II. CONCEPTUAL FORMULATIONS
11. THE CYCLE OF BEING
The most fundamental metaphysical question is, why is there a universe?
In other words, why is there anything (being) instead of nothing (nonbeing)? The religious mind asks, why did God (or spirit in a nonpersonal sense) create the universe? The typical Hindu answer is that creation is the Play (lila) of Brahman. Christian theology speaks instead of a divine Plan whereby God creates the universe out of nothing and reveals the fulness of his divinity to his creatures; within this Plan, original sin causes God to reveal his immense compassion by sacrificing his one and only Son to redeem sinful humanity. Modern science offers the scenario of an originating Big Bang, and a subsequent process of evolution proceeding according to random motion and "natural law."
Rudhyar could never accept either the Plan of redemption or the divine Play idea or the purposeless interplay of randomness and "law" (sans law-giver). For him, as for the Hindu philosopher, existence is cyclic, whether one thinks of it in cosmic or in human terms. A cosmos (or a human being) is born in answer to a need, because the next step or phase of the Movement of Wholeness calls for it.
The dynamic interplay between the principles of Unity and Mutliplicity within the Movement of Wholeness describes what Rudhyar calls the cycle of being
. Realizing well the limitations of a graphic illustration, Rudhyar nevertheless presents the cycle of being as follows (see figure opposite).
Four Significant turning points and quadrants result from the cyclic and symmetrical motion of two opposite forces within a finite field of activity, one waxing as the other wanes. At two points in the cycle, the forces are of equal strength, with one definitely waxing and the other on the wane. At two others, one force reaches the maximum of its power while the other is as weak as it can be. The symbolism attached to the resulting turning points, hemicycles, and quadrants is based on the diurnal cycle, but one must keep in mind that in this application of it the "light" of day is never totally absent from the "darkness" of night and vice versa.
The cycle of being never begins or ends, but to talk about it one has to choose a point at which to start. At the symbolic Sunrise, the principles of Unity and Multiplicity are in equilibrium, with the principle of Multiplicity waxing and beginning to surpass the strength of the principle of Unity. Cosmologically, this is Creation, the "birth" of a universe. Between the symbolic Sunrise and Sunset, the principle of Multiplicity is stronger than the principle of Unity. Hence this Day hemicycle represents what we experience as the world of existence, which is dominated by objectivity but which includes internalized subjective activities represented by the less powerful but ever present principle of Unity. (For a human being, Sunrise represents the moment of birth; Sunset, the death of the physical body.)
At the symbolic Sunset, the principles of Unity and Multiplicity are again of equal strength, but the principle of Unity, which has been waxing since the symbolic Noon, soon surpasses the strength of the principle of Multiplicity. The Night hemicycle from Sunset to Sunrise, during which the principle of Unity is stronger than the principle of Multiplicity, represents a condition of being which usually is spoken of in negative terms — nonbeing, nonexistence, nonmanifestation, changeless, timeless. For Rudhyar, however, these terms are unfortunate: the Movement of Wholeness is an all-inclusive and total affirmation of being; there can be no "nonbeing" in the "cycle of being." Hence this half of the cycle represents a condition of predominantly subjective being dominated by subjective activity (which is not, however, "nonactivity"). As the principle of Multiplicity is never absolutely inoperative, this Night hemicycle implies a transphysical substance, less objective than physical matter — an increasingly subtle and homogenous (nondifferentiated) kind of matter. In contrast to the word existence
, which applies to the Day hemicycle, Rudhyar has coined the term inistence
to refer to the Night portion of the cycle.*
Sunrise symbolizes the state of potentiality in which a cycle of existence (which is one half of the total cycle of being) begins. It represents a "seed condition" (the "cosmic Egg"). This alpha condition is "form endowed with power." This power is the energy of the Movement of Wholeness itself. Religions refer to this power and condition as God, the Creator. For Rudhyar, however, God is not "outside" the Movement of Wholeness, which is truly all-inclusive (what could be "outside" of Wholeness?), but a phase of and an action in it (as is Man). This idea — seeing God and divine activity as a series of phases and states within the cycle of being — is indeed revolutionary. It may be the most striking idea Rudhyar has presented. He symbolizes this phase as unpersonifiably as possible by using the term creative Word
The creative Word is formulated between Midnight and Sunrise by what Rudhyar calls the divine Mind
— the predominantly subjective activity occurring when the principle of Unity is stronger than the principle of Multiplicity, which is nevertheless waxing. This process refers to the activity of what religious and esoteric cosmogonies call creative Hierarchies of beings which build the archetypal foundations for the material universe.
From Sunrise to Noon, when the strength of the principle of Multiplicity is greater than that of the principle of Unity, the creative Word cyclically "descends" and differentiates (involution) into specific "Letters" which acquire an increasingly limited focus as archetypes
. These principles, forms, and formulas of organization progressively relate to and structure synchronously evolving (responding, also differentiating) material substances and systems. This matter is the nearly (but not quite) absolute chaos of decayed waste products from the previous cycle. At first it is almost totally indifferent to principles of organization. As archetypes "descend" and differentiate, they organize and find material embodiment in gradually responding matter and material systems (atoms, galaxies, solar systems, planets), then in material organizations sufficiently complex, refined, and sensitive to respond at the level of organization we call life
At the symbolic Noon, the principle of Multiplicity reaches its maximum strength. Differentiation "triumphs" when life produces the extremely complex, refined, and sensitive biological species Homo sapiens, which Rudhyar calls Natural Man
. When protohuman beings begin to respond to the "descent" of truly human (that is, mental) archetypes, the process of human evolution begins.
It ends, and the entire cycle of being culminates, at the symbolic Sunset, in an omega condition fully actualizing the alpha condition symbolized by Sunrise. Rudhyar calls the state of perfection symbolized by Sunset Illumined Man
. In relation to the human condition today, it is a state of superhuman or transhuman activity; in terms of the whole process of human evolution, it is the full actualization of the human potential — that is, of the archetype Man (Anthropos). Illumined Man is the planetary collectivity of beings who reach this state. Because the principles of Unity and Multiplicity are in equilibrium at the symbolic Sunset, differentiation of purpose, activity, and will balance oneness of consciousness in this collectivity.
After the symbolic Sunset, as the principle of Unity surpasses the strength of the principle of Multiplicity, this collectivity becomes increasingly unified and unanimous (literally, "of one soul"). Rudhyar refers to this state as the Pleroma
— an old Gnostic term meaning fulfillment or plenitude of being. The Pleroma state evolves in a mostly subjective way, balancing, as it were, the period of material evolution of the cosmos (from Sunrise to Noon). There are Pleromas after Pleromas, each cosmically more inclusive than the other.
At the symbolic Midnight, this evolution reaches an almost (but not quite) static degree of subjectivity and oneness which Rudhyar calls the Godhead state
. He does not speak of the Godhead as "the Absolute" as many mystics, philosophers, and theologians do; for him, if one can speak of "the Absolute" at all, the term would refer to Wholeness. Neither does he refer to this state of maximum unity and subjectivity as "Reality" in contrast to the "unreality" or "illusion" of the existential world: for Rudhyar, unity is no more "real" than multiplicity; reality is the cyclic interplay between them. Neither is the Godhead a supreme Being utterly transcendent and "external" to the cycle of being; like God, the Creator, it is a phase and an action in and of it.
Inherent in the nearly absolute oneness of the Godhead state is the all-inclusive compassion of Wholeness that compels a new universe to be, first, conceived, then (at the symbolic Sunrise) born (although time does not exist during the hemicycle of inistence — one can only say that it "inists" or that processes of change "endure"). For while the cycle of being culminates in the state of Illumined Man, all human beings do not reach this state; many partially or totally fail to actualize the potential inherent in the archetype Man. (Failure in most cases is only partial when seen in relation to perfection; it encompasses a continuum from total failure to almost perfection. These failures are, as it were, built in to the system. Those who reach perfection need them and are responsible for them: seeds awaiting germination during winter needed green leaves and flowers to be produced. Yet inevitably, flowers and leaves wither and die and break down into humus from which they differentiate and from which future generations of plants will draw nourishment. The nearly (but not quite) absolute oneness of the Godhead state encompasses the responsibility for and the need of these by-products; their very presence ("inistence") calls forth the compassion of the Godhead to conceive of a new universe in which they will have a "second chance" to reach Illumination.
In relation to this Night period, the terms "hemicycle" and "half cycle" should not be interpreted quantitatively; they do not refer to a definite period of measurable time such as human beings experience in a physical, existential universe of moving celestial bodies. Objective, measurable time depends on the rhythm and apparent speed of objective activity to an experiencer differentiated from it. But time can be predominantly objective and measurable or predominantly subjective. In either case, it is the abstraction of the consciousness of motion, which is the "substance" of change — and motion is "eternal," that is, cyclic. Return