is potentially an individual person, but not actually. He has his own rhythm of existence. Within and throughout his field of existence, the tone of the self vibrates, sustaining the entire organism. However, this organism is at first generically human; it does not constitute an individualized person. Consciousness exists only in a latent condition because the infinitely complex network of the child's nervous system and brain is not yet efficiently operating. Connections have to be built; even the capacity to feel individual emotions is still to be developed. How can it develop wholesomely if the child is thrown at once into a chaotic world of conflicts, emotional tensions and incessant challenges?
The answer to such a problem — the problem of 'bringing up' children from the generic condition to the individual state of formed consciousness — has been in the past to provide for the newborn afamily and social-cultural-religious environment (a matrix), securely and steadily structured by principles of behavior, collective norms and a traditional value-system. According to the ancient Hindu ideal, the family and the society were strictly ordered in a manner that was believed to reflect the very order of the universe. The same situation existed in old China, and indeed more or less implicitly everywhere on the globe. This social-psychological order moulded the early development of the child, restricting his experiences, but also provided a secure basis, great images and steady examples for his growth.
The trouble was, however, that in the great majority of cases this precluded the rise of truly individual behavior and thinking, yet certainly not in every case. 'Individuals' did emerge from the archetypal and traditional patterns. These were reborn persons, liberated from matricial relationships, in whom the power of their true 'self' was able to express itself in conscious acts, in really autonomous deeds and creative thoughts. In Christian Europe and early America, a greater but different emphasis was placed upon the individual person than in India. The power of social-cultural and family matrices was still most effectual, and in some ways, even more rigid than in Asiatic countries, but with more possibilities to escape from the power of the collective Images and archetypes. However, did the men (and the few women) who broke away from, or somehow overcame the power of the matricial relationships which had dominated their formative years, emerge as true individual selves — or did they emerge as egos whose wills had become tempered by the very effort they had to make to become free?
This is always a difficult question to answer in any particular case. Rebellion against the rigid power of socio-cultural matrices and family archetypes can generate a hardened strength of character. Such a strength was often considered very desirable, perhaps especially in the America of frontier-days. However, the type of individual produced under such conditions is highly competitive and aggressive and perhaps anti-social, if not more or less overtly criminal. Today mankind is facing another kind of situation, one produced by the fact that the socio-cultural matricial power of society has almost entirely broken down in most countries. Now the parents' ideal for bringing up children is to be chums with them at a personal level. Children have become involved in their parents' conflicts and emotional scenes. They are allowed a completely unstructured manner of conduct, perhaps because their parents are too busy or too concerned with their own ego-problems and/or their jobs to have time to exemplify any wholesome Mother-image or Father-image. The child growing up in a climate of permissiveness is constantly a witness to television's chaotic images of what human existence is. He is 'free,' he is 'open;' but what can he do with this freedom and his unformed, traditionless mind?
Surely the child develops precociously; but what does precociousness really imply? A nervous system and emotional responses which are often confused by unassimilated emotional-mental 'food.' The child may well long for structuring guidance; but not finding any steady and relevant guidance from his parents or his teachers and as well from examples of behavior brought to his immature consciousness by his environment (including T.V.) — the child has few other possibilities left to him but to develop an aggressive or defeatist ego. Aggressiveness is usually a screen to hide basic insecurity and deep-seated fear, a feeling of isolation and alienation — in short a fundamental inability to enter into associative relationships that are steady and creative, and not merely the product of chance encounters and a yearning to forget both his ego and his society in turmoil.
Yet everything depends upon relationships. If individuality is one of the two poles of existence, relationship is the other pole. This dualism is the most fundamental fact of existence. Selfhood and relatedness are just as inseparable and necessary to any form of existence as time and space are required as the substratum of any manifestation of existential activity. Selfhood, as I have defined the term, is the permanent factor which constitutes the basic rhythm and structuring power at the root of existential wholes; while relatedness refers to the factor of unceasing change which, as we have already seen, is the most primary fact of human experience. Every change is the result of some kind of alteration in relationship. Every transformation in the consciousness of a human being can be traced to some relationship which triggered the need and the desire for transformation. Within any cycle of existence, self is the permanent factor, the changeless rhythm and essential character of the field of existence; but it is through relationship that changes occur, over and above this fundamental rhythm. Through the energy released by associative relationships, the human person is able to grow and actualize the inherent potentiality of conscious fulfillment in selfhood. The progress — or it can also be 'regress' — of every existent depends on the character and the quality of these associative relationships, and on the energy they release.
This is why an exaggerated and over-idealized kind of individualism is unwholesome; and indeed why our present-day Western society is breaking down. Man-the-individual is not the final solution to the problem of human existence. It represents only an ideal of transition — an antithesis which must lead to a synthesis. Under the pressure of an impending global catastrophe — or at least of the possibility of it — a new image of man must be developed, indeed is being developed. It is the image of Man-in-relationship; man as an individual who freely seeks his associates and companions, and whose consciousness becomes attuned to the harmonic inter-weavings of a group of minds drawn together by a common purpose. The most basic of such purposes is to participate in the building of a new society no longer based on local conditions and social, cultural and religious exclusiveness, but on a global realization of the organic wholeness of mankind and of the Earth.
Toward a New Image of Man
A kind of dialectical process operates in the evolution of man's consciousness and indeed of man's approach to himself as well as to other men. What is evolving is basically the manner in which his sense of being a person (or, as psychologists would say now, his self-image) is related to his desire and ability to enter into relationships with other persons. As a self, Man is; but he needs to be, and indeed cannot avoid being, in a constant state of relationship with other human beings. In the same manner in which he experiences himself, he experiences — and gives value and meaning to — his relationships.
Some of these relationships, as we have already seen, are primary facts of life; they are matricial relationships. He is born out of a biological womb, only to find himself striving to build mental and emotional capacities enabling him to operate successfully within various types of matrices. At the tribal stage of human evolution, the tribe is a most effective and binding matrix, and so is the land on which the tribesmen work and which feeds them. Actually, a tribesman has only the rudiment or rather the potentiality, of individual selfhood. Selfhood for him has a generic character defined by race, land and rigid traditions and rituals.
The rudimentary individuality of primitive man did not develop for long ages, but this is not the place to study in historical-cultural detail various phases of the development of man's consciousness of himself as an individual. All that it is necessary to say is that in the archaic tribal state, matricial relationships have an overwhelming power. The human being is in a prenatal state so far as his sense of individuality is concerned. The tribal, 'we' does not allow much freedom of development to the individual "I." This development can only come through relationships of an associative type. But the tribesman's associative relationships at first operate exclusively within a matricial frame of reference, i.e., within the tribal whole of activities.
Through intertribal exchanges of needed goods and through marriage, wars of conquest and the taking of slaves who are incorporated into the tribe, new associative relationships are made. The tribe grows into a kingdom; men can relate to each other in freer ways in cities, where trading and the ambition for power on an individualistic basis develop mental cunning and intellectual capacities. All these new factors tend to isolate man from the matrices which had so closely bound him; and the process of individualization proceeds.
Man, by then, has developed an ego which is no longer based on the particular function he fulfills in the tribal organism but on a new ability to take a stand, exclusively his own. It is on that basis — also on the basis of what he possesses and his social station in the city or kingdom — that he enters into relationship with others in terms of strictly associative relationships. The original 'we' has changed into a possessive, and perhaps blatantly expressed "I." This ego-"I" in many cases no longer feels a relationship of identification with Nature in general. His relationship to a house or a field is more likely to be a possessive one: they belong to him. The matricial power of the land loses its intensity, though it remains as a sometimes unconscious compulsion, a kind of instinctual and even irrational bio-psychic bondage; and today we still see such a bond very widespread all over the world.
The glorification of individualism came in the Mosaic revelation of the greatest Name of God: "I am that I am" — which I believe really means: I am the absolute fact of being "I" — "I" without any attribute — just "I."* For Western man individuality is God's signature within him. He is an individual by divine right; a king in his own kingdom. But it soon becomes a lonely kingdom disturbed by constant feudal conflicts. Moses was perhaps the first rugged individualist; he also spoke with God "face to face as a man speaketh unto his friend." Then began what became known as a dialogue between God and man, between the personal I and the absolute Thou (cf. Buber's writings). Indeed the individual must be able to communicate with a divine absolutely and always reliable Thou, because he is no longer able to enter into relationship in the depths of his existence with other individuals, so alone and alienated from his fellowman has he become. Today, LSD is taken by even more alienated young people in order to exorcise their sense of ego, and to reenter the lost Edenic state of unity with all — a return to Paradise, but alas artificial and dangerous paradises that present only relief perhaps, but no lasting ultimate solution to the tragic tensions of individual existence.
*Footnote: A somewhat unsolved problem arises from the fact that the Hebrew word EHYEH, which, in European language, has been translated as "I am," seems to mean in Hebrew, "I become" or "I will be." Strangely enough, this problem, as far as I know, has not been noticed by scholars.
If the communal, unconscious and compulsive identification of tribesmen with the living and psychic wholeness of the tribe constituted the thesis of a dialectical process, and the pure, quasi-absolute individualism which has been an abstract ideal for many men in our theoretically democratic Western world is the antithesis, what kind of a synthesis can we then expect will emerge from our historical Age of conflicts when, or if, a New Age begins?
The phrase "unity in diversity" has been used by a number of thinkers working toward the ushering in of such a New Age whose motto would indeed be 'synthesis.' But such a phrase, however beautiful and hopeful it sounds, needs explanation; above all, it fails to consider the most essential element in the situation. What is needed is a clear realization of the fact that unless men participating in this postulated New Age enter it as conscious 'selves' and not only as egos, there will be no New Age. The final WE-realization which represents the state of synthesis cannot emerge from human minds whose consciousness is structured by a rigid and closed ego, but only from human persons who have clearly realized that the very source and sustaining power of their total field of existence is the self, and whose egos have become utterly dedicated servants of the self — and therefore of humanity as a whole.
Such statements require amplification and explanation; and once more we must consider the essential difference between self and ego. I shall soon discuss more specifically what is meant here by SELF (or ONE) as a universal Principle. I have already stated that this all-capitalized term refers to the power of integration which is inherent in every form of existence — in every whole, every organized system or field of activity. SELF, according to this holistic approach to existence, is the principle of wholeness in every whole; and it is the power that integrates all the component parts of such wholes.
As we shall see in the next chapter, this power of integration operates at several levels of existential activity. Just now we are concerned with two of these levels, we call one "life," and the other "mind" — using this term in a somewhat special sense.
Integration at the level of LIFE has a generic character. At that level, we deal not only with living organisms but with collectivities of organisms — with species and genera. The principle of selfhood does not operate in terms of a particular existent, but in terms of an entire species. An entire species encompassing a myriad of living organisms is structured by the same formative and integrative power. The self or individuality resides in the species, not in anyone particular specimen — for instance, in wheathood, but not in any one stalk of wheat (mutants and domesticated animals represent special cases which we cannot discuss here).
At the level of MIND, or more precisely what in the next chapter I shall call ideity, we are dealing with processes of integration which are not only very complex but which have not yet produced completely stabilized results — at least not at the present stage of human evolution as far as the normal state of human beings is concerned. A mind represents consciousness in a formed condition. What gives to the consciousness a particular form, i.e., what individualizes a human being's consciousness, is the ego. And as we have already seen, the ego is an ambivalent factor. On the one hand, it unconsciously reflects the presence of the root-self of the human organism, without which there would be indeed no organism and no consciousness referring to that particular organism; on the other hand, it is powerfully influenced by family and socio-cultural pressures, which in turn are conditioned by race and local geographical conditions. Moreover, the ego is profoundly affected by the vital energies and urges of the body in which it operates (mostly through the brain and the cerebra-spinal nervous system); it is affected by them, but it can also affect them through the operation of its will, or unwillingly through the effect of its own tensions and stresses.
What could not be made clear enough in the preceding chapter is the fact that the ego is actually the instrument through which the generic self centered at the root of the human organism is being refocused at a higher level, at which it becomes the individual self. Stating the matter in such a way may be confusing, because there are not, in a basic sense at least, two selves. What we are discussing now is a process by means of which the power of integration, SELF, establishes a new center of operation without thereby ceasing to operate at the former level. This process can be called the process of individualization — not to be confused with Jung's process of "individuation," though the latter is related to the former. This process of individualization could be symbolically likened to that which raises the root-energy of a plant in order to produce a flower. The root still exists while the plant blooms — it remains the fundamental factor in the plant — but a new center of integration has been established at the level of the flower which has the power to begin a new process of integration resulting in the seed.
This illustration is not to be taken literally, for there are essential differences between a man and a plant; it is only a symbol one often used by yogis and occultists in the past, though usually not well understood. What is symbolized in this illustration by the process of formation of the seed is, in man, a process which should produce, when brought to the final stage, a 'mind-organism' able to operate in a condition freed from the pressures of both instinctual drives or biological urges (sex included) and social-cultural traditions and collective images.
The real purpose of all true occult techniques everywhere is to bring to birth, as it were, such a mind-organism, which indeed can be likened to the seed of a plant. The seed is transferable; it leaves the old plant and may become in due time the starting point of a new plant. In this sense, it has gained a kind of 'immortality.' The mind-organism of which we speak is also a transferable factor in that, as the body disintegrates, the integrative power of the root-self of this body is transferred to the new center, the center of individual (and no longer generic) selfhood. This mind-organism retains therefore the particular vibration, rhythm and essential character of the original biological organism (the human person) within which it was formed. It retains it after the death of the body and thus achieves an at least relative kind of immortality. Various names have been given to this mind-organism, for instance, the "Diamond body" or "Christ-body" — or in India, svarupa, the 'form of selfhood.'
This process of transfer from a biological center of integration (generic self) to a mental, or ideistic, center (individual self) constitutes a repolarization of the consciousness. In biological-generic man, consciousness is related to life-function and the goals of life-preservation and life-expansion. In a truly individualized man consciousness is centered in the mind, but is not a mind identified with intellectual processes and autocratically ruled by the usual kind of ego found today in most human beings. It is not a mind the contents of which are still conditioned by both biological drives and a local culture with its set traditional patterns and its exclusivism.
Symbolically — and also perhaps in some actual yet not obvious sense — this new mind, free from compulsive life-urges and social-cultural patterns, is centered in the 'heart' rather than in the cortical parts of the brain. However, what is meant in this connection by the 'heart' (according to many old occult religious traditions) is not the physical organ itself, but the heart as a symbol of the individual rhythm of the entire field of existence which constitutes a person. This occult heart is the power that makes the physical organ pulsate according to a basic rhythm or vibratory quality; it refers to the timbre of these pulsations (using the term, timbre, in its musical meaning). And very likely this heart-power can be located — in the electro-magnetic force-field (aura?) which, in dynamic terms, constitutes the real individual person — at the place where the vertical axis of the spine crosses the horizontal line of the extended arms. At this place, according to Rosicrucian symbolism, the divine Rose blooms at the center of the Cross of existence.
This symbolism refers to the fact that the transfer of the power of the self from the generic center at the base of the spine — the Muladhara Chakra in Hindu yoga — to the individual center at the level of the heart requires in most cases some kind of 'crucifixion.' But it may be that the final crucifixion, the most pervasive and indeed total crisis, has to be related to a process which occurs within the skull — Golgotha means the place of the skull. At the end of this new process man truly becomes more-than-man, reaching the state of holiness, which means indeed the perfection of wholeness at the new level of selfhood. At that level, individuality itself is transcended and man has the spiritual right no longer to say "I," but WE.
Man, in the Pleroma State
These crises which may be called 'crucifixions' actually always occur as the result of one kind of relationship or another. They are powered by the energy released by relationships — released either within a state of joyful exaltation or at the core of ego-annihilating tragedy or shock.
The relationship between a guru and his (or her) chelas, strongly featured in the tradition of India, can be such a transforming and, always to some degree at some stages of the process, crucifying relationship. In a sense, it is a revolution which unseats the autocratic king-ego and radically upsets the legal and institutional structures of the society (the conscious personality) over which he rules. In our present-day Western world, the psychoanalyst or psychiatrist tends to replace the guru, or the Catholic "director of conscience."
But behind the authority of the true guru stands a spiritual-cosmic realization, if not actual Power, which differs from the religious kind of background invested in the priest — and which the psychologist of our day is sadly lacking.
What our Western type of psychology aims for in the majority of cases is simply to make of a disturbed and perhaps anti-social person one who can function smoothly and more or less contentedly or (as we say now) creatively in our society — a society of egos organized for the welfare and aggrandizement of egos. The modern psychologist seeks to cure the neuroses — produced by the cultural emphasis placed on the ego and its competitive-aggressive drives — by relieving the tensions accumulated by a long series of unresolved conflicts. He makes the disturbed person more objectively face what is now called 'reality' — a biological and social kind of reality. The patient, if the cure is effective, becomes much better adjusted to his society. But this so-called adjustment may actually mean spiritual defeat for the individual person; for the crises he had been experiencing were perhaps means to bring about a radical repolarization of his consciousness — a repolarization requiring a repudiation of the values forced upon him by a society ambiguously mixing worship of aggressive individualism with the cult of conformism to set patterns of productivity-at-all-cost.
Relationships able to intensify, and perhaps to generate, the process of repolarization of selfhood to which we have just referred must be relationships which challenge the obstinate power of the ego-will, and also the person's subservience to the intellectual traditions of his family and culture. The Hindu guru was, ideally at least, a man who had overcome his ego-state of consciousness and who had become free from bondage to his caste and to all social patterns. He was an asocial individual in terms of the society of his environment and his time; but his allegiance had been transferred to a higher, far more inclusive type of spiritual community, an eternal (i.e., eonic) type of community.
I call such a community the Pleroma of Man — the 'Seed-consummation' of the evolution of humanity on this planet, Earth. When the Catholic Church speaks of the Communion of Saints and the "Church triumphant," or when Teilhard de Chardin describes the Omega state before the close of the human cycle, it is to such a spiritual community that they refer. The modern Theosophist speaks of this state of synthesis of consciousness as the "White Lodge," but unfortunately very often materializes the concept, which has given rise to a variety of misinterpretations due to lack of philosophical understanding of the whole cyclocosmic process of evolution, and in some instances caused by a too devotional and sensationalistic approach to so-called spiritual facts.
The main difficulty in approaching such concepts or inner realizations is that the approach will be perverted to the extent to which the person's consciousness is still dominated by the twin powers of a social-cultural-religious tradition, and an ego conditioned by this local, exclusivistic culture. What is needed to break such a two-fold bondage is either a relationship in which one of the two or more participants is an individual who is indeed free from it, or one in which two or more egos generate by their interplay a kind of 'fire by friction' which can burn their exclusivism and release new realizations — either in joyful exaltation or in tragic conflict. In the great majority of cases such a 'fire' can only be generated when the relationship brings together two human organisms, rather than two egos. And it is because this fact is more or less clearly realized today by many people that contacts between human bodies are often emphasized as a basic requirement for self-repolarization. Such contacts obviously lead most of the time to sexual union; but they are also glorified, short of actual sex contacts, in the many encounter groups which have sprung up of late in America, and in the nudity cult.
The essential point here is the distinction between the ego-ruled, socially and culturally conditioned individual person, and the human organism considered in its broadest and deepest implications as what could be called a field of existence. The term, field — so basic now in modern physics — is used here to indicate that an individual person, considered in his totality, is indeed a forcefield — that is, a complex, structured network of interdependent activities operating at several levels of vibratory frequencies. He is a dynamic whole sustained by the fundamental tone of the self — a whole in which lesser wholes operate in a state of unceasing relatedness (cells, organs and, at the level of a still more intense rate of motion and changes, molecules, atoms, electrons, etc.).
Internal cellular and organic interrelationships generate excess energy through the interplay of anabolic and catabolic processes, conditioned by definite structural laws and the genetic codes regulating the functional behavior of every unit within the whole field, the total organism. This field includes so-called 'psychic' as well as 'physical' processes. The external relationships, in which two or more human fields of existence interact and affect each other, are also structured, but they have been structured in the past of human evolution by particular cultures and religions, and by social-political laws and regulations.
What is now at stake is the need to change the character and quality of this structuring power, the power of a socially, culturally and religiously organized collectivity, whether it be a small tribe or a large nation like the U.S.A. or the U.S.S.R. This implies nothing less than a radical revolution in the social-cultural-religious order according to which human beings are living today — radical in the sense that it involves the root-power within man, i.e., the self.
A few pages ago, I spoke of the process of repolarization of the self from the generic to the individual level of activity, feelings and consciousness. This repolarization requires the development of the ego-function, that is, of a power integrating the results of everyday individual experiences into a structured set of responses. This set constitutes what we call the character of the individual person. But at first, the ego can only operate in terms of the structural models which are forcibly impressed upon the growing child by the family, school and social environment; and this environment, alas, has so far been operating on the basis of relatively narrow local conditions and a more or less rigid traditional way of life. This way of life, until recently at least, was always conditioned by the principle of scarcity, the struggle for material goods and often for adequate 'living space' — and the geopoliticians of a few decades ago, especially in Germany, stressed and overstressed this fact.
As a result, the type of order which the ordinary ego imposes upon the inner life of a person (i.e., upon his mental, emotional and behavioral values) is of a type which cannot accomplish the purpose that originally called for its existence, that is, the fulfillment of individual selfhood in an organism of consciousness — in a mind free from generic urges and inadequate social-cultural drives. These drives are inadequate, and now obsolescent, because they are based on a primitive type of relationship of man to his environment — a relationship founded on scarcity, anxiety, fears and unceasing conflicts. And so the mentality of most men is as well totally inadequate to face the opportunity which awaits mankind at the threshold of a New Age. The hour for the beginning of this New Age should strike soon — next century, I believe (cf. my book Astrological Timing: The Transition to a New Age, Harper Colophon Books, New York, 1972); but how many human beings will be ready for it? How transformed will be man's social environment — and, what is the essential question, transformed in what way? The way of the technocrats, already controlling most of mankind today, East and West — or the way which the project for an ideal city-community near Pondicherry, India, Auroville, is foreshadowing? The way of police-based power — or the way of integral love and harmony?
Men speak today of democracy and individualism. These words sound well; they can be the most deceptive screens to hide the failure to cope constructively with new human possibilities and to achieve what individualism was meant to accomplish as a means to an end. As the French writer, St. Exupery, wrote in his beautiful book, Flight to Arras: "The individual is a path. Man only matters, who takes that path." As I have already stated, the individual, in terms of the evolution of consciousness, represents the phase of antithesis. We need the antithesis. Mankind has needed and in many places, still needs, the negation of the thesis of unconscious tribal unity, the emergence of power-hungry individuals proud of their isolation, proud of being 'self-made' — which in fact means formed by the energy of their revolt against the binding force of obsolete, because narrow and exclusivistic, traditions. But that stage of evolution is now passing. Men must become widely open to the new phase — the phase of synthesis, the phase which must gradually witness an ever more significant, valid and effectual planetarization of consciousness.
What this means is that, to the internal order which human fields of existence display, an external ordering of mankind-as-a-whole will have to answer. Humanity must develop as a planetary organism — or, even more accurately, as a complex organ operating within the planetary organism of the Earth; for the Earth is that vast body within which we live, move and have our being as whole persons (i.e., as individualized fields of existence).
Why has it been so difficult to think of the Earth as such a global organism in which mankind performs a specific function as every life-kingdom, and oceanic currents and winds and Van Allen belts also perform their specific functions? Simply because especially since the dawn of Christianity, perhaps as early as the Greek and Hebraic cultures and even in Asia for different reasons — man has striven to separate his consciousness and his sense of value from the level of biological and telluric facts of existence in order to either center his consciousness at the level of the rational intellect, or else to disassociate and free this consciousness entirely from the values essential to the tribal stage of human development.
I repeat this was a necessary phase — the phase of the antithesis — the Neti! Neti! aspect of man's effort at reaching toward the Unknown, and indeed the Unknowable, the Timeless, the Absolute, or else toward the Rational, the Law of laws, the Supreme mind of the Great Architect of the Universe. But now man should be ready to take a new step. This step does not deny the validity of either the thesis (tribal unanimity in terms of compulsive drives) or the antithesis (the individualism of the great Rebels, adventurers in search of gold, or ascetics and saints in search of God). It includes something of both, indeed it values what is essential in either approach. The new evolutionary goal is a planetary super-tribal community, a community of fully conscious, inwardly free but whole individuals, each of whom will bring to the global Whole his own self-realized 'truth of existence,' that is, his ability to effectually fulfill whatever his place and functions call for within this Earth-community.
This is the ideal of what Sri Aurobindo calls "the gnostic society," and many of the more aware 'hippies' of our day are intuitively orienting their groping, and most often confused steps toward such a goal. We may smile patronizingly and call such visions Utopia; but according to a cyclocosmic picture, they announce a super-social condition of human existence which is the inevitable end of human evolution. It is the true Omega state (when freed from the Catholic imagery in which Teilhard de Chardin clothed that state). It is symbolically the 'seed'-state — the Pleroma.
How can we reach such a human state? This must be done individually and at the same time collectively. It must be done by transforming the image which an individual person has of himself and Man in general. It must also be done by changing the quality of one's relationships to other men, and by providing new concepts and ideals of relationship for small groups of persons at first, then for the whole human society — a very arduous program which often indeed seems impossible of attainment. It cannot be realized miraculously or all at once. Seeds must be sown, which in due time and season will germinate; and thus a new society will emerge.
The first step is the realization that the process is not only possible, but inevitable. No man ever sacrificed the present for the future unless this present had become totally dark and empty, or the individual believed with absolute one-pointedness that the end of the process was inevitable — and so was his participation in it, simply because nothing else really mattered. The first alternative is rooted in despair; the second in faith. Both are valid at some time and in some places. The second is the most constructive because it knows what is ahead out of a knowledge which is beyond reason and argumentation. The call is heard in such a way that the individual's response is inevitable — irrational, yes; but creative of future tomorrows. In some particularly dynamic and creative minds this call becomes formulated into a philosophy. A new vision of what the ultimate values of existence are in essential reality is then translatable in terms of a new way of life, of new relationships.
Without a holistic philosophy such as I am presenting here, it seems very difficult to formulate this new way of life, to bring new relationships perhaps intuitively longed for and sought to a truly conscious state of realization and effectiveness. Such a philosophy is needed. It can only be accepted by the mind that has realized that "I" is a limiting concept as long as it is bound to a traditional cultural environment and as long as this I-sense is not integrated with, nay more the servant of, a realization of WE.
But what kind of WE-thinking, even more than WE-saying?
This is where discrimination is greatly needed, for the pull toward the old thesis is always strongly felt at times of great crisis and deep disappointment, with at least temporary failures. The unconscious we of the tribal community, with its utterly dominant psychism and its subservience to rituals and leaders endowed with some mysterious mana or magical power, is a lovely and restful refuge for the weary or the confused. 'The group' summons to its safe harbor the battered egos that feel helpless before the storm. But this is not the way to the true Seed of Man. The Pleroma can only accept into its radiant wholeness the strong and daring individual who has won repeated victories over the down-pull of our Dark Age (Kali Yuga). Thus all the 'tests' mentioned in old books referring to the process of Initiation — which is, indeed, the process that leads to the Pleroma-state. These tests no doubt were symbolical, but very real to the candidate for Initiation.
Today the process, especially for the strongly ego-conscious Western man, very likely takes on a rather different character. Life itself is the Tester for him who has the strength of character not to refuse being tested by it — as so many people do, lured by easy escapes into the unformed or the archaic, and so clever at rationalizing the importance of by-paths which avoid head-on confrontations with the great enemy, the ego, and its magic wand that makes of every relationship either a footstool to reach the throne of self-glorification, or the deep couch of self-indulgence.
The real Path is lonely. It seems to force isolation upon him who treads it; but it is easy to misunderstand the meaning which old Indian sages and yogis gave to this term, isolation, at a time when society was utterly ritualized and men, women and children all had rigidly defined and mostly hereditary roles to play in it according to a divinely ordained pattern of collective existence. Isolation then was meant to dis-collectivize man, to force him to face his transcendent self — and so also were meant many practices of meditation. Today man is (in a sense) individualized and living in a chaotic ego-worshipping society; but this is a false kind of individualization. How can it be transformed into the true one, if not through the magic power of relationships fully lived, whether in happiness or tragedy?
The way therefore is to live a life of full relationship under whatever conditions and circumstances it might be — to develop a sense of openness to relationships, of non-possessiveness and humility in relationship — to be truly available wherever and whenever needed and to overcome fear and the lure of easy escapes — and even the tendency to be proud of one's humility and wisdom. Above all, it is to take nothing for granted and to question every claim to special privilege or revelation. It is to have faith when there is nothing one can even believe to be true — faith in the inevitable. But it is also to be open, willing, ready, and able to meet the inevitable under any form or disguise, while remaining firm and steady in one's truth and one's sense of destiny.
The self and the Other are the two eternal polarities of all existence. They are the Yang and Yin of the cycle of change and of the process of growth. In relatedness, man discovers his true self; and in that discovery he at last understands the essential meaning of the Principle of relatedness which is the ultimate secret of all existence.
This secret is revealed to him who passes through the threshold which opens into the Pleroma-state — revealed within his holistic consciousness that now embraces the entire sweep of existential cycles, from the alpha to the omega. Because he partakes of the symbolic character of the seed, he realizes himself as end-consummation, but as well and at the same time, as germinal beginning. He thus partakes of the consciousness of the Eon. He becomes the Eon — the fullness of Time, Eternity — in an 'instant' of supreme clarity. He understands the world; and the weight of the world presses upon his illumined mind that is one with the Mind of the Whole. A man has become Man; and "I" has become WE.
The Planetarization of Consciousness