THE CYCLIC PROCESS: FROM BEGINNING TO END TO REBEGINNING
A cycle of existence begins with a release of power; a certain quantum of undifferentiated energy is actualized. Two unavoidable questions therefore arise: Where does this energy come from? Why was it actualized as kinetic energy able to produce existential results?
As we have seen in the previous chapter any released quantum of energy or unit of power is the actualization of a finite amount (an awkward term!) of potentiality. Some factor acting within the infinite Ocean of potentiality has been able to transform potentiality into actuality — or we might say potency into power. This factor is 'consciousness' — the kind of consciousness which has developed at the end of a previous cycle of existence, Pleroma-consciousness.
We have already seen that this Pleroma-consciousness is, symbolically speaking, the seed of a universe — the omega aspect of the cyclocosmic process manifesting as this universe. We also saw that the last stages of such a cosmic cycle produce not only such a Pleroma (i.e., the unanimous group of perfected Beings who successfully actualized the initial potential of their own cosmic cycle), but also a chaotic mass of decaying elements which constitute the end-results of the many failures in this universe. Thus a cycle ends in a condition of duality which, if we are permitted the use of such an emotion-laden word, is intolerable to ONE and to the Compassion inherent in the all-inclusive Pleroma-state of consciousness. In the omega state of the cosmic cycle, the two poles of existence, unity andmultiplicity, are as far apart as they can be. They must once more be brought into relationship; and this means that the disintegrated remains of the past universe must be given a second chance to experience the state of wholeness and to feel one in organismic togetherness.
Abstractly speaking, the Seed Pleroma represents the pole of unity, as it has reached a condition of supermental, divine unanimity in consciousness. All the potentialities implied in the Logos — the One-in-the-beginning — are actualized; and the 'presence' of ONE is all-powerful. However I prefer to speak here of multi-unity; for in that unanimity of consciousness of the Pleroma, there nevertheless remains residual memory of the individual paths which every perfected Being participating in this Pleroma has taken to reach unity. It is therefore a state of unity which includes as it were the quintessence of a multiplicity of existential experiences; and for this reason I speak of multi-unity and of the multi-une Pleroma.
The pole of multiplicity is represented by the disintegrated and atomized remains of the failures of the universal cycle. Each of the entities which had utterly failed to reach the Pleroma state and dropped by the wayside at each phase of the process of evolution was eventually reduced to a completely insulated unity of materiality in a condition of nearly absolute non-relatedness and indifference or inertia. This is the condition to which modern scientists refer as the end-state of the trend toward undifferentiation, entropy. The term entropy, however, should be applied to any kind of activity which fails to respond to an opposite process — a process which produces a gradual expansion not only of consciousness but of the capacity for relationship and integration (i.e., love and wholeness). Such a process, now called "negentropy," is an expression of the power of ONE.
Entropy at any level results from a lack of response of the existent to ONE. It implies the opposite of love, that is, hatred. Hatred is essentially the product of fear — the fear experienced by a man confronted with a new phase of the process of existence. Such a fear is the only real 'original sin,' for every frightened refusal to move one step ahead in the process of evolution — the Hindu would say, in the performance of one's dharma — generates a force that runs in a direction opposite to this evolutionary process.*
*cf. my book Fire Out of the Stone. The real 'sin' of Adam and Eve occurred after they had eaten of the fruit of the Tree of good and evil which had given them a new and discriminatory consciousness of the dual power in all life-experiences. They had taken a positive evolutionary step, but became frightened by its implications and by their new responsibility. Thus they tried to 'hide' the symbol of the new power. They had failed the test, and had to face the karmic results of this failure.
Fear cuts one off from the flow of power which is available to the existential whole in whom the process of consciousness-unfoldment has begun to operate. The small unit, when it refuses to relate and, through relationship, to increase in consciousness, becomes blind to the presence of ONE in the new phase (or at the new level) of his growth. He clings to his egocentric response to ONE, i.e., to a lesser form of integration. He gradually builds around his ego-consciousness a fortified wall within which the consciousness eventually will die, suffocated, and the wall itself will in time disintegrate and become dust — the dust of a failure.
At the end of a universal cycle (and to a lesser extent, or in a purely relative sense, of any existential cycle) we find, therefore, a sharp opposition between the two polarities, unity and multiplicity. As a result the 'need' to once more provide a formula of integration (a logos or creative Word) on the basis of which a new process of relationship between the One and the Many can start, is the ineradicable feature of this omega situation. It can only be met by what constitutes the positive, dynamic pole of the situation, the Pleroma of perfect Beings, seed of the ending universe. The Pleroma therefore 'visualizes' the Image-formula of a new universe. It must be a new Image-formula, because the conditions of existence are different in every universe — the conditions and character of the pole, success, as well as those of the pole, failure. There are an infinite number of possible ways of solving the eternal problem of existence; the Ocean of potentiality is infinite. Duration and Spatiality are infinite, rhythmic Motion is unceasing, even in the state we call nonexistence, though in a different mode — we might say an almost purely subjective mode.
The divine Host of Perfect Beings, acting as a unanimous divine Mind, at the end of the universal cycle, as it were, 'enters' the infinite Ocean of Potentiality — often symbolized in past traditions as the Eternal Virgin. Acting as a fecundant force, this divine Mind brings to the infinite Matrix a realization of the need as well as the Image of the new universe which It has envisioned. This fecundant act arouses in the Eternal Virgin the 'desire' to exteriorize some of the potential required to substantiate and energize the Image impressed upon Her by the Pleroma-Mind. Thus the logos or divine Plan for a new universe is 'conceived;' but it is conception in potentiality and not yet an actual fact. The cycle of concrete existence has not yet begun. There is still nothing to be seen. But within the infinite Ocean of potentiality a formative process is unfolding, held within abstract boundaries by the catalytic presence of ONE. The Formula for the universe-to-be is being 'imagined' in its broad developmental lines by the divine Pleroma-Mind, and with each aspect of this Formula, Image or Archetype, a measure of potency adequate for its actualization is being integrated.
It is to such a process that many occult books of the past referred when they spoke of a "divine World" above and beyond our world of concrete existence. It is the ideal world in which what is divinely conceived by the union of a visualized Image and the potentiality for its manifestation unfolds in ideal outlines but without any relationship to actual substantial existence, except in the sense that the concrete reality which is to take place within a finite space-field and equally limited time-cycle is an answer to a cosmic need — or as some would say, to karma, which means essentially to the 'unfinished business' of the past cycle.
During this ideal phase of unfoldment of the Image impressed upon the Infinite Potential by the Pleroma-Mind one can presumably not even speak of the 'memory' of a cosmic need. The Pleroma has become absorbed into the Ocean of Potentiality. The past is forgotten or almost forgotten. Potentiality is supreme — and potentiality means, in human terms, that which will become actualized sooner or later in infinite Duration. The Infinite Potential we might say always looks to the future, or to what we can only interpret as future with our time-sense. For any mind it is the future; because mind is a formative agency.
A mind obsessed with potentiality is utterly future-oriented; it operates within a time which has no past, which is an unceasing surge of new possibilities unrelated to the need of any past. It is, in this sense, the child's mind, a mind that plays with ever-changing, ever-renewed possibilities unconcerned with their relationship to the facts of existence. Yet these possibilities are nevertheless conditioned and structured by the capacities of the child's organism. Even the divine Child is held within the framework of the Mind of His Father Who has projected Itself into the Mother's womb as the organic structure of the Child; but the Child is not aware of these conditioning limitations. He goes on playing with possibilities in a never-ceasing game (in Sanskrit, Lila). He does so as long as He operates in the divine World, in the world of pure imagination; as long as the real confrontation with actual existential relationships has not begun or at least not in earnest at a definitely concrete level; as long as His consciousness is still mostly plunged in the Ocean of potentiality.
The concrete world of existence begins when a cosmic unit of power is released which whirls at fantastic speed through the as yet unstructured field of space. Concrete existence begins because, into its whirling spirals, the chaotic remains of the past universe, (the dust of the cyclocosm that was) are drawn at once — unconscious and inert remains utterly indifferent to the possibility of renewed existence, but now caught in a maelstrom of motion and subjected to immense impacts, reiterated for incalculable periods of time. This is the levelof existence at which ONE operates in terms of materiality. Potency has been released from the infinite Ocean of potentiality as cosmic power. It has been released because the Pleroma-Mind, (the divine form of consciousness) did fecundate the infinite Potential, the Eternal Virgin. It is always consciousness that transforms potency into power.
The Pleroma-Mind is now the effective Father of the new universe; but as occult traditions always state, this Father remains "hidden" behind or beyond the created world. Actually He did not create this world. He only e-manated, (that is, he projected in 'mind' — (in Sanskrit, manas) the essential Image of the entire new process of existence, or more accurately the structure of the process, the fundamental formula (or in a cosmic sense, the genetic pattern) defining the basic modes of relationship between the essential factors in the existential process that is to be. The original Impulse beginning the cosmic cycle of existence surged through this basic structure, but from the Infinite Potential; somewhat as the light of the projector in a motion picture theatre surges through the film and then is seen projected upon the screen. In this illustration, the cosmic screen is the new Space-field whose boundaries are defined by the need which the existential process has for the space required for the interplay of the new type of cosmic relationships — a cosmic 'living space.'
What is called in the Christian tradition "the Word that was in the beginning" (the Logos), and what the Hindu philosopher calls Ishvara, is not the hidden Father but the Son. It is the 'new God,' the divine Child — in contrast to the 'old God,' the Seed-Pleroma of the past universe, the Father. This Father, in the first chapter of Genesis, is called Elohim, a plural noun. It is the Pleroma-Host of the past universe now acting as Father, because the 'new God,' Ishvara, has been born. The divine Fiat Lux (the projection of Light) does not however refer to the actual Creation of the concrete cosmos but to the fecundation of the Infinite Potential by the seed-Pleroma; and the entire first chapter of Genesis deals with the projection of archetypal Images into the womb of the Eternal Virgin, thus to the 'divine World' already mentioned.
It is only in the second chapter of Genesis that the formation of the world of concrete existence is dealt with, and this only in terms of our planet and humanity. At this stage God is Yahveh Elohim (or in Hebrew Yod-He-Vau-He). He is only "one of the Elohim" and as we shall see, the Ruler of the realm of Life.
In more mystical and more complete cosmologies the 'new God' (the Son, Ishvara) is the divine expression of the original release of power which is the Source of the new cycle of cosmic existence. He is the One. He is the AUM Tone of the new cosmos, the Self of the universe; nevertheless He must not be considered as ONE or SELF. He is existence in the alpha condition of unity. He is the one Power that differentiates into many modes of energy, each mode being required to energize a basic function in the universal whole. He is the one stream of white Light which breaks into the several colored Rays and their immense number of sub-rays. He is the Power within the cosmic Word 'imaged forth' by the Father Elohim, the Word, that contains an immense yet finite number of Letters. Each of these Letters is a potential 'Soul' — a particular aspect of the Word that resounds, unchanging, throughout the cycle of Time.
In the beginning the divine Child is still infused with potentiality. He dreams his life in a mostly subjective state of imagination, filled with what in India is called Ananda, the pure, unconstrained joy of existence. He is the Player of an infinity of games, but these games are mostly imaginary. For this divine Child existence is indeed a play, Lila, in which He is acting all the parts. It is mainly to this state of divine Being that the great Hindu tradition refers when it speaks of God — God-Ishvara, God as the child Krishna playing with the gopis, symbols of the many energies of the spiritual world of Soul, each Soul a divine raga, or melody.
This is a beautiful, joy-filled vision of existence. It represents the ideal of existence in the childhood stage — the stage in which potentiality dominates; and in a sense we may consider this stage as the most 'spiritual;' for, being so close to the Infinite Potential, which is then symbolized as the Divine Mother, it partakes of the character of infinity. But actuality and its finiteness, or karma, sooner or later dominate the stage on which the drama of existence is performed. The lovely, joyous Play of the Child increasingly becomes a drama.
Why a drama? Because the moment the factor of relationship in terms of concrete living personalities comes to be the focus of attention of the evolving existential wholes, conflicts inevitably arise. They arise when the energies of Life begin to operate at full strength. This is the symbolic crisis of puberty. The world of the child becomes that of the adolescent.
Life, in the strict sense of the word, characterizes a particular level of integration, and therefore a level of relatedness and consciousness. ONE operates at that level as Life, just as before in the world-process it operated as Materiality.
What we call 'matter' is rarely understood in its most basic sense. It constitutes the first condition of existence, a condition in which potentiality is still most dominant. Occultists and even scientists of the last century have often spoken of proto-matter; and today physicists postulate particles which are even more primary than electrons, protons, mesons, neutrinos and the like. Whether what they are looking for are really to be conceived as 'particles' is questionable; it is probably not really physical in the usual sense of the term. It belongs presumably to a 'sub-quantum' realm. Whatever it be, it is far more an expression of potentiality than of actuality. In it the Yin of potentiality dominates the Yang of actuality.
As this Yang of actuality increases in strength we reach the stage of atoms, then of molecules. We pass from the realm of stars in which enormous heat prevails to the realm of planets which, as they presumably cool down (though the term, cooling, could be misleading), become the stage for the evolution of the most primary forms of Life — perhaps what we now call viruses. These viruses are thought to be intermediaries between crystals and the large molecules which constitute the foundation of living cells; but it is questionable whether they are evolutionary links between what we call the inanimate and the animate, between the level of Materiality and that of Life. They may represent the 'return' of some of the earliest living structures to the mineral-crystalline stage — somewhat as there are mammals who, though born on land, have returned to the sea.
In other words, evolution contains regressive phases. Some of the new developments prove too difficult and too frightening to the entities born at the very onset of these 'mutations'. Perhaps the mutation was premature; the new release of potentiality came before the new organisms developed the capacity to actualize in a steady manner this unfamiliar potentiality. A regressive step occurs — a return to the old condition.
Today, the fact that, from time to time, the evolutionary process witnesses such backward steps may be particularly important because the extraordinarily rapid development of intellectual powers in Western mankind may have become so dangerous, and indeed so destructive, that a 'calculated withdrawal' to safer human conditions of existence may prove imperative. Yet, this does not need to be a really regressive step, provided its purpose is well understood. It is always possible for man to realize that he has made a false start; or at least that, in order to make this start, he has dropped values and ideals for the lack of which the start, as it develops, leads to paths of destruction. Such a process of withdrawal in order to go back to the original starting point and then start again with a more inclusive consciousness of all that is needed to make the new lines of progress really constructive — this can be most valuable and indeed most indispensable. Mankind may now find it necessary to make such a withdrawal if it is not to experience a far more catastrophic situation — a new 'Deluge' crisis, which may no longer be destruction by 'water' but by atomic or sub-atomic 'fire.'
The originators and contemporary proponents of the modern evolutionary concept have been, for obvious reasons, so eager to utterly abandon the ideal of "special creations" by a transcendent divine Creator, that they may well have become blind to the possibility that evolution is not merely a one-directional process "upward," but that it also includes what I might call directed mutations. I do not mean by these terms what the religious mind would interpret in the usual theological sense as divine interventions. I refer rather to the existence of several levels of integration; which means several 'modes of operation' (and these may be very inadequate terms) of the Principle of Wholeness, ONE.
The transition from one level to another may have to be considered, not strictly as an evolutionary process, but rather as the result of a new phase in the balance between potentiality and actuality. When a further step in the actualization of a new type of potentiality is taken — a type of potentiality which was inherent in the originating Creative Word — this step implies two factors: (1) the readiness of the evolutionary developments up to that phase of the existential process to accept the new development, and (2) a new release of power — that is, a decisive action transforming potency into power. I refer to this action as an 'involutionary' factor.
The source of this action is in a sense the hidden Father, the ELOHIM. But this Father is not hidden in some transcendent Heaven. He is hidden within. Potentiality is not 'outside of' or 'above' actuality. It is, within the already-actualized, the to-be-actualized. In a basic mutation — that is, in the process of transition from one level of integration to the next — the future acts upon the present. The future acts when the present is ready to accept the mutation; when, in a deep sense, the present needs the action of the future in order to become the new present.
Yet as we have just said, the present may not be quite ready; the change may be somewhat premature; thus trouble is expectable, which may be called a 'calculated risk.' The Initiator — in terms of occult processes — may have to take the risk that the Initiate may not be entirely able to adjust to the new type of life and consciousness resulting from the initiation. Yet the risk has to be taken, if by not taking it a destructive force may operate in the vacuum created by some radical life-crisis, or the opportunity might be delayed for too long a period, as such an opportunity depends upon the rhythm of the evolutionary process of humanity as a whole.
But let us return to the transition from the level of integration, called Materiality, to that which is named Life. In matter immense power is locked by what science today calls the "binding force" operating in atomic structures. This binding force sets boundaries to the atoms. The atom is a whole of activity. In this whole, the Principle of wholeness, ONE, operates; it operates at the level of Materiality. . .
At the level of Life ONE operates in a new way, in terms not only of the maintenance of the wholeness of the whole, but in terms also of the capacity within this whole to reproduce itself. The first way in which this capacity operates is through cell-division, mitosis: the one becomes two, the two become four, etc. — a process operating according to geometric progression. Then (ignoring in this brief outline other possible reproductive processes) the sexual form of reproduction establishes itself, and the possibility of new genetic combinations increase tremendously; this in turn means an ever increasing possibility of ever more complex relationships between living organisms.
In Biblical symbolism, Yahveh Elohim, Who appears at the beginning of the second chapter of Genesis, is the Ruler of the realm of Life. The 'soul' with which he animates the material structure, Adam, (made according to the divine Archetype mentioned in chapter one of Genesis,) is the 'living soul,' Nephesh Hayyah.
I cannot go here into the whole Biblical story which I have studied and interpreted, step by step, in my book Fire Out Of The Stone: A Reinterpretation of the Basic Images of the Christian Tradition. All I need say is that the Bible, when properly understood, expresses in terms of a symbolical narrative the entire evolutionary development of humanity in its relationship with a divine Power guiding this development and presenting to man new, gradually more individualized possibilities of growth. The series of Covenants between God and man is simply a symbolical expression of the progressive development of the relationship between the archetypal potentiality,which we may call Man, and actual types of human beings who are able to attain gradually 'higher' states of consciousness.
The entire Mosaic episode and Moses' contact with a God Who declares Himself to be "I am," presumably refers to the appearance of a new type of human consciousness — individualized consciousness.
At the tribal level of life man is not truly conscious and does not act, except in superficial personal instances, as an 'individual.' The tribe is the real unit of existence; and its power and its dictates operate at a psychic subconscious level, not too different from the level of animal instincts. At that level Life rules in a compulsive and basically unconscious manner. Life is indeed a jealous and autocratic god, who relentlessly chastizes the men and groups who disobey its directives. Tribal taboos are the human-social equivalents of animal instincts; they cannot be disobeyed. When man is able to disengage his consciousness from the autocratic power of the tribal organism, disobedience to the taboos means at first almost certain death, or exile (which at the psychological level means very much the same thing for tribal man, for exile cuts him off from the land, the culture and the rituals which were the sources of his strength).
A time comes however when man is able to free himself from the tribal matrix. He emerges as an individual. Potentiality henceforth operates within him as the Individual Soul. This step represents the great turning point in evolution; and in order to thoroughly understand its implications, we have to discuss more fully the concept of "Soul" as I use this so confusing, yet apparently indispensable term.
*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.
Two Cosmic Movements
We have already seen that the Creative Word released at the alpha state of the cycle is an immensely complex formula which constitutes, metaphysically speaking, the potential solution of the cosmic problem of existence in the new universe — a problem inherited from the old universe. The Seed-Pleroma of the old universe visualized and emanated the basic principle of this 'solution' into the Matrix of the Eternal Virgin — the Infinite Potential. The result, as the new universe begins, is a tremendous release of at first undifferentiated energy which whirls through the newly opened space-field; but this cosmic quantum of energy is released through a kind of 'film' — the Creative Word — which stamps upon this energy the pattern, blueprint or archetype of what is to be essentially the end-result of the whole cosmic process of existence.
This cosmic Archetype represents only a potentiality of development. We may speak of it as a factor in a divine World of Formation; but it is not an existential fact. It is not 'real' (a word which comes from the Latin root, res, a thing). To conceive this pattern differently is to confuse potentiality and actuality, a confusion so much in evidence in occult or religious doctrines. In one sense, the architect's blueprints are real, but they are not the concrete thing, the house. The house alone should be called real, if we want to avoid semantic misunderstandings.
The cosmic Archetype constitutes a structural potentiality of developments in the existential world in which the power released "in the beginning" acts upon the chaotic remains of the past universe. Potentiality is not consciousness. The blueprints are not conscious; but the architect who made them is conscious. This Great Architect of the Universe (as Free Masonry speaks of Him) is the Biblical Elohim: and He is also, I repeat, the Seed-Pleroma of the past universe.
He is the hidden Father, because once the new world-process begins, the responsibility for the management of the process rests upon various cosmic agencies.
At the level of Materiality, the Gnostics spoke of a Demiurge and of Cosmocratores, builders of the material foundations of the cosmos. These builders represent the first stage in the relationship between the structural potentiality of the cosmos, the Logos-pattern, and the primary actual facts of existence. Pattern-plus-energy operate upon inert substance and the results are proto-atoms and atoms of various types.
However, we have to consider the manner in which these atoms are produced. They are produced, it would seem, by fantastically powerful and speedy whirling motions. These whorls of cosmic energy define the character of the space-fields within which galaxies and solar systems will progressively take form. We must assume that there were at the origin of the universe — and in a relative sense of any kind of cyclocosm — whirling motions of various types. These basic types of motion are the primary differentiation of the Power released in the original creative surge in which the universe began at the level of existence. But what is implied in such a differentiation is not only a differentiation of the character of the performing energy, but of the 'form' through which the energy operates (per-forms).
When an old-time painter started drawing a human face, he would first draw, in broad strokes, the general outline of the face. In some cases (if he followed the rules of 'dynamic symmetry' on which ancient Greek art was based) he would divide the space of the sheet of paper or canvas into geometrical patterns which would constitute the hidden structural foundation for the drawing.
This can be taken as a relatively valid illustration of the cosmic process according to both ancient esoteric traditions and to logical (or cosmo-logical!) types of thought. In other words the cosmic process includes three basic factors: basic structural patterns which become progressively more complex and differentiated — definite rhythms of energy at work which also become more differentiated as they per-form through these differentiating structural patterns and the at first inert and undifferentiated universal dust, remains of the universe-that-was, gradually becoming integrated into atoms of different types by the whorls of cosmic energy acting upon this primordial stuff of existence.
If this is understood then it should be clear that the cosmic process of existence operates in two opposite and symmetrical ways, even though both refer to one process of gradual complexification and differentiation. As we consider the earliest structural patterns we find them to be very broad spatial outlines defining only primary forms, like the spiral form of the galaxies and other types of stellar organizations; and the cosmic energy performing through, or according to them is also broadly differentiated into a few basic types. These cosmic forms become ever more restricted as the process of differentiation and complexification goes on; and the cosmic energies as a result become more specialized. Both, as they progress, occupy less space.
On the other hand if we are looking at the world-process from the point of view of the proto-atom and the atom, we see at work a process of agglomeration and integration of simple units into more complex existential wholes which encompass more space. It is to this process that Jan Smuts gave the name of Holism in his book Holism and Evolution (MacMillan, New York, 1926.) We may speak of it as a process of integration of smaller into larger wholes.
To distinguish clearly between these two movements, which nevertheless constitute only one process of existence, I speak of the involution of form and energy and the evolution of material wholes. These are symmetrical and interdependent movements; but the former is the positive agent, the second refers to what is acted upon.
"Medieval Alchemists spoke of natura naturans (active Nature) and natura naturata (the natural materials being acted upon), but in a more restricted sense. The Hindu philosophers spoke of the Causal level (karana sharira) and the Existential level, the level of material realities upon which 'astral' energies play.
These two movements should not be thought of as separate or as constituting two realms of existence. There is actually only one realm of existence; but within it the two basic movements should be distinguished. One might speak symbolically of a 'descending' and an 'ascending' progression. The forms come down into matter; the existential wholes ascend or evolve through progressive stages of refinement and of ever more subtle integration. The forms define the fields within which the atoms, the molecules, the cells, then living organisms and personalities are integrated by increasingly differentiated energies; and over this integration ONE, as it were, presides. These forms however are not the outcome of chance contacts between atoms; and this is where our philosophy of operative wholeness is in basic contrast to the attitude still generally taken by modern scientists, exceptions notwithstanding — exceptions which seemingly are becoming ever more numerous and articulate.
To say that these forms are pre-existent is only partially true; for both these forms and the chaotic materials which are becoming integrated within them can be said to have been 'before' the present cycle of existence begins. They were enfolded within the infinite Ocean of potentiality — the forms, as potentialities within the Pleroma-Mind that visualized them in their fundamental character (but not in their existential details); and the remains of the failures of the past, as chaos (chaos being also potentiality in a negative or passive mode).
In other words, the cosmic structural forms and the material elements which give concrete substantiality to these forms constitute two polar aspects of the one all-encompassing process of existence. I believe that one could establish definite correspondences between the galactic form and whatever primary type of material stuff was drawn into this immense galactic whirlpool billions of years ago; correspondences also between star-fields and atoms, between planetary fields and molecules and single cells. We would then realize that there is a 'Life-field' which is the structural reality of the biosphere not only of our planet, Earth, but of any life-bearing planet.
Within this Life-field all living organisms operate, obeying some over-all directives referring to the types of integration we define as Life. Then the planetary Life-field differentiates into biological species and genera, each of which represents a generically operative type of structure according to which energies of Life act and interact within a multitude of organisms. At this stage of the process mankind (the human species — homo sapiens now) is also to be considered as a structural form with which certain types of differentiated energies are associated; and because of this, the unity of mankind is a planetary fact which defines a special potentiality of planetary consciousness.
This one basic structure, mankind, differentiates into several races each of which is probably definitely related, at least in its condition of origin, to a particular continent. As a result of this relation to the geological and climatic conditions of a continent, or of some local section of it, each race develops a certain type of characteristic response to life and eventually a specific culture and collective institution.
Up to this last stage a particular form was seen to define and structure a field of existence within which a vast number of material entities operated in a more or less identical manner, regardless of superficial existential differences. All the trees or the tigers belonging to the same species have fundamentally similar characteristics and features. The species is the unit-form of existence, and also of consciousness: one basic form for many particular organisms. Similarly the men of an archaic tribe should not be thought of as true individuals but rather as particular specimens of a common racial-cultural type. This is so until the process of individualization begins to operate at the very core of the human being. Then something momentuous occurs; a one-to-one relationship is established between a structural form and a human organism.
Soul-Fields and Individual Persons
Now we should realize that what has been called structural forms could as well, and indeed should be called Souls. When I spoke of fields structured by these forms I meant Soul-fields. The Creative Word which is the fundamental pattern or blueprint for the cosmic process of unfoldment of potentiality into actuality is indeed the Universal Soul, Anima mundi. It is, in association with the original release of cosmic Power (an essential point never to be forgotten), God, the Logos. This is the 'new God' — the Son — heir to the karma (or unfinished business) left by the universe-that-was. He is the One, the unity aspect of the entire universal cycle — its 'alpha condition.' Within Him the presence of ONE operates. He is a Whole; but divine as this Whole is, it is not the Principle of Wholeness, ONE.
The Universal Soul differentiates into cosmic Soul-fields: galactic, solar, planetary. Within the planetary Soul-field every life-species has its own Soul-field. Every tribe also has its more limited Soul-field; and, projecting upon this Soul-field the deep sense of wholeness and life-integration felt by the entire community, the tribesman worships this projection as the tribal God — also, in a partly divine, partly human sense, as the Great Ancestor. A time comes when man-the-individual is able to emerge out of the tribal womb. Then what was in him until then only a potentiality of 'individual Soul' becomes an actuality — misty and remote though it must remain for a more or less long period of time.
When I spoke of man's 'living Soul,' as mentioned in Genesis II, I meant a Soul still subservient to the dictates of Life and of Yahveh, God of the Life-sphere. In this living Soul the potentiality of individualization already exists — because Yahveh is one of the Elohim. This potentiality begins to stir within man when the Serpent, symbol of time and of potential eonic fulfillment, appears as number 3 to the Adam-Eve duality. But the Two are afraid and tragedy ensues. When the Sons of God, Ben Elohim, "marry the daughters of men" (cf. Genesis VI:2) the potentiality of the process of individualization takes another step, a more definite one; yet this event opens only a condition of potential individualization for mankind.
These Sons of God constitute what is symbolized in Greek mythology by Prometheus who gives the fire of self-consciousness to man. In India's esotericism this evolutionary event is pictured as the coming to Earth of the Kumaras, who (symbolically or literally) come from Venus. The result of this coming is also a tragedy. According to the old traditions, it causes the differentiation between black and white magic which eventually brings the Deluge. This may refer also to a geological event, the division of one vast continent (including most, though probably not all, of the land-masses) into two — the separation being the curved mountainous undersea ridge running north-south in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean.
In a rather ambiguous manner, the Mosaic episode, or what it alludes to, refers to the definite formation of the 'individual Soul.' A one-to-one relationship is established between a Soul-field so structurally differentiated that it may, in principle at least, become closely associated with one particular human person. But here again, while this potentiality is now definitely actualizable, it is still extremely difficult to bring this about; and again the initial result of that event is to a very great extent negative. The result is egocentricity. It is a period of conflicts between "proud and stiff-necked" egos. Greed, which until the event of individualization was expressedin terms of tribal and bio-psychic acquisitiveness and possessiveness, now becomes exacerbated and intellectualized by the personal ambitions of virulent egos. Lust too, and anger become increasingly mentalized and individualized. Competitiveness replaces cooperation and tribal sharing. And eventually we have the rise of technology at the service of greed — and the tragic state of mankind today.
When I speak of the 'event' of individualization I have no especially definite existential happening in mind. But one may accept the date of the beginning of the Hindu Kali Yuga, 3102 B.C., as marking the start of the process of individualization at the planetary level; and let us not forget that Kali is also the divine Mother and that while Kali Yuga is the 'Iron Age' or Age of Darkness, it is also the long period during which a new humanity is in the state of gestation. This is the date of the close of the more or less mythical Great War which supposedly marked the total destruction of the Warrior Caste, engineered by the divine Manifestation, Krishna, whose teachings are recorded in the Bhagavad Gita. As a result of the famous battle of Kurukshetra, the Age of Philosophy began in India under the domination of the Brahmin caste.
The Bhagavad Gita is probably the source or first manifestation of what is now called theism; and on the basis of its teachings the Bhakti movement later developed, paralleled in the West by the intense Christian devotionalism of the post-Greco-Latin period. In the life of Christ we see symbolically expressed — which does notmean that Jesus was not an actual and 'Christed' personage — the final stage in the process of integration of Soul and human organism. The one-to-one relationship between the Soul-field and the human body-mind which at first, and still in an immense majority of individual instances, was distant, imprecise and unfocused, became in the person of Jesus totally focused and effectual. Whereas in most human beings today one can only say that the Soul 'overshadows' the personality — which means that integration is still only a potentiality — in Jesus, Soul (the divine Nature) and body-mind (the human nature) came to be completely interpenetrating and united. The result of such a 'divine Marriage' — that is of the total and perfect actualization of potentiality — is the formation of the 'divine Soul' and of its Pleroma-type of consciousness.
I have stated in my book Fire Out of the Stone that this divine Marriage occurred at the Transfiguration of Jesus in the presence of his three closest disciples, Peter, John and James; and this event as narrated in the Gospels is filled with revealing symbolism (d. chapter 9: "Christ-love; The Covenant with Individuals.") I have also spoken of the whole life of Jesus as embodying and/or being "mythified" into the "Christ-event." Jesus, like Krishna in India, is to be considered an Avatar; but one should understand well what this term means. It refers essentially to the process by means of which one of the immensely many aspects of the original divine Word in the beginning of the cycle (at least of the planetary cycle of the Earth) is precipitated into the biosphere through a definite creative act which begins a new phase of the evolutionary cycle.
A great Avatar refers to the beginning of a phase of the cycle of evolution of the whole planet and of humanity. (In Hindu mythology, the first Avatars were shown with animal forms, then as half human, half-animal entities, finally as a human, Rama, and a divine human being, Krishna; revealing thus the evolution from the biosphere to the noosphere.) But one can also speak of lesser Avatars referring to smaller cycles related to the evolution of particular races. And once a complete one-to-one relationship is definitely established between a Soul-field and an individual person, this person becomes the avatar of the Soul that is the very source of his self. Such an individual avatar-ship is fulfilled in the divine Marriage.
Jesus was an Avatar not only at the level of the union of his own Soul and personality, but even more at the level of the evolution of humanity-as-a-whole. He was thus a "planetary Avatar" — and so was Krishna and, perhaps in a slightly different sense, Gautama the Buddha. The present-day Bahais believe that Baha'u'llah, the great Persian prophet who openly declared his mission and status in 1863 in Baghdad, was a great planetary Avatar who by his presence and actions opened up a new phase of mankind's evolution — and there are historical facts which at least tend to validate this claim.
What complicates all such matters is that there are cycles within cycles, and several levels at which one can say that a great cycle begins. When a new Archetype becomes actualized — that is to say, when a new and more integral relationship is established between potentiality and actuality through the focusing of the universal power of integration, ONE, at a new level — the actualization does not occur all at once. It would not be logical if it did, because the new creative action encounters ever greater resistance as it penetrates deeper into the materials of the past, i.e., as new "karmic deposits" of a more primary character have to be neutralized and transmuted.
Thus one should think of an "Avataric cycle" rather than of a single Avatar-event. This has been explained in my book Birth Patterns for a New Humanity in which I speak of the eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries as constituting such an "Avataric cycle" marking the transition between two Ages. Likewise what I have called "the Christ-event" should probably not be considered only in terms of the life of Jesus, for it includes a preliminary phase (presumably a century before) and perhaps a subsequent one. One could even take a broader approach and say that the entire period from the time of the Buddha (more specifically about 600 B.C.) to the birth of Islam (the Hegira in 622 A.D.) constitutes a period of transition in the evolution of mankind.
What we are now facing, I believe, is an attempt to implement and concretize in and through new interpersonal and social-political patterns of human relationship what was projected as an ideal Image (i.e., as merely a potentiality) during the twelve centuries from about 600 B.C. to 600 A.D. According to this view the new departure marked by the serial appearances of the Buddha, the Christ and Mohammed — the latter, only the herald of a great Revelation, not unlikely represented by Baha'u'llah — constituted a multilevel all-human mutation which at first has produced largely negative resultsso far as mankind-as-a-whole is concerned. This to some extent parallels what happened in the descending evolutionary arc of the planetary cycle when long ago "the sons of God" (Ben Elohim) came ("descended") to marry the "daughters of men."
During the first period of the cycle it opens every new evolutionary departure manifests as:
(1) a few "mutants" in whom the newly emanated Archetype issuccessfully incarnated
(2) a few human beings who react in a focused negative mannerto the new creative release of potentiality and become definite expressions of "evil." This must be so for, as already stated, any release of potentiality implies the inevitability of a bi-polar response along the two opposing lines of acceptance and rejection, thus of what I have called "success" and "failure" in the most essential cosmic-spiritual sense of the terms
(3) the more or less uncertain, unclearly focused and essentially mixed reactions of the mass of mankind, but at first with the negative response as a more or less dominant feature. In concrete social, religious and cultural terms this means that false starts are usually made; good intentions and fine ideals are rapidly perverted or deviated by the pressures of unavoidable circumstances — the karma of the past — and by a state of mental and emotional confusion produced by fear of letting go of familiar, even though perhaps painful, trends and allegiances — a fear bolstered by the influence of "evil" forces acting at the level of psychic energy.
During times of collective crises the opposition between the various types of response to the new potentialities becomes acute, and much is said concerning the struggle between "forces of Light" and "forces of Darkness." At the end of every cycle the division between the symbolical realm of the immortal "seed" and that of disintegrating "leaves" (disintegrating after perhaps a glowing golden episode) becomes definite and irrevocable. The religious mind speaks here of the separation of the sheep from the goats. It should be clear that such processes of division refer to the collectivity of men. Two statistical groups are observable. Yet each individual person should be considered free to choose. But this refers to the problem of the nature of free will which I shall discuss more specifically in subsequent chapters.
As already stated, according to the Hindu tradition humanity-as-a-whole is now living in the Kali Yuga. However the four great Ages (Yugas) refer to planetary evolution, not to the evolution of any particular race, whose subcycle may operate in a direction opposite to that of the planetary Age. And as Kali is also the symbol of theMother, Kali Yuga actually represents the process of gestation of a new humanity within Mother-Earth — an Earth which may be deeply disturbed by its pregnancy!
The process of individualization which presumably began at the time of the beginning of Kali Yuga is only a phase of human evolution. At first this phase brought the negative results of egocentricity. The ego, still bound to the compulsive drives of the biosphere ("eat or be eaten") represents in its negative aspect the shadow of the true self, the self which as we shall see presently in greater detail, is an expression of the Power-aspect of the Soul-field. Nevertheless the ego can also be the positive reflection of the self; it should eventually become the consecrated servant of the Soul.
This is the process of transmutation which goes on during the Kali Yuga. The successful individual person leaves the body of the Earth-Mother, the biosphere, and "enters" the embryonic form of the humanity-yet-to-be growing within the noosphere. As this takes place the individual Soul becomes the divine Soul. Each heartbeat of the Earth-Mother, symbolically speaking, witnesses an individual Soul reaching the condition of divine Soul on the Mount of its Transfiguration. This human person is, in the real sense of the term, being "initiated"; he enters upon the Path, and eventually joins the divine Company of perfected Beings which constitute the Soul-field of the Earth, the Pleroma-in-the-making.
Humanity-as-a-whole is thus gradually transformed; and not only humanity but the entire planet. Yet this does not occur in a straight line of progress, as the nineteenth century fondly and naively believed. Evolution moves in a spiral through the interplay of opposite polarities. Every light brings a shadow. He who seeks the light must accept a confrontation with his own shadow; and this is more than most people today can stand. A whole race and a whole civilization can also project a collective shadow. The scientific mindalso has its shadow; and it could bring mankind to disaster — a violent condition of catharsis which either would cure its present state of generalized schizophrenia, or make a total crisis of rebirth from a relatively small group of "seed men" necessary.
In due time however the Omega state of the cycle of Man and the Earth will come. It may not be the kind of fiery conflagration which Teilhard de Chardin seems to have envisioned. It is more likely to resemble the Image of the Gnostic individual and the Gnostic Society which Sri Aurobindo evoked in the last chapters of his great book The Life Divine, written long before Teilhard's works. Such a consummation will no doubt occur on an Earth no longer "physical" in the sense in which we understand this word today. As H.P. Blavatsky stated in The Secret Doctrine nearly a hundred years ago, humanity will then be "a humanity of Christs and Buddhas." What the Theosophist calls the White Lodge will have become humanity-as-a-whole on a transsubstantiated Earth. The Seed Pleroma will be ready to enter the infinite Ocean of potentiality.
It may all end in a cosmic Nova, in an immense burst of Light — who knows? But there will also be the waste-products, the remains of all the failures, the disintegrating shells of evil which will also reach the state of pure potentiality, but in a passive and negative condition. Eventually a new cycle will begin again, once the sublime Compassion of the Pleroma-Host merges in a fecundative union with the Eternal Virgin — once this Pleroma-consciousness stirs Her infinite Potency into a new release of Power through the Ideal Form which this consciousness envisioned.
The Planetarization of Consciousness