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Dane Rudhyar's Fire Out of the Stone. Image Copyright 2007 by Michael R. Meyer.

A Reformulation of the
Basic Images of the
Judeo-Christian Tradition

by Dane Rudhyar, 1962

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This title was first published by Sevire, 1963.

Cover for the online edition copyright © 2008
by Michael R. Meyer.

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"Thy God is a cosumming fire."
Duet. 4:25

"He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
Matthew 3:11

"I am come to send fire on the earth."
Luke 12:49

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"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end."
Rev. 21 : 6

Consider the yearly cycle of vegetation in the fields. When autumn comes to a close, we find in the soil two end-results of the activity which brought to life in the spring an abundance of green plants and flowers. On the one hand we observe the decay of the fallen leaves and of all but a few tough stems (the "ghosts" of the past); on the other hand, if we look carefully through the decaying humus, we will discover the seeds that dropped to the ground as the plants which had produced them began to die.

Seen in this simplified form we can say that the close of the cycle of yearly vegetable life produces essentially two things: seeds and decaying leaves. The leaves mix with the minerals in the soil to form humus; and the seeds will germinate in time, unless their hard envelopes fail to protect them and they too decay under rain and snow or are destroyed by other living entities. The seeds will bring forth a more abundant vegetation; the decayed leaves, once returned to the soil, will be reabsorbed into this new vegetation as chemical raw material. Symbolically understood these two ways of vegetable life — the way of the seed and the way of leaves — are profoundly and universally significant. They illustrate the path of the soul and the highway of material elements in the total human being. These two lines of unfoldment lead, respectively, to what we might symbolically call the Brotherhood of the Seed (the Company of Perfected Souls of the "last Day"), and to chaos ("the Deep").

From the point of view of a superficial observer — for instance, an aviator flying above the field — the earth is barren of vegetation during the winter; perhaps a mantle of white snow covers the soil. There is nothing (i.e., no thing) to be seen except the bare soil or snow expanse. Then spring comes and the miracle occurs. Out of this outer nothing green shoots emerge and new vegetation covers the soil. Yet the new green things do not actually come "out of nothing". They represent the result of a new process of integration: the integration of seed and of chemical elements left over from the preceding year's vegetation, plus water and warmth that come from the sky — the universal realm. In this process of reintegration the seeds are the active and positive factors; the loose particles of soil, the passive factors. And the source of creative energy is the sun, whose warm rays set in motion the whole process.

Because we see this process operating year after year in the life-sphere on the surface of the earth, and because it reveals a basic pattern inherent in all the operations of life, it has been used for thousands of years by spiritual teachers of all races as a symbol of the still vaster cosmic Movement which gives rise to countless universes in the realm of time and space. By considering the pattern and the meaning of the yearly process of rebirth of vegetation, we can indeed obtain a basic clue to the nature of the factors which enter into the process of universal Creation, and as well to the purpose of Creation.

The Emergence and Fulfillment of Cyclic Time

When we try to think of the Creation of the universe according to the old religious traditions, we find ourselves confronted with the seemingly unanswerable question: What is or was there "before" anything is? If time "begins", it must likewise "end". Yet can we actually imagine a state of being, and even more a Being, beyond time? We way imagine conditions in which the sequence of moments of time is immensely slowed down or accelerated. We may conceive of a consciousness able to see at once all the past and to foresee the pattern of future developments, as a gardener foresees the oak while looking at an acorn. But all this is not "beyond time"! It refers only to a different relationship of consciousness to time.

However, to the religiously oriented mind — and it is essentially to this kind of mind that this book is addressed — the problem usually seems quite solvable; and the solution is somehow hidden in the word "God". What this word covers or symbolizes is the actually inconceivable state which somehow has to be postulated beyond time if the concept of a "creation" of the universe by God at a certain time (however remote it may be) is to make any sense at all. "God" therefore represents a priori a condition of all-inclusive, but also of utterly transcendent, formless, changeless, timeless unity. Yet while God and the universe of forms, of change and time, are two contrasting concepts, they are evidently somehow related to each other, for religions tell us that God "created" the universe. What then is the relationship of God to the universe?

If we indisputably knew the nature of this relationship, we should be able to understand the motive, method and purpose of the process of Creation. Unfortunately religions and metaphysics have differed widely in interpreting this relationship of God to the universe. This need not surprise us; for all that man, immersed in the world of time and of ever-changing forms of existence, can say basically of the postulated condition or realm of God's unity is that it has not the characteristics of our world. Thus God is described in the more mystical types of religion, and likewise in transcendental metaphysics where the "Absolute" is spoken of, in a strictly negative sense: i.e., timeless, changeless, unconditioned.

What is timeless cannot of course have any beginning or end. But can one actually think of time itself as beginning or ending? This is very doubtful. One can only think in any real sense of the beginning of a particular manifestation of time — that is, the beginning of a "cycle" of time, a wholeness of time.

This can be at least partly illustrated at the everyday level of life by the fact that the activity of the human body does not end when a person falls asleep. Some phases of this activity stop and become latent; nevertheless there is activity in the body. What takes place is a process of division within the total person: the mind and soul seem to withdraw, either into a condition of suspended latent activity or into a transcendent realm of activity (of which some dreams are perhaps the more or less confused and distorted memory), while the cells and organs of the body keep on with their chemical and rhythmic activity in a somewhat modified manner. When the person awakens, the two levels of the total personality become reintegrated.

In this obviously limited illustration the processes of division (as sleep occurs) and reintegration (on reawaking) are extremely relative or superficial. At death a much more complete division occurs, which represents more adequately the end of a manifestation of time; but time itself does not end. More generally speaking, the terms "beginning" and "end" belong to the realm of time. They refer to some transformation of what time is or represents — a transformation in relation to God's or the Absolute's timelessness.

There cannot be any beginning or end in God's timeless condition of absolute unity, for that would be a logical absurdity; yet we can say that the relationship between God's timelessness and the time-space universe changes. It changes cyclically; and what we call "beginning and end" constitute two critical phases of this relationship between God's timelessness and time — between God's unity and the multiplicity which we witness in the world of things and also of individualized souls.

However when we speak of God relating Himself to matter we must not conceive God as being "here" and the multitudes of material particles of individual souls as being "there"! Neither should we think of God's timelessness as existing before the beginning of time or after the end of time; for that would make no sense at all. God's timelessness has often been described figuratively as "the Eternal Now"; it is and its acts in and through time, not outside of time. Likewise God's changeless "being" is and acts in and through man's and matter's "becoming", not outside of it.

"Being" includes "becoming"; the ultimate One encompasses the Many, somewhat as the many thoughts of a man are "within" his one mind. The thoughts are within the mind; yet if the man does not think a particular type or sequence of thoughts, these thoughts are not thereby "outside" of the man's mind but they are rather outside of the man's field of attention. The man is not consciously and actively related to them; the thoughts are latent, yet they are in the mind just the same. In a similar sense matter is timelessly within God's mind and being; but if God does not "think" of matter and does not focus His attention upon matter, then no universe, no time, no thing can exist.

Difficult though it be to conceive it, we have to state that God is the timeless Harmony of all that we can only experience as seeming opposites: being and becoming; timelessness (or eternity) and time; changeless unity and everchanging multiplicity. As we belong to the realm, of change and multiplicity, we can only dimly sense these polarizations of God's absolute essence through our realization of time and cycles — "as through a glass, darkly." Therefore we see them spread out, as it were, in cyclic time, somewhat as a ray of sunlight is spread out in colored space when passing through a prism. What is within God as a timeless, perfect, harmonic relationship of elements, to us becomes a changing relationship between an ideal concept of unity and our experience of multiplicity.

When we speak of the beginning of Creation we have in mind that moment in which God seems to us to have focused His attention upon the realm of matter. "Beginning", we might say, is the moment of entrance of God's Spirit into the world of time. "End" is the moment in which the perfected soul, having accomplished the divine purpose of the Creation, sees itself established in the timeless unity of God.

Beginning and end are the alpha and omega of the active relationship between God and the realm of multiplicity — of matter and of individual souls. Time itself can be best conceived as the working out of this relatedness of the all-encompassing One to the Many. It is "spun" out of the timelessness of God — somewhat as compassion wells out of a loving heart while the scene of a disaster is gradually surveyed. Time is the warp of God's activity; therefore, to us who are taking form and evolving along the circular threads of this warp, time, when properly experienced, should reveal the unity and the continuity of God's activity.

This edition copyright © 2008 by Michael R. Meyer
All Rights Reserved.

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