The Two Basic Ways of Meeting Life's Confrontations - 2
The Yang Way
Yang type of activity is essentially outgoing, forceful, and aggressive. It is archetypally associated with the "masculine" attitude and character. The basic Yang philosophy sees the universe as a stage on which force meets force, and at the biological level, most often fights against force. The Yang type of personality tries to use superior force to control, and in many instances, to dominate and subjugate whatever it meets, especially if a confrontation is involved which upsets the status quo
or seems inimical to it. Whatever happens has to be controlled, then put to use in order to fulfill the needs, or often the personal wants and perhaps the greed or ambition, of the human being responding to the event.
Such a type of control requires the combined use of the mind in planning and the will in mobilizing the energies of the whole personality. When the individual deals with a repetitive situation and an either constant or periodic need or want which clamors for satisfaction, a technique
has to be devised. The technique may be applied to the control of material energies and substances, of inner emotions, moods, or states of consciousness, or in ancient times, of astral entities or personalized forces of nature; in all cases, the mind is called upon to invent and precisely formulate the technique.
At the animistic level of tribal societies, the techniques of control had a radically different character from the ones used in our modern world. Yet both the medicine-man or shaman and the modern technician act in much the same spirit. They intend to make nature subservient to their wills. If the technique of the two types radically differs, it is because the human beings who formulate and apply them operate at two distinctly different levels of power, and their consciousnesses are structured by widely divergent philosophical and cosmological assumptions.
These assumptions are derived from different ways of experiencing the world of nature internal and psychic as well as external nature. A shaman and some still exist under one name or another perceives the universe and deals with what he experiences at a biopsychic
level in his own characteristic, and to the academic modern mind, very naοve
, puzzling, and irrational manner. Our inventors, engineers, and technicians deal with another kind of universe whose nature reflects the character of the type of mind the analytical intellect our Western civilization has so strongly (indeed almost exclusively) developed since the 6th century B.C. and especially since the European Renaissance. The Western mind finds it easy to operate in a universe of physical matter which, because of its susceptibility to fragmentation, can be broken up by analysis and controlled by destructive agencies in highly concentrated form. As it is being destroyed, or rather destructed
, we can observe matter dissolving into energy; but that energy operates at a level basically different from the one at which the shamans and true ceremonial magicians of old were able to exercise control and produce definite results. What they controlled is the life-power in its psychic and biological (or "metabiological") operations. They were able to observe these operations thanks to special "senses" (or perceptive agencies), just as modern physicists are able to trace the motion of subatomic particles in cloud chambers after the binding (or structural) power of atoms has been violently disrupted.
The atomic physicist gives a variety of names to unknown entities whose existence he infers from traces left on photographic plates; the magician spoke of various categories of "elementals" whose existence he also inferred from their activity. The magician seemingly personalized these entities, giving them many names and projecting their structural character into hieroglyphs, magical seals or mantrams; but this personalizing approach is only superficially different from the theoretically impersonal methodology of modern technology. Magical formulas are not unlike the structural patterns of molecules, genes and atoms now in common use in chemistry and atomic physics. And different as the techniques are, the intent
of these techniques is the same. This intent forcibly to control natural processes is what makes technique any technique-necessary.
A technique implies that the technician has acquired "knowledge". Knowledge, however, requires objectivity and therefore a state of separation
of the knower and the known. In a world which we basically experience as a process of unceasing change-as a constantly flowing "river" of impacts and impressions within the limiting "banks" of our senses and internal feelings-whoever seeks precise scientific knowledge has, in some manner, to arrest the flow and isolate a moment of it for objective inspection; or else he has to record in some objective form a series of observations of repetitive
events assumed to be "the same". Yet repetitive events are never the same if
we do not isolate them from the context of the whole universe in which they occur, because this universe is always changing. We say that at the summer solstice the Sun rises at the same point on the Eastern horizon every year, but while it is the same point if we see it exclusively in reference to the relationship between the Earth's equator and the ecliptic, it is not the same point in cosmic space, for the solar system and the galaxy in which it is but a small speck, have been speeding away. Nothing
is ever exactly in the same place in relation to the whole universe unless we accept Nietzsche's concept of the "eternal return" and thus refuse to think of infinity.
Knowledge is possible because we separate some facts from the whole universe and we freeze a particular moment of the vast process of universal change for precise observation. Such an act of separation implies a resistance
to change, and all forms of resistance imply some kind of violence. By isolating a few variables under aseptic laboratory conditions, the modern scientist performs experiments which are even more separate from the universe. In the aseptic experiment, every possibility of intrusion of the universe into the laboratory is forcefully resisted against. What is the end result of such behavior? The possibility of a global suicide of mankind and an at least temporary destruction of the biosphere. Suicide is the logical end of a process of resistance to life. But such an end is an illusion the great materialistic illusion. The universe always wins, because what is stopped at one level continues at another, from which it is eventually once more precipitated into a living organism at the level where the previous form of resistance had occurred.
I repeat that knowledge separates the knower from what he or she wants to know
. Similarly, what I shall presently define as ego-centered and ego-ruled consciousness separates a particular "field" (or area) of acceptable observation from the total possibilities of response to human experience. Such a separation is necessary at an early stage of human and personal evolution in the childhood of both the human race and any member of it. It is necessary in order to make it possible for a particular center of consciousness an individual to discover, stabilize, and clearly define itself in terms of the feeling of being I-myself. Definition at first implies exclusion, because to clearly formulate what one "is" requires the realization of what it "is-not". But if the defined and stabilized conscious entity or the logically formulated type of knowledge does not come to understand or refuses to admit that it is part of some larger whole which (consciously or not) it operates, then consciousness, and knowledge become rigid and forcefully resist growth, evolution, and the universal process of change.
When a large rock is placed in the midst of a swiftly running river, a resistance to the flow of the water is generated; an eddy or whirlpool is formed. Some of the power of the current is deviated into that whirlpool. A human being similarly resisting life draws power from his resistance, but it is a tragic kind of power. In its extreme form it is the power associated with "black magic"; and any violently egocentric and proud form of conscious resistance, if kept long enough, eventually turns into some kind of black magic, there being many kinds carrying other names and considered acceptable in a society having for centuries officially extolled a Yang way of life, a blatant or "rugged" individualism.
To understand how this acceptance of egocentricity, aggressivity, and pride as a matter of policy has developed in the Western world, we should go back to its Biblical roots: the first chapter of Genesis
in which God, having made Men in his image and after his likeness, blessed them and said unto them: "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it and have dominion
over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."(2
) A literal interpretation of these words and of the concept of being a "chosen people" has pervaded not only Jewish culture, but the whole of Western civilization.(3
) To this aspect of the Yang ideal of mastery or dominion, Greek culture added another as powerful incentive to the development of Euro-American pride (the "white race" pride); the glorification of "Reason" and of objective knowledge based on analysis and formalistic logic.
Western man thus developed as a worshipper of personal power, aggressive ambition as an elect of God, and the rational-intellectual mind. He felt, and in the great majority of cases still feels, empowered and selected by God to bring to the rest of mankind the "blessings" of civilization and its by-products. The question here is not whether Western civilization has or has not brought great blessings to mankind, but whether the price paid for them has been so extreme that it is raising a strong possibility of bankruptcy and, in a sense, fraudulent bankruptcy because of the means required for the development of these "blessings". No wise person should deny all value to the Yang approach to life; but also no really sane human being should find value in a nearly exclusive use of this approach. The universe itself will inevitably give rise to a reversal of the tide, for neither Yang nor Yin can be allowed to overpower the other beyond a certain limit. Existence itself depends on the balance of these two principles, and an extreme of disequilibrium is bound to lead to a compensatory reaction.
Such a reaction is now beginning. It is given a mythic character in the dream of a coming "New Age" an Age in which the Yin way of life will gradually assert itself and thereby bring about a transformation of mankind. What such a transformation implies and entails, however, is not clear to most of those who long for this New Age. To clarify what the Yin approach actually means, what it leads to and how it can be implemented in practice is therefore of the greatest importance today. To do so is evidently a most difficult and comprehensive task. All I can attempt here is to outline basic lines of approach, and to concentrate on the topic of astrology. This is a significant topic, not only because of its present popularity and the attraction it has for would-be devotees of New Age ideals, but because it reflects quite accurately the general state of personal restlessness and the confused thinking of the more dynamic groups of people who may be ready to experience a basic change of consciousness, even though still clinging at least unconsciously to the traditions of their now obsolescent culture. And it is to these people that all my work is addressed.
Genesis 1:28. Return
The esoteric meaning of this statement can only be grasped if we understand that the first chapter of Genesis
refers to the creative process at the level of Archetypes; only the second chapter deals with the biosphere, the realm of material substances dynamized by the "breath of life" into living organisms. In the first chapter, the Archetype "Man" is created in both its male and female aspects. This Archetype "Man" is a manifestation of Mind (in Sanskrit, manas
); and Mind, in the essential meaning of the term, corresponds to the Element Fire. What God states is therefore that Mind-Fire is superior to and can transform by controlling the other three Elements: Air (birds), Water (fish). Earth (cattle and serpents). In the second chapter of Genesis
, God has Adam the concretized prototype (and no longer Archetype) of embodied man give "names" to every living thing he encounters. From the old magical point of view, by knowing the name of an entity, the entity can be controlled. But by so doing, Adam has separated himself from what he has named and he is lonely. Then woman is created. In Hebrew she is Isha
, and man Ish: the knowledge of the I-consciousness evokes its opposite, the intuitive faculty which (as we shall see in Chapter 5) brings to the ego promptings from the unconscious and dark area of the total psyche. Archetypal Man was meant to have control over the Earth Element (the things that creep upon the earth), but, when confronted with the power of that Element, the woman is said to succumb to it. In a sense, lsha
refers to the nature of feeling which develops as a projection of the inner realization of being a separate "I". Through his feelings, man is drawn to the level of matter at which the principle of duality (the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) controls every activity. When mind becomes dominated by matter, it becomes the argumentative, either/or type of mind.
Cf. also my book. Fire Out of the Stone
(Servire B.V. Holland: 1963) especially pages 123ff in regard to the above. Return