THE ETHICS OF WHOLENESS AND THE PLENARY SOCIETY
In its primary sense the term, ethics, refers to judgments of value concerning human behavior. A man acts, and by acting he inevitably relates himself to his environment which is filled with other existents — whether these be human beings, animals, plants or elements of the earth, i.e., the atmosphere, rivers, the soil, the seas, etc. His actions are said to be "right" or "wrong," and there may be intermediate shades of right and wrong, especially when a certain level of behavior is reached.
On what basis are the ethical or moral judgments of what is right or wrong to be passed? On the basis of what the action does or means to the person who acts, how it affects the existents concerned by it, and also, how the action affects the whole environment (natural or social) in which the action takes place. Thus we can deal with ethical issues and judgments in two ways. Our judgments of value may be 'individual-oriented' or 'environment-oriented.' We can think primarily of what the action does to the individual who acts and also to individual persons acted upon; or we can think of the result the action may have upon the social community and upon the general environment in which this community lives.
In view of these alternatives, we find ourselves led to consider once more the dialectic process of human evolution. The original phase of the process (thesis) is the tribal community operating as a bio-psychic 'organism' controlled by quasi-instinctual and compulsive imperatives toward which no disobedience is possible except on pain of some kind of death, psychic if not biological.
After a very long process of evolution, a second phase (antithesis) gradually takes form in which the individual person becomes the focus of attention. As this person does not exist alone but enters into relationship with other individuals, his actions and reactions, then the character of the relationship between them, constitute the substance of ethical judgments. Our present-day humanity operates mainly at this level; at least it does so theoretically, while in fact, tribal-collective values are still effective in a more or less disguised form, supposedly "for the good of the individual" or "to save his soul."
A third phase (synthesis) is slowly emerging beyond the individualism of our theoretically 'democratic' society. As the true character of this phase becomes clearer and more widely accepted — first within small groups, then more generally — a new basis for ethical valuation will be formulated; it is even now gradually and tentatively taking form. I speak here of the ethics of wholeness, but the character of this future wholeness will be very different from that of the primitive wholes, the tribal communities. It will be essentially different because these new social wholes will be constituted by groups of individuals who, theoretically at least, will be conscious and self-determined individual persons operating at the level of Ideity (that is, of the conscious and creative individualized mind). These persons will have chosen as individuals to come together and to become integrated into a super-personal whole. Today, very interesting and promising attempts are being made by young people gathering into communes in more or less remote places away from the anarchistic jungles of our cities; and this may be a small and uncertain beginning.
I shall presently discuss what is implied in this kind of group integration and show that it can only operate successfully if the Presence of the Principle of Wholeness, ONE, is not only recognized but made an essential, determining factor in the commune — and eventually in the entire planetary human society. What this means is that the most central factor in the situation is the motivation of the individual to consciously and deliberately join such a communal whole. It is this motivation which must always make the essential difference between what we today call democracy and what I envision as the holarchic approach to the new type of social organization — the plenary society.
Rites and Right
The words, rite, ritual, right, correct and the Latin rectus from which also come the words, erect, rectitude, rector, etc. — are derived from the Sanskrit term, rita. This is not the place to dwell at length on either word-derivations or on the various meanings of rita in the Hindu society of Vedic and post-Vedic times. Suffice it to say that essentially this word, rita, refers to the precise way in which actions should be performed so that the exact result needed or expected will occur. Per-forming means acting through a form, or according to a formula — for instance, in music, a musical score, in the dramatic arts, a scenario or script of some sort. A rite, or ritual, is a sequence of actions done in a precise, well-defined manner, according to a strict schedule and usually in some well-established and consecrated location.
The question inevitably arises: Who determines how the act or the series of actions are to be precisely done, and where and when? We find an answer to this question when we consider what we call animal instinct. An animal acting according to his instincts acts compulsively right; the instinctual act is a perfectly adequate answer to the need of the species-as-a-whole. It correctly achieves what needs to be done at the precise time and place in which it is needed in order to take care of a specific life-function — for instance, insuring the survival and propagation of the species. A generic need automatically evokes a correct answer, but the answer is usually valid only in a more or less limited environment and it may be effective only under relatively stable conditions. If these conditions suddenly change or are modified progressively beyond a point representing the maximum degree of possible adaptation to geographical, climateric and biological transformations, the instincts of the animal in a natural state begin to be inadequate. They still compel, but the results are no longer right for survival; and sooner or later the species disappears.
The human species displays an extraordinary capacity for adaptation to even radically changed conditions of existence. Man has, like any animal, basic instincts operating at the generic, biological and unconscious level of his existence; but with the development of a highly complex nervous system and a large forebrain — a development presumably related to his erect spine and his special kind of hands — generic man, homo sapiens, gradually develops a new type of faculty: intelligence. Instinct gives man an innate knowledge of what to do in order to preserve, increase and multiply his generic being at the level of Life, in the Earth's biosphere. Intelligence makes man become aware of what is possible under any circumstances, at least if these circumstances occur within a comprehensible frame of reference and therefore not in a situation of utter chaos or irrationality.
There are always several possibilities for intelligence: a choice can therefore theoretically be made between possibilities for action — and, at a higher level of development, possibilities of reacting to outer pressures, and also of feeling and thinking in new situations involving unfamiliar relationships to other existents. Intelligence becomes aware of the possibilities; but it does not make the decisions as to what is to be done. It may visualize the various possibilities in the form of imagination. But when it imagines too many possibilities, the mind of the human being may become confused and even the instincts may then fail to operate effectively.
In primitive man, instincts are much more powerful than the more evolved faculty, intelligence. Man then lives within a generally narrow environment and faces relatively simple definable types of experiences within that more or less steady geo-biological environment. Nevertheless because man is man, he is able to seek new ways of increasing his chances of survival and his comfort by bringing into his rhythm of existence new forces which his intelligence has shown him are available. These forces, first of all, result from the fact of living in groups, thus from cooperation. By acting together, men gain new powers; and they are able to transfer what they have learned to their progeny. However the problem of how to act together to produce the most effective results must inevitably arise.
There are traditions everywhere which refer to the coming of gods or superior beings who taught groups of primitive men the principles of agriculture, cattle-raising, and various arts and religious practices. There may well have been such visitations which can be interpreted in various ways. Essentially what takes place is a projection of archetypal Soul-Images upon the receptive and largely passive consciousness of some particularly sensitive tribesmen — Images which represent the patterns of new evolutionary developments in the species, homo sapiens. The archetypal Image could, through teaching, be impressed upon a 'mutant' or a small group of mutants by a Being from a more advanced civilization on Earth or elsewhere; or it could be projected directly upon the nascent minds of such men as inner visions or inspirations. In either case the knowledge received is revelatory. It is shruti knowledge. It comes with a powerful impact, a character of unquestionable certainty. It is right knowledge; that is, it is knowledge of precisely how to act in order to get results which answer to a collective tribal need, even though it may be channeled through a particular human being who thereby becomes sacred — a term which simply means being an agency for the focusing of some supernormal power of transformation. Everything that is related to such a revelation is sacred. It saves; it heals; it gives control over inimical forces in the environment.
Because it saves, heals or enhances the capacity to survive, the revelation must be preserved exactly as it was conveyed. The acts, gestures, and words which were revealed and proved efficacious in a crisis — or the life-example given by a leader or seer who had the revelation and radiated an unusual manna-power — must be repeated precisely, invariably. They become rites to be performed rites invested with transcendent or specially focused energy. They constitute right action — rita.
As these methods of acting pass from one generation to the next, they acquire the psychically-innate character of an instinct. With them are associated, as negative counterparts, taboos. The primitive tribesman can no more disobey the taboos of his tribe than he can deliberately stop breathing for a long time, or make his heart stop beating. (At a later date men will appear who will do just that — stop their breathing process and their heart beats — as a means of freeing their consciousness from the tribal-collective state of existence and become individualized).
Rites are indeed social instincts; and I am not speaking here only of religious rituals in temples or in some hallowed locality, but of all traditional ways of behavior which are so deeply imprinted upon the human mind of a member of a community, or even of a wider culture, that their value is unquestioned. The idea of right and wrong is a generalization of the basic concept involved in the strict performance of rites. What is still spoken of as a natural instinct for righteousness, 'moral imperatives' and the 'voice of conscience' are more sophisticated manifestations of the power of tradition to enforce its customary ways of performing certain actions considered essential to the welfare, health and perhaps the survival of a community, nation, and particular kind of social-cultural-religious way of life.
As men develop their intelligence and this intelligence is able to perceive new possibilities of doing things, perhaps in a more satisfactory or more pleasant way — an ego-pleasing way, as egos take control of 'the human condition' — the instinctual subservience to unchangeable ritual procedures tends to be more and more overcome by this imaginative and creative intelligence which seeks to devise new methods of action. We then see intelligence, imagination and inventiveness struggling against the social instincts which the Establishment glorifies under the name of morality. A woman living sexually with a man 'without benefit of clergy' is termed immoral. An adulteress is even more immoral, and in ancient societies was very often killed in some more or less ghastly manner. Each culture has its own set of moral rules or taboos; yet these crumble when the revelatory knowledge which was at the root of the taboos (because it established an opposite type of right performance of action) is no longer implicitly and unquestionably believed to be valid.
Here, a few words concerning the process of 'training' would be relevant. Training actually is a process which freezes a person's capacity to imagine alternatives to the action considered right in a clearly defined set of circumstances. Training compels a man, within this sharply defined area of activity, not to be wrong. It compels the man not to hesitate should his intelligence and imagination present to his mind other possibilities of action as being perhaps just as valid — or, at the intellectual level, present him with ways of linking concepts different from the way he has been trained to follow as the only one that is right, i.e., rational. The thoroughly trained individual is actually made to forget other possible ways of acting, at least within the area of his specialty. Training limits the area of possibilities of which our intelligence might make us aware. It does so in highly specific ways which are not only social but intellectual. It makes entire categories of thoughts — and as well certain modes of feeling and reacting to specified sets of circumstances — instantly unacceptable and indeed unthinkable. In this sense our freedom of choice is curtailed, at least in the areas where set procedures are morally forced upon us — that is, where they refer to social, religious, scientific, or even artistic taboos.
Social taboos are not as rigidly compulsive as tribal taboos because they refer more to the level of mind than to the level of deep-rooted bio-psychic imperatives; yet they certainly and powerfully limit the freedom of choice of a socially conditioned and academically trained human being. They constitute a procedural type of morality.
Let us consider a physicist in complete charge of complex operations, perhaps related to sending a man into space. He is making the necessary series of checks; he is assuring himself that every apparatus is functioning as it is meant to function. If this scientist did not perform his work correctly tragedy would ensue. It is a performance in that all his acts follow a formally structured sequence determined by rigidly set formulas. If he has been calculating the orbit of the missile he must be right in his calculations. He has no choice, for he can have no doubt as to the truth of the formulas for the calculation of gravitational pull, speed of light, engine-thrust, etc. The possibility that one of these formulas might be inadequate does not, indeed actually cannot, enter his mind at such a time, because he is a man thoroughly trained in the methods and concepts of modern science.
A practically identical situation confronts the old-type medicine man and the celebrant in an archaic magical rite. For these men, the efficacy of the ritual depends entirely on the rigorously exact performance of certain gestures, the intoning of precisely determined 'words of power,' etc. The magician or hierophant has learned the formulas, rehearsed the exact sequence of gestures. Both he and the physicist-engineer of today are so intent on following the right procedure (the rita) that there is no choice for them and no hesitation between two or more possible acts. They both know without doubt that the acts they perform constitute the correct procedure.
How do they know? The modern scientist acquires his knowledge from books and perhaps through experiments he has made which his colleagues have checked and rechecked; it is knowledge of what he, as a member of our particular society and culture, assumes to be unchanging and reliable 'laws of nature.' In developing that knowledge, all conceivable possibilities of error have been eliminated or at least minimized to a degree of near-certainty.
Now, it would seem that in this collective and cultural effort which we call modern science the faculty of human intelligence operates freely; yet can we not see that the whole of modern science has followed a certain line of intellectual-analytical approach and that there may well be other possible lines of endeavor leading to different types of knowing? The very objectivity and rigorous thinking (Bertrand Russell) on which are founded our modern scientific methods, their quantitative measurements, and the disassociative procedures interfering with the wholeness of what is being analyzed, all these inevitably constitute a limiting factor. Our science operates within clearly and sharply defined — but therefore limited — areas of possibilities; and in that sense the scientist who is thoroughly indoctrinated is not really free to choose between several possible ways of thinking. The orientation and character of his thinking processes have been pre-determined by his society in a variety of more or less subtle ways.
The celebrant in archaic rituals or Mysteries no doubt also believes that he has access to a totally reliable kind of knowledge, revelatory knowledge. He was thoroughly trained in that knowledge by tests and initiations. He is no more free to choose the basic orientation of his thought-processes and of the way to apply his knowledge, and thus no more free to perform the wrong gestures, than is his modern counterpart, the trained scientist.
Nevertheless a physicist-engineer in charge of some delicate operation might want, for some personal or ideological reason, to perform the wrong gesture which would sabotage the operation. Likewise, a medicine man whose function it is to heal a sick person might also purposefully use wrong formulas because he personally desires to see the man dead. Also a man deeply depressed after an emotional shock could turn the wheel of his car in a wrong direction, contrary ego (early Buddhism and Zen), or by emphasizing a new type of feeling-response to interpersonal relationships, a type of feeling-response which is called Compassion in Mahayana Buddhism, and Love in Christianity.
The ritualistic element is also present but in a different and more secondary role in these Great Religions. The essential need in societies of individualized persons is to neutralize the centrifugal and aggressive tendency of the ego. In tribal societies, whatever there was of centrifugal tendency in tribesmen could be neutralized by rituals which revivified the power of the common Root (the tribal god, the Great Ancestor) and made more evident the basic and factual participation of men, women and children in life-processes essential to the strength of the community — and these included sexual activities as well as agricultural festivals, dances for rain, etc.
While some of these ritualistic celebrations and festivals are still operative in societies of relatively individualized or individualizing ego-minds, the more essential purpose now is to present, as vividly as possible, to the feelings and the minds of individuals and of social groups of individuals the ideal of union — an ideal even more than a fact, a goal to be striven toward with a feeling of more or less individual dedication. Such dedication is considered to be the responsibility — the free choice — of individuals, even if the contagious power of group interplay is also seen and used as a potent incentive to the conversion of the individual and as a strongly contributing factor in the steady operation of the spirit of dedication.
Such a spirit requires faith. At the tribal, pre-individual level there is, strictly speaking, no need of faith, for the determining biopsychic facts are evident to all. All that is necessary is to repeatedly emphasize this evidence through ceremonials in which the whole tribe participates at two levels, the outer group level and the more occult field controlled by initiation. But in the societies where ego-differentiation and ego-conflicts are the evident facts of social life, where class fights against class and often ethnic group against ethnic group, what is needed is faith in the possibliltiy of a future condition of unity. It is, in Christianity, faith in the one God and His factual incarnation in a divine-human personage whose life is a universal example to be imitated by all men, however diverse their racial origins and their egocentric propensities. In Buddhism, it is faith in the possibility of attaining a state of consciousness in which all individual differences cease or are absorbed — a possibility also demonstrated by one great Exemplar, Gautama, the Buddha.
In societies in which the central preoccupation is how to deal with individual egos bent upon asserting their rights for independent action and minds increasingly eager to have their own opinions, morality has to be enforced by law, and rationality by strict practice and training or education. They must be enforced if the realization of the collective interest and what is required for collective survival, at the community or the national level, is not sufficient to produce social cohesion and wholesome group-operation in government, business, education and sports. The more basic and subtle aspect of enforcement is moral indoctrination, and at the more material level, propaganda and overt or hidden persuasion. All forms of persuasion appear legitimate. The individual has to be made to believe that his self-interest is to be seemingly unselfish in all interpersonal relationships.
What is called the Golden Rule, usually formulated, "Do not do to others what you do not want done to you," is a typical case of the kind of morality which is based on self-interest and is directed toward human beings who think and feel egocentrically as individuals. It is indeed a sad reflection on the nature of a historical phase of the evolution of mankind and of human consciousness, because it implies that a man cannot base his action upon any broader and more inclusive concern than his own person, a concern for his own personal welfare. It implies that the realization that every human being is part of a greater whole, humanity, is simply not any match for the self-centered drives of ego-controlled individuals. Relationships are limited to the individual-to-individual type, actually ignoring the even more fundamental relationship of the individual to the whole — the whole of humanity. In the place of the individual-to-whole relationship, religion pictures a purely ideal and transcendent relationship between a man and God — a mystical I-Thou relationship.
At the tribal stage of evolution (thesis) what happens to a particular person is entirely secondary to the effect the action may have on the tribe as a whole. We are now in the stage of antithesis in which individuals are the main concern in the ethical sphere — at least theoretically and excluding cases of so-called national interest or even community welfare and health. The characteristic feature of such an evolutionary stage and of our modern, more or less democratic societies is that, in fact, values relevant to the welfare of the collectivity are constantly in conflict with values referring to the rights of the individual. Such societies indeed represent transition stages of human development, and their existence characterizes what I have elsewhere called the Age of Conflicts. The type of morality such societies believe in is a morality of conflict. It is a morality which constantly seeks to effect a compromise between a concern for the individual and a concern, not really for the community, but for a particular condition of existence in the community, that is, for a traditional and institutionalized collective way of life. It is a morality based on the danger that would-be individuals — still driven by life-urges — pose to an unsteady type of society, always on the brink of possible chaos.
Freedom of Choice
The usual concept of morality in such societies of individuals in more or less constant conflict with each other — conflicts of personalities, conflicts of interests, conflicts of religions or ideological beliefs — rests on the belief that these individuals are free to choose between alternatives of conduct. It is said that each individual can make free decisions, just because he is an individual in whom a God-created Soul or an essentially spiritual principle operates. He is free to choose between right and wrong, good and evil — between moral and immoral ways of behavior. The moral issue may not refer to a particular act but rather to a generalized attitude from which a series of acts inevitably flows; but in any case, man as an individual can choose; he has moral freedom and thus responsibility.
Thus stated, the issue seems fairly clear. Even an irreligious thinker like the French existentialist, Jean-Paul Sartre believes that "The human situation is to be defined as one of free choice without excuse and without assistance" (cf. L'Existentialisme et Le Humanisme). However when one looks at the actual facts of the social situation without emotionalism or traditional bias, and with a sense of historical objectivity, one should realize that the concept of freedom of choice and moral responsibility is a very ambiguous one. It is ambiguous because it simply does not question its most basicimplication; that is, that every man is an individual. It does not try to ascertain what it is that is supposedly able to make the choice, what it is that is free.
Such a situation exists when dealing with the real meaning of the little word, I; also with reference to the problem of reincarnation — the reincarnation of this mysterious "I." If there is no well-defined or at least relatively stable realization of being "I" there can be no moral choice, as we usually understand the term; and this fact has been accepted in our present-day legal system which absolves from moral responsibility and guilt a person judged insane or even temporarily insane, and at the time unable to distinguish between the moral value of his or her actions. The social community may protect itself from the danger of repetition of such a type of behavior and therefore can lock up the person or try to restore him to a normal condition of sanity; but theoretically this has nothing to do with moral guilt. The same type of protective behavior would apply to a person who has an incurable but highly contagious disease or who is a carrier of such a disease.
It is obviously very difficult to determine exactly where moral responsibility ceases in a person; and this is reflected in many famous criminal cases, like that of Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Robert Kennedy. What our society as a whole does not yet fully recognize is that the very concept of being an individual is a very relative and ambiguous one. It does not do so because it is still dominated by the Christian belief that every man has, or is, a God-created soul, and that this soul has the power to make free choices, except in cases of total insanity — which then implies that the soul has withdrawn from the body.
According to the holistic philosophy of evolution presented in this book, man at the first level of his evolution, what I call the tribal level, and also in his early years as a very young child, cannot be considered an individual; he has only the potentiality of becoming an individual. He functions in the realm of Life where there is no individual freedom and instincts are compulsive forces. Intelligence, as the capacity to see that there are alternative possibilities of action, is not yet developed or only in a most rudimentary state completely dominated by the instinct for survival — a survival which usually tends to imply the need for aggressive acts. One can therefore not significantly speak of moral choice at that biological and generic level.
Only when a human being is sufficiently individualized to pit his desires for power and for the possession of what he wants against the traditional ways of thinking and acting of his community, does the possibility for that man to choose really begin. His moral choice is based on the co-existence of two opposite motives for action and on the conflict between these motives. Morality, as the term is usually understood, implies therefore a situation of conflict: individual against community.
In a sense, of course, the two principles, individual and collective, always co-exist. Again we have a situation which can be symbolized by the cyclic interplay of the Chinese Yang and Yin. I stated that the principle of individuality is latent in the realm of Life, and that mind exists in a primitive condition in all living beings. But until the relationship between the two principles has reached a point of near-balance, the principle of individuality cannot assert itself with the character of moral responsibility because the human being is not sufficiently individualized to make really free choices.
In other words there can be no absolute state of moral responsibility any more than there can be absolute states of unity or multiplicity, and no absolute value to individualism or collectivism. It is always a question of more or less. And this "more or less" depends on the phase of cyclic development which has been reached by the individual and also by his society. There are periods in the cyclic interplay of the two polarities of existence (Yang and Yin) in which one of the two poles gains a definite and outwardly effectual domination over the other. There are periods of crisis in which a basic change occurs. There was one such period in the development of man's consciousness and man's social behavior when the old and long-lasting early tribal state was challenged by the self-assertive power of individuals. We are still living in such a period of evolutionary crisis. And the most acute phase of such a crisis is no doubt represented by the Hebraic-Christian tradition which has emphasized the sense of sin and guilt, and as a result the need for atonement, divine or human.
For the typical tribesman, what we could compare with the moral issue in our present Western society is whether or not he is open to the dictates of the Great Spirit, or the god of the tribe. The problem is one that involves consciousness rather than action; not how "good" you are, but how "conscious" you are; that is, how able you are to focus in your consciousness as a living human organism the influx of the "god of the Whole."
The ability to focus in a unique human field-of-existence the powers of the Whole, and to be inspired by a vision or by "great dreams" providing some needed answer to the whole community this is actually the most basic manifestation of individual selfhood. But at the tribal level such a focusing or inspiration implies a kind of compulsive, mediumistic process. The human being is "seized by" the god — the god of the Life-sphere who rules autocratically. Only when this state of openness to the whole no longer refers to the tribal Whole but to the one-to-one relationship between field-of-existence and Soul-field, can the condition of individual selfhood actually exist. It creates individual responsibility, meaning simply, the ability to respond to the emanations and the promptings of the Soul-field the Voice of Conscience.
Then, but only then, the human being who has begun to experience a deep feeling of "I am" — a feeling whose birth is symbolized in our Western tradition by the Mosaic episode — acquires the moral power to choose, to make relatively free decisions. But Moses' story is characteristic. While he talks to the "I am" God, the people he led out of captivity in the Egypt of the flesh, revert to the old pagan worship; and the irascible and violent Moses breaks the Tables of the Law carved by the "I am" out of the rock of Sinai (again the prefix "sin"!). In other words, the first experience of individual self-conscious morality takes a negative turn. The divine experience is reduced to a human experience (the Tables of the Law are now carved by human hands); the power of the individual self in the "heart" descends to the level of the solar plexus, at which the social collectivity and the Great Tradition speak in terms of collective Images and symbols on which a society is based.
Then self is superseded by ego; and it is the ego that makes choices. It is the ego that seeks to assert itself, to protest against social regulations or religious ideals which seem to curtail its freedom, i.e., which run counter to the ego's desires and fears. It is the ego that commits crimes or sins. Then also, the ideal of a free society, democracy, becomes perverted; it cannot work out, nor does it really make sense in a society of egos, by egos, and for the greatest glory of predatory and competitive egos.
In the meantime, history has shown us various ways in which the power of the collectivity has sought to control, minimize and also guide, with the help of religious and moral exemplars, the growing challenge of individual egos to society. On the one hand, society has imposed a system of laws and harsh punishments to try to force egocentric individuals to "choose" the traditional ways of behavior, thinking and feeling (family feelings, national feelings, etc.); on the other hand, organized religion, as the spiritual side of the coin establishing a system of collective values, has sought to compel individuals to be 'good' by evoking the imagery of after-death sanctions and speaking to the deepest feeling-needs of the faithful — the threat of excommunication as well as the dramatization of the great Exemplar, Jesus, stirring collective mass-emotions.
Now, however, these social and religious means to impel and, if possible, to subtly compel individuals to make the correct choices are losing their efficacy. The rugged individualism of frontier days has given way to a strange combination of (1) intense eagerness to make authentic decisions which challenge the Establishment in all its forms: social, educational and religious; and (2) subservience to patterns of comfortable living imposed from the outside by "hidden persuaders," but also from the inside by the even more subtle pressures of psychological insecurity, neurotic reactions, and fear of losing all the "good things of life."
A tremendously complex industrial society and life in huge, monstrous cities make the choice between alternatives increasingly difficult and therefore the concepts of moral decisions more ambiguous or meaningless. For this reason, on the one hand, society is developing the fantastic paraphernalia of research teams and projections into the future made by trained and supposedly objective specialists aided by computers; while on the other hand, masses of distraught and uprooted individuals rush to clairvoyants, astrologers, and mediums, that is, to anyone who might help make choices on the basis of some presumably transcendent kind of knowledge.
What else can the individual do? Only one thing: that is, to reach beyond egocentric and emotional or strictly intellectual reasons on which to base his moral decisions and in a state of egoless attention and inner quietude and faith to resonate to the inner images and the promptings which arise in the Ideity-field of which this individual occupies the negative-receptive pole, while the Soul is the positive-active pole. This is what would provide a truly individual foundation for moral decisions. This is what, in terms of Hindu philosophy, would be to fulfill one's dharma, one's truth of being. And evidently it is to such a possibility that European existentialists meant to refer when speaking of "authentic" acts; what Dr. Jacob Moreno, founder of Psychodrama and Group-therapy meant when he spoke long ago, with a kind of religious fervor, of "spontaneity and creativity," stressing that he meant by these terms more than they usually convey to our modern individuals so eager to express themselves.
But all these beautiful words — dharma-fulfillment, authenticity, spontaneity, creativity, self-actualization (Abraham Maslow), etc. — become not only empty, but masks for egocentricity and in some cases license, if not chaos, when the actor is the ego instead of the true individual in whose person the power of the individualized self (as I defined this term) has been raised to consciousness and to the heart-center. Likewise the very concept of democracy can only be a rather sad and often bitter joke when the citizen, who is theoretically free, independent and equal, is in fact an egocentric person unable to resist the pressures of special interests and indeed to make decisions arrived at in terms of their adequacy to the basic truth of the Soul-Image which seeks to find in him, the individual person, an agent for its embodiment.
What then is the next step ahead — the synthesis that would provide valid, effective answers to the plight of a society which retains from the early archaic state of its development only a materialized concept of collective power over individuals who, in turn, are led by the appetites of ever more brittle, more sadistic and above all more alienated egos, substituting for their true individual selves?
What is needed, fairly obviously, are two simultaneous approaches which in fact represent the two aspects of the same process of human evolution: the individual approach and the social approach. The first refers to the overcoming of the ego and a radical repolarization and transmutation of the energies of the Life-field in man; the second, to the formulation of new ideals, new archetypal Images of society. As society is simply the result of a process of organization of interpersonal and intergroup relationships, this second approach implies the acceptance and demonstration, even against the pressures of our transitional and cathartic era, of a new type of relationship, and especially of a new quality of relatedness.
The term, new, is of course not strictly accurate, for as we have already seen, this quality of relatedness has been extolled by the Great Religions of past millennia and demonstrated by a number of individual men and women seeking to attune their consciousness, their feelngs and their actions to the great examples of the Buddha, Christ, St. Francis and numerous others. But as a Hindu proverb states: "A few drops of rain do not constitute the monsoon." The beautiful agape-love of a relatively few true Christian saints and their humble followers, and the compassion enshrined in the Bodhisattva ideals of Northern Buddhism, at best only herald the future and much longed-for New Age. Something more is needed: a vision of social living in which a totally new concept of society would call for and indeed make possible the world-wide spread of a new type of interpersonal relationships — relationships based on unpossessive love and the freedom to perform authentic acts in and through which the Soul-Images of the acting individuals would radiate and fulfill their planetary function, the individuals dharma.
An Open Holarchic Morality
It is impossible to formulate in detail here what is likely to be involved in the future 'morality-beyond-morality.' I shall only present some points which seem essential — which I hope can eventually be discussed in another volume at greater length — lest their application introduce irrelevant or perverting factors. This is always a serious danger in time of transition from one type of thinking-feeling-behavior to another, and the often strenuous and indiscriminateefforts of today's younger generation to repudiate the standards of our Western culture are not without dangerous elements. The first manifestation of any great ideal always takes the character of a shadow. Yet the shadow is in most cases provided by the people who block the light of the new sunrise by standing rigidly and blindly against the dawn.
If a condition of synthesis is to succeed that of antithesis, the character of the thesis must somehow be integrated with the products of the era of antithesis. This, I believe, is a generally applicable principle of which one should never lose sight. Thus, because the ideal of the man of the tribal Age of Unconscious Unanimity was essentially to be open to the voice of the god who represented the unity aspect of the tribe and its Root-reality at the level of Life — so that he might be, whenever needed, a channel or agent for the will of the god — likewise the man of the Age of Plenitude that is yet to come should be open in consciousness to a Presence that is both beyond and through his total person — the Presence of a greater whole.
The term, greater whole, may be interpreted at several levels; but the basic fact is the readiness of the lesser whole, a particular human person, to enter into a state of total and fully conscious relationship with a greater whole of which it is an operative part. In the present state of existence and consciousness, an individual normally finds himself willingly related to both biological and social greater wholes; that is, as a bio-psychic organism, he recognizes and more or less happily accepts his being part of a particular family and race. He sees himself also as a unit within a social community, group and nation, sharing with many others in the benefits, or negatively the lack of benefits and the frustrations of a culture. Within the social greater whole he is a social person, a citizen with many rights and a number of duties (taxes, military service, etc.). But in the type of society in which human beings live today, he is basically considered as a citizen who enters into statistical calculations as a mere unit, i.e., asone child to be educated, one draftee, one voter, one social entity old enough to get social security benefits, etc. He has anonymous, abstract rights of a strictly social character — and the same type of social duties.
The situation in present day totalitarian regimes is basically the same as in democratic societies. The difference is that in a democracy, the individual person has a theoretical worth and dignity (whatever this actually may mean!) and the State is said to exist for the sake of the individual; while in totalitarian countries the individual is supposed to exist for the sake of the whole nation and is therefore relentlessly subjected to strict standards of behavior, thinking and even feeling, for the supposed good of the whole.
The proportion of individual freedom and social constraint is different in the two types of societies, but everything still operates at the social level. At that level, a human being today feels, acts and thinks basically as an ego, more or less conscious and rational, more or less independent, more or less educated and sucessful, but as an ego in all cases. The ego develops under social and cultural pressures using a particular language, doing some sort of social work; it is a social unit.
It is that kind of status against which many youths of the present generation are revolting. They do not want to be "social units" and they try by various means, some rather unwholesome, to overcome their ego-condition as well as their social condition. In order to achieve this they are drawn to the use of procedures which imply a return to their life-roots, that is, to the experience of the body as such, of natural conditions of life, and of a sexual activity free from traditional social, cultural and religious restraints. They particularly resent such restraints because their elders officially and hypocritically accept them only to break them on all possible occasions when it is socially safe to do so.
In other words, the youths' protests against a society operating in terms of values of the antithesis phase of human evolution tend totake the form of a return to the thesis phase. That is why they so often speak of their groups as 'tribes.' However, these groups are basically different in spirit from real archaic tribes because the boys and girls who form them are very intent on acting on an individual basis — on "doing my thing," as they say. The youth of today does not yet realize, exceptions notwithstanding, what it would mean to live in terms of a total, conscious and deliberate dedication to a greater whole which would not be social in the modern sense but instead planetary in its total dedication to the wholeness of Man. No one has been able to give them a vision of such a future condition of human living and what it implies.
Such a condition has existed at times in the past, but only within specifically limiting religious restrictions, thus in monastic or semi-monastic communities — such as the Therapeutae of Egypt, perhaps the Essenes, then the Druses of Lebanon in the twelfth century, the early Senussi Brotherhoods in nineteenth century North Africa, and probably other brotherhoods in Asia and Europe, the Cathari and Albigenses of Southern France who were ruthlessly destroyed by a coalition of King and Pope being by far the most important and influential. Such Brotherhoods, and the few communes of the last century in the United States, could not endure under the pressure of their aggressive environment. They developed prematurely and many had to become secret Brotherhoods, or, as we would say today, go underground.
What then of the future? Perhaps a drastic social crisis, or even telluric upheavals will be needed to make a new type of commune possible in a more open society. But these groups will have to embody a very vital and contagious faith in a new kind of interpersonal relationships. This will essentially mean that individuals will have to develop a type of consciousness able to vividly experience a superpersonal greater whole within which these individuals will act, not merely as spontaneous human organisms and minds illumined by mystic experiences of unity, but as differentiated parts of the communal whole. Moreover such a greater whole will have to realize, affirm and prove its effectual participation in the still vaster whole of mankind if it is to survive.
Three factors are involved here: the fact that the human beings who enter the new commune enter it as conscious individuals who have more or less definitely freed themselves from family and social status — then the actual quasi-organic participation of the individual person in the activities of the whole — and, vivifying, inspiring and maintaining at a high pitch of effectiveness this participation, a constant realization not only of the character and meaning of the communal whole, but of the Presence of the Wholeness of the whole as an almost visible and tangible fact of existence.
Mystics of the past have spoken of living "in the Presence of God"; and in an individualistic phase of personal development, the Presence has to be personalized and named Christ, Krishna, or the Master, for the small and troubled human individual quite naturally seeks strength, security and emotional comfort in an "I-Thou" relationship with a divine Being. We can envision, however, a condition of communal existence in which the secure human being, sustained by interpersonal group relationships, would have a somewhat different approach and psychological need. As an individual person, he would seek to be as completely attuned as possible to the vibration, character and function of the Soul-field with which he is then consciously and wholeheartedly linked, though not yet fully united. But as a member of the commune he would share with all other members in the effectual Presence of the Principle of Wholeness, ONE, perhaps without the need of personalizing It and thus limiting its character. This Presence in the commune should be a more or less constant fact of experience, or at least a deep unquestionable and ineradicable feeling in all the individual participants — in all the communicants.
Such an attitude cannot be genuinely and authentically accepted by modern individuals unless they have really experienced a basic change in consciousness and as a result are willing, able and ready to relate in a new way to other individuals of like disposition. This new way implies a different concept of ethics — a new morality. The new morality will be concerned (1) with the character and degree of efficacy of the just mentioned change of consciousness, (2) with the quality of the interpersonal relationships within the group and of the relationship of the group to other groups, and (3) with the ability of the 'communicants' to act and work in a quasi-ritualistic manner, in consecrated service to the whole — the commune and mankind-as-a-whole.
The change of consciousness I have in mind here is a change from a closed to an open consciousness; and also, as a result, a change from a sense of personal and cultural exclusivism and self-righteousness (and there are very subtle forms of self-righteousness!) to a deeply compelling feeling of all-human inclusiveness and compassion.
Such a feeling of inclusiveness may be innate and spontaneous regardless of any mental concept and metaphysical vision; but as we are dealing, at this stage in history, with men and women born into an intellectually-oriented culture and conditioned by the dogmatic exclusivism of both religion and science, I believe that the mental pictures, subconscious as well as conscious, of the individuals seeking a new type of communal relationship must also be transformed. This is why I have presented a cyclocosmic picture of existence which, if properly understood, does away with the absolutism of values and moral judgments. If every phase of an evolutionary cycle releases new values and new truths, no belief or opinion can be absolutely true or right; therefore no one need be morally or rationally condemned for his beliefs PROVIDED they are genuinely his own. The only thing which should be condemned are the conditions in which dogmatism and fanaticism — thus exclusivism, selfrighteousness and possessiveness in all their forms — can arise and assume an air of legitimacy.
When existence is understood to be a polyphonic, multi-leveled interplay of different modes of activities, all of which contribute to the harmony of the Whole, the only 'bad' feature is the fact of being 'out of place' or of 'hugging the spotlight' trying to force the attention of the group by emotional self-dramatization, histrionics or intellectual fireworks displayed just for show. At its place of destiny, at the proper time, and in harmonic relationship to other factors, every factor of existence is right.
This also includes what is called 'evil' when considered from a cosmic and impersonal perspective. This must be so the moment we realize that every release of potentiality into actual existence elicits both positive and negative responses — which means that every cycle of existence produces both success and failure. Evil is simply the way of failure, a negative response to the release of a new set of potentiality. Every Avatar or Divine Manifestation whose life, love and light opens a new Age of human development also brings the inevitability of evil — the Shadow of the Light.
A truly open consciousness must accept the existence of the Shadow — the dark Brother — and learn to deal with this fact. The illumined person does not emotionally condemn the dark facts of existence; he deals with them carefully so as not to be influenced by them physically, psychically and mentally. Because he is securely committed to the way of Light, he is able to accept without horror or paralyzing fear the fact that by his treading the way of Light it is inevitable that somewhere in the universe someone is treading the path of Darkness, and that he and his opposite may actually meet. The supreme Harmony of the existential Whole always remains dynamically perfect and, because It includes all forms of existence, It is also 'beyond' them all.
Every living organism must feed itself to survive; and feeding leads inescapably to a process of assimilation and a process of the elimination of unassimilatable waste-products. Mankind is, broadly speaking, an organism. There are waste-products to be eliminated. If the eliminative function does not operate well, the system becomes filled with toxins. Any form of group-relationship will produce toxic elements that need to be eliminated. BUT these toxic factors have their source at the level of the mind and the ego. They use human persons as means of expression, as channels for release. The evil should not be identified with the human person; it is what forces its way through and out of the person.
When a new potentiality is released, the negative aspect of this new potentiality seeks expression through an individual human being at the level of that person's mind. Dark Images of what the new potentiality is bringing are aroused. Fear, a sense of insecurity, and most often an emotion of repulsion based on a clinging to old concepts and feelings, arise in the individual's mind and psyche. A dark whirlpool is produced which is a negative counterpart of the constructive, evolutionary aspect of the new potentiality. This whirlpool then operates against the development of the new potentiality; it operates against the creative flow of existence — against the "will of God," the religionist will say. A heavy mass of fear blocks this flow. As a large stone in the path of a swift current generates behind it a whirlpool that hinders the flow of the water, so evil generates antievolutionary forces. But these forces are not extraneous; they are the power of the current, reversed, as it were, or wasted in concentric (egocentric) motion. Thus occultists have always asserted that "the Devil is God inverted."
To be open but not afraid is the basic requirement of the future morality of the Age of Plenitude. To be open means, as already stated, to be open as an individual person to a full relationship with the Soul-field, so that the living person may become a projection and embodiment of the Soul-Image; it means also to be open to the fact that one participates in a whole and thus fulfills a function in that whole in relation to other individuals who also fulfill their functions. All these functions are or should be necessary for the health of the whole. Thus, they should be performed in terms of the whole rather than as anarchic forms of self-expression — which actually means ego-expression. They are anarchic if performed merely for the sake of the ego. They should become holarchic, that is, performed with reference to the needs of the whole. But the needs of the whole would not run counter to the individual's self-expression IF it is really the expression of the self and not of the ego, and if the individual acts at the place and in the function which are truly his, — which are attuned to his Soul-Image. In performing his work of destiny (dharma) the individual would serve the purpose of the whole.
This obviously implies that the type of interpersonal group relationship in which the individual participates should be organized in terms of the organic adjustment of person to function. A New Age commune should be an organism. It should be functionally integrated in an attitude of dedicated service to mankind. But it can only operate as such if the Presence of the Principle of integration, ONE, is a vivid, constant realization in the inner life of every participant. And to this end a sense of ritual group-activity would be of extremely great value, for in such a ritualistic activity the individual factor and the group factor could be integrated harmoniously — if what such rituals should mean today is well understood.
The difference between a future-oriented ritual activity and the tribal rituals of earlier days resides in the character and quality of the consciousness of the participants. These are today individualized persons; long ago, they were largely unconscious, Life-dominated human organisms at a pre-individual stage of human evolution. The difference is of primary importance. It may not show too much at first in outer activity, but it is essential at the level of the conscious mind. Life acts in terms of bio-psychic instinctual compulsion; but now man has reached the level of Ideity, the level of a consciousness focused through an individualized and independently structured mind. The self today can be focused in the heart, whereas of old it was centered in the pelvic or the solar plexus region.
Because of all these human and evolutionary changes, an essentially and spiritually new type of Image of the Commune Ideal can be envisioned, then realized. To actualize such an Ideal is evidently a difficult problem, both of individual metamorphosis and group-organization. But it must be met. It can be met only if the quality of the love which illumines the relationships between the participants in the commune is of a conscious and focused character and has not only an unpossessive and non-exclusivistic quality, but is also a truly conscious and focused love. It should pervade the whole community and radiate through the individuals, even more than from the individuals. It should be the very vibration of ONE operating at the level of an all-inclusive Compassion — the divine level of operation of the Principle of Wholeness which is as well the foundation of all existence.
In stating this, I am not speaking of the usual kind of religious ideal, as it is expressed in any organized religion, and in its more or less dogmatically formulated moral imperatives. This Love-compassion is not a Law somehow replacing or inspiring old Commandments. It is the very Principle of existence at a level of activity, wholeness and consciousness which man should now, slowly but surely, strive to reach. But man can only do so if he can clearly imagine such a quality of interrelatedness and communal living without the conditioning factors which races, creeds, nations, sects or classes inevitably introduce. Indeed man can never reach a truly new phase in his evolution as long as he cannot vividly imagine its general character. He must now act consciously, in an individualized manner. He must reach the new evolutionary goal of synthesis and unity according to the way he selects his approach, or rather, the way he is, as an individual.
When I speak of man I mean the wholeness of an integrated humanity having discovered its place and function within the total field of activity of the Earth. And this implies having vividly realized the complex planetary Archetype that is the Soul-Image of humanity as an integral part of the divine potentiality of the Earth. It is this "Form of man" which is "in the likeness" of God — i.e., of the One Creative Word, the Logos. It is indeed the Soul-Image of the Earth seeking to actualize itself, through mankind. Within it the end-result is shown, the omega state of the age-old process of planetarization of consciousness. A new phase of this evolutionary process is about to begin.
Toward a Plenary Society
Communes within which a new quality of relationship and a new organic and therefore ritualistic approach to the problems involved in group-activity can be demonstrated according to the principle of operative wholeness, can be considered small seeds which in due time should become the multiformed foundations for a new, all-inclusive society. Such a future planetary society need not be a rigidly centralized World State dominated by a class of self-perpetuating managers and technocrats. It should be a multi-level society, for it is fairly evident that only a minority of human beings will be able to reach the level of such communes as I have envisioned in the preceding pages. It should also be a society which, at the level of mass-operation and mass-consciousness, has not lost the feeling of rootedness in specific regions of the globe to the vibrations of which an equally specific type of men are attuned.
As I have shown many years ago; there is a definite relationship between the shape of a continent or sub-continent and the type of culture and society which develops within these geographical regions. Much could be learned from a study of what I called geomorphy and geotechnics. Man has his generic and collective roots in the land; but roots are not the only factor in a plant's life. There are also leaves, flowers — and seeds that fulfill their destiny as seeds by leaving the parent plant and being blown across space.
*Modern Man's Conflicts: The Creative Challenge of a Global Society - New York, 1948.
What I call the global plenary society of the future — how distant a future, who can tell! — is a society which must have at least a symbolical organic character. It should operate at several levels. It should be holarchic in its overall organization of activities, yet individualistically holistic in its fundamental recognition of the person as an individualized whole of consciousness and as the potential field of integration of a Soul-Image and a human field-of-existence. As an individualized whole, the person is what I have called an Ideityfield — a sacred place within which the Divine Marriage can occur, and eventually will occur if the person has followed the path of Light and Love. (This 'sacred place' is symbolized by the Flower, for in the flower the new seed is being formed.)
On the other hand, as a performer of activities which are related to the greater Whole constituted by the plenary society of Man on an Earth gradually becoming trans-substantiated by human activity and human minds, an individual person is, ideally, an officiant in the vast ritual being performed by such an all-human global society. As a performer, he acts; as an individual consciousness seeking an ever more complete attunement with his Soul-field, he is acted upon. The way he is thus acted upon determines the quality ofhis acts. It marks him with a definite character and definable — but not static, always evolving — capacities for action. These capacities direct him to his 'work of destiny' — what C.G. Jung called his "vocation."
The reason why young people find it so difficult, in most cases, to discover anything resembling their true vocation, is that they live in a chaotic, totally inorganic society from which their innermost desire is to become separated, because they feel deeply alienated from all that it stands for. In the Western world, particularly in the United States, we feel very proud of living in a democracy in which every man is theoretically free and responsible. We have indeed freedom of the press (relatively), of assembly (within limits), of voicing our opinions, of choosing our religious and group-affiliation, etc.; and we have the "four freedoms" extolled by President Roosevelt, from fear, want, etc. (or have all Americans such freedoms now?). But no one seems to tell us what these freedoms are FOR. What should one work for? What should one perform any social activity for? Our brand of democracy, as it was conceived by the minds of earnest men of the eighteenth century — who naively assumed that they had reached 'enlightenment,' — is a theoreticalkind of democracy in which the unit, the citizen, is abstractly equal, free only in principle and fraternal under limiting social conditions. Men are reduced to abstractions, even while we speak rather pompously of the worth and dignity of the human person.
Such equalitarianism, combined with an ambiguous kind of majority-rule and type of parliamentarianism dominated by powerful special interests and wealth — not to speak of racial prejudices which are the karmic shadow of slavery in the United States, and in other countries, of colonialism — lacks the essential characteristics of what I envision as a plenary society. And I hasten to say that any one of the present forms of totalitarianism is even more deficient and virulently obnoxious. Marketplace democracy sees the free individual as a competitive entity, indeed as an aggressive ego whose purpose in living is to dominate others — and often to trick them — in order to accumulate wealth, power, possessions. The purpose of society is to produce more and more goods, even if it means forcing people by all means, fair or foul, to consume often far more than they need or even want, thus becoming ever more enslaved to their appetites and their craving for physical comfort — and more dependent on psychoanalysis or psychiatry.
This entire social picture should seem crudely and tragically obnoxious to the man of the future living in a plenary society composed of an immense network of regional communes, each with a large degree of independence yet all integrated in a kind of organismic condition of operative wholeness within the global Whole of mankind. In a sense, this type of organization retains some of the characteristics of the early American nation as a federation of small states. The tragedy is that the ideal embodied in the American system became almost completely perverted in the nineteenth century and even more recently by the monstrous growth of the Federation, which made the application of the system impossible. In fact, it was only abstractly workable and condemned to become utterly materialized by (1) the maintenance of slavery, (2) the White man's crudely aggressive and predatory attitude toward the American Indians and the land, and (3) by the pressures of the other nations of the globe. To become enormously rich and powerful and to out-produce every other country is no mark of success, as I have used this term. It can mean a tragic moral failure — tragic indeed because the foundation of "these United States" was originally pervaded with a glorious dream: Novum Ordo Seclorum, the New Order of the Centuries, "A new departure in human affairs" (Thomas Paine).
It is not the purpose of this book to criticize conditions present today. Yet it is at times necessary to compare reality with the ideal, and to show how this ideal failed to include the very fundamental principles of the future society of which a few basic characteristics are here outlined. Democracy, parliamentarianism, majority rule and free enterprise — these really mean nothing definite and concrete unless one specifies (1) the character of the human units in such a quantitative system of social organization, (2) the quality of the relationship between these units, and (3) the human, spiritual and metaphysical purpose, and the expected results, of the social system.
Our democratic Western world is essentially a society of egos, even if increasingly unconvincing religious organizations talk pompously of God-created souls and of saving souls. In this world of egos, by egos and for the greater glory of egos, interpersonal relationships are based on competition and acquisitiveness, on possessiveness and a false, because abstract, notion of equality — quantitative equality, the equality of units in statistical computations. The most basic facts of such a social and ego-centered type of organization preclude the realization of Love, because true Love and Compassion demand a constant realization of the Presence of That which is the very principle of Wholeness and high-level integration. The official purpose of our Western democracies is either to build strong nations or to insure the pursuit of liberty, happiness and comfort to their citizens through constantly increased productivity and expansion, with the unspecified but apparently inevitable results of wasteful exploitation of the very substance of the Earth, and in a great many cases of its inhabitants as well.
It will be said that, justified as such criticisms may be, they simply indicate that the vast majority of human beings are operating at an egocentric, aggressive and possessive level of consciousness, and that the best devised system of organization will fail to live up to its ideals under such conditions. This is perfectly true. However, my purpose is not, I repeat, to show how wrong the present situation is — this is being done by a great many writers today — but to try to point out clearly the actual differences between the ideal of the past, even of our American democratic past, and the one I envision for the future. What I wish to stress is the obvious fact that today no one that I know of — with one exception — is able to present to our rebellious young generation the vision of a future worth working for, and if needed, dying for. And without such a vision, based upon an all-encompassing picture of the universe and of the interplay of metaphysical Principles beyond any limiting personification, there can be no really integrated and sustained efforts, because there will be no powerful vivid sense of the possibility, nay, the evolutionary inevitability, of the actualization of the vision.
The one exception just mentioned is the movement begun in India by Sri Aurobindo and his surviving co-worker, Mother Mira, who for many years has skillfully and powerfully managed the Aurobindo ashram in Pondicherry. The writings of Aurobindo provide the vision — particularly his monumental work The Life Divine and the Commentaries on old Hindu sacred books to which he gave a revolutionary new meaning. And now the activities of the Mother, past the age of 90, are directed toward the realization of the vision; they have given the needed Creative Word for the building of an ideal city-community near Pondicherry, named Auroville. It could become, if successful, a seed-pattern for a number of similar endeavors.*
*Anyone wanting information concerning the Auroville project which was formally started in an impressive ceremony in February 1968 in which youths of many countries participated, bringing some soil from their native lands, can write to Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 2, India.
[Editor's note] Since the first publication of this book, Mother Mira died and the work is being continued by disciples.
The essential factor, I repeat, in all such community-building is the Presence of ONE, the Principle of Wholeness, the Integrator at the heart of all existential forms of integration. Today, because we are still in an Age when individuals find it so difficult to find enough vividness and drama in an impersonal Principle and cosmogenic Power, this Presence may require the intermediary of a living (or dead) personage who has become the effectual symbol of this Presence. If he or she, is content to be a symbol of integration, all is well. But alas, personification leads to worship, to singling out the one that is worshipped as "the only one" — the "only begotten Son of God"! — and this inevitably leads to the feeling of exclusive ownership of a capitalized Truth and to a host of subsequent evils and perversions of the Original Creative Impulse which has become differentiated along many paths.
There is not only one Truth, not one Way only toward the actualization of a plenary society encompassing all men and regional cultures and communities in their diversity of approaches and responses to the new evolutionary step which is ahead of mankind. The Auroville project just mentioned could be a most significant response to the call of Man — or God — for a new human mutation in consciousness and in the quality of interhuman relatedness. But there will certainly be others, in which a somewhat different metaphysical approach will be accepted as a basis for group-action. The holistic and essentially impersonal approach formulated in this book accentuates the basic realities of existence in a way which definitely differs from, and perhaps in a way complements the metaphysical realizations of Sri Aurobindo. He follows the traditional line represented by the Bhagavad Gita, while my approach has probably greater kinship to that of Mahayana Buddhism. The basic realities are the same, but different formulations emphasize one or the other of these realities, seeing them in a somewhat different light.
This is as it should be, for the ways of the search and the forms taken by the great realizations of evolutionary Archetypes as they reach the human mind are many. Integration does not lead ultimately to a dictatorial type of unity, but to a polyphonic state of multiunity. The unanimous condition of consciousness of the many perfected Beings constituting the Seed-Pleroma at the end of a great cycle does not exclude the active remembrance of the different paths these Beings took to reach union with their Soul-Images and to become consecrated Agents of the one power of evolution, to which devotionally inclined individuals refer as the Will of God. Unity in consciousness does not preclude functional distinctions.
At the level of the new communities which should become seeds for the New Age, there should also be a unanimity of purpose and of dedication, an utter readiness to reach beyond individualism and to vibrate to the nascent reality of the transformed whole; but there will still be individuals at work, acting in different capacities and each fulfilling his or her own dharma — not as an ego dictates or as Life-energies crave compulsive fulfillment, but in the clear light of a unanimous consciousness and dedication to the whole.
The Planetarization of Consciousness