THE RELEASE OF SEED IDEAS
Philosophy, in the most authentic sense of this word, is an enquiry into the basic character and the implications of human experience and, in the most general sense of the term, existence. The purpose of such an enquiry seems obvious. It is to enable human beings to collectively and individually develop, their innate potentialities with the best possible chance of success, of total happiness and/or self-transformation toward higher levels of fulfillment.
However, what can be an optimum development of innate potentialities at a certain historical time and in certain geographical-social circumstances may not fit human beings equally well in other times and places. No true philosopher should ever consider man individual or collective man — entirely apart from his environment and from the period in which he lives. If he does so he commits the grave philosophical sin of extreme individualism; he deals with abstractions and not with existential realities.
There are fundamental facts concerning human existence which remain relatively unchanged as long as we deal with man as a participant in the complex activities of the Earth's biosphere; but we should accentuate the term relatively, for conditions in the biosphere, the whole planet or the whole solar system can change considerably. It is entirely conceivable that such an alteration in the conditions of life on earth is ahead of us, perhaps in the not too far distant future. Basic facts of human nature pertaining to 'man's common humanity' do exist, but the way to deal with them changes, Every human culture approaches these facts in a different way, giving them different meanings and implications.
In our modern American universities, philosophy has become what it generally is today because the official layer of our present society — the Establishment — has accepted as its ideal, "technological man," the man who, above all, seeks to measure phenomena and events with reference to the achievement of quantitative and statistically expressed goals, and does so through the use of machines, standardized tests and psycho-chemical interferences with natural processes. Such a type of human being is today considered by most people in America, and more and more in other countries as well, as the most characteristic and most important product of our civilization.
What is implied in such an over-all attitude toward human existence and toward the world in which man lives is a peculiar and historically novel emphasis on the individual person. This individual person is glorified in his ego-reactions and his ability to be a ruthless master over his environment, yet at the same time he is reduced to a mere number by a quantitative and statistical approach to his collective social existence. We live in a period of intensified individualism, as well of depersonalization. Everyone for instance is eager to act according to 'his own' opinion, his own way of arranging his life to 'do his thing'; yet these opinions and ways of life are moulded by ever-increasing social-economic pressures. They are made to conform to group-standards and perhaps sooner or later to standards universally imposed in the name of 'scientific fact,' 'efficiency' and of maximum happiness for the greatest possible number of people. 'People,' rather than individual persons are considered. Quantitative achievements, and the amount of commodities produced regardless of the welfare and happiness of the producers, in actual fact count much more than qualitative values and whatever is needed to insure the full development of the individual being as a whole-person, microcosm of the universal Whole in which this person lives, acts and has his being.
In a society where quantity, exact measurements, statistically generated values and mechanization for maximum productivity prevail, philosophy inevitably tends to satisfy the need for strict and precise formulations which can be fed into computers and the variegated mechanisms of social living. Man is seen ideally as a thinking animal seeking to super-rationalize and to dis-animalize his character. The term, reason, divested of the higher meaning it originally had in classical Greek philosophy, becomes intellectualized and technocratized. Will such a society follow the lines of logical development which are being plotted out by the students of the future, the "prospectivists" and "structuralists" of recent fame? A revulsion against such a prospect is already being felt, especially by our youth. It is certainly possible that, sooner or later, we may witness a repetition of the process which nearly two thousand years ago led from the ratiocinations of the Greek Sophists to an emotional mass-dissatisfaction, making possible the triumph of Christianity. The Roman sense of 'law and order' wedded to the older Greek rationalism collapsed under the pressure of underprivileged classes, of constant military adventures, and of a sense of emptiness and futility among many individuals of the ruling class. Irrational faith and the inner excitement of self-surrender in martyrdom replaced the older ideals of the Greco-Roman tradition — Credo quia absurdum: I believe because it is absurd.
Our present-day society is already witnessing in many places such a mass-revulsion; some aspects of it are quite obnoxious, even if understandable as psychic escape from a sense of futility and bondage to set life-patterns controlled by the drive for ever greater profit and material productivity. But there are also valuable and promising attempts at developing a new over-all philosophy of existence. Some of them, popularized under the name of existentialism were at first heavily colored by despair and the experiences of the two World Wars; other attempts at reorientation and at transforming our modern Western mentality have sought a way of renewal and spiritual-mental rebirth in the ancient metaphysical concepts and the life-ideals of India, China, Japan.
In these Asia-oriented attempts, two trends are noticeable: one of them leads to a mystical or quasi-mystical attitude toward the world and man, based largely on feeling-values and devotion; the other toward a more mental endeavor to discover the 'structural' factors operating at the core of existence, whether at the individually human or the cosmic level.
At the Threshold of a New Age
The feeling of a coming 'New Age' has become, of late, worldwide. The official academic Establishment in our Western world is not against such a sense of an impending New Age which may mark the coming to maturity of the human mind; but it sees this New Age as the progressive development of what started in the European Humanism of the fifteenth century — thus 500 years ago. There are, of course, the pessimists who speak of global nuclear destruction, wiping out mankind. The optimists think along the lines of the new 'science' of prospective, (of which the Frenchman, Gaston Berger, was one of the main pioneers) attempting to extrapolate what is now at work into the future. They are committed to the scientific mentality of our day. They study the present trends, where they will or at least may lead, expecting no radical change of consciousness or in the basic attitudes of man. They are not really seeking to develop a new kind of philosophical insight, but only to plot out ahead of time gradual modifications of what exists today.
This is also, in a sense, the basic attitude of the 'Liberal' in politics and in all fields of organization of the collective life. He does not want a solution of continuity in our social sense and in our traditional institutions, or even a too sudden and too radical transformation of basic human values. He still believes in what the 19th century worshipped, i.e., Progress. But this concept of gradual progress from barbarism to some ideal world-civilization has lost much of its convincing power since our World Wars and the electronic revolution. This is the tragedy of Liberalism, and of many idealists who believe in it with a rationalistic and democratic fervor.
In contrast to the scientific-liberal approach to the concept of a New Age, we have a great variety of groups and movements which, quite emotionally in most cases, expect some striking and radical change to bring about a supernatural and relatively sudden metamorphosis of humanity. These groups range all the way from those who fervently expect that 'space people' will protect us from nuclear harm and transform us individually and collectively in as easy and painless a way as possible, to individuals who are working intently — through meditation, invocation, fund-raising, group-building — to become the disciples and servants of the returning Christ, or of a new Avatar, or of some transforming cosmic Entity who will "make all things new."
It should be evident to every sane and unsclerotic mind that we are indeed living in a period of intense and apparently relentless transition — a 'critical state' between two conditions of human existence, or at least of social organization. And this transition may be as marked as that of the solid to the liquid state of matter. It is not merely a quantitative change in the size and scope of social institutions; for the extension of our human environment and field of communication from the localized provincial-national to the global, planet-wide level implies also a change in the quality of interpersonal and inter-group relationships.
The peasant of medieval Europe, who under the pressures of the new type of national organization was transferred to the state of dweller in the metropolis of a large modern nation, had to experience a change in the character of his relationship to other men and to all kinds of factors in his new environment. We are still witnessing today, in vast numbers of people, the psychological, mental and spiritual dislocation attendant upon this bio-psychic-social change. The change from the national-cultural consciousness to an all-inclusive global or planetary participation in a world-society can certainly be expected to be as drastic. How drastic it will be can even now be observed; but human eyes very often, alas, refuse to see, because the change is frightening to minds more or less comfortably at ease with the status quo. It may even deeply upset individuals smugly attached to their own ego-frustrations and spiritual emptiness; for one may desperately cling to one's familiar sufferings and tragedy just because they are well-defined and familiar!
The essential point is that there cannot be quantitative changes in the scope and inclusiveness of interpersonal relationships, and in the character of the participation of individual persons in the society to which they de facto belong, without a corresponding qualitative transformation of the fundamental field of consciousness of these persons, of their character and responses to personal experiences. We may recognize the truth of such a statement; but in most cases only vaguely so. We are not totally convinced; even less so than the young teenage girl is really convinced that a successful married life demands of her a basic change in consciousness and feeling-responses to her new type of existence. We want to change, to increase the scope of our human relationships and our experiences, but we are confident we can remain the same. We demand to retain unaltered what has been called our 'ipseity,' our own character, and this actually means our own ego, our own private Establishment, our institutionalized difference from other persons.
This is the crucial issue facing our present generations. The older ones do not want to, indeed temperamentally cannot, change unless confronted with the utter disintegration of their past; and even then, how many of the old exiled French or Russian aristocrats actually became transformed persons able to realize that tragedy had liberated them from an obsolete even if, in part, beautiful society? As for the present younger generation, they "would very much like" to change, to experience life in a new way; but they really do not know how, for they have no model easily available, no exemplars to imitate, and not enough knowledge or even feeling-awareness of what is really at stake. Thus, notwithstanding a few remarkable exceptions which one hopes to see greatly multiplied, the young people tend to flounder in uncertainty; and, dispirited as well as uprooted, they at times make violent but empty gestures just to prove to themselves that they are alive and vibrant in the midst of the social sclerosis of a dying civilization — or at least of a chaotic mass of obsolescent patterns of collective and individual living.
Seeds for Tomorrow
What then is the solution? A new philosophy from which a new sense of interpersonal, world-wide relationship will derive, leading to a new kind of ethics and a new type of society. In such a society the principle of management for total and harmonic use should supersede that of power-politics at all levels — including the family level, for numerous are the families in which the child becomes acquainted with the power-politics of its parents, egocentric attitudes, and is often their helpless victim.
This 'new philosophy' can hardly belong to the sphere of what most of our present-day universities understand by philosophy. It requires, quite obviously, a new type of philosopher. This new philosopher will have to be able to integrate the seed-harvest of the whole of humanity's past — and not only what has resulted from the last five centuries of individualism and science in our Western world. He will also have to ruthlessly challenge the obsolete values of our culture and of any culture of the human world. Moreover — and this will be his most essential activity — he will have to be able to evoke new Images of order, of integral relatedness, of personal fulfillment, and, in the most general sense, of a human plenitude which will include all levels accessible to the consciousness of the global man of tomorrow.
Very few men, indeed, can be expected to perform effectively and vividly these three functions; but to some extent, the great philosopher should incorporate them into his synthesizing, challenging and evocative work. He need not be a 'man of action' in the external sense of this term; yet he will inevitably consider himself an 'agent' for the vast movement of humanity's evolution creating the new, at least in seed, while challenging the old to radically renew its symbols, its behavior and its feeling-patterns, or to let go of its stranglehold on the human mind. Some philosophers are destroyers as well as, if not more than creators. Typical among them was Friedrick Nietzsche; yet he was a seer, distorted and incomplete as was his vision.
During the last two hundred years, a few great persons have sought to garner the fruits of old traditions and the seed of wisdom condensed in myths — to garner it not only as spiritual food but as a vitalizing ground for new ideological departures and new visions. These men sought to uncover the original sources of deviated and materialized traditions, to touch the essential substance of a reality which centuries of cultural living and compromises had so altered as to make it unrecognizable. Since 1870 many attempts have been made to discover world-wide meanings in popular tales from all continents, to stress the similarities in the Sacred Books of all major religions, to discover the root-factors in human nature. Several great Hindu thinkers have attempted to go far back in their culture beyond the world-wide evolutionary phase of medievalism and intense devotionalism, beyond the rationalistic period of the sixth century B.C. and the centuries following — to what modern historians insist on interpreting as a primitive mentality, but which may well also have been a period of great spirituality formulating itself outwardly as myths and Mystery-rituals. The magnificent and revelatory writings of the great Hindu philosopher, poet, yogi and seer, Sri Aurobindo, throwing a totally new light upon the old Vedas, is perhaps the best example of such attempts. European thinkers and students of Asiatic traditions have also done remarkable work in unearthing the real meaning of old texts and of a few still existent groups or Brotherhoods. Sir Woodruff for the Tantra, Richard Wilhelm for the Yi Ching and other Chinese "esoteric" treatises, Evans-Wentz for Tibetan records, G.R.S. Mead for Gnosticism and Carl Jung (and several recent writers) for Alchemy, are but the best known of such workers, reopening old and often desecrated wells of wisdom.
All this work on the past is, however, but background work. As F.D. Roosevelt significantly said: "The past is only prelude." At the threshold of the New Age, the essential task is to fecundate the collective unconscious of mankind with new Images relevant to the expectable global character of the future society. It may not be an immediately expectable society, and at least some of the utopian expectations of frustrated and restless groups of seekers or devotees may be at best dreams that may take centuries, if not millennia, to be realized in a global manner; but every true philosopher should be, to a degree at least, an evocator of visions of the future — a man who has seen a vision, a prophet.
Among some of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, particularly in Taos, every boy, after having passed through initiatory rites around the time of puberty, is sent to the mountains alone for days of fasting and meditation until he has received a vision. This vision is believed to be the key to his deeper life. As a Medicine Man from Taos told Carl Jung: "What can a man do if he has not had his vision?" In many cultures, the initiate receives a new name, perhaps a mantram; this too is the sacred key to his true life. It sets the tone to a significant, because symbolic, approach to individual existence. "Christ" is the sacred Name of our Western civilization, as "Buddha" was and still is the spiritually defining archetype of much of Asia; but how profaned or banalized have these Names been through the centuries.
Oswald Spengler spoke convincingly of the Prime Symbols which constitute the very soul of a culture: but his vision was strangely limited and past-oriented. He could not see how, within the very process of culture-disintegration which he identified with civilization in the negative sense of the term, "seeds" are formed which become in due time the foundation of a new culture. On the other hand for fifty years I have emphasized the concept and ideal of the seed man — and Arnold Toynbee in another way and about the same time, came to a similar realization; yet he has been very timid or bound to the past in his endeavors to envision the coming civilization which his structural analysis of history portrays as imminent.
ed. The Faith That Gives Meaning to Victory, 1942, published by the Foundation for Human Integration, now non-existent.
New 'Images of man' have been presented during the last decades by philosophers or creative artists who have thought to outline what a new type of human being might be. Sri Aurobindo's "Gnostic man" may be one of the earliest, and as well the most inspiring of these new Images. His great work The Life Divine ends with a magnificent vision of what such a type of spiritualized being in attunement with the creative and transcendent energies of the universe might be like, and of the society he could build. Teilhard de Chardin also had his vision of the future man, homo progressivus. Charles Morris wrote in his Paths of Life of the "Maitreyan man," at a time when I was outlining the figure of "the Man of Plenitude" (The Age of Plenitude and Modern Man's Conflicts: The Creative Challenge of a Global Society, 1945). Oliver Reiser, Lancelot L. Whyte and a few others have sought to present new ideals of manhood which are far more than the mere extrapolations of present trends.
How lifeless and sterile such projection into the future of our present humanity can be is amply demonstrated by the science fiction writers who usually cannot escape from the concept of the Technocrat, which developed between the two World Wars. This concept, popularized for a while by Howard Scott's organization, Technocracy, is based in the last analysis on the premise that the future belongs to modern science, its particular brand of technology and its intellectual methods. But is this a true, a necessary premise? Do we have to postulate that the path that the scientific and strictly rationalistic mind of Western man definitely took some three or four centuries ago in Europe is a path that will be proven in the long (or short) run basically valid for the optimum development of the potentialities inherent in Man? What if our European brand of humanism, our Baconian empiricism, our Cartesianism, — which at first appeared as a reaction against medieval dogmatism — were not essentially sound and wholesome, in spite of what they have achieved? Where will these achievements lead? Could it not be to a society in which powers of self-destruction would be inherent — as they seem to be already inherent in our present technological society?
I cannot discuss here such a possibility; nor can I give any precise suggestion as to how our Western science might have taken another turn some four centuries ago, and how man could have approached his quest for knowledge along very different lines; but a rather simplistic observation may give a clue.
Our technology is based on the destruction of material entities as a means of releasing energy. We burn wood, coal, oil; we split the atom. What is released is 'fire' of some sort, and heat; and the apparently inevitable result of such techniques for the release of energy is a considerable quantity of more or less poisonous waste products.
Our atmosphere, our water — and the water cycle on our planet is the condition for life — our soil and indeed our physical bodies are being poisoned by our technology to a degree which is likely to increase by geometrical progression in the immediate future. We all know this as a fact, though we would like to think it simply is not there. Unless a radical change occurs in the social and personal drives of today's humanity there may well be no way to solve this crucial problem, for it has its roots not only in the emotions of greed and craving for power, but also in our special intellectual approach to the problem of releasing energy for use.
But do we have to release energy, in the sense that matter must be destroyed in order to effect such a release? Einstein's famous formula has proven to be true; but what if, because of the way it has been used, it turns out to be destructive of truly human values and spiritual attainment. Einstein did not imply that, in order to have energy or power at our command, we had to destroy matter. When men crossed the seas in sailboats, they used a power that was there. That power was available to the ingenious mind of man — the mind that knows how to adapt to natural conditions and to increase their yield so as to satisfy human needs for existence. Agriculture and cattle-raising make use of the power of life, the principle of multiplication of seeds; the more favorable the environmental conditions, the more effective this principle of multiplication of animal or vegetable seeds. Thus Nature can be made to work directly for man in a true partnership — a creative partnership. Nature's energies surround us.
All that we need is to discover means of utilizing them to the fullest possible or optimum extent.
How do we know that we are not surrounded by planetary, solar and cosmic energies which could be used more or less as the sailor uses the power of the wind? Indeed we know very well that such as yet unused energies are all around us and are pervading us through and through. Gravitation, earth-magnetism may be weak, but they could perhaps be concentrated, as diffuse light is concentrated by a lens. We already use solar light to heat water and to provide electricity to orbiting instruments. We may build accumulators for solar winds and cosmic rays. We may learn to use what today we call neutrinos; and there may be many other types of as yet undiscovered energies. Perhaps we will realize sooner or later that our great scientific experiments have been programmed in such a way that we have only a distorted idea of what these unused energies really are — an idea which makes their effective and wholesome use by man very difficult or even altogether impractical. But such a realization would have to offset the tremendous inertia generated by the very achievements of our technology.
What this implies is that our Western mentality may have developed along lines which could almost inevitably lead to some catastrophe in the not too distant future unless a fundamental 'change of mind' somehow occurs. I am optimistic enough to believe that such a change may occur; but how it could take place without quite a radical crisis of some kind — it could be telluric as well as social or religious — seems almost impossible. However, should such a fundamental human and planetary crisis occur, what will follow would depend in a large measure on what has been produced as "seed-ideas" before the crisis. If no seeds fall into the ground during late summer and early autumn, there can be no new vegetation when a new spring comes after the long wintry death. To produce such 'seed-ideas' is the function of the true philosopher and also of the true creative artist; in a deep sense the two are one, even though in terms of outer achievements they can be and usually are differentiated.
What is Really at Stake?
If our Western mentality, its science and technology, have gotten onto a 'wrong track,' how are we to find the right one?
These terms 'right' and 'wrong' have been used only to force a basic point upon the reader's attention. They are not adequate terms. The development of the Western mind during the last centuries and perhaps already in Greece after Heraclitus and Pythagoras — is not to be considered as wrong any more than the antithesis which follows the thesis in the dialectical process is wrong. It can however lead to destructive ends if the power of the synthesis is not made to operate.
However, what is dialectically called synthesis is not correctly understood by many thinkers. The synthesis presupposes, we believe, a 'descent' or focusing of a more encompassing or 'higher' principle of action upon the process being considered. If we can speak of levels, then something of the higher level must intervene in the conflict between antithesis and the obsolete forms resulting from the original thesis. If this does not occur the revolutionary energy of the antithesis degenerates in an unholy alliance with these obsolete forms which are thus given a seemingly new life.
We have a tragic instance of such a process in Nazism; for the basis of Hitler's doctrine was a purely tribal worship of blood, folk-culture and land. The tribal state of society may be considered as the thesis of the development of man as a being able to emerge from the compulsive patterns of the biosphere; and originally it held in latency the eventual liberation of the human spirit. But if the still existent biological imperatives of the tribal state become for some reason associated with the antithetic development of the individualistic intellectual and analytical mind, i.e., with the type of methods and research used by modern science — such as, for instance, vivisection and interference with genetic processes — then the result can indeed be monstrous.
What the modern science-hypnotized world needs is an intervention from some higher realm if the process of synthesis is to occur constructively and bring about what we might call a transfiguration of human values. But there need be no mysticism attached to the terms higher and intervention, even though unfortunately they may be loaded with religious emotionalism and a basic feeling of personal frustration. What we consider higher is simply, in fact, more encompassing. Tribal man lives enclosed in a small valley watered by a small stream or springs. From the mountain-top of the intellectual mind the vision extends to a large area, and the problems which arise from this vision are those connected with the conquest of this vast Earth-space, with communication between the products of various climates and the men of different regions, languages and customs. Western society has tried to meet these problems through long journeys, intercontinental commerce and — almost inevitably considering this phase of human evolution — colonialism and slavery on a vast, interracial scale.
Now the mountain-top consciousness is acquiring globe-circling wings; this could mean synthesis at a higher all-encompassing level in relation to the planetary being of humanity. But circum-global space travel, and even reaching the Moon (whose orbit may well mark the outermost boundaries of the Earth's total being) still presents us with a crucial choice. It could lead to negative results, if the old tribal consciousness of man remains effective in a maximized and monstrous manner to animate future man's endeavor into organizing the whole planet along technocratic lines; this would indeed result in nearly total destruction. The positive results to be hoped for require more than what the modern technologist and his computers can produce; they need a new spiritual force — a radical transformation of the character of individual man. Such a transformation inevitably demands a new quality of interpersonal relationships and a new sense of value and purpose.
We may call this a 'descent' of spiritual or cosmic power; we may speak of the need for the coming of a Divine Manifestation or Avatar prior to the actual beginning of a new phase of human evolution, and indeed of a new planetary cycle. We may even believe that such a descent of spirit will take the form of a fecundating contact with the humanity of some more evolved planet in this or another solar system. In a sense, the philosopher's task is not to opt for this or that possibility. It is essentially to prepare the ground for a new type of consciousness, whatever be the way that this new type of consciousness can be made truly and definitively operative.
In order to fulfill such a task the philosopher should first of all investigate the very beginning of independent consciousness in a human being before culture-conditioned interpretations colored the formation of the mind. He should try to understand afresh the barest facts of human existence with as few intellectual preconceptions and emotional prejudices as are humanly possible. He should generalize and interpret these facts, boldly if necessary, yet humbly — trying above all to define clearly and as simply as possible the words he uses to express often inexpressible experiences and the subtle imagery of feelings.
We cannot avoid using words; and by so doing our consciousness is inevitably conditioned by the culture which has produced and organized these words as collectively accepted symbols for communication between personal minds and psyches. Still, if at all possible, we can be careful not to make unwarranted assumptions and not to take for granted traditional and "moral" judgments. It certainly is not the true philosopher's function to be an apologist for modern science or for the European tradition with its religious and ethical biases.
The trouble with philosophers is that, when they write, they are mature persons who build their philosophical systems largely in response to their emotional and intellectual needs, biases and complexes; and of course the present writer is no exception. What can be attempted however is, I repeat, to start with the beginning of human experience from an existential point of view unburdened by metaphysical a priori — to try to experience as a newborn child does, and then to build from this primordial sensing-feeling. The responses to life and the beliefs of so-called 'primitives' can also be of great value in such an attempt, provided we do not interject the reactions of our 'civilized' minds into these responses and do not try to explain away what does not fit our preconceptions concerning mind, soul, Self and the experience of subliminal elements.
A fresh, undogmatic, flexible approach liberated from the familiar patterns of thinking and feeling with which we have been indoctrinated is necessary if we are to provide a virginal ground from which may gradually emerge a new open, yet consistent understanding of human existence and a creative evaluation of its meaning and purpose. Such an approach requires that the philosopher has passed through an experience of self-emptying and of what Buddhists and most mystics speak of as the Void (sunya in Sanskrit). An individual must shed the 'old mind' conditioned by the culture and the language which moulded and directly or indirectly structured its growth before he can witness within his inner being the emerging consciousness of the New Man. This is the metanoia process, the transforming of the mind (nous). But more than the mind is involved in the emergence of a new philosophy of existence; a repolarization and reenergization of the feelings and of the imagination are just as necessary.
A philosophy is not a matter of concepts only, if by concepts we mean the result of an exclusively intellectual and rational process of cogitation. Psychoanalysis and all that has been derived from it have made it absolutely clear that one can practically never altogether disassociate a concept from some kind of feeling. General Semantics has shown how loaded with emotional contents many words are. To grasp the meaning and impact of words we have to try to perceive the images which they convey to the entire psyche of the person using or reacting to these words. That is why it is so essential for the philosopher who stands at the threshold of a potentially new civilization, and indeed perhaps of a new planetary Age, to empty his mind, his feelings, his entire psyche, of old concepts, old values and old images; and this means actually to free himself from this ego-structure which rules his personal life, for this ego-structure has been utterly conditioned by the traditions and the inner imagery of his family and class, his community, his college and his entire culture.
People who are conversant with the mystical traditions of all countries often delude themselves by thinking that, after some critical experience of apparent 'self-annihilation' — perhaps the experience of the much spoken about "night of the soul" — they have become entirely renewed or reborn. They may have been renewed in a very real personal sense, yet they may nevertheless remain largely bound, far more than they would admit, to the old images, feelings and concepts of the culture which formed their thinking. It is questionable whether when Descartes had his famous experience in which he tried to bare his mind of all that could be eliminated as non-essential, he actually experienced a deep transformation of the mind. He could have come to the conclusion "I feel therefore I am," had he not been the product of a culture which held the intellect and its rational processes as the most essential factors in man. The image of the Thinker has been central in our Western culture. It constituted the greatness of that culture, yet also its limitations; for by officially glorifying the thinking process, reason and the dualistic ethics of "either-or," Western man felt compelled to give to the feelings and to all non-rational processes linked with the image-making and intuitive faculties a negative, or at least a lower meaning and value.
What needs now to be transformed, if we are to experience globally a basic human 'mutation' in consciousness, are the very basic attitudes of both the mind and the feelings. The image-making power of the total being of man — his capacity to 'see' existence differently within a radically new frame of reference (and not only a new intellectual frame of reference) and to 'feel' existence in a revirginized way — this image-making power must be given a new and far more consciously creative character.
We can learn a great deal about this from the eminently pragmatic philosophy of old India — pragmatic in a way which seems transcendental to us yet is, in a basic sense, eminently existential at a higher level of reality. We can, however, ask too much from India, China or Japan. Their ancient philosophies are essential as liberating influences; but to be free from the past of our civilization is only the first step. This can be a cathartic experience which leaves us either floating in some sort of subjective vacuum, or fascinated by some great (or not so great) Personage whose historical as well as spiritual role we may exaggerate in an orgy of blind and immature devotion.
What is expected of individuals who would be 'seed men' for the New Age is quite a different attitude. Such men, Fathers of a global tomorrow, should take a step beyond the cathartic and ego-transforming experience — a creative step. They have to act in terms of objective reality; but should they be chiefly philosophers, this action will operate essentially at the level of basic images and symbols i.e., of living and creative 'seed ideas.' This can be a most powerful and effective action, for without such seed ideas the world-culture which should develop next century would have no solid foundation. Any culture can only grow out of basic ideas, images and symbols provided by a few seed men who came during the last period of a preceding culture. Even it there seems to be a violent radical breakdown of this preceding culture — a seeming solution of continuity like the Dark Ages following the collapse of the Roman Empire nevertheless the new culture must develop at first by incorporating some of the seed ideas and symbols of the past.
So many seed ideas have been sown during the past hundred years! I can only hope that those which should be scattered by this book will have in them the power to feed the growth of men and women of the impending New Age in a harmonious, beautiful and serene manner and that they will fall upon a soil rich with the manure of tragedies overcome and blessed. I hope and trust that they will belong to the constructive side of the great mutation which is taking place, perhaps not only in mankind but even throughout the entire biosphere, and that they will play a significant, even if small part in the process of unfoldment of a planetary consciousness in the fruitful minds of self-consecrated and radiant human beings.
The Planetarization of Consciousness