When I was born in Paris, France, near the close of the nineteenth century, automobiles, telephones, radios, phonographs, television, central heating, the wide use of electricity, and the power of large corporations were in their infancy or entirely unknown. Nineteenth-century science was still exclusively dominated by the materialism and mechanism of "classical" seventeenth-century science. Freud had not yet opened the gates that have led to the inundation of human consciousness by the torrents of a psychology stressing an exacerbated concern for problem-solving, "personal growth", and the feeling that every human being "matters" as an individual basically equal to all other individuals and entitled to the same rights regardless of functional differences such as sex, race, nationality, and social class.
Since my adolescence I have had to face these historical changes in our society and culture. Especially since my seventeenth year, my mind has tried to interpret my experiences and inward feelings in a manner that challenged the traditions impressed upon my consciousness and behavior by family, school, and social environment. This interpretation has led to radical changes in my relationship to my ancestral religion, natal class, and cultural ideals. It also prompted me to change my place of residence (the United States since 1916) and my language. In the decades since then, I have written many books and engaged in other creative activities which gave form to new concepts of organization in the arts. This book, Rhythm of Wholeness, is therefore the harvest of decades of sustained and consistent work. It is also the result of many severe crises of personal transformation.
My purpose in writing this book was to evoke the possibility of organizing knowledge, intuitive realizations, and collective and individual experiences within a new frame of reference that would reveal a new meaning of "being" as experienced by a human consciousness. It was not to convey new information concerning the universe or to impart a mass of data about the place human beings occupy in it.
Of themselves data have no meaning until they are organized in relation to one another and interpreted by a human mind. To do so, the mind must refer the data to a frame of reference. The character of all such frames of reference inevitably is metaphysical and/or the product of a religious revelation. It is also a product of the historical development of a particular society and culture. In addition to producing such frames of reference — which fundamentally orient and even control the collective assumptions and reactions of a people — a society's historical development also introduces to the people's consciousness ever changing and more or less new experiences and concepts. In our society, this process of change has accelerated enormously since the Industrial revolution began radically to transform human existence and the patterns of interpersonal and sociocultural relationships. Hence the need for a new frame of reference within which to interpret new experience and conceptual breakthroughs.
In 1930 when I wrote a series of articles entitled "The Philosophy of Operative Wholeness" for the small magazine, The Glass Hive (which was edited by Will Levington Comfort, a writer and long forgotten pioneer of "New Age" ideals), the concepts of wholeness and holistic (versus atomistic) organization were not in general use. Neither was the term transpersonal which, I believe, I was the first to use in English in that series of articles. Today these terms are in common usage, but, alas, often with vulgarized meanings. In this book they are given what I consider to be their most significant philosophical meaning.
In order to be understood fully, such meanings require a "new mind" — the "mind of wholeness." Also required is a still generally unfamiliar feeling-response toward interpersonal relationships and sociocultural issues — thus a new quality of being as one discovers oneself to operate both as a person living in society and a generically human organism affected by and affecting the biosphere of the planet Earth. My hope is that a careful, consistent, and sequential reading of the pages of this book will generate at least the desire — and perhaps the sustained determination — to develop such a mind of wholeness.
This book introduces a relatively new type of relationship to other men and women, to nature, to our planet as a whole, and to what usually is pictured as God, a divine state of being, or a supreme Reality. Although basic ideas are rarely absolutely new, they must be reformulated and their implications for concrete existential transformation revealed anew culture after culture, century after century, and even generation after generation.
To do so one must use words which have acquired definite, customary, and perhaps tradition-hallowed meanings. Unfortunately, this poses serious problems to a radical attempt to develop a new mind. Many readers assume that philosophical terms always carry the meaning with which they are familiar; they respond to new ideas by taking them out of context and using them to confirm ideas previously encountered. Therefore, it has been necessary for me to define as precisely as possible the different meanings I give to familiar terms for which no adequate and convincing alternatives can be found in our language.
While reading this book, intellectual criticism of detail of formulation tends to be nonproductive, because the purpose of the presentation is not, I repeat, to convey a mass of data claimed to be objectively true. It is rather to introduce a kind of philosophical perspective which, consistently applied, allows the inclusion and understanding of all human experiences, both objective and subjective. In this connection, the book's subtitle — A Total Affirmation of Being — is most important. The rhythm of dynamic Wholeness always deals with "being"; it dismisses as irrelevant the concept of "non-being." Such a concept has meaning only if the term being is thought to apply solely to the objective universe. What follows the dissolution of this predominantly objective state of being is a predominantly subjective type of consciousness and activity. However, our existence in the universe is not exclusively objective, nor is what follows our death or that of the cosmos exclusively subjective. Reality, as presented in this book, is the unceasing, dynamic interplay of subjectivity and objectivity, of a principle of Unity and a principle of Multiplicity. It is neither Unity nor Multiplicity, neither spirit nor matter — separately.
In order to understand clearly the implications of this and what it can mean in the practice of living, it is necessary for us to grasp the specific meaning of the ambiguous term unity. This will be explained in Chapter 2, where I also analyze the way I use the term Wholeness and the meaning of the traditional concept of the One. Nevertheless, I should stress here that Wholeness cannot be analyzed intellectually, nor can it be pictured as a concrete image. Although the cyclic Movement of Wholeness is presented in Chapter 4 in diagrammatic and circular form, it is only for the purpose of establishing a base of understanding which the concrete mind can use to feel "grounded" in a process having definite, symmetrical phases. In a very real sense, every possible relationship between Unity and Multiplicity operates at some level. Every phase is defined by every other phase of the cyclic process of being. Wholeness is not any of these phases. It is "be-ness," not "being." Any whole (or system of organization of a multiplicity of elements) is Wholeness in a dynamically and cyclically evolving form in which all other forms are also implied.
Such a statement is, I believe, in broad agreement with the most recent formulations of "systems philosophy" and the "bootstrap" concept of reality in physics. Although it may sound extremely abstract if not incomprehensible, it does not purport to describe precisely what reality (with or without a capital R) is. It is meant only to evoke the birthing of a new mind — the mind of wholeness.
Because of this essential purpose, this book might be considered an epic poem conveying to the reader the sense of a complete experience. The poem makes a sequence of events — but not each separate event considered unconnected — translucent to meaning. It is a revelation of meaning through a sequence of events.
To make the process of being translucent to meaning — this is Man's supreme archetypal function within the planetary whole in which mankind is evolving toward the state of what I call Illumined Man. In that state, the Light of the Logos — the creative Word that "was in the beginning" — is reflected by the transfigured individual and transmuted into Meaning.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1983 by Dane Rudhyar
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