to the Third Edition (1976)
This book was written seven years ago at a time when, at long last, several old books of mine were being republished, reaching a much larger public, and the possibility of spreading more widely the ideas I had held for some fifty years seemed to present itself. These ideas had been given a limited formulation in a few books, particularly in The Astrology of Personality (1936), then being released by Doubleday in New York for the first time in paperback. The present tidal wave of interest in astrology and various forms of esoteric philosophy and occultism was rolling in, engulfing not only the rebellious and confusedly idealistic youth of the tumultuous Sixties, but tearing loose as well many middle-aged minds from the conventional piers to which they were tied in dull expectancy of some improbable adventure.
The state of expectancy, with a heavy admixture of boredom seasoned with a sense of futility, can be an open door to many a strange visitation. Angels may enter the misty room of consciousness, but they may be devils in disguise, or merely curious and mischievous passers-by looking for a good meal or some fun; for it seems that the world of mind is a cosmopolitan harbor-town swarming with concepts, images and symbols whose real nature and origin are never too clear. Discrimination is not often implied in expectancy. On what basis, then, can the expectant and aspiring mind discriminate? What is the touchstone of validity, and are there absolutes of truth revealed in some unquestionable 'perennial philosophy'?
For many years in my youth, I had felt that I had found such a 'truth'. But rather bitter experiences had cast a shadow on some of the channels through which this truth was reaching our Western mentality. In my Forties, I had been forced to relentlessly question what my mind had absorbed, and to ask myself where I really stood. This is always a valuable process when started with intense eagerness and a sense of urgency, coupled with a readiness to commit oneself to whatever the result of the quest would turn out to be.
Fortunately, I had had, since the age of sixteen in Paris, a profound, even if imprecise, realization of some of the basic elements in all human experience, and at the same time, a strange feeling of the problematic nature of what everybody seemed to take for granted when speaking of "I, myself". Since 1911, I had also gained an incontrovertible belief in the impending deterioration of our Western civilization, and inwardly dedicated my life to the attempt to help build some foundations for a new society and a transformed way of life. This led to my coming to America in 1916, and a hoped for 'New World'.
What I found in New York was Oriental philosophy and the vast and mysterious world of Occultism, especially in the form this word had been given by H.P. Blavatsky, Steiner and students of Gnosticism and Alchemy. Later on, in California, I discovered the fascinating language of astrology — a language which seemed to have lost contact with the basic human experiences of cosmic order and significance as revealed by the night sky. Disappointment came when I experienced how these basically non-Western and mysterious fields of the mind were used by personalities unable to reach deeper realities except in an egocentric, narrow Tradition, however wonderful that Tradition is made to sound as a refuge and a promise of inner security. One must dare to meet the future as a creative spirit — as a mind open and translucent, yet adequately formed as a lens through which the light and power of the next phase in human evolution may become focused, and thus effectual.
The questions this book raises and attempts to answer range over several fields of enquiry, from the metaphysical and epistemological to the psychological, ethical and artistic. Each chapter should, in a sense, be expanded into an entire volume; and a great many as yet unorganized notes and fragments dealing with these several topics may sooner or later be incorporated into one or more volumes. As it is now, repetitions were inevitable, as certain basic principles have to be restated in terms of the field covered by a particular chapter; but I trust they have been reduced to a minimum.
Unlike the usual books on philosophy, psychology or scientific research, this volume contains practically no precise references to other books and authors. For the last sixty years I have read a vast number of books and obviously have been influenced by many in formulating my thoughts. Some of these influences will be apparent and actually stated. But I have been too much occupied in several fields of activity, and my life has been so "nomadic," that it has been impossible for me to keep well-ordered files of references which I could use at this late stage.
Besides, this is not meant to be a "scientific" book in which I show how much I have learned from colleagues and how related this or that concept of mine is to what this or that author thought and wrote. It is a book in which is expressed what I trust is a deep and vivid intuition of what existence could mean for this and coming generations of men willing to consecrate themselves to the task of building a new humanity. The holistic world-view which I present here is meant to be an incentive to think greater thoughts, to feel deeper, more inclusive feelings, and to act as "agents" for the Power that structures human evolution — however we wish to imagine this Power. It is meant to integrate some of the most basic concepts, existential attitudes and spiritual realizations of the Asiatic and Western worlds.
All my life I have held, strongly focused in mind, the principle of synthesis. In my twenties I attempted to start one of many abortive projects which had as its motto the words: Synthesis — Solidarity, Service. These words mean very much the same thing at the three basic levels of human activity — mental, emotional and actional. I still stand, several decades later, by this motto. We are at the threshold of an Age of Synthesis; but unless human beings are ready to go beyond the egocentric individualism which our society so glorifies, and learn to feel and live in terms of the deepest kind of solidarity and service, the kind of synthesis mankind may witness could be oppressive and stultifying in its totalitarianism.
I can only hope that this book may arouse in a number of sensitive and open minds the desire and will to repolarize their consciousness, their thinking, and indeed their loves and allegiances, so that they may join the company of creative individuals who, whether they are fully aware of it or not, are working freely, doggedly, intensely, lovingly — and indeed humorously also — for the birth of a new way of life and a new humanity.
Palo Alto, California
The Planetarization of Consciousness