The Greater Faith - 1
As far as records of human thinking and human society reach into the past we find mention of the concept of law. At least, we find words which we translate today in that term, and we note social practices which resemble outwardly what we now refer to as law and its enforcement. However, words and records of behavior can be very deceiving. The men of thousands of years ago may have acted outwardly in ways which we assume were quite similar to ours; the actions may be similar, but the feeling-quality back of those actions and their essential meaning in terms of inner values may have been very different from those which we usually encounter in our time and society.
Such a possibility has interest not only for the historian; for today philosophies and religions of the past are being revived, and quite a few of their unfamiliar concepts and ideas are being absorbed by our minds. As ancient hieroglyphs, Oriental scriptures and alchemical manuscripts are being translated, we cannot be certain that our modern words carry for us the same meaning that apparently similar terms did for the people of the past. Do the words we use today have the same meaning and convey the same "feeling-tone" to all people who now read them? Obviously they do not.
All systems of philosophy, theology, metaphysics and even science at the abstract level, are essentially attempts at defining, in different ways, words such as: reality, God, matter, spirit, force, space, time, ego, soul, self-surrender. If it is true that humanity is entering a new cycle of civilizations — a "New Age" — a fundamental change of values is inevitable. The meaning of the words we use is changing, slowly but steadily. The meaning may not be essentially new, for in past centuries a few men or groups here and there may have already thought and felt in this, to most of us, new manner; but what was an exception in the past may become a fairly common fact in the future of man's thinking and man's experience of value. Thus, the occultism of yesterday may be gradually becoming the science of tomorrow; and what but a few mystics have realized is probably touching the consciousness of an increasing number of sincere seekers after ultimates.
Here again we should beware lest we use glibly such words as occult, mystic, scientific, religious. Not really understanding what we are talking about, or with an understanding biased by set traditional use or personal complexes, we may produce more confusion than ever. Because most of those who have sought for years to overcome their narrow and dogmatic religious or moral traditions and to reach a new and higher or broader experience of "reality" are confused, one of the most important tasks today for the true philosopher is to seek to clear up as much of this confusion as is possible. Thus as this little word "law" is a fertile field for confusion, emotionally colored prejudices and superficial, all-too-easy (because nicely memorizable) statements, let us try to enquire into its various meanings.
Law is primarily defined (Funk and Wagnell's College Dictionary) as: "A rule of action established by recognized authority to enforce justice and prescribe duty and obligation," and as "a system of rules and regulations recognized by men or nations." This definition applies mainly at the social and political level. Later, another one follows according to which the "rule of action, as for governing human conduct" is understood to be "emanating from, or attributed to the Deity"; thus, "the commandments or revelations of God taken collectively."
The main concepts in such definitions imply or presuppose that there are "established rules" of action. What is the "recognized authority" establishing them? At one level we would normally say that it is the State and its ruler or the Legislature and the common or majority will of the people (or at least of the voters). At another level it is the Deity conceived as operating through, or in the person of, a Law-giver — for instance, the fabled Manu in India and Moses for the Hebraic people.
However, the word "authority" is a very interesting and little understood term. What it literally means is simply the status of being an author. An author has authority over what he is producing or creating; he can alter what comes out of him. A novelist has authority over the personages of his novel; an architect has authority over the building, the blueprints of which he is drafting. Once the blueprints are accepted and the foundations are laid down, basic alterations become nearly impossible unless the whole process is stopped and begun again from the beginning. Yet the owner or future tenants of the building may ask the architect to make many detailed changes — the more so the longer the building process lasts, making it possible for new emergencies and needs, or improved concepts of space-utilization, to arise. Other contingencies — labor strikes, sabotage, waste or sudden scarcity of rare materials — may also demand numerous modifications of the initial plan. Translating all this at the cosmic level may help us to understand many factors of a cosmological and social nature.
A number of religions, and today esoteric groups, are stressing the concept of plan, following a similar emphasis in politics, economics, even home economics (the famous "family budget" required every month to meet all installment payments — our karma!). Christian fundamentalists speak of "God's Plan of Salvation" in a way which probably would have startled and saddened Jesus; and some modern prophets are disclosing what "God's Plan" is, according to some "revelation" from some great Personage who is said to be close enough to divine Headquarters to know about the blueprints of the Great Architect of the Universe. The symbolism of Architect and Plan is taken bodily from Masonry, as is also the concept of the "Lodge." A related concept, that of the Hierarchy, is obviously influenced by the Catholic Church's organization and perhaps by experiences with the Army. It should not be confused with the references to "Celestial Hierarchies of Builders of the Cosmos" (Cosmocratores) which H.P. Blavatsky and others have made, following archaic traditions.
The important point in any discussion of the concept of "law" is whether or not the "system of rules and regulations" is external to that which is being ruled, or inherent in whatever follows the rules. Unfortunately, in our misuse of words — which in turn has largely been produced by a deviation or perversion of the principle of conduct expressed by the earliest archaic words — we make no difference between a rule imposed from the outside and an inherent or instinctive compulsion to act according to a structural order. Neither do we most of the time clearly distinguish between "ruling power" and "authority"; and the results of such confusion are far-reaching.
Whenever one speaks of law one should have in mind a ruling power — but not an authority. The author does not make the law for the personages he imagines and creates in his novel; they are his creatures and therefore they obviously act according to the way he has imagined them to act. The romantic idea dear to many a novelist that the characters of his stories acquire an entity of their own and make him develop the story in their own way, is simply an instance of inaccurate thinking; the novelist who makes such a statement may be correct insofar as his conscious ego is concerned, but the fact that this conscious ego is forced by the inherent logic of development of a situation and a character to make things happen in a way he at first had not thought of simply means that the real author-creator is not the novelist's ego, but a superconscious power in him beyond the ego. That creative power is the real author. This author "sees" rather than rationally thinks or plans. He emanates seed-ideas which are both ideas and forces (idée-forces in French). They are archetypes, i.e. definite sets of organized potentialities, which contain inherently the energy necessary for their spontaneous actualization.
After having had a more or less clear mental picture (or flash of inspiration), the novelist's ego writes down, or engineers, the story. Usually the mental picture is imprecise and full of holes; therefore, as the story proceeds, the writer is often surprised by the way it appears to unfold with a will of its own. It is not that the story has a will of its own, but that what the true "author" has emanated into the seed ideas of the story and the characters must unfold with an inherent logic of growth, just as an oak tree unfolds out of an acorn. The seed ideas must unfold; there is compulsion — but an inherent compulsion. There is nothing that, from the outside and through the use of some ruling power, forces anything to happen.
Compulsion does not mean coercion, but rather a state of "being driven together," a pulsing together. The cells of a body are compelled to act following a principle of organic order unless and until destructive and anarchistic forces break down the integrational power of "com-pulsing." Any forcible pressure from the outside cannot accurately be called a compulsion. If it could, that would mean that the seemingly compelled individual has ceased to be an individual entity and has become a unit within a larger whole, permanent or impermanent. For instance, it is impermanent in the case of a mob moved by a single violent passion, a mob of which the component persons cease for a time to feet, think and act as individuals; then they pulse together; compelled by the mob spirit.
In other words, the law is a system of rules and regulations which must be established just because the real sense of authority is lost. Laws are necessary when and where the inherent principle of structural order fails to operate adequately.
Seen from this point of view, to speak of a cosmic law or of natural law is to show that one has actually lost the immediate feeling-intuition of the immanent presence of the Author of the cosmos and of nature. One thinks as an ego fallen from a state of grace; one has so lost the sense of the divine order operating in and through the World-Process (the building of the cosmos) that one must interpret the evident regularity and amazing intelligence displayed in natural phenomena (including one's own bodies) as a law established by some ruler outside of the World-Process. A Big Boss is ruling the whole show. A Big Ego is setting down the law policing the world and human souls by the use of rigid decrees, sanctions, and all the paraphernalia of earthly states transposed to an imagined cosmic level.
Modern science speaks of laws; and the dictionary defines the term at the level of scientific inquiry as "the uniform occurrence of natural phenomena in the same way or order under the same conditions so far as human knowledge goes; a rule of the universe" — rule meaning here a "common or regular course of procedure." Scientifically speaking, what is meant therefore by natural or cosmic law is simply the fact that, as far as we know, natural phenomena occur in ways that are dependable and predictable; thus they can be foreseen and controlled for our use. Nothing is said or implied as to why they are so dependable.
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