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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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7. CRISIS AND SIN - page 1

"Jesus said unto them: If ye were blind, ye should have no sin; but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth."
John 9 : 41

History, seen from the point of view of religion — that is, of the relationship of God to man — is the series of outer events which express, in complex and often confused patterns, the rhythm of the successive transformations of the soul. One must accept this as fact the moment one considers the soul as the working out of the fundamental relationship between the One and the Many, between spirit and matter, between God and the multiplicity of the elements which constitute the universe.

In this approach to history, which we find in all the Sacred Books of the past, what matters most is not what a modern historian would call "objective facts", but rather the significance of these facts in terms of the process of soul-evolution. In this sense such a "sacred" history belongs essentially to the realm of art — that is, of sacred art — and the Biblical narrative is to be considered as a symbolical epic of soul-unfoldment, not recording facts as much as selectively using facts to enlighten human minds with reference to soul processes. By transforming these into great "Images" and vivid stories or myths able to condition and to mould the collective unconscious of a new race and an emerging civilization, the writers of Sacred Books have sought to impress upon future generations certain fundamental realizations. They acted, more or less consciously, as builders of collective psychology.

We, as consciously sophisticated twentieth century personalities, may have very little esteem for or interest in such religious imagery and myths, and probably "scientifically" deny the historical validity of the events which the Bible mentions; yet if we were born in a Jewish or Christian community, our collective unconscious has been most profoundly impressed by the stories of the Bible. These have actually moulded many of our deepest and most vital psychological responses; and it would be rather senseless to try to hide this fact. We should rather face it and seek to discover what essential psycho-spiritual significance the Biblical narratives might have, and why the Christian religion and culture have used them as building stones for the collective mentality of the Western peoples.

If we are able to come to the realization that the main sequence of events in the Bible constitutes a symbolic picture of the process of unfoldment through which every human soul must pass on its way to perfection or "divine Sonship" — indeed of the process of unfoldment which every individual would experience, in essence, if he or she reached full spiritual maturity — then we can reorient our conscious mind and ego toward this "sacred" tradition. This means actually that we would be recognizing and accepting those deeply hidden aspects of our unconscious, the existence of which we so often refuse to admit; we would be accepting them into our consciousness and, by so doing, achieving a greater degree of inclusive integration as a full, rich, positive individual person.

We can only do this, evidently, if we pierce beyond traditionally orthodox statements based on a literal acceptance of every word of the Bible. Jesus is said to have explained to his disciples "the meaning of the Scriptures", and he promised that the Holy Spirit, after his departure, would further unveil to them such a meaning. So he could not have thought that this meaning was obvious and easily grasped! Yet Christian leaders have consistently clung to the dead-letter sense of the Bible. Modern unorthodox attempts at interpretation have sought to correct this situation; but, in many cases, they have been made by individuals who were steeped in the common religious feelings of the Christian tradition and unconversant with modern psychology. Thus these interpretations are acceptable only to rather sentimental and over-idealistic people who have but barely emerged from the womb of an all-enfolding "Churchianity". A step further can and should be taken; and we should attempt to probe, with a more penetrating and less devotionally conditioned mind, into the actual psychological significance of some of the most basic Images which the Bible has powerfully impressed upon us.

The conceptual feeling-Image of the "original sin" and the "fall of man" has been one of the most tragically determining factors in the evolution of our Western civilization. It still deeply conditions, whether we accept it literally or reject it with intellectual scorn, modern man's mentality. We must come to terms with this concept and feeling-Image if we want to become spiritually mature individuals.

In essence, all that the stories of the Fall and of the Deluge after a wholesale perversion of mankind imply, if we consider such events as symbols of facts of the evolution of the human soul, is that the process of unfoldment of any soul, from the life-sphere where it operates as a "living soul" to the stage of individualized consciousness and egohood, is an inherently difficult and tragic one. This is so simply because the very nature of the life-sphere and the situation of the "living soul" in it inevitably lead to some fundamental crises. Perhaps the darkest consequences of these crises could have been avoided; but this is a rather aimless speculation. The crises did turn out to be "tragic", and psychologically speaking our souls are not as yet so far advanced that we are not still heirs, subconsciously though it be, to the consequences of these great dramas of man's ancient past.

In this sense we can speak of an original sin in the same way as the modern psychologist speaks of the lasting emotional effects of a deeply shocking experience in early childhood. The man or woman of 45 may seem utterly different from the child of 5; yet what happened at the age of 5 in relation to the father or the mother is well known to condition the future growth of the psyche for years, and to be the very foundation of some often-mentioned "crisis of the forties". If we believe in depth psychology — whether Freudian or Jungian — and in the persisting power of such Images and complexes in the subconscious, it would seem rather illogical to scorn the idea of the all-human impact of an "original sin" and of the persistence in man's collective unconscious of a sense of guilt or deep-rooted failure. And if we believe in the persistence of this negative Image in man's unconscious — and a stubborn persistence it obviously is! — we must likewise believe in the need for "therapy" — which may mean "saving" from mental destruction — if the inner psychic life of man is to be purged and "redeemed" from stifling darkness and psychological "ghosts".

The need for healing and redemption from the unresolved memories of past failures is as obvious in most individual persons as it is in the collective mind-feelings of the human race. If we accept the possibility of psychological healing through the good offices of a psychoanalyst, we certainly cannot logically dismiss as "religious nonsense" the idea of a collective Redemption through the intermediation of a "Christ". However, all depends upon what meaning we give to these processes which we know as "sin" and "redemption". The concepts we still hold today are traditional and antiquated; and nothing in the Gospels really tells us whether or not they were held by Jesus, at least held in the manner in which they have been preached and belief in them enforced through centuries of Church control over the minds of men.

Essentially the idea of sin and atonement was an old Jewish concept; and it is not at all difficult to see how the Apostles — Paul, especially — might have felt more or less compelled to use it in a new form, as they faced a very difficult situation in their attempt to spread the gospel through the chaotic and uprooted society of their day. They had been stirred and fired with divine enthusiasm by the spiritual dynamics of Jesus' personality, by the awe-inspiring mystery of his death and his reappearance among them. Yet Jesus' death still constituted, especially for the educated classes of that period, an infamous end to a strangely brief career as a Prophet, even as a Healer with extraordinary powers. Jesus' death had to be interpreted; it was a fact which, like any fact, could be interpreted in several ways.

Paul, the man who stood, as it were, between two worlds — the old Hebraic world and the world of his Roman citizenship — must have realized, with inspired insight, that the death of Jesus could become the integrating link between the old and the new, between the tribal yesterdays of the "elect people" and the worldwide citizenship of which Rome was then the symbol and the core. What needed to be done was to integrate the Gospels with Genesis — to integrate Jesus' death with Adam's tragedy. Two tragedies! Seen together they would constitute a tremendously vast Mystery, the great drama of Sin and Redemption. Man, the sinner — God, the Redeemer. One "original sin" — the "only begotten Son" to wash it away with the "blood of Christ".

To this day we see the plot of this great drama (the redemption of the one basic human sin by the Son of God) presented by the Churches under the name of the "Plan of Salvation" — God's Plan. But it is not clearly enough realized that if this Plan is of such tremendous significance as a revelation of God's love and of the glory of His triune being, then that which made it possible — Adam's sin — assumes also cosmic proportions. There could be no redemption were it not for the original sin. The usual idea of the redemption necessitates the belief in a most grievous sin rooted in the collective nature of man and impossible for any individual to eradicate without the awesome sacrifice of the Son of God.

In the great drama of Salvation, the supreme solution of the "last Act" (Christ's vicarious Atonement) grows in glorious meaning in proportion as the original situation (the original sin) is shown to be of the deepest darkness. The emotional appeal of Christianity — the great religion of the Redemption of sin, as it is so often called — is proportional to the intensity of man's feeling of sinfulness and guilt, and of man's fear of retribution and hell.

Paul presumably saw, better than anyone, the need to present a most vivid picture of man's sinfulness (including his own experience of sin) in order to arouse the people of his time to immense faith in Christ, the Redeemer. The Mediterranean world of Paul's day needed this emotional arousal. And the need was answered; popular, emotional Christianity won.

True spiritual or even ethical values alone have not, generally speaking, sufficient emotional dynamics to draw the mass-mind of man to them. Man is not willing to pass through the metanoia process; he is not ready to experience deep catharsis and rebirth unless he has come to a condition of near despair. Man will surrender the dark or rigid contents of his ego only if there is no other alternative left. Therefore man apparently must, at times, be made to realize with an almost unbearable intensity the darkness he lives in, so that he may be aroused to God-ward action, so that the soul may awaken from the drugged slumber of a negative state in relation to God.

However, what was dynamically effective in a world filled with the multitudinous remains of many tribal, imperial or city-state religions which had lost their hold upon both the masses of uprooted, dejected slaves (millions of them!) and the Greco-Roman aristocracies living in a spiritual vacuum, cannot be what our present-day Western world actually needs. It is one thing to energize the birth of a world-religion and another thing to spearhead the rebirth of this religion after it has been accepted by a whole civilization for some seventeen centuries! The enemies of Christianity in the Apostles' time had never heard of Christ; but the enemies of Christianity today have been, for the most part, Christians. They gave up Christ, perhaps, because of the way Christianity presented Christ to them. If Christianity is once more to make world-history and to transform our present world-chaos, it must be able to effectively heal the basic conflicts in modern man's soul. But Christian traditional attitudes and dogmas are responsible for these conflicts as much as, and perhaps more than, the materialistic approach of science. The enemy is within.

What is conflicting in modern man's soul are two negatives: religious dogma (religion's bondage to past interpretations of God, Christ and man) and scientific materialism (science's exclusive preoccupation with material values, facts of the material world and analytical-empirical, quantitative techniques). Only a positive power of integration, channeled through minds illumined by love and dynamized by a creative will to transformation, can re-polarize these two negatives and dissipate their conflict. A transfigured Christianity must be immensely positive. It cannot use a negative condition, sin, as the foundation for its emotional appeal.

To wash away the sins of the world is the negation of a negation. Today we need an affirmative foundation for Christianity. Christianity cannot be transfigured and remain primarily the religion of the Redemption of sins. It must become the way to the glorious realization of divine Sonship by consecrated and heroic individuals. It must accept the Transfiguration more than the Crucifixion; the life example of Jesus rather than his death. It must affirm the divinity inherent, even if unawakened, in every individual. It must be a religion of creative, ever transforming acts of God acting through self-dedicated men who know themselves as souls, as free and creative individuals — "free" to become what they essentially are in spirit and in truth, and "creative" as participants in the vast Movement of an ever-renewed divine Creation, here and now.

In this age every mystery is to be revealed in the light of the spirit that shines everywhere and at all times, and which therefore absorbs all shadows. We have witnessed the tremendous fire and light released from the core of the atom of matter. The dead letter of the books and of the laws written on the stones of the past must reveal and give out its burning spiritual core. A "host" of creative mind-souls should arise in the decades to come, to spark the transfiguration of Christianity and of our global society-in-the-making.

Paul, were he now among us, would understand the need; for he was the one to say, in his Letters to the Corinthians, these inspired words: "Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened". And again: "The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."

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

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