AND THE GALACTIC COMMUNITY
It may prove impossible, on the basis of the physical means available to astronomers, to determine exactly what type of matter constitutes the bulging central part of our Galaxy. Vast "clouds" of hydrogen have nevertheless been detected there, and probably very little else. If we add to this the fact that hydrogen, and a lesser amount of helium, constitute nearly 99 per cent of the stuff of the universe that we are able to perceive — the remaining one per cent being divided among heavier atomic and chemical elements — a significant conclusion can be reached.
Hydrogen is the lightest element, its atoms being constituted by one proton and one electron; and whether we accept the Big Bang theory, the Steady State concept, or a combination of both, hydrogen is the first form of matter (in our sense of the term) to appear in the process of "creation." Helium is number 2 in the series of atomic elements, as its atoms are made up of two protons and two neutrons (forming their nuclei) and two electrons. In the plasma state of matter (the fourth state, after the solid, the liquid, and the gaseous) and under extremely high temperatures, hydrogen (number 1) becomes helium (number 2), and in the process an enormous amount of energy is released in the form of penetrating gamma rays and neutrinos — these mysterious subatomic "entities" which speed through the matter of solid planets as if it presented no obstacle.
We may therefore assert that at the beginning of our material universe hydrogen appears, emerging from some unknown and perhaps unknowable prematerial state, which we may simply identify as Space itself — or a higher dimension of space. Hydrogen may be formed all at once in a terrific explosion of protomatter — the ylem postulated by the cosmologist-physicist, George Gamow, interpreting the Big Bang theory advanced by Abbe Lemaitre. Hydrogen may also emerge periodically from space, and the locus of such an emergence may be the central core of galaxies.
Whatever may be the case — and both theories may be reconcilable — the primordiality of hydrogen seems certain; and if the physical world can validly be said to represent a reflection of the spiritual reality of the cosmos, hydrogen by birthright should be considered the symbol of spirit at its source. The universal distribution of hydrogen parallels the all-pervasive and ubiquitous "presence," if not of the Supreme Spirit, at least of its manifestation in the realm of materiality.
On our Earth, two atoms of hydrogen combine with one of oxygen to form water (h2o). Water is necessary for what we know as life; and in the atmosphere, oxygen (the 16th element) sustains vital processes. It is also involved in organic transformation and the life-death-life cycle. But if oxygen is essential to life, hydrogen is the base of operation of spirit whose activity in matter it symbolizes.
While such assertions are mythic rather than factually demonstrable, they find an occult corroboration in some statements made by H. P. Blavatsky in her great work The Secret Doctrine (original edition, Vol. 11) written nearly a century ago:
Spiritual Fire alone makes of man a divine and perfect entity. Now, what is that "Spiritual Fire"? In alchemy it is HYDROGEN, in general; while in esoteric actuality it is the emanation of the Ray which proceeds from its noumenon. . . . Hydrogen is gas only on our terrestrial plane. But even in chemistry, hydrogen would be the only existing form of matter, in our sense of the term (Cf. Genesis of the Elements by Prof. W. Crookes, p. 21), and is very nearly allied to protyle. . . . It is the father and generator, so to say, or rather the Upadhi (basis) of both AIR and WATER, and is fire, air and water in fact — one under three aspects, hence the chemical and alchemical trinity. In the world of manifestation or matter, it is the objective symbol and the material emanation from the subjective and purely spiritual entitative Being in the region of noumena. Well might Godfrey Higgins have compared Hydrogen to, and even identified it with, the TO ON, the "One" of the Greeks. [pg 105.]
That to which Hydrogen is to the elements and gases on the objective plane, its noumenon is in the world of mental or subjective phenomena; since its trinitarian latent nature is mirrored in its three active emanations from the higher principles in man, namely, "Spirit, Soul and Mind." [po 112.]
Three essential facts should be stressed: (1) hydrogen is the first material element to be formed; (2) its presence is detectable everywhere as a dominant factor; and (3) all we know about the central nucleus of our Galaxy is that it contains an enormously large amount of diffused hydrogen, possibly at the exclusion or near-exclusion of other atomic elements. It is indeed conceivable that the galactic core is like a cosmic fountainhead from which hydrogen is constantly emerging, or at least has emerged in the past. We do not know the way in which this process operates, but recent astrophysical theories suggest that the core of the Galaxy may be thought of as a "white hole" marking the emergence of hydrogen from another universe existing perhaps in another dimension of space — while the newly discovered "black holes" refer to the disappearance of the final forms taken by cosmic matter into mysterious whirlpools, sucked down by tremendous gravitational forces after the collapse of a star or a group of stars.
For occultists in various cultures of the past, the process of emergence of hydrogen on the physical plane is to be interpreted as the materialization (or physical plane manifestation) of a noumenal essence referring to a higher ("divine") level of being. Religions, mythologies, and metaphysical theories have variously described this process of concretization and "physicalization" of a transcendent spiritual reality. They have created a wealth of images adapted to the feelings and the mentality of the people of the corresponding epoch and culture. Today, as I have said, astronomy and the unparalleled spread of interest in astrology, offer us a new possibility of interpretation and symbolization, which provide us with a cosmic background for understanding the process of transformation we are witnessing at both the level of human consciousness and that of social and communal organization. Such a holistic background has antecedents in the occult concepts of the past, in that it implies the existence of a hierarchy of levels of existence and consciousness extending from the purest spirit to the densest matter, yet it avoids mythological personifications and abstrusely metaphysical intellectual arguments. It consists simply of an attempt to expand human conciousness from the level of physicality and totalitarian centralization of power in autocratic Suns to that of "galacticity."
What is involved in such an attempt is not only an expansion, but as well a refocusing of human consciousness and a basic revaluation of the social and psychological values which have long dominated the collective mentality of mankind. Such a process naturally arouses a great deal of resistance at all levels. By relating the new ideals to astrophysical concepts which appeal to the scientific mind and to which a great deal of publicity has been given, these ideals may be more easily visualized. The astrophysical omnipresence and primordiality of hydrogen — especially at the core of our Galaxy — become the symbol of a "corresponding" omnipresence and primordiality of spirit.
Symbols have enormous power. For instance, could one estimate the importance of what would take place in the collective consciousness of mankind if everywhere the picture of the Andromeda galaxy would replace that of the crucified Christ — or even of the cross — as a symbol of spiritual living? Yet to be spiritually valid such a substitution would first of all require a clear understanding of what I have called "galacticity." It would necessitate a dephysicalization of the universe beyond the boundaries of our planetary system. It would require a practically applicable understanding of what the concept of galacticity actually means as an ideal reorienting our everyday existence and our approach to interpersonal relationships — and therefore a realization of how it would transform our image of an ideal community.
A few paragraphs back I mentioned three basic facts emerging from recent astrophysical discoveries concerning the distribution of hydrogen throughout the cosmos. If we translate these facts into the language of galacticity in which spirit is symbolized by hydrogen, we have a picture of the universe in which spirit is the original substance of existence, and from this primordial substance everything else is derived. This "everything else" may only constitute one per cent of the cosmos; thus we are living in a universe which is essentially constituted by spirit. Spirit is "substantial" — which literally and etymologically means that spirit "stands under" every thing. It is particularly condensed, or it bubbles forth in source — like purity, at the center of galaxies. If there are other elements at these galactic cores, it is because space is filled with the immensely scattered remains of past universes — in whatever condition we may imagine these remains to be, perhaps as totally isolated atoms or particles, or as discords or statics in the great Harmony of Space, or as unconscious "memories" of failures (the skandhas of Buddhistic philosophy). Such disintegrated remains of a cosmic past, in the case of our Galaxy, have condensed to form the "dark clouds" which obscure for us the radiant fountainhead of spirit at the center.
Every star radiates what we perceive as light, as well as many other kinds of vibrations. Astrophysics has discovered that hydrogen is at the source of these radiations. If the recent concepts referring to the atomic reactions inside of the stars are correct — concepts which man has been able to apply to the production of hydrogen bombs — the brilliance of our Sun and the stars results from the release of energy produced by nuclear reactions in which hydrogen plays a preponderant role. The substantiality of spirit releases itself progressively in various modes of radiations. Light seems to be made of particles called photons; yet it acts also as waves because spirit — and all there is — can also be considered at a still more mysterious level of being as vibrating Space.
The concept of galacticity brings us only to a state of existence — what I have called the fourth dimension of space — whose main characteristic is INTERPENETRATION. We pass in consciousness from the third dimension, whose keynotes are physicality, centrality, and the condition of isolated and separative existence (or atomicity), to the fourth dimension, where there is no longer any separation. Where there is no separation, the possibility in fact, the inevitability and necessity — of true community emerges. There can be no true community at the level of physicality and separateness. The experience of "I" is absorbed in community in the experience of "We" — the experience of interpenetration and all-inclusive mutuality.
When we can only think of such type of organization which the heliocentric system represents, the Sun is i-sol-ated in space and in lonely splendor, patriarchically controlling his group of planets. The Sun symbolizes then our equally lonely and proud "I am," which in its involvement in material concerns operates mostly as an ego — a jealous and possessive tribal spirit insisting that he is the one and only God. But when the Sun is seen and vividly understood as the star that it essentially is, it is known as a form of universal spirit — one form among billions of others. All these forms of spirit are "companions" within a vast galactic company of stars. It is not only a "company" (cum-panis: literally, "those who eat of the same bread") but a communion and community. All stars exist within a galaxy; they commune, as well as communicate, in waves of light. They are vibratory "forms of spirit," which together sound forth an evolving cosmic Chord — an immense motet in which a myriad of voices commune in interpenetrating relatedness.
Our Western society has produced conceptual and artistic musical forms ideally embodying such a principle of interpenetrating relatedness, and various attempts at community building have been made. Practically all of them have become disrupted by a combination of internal forces and external pressures, involving in some cases violent and total destruction. Destructive forces are inevitable whenever the attempt at community living is produced by physical-level and egocentric motives. In some cases organizations of a "heliocosmic" type are produced centered in one "solar" personage, who is the source of spiritual radiations; but true and lasting communities can be built only on the basis of galactic consciousness in which all "communicants" share.
This does not mean that the community has no center; but that center is not occupied by a massive super-Sun. The center is a fountainhead, a source through which spirit emerges; and all participants in the community share in that emergence. They are fed in common by the emerging hydrogen-spirit; and, in its primordial condition, that spirit is "no-thing," yet the potentiality of an immense number of "things."
At the galactic center infinite potentiality emerges as a source of actual existence. Existence is always finite; only the potentiality of existence can be considered infinite. Every galactic community has a finite purpose — a place and function in the universal Whole. But it is not a separative function. Galaxies form clusters of galaxies. Communities can only exist and prosper as communities if they realize and act out their relationship to other communities within the planet-wide "Universal Community of Man."
In a galactic type of community, integration does not depend upon the existence of one all-powerful "solar" center compelling every participant to revolve worshipfully around it. Integration results from the complex interaction of beings, each of whom is a "star" in his or her own right and accepts his or her own place and function in the community. The binding power is that of love, in mutuality and understanding. The realization of unity is evoked in the constant and conscious interrelatedness of all the participants; wholeness rather than unity is the centralizing principle. This principle is a vivid but immaterial reality which has its shrine in the heart of every communicant. It may be felt as a unifying presence. It should be felt as a power evoked by the love of each for all; and that power has substantiality, inasmuch as it sustains and subtends the togetherness of all the participants who ritualistically commune in that substance. In astrophysical terms, this means that the gravitational force which keeps the galactic organization of stars integrated does not come from an immensely large super-Sun, but is rather the result of the interaction of the gravitational power of all the component stars. Group-cohesion is at work. The process is effective only if the relationship between all the units in the group is transpersonal.
This term transpersonal has two meanings, which unfortunately most people who use it do not understand. It may mean beyond the personality and its normal biopsychic urges and drives; but it can also mean through the personality, acting as a clear lens focusing at the level of physical activity, or at that of the mind and the feelings, a "downflow" of spirit. Typically, the devotee and the mystic seek to overcome the pull of biopsychic materiality and reach beyond to transcendent realizations; on the other hand, the Avatar — and usually in a less pure form, the creative genius and the great cultural hero, — is a human being who more or less deliberately opens himself to a "descent" of spiritual power, releasing that power in socially or culturally fecundant activity.(1)
1. Cf. Dane Rudhyar, Occult Preparation for a New Age, Part 3.
In the ideal galactic community, of which I have also spoken in various books and pamphlets as the "seed group,"(2) transpersonal relationships should be considered not only as transcending the passional and egocentric pull of instincts and emotional possessiveness, but also as focusing the emerging power of spirit upon certain functional activities. This is a very important point, for the focusing process in a great many cases implies the joint dedication, either of two persons (perhaps, but not necessarily, of different sexes) or of a very small group of especially related individuals — a dedication to a particular function in the community. This means that the central and fundamental emergence of creative spirit and the outer flow of inspiration (or rather "in-spiriting") does not only operate in and through individuals; it can have effective overtones in individualized situations.
2. Cf. We Can Begin Again — Together (Tucson, Ariz.: Omen Press, 1974), the chapter "Commune and Seed Groups."
At the core of every star-being in the galactic community is a fully activated or latent center of resonance to the spirit which animates the whole. This center actually is the true Self; and we may imagine a "fifth dimension" of consciousness in which all these star-centers are not only in a state of constant interrelationship, but are in essence identical. This is the realization which the Hindu yogi tries to convey when, speaking to a disciple, he says: "I am thou." It is the realization of the metaphysical identity of the Supreme Spirit and of the individualized spirit inherent, but in most cases only latent in every human being.
Unfortunately, at the level of existence at which most human beings are conscious during this historical period, such an identification in a great many instances, has dangerous, or at least confusing, results. It is very easy and tempting for a temporarily illumined person to allow what may have only been a brief experience of perfect attunement to the downflow of power from the central Source of spirit to sink to the level of physical existence. What was a galactic realization of spirit is unconsciously physicalized into a "three-dimensional" feeling of being a Sun to a group of planets, rather than a star that for a moment had resonated to a "four-dimensional" call for activity within a galactic community. As this occurs, "solar" pride and spiritual intoxication with transcendent power adulterate the memory of the experience and give it an ambiguous character. Seemingly valid results may be obtained as other individuals are drawn to the stimulation which the new "Sun" provides for them; but in the end this may lead to spiritual bondage, not only for the devotees attracted to such a heliocosmic type of group, but also for the individual who had proclaimed himself a Sun.
As an individual begins to experience his attunement to the spirit, he has always to face a crucial choice: to be a Sun, while dreaming of identification with the Supreme Spirit or, as a star among companion stars, to dedicate to the whole community whatever spiritual inflow has sought in him a focal point and channel for expression. To any sincere and spiritually honest individual, life brings the testing situation in which the choice has to be made; and the more evolved and spiritually dedicated the consciousness, the subtler and more difficult the test.
There are three fundamental kinds of test, or rather three levels at which the decision has to be made during the process of spiritual transformation of the individual. And these three levels can be referred to the specific character of the trans-Saturnian planets. Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. In a subtle sense, they may be seen to correspond to the three "temptations" of Jesus in the wilderness (Matt. 4), if these temptations are understood in their most essential character.
In the first temptation, Satan suggests to Jesus, emerging from a forty-day fast, that he command the stones to turn into bread. What Satan seems to appeal to is the powerful instinct to satisfy physical hunger; but the individual starting on the Path of transformation is seized by another kind of hunger — the hunger for spiritual experiences that would not only feed his soul, but justify his having given up all that his ego cherished. Driven by Uranian restlessness and by the promise of an exalted state of consciousness implied in what the Uranian lightning has revealed in a brief — oh, so brief — flash of insight into the transcendent beyond, the "disciple on the Path" yearns for more, always more experiences — more spiritual food.
In the second temptation, the Devil suggests to Jesus that he prove his divine Sonship by throwing himself into a precipice, because if he does so, angels would surround him and carry him safely to the lower region where people would be able to see the miracle. This is the Neptunian test; for what is tested is the individual's use of normally invisible or "occult" powers to prevent him to fail as he comes down to meet those he is to teach and inspire. Will he use the glamour of spiritual power and prestige — a glamour related to Neptune — to impress those who are eager to believe in everything that seems to them miraculous; or will he bring them that water of the spirit, drinking which they will no longer thirst, and the vision of a "galactic" reality?
In the third temptation, Satan appeals to whatever form the ego may still have in the man who has attempted to leave irrevocably behind him the realm of Jupiter and Saturn — the realm where social power, glory, fame, and worship are the most basic allurements. The aspirant to rebirth in spirit must surrender all desire for power over other human beings. He cannot become a safe and valuable member of a galactic type of community if there exists in him the slightest desire, deeply unconscious as it may be, for acting as a Sun to a group of dark planets. This is the Plutonian test of total denudation — or, as the Christian mystic states, of absolute humility. Only if the Plutonian catharsis is successfully met can an individual be trusted to be a true "companion."
One can think of many other tests, but the three which are mentioned in the Christ mythos are deeply significant. The hunger for spiritual experiences, the desire for display of miraculous powers surrounding one with transcendent glamour, and the deep yearning for self-glorification and power over other human beings — even if it be the subtle power that a healer may feel over those he has generously and effectively healed: these constitute three deeply rooted attachments which must be overcome and totally eradicated before the consciousness can be stabilized at the level of galactic being.
What forms reality and one's activity may actually take at the galactic level must remain a vast unknown until all the conditions for emergence are satisfied. They are not conditions arbitrarily imposed by anyone or any group; they refer to the kind of order and structural organization operating at the galactic level. Every level of existence has its own rhythm, its "laws of nature," its requirements for existence. As man aspires to operate at a level higher than that of physicality and of a solar type of dominant centrality, he has to adapt his consciousness and the workings of his mind — mind being consciousness in a definitely structured state of activity — to unfamiliar conditions produced by a transcendent, but just as "real" type of order. While he is gradually coming to understand what the new principles of organization are, and first of all in most cases to experience perhaps drastically what they are not, he lives in a state of transition. He performs, half-intentionally — and often unconsciously, and not without resistance and confusion — a "rite of passage."
Treading the occult Path is performing a rite of passage. Attempting to cross the sound barrier in a fast-moving plane or to overcome the earth-pull of gravitation is also such a performance, though it refers more to an intellectual and collectively oriented than to a vital and basic achievement. Earth gravitation for human beings born in the biosphere symbolizes the sum total of attachments and allegiances binding us to the type of society in which the ego is proud master or resentful servant, if not slave. But the individual encapsuled in protective machinery and in constant contact with his society does not accomplish a real passage in terms of transformation of consciousness, even if he experiences brief moments of illumination. These, alas, fail to last after he is caught back into the biospheric and social rhythms which he never actually allowed to fade out completely from his individual psyche.
On the true rites of passage, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are the only guides; but they do not work through or within machines. They act within the total person — or, as today in a collective sense, in the very substance of social progress. These in turn react upon the biological and biospheric conditioning of life in all its forms everywhere on the globe.
Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are masked hierophants whose countenance and magnetism both attract and frighten. They inspire individuals to change; they provide fleeting visions of an imprecise goal; they may even frighten into life-or-death situations. They hit all the weak points in the mind's armor with uncanny precision. Bruised and seemingly defeated by his own intellectual or emotional blindness, the individual could easily collapse, if only of sheer exhaustion, if he did not hold vibrant in his heart the symbolic vision of the future community. Behind them, through them, the sky may become alive and singing the divine motet of galactic harmony. For our inexperienced ears, the tones may sound discordant, for they interpenetrate in a manner that scorns the safe patterns of ancestral kinship and cultural tonality. But to him whose ears are unencumbered by the heavy wax of biological entropy, the vast chording of stellar differences trans-substantiates itself into an ecstasy of unified lights. He finds himself surrounded by "globular clusters" of radiant light-sources that are many, yet one. He may, like Dante, behold the vast celestial Rose in whose throbbing core spurts of hydrogen-spirit are promises of new worlds.
The Sun is Also a Star