Avatars and Seed Men for a New Civilization - 1
If we are to make sense out of the chaotic situation in which, in this year 1975, mankind is blindly and emotionally struggling, we need to obtain a broad perspective unclouded by momentary local issues and partisanship. We need above all an awareness of the rhythmic processes undertoning historical events, thus of planetary as well as sociocultural patterns of change. We need to realize that any process of transformation challenging the validity of the long taken-for-granted symbols and myths that have ensouled and integrated an entire society, and its religious and cultural institutions, necessarily implies a "descent" from a region of cosmic-spiritual being and activity to the level of sociocultural events. It is a progressive descent which touches one level after another, inducing in each field of collective and planet-wide human activity potentially radical changes. The nature and outcome of these changes depend upon the state of affairs and the character of man's collective consciousness and the nature of the personalities through which such potentialities for transformation become focused, actualized in mental images, and released into society.
The future possibility and ideal image becomes the present fact in terms of inherent ability to overcome the inertia of the past. The features of the present moment inevitably are the results of the meeting of the future and the past, of what should be because the time for its actualization in a cyclic process has come, and what has been. In this meeting the possibility that has come to maturity not only encounters, but has to accept and interact with the human situation which it has radically to transform. This interaction of the future with the past is what is meant by the term karma. Karma basically means action; and no action operates in a vacuum. No creation is ex nihilo (out of nothing) — the creation of a universe as well as that of a work of art. The results of a release of kinetic energy at any point of space and time depend as much on what the situation and evolutionary state of affairs was at that place and at that moment as on the power and character of the power being released.
Everything in the universe is what it has been able to become when a new evolutionary potentiality which has reached the state of spiritual maturity struck with fecund energy at structures that, at that very moment, had proved to be fundamentally obsolete. The reactions or responses of these structures — personal egos structures or social institutions — reveal the karma of the individual or the collective person, of a man or a nation. What is popularly called "bad karma" simply means a strong inertial resistance of the past to the transforming action of the future possibility. A set of negative images based on past actions or refusals to act either tries to block the descending power of the transformative spirit, or to deviate and pervert it so that it can be made to operate along the old grooves of some past institution or personal complex.
An Avatar appears as a divine transformative answer to a human collectivity which has reached in its cycle a crisis of growth. Crisis etymologically means "decision." A decision has to be made; a definite expansion or a basic repolarization of consciousness is needed, perhaps in order to break the stranglehold of institutions and sociocultural habits and traditions which, useful as they may have been in the past, are now obstacles to essential growth. The Avatar answers the need by bringing to at least a few human beings whose consciousness has become dissatisfied and expectant the fascinating embodiment and radiation of a future for which they have yearned, dimly perhaps or without real hope of its actualization. Now, for them, the ideal, the new way of life, the revolutionary quality of feeling and/or thinking, have become man — the inner vision, concrete and adorable reality. But ready as these few may be to resonate to the divine, because transformative, manifestation, their readiness is nevertheless still conditioned by the culture and religion in which they were born, or (and this can be as determinant and binding a factor) by their revulsion against the Old, now that they have beheld the New. In any case, these few are a very small minority. The masses still respond to the old emotional slogans; they still worship the ancient images though they have become empty of real spiritual vitality and meaning. The Avatar must speak their language. He must be human. He must have experienced the need of the human collectivity, personally, in himself; he may have been tempted and overcome the then expectable human ego-responses. He may then radiate his own victory upon the people around him; he becomes an exemplar of victory.
All spiritual living is a constant victory over the inertia of the past. The racial or group karma must be accepted, faced and absorbed into the dharma's victory. The divine destiny is fulfilled, but it can only be fulfilled in relation to all that in man represents the past up to that point. It is fulfilled through the past which, sensing it is being challenged, always tends to renew its vigor and increase its hold upon the masses. The Avatar meets his "shadow" — which is the shadow of the human race, or of a particular culture — in men who fanatically, because fearfully, persecute him, or twist his message so as to make it sound ridiculous.
These things have been said before, but how few realize their importance and their implications! It is because the fighting clans of ancient India were ravaging the country in their perpetual wars that the Avatar, Krishna, became a statesman of consummate skill who managed to induce the rival armies to meet with equal strength at the Battle of Kurukshetra so that they would destroy each other, a destruction which marked the end of the rule of the Warrior caste. Then, and only then, could the rise of the Brahmins produce the great Age of Philosophy which lasted until after Gautama the Buddha. An old way of life had to be superseded by a new one; or perhaps the perverted forms of a once pure system had to be eradicated, at least for a time. Krishna, as often great gurus do, set the stage so that the antagonistic passions of mankind could destroy each other. But, according to the tradition, at the eve of the great battle, he gave to his disciple, Arjuna, the great discourses of the Bhagavad Gita, establishing what presumably was the first complete statement of an all-inclusive theistic and devotional religious philosophy which foreshadowed the spiritual needs of a humanity about to experience a gradual process of individualization and ego-centralization.
It was also the past failure of mankind — or at least of what H.P.B. called the Fifth Root-Race — which gave form and a tragic character to the manifestation of the Christ-spirit of universal Love in the person of an at least partly Jewish man; this because the Jewish people, as a sociocultural whole, embodied the most specific need that many inadequate and perverting responses or actual failures had produced in mankind.
Western mankind was pathetically unready to accept or even understand what the transformation of man's feeling-responses and essential being implied. But are we any more ready to accept, or even to recognize, the new Avataric descent whose time has now come? It is this descent of spiritual planetary power that, acting at first at high spiritual levels, precipitated or induced the present-day crisis of a world-wide transformation of human society. This crisis has taken and is still taking the form required to meet the many failures and perversions of Western civilization. "God" creates through the Avatar, but man's past is the material available for the creation. Because of this, the creative process takes a long time. The present crisis of transformation has not yet reached its climax at the level of human collectivities. It is a process which involves more than one great divine manifestation, more than one avataric being.
Some fifty-five years ago, in a book long ago discarded, I wrote about what I called "the Avataric Cycle," suggesting that such a transformation had to include many phases, each affecting a particular level of human activity. Each level has a basic rhythm of its own, and corresponds to a specific type of event or manifestation. As this is a time in which several cycles are interacting, the human situation is particularly complex. I have already spoken of these cycles (cf. the chapter "Planetary and Social Cycles"), but we may now discuss the relation of great avataric events to them, century after century. It is nevertheless essential for us to hold clearly in mind the idea that we are dealing with one great planetary movement which constitutes the gradual process of actualization in various forms — each responding to the essential nature of one level of Man's activity — of a new quality of consciousness, and a potentially new way of collective living for a regenerated humanity.
The Avatar essentially is a process. It is a "rite of passage" for mankind. It announces the coming of a new vibration, the beginning of a new way of life. One may wish to think by comparison of human biosocial periods of transition such as puberty, coming of age, change of life; but correspondences usually are dangerous, or at least confusing, if literally applied. If a very general analogy were to be established it probably would be best to compare mankind's present situation to the change of life during the "dangerous forties"; yet this would tell only part of the story. Whatever it be compared with, the planetary crisis mankind is now experiencing, if seen from an occult-spiritual point of view, is truly a vast ritual. In this planetary ritual, great personages, some visible but many more invisible, are performing their acts of destiny according to cyclic rhythms. Unfortunately to most human beings these rhythms are unknown or unclear and the performances are ambiguous or ambivalent. They have to be, because they take place on a human stage nearly totally obscured by either the doctrinarian or the intellectual concepts of our tragic European-American civilization whose gods are the ego and the rationalistic mind, though in name we may worship God as a superego and His Biblical revelation as a supermind.
The Age is dark with blatant pride, violence and greed. Passions are wild, after a period of artificial containment. We worship success, comfort, material possessions. Confusion is in every soul and mind. How could the great "rite of passage" to a new humanity, or at least a new consciousness of the meaning of being human, be anything but a mysterious performance in the crypt of the human temple, while on the floor above nations as well as individuals indulge in mock trials, and devastating and absurd wars? Yet the ritual unfolds its potentialities of human renewal as ineluctably cosmic time moves on toward its fulfillment.
Something will be fulfilled. At least the multifarious seeds of future collective developments will have been sown upon the Earth. Some individuals will perform their roles of destiny, even though they falter and stumble in the darkness and against the powers of darkness. What mankind as a whole will accomplish, how the crisis will reach its apex and what will follow, who can really tell? One should go on, regardless; for man's essential duty in such a time of crisis is to walk on, in faith and patience, with a mind open to the future and uncluttered by ghosts or memories, and, in one's deepest being, with love to illumine, however faintly, the roughness of the path.
As we saw in the chapter, "Planetary and Social Cycles," three clearly defined cycles are operating at this time; and undoubtedly there are larger ones of which we have no working knowledge. The widely publicized transition between the so-called Piscean and Aquarian Ages began with the spread of the Industrial Revolution in the forties of last century; it is a phase of the nearly 26,000 year-long cycle of the precession of the equinoxes. Because that cycle refers to one of the slow rhythms of our planet, Earth, it affects the entire biosphere; and within this biosphere, mankind as a whole. As we have already seen at the close of the chapter, "A Planetary Frame of Reference" the fundamental vibration or tone of the Earth in our present evolutionary period can be symbolized by number 4. We are in a fourth Round, or a "fourth world." This number gives the key to all natural processes on this planet. It defines the characteristic quality of Earth nature. Inasmuch as mankind operates within the Earth's biosphere, it too generically is responding en masse to this vibration 4. But Man as cosmic archetype represents on this planet the potentiality as it were, to fecundate the 4-controlled biosphere with the vibration 5 which refers to the transformative Mind. It is therefore man's Great Work, in the alchemical sense of these words, to transform Earth nature by pervading it with the type of consciousness vibrating to the 5. It is to raise his biological and psychic nature to the level of the creative Mind. Man's archetypal image is the five-pointed star, the pentagram.
When this star points upward, the human mind is reaching toward the realm where the vibration 6 operates — the realm of spiritual being — and of a holistic and unanimous consciousness which includes all in a realization of divine Unity, or one should rather say of all-encompassing wholeness and synthesis. When, on the other hand, the five-pointed star of Man points downward, the great reversal has occurred and SANAT has become SATAN. The mind, instead of being illumined by the light of the unitive spirit (manas tajasi), is overcome by the entropy of all natural processes within the biosphere; it is being quartered on the cross of matter, and the spiritually fecund power latent in the highest chakras is supplanted by the generative, then degenerative, passions rooted in the lowest centers.
The vibration 5 pervades what should be strictly called civilization," in contrast to "culture" which refers to the natural process of cultivation (biological and psychological) operating under the vibration 4. The word civilization comes from the Latin, civitas, which means "a city." It may be related, at least symbolically, to the Sanskrit, Shiva, the god of transformative processes, which may mean spiritual rebirth, or merely death. The German historian, Oswald Spengler, opposed civilization to culture (Kultur), praising the latter and presenting the former in its most degenerative aspect, the modern metropolis, symbolized in the Gospel by Babylon. But civilization is as ambivalent as the human mind. It can lead to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, which desends from the spiritual-archetypal realm, or to Babylon. To the true "Fifth-Rounder" the "black magician" answers in the darkness of the netherworld.