From Christ to Buddha - 4
According to the Hindu chronology — which, of course, Western Orientalists do not accept, basing themselves probably on false or superficial concepts — 25 centuries separate Krishna from Buddha, and 25 centuries more bring us to the turn of this century, the key-note of which someday may be seen to be "activism." And we find today a great Hindu personage, Sri Aurobindo, stressing the need for a total transformation of human nature, even at the level of the physical body — i. e. the transfiguration of matter, and (at a collective all-human level) of society as a whole. But Sri Aurobindo, in a sense, combines the mental approach of Gautama the Buddha and the feeling approach of Jesus, as a foundation for the total transformation to be achieved through a synthesis of all the principal types of yoga devotional, mental and actional. It was in the Bhagavat Gita the teachings of Krishna to his disciple Arjuna on the battlefield where the fate of India was to be decided — that Sri Aurobindo found his central inspiration; and his influence is now spreading widely from the Pondicherry ashram where he lived for over 40 years, and, sooner or later, from the new nearby city, Auroville, in which a community of 50,000 persons devoted to the building of a future humanity is expected to live and work.
The great thinkers, prophets and illumined sages of the sixth century BC began to build the foundation — i.e. to sow the seed — for a new humanity by breaking down man's attachment to local conditions (geographical and tribal-racial-cultural). They were the prophets of a universalistic order of existence — beyond boundaries and socia-lpolitical categories. But they could only address themselves to "individuals," to men able, ready and willing to take a crucial step of self-liberation and self-actualization as individuals — individuals grouping themselves, in many instances, in monastic communities on the fringe of the prevalent social order, or (as we would say today) of the "Establishment." Buddhist monasteries and wider communities were formed in Asia; Pythagoras started his famous and ill-fated community of disciples in Krotona, in a Greek colony of Southern Italy.
Whatever the forms this sixth century BC evolutionary movement took outwardly, the basic fact is that it began a definite new "mutation" in the planetary Mind of humanity-as-a-whole. It built up, we might say, in seed this one Mind of planetary Man. Alas, negative trends operated soon everywhere. In India, Buddhism dried up into a kind of spiritual selfishness — a seeking for "liberation" in complete isolation from the rest of mankind — or became perverted because the lower castes had flocked to its ranks. In Greece, an extreme individualism bordering on anarchy and intellectualism for its own sake emptied the new mind of its real significance. The Greek states fought each other into subservience to Macedonian totalitarianism and to the emerging power of Rome.
Rome was needed to unite the crumbling Mediterranean cultures into a vast heterogeneous empire, which brought to a material and administrative focus the spiritual ideal of the great Sages of the sixth century BC It was, alas, a way of integration vitiated in its very foundations by an extraordinary sense of cultural-social pride and by the wholesale enslavement of conquered people. There was, of course, nothing new in slavery; but, necessary as slave-labor was for Rome's expansion and for its Administrative Order, it became nevertheless the cancer that was to kill from within the Roman empire.
The Christian faith and its apostles were not the only factors that destroyed Roman society from within; for a great variety of cults from the Near-East spread through the empire and in the ranks of the Army, all bringing to the Romans some more or less intoxicating yearning for a world-transcendence of the most un-Roman kind. And Rome finally crumbled under the attacks of the people from the North who had been "contained" for some centuries by the great military machine of Rome. Yet Rome had brought to humanity some basic social concepts which altogether fit into the complex realization of a world-wide Administrative Order — using the term "world-wide" as it relates to the concept of "world" at any particular historical time. Today, both the Russian and the American schemes of social-economic-political organization embrace potentially the entire earth, and even the moon; this is our present "world." Science-fiction writers picture a "Galactic Federation"; that too would represent "the world," a world to be administered by a central Authority because of its immense complexity and diversity.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1969 by Dane Rudhyar
and Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
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