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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 4

"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

(2) Cain and Abel

The dualism of Cain and Abel repeats the original dualism of Adam and Eve: Adam who is cursed to work and eat "in the sweat of his face," and Eve who is cursed to bring forth children in sorrow. Cain is the prototype of the man in whom the process of individualization has begun to operate. He is the symbolic fountain-head of "civilization" which develops through the use of fire, of tools and of the intellect (also a sharp tool!). The name, Cain, means in Hebrew, a smith — and also a spear, the product of the smith's art.

But Cain is heir to Adam's sense of guilt and fear. He feels deeply the power of the "curse" which makes it necessary for him to work, to till the soil, to impose his will upon matter, to forcibly control life and fire. He has to develop self-will and cunning in order to survive; and he resents it. This resentment turns into anger — actually it is an anger directed at God and at the compulsive forces of life.

Abel, whom God favored, receives the impact of Cain's explosive dynamism. Abel represents the feminine, intuitive mind which feels at one with the rhythms of life and seasons, and it thus receptively open to God, the Source of life. Abel breeds animals; therefore he simply guides the processes of life, providing for them the best possible conditions. He is the fountainhead of all "culture", the prototype of the pastoral life.

The name Abel in the original Hebrew is Hebel, meaning "breath". Abel is thus, in a sense, the breath of life, the foundation of the "living soul". Cain who kills the breath (Abel) should be seen as the prototype of the ego-will which seeks power by willfully and violently controlling natural energies. In Hindu Yoga there is a basic process called pranayama, meaning literally "killing the breath". By holding the breath, certain types of biopsychic energies are said to be aroused. All civilization, symbolically, is a "holding of the breath"; it is a struggle against the compulsions of nature, a damming up of the life-stream. The life-stream when forcibly contained may produce power, if handled with human ingenuity and skill. But the life-energy, if long held in check by the will or the fear of man, turns explosive. It becomes anger.

Anger results essentially from man's inability to bear the pressure of a situation in which he finds himself isolated and deprived of the natural fulfillment of life-instincts. He may be in such a situation accidentally; more often than not, however, he caused it to happen, or it is his characteristic destiny to grow through it and inspite of it. Cain can be said to have chosen this destiny, as Abel chose the easier and more natural way of flowing with the life-current. The brothers represent therefore the two basic ways for the soul to establish a relationship with God and with life — a negative (but dynamic) and a receptive (but passive) way.

The road Cain follows is the way of negation, but also of individualization by the refusal to remain a passive creature entirely conditioned by the rhythms of life and seasons. It is the road of the criminal, but also, let us not forget, of the ascetic who dams the reproductive energies of life in order to emerge out of the realm of life-desires and life-compulsions and into the realm of God's unity and timelessness. It is the way of Prometheus who, in Greek mythology, is cursed and punished by the God, Zeus, yet who gives man fire, out of love and compassion.

Fire exalts but also destroys; and cities — these shrines to man's willful use of fire and mind-power — are built by men who feel isolated and lonely. Civilization is a tragic cure for spiritual loneliness. Industry and the arts, both symbolically developed by Cain's descendants, bring men together in cities; but in these cities the release of vast powers for man to use gives rise to competition and the drive for leadership and fame — thus to conflicts, ambition and crime.

Yet the Bible ends with a vision of the "Holy City" as seen by John, the one among Christ's disciples who embodied most fully the energy of divine love. The City of Peace, the perfect Jerusalem, in the midst of which the symbol and power of this divine love is enthroned, is the ultimate goal of the evolution of soul. Nevertheless the way to that goal is at first dark. The cities which Cain and his progeny built are dark with mental pride, with violence and lust. The sin of the line of Cain is the sin of the great cities. It is the sin of industry, of the misuse of fire, of the "merchants of death" — and of the atom bomb.

The crime and the curse of Cain hide a deeply paradoxical situation which reappears in different forms at every phase of the evolution of the soul. We will see this paradox implied in the story of Moses who also killed a man; in the relation between God, the one and universal I AM, and men who, if they are to be truly "individual souls", must also each be able to say "I am". We find the paradox in a new form in Jesus' life and death. Indeed the way of the disciple of Christ is a paradoxical way as we shall see presently.

At every step in the Bible, God is shown to look with favor upon the kind of attitude to life which we call "pastoral". It is as if God were saying: "Yes, there must be cities; but My home is with the pastoral people. Yes, there must be mind and industry; but My peace is with the men who have kept their intuitive perceptions clear, their hearts pure, their souls oriented toward Me, as mirrors to the sun and the stars."

After Abel is killed by Cain, Seth is born to replace him. This name, Seth, means "Appointed". God appoints Seth as the fountainhead of the pastoral way. Seth's descendants remain psychically open to God and in harmony with nature's rhythms. They "call upon" the name of God; they "walk with" God. They follow the way of the heart, of devotion and purity, of simplicity and conformity to steady patterns of culture and group-morality — the way that builds character rather than mind. It is from among them that God will select Noah and his family as the seed-remnant which will form the basis for a new evolutionary period after the Deluge.

From the point of view of psychological analysis, the rivalry between Cain and Abel can be said to dramatically condense the serious problems implied in the relationship between brothers, or brothers and sisters — as Abel may also be thought of as a feminine pole in relation to Cain, the masculine "spear", as no mention is made of daughters to Adam and Eve. Conflicts between siblings originate in the relationship between each of them and their parents, or one of the parents. One parent seems to prefer a son, the other a daughter. One son knows how to attract the favor of the father, another fails to do so.

What this means, philosophically speaking, is that the various elements of any present situation have varied relations to the elements of the past. A generation is at peace if it is able to relate itself easily, as a whole, to the preceding generation; time moves smoothly from past to present, then to future. But if the step from the older generation to the younger is one which has all the elements of a crisis, then the members of this younger generation react differently, and indeed competitively, to this crisis and to their parents. Conflicts between siblings are thus most likely to occur in a home where the parents were under great stress at the times of conception and during pregnancy.

The "fight" between Cain and Abel occurs because of the manner in which God has responded to their sacrifices. Yet God had "cursed" their parents! Did the latter repent, seek to come back into God's favor and teach their sons to sacrifice to God?

Put in such terms the situation has the peculiar flavor of all literal interpretations of the Bible — interpretations which, while they are literal and exact at some points, imply completely imaginary assumptions at others! Nevertheless the psychological approach to the Cain-Abel crisis cannot fail to note that the siblings come to blows in terms of their relationship to the God who formed, then cursed their parents. In other words, we see the children re-embodying the problems which caused tragedy to their parents, which lost for them the "ancestral home", Eden.

When Adam was called to task by God in the Garden after eating of "the forbidden fruit", what did he do? He placed the blame on Eve, and by implication on God Himself: "The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me . . ." Cain's conflict with Abel reflects Adam's resentment toward Eve. Adam recoiled in fear and shame from the new knowledge which the eating of the fruit of the tree of good and evil opened up to him. Cain, the first-born, is conceived under this shadow of guilt; and he transfers to Abel the resentment which Adam had for Eve, the temptress. He kills. He spills his (feminine) brother's blood.

Cain — "the spear", the smith who forges nails and weapons — sheds blood. And the shedding echoes a myriad of times through the history-pattern of the evolution of the soul, until we see the blood of the Perfected Man, Jesus, shed by the "spear" and the nails of the soldiers who serve the rulers of the Big City, Rome. Shed willingly for the "remission of the sins of mankind" by the Son of God? Yes; but in the sense that until a mentally sick person can re-experience the original cause of his deep neurosis willingly and forgive himself for it, there can be no complete healing. Jesus' willingly accepted Crucifixion polarizes and absolves the shedding of Abel's blood by Cain. Compassionate love-charity absorbs and neutralizes the violence of anger, as faith absorbs and neutralizes fear.

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

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